Synth-building culture in Indonesia: An Interview with Lintang Radittya by Zacharias Szumer

Despite limited materials or professional instruction, Indonesia has an active and highly-creative DIY synth-building community. Apart from being given a ‘solder-your-own light-sensor noise machine’ as a souvenir at an experimental gig in Surabaya last year, I first discovered this community of DIY synth creators through the documentation efforts of Lintang Radittya on his blog Synthesia-id. Lintang Radittya has been making and documenting synths and synth-building culture in Indonesia for several years, and his blog is an amazing collection of the many extraordinary and bizarre synth creations he has found throughout Indonesia. He also makes and sells his own creations under the name Kenalirangkai Pakai. Zacharias Szumer sat down with Lintang to talk about his work and passion.

Zacharias Szumer: How and when did you start building your own synths?
Lintang Radittya: I started making synths about five years ago. In the beginning it was because, while synths were available in shops here, I wasn’t satisfied with what I could buy there. Not only were they too expensive, but there were sounds that I couldn’t make using those synths. But the main factor was the expensive price. Thats why I started making them myself.

Zacharias Szumer: Are you self taught?
Lintang Radittya: I learned to make synths by myself, but I started by searching on the internet, for schema’s or systems that could be made by people who were just beginning. Then, I started making the most simple ones, oscillators, 555 ic’s. That was my start of learning how to make synthesisers. From that beginning, I started making synthesisers that were more complex.

Zacharias Szumer: Do you have any major influences or people/Bands/ Projects that you love/ Inpsire you to make DIY synths?
Lintang Radittya: There are a few people that have had quite an influence on me, Robert Moog’s synthesisers are a major one. Other synth makers today that I like are Peter Edwards from casper Electronics, Eric archer, Gijs, meng qi,, and there’s a few more, but I don’t know their names, because they don’t give them on their websites, but I love the designs they’ve uploaded.

Red Rad Rambutans Synth by Uncle Twist (Surabaya)

Zacharias Szumer: When and why did you start cataloguing DIY synth building culture in Indonesia?
Lintang Radittya: Two or three years ago I started my blog Synthesia-id that documents the development of synth-building in Indonesia. It started when this other website mentioned with suprise that there was a synth-maker called Störn in Bandung, until that point people weren’t aware that Indonesia had a few synth makers that were quite good. So, I wanted to document a few friends that were making synths. So far, I’ve discovered around 40 or 50 synths. I am usually a bit late with my documentation. I also document workshops, shows that feature synths. The website shows anything to do with synth-culture in Indonesia.

Zacharias Szumer: You had a show recently in Yogakarta. What was the concept and how did it turn out?
Lintang Radittya: Actually I made that project as a kind of presentation. A have an analogue synth project, a modular synthesiser that I began about four years ago. The synth is called “the Javanese Modular”, and the concept of the presentation was to get some public opinion, because D.I.Y. synths in Indonesia are generally only considered a noise instrument, but they can be used to make music that is palatable to most people’s ears. So, in that presentation I gathered an ensemble of four people: Andreas Siagian, Leilani Hermiasih, Indra Menus, Krisna Widiathama, and we also had a guest collaborator from Australia, Dale Gorfinkel. And they all played my synths.

Lintang playing one of his creations

Lintang playing one of his creations

Zacharias Szumer: You went to Australia last year as part of an artists exchange program? How was your experience and impressions of Australia and the things you were involved in there?
Lintang Radittya: Yeah, in 2014 at the end of October I went to Australia to participate in the Instrument builders project, the show was held at the National Gallery of Victoria. There were three people from Indonesia, Wukir Suryadi, Andreas Siagian from lifepatch, and myself. I worked as part of a group there making a project called “Spinning Fields.” It was an idea that I have had since I was a child. In Java there is a toy called a “Gangsing”, its like a spinning top, but the ones in Jogja also make a sound, it’s like an oscillation sound. So when I was in Australia I worked with Andreas Siagian and an Australian artist called Michael Candy to make an interactive spinning top, it had a few sensors, a few synths on top of it, and the spinning top responded with the sounds around it.

Another one of my most interesting experiences in Australia was going to Robin Fox’s studio. There I had the opportunity to play a synth from moog studios that is quite legendary, so that was quite great. And I also had the opportunity to meet with some people that also play and make modular synths. I think it’s more common in Australia than it is here, cause its easier to get modular synths in Australia, it was really interesting.

Andreas Siagian 2014

Zacharias Szumer: So do you have an online place that people can buy some of your creations?
Lintang Radittya: At the moment, it is just via my facebook page, Kenalirangkai Pakai. I have a plan to make my own website, but I’m still saving money.

Zacharias Szumer: Anything else you would like to tell Cyclic Defrost readers?
Lintang Radittya: I just want to share with people outside Indonesia that we have a synth-building culture here that’s quite good, but we are quite limited. In terms of the materials we can get, and the people that understand synthesisers. But we are very welcoming to anyone you wants to come to Indonesia to come here to make a workshop and share skills and information, we can help organise that for you.


Yellove by METH (surabaya)

Lintang Radittya’s blog can be found here.
Featured Image Yellow Rambutans synth by Uncle Twist (Surabaya)


About Author

Zacharias Szumer is a young writer and musician currently living in Yogyakarta, Indonesia.