Interview: Kareem Soenharjo (BAPAK. and his many personas)

Whether you know him as Bap, Yosugi, Yosubap or (the newest addition to the list) the mastermind behind BAPAK; Kareem has been the one to watch in the industry for a while now. He’s always seemed to effortlessly create music and without fail make us all bow down and bop our heads. Although he’s made it all look easy, the work he’s put into his music behind the scenes has never failed to impress. Always lugging around his gear everywhere he goes ready to completely shut out everything and start working. The work and dedication that goes into all of his music has always been indisputable, however with his newest album, (Miasma Tahun Asu) he’s taken the process of making the album to a whole new level and used it as a coping mechanism for a more painful chapter in his life, creating his most vulnerable body of work yet.

I had a brief conversation to see where his head was at about his newest album and here’s what he had to say:

So, tell me a little bit (or a lot) about the process of making Miasma Tahun Asu!

Kareem: It was supposed to be more or less a joyride of an album, at least that’s what I had in mind back in 2019. A lot has happened since we started working on the album back in June 2019. It has transformed into an extension of the four of us (musically) and an extension of my feelings and journey (lyrically). I gathered the three best people I know that can make the kind of music that I (personally) would be proud of; and we got to work.

Thematically, this album is my most intimate work. I tried my best to simplify my words and meaning to get my point across better while pushing the musical arrangements so that it is balanced and well composed. A lot of days and nights were spent pouring it all in, ideas and emotion. everything is thought out, every piece and nook and cranny

It isn’t an easy listen. but it is honest

BAP. performing on Ornaments 2019

Were there any logistic hurdles in making this album? We’re aware that your band consists of talented guys scattered all around. What were the things you did to overcome the geographical obstacle? Were there any other logistic hurdles? And how did you overcome this?

Kareem: No logistical hurdles. I’m blessed to be knowledgeable in music production before I started this project. I knew what to do and how to do it.

With the geographical situation, it gave us time to unwind and live for a bit, then getting back to work.

I think the only learning curve was recording with live instruments together. I wanted some songs to not be recorded with a metronome. I wanted it to feel organic.

As someone who‘s listened to the album fully it almost felt like you took us on a journey of a lot of emotions you were feeling and this is probably your most vulnerable work yet, do you feel as though the emotional labor you put in the album was different or similar in some ways to your previous body of work?

Kareem: I think it was more than what I’ve made so far. making this album was a pain. emotionally. and I had no one to comfort me other than my songs. its bittersweet. but it’s done.

The pain isn’t gone, it’s just in another place.

You have a couple artist accounts (for every project) on streaming services and have a lot of monthly listeners across all of them! How do you feel about how the album is doing in streaming services? Is it your preferred way for fans to access your music or do you have a preference?

Kareem: It is what it is. I just want people to listen and find meaning in it. I’m happy that that is the case for now.

Although I prefer sites like Bandcamp that’s more intimate in a way that people can directly support you and even comment on your album and etc.

Your fans, just like you are very passionate about your work and have shown a lot of love online through memes, how do you feel about that and which is your favorite so far?

Kareem: Still this one. Very accurate. I appreciate the research (insert laughing emoji)

Speaking to Kareem reminded us how much work and effort you put into making music. Support him directly by buying “Miasma Tahun Asu” via The Store Front here.