Back in November last year, Interstellar was a small group of friends living in Ubud. They were quietly planning the biggest underground music and alternative lifestyle festivals ever to happen in Indonesia, the Eclipse Festival 2016 in Sulawesi.
Fast forward to the present, one solar eclipse later and an epic festival attended by 5000 people under their belt, Interstellar have continued to pioneer the local scene by consistently bringing heavyweight techno acts to the island such as Minilogue, Shifted, Morphosis, and Jamie Bissmire. We spoke with Interstellar crew member and resident Laurent Cajak who has been active in the industry for over 15 years from Tokyo to Berlin to Bali about Interstellar, music and the scenes he has been part of.
Laurent, we understand you were involved in the scene in Tokyo in the early 2000s and then in Berlin and now in Indonesia. Could you tell us more about your journey with electronic and the different scenes in each country?
My first taste of electronic dance music was at drum and bass night at Fabric in London when I was still in high school. From then,I purchased my first set of decks and was playing drum and bass at university parties. Half way through university, I moved to Tokyo which had a very strong techno and minimal scene at the time. Japanese DJs are also some of the most technical and deep selectors I have heard. Everywhere I went, the music seemed to be pretty much on point and that really influenced me to get into house and techno. One thing led to another and I began organizing small art and music events in a gallery space I was working with which a few years later led to me co-founding the Rainbow Disco Club festival.
My next stop was Berlin. At the time, I was developing a music search engine and database for a web app and also began organizing art and music events for the Berlin government and the Goethe Institute in Tokyo. Berlin has a healthy scene due to government support and although it is highly oversaturated with party tourists and amateur DJs, it is interesting to see how a subculture like nightlife and electronic music can contribute positively to the economyand identity of a city. There is definitely a lesson to learn there as the tendencyrecently has been to clamp down on nightlife rather than to nurture it into something positive as was happening in Tokyo when I left with the no dancing after midnight laws.
I moved to Bali just over a year ago to isolate myself in Ubud and focus on making music. Surprisingly I met 2 other Ubudians who had similar tastes in music, Manu aka 3HM and Atiqah aka Cabbit, who were organizing the Eclipse Festival. I joined them and we started doing monthly events at Koh wait the aim to bring proper techno music to the island.
Do you see any need to compromise on the music you present or play in Bali? How has the local reaction been to your events so far?
As a DJ, you always need to adjust to the context. I think a lot of less experienced DJs feel like they need to push a certain genre of music on people even if it does not fit. The primary job of a DJ or event organizer is to do your best so that people enjoy themselves regardless of your musical ego. I try to leave my ego in the studio because it is a creative process that only involves me and the technology I use. So actually I don’t care if people like what I produce, I do it purely out of personal satisfaction. As a DJ however, you will always have a crowd of people in front of you and it is your responsibility to entertain them. Making music has definitely helped me put that into perspective.
You recently got into production and talked about technology as part of the creative process. Can you tell us a little about what you use and how it affects the performing or creation of music for you?
I had been dabbling in production for a while but was never serious about it. Most of my time was taken up by organizing events, DJing, and my day job. After being involved with every aspect of the industry, I felt it was time and quickly sold the 5000 records I had in Berlin on Discogs and invested it all in studio gear. I went through a few setups but I have only held on to the machines that I can use in live performance or incorporate in a DJ set. The boxes made by Elektron are a good example of this as they are analog but have the ability to store and recall patterns, sounds, and settings digitally.
Anything you can tell us about upcoming plans or projects for Interstellar in Bali?
Interstellar has Singapore roots through its founder, Atiqah. She is starting to program one techno night a month at Cato so this will enable us to bring more quality acts to Bali as part of a small tour. The first of which is Marco Shuttle on September 5th at Koh.