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Kidung Kembara, A Testament of Humanity in Times of Adversity — We Create!

Right when most of the girls I knew were climbing up a career ladder, Lala has chosen to spend her mid-twenties taking care of other people — a husband, a son, and a daughter. Being single and rather ambitious at work, I found it hard to relate when my dearest friend shared her experience as a young mother, “My mental health had been deteriorating since early 2019, I was diagnosed with a condition, was very anxious, on meds, had anger issues, and in all-time-low.”

I was anguished over the fact that all my go-to advice to take a break, follow your passion, loving yourself, fell flat for her. “I remember our trip to Semarang with the whole family couldn’t ward off my anxieties. Then we moved to a new house. Then I lost myself and lost my purpose in life. I didn’t know who I am, I had no energy to go through each day. I lost my self-esteem as well. Self-love? I kept saying self-love but I didn’t know how to love myself back then.” she warded.

Even under a normal condition, it was hard for me to imagine having such responsibilities when I still found myself strangled even with the simple task of doing laundry regularly. So when the deadly viruses swept across my country, Indonesia, I was devastated. Her story is only one of the struggles I imagined will be much harder to bear in the face of the pandemic.

Abim, my friend from Germany told me that he had became more accustomed to being yelled, “Scheisse auslaender!” since the corona hit the country. Being a foreigner at that time was an easy target for the natives channeling their frustrations. He and other stranded students were to blame for stealing their job opportunities. Since the situation he encountered seems to get worse, he went back to Indonesia and abandoned his study completely.

I didn’t blame the Germans. I couldn’t. I might do the same thing in their position. March 2020, when the virus was tightening its clutch in Indonesia, I was anxious about the unsettling development told by the media and my friends. Bad news bombarded me one after another. I was starting to blame the government and cursing myself for the state I was in. Yet since I couldn’t afford to meet people to yell at them because of the lockdown, I tried to vanquish my angst through the life-saving activity I was familiar with: songwriting.

Back in February 2016, songwriting was able to get me out of my depression. Even though I had neither prior experience nor expectation, my attempt to wrote songs every day as a way to distract myself from self-destructing thoughts brought me to meet new best friends. As I completed a whole month publishing my amateur-ish songs on Path, my friends asked me to continue the challenge for another month as they wanted to join. Before I knew it, what was once a selfish motivation, grew into an intimate five-person group.

That very experience motivated me to do the same in the first lockdown in 2020. I reached out to my friends to re-do the challenge, including Lala. The motivation was quite simple and selfish, I yearned for a supportive peer to get through the ever depressing quarantine. The only difference was, this time we did it on Instagram through @songperdayyy account. A decision that turned out, changed everything.

The challenge reached many souls and manifested into a supportive community. It lasted for 40 days, joined by more than 70 participants from all over Indonesia to Australia, collectively managed to create more than 500 songs, and many of them were created collaboratively with friends we wouldn’t even meet otherwise. We came from various backgrounds, there were few professional musicians, but most of us were not. Some of us didn’t even submit a single song throughout the challenge. Misha for example has been a keen supporter of the movement by designing characters for the participants in which spun into the birth of a fantasy world, Solemn Kingdom.

Despite gruesome boredom and massive financial downturn, I reckoned maybe the pandemic was a necessity. Nada, one of the participants who recently lost his father due to the virus told me, “I’m grateful. My family was busy working, traveled across Indonesia. Pandemic has forced us to stay at home in Lampung. I have a year of quality time with my dear family before my father passed away this year.”

Nada’s story is quite dramatic for some but I believe it isn’t further than the truth. No one expected to live through a pandemic. Yet here we are, being forced to adapt, strive, and seize the life we have been lucky to have. Lala illustrated how the pandemic surprisingly gave her a better mental state and overall self-development, “Because of the pandemic, everything is online. I took classes that I couldn’t take if held offline because I have to take care of the children at home. I connected with new people I never thought I could meet. I took acting, vocal, and dance classes, I wrote more songs, I became more attached to my tap shoes, I run more seriously even joining races, I entered the stock market when IHSG plunged and gain the profit at the end of the year, I recorded a podcast, I hosted talk shows.”

Hence the community’s idea to create an album from all the songs created throughout the challenge was once maybe an innocent idea, yet as I witnessed the process over a year, I was convinced it came from a deeper source as a human; an instinct to survive. For some, it might be by watching movies, doing sports, or swiping matches on dating apps. For us, it happened to be by singing our hearts out.

We called ourselves a community of birds and bards who live in a fantasy world, Solemn Kingdom.

Since its initiation in March 2020, we have fostered a new community; the supportive, productive, creative one that none of us has ever dreamed to have.

Pandemic brought us together, wandered from all over the place to make music together. The phenomenon which we tried to encapsulate in our album title, Kidung Kembara. Kidung is an Indonesian word for chant, and kembara means wanderer. An album to celebrate the anxiety that has been accentuated the wanderer’s soul inside us for finding recluse on the internet, and the frustration that has been amplified what was once dormant voices.

My favorite author, Joseph Campbell shared a fitting anecdote in his book, The Hero with Thousand Faces, “There is an important idea in Nietzsche, of Amor fati, the “love of your fate,” which is, in fact, your life. As he says, if you say no to a single factor in your life, you have unraveled the whole thing. Furthermore, the more challenging or threatening the situation or context to be assimilated and affirmed, the greater the stature of the person who can achieve it. The demon that you can swallow gives you its power, and the greater life’s pain, the greater life’s reply.”

From the first song in the album with Dinar-T lit rap verses asking for Covid-19 to stop, to the last song by Ruri with her reassuring sing-a-long. Each song in the album was written, sung, and produced by the community which I believe has won over their demon, loving their fate as an insecure, anxious, ever-growing human nature. Compared to the ongoing Tokyo Olympics, we may not be as festive. Nevertheless, Kidung Kembara is and will always be our humble testament of what humans are capable of in times of adversity. We create. One song at a time.



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