Igor Tamerlan

By Yes No Wave Music

Every Indonesian who lived during the early 90s must have known the song Bali Vanili. A very popular song and laden with criticism of cosmopolitan living was created and sung by Igor Tamerlan, a visionary musician and unique background. 

Igor Tamerlan - Bali Vanilli cassette cover (1991) by Igor TamerlanYes No Wave Music

The song Bali Vanili may be considered as the first song ever made in Indonesia which incorporates vocal rapping in Balinese language. This song has made Igor Tamerlan so famous but also disappearing from national music industry.

Igor in his teenage yearsYes No Wave Music

Igor was born on the 8th of September in The Hague, The Netherlands with the name Igor Tamerlan Djoehana Wiradikarta and grew up in Paris, France until he was 35 years old. 

Igor sat number two from the left. 

Cassette cover of "First Step" (1981) by Igor TamerlanYes No Wave Music

In 1981, when Igor was still living in Paris, he releases his debut album called " Langkah Pertama" ("First Step") in cassette format in Indonesia. 

The song "Enak Skally" were a mix of ska and dangdut dedicated to a very famous Indonesian dangdut artist Rhoma Irama. He also uses popular Indonesian poetry in his music like "Aku" ("I") a famous poetry by Chairil Anwar and "Lautan" ("The Ocean") by WS Rendra . The pop contemporary style he played at that time however, is unusual in Indonesia music industry that the album did not make it the market.

Igor Tamerlan - Ocean from the album Langkah Pertama ("First Steps"), 1991

Igor Tamerlan in his Paris-based studioYes No Wave Music

Igor decided to come home to Indonesia and lived in Bali in 1986 because he feels the need to be close the family's culture. Five years later Igor released single "Gila Merk" which was sung by Gito Rollies and an album "Bali Vanili".

Igor Tamerlan - Gila Merk (Brand Freak), 2014

Just like earlier albums, on this album Igor combined world modern pop musich with Indonesian music. The album had a variety of music style and mesh modern international music with Indonesia folk music using various traditional music instruments like Balinese gamelan and electronics like MIDI, synthesizer, and sampling technique. He then collaborate with Gito Rollies in several songs and with young guitarist from Bali, Balawan. Rap style in Balinese language in his Bali Vanili language gave fresh take in rap and hip hip and became well known throughout Indonesia. There is one song from the debut album "Langkah Pertama" ("First Step") called "Pemalas" ("Lazy") in the phenomenal album. The song was performed in new arrangement and minus one version. The lyrics in the album was filled with criticism over consumerism, cosmopolitan culture that worships the West and exploitation of nature for tourism. 

The themes of the lyric used was described in detail in music video which was also directed by Igor Tamerlan. The video combines live action and animation. In short, Bali Vanili was a pop album that offers a new landscape to contemporary pop music in Indonesia and inspires alternative music. 

Igor Tamerlan - Made Di Bali Album Art, Igor Tamerlan, From the collection of: Yes No Wave Music
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However, the big success of "Bali Vanili" did not translate into monetary values. Igor went around from Bali to Java visiting music shops and discovered that his cassettes sales wasn't as what was reported by the label. In an interview in 1993 Igor gave a public statement on how he felt exploited and firmly stated war against the music industry. Since then no big music label wants to work with him. He manages to release an album called Metronama Records called "Made Di Bali". An album similar to "Bali Vanili" but did not manage to do well in the market. Since then he disappears from the popular music scene. He once stated that the future of music industry is the internet. A technology barely used and not well understood by Indonesian society back then.

Igor Tamerlan at his studio, From the collection of: Yes No Wave Music
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In his studio Bumi Ayu Sound Studio in Sanur, Bali, Igor hones his skills in media technology. He then focuses in creating audios and visuals and founded Indovision Prima Film. In 1994 he directed a music video, a single from a pop band KLA Project titled "Yogyakarta". The video received award as the best video at Indonesian Music Video 1994-1995. He also worked on the music video of "Kuingin" sung by Utha Likumahua. 

Bali Ethnic Fantasy by Igor TamerlanYes No Wave Music

In the early 2000s Igor releases several albums independently, some of them were "Bali Ethno Fantasy", "Bali Ethnicity" and "Bali Batak co." All three albums were done with house, techno, ambient, Balinese gamelan and archipelago traditional instruments. 

Bali Batak co. by Igor TamerlanYes No Wave Music

The themes were mainly about environmental issues. In this period Igor was involved in various environmental activism in Bali. The albums were produced in CD format using CD-RW that he then self publish. 

The album "Bali Batak co." even duplicated one by one according to the singer collaborator wishes and lets them sell themselves. 

Igor Tamerlan, Do it Duut

Igor once received a bequest from an investor which he uses to build an electronic instrument called Teknogong. The synthesizer instrument is shaped like a kulintang but instead of wood, he uses steel. There were two prototypes made but it didn't came to production and it is unable to be located.  

Igor Tamerlan - Trance Bali Express

In the next decade Igor moved to Bandung and then settled in Yogyakarta. He then created 3d animations and also wrote a blog that he named "IT3D" (Igor Tamerlan 3 Dimensions), these dimensions he has which is the dimension of Indonesia language, French and English. He wrote about his critics in cosmopolitan culture, consumerism, politics, nation mentality and environmental issues. 

His critical thoughts was expressed in 3D videos creations. His first work of "Wayang Orang Hutan" can be seen as the grand design of all of his works including the new version of "Bali Vanili" called "Bali Vanilli 21" 

Igor passed away in Yogyakarta on the 18 February 2018. As an homage to his progressive artistry, two of his video was shown on the Indonesia Netaudio Festival in Yogyakarta in August 2018. 

Credits: All media
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