It came from the guitar strings (an interview with Ivan Fabian Devota)

That Ivan Fabian Devota is a phenomenal Indonesian guitar player, that’s a given. Unfortunately, as with many great artists and bands from South Asia, not many are getting through the veil of Western world’s ignorance and oblivion…but with the “Write With Tears” single from Sevenstringattack dropped in the beginning of May 2021, I guess it’s about time we stop everything we might be doing and give our undivided attention to Ivan to tell us more about this project – and more about himself too!

Hello, Ivan and thank you very much for your time! How are you doing these days? I bet you are quite busy!

Hello Rudolf & Indokult, I’m good and thank you for listening to my my music and I hope you are good too!
Yes, I’m a little busy lately. I had to work with my normal life and take care of my little studio, so I had a little trouble finding time to make more songs.

In the beginning of May 2021 a single for Sevenstringattack has dropped, a co-operation between you, Asgien Novrizal and Dendy Benduh. An excellent instrumental track it is! What can you tell us about this project – whose idea was it?

Actually this is a fun project for the three of us, because we don’t have a stage in this pandemic season so the three of us decided to make a song. At the beginning, Dendy invited me and Asgin to make a one-minute song with the concept of using a 7 string guitar and it will only be uploaded to Instagram for content needs. But after I thought about it, it was too good for just a fun thing, then I suggested to them to make a complete song starting from 1 minute and developed to around 3-4 minutes.

Asgien Novrizal

I will readily admit I’ve come across the names of Asgien and Dendy for the first time …for those of us not knowing anything about them, can you introduce them to us?

Asgin and Dendy are my friends in the guitar community in Indonesia. Namely the Indonesian Guitar Community. I joined since 2010, Dendy joined in 2012 and Asgin in 2015. Dendy & Asgin they are in one band the name is Dajjal Band (Now Format), and Asgin is a solo artist too! Too bad he doesn’t have that many records.

Dendy Benduh

How about the concept behind the “Write With Tears” song and accompanying video? What message have you tried to create? What can you tell us about the individual contribution from all three of you?

“Write With Tears” is one of the singles from our work related to other songs which will later be packaged in an album containing approximately 7 songs. The concept itself is more of an amalgamation of all songs consisting of the story of the birth of SSA (Sevenstringattack), then Indonesia, which is depicted as a symbol of chaos, religion is symbolized by the symbol of places of worship, nature is represented by crashing waves, humanity is symbolized by the symbol of crowd, God is symbolized by the symbol of life and women. symbolized as a regulator in life (mother)
The message is a story about the formation of a trio guitarist group who are members of the Indonesian guitar community during a pandemic like this (one form of concern for the situation in our version)

There’s no mention about the bass player or a drummer, so I suppose you’ve done them digitally with a music software?

Yes, it is true! We are only three guitarists in it. So there is no fixed bass and drum player, for recording I use the software for drums but the bass is recorded by me and asgin. If we perform live, we will use a real instruments, to make it feel more like a real band!

“Write With Tears” was the first one…or the only one? Will you continue Sevenstringattack with another tracks? If so, will the line-up be the same, or you plan some additions, changes?

“Write With Tears” is a single from SSA. Dendy, Asgin and I hope to continue this project, hopefully there are no obstacles from the three of us. The initial concept was that the song continued from the first song onwards. “Write With Tears” is a form of recognizing the three of us, maybe in the next song we will tell you about circumstances, culture or something and, of course, also a woman! Because many women provide song ideas for us, hahaha.

There’s nothing like a self-promotion, haha…so, from you three, which one is the best and why it’s you? 🙂

Haha, I don’t know. Actually Asgin and Dendy are great guitar players, but they both tend to be in the metal world for a long time.

Now, let’s go back to when Ivan was still a very young…what has inspired you to pick up the guitar? Any particular band/album or guitar player responsible for that?

I started to be interested in playing guitar since I was in high school, maybe at that time I was 16 years old, the one thing that made me want to play guitar was watching a “G3 live in Denver” concert. Where 3 famous guitarists in the world, Joe Satriani, Steve Vai and Yngwie Malmsteen were in a DVD concert. At first seeing Yngwie Malmsteen I was amazed, the rock music that was presented really built up my adrenaline quickly! Maybe at that time because I was very young it was easy to get attracted to things like that. From there I started to seriously learn to play guitar. The facts used to be that when I was in junior high school, I was a bassist, you know! Ha Ha!

