Singing Indonesian Disco Songs Once Again with Senandung di Batas Mimpi

Collaboration opens the doors to innumerable opportunities. This was put in practice in the case of Diskoria, Irama Nusantara, Binatang Press!, and Norrm. With their respective expertise in their fields, they collaborated and released a publication with the title Senandung di Batas Mimpi (English: Hum on the Limits of Dreams). This publication, which was launched on December 22, is a discography of 100 Indonesian disco songs from the 1970s to the 80s.

Flashback to Diskoria’s visit to the Irama Nusantara office back in 2019. Through casual conversations about the song “Serenata Jiwa Lara” (English: A Sad Soul’s Serenade) to be released by Diskoria, discussions emerged of an idea to create a book together. “Throughout the pandemic period, this idea practically disappeared into thin air until 2021. After the success of the release of the first book Dari Ngak Ngik Ngok ke Dheg Dheg Plas through Printed Melodies [a collaborative project between Irama Nusantara, Binatang Press! and Norrm], we brought the idea back up with our friends at Norrm and Binatang Press!,”Gerry Apriryan from Irama Nusantara said, trying to recall the project’s revival.

In this collaborative project, Diskoria took on the role of curator in selecting songs or albums that are included in the list. Fadli Aat from Diskoria explained that the selection was based on important information or stories contained in each song or album. "These songs are also part of our setlist from our journey since 2015," added Aat. Meanwhile, Merdi Simanjuntak from Diskoria said that the songs chosen were his personal favorites and inspirations. "Songs that are arranged in a fun way, can be danced to, have a unique sound and there might just bean interesting story behind the process of making them," he said.

Aat explained that disco in this publication is a simplified term for Indonesian pop music with an upbeat rhythm so that it is easy to remember. He said, "'Why was this genre chosen?' Because there are so many songs that are actually worthy of being reported to the current generation which might have previously been lost because they didn't have a place in the Indonesian pop music market. However, now it feels "new" and refreshing while still showing its Indonesian-ness. It's like giving these songs a second chance to be accepted by the current generation."

Meanwhile, Irama Nusantara was responsible for collecting archives. Gerry said, "We didn’t have all the selection of releases from Diskoria in our archives, so the hope is that with this program, Irama Nusantara can add to its digital archive collection of releases through collections of releases belonging to Merdi, Aat, or even friends of Diskoria." Gerry added, "Apart from Diskoria friends, we also got archives of releases from various other sources, such as collectors, namely Budi Warsito, Samson Pho, Alunan Nusantara friends, as well as music release traders, such as Andi Twins."

Not only about release archives, Irama Nusantara also collects archives from mass media as a source of supporting data. He said that apart from being taken from the digital archive collection of Majalah Aktuil for the period between 1967 to 1980, which is already owned by Irama Nusantara, other archives are the results of searches in other repositories, such as the National Library, Tempo Data and Analysis Center, and Kompas Archives.


“For each release, Irama Nusantara also carries out archival research. First, to ensure the release information is correct. Apart from that, we also add all the facts or information related to each song or release," Gerry explained, elaborating on Irama Nusantara's other roles. "Secondly, during the creation process, the idea emerged to add a "Disco Facts" column which displays trivia about the disco phenomenon in Indonesia around the 1970s to 1980s. So, the scope of research has increased to this topic. Beyond that related to the selection list of 100 Discoria songs. All output from this research was compiled editorially by Irama Nusantara into a required book format. Likewise was the editing process.”

Meanwhile, in terms of book design, Binatang Press! took off from the song "Senandung di Batas Mimpi " by Harry Dea which was released in 1979. This song was also covered by Diskoria, Fariz RM, and Jamie Aditya and was released together with the book Senandung di Batas Mimpi. Wanda Kamarga of Binatang Press! said, "From our visual research, there were several inspirations that we took because we felt they represented the mood of the single. We view the end of the 70s as the era of hi-fi glory. We collected a lot of brochures and hi-fi catalogs from that era, starting from Pioneer, Marantz, Panasonic, and others. "From there we found many typeface characteristics that have retro-futurism qualities."

These visual ideas and directions were then implemented into book designs based on flat plan divisions. This way of working means that content could be distributed according to the allocated number of pages. Wanda also saw that Binatang Press! can help complete the visual narrative of this book through photography. "Therefore, we added several photos that are 'thematic' in nature and responsive to the topic of this book. "We then inserted these images as spreads in several parts of the book so that readers could pause a little and deepen the context of the book through visual content," she explained.

"Maybe we were all aware that Diskoria always opens their video clips with the title of the single in the video clip. Therefore, at the beginning we prioritized our focus on the font that would be used to write this title, especially as the title of the single and the title of the book will be the same," Wanda explained the considerations of the font selection for this book. "So, when we first tested the typography for the title of the single, we deliberately pasted it on top of a screenshot of the Diskoria video clip. "The crux of the matter was, if it matches the grading and aesthetics of the Diskoria video clip in general, then we were sure that the font would be suitable to be used as the cover of this new book."

She continued, "Finally an old font was chosen by Smita Basuki, our Creative Associate who was in charge of this project. The font characteristics are quite rounded, but thin and separated, a style that we found a lot in several archives that we researched. Then, Smita added a repetitive line effect which was often found in futurist graphics of that era. Funnily enough, the name of the chosen font is Harry.”

This publication is a collaborative project that is able to unite various disciplines. Through music and creative publication design, Senandung di Batas Mimpi becomes a relevant form of archiving with good presentation and offers an exciting reading experience. Not only as a print publication, Senandung di Batas Mimpi is also a door to look back at the journey of popular Indonesian music.

About the Author

Daud Sihombing

Daud Sihombing has been writing professionally for the past 9 years. This fervent alternative publishing enthusiast prefers his quaint little town over the hustle and bustle of the city and doesn't let sleep stop him from watching every single AS Roma match.