Marcel Thee was adamant that The Knife Club shouldn't be about him. Marcel, a veteran of Indonesia's indie scene as the man behind the popular band Sajama Cut, told me that he wanted his latest project to be a more collaborative affair.
"It would be great if nobody talked about my role in the band," he told me. "In this album, I did almost all the vocals, but the real goal for me is to do less. It would be even better if I didn't sing at all. I'm bored of my own voice."
Marcel, who full disclosure, also writes for VICE, imagined The Knife Club as a fluid collective of musicians who are all involved in their own projects as well. He told me that he was thinking of the acclaimed indie super-group Broken Social Scene when he set out to form The Knife Club. Marcel envisioned the band as one with a core of fixed members and an ever-rotating orbit of temporary ones who drop in for a song or two and then spin off on their own trajectory.
So far, this orbit includes Haikal Azizi (Bin Idris/Sigmun), Billy Saleh (Polka Wars), Jodi Setiawan (Peonies), Asad Gibran (Kaveh Kanes), Hendy Yudhistira (Morescode), Much Rifqi (Moiss), Theo Nugraha (Secret Meadow), Ricardo Taufano (Secret Meadow), Dylan Amirio (Logic Lost), and Ababil Ashari (Shorthand Phonetics).
The core of the band is a trio made up of Marcel, Baldi Calvianca (Strange Fruit), and Andi Hans Sabarudin (C’mon Lennon/Seaside/Pandai Besi). Hans thought-up most of the songs and together the trio act as the gravity that holds everything in place. They write and record the foundation of a song before sending it off to collaborators who expand on the initial idea, taking it in new, and interesting, directions, Marcel explained.
“They can choose for themselves which song they want to contribute to,” Marcel told me.
He was surprised at how eager so many of his friends were to contribute. On some songs there are dozens of contributors. One one there were nearly 80 layers to the finished track, he said.
In the future, Marcel hopes to do more of these collaborations with everyone in the same room, he said. It was just too difficult to get everyone to commit to regular jam sessions when the band was still just an idea, not an actual thing, he explained. It should be easier on the next one.
"But it was pretty hard back then," Marcel said. "Now that we have an album, it will be easier."
The Knife Club will release their debut album Affliction on 13 Dec. but we'll be streaming it right here on VICE all week for early listeners. Give it a listen below.