Anyone can be a bedroom player, but once moving to the spotlights….what has been your first band experience? I’ve come across the band Chocoloid and apparently you were a member there! Can you provide us with some info about this band and your involvement in it? What has happened to it?

Haha how do you know Chocoloid? Actually, since I studied music, I never had a long-term band. So I just became a solo artist. But at that time there was a Japanese event at my campus and watching the band was very exciting and the songs also made me nostalgic because my childhood I liked watching anime (even now). At that time I invited my classmates to make a band and play Japanese songs, but unfortunately it didn’t last long because when we graduated from college, we all had to disband because of work and being busy with our own lives.

Another band I know you are involved with is Henohenomoheji…first of all, what is the meaning of this name of the band? I am guessing something from the anime?

No, is not from an anime. Henohenomoheji (へのへのもへじ) or hehenonomoheji (へへののもへじ) is a face known to be drawn by Japanese schoolchildren using hiragana characters. … The first two he are the eyebrows, the two no are the eyes, the mo is a nose, and the last he is the mouth. (You can check it from Wikipedia) xD

If I am not mistaken, in Henohenomoheji you’ve replaced Rangga, who’s now in Third State (and for the sake of completion, I’ve interviewed Luqman from Third State as well), what has happened? By the way, speaking of being in a band….what do you prefer more – solo career or playing in the band?

Yes! Actually, before Rangga has left the band, we often collaborated to be Henohenomoheji x Chocoloid, I even have become the second guitarist for Henohenomoheji, because my playing style is different from Rangga so Henoheno can sing super rock songs.
Rangga left the band due to getting married at that time, after that there has been no news from him for the last few years. Suddenly he was in a Third State band. Really the world is very small. XD
I love to play music, it doesn’t matter if solo or in a band. But I prefer to be in a band more, so I can play with others and exchange ideas!

I am pretty sure not many people are aware of many interesting events and festivals happening in Indonesia, which you’ve been a part of…Can you tell us something about these? Which one are your favourites, be it you as an performer or just a fan?

Actually there were a lot of music festivals in Indonesia before this Corona pandemic. In the era of 2010, the world of guitar industry was very good, so that many bedroom guitarists from various parts of Indonesia have been on the rise and known by all people. Besides that, there are also many other events such as rock, metal and other music festivals. Music in Indonesia is strong because the community, even in my current band, as a community band where the fans are only certain people, I still often get a stage with quite a lot of audience.
I really like both of them, because I also like to listen to or watch the band as a visitor to the event.

Out of the ordinary question – at one point you’ve cut your long hair to a shorter length…why was that?

Hahaha! You really did pay attention! I am surprised! Maybe it’s because I’ve had long hair and hardly cut it short for 10 years, maybe it’s been short but brief. I got bored with that appearance and tried to change it a bit even though it seemed a little geeky! 😀

There’s another interesting co-operation of yours I was able to find, with the violin player Devina Minati, who has featured on your track “Dream”. Where did you find her and can you tell us something more about her?

Yup. When I was going to make my music video “Dream” I’ve been looking for a female model who could play the violin. Incidentally Devina is a friend of my friend who likes to play at wedding events. So we got to know because of a mutual acquaintance.

Oh, not to forget, I always wanted to ask about that violet coloured guitar of yours! It seems kind of a special instrument for you…so, what is the truth about it? Is it your favourite? If so, why?

Ha ha! You really care so much! That guitar is my new guitar I bought it in 2018, at first I had no intention of looking for a purple PRS guitar. But when I was at the music shop I saw this guitar hanging on the wall and it seemed that the guitar was calling me. I was also interested in the color of this guitar so I’ve bought it. In the beginning, my image as a solo guitar player was to use a black Ibanez guitar, because i have been wearing it for a long time. There are a lot of guitar solo players who use ibanez guitars, so I try to change my image with this PRS guitar, so people will find it easier to recognize me with this iconic instrument.

I love the fact there’s quite a big Indonesian guitar community there, and there’s one event I’d like to know more about …Guitar Party #1 back in January 2020… according to the poster, you’ve had a special performance there… can you recall this event for us?

