REKTI YOEWONO

A musician by the name of Rekti Yoewono pierced through the industry with his band The S.I.G.I.T as a rock revivalist since 2003. About 19 years later, we met him in Berawa, Bali. He was not rocking in some concert but relaxing at a warung. We had a pleasant conversation about rock through his musical voyage, roll through his love for bicycle, and how it both connects as his own version of a “rock and roll” life.

After a week of cycling, Rekti’s holiday finally came to an end. Every day he ride, and goes everywhere with his bike—alone or with a peloton. Rekti is known as a vocalist and guitarist of The Super Insurgance Group of Intemperance Talent (S.I.G.I.T), a rock band from Bandung, Indonesia. But these days, his love for bicycle seems to put the “roll” in rock and roll.

“There’s a universal feeling or sensation when you are riding in a quiet place. You can actually get the feeling anywhere. But in Bali you can find that quiet place quicker in an hour or two. When you are riding in cities like Bandung or Jakarta, it’s harder and also takes longer to find that certain place of quietness…The feeling that I get is peace—”

Suddenly a loud motorcycle pass through us and for a split second we stopped talking.

“Yeah, at peace and definitely not distracted by those kind of noises,” said Rekti jokingly with a hint of smile. “When riding a bike we can notice things that we never notice before, like a spectacle from natural formations and also the weather. Where instead seeing through a phone, we see our surrounding such as clouds and wind direction.”

We talk while we eat. We continue to talk when the plate is empty. A big glass of sweet es jeruk accompany Rekti, and the conversation moves smoothly like the wheels of a bicycle cruising on a road without any potholes.

 

When did you first get into bicycling, and why?

At first, I had this hobby of collecting old motorcycles and other vintage things. At that time, I also take an interest in vintage bicycle aesthetics. I think it was 2010 when the fixed-gear bike was trending. I admire their looks and how it’s functional until the present day—not to mention how they are unchanged.

I didn’t own a bike though, I don’t want it to be unused. Bandung was a city with many hills. It was hard to use fixed-gear. But when the pandemic hits in 2020, I want to go outside. There’s nothing outside, but when riding a bicycle that’s what you seek! So, I bought one and eventually used it for daily transportation—riding from home to the studio or my record store. I also meet new people and communities after that.

How about when you were a child? Did you ride a bike back then?

Oh yeah, I rode my bike a lot back then. I lived in Hiroshima, Japan from the age of 5 to 13 years old, and went everywhere with friends from the lake to the mountain. I went to school with a bike…they actually teach you how to properly ride it in school. There was a test and you must pass it.

Did your rekindled love for bicycle reflect your childhood? How did it affect you to the present day?

I remember it, and it definitely affects me in some ways. If for example I am lost, I used to try to find a fast solution like ordering an online ride. Sometimes a fast solution isn’t needed, so the reason for them tends to be an escape from a situation.

Nowadays when I am riding my bicycle I don’t need that fast solution…I’m in no hurry and not afraid to get lost. I guess I am braver…just like when I was a child. But when I was younger I know less, hence worry less. When you’re an adult there’s a moment of evaluation. Doubts come but courage can overcome them.

How’s the bike riding experience in Bali?

I went riding with some friends in the Tabanan area. It’s a slow ride and gets faster when we cruise downhill. The enjoyable part of riding a bike is you can go slow, go fast, or just simply mix it both. If for instance there’s a 5 kilometers road with rice fields that surrounds us. We can drive fast for about 2 kilometers and go slow afterward to enjoy the view—or vice versa.

Does bicycling affect your music in any way?

Ngaruh pisan, yes indeed. From physical health to mental. I don’t feel tired after an hour of playing a show and I also have control of my mood. I feel the music more and more, my nerves will wire faster when I practice, play on stage, and even when hearing songs. The songs that I make become more comprehensive and the old ones have some new interpretations when I play them live.

Do you remember the first time when The S.I.G.I.T played in a show?

It’s in Universitas Parahyangan, Bandung. The year was 2003, and one of the songs that we played was Soul Sister.

Almost 20 years have passed and The S.I.G.I.T is still rocking out. What is the difference if you compare your first show in 2003 to the last one in 2022?

Well, the fact is we are older and we are not as stronger as in our younger days. Back then we were explosive, now we can control that explosion. In the past we want it to be all out…but rock and roll have to be composed or controlled. Although we rarely played Soul Sister, we use it as a repertoire in our last Bandung show on September 2022. We haven’t stopped creating music, and in the future, we will release some new songs.

If you have to describe yourself, who is Rekti Yoewono?

Defining yourself is not easy. I agree with Jason Ranti that hidup cuman numpang ketawa or life passes by only for us to laugh (a lyric from Sekilas Info). Alright, customizing a line from him, hidup cuman numpang kokoreh or life passes by only for us to keep digging.

Kokoreh is a Sundanese language for digging, and I dig anything from music to life. There’s a pattern though, you can write it down, or map it. For instance, I found a beautiful big shell on a beach, and then I found another one on a different beach, I can map out the similarities between both. This is also kokoreh (showing his bicycle GPS). Everything is out there and it’s for us to kokoreh.

Favorite places to eat or drink in Bali?

This place! Nasi campur at Warung Maaaak. I also ate noodles in Djie Tjap. If the food is good, it’s a bonus for me—I don’t have a preference. I actually eat anything as long as it’s not haram. For bike rides, there’s one route in Tabanan called Cau Belayu. We also went riding in Ubud, and stopped at a place called Flock. A couple of coffee shops that I visit are Fiet and Semeja.

Are there any Balinese bands that you liked?

Soulfood, White Swan, and Rollfast. I haven’t watched many gigs in Bali. Although I went to 40 Thieves to watch this acoustic band that is friends of Soulfood. I drink a glass of soda at the bar.