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White Shoes and The Couples Company: The Perks of Traveling As A Band

Music gives you wings. While the quote is probably something we made up just now, White Shoes and The Couples Company has proved it right. Texas, Hongkong, Cannes, India, Helsinki, Stockholm, Copenhagen, and Berlin are few cities where White Shoes and The Couples Company has ever had their showcases in. Want to hear their insight as a group of frequent flyers? Hop on, we’re in for a ride with Sari, Ale, Mela, Ricky, Rio, and John.

How would you sum up your last European tour with only one word? And why is that?
Superb! Because it is.

These last few years you have traveled to so many countries, you even went around Europe twice. While there are bands who struggle hard to fulfill an invitation to perform abroad. How’s your experience?
Before we agreed upon a performing request –especially from somewhere far like Europe, we calculate first, like the impact for us, the budgeting, the preparation. When the budget they provide for transport and accommodations are not enough and we still can work out the rest, we usually sell merchandise, artwork, or throw a pre-departure gig. There were also external financial supports from sponsors like PAREKRAF, Ford Foundation, Google Singapore, etc. KBRIs are also very supportive and helpful, they even came to watched our show in Helsinki. Sometimes we get invited to lunch or provided transportation.

Do you believe in crowd-funding?
Well.. We have never tried that. We think crowd-funding is still unfamiliar here in Indonesia, most people prefer to buy what’s in front of them, direct-selling kind of thing. We also admit that our online system still needs a lot improvement; we can barely handle t-shirt pre-order, moreover a crowd-funding. So.. maybe no, not yet.

Which one do you prefer: Traveling on duty as a band or traveling by yourself for fun?
Ricky: There is a certain value and pride of traveling as a band. We get to visit many countries, plus make our music broadcasted live, all around the world? Score.
Sari: It’s a delight to see the audience enjoying our performance, their smile and happy faces; it’s the kind of appreciation that sends good vibe to us, and it’s beautiful.
I also like how traveling with band is usually more organized.
Rio: When we’re in touch with the local audience after show, they often give us recommendation of non-touristic, great places to go to.

What things do you usually look for in a city you are at?
Rio: Flea market. Like in Finland we were looking for Marimekko, a Finnish line for product such as fabrics, housewares etc –super cool but also super expensive, yet we are lucky to found them there in flea market.
Ricky: Local things that cannot be found anywhere else, like this Dala horse-patterned bag, the horse is an iconic symbol originating from Swedish province. Other than that, I look for vinyl, and books about the country I’m at.
Sari: Local tea or coffee

What is your ultimate travel essential?
Stage costumes! We must look awesome in photos, so we cannot be seen wearing the same costumes for days. Always strive to look dashing, even when we are actually starving and lacking money, nobody needs to know.

Is there any bad habit or quirks in each of you that’s significantly shown when traveling?
Ale: Hmm nothing too significant, it’s the usual takes-too-long-to-dress-up-and-make-up for the girls, which we are used to.
Sari, Mela: Oh the boys are so, so loud sometimes me and Mela will just look down and momentarily pretend not to know them. But yeah, we can put up with that, we know they are just overly excited.
Ale: And the boys love field of green grass; we can’t not run and roll on them


Any particular band riders?
No, we are really easy to maintain, actually. All the rough days we endured in college, sleeping on rickety wooden chair every night, it kind of built us for the worst (laughs)
Rio: We don’t expect to get excellent services, but thankfully it was never unbearably bad.
Mela: In Indonesia we often get drivers or LO who will take us to places, while in Europe they let us wander alone. It gives us the chances to explore and get lost while looking for instagramable corner. That’s fun.
Sari: We enjoy hopping on different public transportation to engage with the city. The transportation in Europe is so convenient. I don’t get it when there are still people complaining; boy you have never been to my country.
Ale: Or Chennai

What about Chennai?
(The group burst out laughing and talking simultaneously)
Once we rode on a bus that doesn’t have side-window, so there’s only one front-window, can you imagine how stuffed it was? And The traffic is far worse than ours in Indonesia, it’s like they’re about to hit anything that stands in their way, except cows. And man, the city is jam-packed with people. Do you know how crowded Tanah Abang is near Lebaran time? Well that, times 1,000,000. Walking around will drown your energy in minutes. But the cool thing is its fresh air we breathe despite all the crowds of vehicles. It’s probably their technology. Oh and we are not allowed to smoke in public places. Once I got reprimand for lighting my cigarette in a fresh market. You are allowed to poo in public places, though. A lot of people walk around the city barefooted, even the one with suits and tie. Chennai was interesting and unforgettable; it makes coming home feels like rejuvenation.

Given another chance to fly again to India, will you take it?
Yes, but we would like to see another side of India other than Chennai

If you can choose freely, what kind of custom-made vehicle will you have to travel as a band?
(John directly answered “mini airplane” but the rest of the group opted for bus)
Sari: A bus with bathroom and toilet, so we don’t have to stop for pee
Mela: Make it double-decker
Ale: with DJ turn-table and mini kitchen

When you meet a foreigner who absolutely has no idea about Indonesia, what will you tell them?
Ricky: I will tell them that, you will meet a lot of passersby who will smile at you. Indonesian people are warm and friendly. Secondly, our spices and herbs here are so good even a vegetarian will be tempted to eat meat.

So as Indonesian people, what do you love about Indonesia?
Ale: It’s inexplicable, really. Like, no matter how long we were abroad, we always want to go back home. We have met people who brags about their home country but never go home, while Indonesian, we curse and loathe our country but always, always come back home.
Sari: Sirepnya kenceng.

Say that we give you a chance to be the conceptor of a music festival. We’ll provide everything; your wish is our command. What kind of festival would you make?
The festival will be held in a secluded island. So there will be shuttle buses from many pick-up points to the harbor, continued with ferry rides to the island. We have camping area and guest houses for rent. It’s a three-day festival with free flow of food and beverage. We will invite local and international bands, the great and the awful, just so the bad could learn from the good. There will be big tent for disco. And the name of the festival must be very Indonesian.

… And their touring life continues as their next stamp on their passport will be from Australian immigration, early August. Bon Voyage!

(photos source: wsatcc’s instagram)