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Indonesian Muslim all-female metal band prepares for biggest show

With their Islamic scarves and metal music, the women of the Indonesian band Voice of Baceprot have played on stages from the United States to France. But this week they are nervous.

Next Friday (28), in England, they will become the first Indonesian group to play at the Glastonburry Festival, one of the biggest in the world, sharing space with artists such as Coldplay and Shania Twain.

This is the biggest stage yet for the young women, who will be far from their home village of Garut in West Java province in the sprawling Southeast Asian nation.

“We not only carry the Voice of Baceprot, but also our country,” 23-year-old bassist Widi Rahmawati told Reuters.

With the impetuous beats of their guitars and complex percussion, the Voice of Baceprot – which means “noise” – was on the cover of the British magazine New Musical Express and received applause from former Rage Against the Machine guitarist, Tom Morello.

In addition to music, the three want to challenge stereotypes that Muslim women are modest and weak, or that Muslims in general are violent militants, says vocalist and guitarist Firda Marsya Kurnia, 24.

Indonesia is the largest Muslim-majority nation in the world, with Muslims making up 90% of its 270 million people. The country is secular and the vast majority practice a moderate form of Islam, although there are some conservative strongholds.

The band sings about female empowerment – ​​lamenting the fixation on appearance over music – and the environment, Marsya said.

Widi, Marsya and 24-year-old drummer Euis Siti Aisyah met at an Islamic school and formed the band in 2014. As children, they were immersed in Indonesian pop and Islamic music, Widi said.

Their love for metal came after listening to the album “Toxicity” by the American band System of a Down. They listened to the songs on the school counselor’s computer, who, they said, was their biggest supporter.

This filled them with adrenaline, Marsya said, so they started playing their own songs.

Marsya said the most difficult challenge for Voice of Baceprot was dealing with stigmas, both at home and abroad.

“In our village, metal is considered satanic – it is not suitable for women, let alone women in hijabs,” said Widi, referring to the headscarves.

Marsya said her family once suggested she look into an Islamic healing ritual, hoping to banish her love for metal.

“At first, we felt like we didn’t have a home to go back to,” she said.

She said that in an audience in the US, people called them militants. “It was as if we were criminals.”

After Glastonbury, Marsya said the three were expected to work on a new album and a song “Mighty Island,” which she said was about corruption in Indonesia. They also want to create a community with aspiring musicians in their country, she said.

“We would like to empower the community there,” Marsya said.

Source: CNN Brasil

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