One of a Kind: Sirati Dharma on being indie in Indonesia

Story By
John Thompson

Sirati Dharma are in a league of their own. “We’re like a lone wolf in Indonesia,” said Vareza Mizra the bands synth-player, “that’s the toughest part in Indonesia, making a new scene, a new perspective, anything new. That’s the challenge.”

Sirati Dharma is an alternative noise-band from Jakarta, Indonesia, their music is spacey, heavy, and as their new album suggests, transcendent. The new album — called Transcendental, is an exploration into the mental, the emotional and the spiritual. “You go down, you pick yourself up, you become more mature in a spiritual way”, said Pandji Dharma, the lead vocalist and guitarist. He wants Transcendental to be a journey, to be its own reality, he wants you to envision a place and an atmosphere.

In the west Sirati Dharma would be niche, but in Jakarta? They may as well be alien. The band says that in Jakarta the roots are classic rock, metal, and nothing “too contemporary”. But in spite of this, new bands have slowly begun to emerge experimenting with sound and genre. “I started playing music because I wanted to know what sound you could make and if you could make something new”, said Vareza, who has only recently joined Sirati Dharma, along with the drummer from his last band, “We’re on probation”, he added with a smile. 

Palm House Records, under which Sirati Dharma is signed, is actually owned by Pandji. He started off playing around in his room with a synth until it didn’t fit anymore. The studio is impressive, and he shows off a few of the label’s signed bands, mainly jazz and indie, all alternative. Pandji set up Palm House after finishing his education in Sound Engineering in Sydney, Australia, during 2014, around the same time he started Sirati Dharma.

The Transcendental album has been in the works for almost two years and it was only after every band member had, had their ups and downs, their journey, that they knew the album was ready. Transcendental is expected to be released online mid 2020. “This is the way for you to have your own journey,” said Pandji, “I like sharing my journey, and now hopefully you can find your own”.