Issue 24.2, May 2009

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Essay Excerpt -

Over the early part of the new millennium, The Upstairs rose up to become one of the biggest bands in Indonesia, with their second, full-length album released on Warner Music. They all dress in pastels, wear moptop haircuts, and era-blend mod scooter-driving aesthetics with the large, white sunglasses and furry legwarmers of 1980s MTV, bringing their brand of other peoples’ nostalgia to the rest of Indonesia.  As if reversing the terms of the “imperialist nostalgia” Renato Rosaldo has famously discussed, The Upstairs seem to long for the childhood musical experiences that form the backdrop of other peoples’ bands, for access to those varieties of cultural and symbolic capital  that afford a dominant position in the pop culture hierarchy to groups from America, Europe, and (occasionally) Japan. The nostalgia of indie bands is a strategic nostalgia, a nostalgia of those denizens of the industrializing world seeking to take their place on the global stage, while simultaneously positioning themselves locally as sophisticated in their tastes and middle-class in their sensibilities. It is as much a spatial as a temporal nostalgia, a longing for what lies just beyond easy reach.

-- Brent Luvaas, “Dislocating Sounds: The Deterritorialization of Indonesian Indie Pop”