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Biography

  • Born

    4 May 1951 (age 68)

  • Born In

    Jawa Timur, Jawa, Indonesia

Sawung Jabo, is the stage name of Muhamad Djohansyah born in Surabaya in 1951. Jabo’s music embraces traditional Indonesian and contemporary rock in a lyrical, passionate, committed performance. He also explores music across national borders with multicultural-based performers in Australia. The Indonesian press reviewed his 2007 retrospective Java concert tour “Extraordinary… admiration for Sawung Jabo’s maturity”. He has released 20 albums.

Jabo founded the band Sirkus Barock (1976), which has performed throughout Java and Kalimantan (Indonesia) and also in Sydney and Melbourne in 1995 and 1996 , and continues to perform to the present day . Sirkus Barock theatre rock concerts in Jakarta included Peristiwa Manusia (Human Events, 1986), Kanvas Putih (White Canvas, 1991), Tragedi (1992). Jabo co-founded the superband Swami (1989 - subsequently named Kantata Takwa,then Dalbo) with musicians Iwan Fals, Innisisri, Nanoek and Naniel. Their hard rock songs railed against the injustices of the latter years of the New Order under President Suharto, with hits including Jabo's songs 'Hio' and 'Kuda Lumping' and 'Bongkar' (written by Jabo and Iwan Fals). The debut album sold 500,000 copies. Swami performed for audiences of 350,000 and is recognised as a ‘superband’ in Indonesian music history. In July/August 2006 (and 2007) Jabo’s 30 year retrospective concert tour Antologi attracted packed audiences in Bandung, Jakarta, Yogyakarta and Surabaya with reviewers praising the mature, contemplative stage his music had attained.

In Sydney Jabo also co-founded and performed with the Indonesian/Turkish fusion band GengGong. Jabo’s work embraces traditional musics in contemporary arrangements in a unique and compelling performance whose power also derives from Jabo's years as a member of Bengkel Teater Rendra. His theatre experience has also led him to act and direct on stage in Indonesia and Australia and in film - The Year of Living Dangerously and Lucky Miles.

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