We asked Indonesian EDM trio Weird Genius to tell us more about their latest song and music video ‘Lathi’, how they feel about their new success and what they have planned for us next.
Released on February 28, ‘Lathi’ has grown in its number of listeners and YouTube viewers. To date, ‘Lathi’ has had over 57 million views on YouTube. It has peaked at No. 1 on the Spotify viral charts of several countries in the region, as well as No. 2 on Spotify Global.
Over on Tik Tok, the song has spawned a wave of videos – the #LATHIChallenge.
Indeed, it is no surprise the formidability of the song. Its strength lies in its dynamic nature to equip itself with a melange of traditional Javanese culture and music with that of the modern world of Electronic Dance Music. Adding to the mix is Sara Fajira’s vocals, which push the dynamics of the song further and give it that extra edge.
In essence, the song reminds you of an EDM Evanescence, evoking a tune that is both distinctive AND addictive.
Right from the first beat and the first hook, you are pulled into its world, even before you know it…
We interviewed the members of Weird Genius (Reza Oktovian, Eka Gustiwana and Gerald Liu) and asked them more about their music and what else they have planned for us.
ASL365: Hi guys, Vanessa here from AsiaLive365. Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions. We are loving your new song ‘LATHI’! There’s sort of a dark, atmospheric layer to it, and it reminds us a little of Evanescence too, but a very EDM one. The beat drops and you’re pulled into this world – it’s a really cool sound! The hook is distinctive AND addictive – and we love it! Tell us – what was the creativity process like for this song?
Reza Oktovian: Why thank you Vanessa! Well, it all happened quite quickly. Back in January we made a plan to have a new song and created the initial draft. And we had a hunch that we must use Javanese influence, using the Javanese music scale called ‘Pelog’. So, we did some studio sessions and asked Sara to join us. Eka already knew her from his previous solo project back in 2018. And I put the English lyrics and Sara put the Javanese lyrics, and she’s a great singer too.
ASL365: The lyrics (and music video) of the song deals with some very real issues, particularly in terms of abuse, whether emotional or physical. Is there a personal story or message behind this song that you are trying to convey?
Eka Gustiwana: This song is telling a story about a toxic relationship as we all know this issue is very common to young people like us – the message is to advise that if you are in such a situation, be brave and you fight back. This was represented by the girl (Sara) in the MV when she showed her dark side. It literally shows that she’s fighting back. Thankfully though Sara didn’t experience such a thing herself and it was more about embodying a general message that many people go through.
ASL365: There’s a lot of traditional Javanese culture in the music video – from the use of shadow puppets, to the costumes and make-up. The distinctive gamelan also accentuates the feel of the video. What inspired the art direction behind the MV?
Reza: I directed and edited the whole MV with my friend Creamypandax. It’s just to amplify or dramatize the song and the lyrics in visual form. We used shadow puppets or ‘Wayang’, Jaran Kepang, Fire-breathers, and Glass-eater because it’s Javanese tradition. So people will relate right away when they hear the ‘Sinden’ (the pre-drop-vocal) with those elements in the visual.
ASL365: What was it like collaborating with Sara Fajira on the song?
Gerald Liu: We feel fortunate to have her for this song, she just nailed it. And it is adding the uniqueness with the character of her voice, as well – the way she did the ‘Sinden’ that makes those that hear it have goosebumps.
ASL365: Is there any particular artist that you hope to collaborate with in the future?
Reza: Yes, we have some wish list artists that we want to collaborate with. Fortunately one of our wishes will be coming true, very soon. We will release our next song in collaboration with Yellow Claw.
ASL365: I’m sure you’ve heard of the #LATHIChallenge that’s blowing up on Tik Tok and elsewhere online. What do you think of some of the creativity behind this challenge? Any favorites?
Eka: We are overwhelmed with the movement and we are thankful to every creator that joined in. By the way, we never started that, they are the ones who started it and to see them have committed their time and budget to; rent traditional costumes and video editing plus using our song in it, it’s blowing our minds. Until now, we cannot count how many creators joined in. And all of them are creative and good, we find it kinda hard to pick even some of our favourites. But we did repost one of them, it’s from a beauty vlogger, her name is Jharna Bhagwani she’s just 17 and her Lathi challenge Instagram video hit 13 millions likes.
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LATHI (ꦭꦛꦶ) Embracing my Indonesian culture through the #LathiChallenge 🇮🇩✨ • Follow me// @jharnabhagwani for more tutorials like this 🥰❤️ • Song: @weird.genius – Lathi (ft. @sarafajira). • I have been requested to make this lip sync challenge by hundreds of you these past months ! 😄 So I made sure to take my time and give you my all. It took us a total 3 days to plan, film and edit. I have to admit this was so much fun to create and wearing these traditional clothes made me feel so empowered and proud of my culture (even though they were very uncomfortable and itchy to wear 😂❣️) so thank you for all your suggestions! 🥰 And of course in true Jharna fashion… I had to put a jump scare in the end HAHAHA. Hope I didn’t scare you too much and you enjoyed watching this video!! 😆😆 • Tag some of your friends who would find this video interesting or maybe give them a scare hihi.👹 #lathi #lipsynchallenge #JharnaLipsync #jharnabhagwani #makeupsundasiger #traditionalmakeup #indonesiandance
ASL365: Even without the TikTok hashtag, the song has grown to be loved and listened to by so many around Asia and the world. It went to no. 2 on Spotify Global and no. 1 in many parts of Asia. Just last month, you had like 10 million views on YouTube. Now it’s hit 53 million. What has that been like for you guys?
Reza: Overwhelmed and thankful of course, since this is an EDM song and this type of music is very niche especially back home. This was a milestone that we wanted to achieve when we formed the group. We wanted to add something unique in our music that people have probably never heard before. And in fact, people are loving it, judging by the comments that we received on YouTube and also in our DMs. With this, we conclude that any type of music can be accepted as long as it’s true from your heart.
ASL365: What sort of music do you listen to or which artist is on your Spotify playlist right now?
Reza: I listen to Shawn Wasabi, I like John Bellion, and also Tokyo Machine.
Eka: I like pop music but mostly local artists. And I got some influence from Zedd and Avicii too.
Gerald: I dig some hip-hop music and R&B also a bit of K-pop too, but no specific artist.
ASL365: With everyone in “lockdown” the last couple of months or so, it seems music artists are finding new (or old) ways to make music and remain connected with their fans. How are you guys coping, and what new projects do you have lined up? Any new music to look forward to?
Gerald: It’s kinda a sad moment for us, but not just us, most people like us musicians. We usually have tight schedules for shows and now it’s all gone for who knows how long. But in the end, if we want to survive; just go back and think about what you can do and what makes you, you. For us, it’s obviously music, just making music as much as we can. Like Reza said earlier that we will have a song in collaboration with Yellow Claw, pitching some remixes for big international artists (we cannot mention it right now), another two collaborations and our own original songs. We hope that all of it can be released this year.
ASL365: Anything you like to say to the Weirdos (Weird Genius fans) out there?
Reza: To us, our fans mean everything. I believe all artists will be the same – that we are useless without those who always give us incredible support and love throughout these years. To weirdos out there, just be weird but smart. We love you all so much and we can’t wait to greet you at our shows!