Issue # 136, INTERVIEW with Dewa Budjana

Dewa Budjana is one fantastic guitarist – I was privileged to review his music in issue # 132, and now he’s on the verge of a new release on one of our favorite labels – MOONJUNE RECORDS… you will NOT hear energy like this anywhere else on the planet.  As soon as I completed the aforementioned review, I went right to the label to ask for an interview – & here’s what Dewa came back to us with (thanks, Dewa, for taking the time)!!!

Zzaj:  Dewa, it looks like you’ve been playing guitar for a long time… one bio I read said since you were 11 years old… what first got you interested in playing music? 

DEWA: Yes , I start playing guitar when I was 11 years old; and looked so funny , at that time I was interested mainly because of guitar player poster on local magazine – like Jimmy page/ Ritchie Blackmore etc poster.

Zzaj:  If you could pick one artist or group who has influenced your music and compositions the most – who would it be?

DEWA: I’ve always enjoyed playing John Denver’s  “Annies song”  and also “Temple of the king” from Ritchie Blackmore’s “Rainbow”

Zzaj:  One of the elements that speaks to me most when listening to your “Dawai In Paradise” CD is “power”; not “loudness”, or “high wattage”, just a power to convince the listener that your vision is on-target… for you, where does that power come from?  Inside yourself, outside, or a combination of both?

DEWA: Thanks; it’s actually a combination of both; the roots are from my Balinese/ Indonesia culture… I love my culture, and I love the more modern music too ..That’s meant  about both – inside and outside

Zzaj:  I’ve read that you are also heavily into producing albums… do you enjoy producing music or playing music more?  If producing, why?  If playing, why?

DEWA: I enjoy playing more, for sure; there, I can practice and compose all at the same time.   Producing is more like working on a desk in front of computer; sometimes boring, but still need balance, so sometimes I have to take Job as a producer

Zzaj:  How heavy is the influence of Indonesian music in your own playing and composing?  Did you study traditional music there in Indonesia, or did you pretty much study the music of other countries first?

DEWA:  The Influence of Indonesian music is only from my blood and where I was born.  I actually haven’t studied traditional Indonesian music and I can’t play any traditional instrument; and it’s the same for  modern music too.  I’m a self-taught musician

Zzaj:  There are many tunes of yours that weave lots of vocal work in; since my own start in music was with vocals, I wonder if you agree that vocals are a very important part of the power of music?  If you do agree, tell us a bit about why you think so; if you don’t agree, tell us why.

DEWA:  Yes I agree; some of this may be balance from my band (a whole other group with a different type of music; they’re more into Pop and Rock music) You can check that out at – we have almost 25 albums since 1994

That’s the point , we’re playing as a 3 piece band + vocal… that’s why on my solo project, most of my compositions weave lots of vocal, it’s like the guitar takes the melody line instead of the singer

Zzaj:  The readers of this magazine are always interested in what the artist being interviewed has coming up; tell us about the projects you’re working on right now, & the projects you see yourself working on 3 or 4 years from now, please.

DEWA:   I’ve released my latest album (the 6th album) in Indonesia, “Joged Kahyangan”, which is a collaboration w/ Peter Erskine, Larry Goldings, Bob Mintzer and Jimmy Johnson that also includes Janis Siegel; that will be released by Moonjune Records in August 2013.  The next album, “Trio w/ Vinnie Colaiuta & Jimmy Johnson”,  will be released in January 2014 by Moonjune  (it was recorded at Henson studio last January in LA); the next project is a bit different – I have a dream to make recording album with ECM guy like Jan Garbarek,  Miroslav Vitous, Jack DeJohnette, hopefully.

Zzaj:  I personally think that music can have the power to help people overcome their personal problems, since it’s been such a strong force in my own life… do you agree?  If so, why?  If not, why not?

DEWA:  I agree – Music or the creation of music is good therapy for yourself as well as for other people, When you stop creating something, that’s the time you start having problems in your own life

Zzaj:  Have you toured outside of Indonesia?  If so, tell us where you’ve gone & played.  If you haven’t toured, will you be touring anytime soon?

DEWA:   With my band “GIGI” we tour less than 100 shows in a year; we’ve been to Malaysia, Japan, Singapore, and USA (2005), but mostly we tour in Indonesia a lot

Zzaj:  Many of our readers are also players; please give them your advice about a “career” in music… is it a worthwhile career, and if so, what’s your advice for how to be good at it?

DEWA:  Keep practicing, and compose; also keep strong relationships with other people – that’s what friends are for