Band of the Day

2012.02.23

White Shoes and the Couples Company

Indonesian indie pop darlings with infectiously happy and nostalgic songs
No one will hear me cry around the darkness, I float with kindness around my soul.
lyrics from Nothing To Fear

White Shoes & the Couples Company is a six-piece indie pop band from Jakarta, Indonesia. Their sound is influenced by Burt Bacharach-style melodies, 60s pop, early jazz, and 70s Indonesian movie soundtracks. While the majority of their songs are sung in Indonesian, they also sing in English. The band formed in 2002, when Aprilia “Miss Sari” Apsari (vocals), Yusmario “Mr. Rio” Farabi (acoustic guitar/vocals), and Saleh “Mr. Saleh” Husein (electric guitar/vocals) met while studying fine art at the Jakarta Institute of the Arts. They came up with the band name based on the fad of wearing white shoes at the school where they met. The group was rounded off with three additional members in 2004: John “Mr. John” Navid on drums and vibes, Ricky “Mr. Ricky” Virgana on bass, cello and vocals, and his wife Aprimela Prawidyanti “Mrs. Mela” Virgana on keys, viola, and vocals. Their self-titled debut album was released in 2004 on Indonesian label Aksara Records, and in 2007 on their American label, Chicago's Minty Fresh Records. Their most recent record, Album Vakansi (or “Vacation Album” in English), was released in October 2010.

Remember the first time you fell in love, the kind of love that made you want to hold hands and skip gleefully through a field of flowers? OK, so maybe falling in love isn't exactly like that...but if it was, White Shoes and the Couples Company would provide the ideal soundtrack. The Jakarta, Indonesia-based six-piece band make the type of delightfully darling indie pop music that would melt even the most frigid of hearts. The group formed in 2002, after meeting at the Jakarta Institute of the Arts, and came up with their band name based on a fad of students wearing white shoes. Primarily sung in Indonesian, with occasional forays into English, their music has the effect of blurring the line between your own nostalgic memories and ones that never happened. Taking a musical journey through early jazz, 60s pop melodies, and 70s Indonesian movie soundtracks, it makes sense that their latest album, Album Vakansi, actually translates as “Vacation Album.” Their album cover even features the band standing in front of an airplane, dressed in their finest vintage clothes (including white shoes, of course). And like a dream vacation, every single song is meant to make you feel as good as getting a luxurious massage in a tropical resort, the distant sound of waves crashing as a beefy Scandinavian masseuse named Sven skillfully kneads away your stress. “Kampus Kemaru” is a great example of this, with plenty of “ba ba bas” backing up Aprilia Apsari's sweet, breezy lead vocals. “Hacienda” shows off both the band's ability to make a jazzy party number, as well as Apsari's ability to sing as effortlessly in English as she does in Indonesian. While Apsari is charmingly singing away, the rest of the band joins in by providing celebratory background whoops of joy. It has the effect of simultaneously making the corners of your lips twitch up, while your foot begins tapping to the beat, and your hips start to sway involuntarily. “Vakansi” also has a jazzy drum beat, with Apsari switching over to Indonesian again. Her vocals are higher and even sweeter on this song, never slipping into 'let-me-belt-like-a-diva' mode. Even if you don't understand a word of Indonesian, it sounds so lovely that you might find yourself wanting to buy your own pair of white shoes and book a one-way ticket to their whimsical paradise.