Debuting onstage at the hallowed Wacken Open Air in July and whipping heads with the release of their School Revolution Remix EP this year, Indonesian rock and metal trio Voice Of Baceprot, aka VOB, are ending 2022 on a high via a sparkling protest track PMS which dropped on November 3.
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Short for “Perempuan Merdeka Seutuhnya” or “Wholly Independent Woman” in Bahasa Indonesia, the PMS origin story stems back to the band’s days in high school, written by Marsya (vocals, guitar), Widi (bass), and Sitti (drums) in 2017, along with their counselling teacher and mentor Abah Ezra.
Drawing from a series of short stories penned by Indonesian author Feby Indiranti, titled Bukan Perawan Maria (or Not Virgin Mary in English) and the band’s own personal frustrations, PMS energetically declares war on discrimination and judgemental behaviours that are often faced by women, with the group tackling antipathy, displeasure, and anger into their latest endeavour – but with a lively and head-turning twist.
“We wrote the song fuelled by the remaining energy that we had left after school. At the time, we were up to our necks with school activities, so we basically had to drag ourselves to the studio for workshops,” shares Marsya of the new track.
Hailing from a region heavily influenced by both religious and patriarchal values, VOB have themselves experienced and witnessed their fair share of gender-based discrimination personally and professionally; largely, the absence of life and career choices post-high school for many girls outside of marriage. And, as the band revealed, the discrimination isn’t solely reserved for males.
“Ironically, it’s not just the men who would display such behaviours, but also our fellow women too!” Marsya reveals.
While conjured back in 2017, the timely lyrical content of PMS remains contextual and relevant, not only in their hometown of Bahasa but also Indonesia and the world at large, with the English translation of some of the lyrics directly declaring: “Though not as virgin as Mary / I’m not your brain rotten slave / Even though she’s not as virgin as Mary / I am free, completely free!”.
Teaming up with producer Yuka Dian Narendra (GRIBS, Anda Perdana, Bonita), who expertly helped the trio flesh out key instrumental sounds and evolved the track from its original demo, VOB also worked alongside Howie Weinberg (Nirvana, Beastie Boys) on mastering, mixing by Tue Madsen, and with vocal director Irvan “IrvNat” Natadiningrat (Tiga Diva, Krisdayanti, Indonesian Idol, X-Factor) to help the band reach unexplored melodies, with the track bustling with an anime-esque character amidst fresh buoyant and upbeat charms.
“We definitely had our doubts in the beginning because it never occurred to us how a protest song could have vocal melodies of a sunnier disposition,” says Marsya of the new VOB sonic palette displayed on PMS. “However, once we tried it out and had a listen, we ended up loving the end results. It felt like there was another side to VOB that has never been unveiled before until now, with this approach. A fun side, yet still very much VOB.”
Starting life in 2014 while still in school, VOB quickly garnered attention on their YouTube channel, now boasting millions of views of their memorable covers of Rage Against The Machine, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Metallica, and Slipknot and snagging worldwide attention, including from the likes of Slash, Tom Morello, and RHCP bassist Flea.
Now having played international festivals and currently in command of hundreds of thousands of streams, this young, Indonesian, hijab-wearing female metal trio continue to break down stereotypes, and their brand new track PMS is a forthright and entirely beguiling release that firmly plants big musical seeds for 2023.
Purchase and stream here.