There is a man… (an interview with Januaryo Hardy)

Honestly, I just wanted to ask Januaryo a few questions about “The Forlorn Soldier”, an EP from his band Pure Wrath (well, one of his bands, to be correct). However, there is no way one can see the man’s work and be content just with a handful of questions!

Therefore, I’ve dared to ask a few more – I hope this great Indonesian musician won’t mind!

Well, hello from Indokult to the faraway country of Indonesia! And, of course, many many thanks for your time! How are you doing, Januaryo, these days?

Thanks for reaching me out. I’m being very well and productive as much as I can.

You certainly are a busy person, bro, there’s no doubt about it, and your musical journey clearly shows it. Let me ask you then – when did you start to develop the passion for the extreme music? What band/album was responsible for you start delving into the underground stuff?

My serious approach in extreme metal started in my high school days. It was a huge phase for me to be fit in the local metal scene and technically understand the music itself. Being around bands and label people, I also learned how to convert the passion into a physical result such as records, live shows, etc.

Too many albums in my list back then, but if I could name some, those are: Brodequin’s Festival of Death, Deeds of Flesh’s Inbreeding the Anthropophagi, Wodensthrone’s Curse, Vallendusk’s self-titled EP, and Alcest’s Ecailles de lune, Gorguts’ Obscura.

I know you mostly because of Pure Wrath material, but as active musician, your career started a few years before that band…from what I could find out, your first band was Infested Flesh – how old have you been then? According to my count, about 15…, right?

Yes, I started Perverted Dexterity as Infested Flesh back when I was 15. That was a huge year for me because I found out how to make an album myself in my bedroom. Just myself and a computer. Very very experimental year and also exhausted as a teenager. So many things to taste, to try, to have, ahaha.

Before we continue, I think it’s really worth of mentioning, that not a few acts you’ve associated with are actually your solo projects, and I can see that you can play a variety of instruments (not mentioning handling vocal duties). Is working solo something you tend to prefer? Because I don’t think you couldn’t find musicians in Indonesia… 🙂

I feel more comfortable working alone since I really want to keep my music personal as much as I can, and be responsible for that as much as I can. Actually, I don’t close the door for other people since I also work with collaborators and live players in Pure Wrath, being in a band with Cadavoracity, etc, as long as the music remains close to me and we share the same mindset in it. There is always a reason for other people to be included in my music or not. But of course, for Pure Wrath, Perverted Dexterity, Lament, or anything that has started as a solo project, I always keep the writing process very very personal.

OK, back to Infested Flesh – I don’t have any information at all about this project of yours. Would you be so kind to travel back in time in your memories and tell us something about it?

It’s just the old name of Perverted Dexterity. I cancelled the release of the 2-tracks demo back in 2010 because I changed the perspective of this project and I didn’t like the name. But finally that unreleased demo is included in a demo/promo compilation CD entitled “Congeries of Primitive Barbarity” which was released 9 years after.

In 2010 Infested Flesh changed into Perverted Dexterity (and the band is kicking mightily even in 2021). Why the change? Also is it still a solo project?

I didn’t like the name because too cheesy and childish in my taste. A better name for that project was needed since I have never been interested to talk about gore, killing people, eating corpses, or anything like that. Too boring for me. So I created my own realm in it and write a trilogy based on what’s in my mind. And yes, it’s a “one-man show” project which I also play live with drum backing tracks on stage.

Obviously, the lyrics are a subject of its own, I’d like to stop here…with Perverted Dexterity, Encyclopaedia Metallum states, the lyrical subjects as “prehistoric/primitive living, brutality, barbarity, gore”. Now, we all get the latter – but what about that “prehistoric/primitive living”? Can you tell me more about it, and what fascinates you in this subject?

Actually, it’s wrong information. Perverted Dexterity doesn’t talk specifically about prehistoric living, brutality, or barbarity in general but a realm based on my fantasy. Those things obviously included in it since the main idea is to re-create our realm as human-beings in another perspective…my perspective, and telling the whole story with spices of mythology and metalinguistic metaphors.

In 2011 your music duties involved playing bass for Abonation and Vomit Larynx. As I know you are originally from Bekasi (and Abonation is a death metal band local to Bekasi), I’d assume Vomit Larynx was/is Bekasi based too, right?

Yes, those bands were founded by my friends in Bekasi. I was hired to play bass.

