Bali is known worldwide for its famous beaches. But besides its crystal clear waters and white sand beaches against the towering limestone cliffs of its southern peninsula, Bali is also home to a vibrant music scene that has produced acts ranging from traditional Balinese music to modern-day electronic music. One such act is Iwanouz, a native of Papua New Guinea in East Indonesia.
Born on June 2, 1984, Iwanouz's peers noted that he was a prodigious keyboard player, having started playing when he was five years old. Nowadays, you can catch him on stage with a lopper, which he uses to mix traditional and electronic music. His music transcends genres, as he often uses music from dub, reggae, dancehall, and funk in his compositions.
Where Iwanouz's Music Comes From
Iwanouz credits his family for his musical upbringing, saying that everyone loved to play music and sing.
"My grandfather was a bass player, and my grandma was a singer and everyone in my big family really loves to play music and sing. One of my uncles is a rock star in our town and it was he who first brought me up on stage when I was five years old," he said.
Iwanouz also looks up to legendary musicians such as Bob Marley, Ray Charles, Herbie Hancock, Keith Emerson, Oscar Peterson, and Beardy Man, which shows in his music. His songs contain the necessary elements of funk but are laced with electronic music that gives them the Iwanouz treatment.
Iwanouz started his professional music journey in Indonesia with Steven and Coconuttreez. Since then has embarked on a world tour, playing in Japan, Finland, Slovenia, Russia, Malaysia, and Brunei. A few years ago, he shared the stage with DUBFX in Bali.
"I was in Jakarta and was playing with a band called Steven and the Coconut Trees and we had a hit song called Welcome To My Paradise. We got to tour around Indonesia and even to Japan and Malaysia. So when I had a day off I would always come to Bali to learn surfing and have a holiday," Iwanouz said.
"I had a big surprise when I played my solos in Slovenia and Finland. I didn't expect that people there would like my music . . . but they loved it! That was a really good experience for me," he added.
Challenges as a Musician
Like most musicians, Iwanouz is affected by piracy, which severely undercuts the money he makes from his music. He has to do a lot of live performances because he doesn't make much off his records.
"I think there's too much monkey business in Indonesia's music industry right now. They copy our music or CD without permission and sell it really cheap so we (musicians) get nothing at all. So in order to live we have to do a lot of gigs and live performances," he said.
That being said, Iwanouz keeps himself busy. He is currently preoccupied with the band called The Island Souls, which he formed with Aray Daulay.
"A few months ago I got to play with Australian musician Ash Grunwald while he was here. I also have to finish my solo album, IWANOUZ," he said.
Recently, he linked up with Bali Band The Nameks, forming the act Iwanouz and the Nameks whenever they are on stage. The Nameks comprises five members: Iwan, Ferry, Geral, Ronggun, and Glenn.
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