Yes! There are so many guitar communities here. Maybe in the past, the guitar community in Indonesia was only large in an internet forum. But in 2009 there was a guitar community formed by the name “Indonesian Guitar Community” and it was created at the Unpas music campus where the members are from various cities who are currently studying at this Bandung campus. I joined this community in 2010 until now. There have been so many events since then. And there are also many foreign guitarists who come to Indonesia and IGC often opens events or collaborates with event organizers. 2012 ago I was the Opening of the Asian Clinic Tour with Laney by Mattias IA Eklund. In 2017 ago I was also the opening act for Polyphia Clinic tour with Ibanez in Bandung, which was the last place for Polyphia and Ibanez’s tour in Asia. And many other things besides that, I can be only be thankful to this IGC community.
In 2020 I was invited to perform at the guitar party event of MTC (Majalaya Talent Community), where the city of Majalaya is where I grew up, and the organizer was a friend of my friends back in my hometown. Actually, MTC is a community that houses bands in a village. (You can check their Youtube channel, they has good band in Majalaya City)

Well, not long after that Covid-19 pandemic happened…although you certainly miss playing live (don’t you?), it’s nice to see you’re able to adapt to the changing atmosphere with playing online, even playing with your fans! Have you discovered anyone really really special from these sessions?

I really really miss the stage! No, I do not enjoy online show, after all, live concerts cannot be replaced with virtual concerts and it has a much different feeling.

Talking about you and your music career, I can’t miss to mention your studio work. I assume it has started as you’d been recording your own work, right? I can see you helped quite a few interesting artists with their sound recordings… although this might be a tough question to answer, but I’ll ask anyway – which material from your studio are you most proud of? And while we’re discussing other artists – which ones would you recommend for people like me, exploring the huge Indonesian scene, to check?

Yes. I have a small studio where I work and develop my music. The name of the studio is Devotarock Studio which is taken from my last name Devota. I have this studio from 2010 where I started college because initially my studio was only for doing assignments that were given by the campus. A few years later there was a band of my friends who would record their album at my place, from there I thought about commercializing my studio in 2016. But at that time not many people knew so maybe there were only about 2-3 bands that recorded the song in my studio.

Evatra

My first client was the band Evatra where the guitarist had a duet with me on the song Glory on my album My Way (you can check it out on track 8). We used to be a guitar duo in the guitar community, his name is Capnony. It’s a shame we don’t have many records. (Maybe you should check out this Evatra band but it’s a shame it’s now on hold).

Before Evatra, I had time to record my own album. Lots of compliments from around about my recordings so I decided to continue this studio business and from here I also worked as a guitarist and sound engineer informal, even producing several bands. There are so many local Bandung bands that record at my place, maybe you should check some of them:

Manusia Kertas Album (Soloist), NSFL – Expo Album (Band), For The Youth – Prevelensi (Band), Hilman Muhammad – The Galaxy (Soloist), After Sunset Band, Hades Band, Third State, Yiazmat, Mind Record2020 Talent and more.

There is even a national class artist who has recorded his guitar at Devotarock, namely Bengbeng (Pasband), he was my idol when I was in high school. At that time he recorded his song with his band project, Blow Up.

Coming slowly to the end of this nice interview…what are you busy with these days? We’ve discused Sevenstringattack already…anything else in work?

For now maybe I’m busy working with my normal life. I also still work as a sound engineer in my small studio. There are no plans to release more songs yet.

Oh yeah, I’m working on a new song with Henohenomoheji right now. And I have another instrumental project with my lecturer, I just recorded 1 song but it hasn’t been officially released yet. because we have each other’s activities. Hopefully this project will finish soon, I hope Indokult can listen to it and I hope you can listen it too!

And the usual last question….any final message to the readers of Indokult?

Thank you for reading this interview, and to Indokult readers – Stay safe and healthy! And of course, for you too, Rudolf & Indokult. I hope to see you someday! Thanks again!

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ivanfabiandevota

Bandcamp: https://ivanfabiandevota.bandcamp.com/

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I am the founder/owner and editor-in-chief of the Rubber Axe webzine, the underground/overground cultural publication, publishing also this website dedicated to all things Indonesian. I'm a happily married guy with 2 kids and a fantastic wife, and I'm a relentless discoverer of all things cultural and culinary. An everlasting dreamer and idealist.

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