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The Ignite Saga: The Tale of the Urban Misfits Book 1
For the outside world Sigi is just your normal teenage student. But not many knew that she's a member of the only, all-girls punk band in the 90s Jakarta Indonesia.Share Tweet LinkedIn Embed pszr.co/uukpB 3743 views
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In the first book of The IGNITE Saga – The Tales of the Urban Misfits entitled ‘LOVE’; the story centers on Sigi Putri Masina, a daughter of an open-minded Pediatrician Doctor and a judgmental suburban Housewife, ascending into Indonesia’s new regimented and limited upper-middle class. But Sigi is unconventional in her thoughts, rejecting the social and religious norms and expectations in favor of her passion for punk and indie music that ultimately define her. She follows her passion fiercely, enters, and succeeds in the Jakarta’s underground punk and indie music scene at a time where “girls weren’t allowed".
Why I wrote this book
I have written and finished my first novel, IGNITE Love, in what I plan to be a trilogy, as a fictional account based on true events and characters during my teenage years and early 20’s growing up in the 90s Jakarta - Indonesia.
Growing up in the capital city of Jakarta in that era, I have an emotional and complex story to tell from my personal experiences as a young band member of the only all-girl band of the underground music movement of the 90’s in Jakarta. A woman staging this foreign-influenced music was quite radical and even dangerous in Indonesia at that time. Following my instincts and living my life as freely as I have, has made me a cultural anomaly and influential figure for the liberal youth in my country.
The story begins in April 1993 with a live music concert of Metallica – a heavy metal band from America in Jakarta, which was considered God by many teenagers.
It ended up in a total riot.
45.000 people were involved in the concert. 8000 were injured but, surprisingly, nobody lost his or her lives. One tall building, 85 cars, 12 shops and 45 warungs (small vendors) were burnt to the ground. 88 people were caught and thrown in jail.
At the time though, the Indonesian media had the tendency to discount numbers and hide facts, suppressed and controlled by the ruling government.
Chapter one: What an Unfortunate Incidents…
We are introduced in the world of Sigi Putri Masina – her family, her part-time work as a radio DJ, her school social dynamics, her band members, her underground music scene society and, the boys in her life. We would also witness a few mainstream and underground music shows, along with the players and audiences and how their non-conformist attitude began and formed.
While rebelling against her controlling and judging mother and no less than confused or distant sisters, she was on top of her secret world – until an unfortunate ‘incident’ happened between her and her boyfriend, that causes her to change from someone who was in between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ to a total misfit.
Another important character to be introduced is Pandu, a senior broadcaster in the radio station where Sigi works, which was her mentor in navigating social relationships.
Chapter Two: The Misfit was born….
We are now introduced to the punks – mainly to the Young Offenders, a group of musical misfits, band collectives and an underground show organizer, alongside the Blackhole; the first underground alternative music event organizer in Jakarta.
With her new influential connections, Sigi and her band had moved forward from circulating in the old school metal crowds and shows towards more intimate settings of the new and young trendsetters of the underground.
In the meantime, she broke up with her long time band player boyfriend and decided to maneuver the world as a single. But one boy in particular – a senior band player from a famous trash metal band the Vortex, stays in her life as her on and off, unofficial boyfriend whom ironically, gave her the calm she needs in her chaotic life events. He was her mentor as well, who gave her inputs on how to operate and conquer the underground music scene.
Chapter 3 – But Even the Misfits Deserves to be loved…
After doing some big events at the end of her school semester, Sigi had to abandoned the band, now lead by a new girl, and focus on her high school’s final year exam studies. Miraculously, despite having to face a girl gang fight in her school, Sigi managed to graduate and enter a private university in Jakarta.
In the meantime, her relationship with boys continues. Here we are introduced closer to one specific boy from the new punk world. He was a trailblazer - his forward thinking, his burning passion for music and fashion, his charming attitudes and mysterious ways altogether ignited Sigi’s interest, and made her went deeper into the new realm of the underground music scene. To make things more complicated, her previous boyfriend came back into her life wanting to tie the knot.