I have a feeling that Vomit Larynx has morphed into Cadavoracity, as I can see you are playing in the latter with Nano Sudarsono, who was also in Vomit Larynx. And mentioning Cadavoracity, I can’t forget to mention the great beast of the drummer, Mr. Polwach! Wait! Where’s the question? There it is! Seeing your music (as far as I can ascertain), is divided between a variety of black metal subgenres (atmospheric, ambient, symphonic) and brutal death metal …which genre do you personally prefer the most and why?

Actually Nano decided to end the band Vomit Larynx since he was unable to reach his personal approach in music with the band. Then he founded Cadavoracity with Deddy Permadi and then asked me to join the band and take care of the production. Polwach joined the band 8 years later.

I definitely prefer to play black metal after 12 years of being abused by brutal death metal. I feel there are so many things in black metal that can help me to cope with personal struggle, being myself, being honest and completely responsible for the music and lyrics. I do still love brutal death metal but more like being in the background as a producer or mixing engineer. Too tired to write more 290 bpm palm-muted riffs and being blasted by 16-notes fake-ass bass drum while writing brutal death metal songs.

Now we’re getting to the mighty Pure Wrath, your atmospheric black metal project. That’s quite a jump – from brutal death metal to black metal…but I have to say, I have a soft spot for this project of yours. What have led you to start playing black metal, any particular reason?

Since I was teenager, I always wanted to play so-called one-man raw black metal, just like Burzum, Striborg, Xasthur, Leviathan, Taake, you name it. I did the first demo of Pure Wrath that has never been published and it sounded pretty raw and sick in my opinion. But then I decided to change my perspective to something purer, honest, earthly, no gimmick, no bullshit. Then I realised that this it it! This is what I want and the answer to all these projects I have done myself. Being pure and honest in music.

I’d like to stop at “The Forlorn Soldier” EP. I have to admit I haven’t listened to the whole Pure Wrath discography (yet), but for some strange reason this little EP resonates with me every time I am listening to it…and I find it interesting – the cover (done by Aghy Purakusuma, the vocalist from Digging Up and great artist responsible also for many other album covers) is similar to Sufism’s “Republik Rakyat Jelata”… and it can definitely be classed as Indonesian folkish art. How important is this national element in your music? And, can you tell me more about this awesome EP? I always wonder about the outro to “When a Great Man Dies”…the old man’s words…what does he say?

Pure Wrath never meant to be nationalistic or folkish in anyway, since I’m not a nationalist and will never be. This EP tells about the massacre that happened in 1965 where people, including a member of my family, were kidnapped, killed, persecuted, discriminated against, raped by the armies of the tyrant in accusation of being a part of communism. Politics aside, this event happened in the era of west and east bloc and Indonesia is located in a hot area and surrounded by both side’s proxy countries. It’s so sad and depressing since this has never been told or included in our education or if so, they invert the reality with propaganda in the name of so-called nationalism. So many young people aren’t even aware of this thing, so I think it’s a good way to make them aware by listening to Pure Wrath. I hope so.

I think Sufism also shared the same mindset with me at least in a protest way. Their cover art may look beautiful and captivating with all those traditional Indonesian environments, but you have to read their lyrics on that album. They are very strong with their traditional aspect but in the “f**k government” way. Just like the album title that translates to: Republic of Poor People.

Obviously, this is not the only material from Pure Wrath…your latest release was a live album (Live at Cryptid’s Lair)…it’s still fairly fresh, being released in February 2021. What made you to record it? I admit I haven’t heard it yet, so I can’t comment…how satisfied have you been with it?

It was recorded in my session bass player’s house during our boredom of pandemic break. We couldn’t play live, all of our agenda was messed up, South East Asian tour dates were cancelled, so we decided to do something small yet make us happy. Actually, it was a video project of Pure Wrath that was published on Youtube in December 2020. I just re-released it on tape in the early of 2021. Just for fun.

I have no doubts you already cooking something new in the Pure Wrath’s kitchen…can you share any information about a possible new opus? Any songs already created?

The new album has finished in July. I just wait for the best time to release it, maybe in winter. The new album has really big changes from the previous ones in many ways. I’m so excited to share it with the people. 

Your other black metal (sort of) outfit bears the name Lament. For those who haven’t heard the fantastic 2020 album “Visions and a Giant of Nebula”…how would you explain the difference between Lament and Pure Wrath?

