Dipha Barus is one of top of the DJ from Indonesia. His top single, “No One Can Stop Us”, make him own the prestigious award called Anugerah Musik Indonesia on the best Electronic Dance Music Production 2016. Dipha also conquer Indonesia electronic scene, with owning the Paranoia Awards 2014, as the DJ Of The Year. With his creativity, he never stop got booking from all over Indonesia music club, bar, TV shows and also big festival like Djakarta Warehouse Project, Ultra Music Festival, Pacha Festival, Dreamfields and Saga Music Festival. With his unstoppable creativity, help him to step on the international club scene. The clubs from New York, Japan and Malaysia has book him for couple of times. Now, it’s time for you to getting closer with this talented DJ and producer.
A sort of general question, can you recall when you first was exposed to music? Your earliest recollection?
Actually, one of my fathers’ wishes is to have his children be able to play music. It was to the point where he played music in the delivery room when I was born. He wanted it to be a family tradition, but forgot to do it when my brother was born (laughs). So yeah, when I was born there was a cassette playing in the background.
What sort of music did you commonly hear in your household?
The first song that I was exposed to, the one playing in the background when I was born, and I guess this is a little cheesy, was Louis Armstrong’s “What a Wonderful World”. In our house, I was exposed to the music my father listened to – The Beach Boys, Beatles, Pink Floyd, Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin – stuff like that.
How important was music for you growing up?
I don’t know how to quite explain this, but growing up there have been events that were tough to deal with, and I feel that I managed to deal with those problems thanks to music. The activities that had to do with music kept me in a positive track. You know how it is when you are young.
So what were the earliest musical activities that you did?
My first real musical activity was being a session player. When I was young I played the bass for a café-band.
How young were you when you were a session player?
I was in 4th or 5th grade.
You were a session player in fifth grade!? That’s pretty amazing! Did you get formal training or…?
There was a time when I took music lessons in Farabi, that’s Indra Lesmana’s school… but that lasted for about a month (laughs). When I was in second grade I also took lessons in classical guitar at Yamaha school. My father taught me the basics of piano when I was young as well.
Would it be fair to say that you are a formally trained musician?
Well, actually I am more of an autodidact. When I went to music school my grades were horrible (laughs)! Schools are quite heavy in theory, and at the time I felt like “why do I need to learn these long-winded theories and processes when I just want to play?” I already know the music I wanted to perform and all of these formalities seemed to make it more complicated than it should be.
Did you see that music will be what you will be concentrating on from a young age?
Not at all, it was just one of the things that I thought I would do. It was something I did but not what I thought I would be doing. When I was young I wanted to be a ninja or an FBI agent that can play music (laughs).
How did you start working professionally in music?
The first time that I worked professionally in music was as a DJ in Malaysia. I was about to graduate from college in Malaysia, and during the final semesters I was a semi-resident DJ at a club called Zouk. That was the first time that I experienced music as a job.
Did you have a ‘moment’ where you sort of realized that music was what you will be doing?
I did. When I graduated college I worked as a graphic designer at TBWA, a Malaysian advertising agency. Working in that environment I realized that I was happier when I DJ’ed and made music. With that realization I decided to leave the advertising world and pursued music as a career.
What did you end up doing when you quit?
The first two months after I left my graphic design job I was a DJ full time. My father passed away during this time and I decided to come back to Indonesia because I had to be the breadwinner of my family. My mother and brother wasn’t working at the time.
What did you first do when you got to Jakarta?
I was rejected from practically everyplace that I applied to as a resident DJ.
When was this?
This was about 2007/2008. Most places rejected me saying that the music that I play woldn’t please a crowd, it is too ‘idealist’. It made me reconsider my career as a DJ. I did still want to do something in music, so I did all jobs I can take. I worked in Aksara’s music shop while sleeping in various friends’ houses; I was making about 750,000 rupiah a month. Luckily in a couple of months I was promoted to assistant buyer.
During this time I was also invited to be part of Agrikulture.
How did you end up joining them as a permanent member?
I performed with Anton [Wirjono] in Malaysia and he told me that if I was in Indonesia I should contact him to jam with Agrikulture. When I was back in Jakarta I called him and asked whether they still needed an additional player and he said “yeah, go ahead” so there I was.
My passion was still DJ-ing, though. When Agrikulture performed and Anton was DJ-ing in my mind I was like “Man, I should be DJ-ing up there as well”. So I was an additional player, and sometimes they would ask me to DJ. I made my own event called Mish Mash where I would play commercial music that still pertained to my taste and shared it with the crowd.
I also made playlists for restaurants. I would go to these different establishments and offer them our services as playlist makers.
When did you start producing?
Pretty recently, I started producing about 2011.
Looking at your work, it seems like you work heavily with software and hardware. Did you get formal training?
I learned most of it from Youtube. Adit, Agrikulture’s drummer, taught me the basics and I learned the rest from Youtube. There is this username, SFLogicNinja, I learned everything from him. I basically learned most production techniques from Youtube and online forums.
As someone who is in music and has an understanding of visuals, what is the relationship between the two? How important is the visual/image accompaniment to music and musicians?
For me personally, I need to see before being able to create music. I look for visuals to inspire me to create music. I think visuals add character so the music will be bolder in people’s eyes. Let’s say Dead Kennedy’s or Black Flag, the imagery that they use gives extra emphasis to the music.
Scenes such as black metal, they are really visually oriented. It isn’t only about the music but it is also about the imagery.
When we hear your name, automatically will connect to your great masterpiece, “No One Can Stop Us”. What’s the unique story behind this amazing track?
I have a faith, that our music will got a respect from the world. One of the unique story is when I sent this song to got mastered from one of the best audio mastering in London, his name is Sam John. His client was like James Blake, Primal Scream, The Chemical Brothers, dan Aphex Twin. He was amaze by the note that I used and make him confuse at the same time. And I just tell him that it was an Indonesian Pentatonic note. To make him easier to understand, I sent the Indonesian music reference to him.
What’s your tips for our readers to keep healthy when we know that you have a heavy touring schedule and also producing music?
Since 2011, everyday I run and have a intensive meditation and always pray.