VOB Celebrate Women Who Are Breaking Stereotypes

Indonesian rock trio are back and ready to make even more waves with their new single, 'PMS' Out November 3

by the partae
Stream ‘PMS’ 

After a phenomenal debut at Wacken Open Air 2022 in July and stirring up a buzz with their “School  Revolution Remix” EP that featured six electronic music DJs and producers in September, Voice Of  Baceprot (VOB) are back with their brand-new single “PMS”.

Short for “Perempuan Merdeka Seutuhnya” or “Wholly Independent Woman” in Bahasa Indonesia,  “PMS” was actually written by Marsya (vocals, guitar), Widi (bass), and Sitti (drums) during their high school days in around 2017 together with their counselling teacher and mentor Abah Erza.

“We wrote the song fuelled by the remaining energy that we had left after school. At the time, we were up to our necks with school activities, so we basically had to drag ourselves to the studio for workshops,” remembers Marsya.

In spite of the conditions that they were in, there were no traces of fatigue in the song that they produced. In fact, “PMS” reveals the band’s antipathy, displeasure, and anger that they held towards their situation at the time, both lyrically and musically.

The main inspiration behind the lyrics to “PMS” came from a series of short stories written by  Indonesian author Feby Indirani titled “Bukan Perawan Maria” (Eng; “Not Virgin Mary”), focusing on VOB’s protestations against discriminative and judgmental behaviours that tend to be aimed towards women who hold a different mindset, perspective, attitude, and even wishes or dreams compared to the norm.

Coming from a region where social norms are heavily influenced by not only religious but also patriarchal values, VOB have had their fair share of gender-based discrimination in the past. The absence of life choices post-high school for many girls besides marriage would be one of them. The same also goes for career choices, which was limited for VOB and their friends due to gender discrimination.

“Ironically, it’s not just the men who would display such behaviours, but also our fellow women too!”  Marsya remarks.

Despite being written several years ago, the lyrics to “PMS” remain contextual and relevant to the current situation, not only back in their hometown but also in many parts of Indonesia and even the world at large. The reality is women are still restrained by patriarchal stereotypes, especially when it comes to career and other life choices.

Hence, it comes as no surprise when they roar:

“Meski tak seperawan Maria
Aku bukan budak busuk otakmu
Meski tak seperawan Maria
Akulah merdeka merdekalah seutuhnya!”

(In English:  “Though not as virgin as Mary
I’m not your brain rotten slave
Even though she’s not as virgin as Mary
I am free, completely free!”) 

There were not many changes made to the song in terms of its musical arrangement from its original form. Producer Yuka Dian Narendra (GRIBS, Anda Perdana, Bonita) lent his Midas touch to “PMS” by sprucing up its flow and sorting out the strongest parts of the song from the demo. He also selected the right sound for each instrument.

Vocal director Irvan “IrvNat” Natadiningrat (Tiga Diva, Krisdayanti, Indonesian Idol, X-Factor) also played a major part in the vocals department by asking MarsyaWidi, and Sitti to explore the kind of notes and melodies that they have never sung before: uplifting, bright, and fun, akin to anime theme songs.

“We definitely had our doubts in the beginning because it never occurred to us how a protest song could have vocal melodies of a sunnier disposition. However, once we tried it out and had a listen, we ended up loving the end results. It felt like there was another side to VOB that has never been unveiled before until now, with this approach. A fun side, yet still very much VOB,” explains Marsya.

Just like “[NOT] PUBLIC PROPERTY” – their previous single, “PMS” was mixed by Danish producer and sound engineer Tue Madsen, whose portfolio reads like a who’s who of heavy music with Meshuggah,  Suicide Silence, Mnemic, and Sick Of It All amongst his former clients. While the mastering itself was done by Howie Weinberg, an American audio mastering-engineer who is responsible for over 2,000  mastering credits, including 200+ certified Gold and Platinum albums by the RIAA, 20 Grammy  Awards and several other honours. Howie was also credited as the master engineer for Nirvana’s  “Nevermind” and Beastie Boys’ “Licensed To Ill.”

PMS”, a bold shout out to all women who are breaking stereotypes by taking on male-dominated jobs, is available on all digital streaming platforms starting from November 3, 2022.

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