10 Questions With Filmmaker Bagas Oktariyan Ananta (240BPM++)

How did this project come about?

Bagas Oktariyan Ananta: I grew up listening to ‘Orgen Tunggal’ music at weddings in Lampung and enjoyed the music from a young age. This form of music has been present in Lampung province since the 1990s. And even though it is considered noisy, ignorant, unauthentic, lacking creativity – it is one of the few entertainment options available to people in villages like Lampung that are far from urban spaces.

In 2002 the music’s repertoire underwent significant changes coinciding with the inclusion of house music into the performance. House music or “ajep-ajep” as it is known locally, is adapted and interpreted into the ‘Orgen Tunggal’ performance both in its musical and cultural aspects. This has triggered many changes from how the stage is set up, to the outfits of the singers, resulting in a new kind of interaction and atmosphere at the events, similar to what one might find at a nightclub or disco playing house music. With this change, the music became associated with drugs, drinking and violence in the minds of many.

Since it began to be known as a night performance that is contrary to the norms, customs and teachings of Islam, which is the majority religion in Indonesia ‘ Orgen Tunggal’ has come under strict police action that has barred it from being played in Lampung and around. So with this new action against the music form – what is the fate of all the lives, activities and legacy surrounding the ‘Orgen Tunggal’ scene?

I felt it timely, appropriate and interesting to make a documentary looking at the social, political and cultural implications on ‘Orgen Tunggal’ by focusing on Mirwan – a well known ‘Orgen Tunggal’ musician.

Any lesson(s) learnt while shooting the film?

Bagas Oktariyan Ananta: I was surprised to learn how complicated the remix music played by ‘Orgen Tunggal’ is. Starting from the lyrics side that combines ‘Pantun’ (Rhymes) with loud, fast and short music then using lyrics (freestyle) inspired by everyday topics such as jobs, economy, heartbreak. It’s all quite spontaneous on stage. From the music side, I found it remarkable how they mix different notes to include instrument samples and frequencies that sound very funky and makes people rock to the music. The musicians or ‘organ rangers’ as they are called continuously look for reference notes and sequences on the keyboard- their primary weapon. I think if we study the rules of this music, there are none which imitates their distinctive style. I was amazed by this self-taught and vernacular side of the music.

Could you share any interesting observations while making the film?

Bagas Oktariyan Ananta: I found many interesting juxtapositions in the music and the environment around it. All kinds of people tend to enjoy ‘Orgen Tunggal’ – men, women, old, young, rich, poor, even very religious people. It is difficult to describe the music in one particular frame. The singers mentioned that once there was even a police officer who got drunk at the ‘Orgen Tunggal’ event (outside from his duty time of course) even though the ban on ‘Orgen Tunggal’ was made by the local police. But in the end, everyone just wants to find small moments of happiness, to release their stress from work. Really a lot of grey zones seem to exist here, this is always amazing for me *big smile*.

Tell us a bit about your creative process and your approach to the film.

Bagas Oktariyan Ananta: I started by looking at the details of how Mirwan as the main subject who is a father, husband, a good friend and an important figure in the ‘Orgen Tunggal’ ecosystem. So I chose to make a portrait documentary to dissect all this information through the lens of the music. The treatment I used in the film is to combine all the information into one film that is closely related to the music – long, loud, noisy music is the foundation of the film. One of the things I learnt after entering Mirwan’s life is that his son, Hafidz, really enjoys playing mobile games. This is one of the things I used to show Mirwan’s life history as a famous ranger that he is today. I summed it up through the game “Ranger Hero”. And above all, I approached Mirwan as a good friend and listener to gain intimacy with him as a subject for this portrait documentary.

How has making a music-related documentary been different from your other projects?

Bagas Oktariyan Ananta: In my case, I really had to know every detail of the music and my subject. I used the history of the music, its movements, legacy, the ecosystem and all the contradictions that surround the music, to develop the story as something funky, with the visual aesthetics of the music scene as my primary creative treatment.

Any new projects you are working on that you would like to share.

Bagas Oktariyan Ananta: I continue my work as a videographer and content creator for a music project called Prontaxan in Yogyakarta who play funky Kota music. You can check them out on their YouTube channel and Instagram.

I am also working with a local collective-with Piring Tirbing who look into the moving image culture. For more information on the work check out our Youtube and Instagram.

What music are you listening to right now?

Bagas Oktariyan Ananta: I normally listen to all types of music. But since last week, I have been completely immersed into Bob James’s album “Two”. His music keeps me from rushing through life given the current situation.

In what or where do you find hope in these current times?

Bagas Oktariyan Ananta: With every single bead of sweat that rolls down the head of all the people working so hard in this current situation – I know there is hope.

Is there anything I’m not asking you that you always wish people would ask you about the film?

Bagas Oktariyan Ananta: Nope, I think it’s enough.

What do you hope the WOMEX community takes away from the film?

Bagas Oktariyan Ananta: I will be thrilled if the audience at WOMEX can put this film into their heart so that the ‘Orgen Tunggal’ scene can get more attention for its sustainability starting from literacy, policy and legacy around the music. I hope those who watch the film can play ‘240BPM ++‘ music throughout the world. Please don’t hesitate to contact me via email: bagas.oktariyan@gmail.com or my virtualWOMEX account.