Empat Lima is a Melbourne based female rock band inspired by 1960s Southeast Asian girl groups, most notably Dara Puspita from Indonesia. On March 29, 2015 Empat Lima is set to perform at the Copacabana in Collingwood with legendary Jakarta group The White Shoes & The Couples Company to promote and celebrate the achievements of the female arts community in both Australia and Indonesia. AIYA caught up with Sooji Kim, Empat Lima’s bassist to ask about the upcoming tour and discuss collaboration within the Australia-Indonesia arts community.

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Empat Lima: Sooji Kim, Carla Ori and Steph Brett. Photo: Theresa Harrison.

How would you describe your band to people (Australians and Indonesians) who haven’t heard you before?

We originally were inspired by 1960s girl groups from South East Asia, namely Dara Puspita from Indonesia. Although they are amazing musicians it is the energy and spirit of their sound that captured our attention and continues to inspire us. These women were revolutionary, and it is this energy that we hope to capture in our music. Other bands that influence our music include ESG, Blondie, the Boredoms and OOIOO.

Tell us about your upcoming tour. When and where will it be held?

We have invited the White Shoes and the Couples Company to Australia for a small run of shows, but mainly for the launch event for WANITA- Womens Arts Network Indonesia to Australia. This will be a huge event at the Copacabana in Collingwood that celebrates the diversity of female talent in Melbourne within the arts. There will be zine and art stalls, fashion shows, breakdancing and of course, bands. Empat Lima and the White Shoes will be joined by incredibly fun band Parking Lot Experiments. We saw them last week at a festival and their energy was exploding from the stage! This is an event that has been a long time in the making and we’re very excited about it. There will also be the culmination of our tour last year in Indonesia, in the form of the first WANITA mixtape and Zine to be launched on the day!

What are you looking forward to most about touring with White Shoes & The Couples Company?

It will be great to see these lovely people again! We had much fun when we played shows in Jakarta last year. I’m looking forward most just to see them play live again.

How did this collaboration begin? Who came up with the idea?

My housemate and I were brainstorming one night before the tour last year and came up with the idea for WANITA. We were looking at ways to further the connection with the female arts community in Indonesia while Empat was there on tour. As it turned out it was a great way to hold workshops and meet women within each city. We met so many interesting groups of people, and we learnt a lot about the different cultures of each place we visited. It made the tour a lot more meaningful and is a project that has the capacity to continue to evolve, which is satisfying.

Where do you see the progress of Australia-Indonesia collaboration through the arts?

I am hoping that this WANITA project will facilitate networks to develop within the Aus/Indo female arts community. There are a lot of incredible female artists I’ve met in Indonesia whose work draws a lot of parallels with artists from Melbourne. And yet the worlds are virtually unreachable to each other. Indonesia seemed to me to be a place where people meet and work through meeting each other, talking and organically reaching a point of collaboration. So I am trying to provide a point of introduction with WANITA. In the bigger picture, I see this as a small step to helping women and multicultural minorities to access more support within our community.

Do you think arts collaboration is strong at the moment or is there still a way to go?

There are strong projects between larger organisations in Melbourne doing fantastic collaborations with some Indonesian artists and musicians. There will be some more exciting projects planned for the coming year also. However, I’m interested in the smaller-scale community-building aspect of this project. I think there is plenty of room for growth in this area, and I’m looking forward to seeing how this develops through WANITA.

If you would like to know more about Empat Lima you can check out their Facebook page or better still come and see them for yourself!

The upcoming tour is proudly supported by AIYA Victoria.

wanita poster