At this moment, billions of people are staying at home to escape COVID-19. What will the world be like? How do we respond to uncertainty and change? Everyone has their own answer. Subtropical Asia’s special project, #thelockinartists#, will focus on our artist friends during this significant moment in history, presenting their observations, thoughts and suggestions, and perhaps offering inspiration.

In#thelockinartists# episode four, we interviewed Yennu Ariendra aka Y-DRA from Yogyakarta, Indonesia. He is a music composer, producer, DJ and digital artist who works in the areas of music, performance, and visual art. Almost all of his work departs from the values of tradition and history in Indonesia, Java in particular. Y-DRA is a very active and prolific musician, who has participated in many projects, such as Raja Kirik、Paper Moon Puppet Theatre、Melancholic Bitch and so forth. We wanted to know whether his creativity was affected during the epidemic.

Subtropical Asia: How has your artistic/music community adapted to the pandemic?

Personally , I have a lot of big art projects, performances and tours canceled. It also happens to other fellow artists and communities. Yogyakarta, usually noisy, now is silent. Everyone is suffering. But, there are also good things happening, not for art, but social responsibility. Art communities are creating public kitchens, are working together to make masks and personal protective equipment (PPE) for medics, and helping other people who cannot afford to survive this disaster. Collectively doing something together. For music, not so much happening. Yes, we uploaded our album on Bandcamp, mainly to earn some income.

What kind of project are you working on during the quarantine time, is it related with the pandemic?

I’m not particularly doing something clear, but I’ve noticed that I’m busier than before. Asking people to collaborate with me online, initiating online gigs, finishing unfinished tracks, starting new tracks, reviewing my works, etc.

This ‘condition’ will happen in our life – whether it’s a volcanic disaster, an terrorist act, an earthquake…and you have to be ready. As an underground musician or artist in Indonesia, you face many unpleasant conditions all the time – gigs canceled by police, no money for a project, no government support, bad weather, and a lot of things to criticize. Now, the pandemic has happened, and just like any other bad luck before, even though I’m suffering, I cannot complain. The cure for me is just to keep myself busy, and for sure, to think about the change. Surely the world will change after this, for better or worse, I don’t know.

How does the quarantine changed the way you connect with the world and with yourself?

The change is inevitable. So I take this condition seriously. I am doing more things online now, but also with a consideration that the internet will not save me – if it gets worse, the internet will shut down anyway. I have to be ready for everything. How can art survive? I have no idea. Now I just concentrate on new ideas about basic human needs. Food for example. I can cook, it is not so different from composing music. You have to put the right ingredients, have the right timing and so on. My wife and I made our house into a big kitchen, and have started to make and sell food online. I will learn gardening and food processing after this. I also started to take any job besides music like writing, making online workshops or Youtube tutorials, etc.

I think our scene (local and global), collectively, is trying to do something different. I’m glad to be part of this scene, and feel most people are still in a positive mood and are embracing the change.

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