All-girl Muslim band heads to Glastonbury

Challenging stereotypes: Voice of Baceprot performing at Soundsfest Experience in Jakarta. — Reuters

When three teen girls formed a metal band 10 years ago to sing about gender equality and peace over bone-crunching guitars and drums, they could scarcely have dreamed of one day playing at Glastonbury.

Yet, a decade later, Voice of Baceprot’s three Muslim women will become the first band from Indonesia to perform at the world-famous festival in Britain this week, where the headliners include Coldplay and Dua Lipa.

Their set will mark the latest highlight in a wild career that has seen Firda Kurnia (guitar and vocals), Widi Rahmawati (bass) and Euis Siti Aisah (drums) amass a huge fanbase while challenging gender stereotypes in male-dominated Indonesian society.

“Honestly, Glastonbury is not on our wishlist because we feel like it is too high a dream,” Euis, 24, said.

“(I am) half in disbelief. That is why we keep checking whether it is the official Glastonbury or if someone pranked us.”

Voice of Baceprot rose from humble beginnings in a village near the West Javan city of Garut.

They won fans with their raucous Rage Against the Machine covers – the word “baceprot” means noisy in Sundanese, an Indonesian traditional language – and also won fans with their original material.

Then came wider international attention, including plaudits from some superstars. Red Hot Chilli Peppers bassist Flea once tweeted that he was “so down with Voice of Baceprot”.

Muslim conservatives in Indonesia have criticised the band over the fact that they are women, and also claimed their clothes are inappropriate.

But Voice of Baceprot have stuck to their beliefs and shot back through their music.

Their biggest hit – God, Allow Me (Please) to Play Music – has racked up millions of plays on YouTube and Spotify, and takes aim at the conservative detractors who say women should not play such music.

They have also written about climate change and women’s rights.

“We create songs based on what we see, hear, read, and experience ourselves,” said Firda.

But as they prepare to play the biggest show of their lives, Voice of Baceprot say one of their dreams is rooted at home.

“We actually really want to tour Indonesia,” said Widi. “But we haven’t had the opportunity yet.” — AFP

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