Bin Idris and Cathartic Music

At the end of 2016, Bin Idris’ name slowly emerged in the list of local musicians who were often considered “independent.” Despite the label, Bin Idris did more than just steal the show. He is able to draw the listener’s mind to a quiet experience that has never been felt. On the other hand, Bin Idris has admirable lyric writing capabilities.

Bin Idris is the name chosen by Mohamad Haikal Azizi for his solo project, in addition to his status as the vocalist of rock group Sigmun. For some reason or another, Haikal has found his way into unimaginable corners. The eleven tracks on Bin Idris’ debut album have their own charms. One of the strongest is Jalan Bebas Hambatan. It’s hard to deny the charm of the folk-style song. Bin Idris is able to recount trivial everyday events in precise lyrics and wrap them in an odd melody.

“I really enjoy writing and playing music, this project was born from that impulse. Maybe if I want to be more specific, why I feel the need for Bin Idris when there is already Sigmun is because not all of my musical ‘urges’ and needs can be released through Sigmun,” said Haikal.

Although often associated with folk music, Haikal actually feels that the music carried in the Bin Idris cloak – at least in this debut album – is pop, “I just don’t want Bin Idris to be too stuck in one particular genre and musical choice because this project for me must be able to accommodate all my experimentation.”

“Bin Idris in the last album, in my opinion, was more pop than folk, my intentions were more pop, for example in songs like Temaram, Rebahan or Di Atas Perahu, those are really pop, then songs like Tulang Dan Besi are folk or blues? Maybe we need to review the boundaries and points that cause music to be categorized as folk, this is the job of writers and journalists, ha-ha-ha. In America o

Aside from his music career, Haikal is also a fine arts lecturer at Telkom University. He completed his post-graduate studies and holds a Master’s degree from ITB’s Fine Arts department.

Haikal chose the name “Bin Idris” after his father.

“The name was chosen simply because I didn’t want to use my own name, Idris is my father’s name. It’s kind of a tribute.”

It is undeniable that listening to Bin Idris’ debut album makes us enter a strange dark atmosphere. I don’t know what formula Bin Idris uses, but the darkness he presents feels real. You can listen carefully to the tracks Rebahan, Temaram, or Dalam Wangi.

“I do have that tendency (to make music with a dark, gloomy feel), even though sometimes I’m not able to make songs that are happy and cheerful. Music for me has a cathartic function, there is a need to let go there. These tones are my attempt to release that darkness, hopefully not to add to it,” Bin Idris said.

Haikal doesn’t deny that the music under Bin Idris’ name does have a strong vortex, drawing the listener into a conversation with strangers and undecipherable sadness.

“Yes, as mentioned above, because my music has a cathartic and expressive function, it draws a lot from internal issues. “This ‘vortex’ I think exists in all of us, my vortex is easier for people to absorb because I transfer it into songs.”

Haikal admits that in his music library, he is familiar with the works of Bob Dylan, as well as the realm of delta blues, the works of Robert Johnson, Son House, and Skip James. But when it comes to creative process and genre, Haikal doesn’t have a specific template.

“I don’t think there’s anything special about my writing process compared to other musicians. There’s no ritual or specific time. I always try to write as many songs as possible, whenever, wherever. Whether it’s good or bad is for later. The same goes for the lyrics and content, the important thing is to save them first so that they can be reviewed and processed again later. The important thing is that the ‘urge’ is channeled first.”

“This intuitive way of working is the most comfortable for me. When it comes to lyrics, in my songs, the lyrics always come later after the music is finished, maybe it’s because of that intuitive way of working. All the sketches are listened to again and then reviewed, ‘I wonder what this is about,’ even though the big theme comes first, the lyrics are always written after the music is finished.”

Delving into Bin Idris’ works does imply a deep spiritual impression. The music is far from trivial and cheap, even when Bin Idris experiments with lyrics about everyday life like Jalan Bebas Hambatan. This is a strength that we rarely hear from the pop and folk scene in Indonesia.

“Everything happens without being planned. Maybe it’s the influence of my background, which was raised in a fairly devout Muslim family so that spirituality has become part of me and sometimes it sneaks in (into songs) without being asked or it could also be because the public has already labeled me as someone like that so there are already expectations, ha-ha-ha. For example, in the song “Dalam Wangi”, I didn’t try to give the impression of spirituality at all, but the public still responded like that,” said the man who also admires the musicality of Sore, Chrisye, and Dewa 19.

Creating a musical album that takes listeners down imaginative alleys is a success in itself. For Bin Idris, that should be his identity. Bin Idris is able to bring music to a certain level of nobility, which not all musicians can reach, especially in an era of technology that makes music so easy to make, and people so easy to claim themselves as musicians. With all this, it wouldn’t be wrong to say that Bin Idris has succeeded in bringing his listeners – and himself – to a cathartic experience.



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