While getting caught in her studies and boys, Sigi had to face the fact that again, she has to lose one of her band member, who decided to form another band to rival hers.
But Sigi’s determination on her band continues. One of her previous band member is making a comeback, and together they hold an audition to find new band players. They finally accept two girls and the all-girls Wanderlust band was back on track.
Chapter 4 – And so the Journey Begins….
At the beginning of the chapter, Sigi decided to put all the boys that distracted her aside, and focus more on her band. But as soon as she made her heart and mind to do that, a new character came into Sigi’s life – an older, mix Chinese/Indonesian boy named Hari.
Their meeting created an unexpected twist - a dramatic reaction that literally caused a bloody chaos.
1. Female (and male or any other in between) coming of age teens and young adults who struggle to express their authentic self in the suppressed and limiting society.
They will be thrilled to read The Ignite Saga and witness the journey of Sigi, the main character – the reluctant yet impactful change-agent who expresses through music and the ever-evolving stage persona.
Female singers of Indonesia were mostly presenting either hyper sweet and brokenhearted pop songs or the hyper sexualized dangdut music (Indian and Arabic inspired pop music) for the lower class. Sigi was different from the majority. She was sexy and wild, but at the same time, controlled and androgynous.
In the intense underground music scene Sigi has exposure to drugs and addiction that were becoming epidemic among the Jakarta youth. She refuses to indulge in the destruction and serves as a role model of being cool without drugs.
She also had her weaknesses but throughout the IGNITE saga Sigi refuses to become a victim. Her choices are steadfast, her resolutions are from her core being, and she follows her heart whatever the initial consequences or judgments by others.
2. Alternative music fans – either that who grew up in the 90s and/or those who are curious about the era.
The 90s is an era where musical revolution took place globally around the world. No one can deny that the USA and the UK holds the reign when it comes to breaking barriers in music of any genre. In alternative scene, big names such as Pearl Jam, Nirvana, The Stone Roses, Oasis, Blur, and The Red Hot Chili Peppers to name a few, was in every teenagers’ record players as the anthems of their coming of age moments, including Jakarta’s young society.
Readers will see all kinds of alternative rock music that influenced the youth of Jakarta and be in a nostalgic trip, either in their stereos or in live music events, and to witness Sigi’s take on the trend that surrounds her.
3. Romance/Drama Novel Fans
The Ignite Saga witnesses the journey of Sigi on finding true love in the most unordinary ways. Having to grow up with emotionally unavailable parents; a complaining – judgmental Mother and a busy Father, she almost never experienced what unconditional love feels like.
She casts off the expected role to be a college educated good Muslim girl awaiting a proposal of marriage to a suitable husband, over her cynical, distrustful views on love. But she couldn’t help but noticed that her childhood experience was universal among her peers – and that, had made her determined to understand the meaning of true love, which at the later end, becoming her life mission.
Her relationships with the boys in her life though, are never subservient. She navigates attraction and love with uncompromising self-respect and strength.
4. Political/Historical Novel Fans
Although the story’s centered on the life of Sigi, the background story was about Indonesia in the 90s –a double sword edge era of a dictatorial authoritarian regime and a devoted Moslem religion conservative society. She and her peers grew up in a society that was intolerant of progressive creative expression. The Ignite Saga will follow the journey of this long going era until the fall of the regime in 1998.
Meita Kasim started her carrier in the entertainment and lifestyle industry in the 1990s, as a Radio broadcaster at Suara Kejayaan Radio Jakarta, and later as a Radio broadcaster, music director and scriptwriter for Hard Rock FM Jakarta. At the same time, she was a member of Wondergel, the most influential band in the secretive underground music scene.
