Are people born with artistic talent, or do they learn it from the environment? Well, why not both. The “nature” and “nurture” can work perfectly together, at least for a Balinese gamelan composer, I Made Arthya Talava (Lolink).
His father was a well-known composer and choreographer; so, he technically has that “artistic gene” in his blood. Nonetheless, Lolink’s father never really taught him music. Lolink was first acquainted with music when he listened to various gamelan cassettes that his father often played since he was a baby.
Lolink taught himself how to play an instrument at a very young age. He started with kendang (percussion) at four years old! In the 90s, it was rare to find children with such talent. Lolink and a couple of kids in their community, Banjar Tainsiat, began to practice together. With the local people’s help, around 1994, they created one of the first children’s sekaa gongs (group) in Denpasar city.
His father, the late I Kadek Suardana, realized Lolink’s potential and included him in several performances and album projects. In this period, Lolink trained himself to play more gamelan instruments. When he was in high school, he made his first composition: a contemporary gamelan piece entitled Mulat Sarira. This work made him trusted to be the trainer of the new generation of the children’s sekaa gong in Banjar Tainsiat. Later, he enhanced his musical journey after jumping into punk rock and produced an album with his band.
He totally stopped playing gamelan after the departure of his father in 2013. The grief last quite long, yet it spurs new creative energy to Lolink: in 2018, he founded Komunitas Seni Suarshima, a collective that explores contemporary Balinese gamelan and dances. This group runs under the umbrella of ARTI Foundation, one of the legacies of I Kadek Suardana.
Lolink currently works on his first contemporary gamelan album containing eight original tracks that presumably will be launched in 2021. Not many Balinese contemporary gamelan composers compile their music in an album; thus, it may put him in the spotlight. What are the stories behind this most anticipated album? Well, that is a one million dollars question! The composer wants to keep it secret. “The album speaks about what I believe. It’s a reflection of my feeling, aspiration, and protest,” he says to ThePhala.
His upcoming album is inspired by various composers and musicians. He delves into the complex musical pattern of Steve Reich and Jack Body. He learns pattern variation from the contemporary classical music composer, Andy Akiho, and studies tones from Beethoven. Lolink, who currently is the drummer of a Bali based rap-rock band, Ripper Clown, is also influenced by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, The Shins, Mumford and Sons, Of Monster and Men, First Aid Kit, and many other bands.
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