Online Exclusive: Conversation with Indonesian Indie-Rock Band, Reality Club

From left to right, Fathia “Chia” Izzati, Nugi Wicaksono, Faiz Novascotia Saripudin and Era Patigo. Photo courtesy of Reality Club.

Indie-rock is a genre well-known to North American audiences. Albums by the Smiths

Radiohead, the 1975, the Strokes and Sonic Youth are staples in many music lovers’ collections. However, these bands have more in common than their musicality. In nearly all the top successful indie-rock groups in North America, their band members are predominately made up of white men, born in the United States and the United Kingdom. 

Reality Club, an indie-rock band based in South Jakarta, Indonesia, is expanding the genre to include more global representation. Fathia “Chia” Izzati is the keyboard player and one of the band’s lead vocalists while her brother, Faiz Novascotia Saripudin, is lead songwriter, and on guitar and vocals. Nugi Wicaksono plays bass, and Era Patigo is on drums.  

The group, founded in 2016, embraces a unique sound inspired by one of their largest stylistic inspirations, the Arctic Monkeys

With the release of their third album “Reality Club Presents…” in May 2023, the band reached massive success in Southeast Asia. They have more than two million monthly listeners on Spotify alone, and last year they took home two awards at the prestigious Anugerah Musik Indonesia, the Indonesian Music Awards,  for best alternative group and best alternative album.

In March, the group went on their first North American tour, playing nine cities from Seattle to New York City. The Foghorn spoke with the band on Feb. 28 to learn about their process and first tour in San Francisco, and the United States. 

“Even though we started eight years ago, it feels like everything is very brand new for us,” Izzati said. “We’re…loving this journey because being in a band I think was like, it used to feel like a pipe dream for most of us, but then now it’s like actually coming true.”

“North America…it’s a whole different ball game,” Izzati continued. “There’s so many nerves…because it is very new.”

Saripudin noted that while the band was formed on a sibling bond, it wasn’t confined to that.  “When you hear about stories of how bands form, it’s usually like, oh, ‘We’re buddies and then we decide to make a band and whatever.’ The interesting thing about our band was the only people who knew each other was me and my sister,” Saripudin said. 

A friend approached the siblings in 2016 with the idea of starting a band. “So that’s how it started. Like, strangers with a common goal,” Saripudin said. “I think that’s why it kind of worked out, because we had a common goal, same vision and everyone was just so open and welcoming.”

While the musician with the original idea for the band no longer plays for Reality Club, the group has expanded into so much more, adding on Wicaksono and Patigo. 

Megan interviewed the band for her KUSF.org radio show “Drive Your Funky Soul” at Brick & Mortar Music Hall in San Francisco before their concert. Check out the aired episode here

“I came up with the name,” Saripudin said. “Finding a band name is one of the hardest things to do…it’s like a tattoo. It’s kind of permanent.” Saripudin said the group got together and tried out different names. They landed upon Reality Club. 

“Reality Club is like this group of intellectuals who decide the world order or something like that,” he said. “I was like, ‘oh, this sounds really cool. And we’re kind of intellectual,’” Saripudin said with a laugh. 

The band described starting up as a leap of faith. “We didn’t know if it would blow up, right?” Wicaksono said. “Having each other, that’s what helped us through the scary journey of ditching our day jobs.” 

The band described the synchronicity they currently feel. “Hopefully it will stay like this forever,” Wicaksono said. “This is a dream come true and a combination of our hard work.” 

Reality Club’s Mar. 6 show at Brick & Mortar Music Hall in San Francisco was energetic, with audiences raving. Many fans had traveled from Indonesia to see the group, and all of the band’s merchandise sold out minutes after the show. 

“This first U.S. North America tour is just the start…we hope that we’ll get…to make connections and build a new fan base,” Wicaksono continued. “Hopefully next time we go there, we’ll play bigger shows, bigger venues.” 

Inés Ventura contributed to the reporting of this story. 

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