In early 2000 she moved from Jakarta to Bali-Indonesia. There she continued her carrier as a Radio Broadcaster, and became a full time writer for several local magazines (The Beat, Blend and Let’s Eat magazine to name a few). She was also involved as a Director for BSPA (Bali Society for Protection of Animals) where she mostly worked with feral street dogs for four years.
In 2007 she went for a soul searching solo journey by backpacking through Thailand and India.
In 2008 as she continued her job as a writer, working part-time as well as international music agent and festival worker (Ubud Writers and Readers Festival and Earth Day to name a few).
In 2011 she got married, and moved with her little family to Hong Kong where they lived for four years. She was working part time as a DJ and a language teacher at the Hong Kong Language Learning Center.
She is now back as a resident of Bali-Indonesia where she decided to write her first novel based on her coming of age story in Jakarta. It is finally ready to be published.
Facebook friends: 1700
IG Followers: 3896
Marketing strategy: radio interviews, media releases for online news sites, social media updates and private invitations through emails/messenger/whatsapp to my contacts in entertainment/music/lifestyle/feminist movements groups in Jakarta, Indonesia and abroad countries.
Readers who enjoys Cherrie Currie’s Neon Angel; A Memoir of a Runaway, Stephanie Kuehneret’s I Wanna Be Your Ramones and Louis Weiner’s Just for One Day will also enjoy this story.
Quietly, a girl slipped in to the studio.
She sat herself at the far corner and starts observing our rehearsal. We came to the end of the song but with the arrival of the new girl as our audience, a new sort of energy kicked in. We were on fire; even Grace banged her drums with more power.
Finally we finished and as the sound of the music that we played fades, we gave our curious look to the new comer.
Her face was boyish, she was grinning wide… too wide. Her black hair was tight to the back and was wearing all black – over sized black t-shirt with the word Ramones written on it and black jeans.
“Hey Soraya you came,” Mirah greeted her, “Everyone this is my friend Soraya.”
“Halo girls, “She waved her hands slightly. Her voice was raspy and deep. Her stares were blurry. She went around to shake our hands. Being closest to the door she greeted me first.
Well, she was certainly something else up-close. She had a silver spike protruding from her lower lip and her eyes were red as if she hadn’t slept for weeks. She reeked of alcohol and cigarettes. Her hands were a bit cold and weak inside my grip.
There was something wild about her, unlike us normal brats this one seemed to be a total troublemaker. “Sigi, “I said my name weakly while I shook her hands. She moved forward to greet everyone else.
“So are you in a band?” Kenari asked excitedly.
“Yes, “She answers, “I am the singer, and the only girl in the band. I can play the bass too. We cover songs from the Sex Pistols, Exploited, The Dead Kennedys and as you can see from my T-shirt, The Ramones’s songs too.”
“Yes we play a few of those, “Kenari said, “ Also some grunge rock, like L7 and Nirvana. Do you play Nirvana?”
“I don’t think so. I don’t like grunge.”
Soraya seemed to wake up from a daydream. Her eyes were beaming with disgust. We were taken a back, not sure how to react. An uncomfortable silence went through us for a few seconds.
“People enjoys grunge, “Mirah finally spoke for us. “Every time we played Nirvana’s Smells like Teen Spirit people was slam dancing… It is something new and fresh.”
Soraya made a clear mocking expression on her face. I felt all of a sudden, insecure. Is she right? Is playing grunge so not cool?
“I know that Pearl Jam, Nirvana and such are trendy nowadays, but like I said to you once Mirah, grunge, well… doesn’t excite me.
Her cockiness offended me. I was about to scold her, but Mirah spoke first.
“Alright, let us see how you sing,” She turned on the bass, which was still hanging on her tiny body. “Let’s see. Can you do Sex Pistols’ Anarchy in the UK?”
She took the mike stand away from Mirah and positions it in front of herself. She adjusted the stand a bit higher, did a testing one two three, and signaled with her chin to show that she’s ready.
