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Excursions: Vacation Records is bringing the fun back to events in Jakarta

The crew candidly reveal about messing up setups, prolonging parties, crowdsurfing sofas and more — all in a night’s work for them

  • Henry Cooper
  • 6 March 2024

Welcome to Excursions; our feature series where we interview the providers of cultivating dance floors and distinctive musical affairs from around Asia. This week, get ready to read the stories from Jakarta-based collective, Vacation Records.

It's a fine line balancing fun whilst maintaining that cool, underground and exciting energy, with many events leaning too far in one direction. When we come across events that manage this balancing act so effortlessly, it deserves attention.

That is what the team behind Vacation Records have accomplished, and they’re seemingly living up to their name and bringing partygoers on vacation to forget the real world for an evening and enjoy the immense talents they showcase.

Professionalism and quality, without losing what parties should be about. Fun and passion.

They’ve brought over scene-leading names in house such as Baldo, Abdul Raeva, and DJ Masda, worked with other promotors leading the way such as Australia’s S.A.S.H. and more, all while holding down their own record store in the capital, showcasing a mind-boggling spectrum of music. What’s more, they have a label living up to their name coming later this year.

It seems Jakarta is only the start, with aspirations of going international on the horizon, but what they’ve been getting up to in Indonesia’s capital is nothing short of incredible. Creating and paving their own lane and bringing exceptional talents over to the capital.

We caught up with the brains behind Vacation — Angga, Deva, Obi, Adit and Ray — to chat about wild moments they’ve had, dream line-ups and what's next in store for the crew.

What makes Vacation Records unique?

We don’t think we are. We are always honest in our music selection and the way we create events. So all the tunes you listen to are what we personally love, and the events we create are the kind of events we enjoy attending. We believe that we bring a specific type of sound that is still relatively new and fresh here in Indonesia…and making sure vinyl turntables are used and driven into proper soundsystems during our signature event, Still on Vacation.

Enlighten us on your beginnings; what was the root idea behind Vacation Records?

Just like when we’re on vacation, even the most mundane activity can feel special. Morning walks feel better, and cups of coffee taste better. People have excuses to break their routines when they’re on vacation.

In a fast-paced city like Jakarta, we want people to feel that way through our music and events. But we had quite a unique start. Five guys who didn’t really hang out with one another but always crossed paths in events happening in Jakarta. All of a sudden, we were just drawn into one another through our personalities and passion for a certain spectrum of electronic music.

Can you tell us about the first Vacation Records event?

It was intense. We got a challenge from a venue to bring DJ Masda to their venue, with a preparation time of five days. We definitely accepted the challenge and booked him. We set up the DJ booth with turntables (without having any experience of setting up turntables at a party), and as expected, we kinda fucked up! One of the turntables had a technical issue. But thankfully, the problem was solved.

And how have your events evolved since then?

We learned and improved everything, the set-up, the sound system, the promotion and other logistical elements. Until the second coming of DJ Masda, he checked the set-up and said “good job”! Might be something simple but, to us, it’s a big deal. Other than the technicalities of the event, we also noticed a growth in our audience and that our events have somewhat become a melting pot and definitely a safe space for our attendees.

Describe a typical Vacation Records attendee! What would they be wearing, drinking and talking about?

So far, from what we’ve seen, we see quite a diverse crowd from old and young, music nerds to socialites, and wholesomely clueless people who still enjoy the vibe. Fair to say it’s an interesting mix of humans (hopefully they’re all humans) who attend our events. Some of them would have a long drink in their hand, talking about the daily insanity of the city, and some are locked in the dancefloor with their soft drink, talking about the music being presented by the DJs playing at our event.

Is there anything specific about Jakarta as a city that adds to the value of Vacation Records?

With its traffic, pollution, hot weather, and whack regulations from the government, Jakarta causes many people to prefer to stay at home unless it’s a “special event”. People consider “who holds the event and where it takes place” when choosing what to attend.