That album was created on purpose as a tribute to my all time fav band, Alcest. The music itself is based on Alcest’s discography. But the real Lament will be very different. This project has nothing to do with black metal or even metal in general. It’s something else, experimental, deep, and soft. The new album will be out in early 2022. I think I’m gonna share the new song in the next few weeks.

And mentioning Lament, this project of yours has also served as an opener (along with As Bright as the Stars, the project of Bangoen from Dusk in Silence) for your label Twilight Rain. That’s also interesting topic…obvious question would be: “Why?” (haha). But seriously… Why the need for a label? A need for the artistic freedom or complete control from the creating of the music to its output on the market?

Yeah, actually that was an unnecessary thing. I shut this label down already and will remain as Pure Wrath’s very own label only.

Returning to “Visions and a Giant of Nebula”…what is this album about? Is there any connection between the cover art and the music/lyrical content?

I try to talk about my childhood thoughts and dreams, also my weirdest nightmare about a huge giant person with fur like a bear with crown and empty eyes that still scares me a lot if I think about it now. This thing is called Gendruwo by javanese people.

Let’s talk about yet another projects of yours ….Urged, for example. You are united again with Polwach Beokhaimook (this time, surprisingly, on vocals) and supported by Peter Sengvixay on drums. What can you tell us about this international band?

I started this project with Peter back in 2018 the night after Perverted Dexterity’s show in Laos. We shared the same mindset in brutal death metal and wanted to do something nasty and disgusting. Polwach joined the band a year after to complete the vocals, lyrics, and artwork concept of the album. We supposed to tour Japan in 2020 but pandemic…ugh.

The year of 2021 saw quite a lot of releases bearing your name. We have already mentioned a few, but there’s also a band Omnivorous…I have noticed the release of the self-titled 2021 album…it was released after quite a long (well, in your case, definitely long 🙂 ) time, the last record of the band dates do 2015…what has happened to produce a new album after such a long time?

I joined the band in 2015 just a few months after their debut EP was released. It takes so long because Denny, the guitar player of the band, was in a very busy time with his well-known big band, Starlit. Since I don’t write any music in it, I just let it flow and wait for him until it happens in 2020. Again, all the important albums released in a very bad year. Hahaha.

I have a few projects/bands left, so, firstly – Bloodriven. Apparently, only one song – “Otnamus” – was released to the public in 2019. Is this project (or band) still active? Can we expect more from Bloodriven any time soon?

We have finished the drums, bass, and guitar recording since 2020 but the vocalist, Daniel, was very busy with DeadSquad and went in trouble for a few months. But I guess soon we will finish this EP and release it sometime in 2021.

To complete (although I am pretty sure you are already working on some new project 🙂 ) the list of your bands and projects …there are two I have no info about – Excruciation and Wept. What can you tell us about these?

Excruciation is my gorenoise project and Wept is my experimental harsh noise/drone project. I don’t have any ideas to tell since usually these projects are spontaneous. Maybe tomorrow I have a new album, or maybe in 10 years. I don’t even know.

I’ve noticed Perverted Dexterity are playing in Germany next year (fingers crossed). Will this be your first gig in Europe?

For West Europe, yes. I was playing a gig in Moscow in February 2019. I wish to play in more cities after Berlin Death Fest. Would be very amazing!

Nearing towards the end of this interesting interview – what are the plans for the near future for Januaryo?

I just want to play shows as much as I can with Pure Wrath and Perverted Dexterity. So many plans were forced to be cancelled in 2020 and 2021. I hope next year will happen.

I always consider it somewhat mandatory to ask about recommendations for our readers for good, although not so known Indonesian bands and artists. You are active in a few cities (Jakarta, Bekasi…), so I guess your knowledge of the ID scene is pretty great, right? So, what bands would you recommend for our readers to check?

Vallendusk, Choria, Gerogot, Decayed Flesh, Avhath, Scaller, Lips, Knuckle Bones, Semiotika. Too many bands! You can stalk my Facebook timeline. I think that’s better since most people keep thanking me for sharing music they’ve never listened to before, besides memes.

And the last one is here…any final message to our readers?

Keep hygienic, keep calm, keep being productive, don’t drink pathetic coffees, stop eating sugar, drink wisely, pay your bills, love animals, love your parents, love your friends, love yourself, don’t be an asshole, ACAB!

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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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