PLEASURE Is Pioneering Disco In Jakarta

We speak with the people behind one of the biggest parties in Jakarta, PLEASURE, and why disco culture is making a comeback now.

by Renaldo Gabriel
10 March 2017, 6:51am

If we look at where many subcultures are born – New York 77', Britain 88', and Japan 97' – it's no surprise that disco culture may be resurrected in the capital of Indonesia, Jakarta. In a city where fundamentalists have shaken up politics, where hate crimes have an annual season, and naked robots have to be censored on television, it's no surprise that the disco scene is staring to grow in Jakarta.  

One of the most persistent players involved in the rise of the underground scene is PLEASURE; a ragtag group of friends who throw a brand of multi-genre high energy parties in opposition to the oversaturated and bland local EDM scene.

Their recent project was a collaboration with a brand that takes a satirical approach on corporate culture: Junior Executive, headed by Nils Schéle and Måns Ericson; a former Senior PR Manager at Adidas Originals in New York, and a part time DJ.

VICE talked to both brands about their collections, largely inspired by the shared passion for dance music, 90's house culture, and drinking.

VICE: Måns, you have been in Bali and Jakarta for a while, how was your experience?
Måns Ericson: Yea, I had no idea what to expect about Jakarta except of seeing the lovely Pleasure guys. I was blown away by the party they put together. It was that kind of energy you don't see in too many places nowadays. People seemed genuinely stoked about the dancing and partying. It was sweaty as f--k, power went out a few times, musically we went all over the place and people were screaming, dancing, drinking. It was amazing.

How did you two hook up in the first place?
Måns: Last May while in Tokyo, Justin Vandervolgen sent us all an intro email since some of the Pleasure guys were in town as well, that we should meet and exchange some t-shirts. We agreed to meet at the club Contact a few days later. The next day, me and my girlfriend were heading to Hiroshima and at the Shinagawa train station, among an ocean of Japanese people, this happy guy confront us: "You must be Måns, I'm Indra from Pleasure. See you on Friday at Contact and at your gig at Koara on Saturday," I was like, that was pretty random. Anyway, I met Indra and Adi that weekend and it was good vibes, shortly after we decided to do some stuff together.

PLEASURE: The first encounter with Måns was indeed quite unexpected. While some of the Pleasure crew was in Japan back in May 2016, we noticed Måns was there the same week as us. The morning we started exchanging emails with Måns, we accidentally saw him at Shinagawa station. Well, Måns was quite easy to recognize (especially in Japan), so we just shout his name. He was a bit confused at first [laughs],we had a small chat there and ended up hanging out a couple of times with him and saw one of his shows.

Sounds like a hell of a coincidence. What was the initial concept for the collaboration between Junior Executive and Pleasure?
Måns: So, while hanging out in Tokyo we drank a lot of syn-chro. That is drip brew coffee with shochu instead of water. Obviously we needed to put the recipe for that potent cocktail on a tee. Then I saw this woman in Moscow, wearing this crazy dress with wine glasses and stains printed all over and just stole that print.

PLEASURE: The coffee shochu thing started at Koara bar before his gig in Tokyo. Yeah, we were taking a few shots of it... It keeps you awake all night, that's for sure!  We thought of doing some 'drinks recipe' related graphics for one of the collections and shochu coffee was the first idea that came to our mind. The hoodie design was inspired by classic 90s house party flyer graphics. We thought naked girls, wine/ beer, and dance music would be a perfect blend.

Måns: We were looking into old house club flyers, where they had all kinds of corny offerings to attract guests. Like "free fruit buffet" and stuff like that.

More about that syn-chro , it sounds like it was detrimental to the collection. Any interesting stories come out of Japan with you and the Pleasure gang?
Måns Ericson: I'm not so sure the "syn-chro" was detrimental, let's say it infused the collection but it definitely makes it hard to sleep after a night out. The Japanese don't play around.

About the music, how did it play a part in the collaboration?
PLEASURE: Massive! Both Pleasure and Junior Executive are heavily influenced by music. Our biggest influence is the sound of disco and the culture behind it. It was obvious during the party that the Junior Executive guys knew what Pleasure's music is like and they played one hell of a set. It was one of those insane nights where everyone danced till the lights were up. 

Måns: You can say there is an over-arching drinking theme to the collection with a little bit of music references. It's all pretty light hearted but you could also say that good vibes unite people.

On Junior Executive, care to tell me a little background on how it started and what was the whole inspiration?
Måns: So while we've been into dance music, party throwing and t-shirt making for around 15 years, me and my partner Nils both have a background in big corporate companies. Myself with over 13 years with Adidas and Nils has 10 years with Levi's and we found it hilarious how much people care about titles within that world. Everyone is at least a Manager, even though you don't oversee any staff. The lowest possible title is Junior Executive and it's basically the same as an assistant but sounds rather important.

A lot of event series around Indonesia also moving to commercially merchandise their brands through fashion nowadays, how does PLEASURE see this whole practice?
Måns:Yeah, we are seeing this trend evolving and this is a good thing in our opinion, its great to see more creative spirits coming out from Indonesia. For us, we never really looked at it that way. Fashion is just one channel where we can express our interests for good clothes and good graphics. For every merchandise we produce, we live the Pleasure spirit, and not for the sake of sales numbers.