So in Jakarta, where “who” and "where” seem to matter more, we make sure our “what” matters, too, with good music, neat setup, and events worth going to.

We somewhat managed to have our events in their consideration to be one of the “go-to” events despite the obstacles that we face here in the city. Other than that, with all the insanity of this metropolitan city, it’s inevitable that it did quite impact the sound we bring. We love having a little chaos in the harmony of the music that we present at our events.

Read this next: All about the optics: reflections and recollections from visionary mavericks in Jakarta

How does Vacation Records compare to the rest of Indonesia’s scene in terms of genre and goals?

In terms of genre, not many organisers present the type of music that we play. We’ve got our friends Perky Club and Tantra Bali, who are somewhat in the same spirit and spectrum of music as us. On one hand, it’s extra work introducing new and different types of sound to the crowd, but on the other, it’s exciting to be part of the growth of the music scene here in Indonesia.

One of our main goals is to keep physical records relevant to Indonesia’s club culture. That’s why we opened up Vacation Records Store to make vinyl accessible to the people.

What makes a good party/event in your eyes?

Proper soundsystem. Fun and inclusive attendees, with a great flow of music selections.

What's one thing the world doesn’t know about Jakarta’s music scene?

That it’s more vibrant than people think. A lot are doing their thing in the shade since we don’t have many venue options here in Jakarta to be idealistic with music. Also, most clubs don’t really accept non-commercial music, so we usually work our magic and turn lounges and restaurants into a “club”.

What are the best and the worst things about the nightlife in Jakarta?

The Best: Lots of upcoming artists and collectives, not just in Jakarta but throughout Indonesia, are doing a movement on the down low and building a name for themselves with some high-quality goods.

The Worst: Good quality afters are not exactly compatible with Jakarta due to its “scary” regulations. In our opinion, the true ones are usually found in these after-hours sessions.

Read this next: This is Salt A Way: 24+ hours of non-stop sonic euphoria by Indonesia's Sunda Strait

Favourite event / DJ set so far that you’ve hosted?

Magico (Ring Seoul), DJ Masda (Cabaret Recordings), and Andy Luff (Picnic Records).

Top 3 tracks you’ve heard play at one of your events?

1. Hazed 'Disconnected Long Distance Mix' [Hallucination HAL007]
2. Binari '¿Qué Está Pasando? ¡No Os Marchéis! (Binamix)' [KGB Records MSK010]
3. Brent 'Liquid Gold' [Gradient LDN G001]

What cities/venues across Asia would you love to bring Vacation to?

Bangkok’s Never Normal, Seoul’s Ring, Hanoi’s Savage, and Hong Kong’s 宀 Club!

What would be your dream line-up for a Vacation Records event if budgeting wasn't an issue?

- Jane Fitz B2B Nicolas Lutz
- Francesco Del Garda
- Onur Ozer
- Unai Trotti
- Binh B2B Batu

Any funny stories you’ve had happen at one of your events?

On Halloween 2023, we hosted a party with Youandewan as our headliner. Ghouls, Pirates, Curvy Symbiote Spidermans, and other mythological entities were all in attendance. During the peak time of the event, someone thought it would be fun to lift up one of the sofas of the venue and started passing it around like it was crowd surfing. That was pretty insane!

Read this next: “Jakarta is where it all started": Kusuma imparts the beauty in the beast

Proudest moment of Vacation Records so far?

We hosted Baldo for the first time in Jakarta. It was one of our busiest nights. We have everything checked on “what makes a good party/event”. The night was so busy, when the venue had to be closed at 2am, we kept the music going, and people stayed until the management of the outlet forced us to stop at 4:30am. That was the first time that particular venue had to stay open until that late.

What does 2024 have in store for Vacation Records?

We will finally (fingers crossed!) live up to our name and have our first release, which will be pressed on vinyl. Watch our space to get some developing country electronic music!

Follow Vacation Records on Instagram.

Henry Cooper is a Writer at Mixmag Asia. Follow him on Instagram.

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