Balinese producer/manager Agung Bagus Mantra talks about the local scene and the Bali Blues Festival

"Everybody has their blues because blues is the energy of expression."

Agung Bagus Mantra: Bali Dwipa Jaya

Agung Bagus Mantra is a Balinese producer/musician/founder of Bali Blues Festival and owner of Pregina art & showbiz. BALI BLUES FESTIVAL 2015 will be held on Unspoiled Island Peninsula Nusa Dua Bali, on 25th of April 2015, presenting various blues performer from Bali – Indonesia (Gugun Blues Shelter, Balawan, and Ginda Bestari / Bali Guitar Club). Agung says about his prolects: “We are Pregina art & showbiz Bali, our company based in Sanur Bali Indonesia, focusing in producing / supporting art & events, our goal to meet and reach customer expectation, also creating sustainable satisfaction in every components in arts and showbiz.

Our team work, our gears and experiences are our main foundations to run any kind of events. We are ready and open for multi scale of events to be organized, managed, and shared by us.

Our recording Studio, our Video production division, Sound System and Lighting Gears & Team, all are ready to serve and support your event with creativities and smile. We have been producing recording artist since 2000, and has reached the Bali music industry demand. Bali Rock Alternatives, Bali Reggae, as well as many kind of pops until spiritual world music, some of them have achieved award from many local Bali and national award. We produced, published, and managed their albums and show, around Bali, also Indonesia even perform internationally.”

Interview by Michael Limnios

How started the thought of Bali Blues Festival? What does the blues mean to you?

I Have seen in my island Bali, so many potential Blues Artist, they get together in some Blues community as well as Music community such as Bali Guitar Club / Bali Blues Island and Crossing Blues University. And many music and art festival have been held in Bali to promote art and cultural scene as well as promoting the potential interest of the area. In Bali now many music course and institute which is very strong tools for our generations. The Blues lovers only focus for their performer in Music club or café for their profession in music and playing covers songs. Not so many event which have been held focus in Blues Music. And Blues is the roots of all music genre in soul and scale. Everybody has their blues because blues is the energy of expression. I have been doing many festivals in Bali such as Sanur Village Festival (annual Every Year), Bali Reggae Stars Festival 2014, and many other music and art festival.

Bali Blues festival 2015 will be the 1st festival for Bali region and promoting the Blues performer of the island and also presenting Blues festival from Jakarta Indonesia. I have been involved with Nusa Dua Fiesta (Festival) annually every year, it’s a festival for all component including tourism, creative industry and art performer. Nusa Dua has their potential as resort area and has its beautiful unspoiled island called Peninsula Island. The idea to make the Bali Blues  festival on Peninsula Island is to present Blues Concert on very special location (venue), and also presenting good music performance, introducing Bali Blues to all guest who stay in Nusa Dua Resort area (more than ten 5 stars hotel on location).

"Stop Piracy and try to make more good music composition based on roots with deep lyrics."

How do you describe Pregina progress and mission? What characterize your music philosophy?

Pregina is firstly built as a home recording studio in Bali, I have been drumming with some bands since in senior high school that make I was so close with art and music performances. Since 2002 I have been producing some band in Bali such as Bali Rock Alternative, Bali Reggae and also some world music. My Character in producing band or music is how to develop the roots and heritage as main tool to explore and compose music, with idealism and good spirit. The needs or the market demand is not our prime target but the idealism to make perfect composition and the audience start to listen our music with happiness.

Are there any memories from festivals, events, studio sessions and shows which you’d like to share with us?

In 2007 & 2008, I have established music festivals in Bali called “BALI JAMFEST”, presenting 2 big stage in 2 days, performing all music genre in Bali (Rock, Pop Rock, Blues, Jazz, Funk, Reggae, Pop Bali, Heavy Metal). My idealism how we can present all potential musician here in Bali, and get together with 1 spirit to introduce the colors of music genre into one event. And my goal to share big stage performance to all Bali musician. Before we share internationally we have to be strong with our foundation and united.

The unforgettable memory that on that festival, with Bali Guitar Club and Bali drums corps, we presented composition of Multi Players on 2 stage, they play classic rock music with 10 guitarist 4 bassist 4 drummer, in 2 different stage playing real time together.

Every year I get involve as stage and artist director for Annual festival in Bali called “ Sanur Village Festival”, I have enjoyed in  concepting and managing the stage and performances for 5 days, and the stage performing Many music and also colossal traditional Bali performances. This Sanur Village Festival, is festival which is produced by the  Village society of Sanur, to stimulate all potential aspect of the area, such as Tourism place interest, Handicraft, Art Works, Art Village parade, Culinary, Sports, etc. and we have big stage performances every nights for 5 days.

What do you miss most nowadays from the music of past? What are your hopes and fears for the future of?

We need more musical event such as: Country music, Jazz, Soul, DJ, and Blues. Especially in Nusa Dua Tourist resort, we need to help the Blues Festival. The segmen market in Nusa Dua tourist resort are middle-up market. Moreover Blues genre is acceptable in every ages from students to Business people.

We miss the roots and also the soul of original music, many music which is established more into industry demand.

If you could change one thing in the musical world and it would become a reality, what would that be?

Stop Piracy, and try to make more and more good music composition based on roots with deep lyrics.

Make an account of the case of the blues rock in Bali. Which is the most interesting period in local scene?

The interesting period in Bali was in the era of 1995 – 2005, where so many music festival in terms of battle of music (competition). And on that period young generations have to join battle of music as their pride to compete and learn as much as they can. Before entering recording session and make record, at least they have to spend time and create as many as they can good stage portfolio, battle of band is one of the tred on that period, we really miss that spirit and moment.

What are the lines that connect the legacy of Blues from United States, UK and Australia to Bali?

The Blues community is everywhere. Here in Bali there are some communities such as Bali Guitar Club, Bali Blues Island, and Crossing Blues University.  Blues genre is already familiar to some communities in Bali. Bali Blues Fest will be the first ever Blues Fest in Bali and supported by Indonesia Tourism Development Corporation. The state own enterprise who manage Nusa Dua tourist resort. The Blues Fest in Bali has a bright future. Hopefully someday there will be International Blues Fest like The Crossroad in Bali which feature some Blues Legends and Modern Blues artists. And it will give positive impact for tourism in Bali especially promote the Nusa Dua tourist resort.

"The similarities (Blues & local Folk music) is the spirit and the soul, to present the energy of the songs, and also the content of the lyric which is more in to society development."

What has made you laugh lately and what touched (emotionally) you from the local music circuits?

For me the improvement and development music industry in my country, there are many talented young musician who still concern in our musical heritage (Gamelan Bali), and they try to mix and make fusion composition in blending the modern and the heritage, means this situation make us very happy, they willing to compete with global but still with the roots and foundation of our local heritage

Are there any similarities between the blues and the genres of local folk music and forms?

The similarities is the spirit and the soul, to present the energy of the songs, and also the content of the lyric which is more in to society development.

Let’s take a trip with a time machine, so where and why would you really wanna go for a whole day..?

My dream to take Bali musician to perform in big festival in other country, to promote our culture our music and our potential tourism site. And really want to perform in a big international festival, like cross road or other international music festival.

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