INSPIRATION COVER STORY
The Environmental Stalwart
Most musicians formed a band for the sake of money, but that’s not the case for I Gede Robi Supriyanto. Although his Psychedelic-Grunge Unit, Navicula, has been renowned as one of the finest in Indonesia and abroad, Robi uses that as a megaphone to voice his concern about humanity, social condition, and environmental issue instead of a mere ‘cash-cow’ to produce financial income; and he didn’t stop there. Using his innate songwriting talent, noble vision and stalwart voice, Robi continue his effort to make Bali a better place through several sustainability and agriculture- related movements, which he shares exclusively to Hellobali readers in this enlightening interview below.
Text: Billianto Bagus Photos courtesy of: I Gede Robi Supriyanto
Navicula has been recognized as one of Indonesia’s finest Grunge units of all time. Did you intentionally choose that genre? Who were the band’s strongest musical influences? For sure, this was the music that made me want to be in a band. Before grunge, it felt like rock bands were gods and it was all so far away. When Nirvana came on the radio I was in high school, it just made me feel like ‘I can play that’. These are just normal dudes who love music and are playing the way they feel, not playing the way industry wants them to. Probably my biggest influence is The Melvins, The Pixies and Soundgarden. What is the most memorable moment in your career as a musician / environmental activist so far? Have you ever received any form of threats? How did you overcome it (if there’s any)? One of the most memorable moments was when Navicula performed and filmed a music video on the Greenpeace Rainbow Warrior ship while docked in Bali. The clip we filmed there ended up becoming one of our most powerful videos and has over 2 million views on YouTube, it’s called “Busur Hujan”, busur means bow, and hujan means rain, so literally ‘Rain Bow’. Greenpeace is now the biggest environmental advocacy group in the world, but they started out 50 years ago as a small group of scientist protesting nuclear testing in Alaska. With support from musicians, such as
Joan Baez and Joni Mitchell, they had a concert and raised money to purchase their first ship which they named Greenpeace, and the rest is history. We’ve collaborated with Greenpeace over the years on deforestation and climate change campaigns. When we first approached them, an activist named Jopi Peranginangin was working with Greenpeace on a campaign to raise awareness about deforestation. Navicula went to Kalimantan. It was an amazing experience ‘searching for the rainforest’, as we rode across Kalimantan for 12 days on dirt bikes. All we could see is palm oil plantations, with little strips of forest every few days. It was heartbreaking. Jopi became a dear friend, and we collaborated on concerts in Sulawesi to bring awareness about how palm oil plantations are destroying the rainforest. A few years later he was murdered in Jakarta. This really brought home how dangerous it is to be speaking up for nature. Jopi’s story is not an isolated incident, every week environmental
activists are murdered around the world, and for what - just so we can have palm oil in our shampoo and get our electricity from coal fired plants? Navicula’s lyrics never go against the law. In fact, we strongly support the enforcement of the law in Indonesia. We advocate for sustainable development, balanced between what people need and nature can burden. So we can keep it sustainable. Because of this, Navicula doesn’t only work with grassroots movements and NGOs, but can open a dialog and collaborate with government and corporate as well. We don’t just want to point fingers of blame, but to really work together to find solutions to the issues we care about. Tell us about your time studying under Vandana Shiva. Did it change your fundamental perspective of ‘permaculture’? How would you imply that knowledge in preserving Bali’s nature?
the culture issue
September & october 2019
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