Grace banged the cymbal four times. We came in with our instruments all together at the intro of the song, with powerful beats and the sound of distortions effects.
Then Soraya cried, “Right… Now!”
My heart jumped a bit when I heard her shouting. Then she began to sing.
“I am an Antichrist
I am an anarchist
don't know what I want but
I know how to get it
I wanna destroy passerby ‘cause I wanna be anarchy… In the city!”
Her voice power was strong with more kick compared to Mirah’s singsong voice. She copied Johnny Rotten’s English notes and accent almost to perfection.
“Is this the MPLA? Or is this the UDA?
Or is this the IRA… I thought it was the UK
Or just another country… Another council tenancy,
And I wanna be anarchy…”
When we finished the song Kenari let out a little clap. Now we kind of see why she didn’t want to do grunge. She was Johnny Rotten stuck in the body of a girl.
“That was great. “Mirah smiled with a look of half amused half bored – only she can pull-off this sort of attitude. “Too bad you don’t want to sing grunge. It’s kind of our anthem.”
Soraya responded by moving the mike and its stand back in front of where Mirah was standing.
“That was fun girls, but now I got to run.”
“What’s the hurry? We’re not finished yet.” Kenari blurted out with a worried look. I am worried too – we are probably not cool enough for her with our grunge thing.
“I got to catch up to the buss and go back to the Center. Promised the punks to hang out in their base camp and I’m already late. But let’s keep in touch… you have my number. “She said to Mirah. She began putting her backpack straps on top of her shoulders.
“The punks?” Mirah said with a curious tone.
“You guys are welcome to join me, I’ll introduce you to them.”
Kenari let out an excited smile but it was soon fades as Mirah went to answer her, clearly for all of us.
“We got to rehearse. We are playing tomorrow. Thanks for the invite, and thanks again for coming.”
Soraya shrugged her shoulders, opened the door and went out.
“OK girls, “Mirah continued as Soraya disappeared.
“Wait! I need the toilet, sorry. “
I unstrapped my guitar quickly. I dashed out the studio without waiting for anyone’s approval. Mirah might be all this time, the leader of the band. But soon she will be gone. Hell, everyone will eventually be gone since nobody dares to fight against their parents’ wishes.
I need that girl to keep the band alive.
The vulgar bright mini mart came quickly in view right on the hook. It was crowded with cars and motorbikes parked in front of it. My eyes were searching for Agam. I quickly spotted him, leaning in front of his parked car waiting.
He wasn’t that tall – but thankfully not short, a turn-off for me. His body was thin with a bony figure, while in contrast his shoulders were tight and toned. He wore his long and wavy hair down until his waist, making him quite a spectacle. Back then; only college boys from the South had hair like that since boys were not allowed to have long hair in schools, and the majority of college boys from other parts of Jakarta had no idea what metal music is. His fair white skin glows along with his striking bleached blonde hair. It was hard for people not to stare at Agam.
I noticed that instead of wearing black like he did in our previous encounters, tonight he was wearing a plain dark green t-shirt and light washed blue jeans. I consciously paced myself and walked confidently to him instead of running. He had his chin up when he saw me, his eyes narrowed, his lips half smiling.
“So naughty this Sigi, “He greeted, “Sneaking out of her own house at bed time to see a man like me.”
I smiled back. No hello, how are you? Are you good, nope, none of those small talk. That’s not his style. I should be grateful that he behaved himself and didn’t pretend to jerk off again in front of these people.
“You are naughty, “I replied coolly, “Cruising in your Dad’s car to kidnap an under aged girl at this time of the hour.”
“Nice,” He grins. “So we can both be bad tonight.”
“Maybe, but it might not happen if we keep on hanging here.”
My house was located on a main boulevard that took people out from the East to the Center and the South part of Jakarta – the possibility of being spotted by people we knew… was too risky.
He proceeded to open the car door for me. I quickly sat on the passenger’s seat. Soon he follows and sat himself down behind the wheel.
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