Movers, Shakers & Monday Game Changers – Leong Lau, 70s Funk & Multiculturalism

Monday is about remembering the movers, shakers and game changers, of things that look incredibly trivial now, but challenged many on arrival.

Scaremongers like to write a lot about the insane changes the next generation will bring. Here’s some changes already brought, against all odds and discouragement, and it all turned out alright.

Some perspective for your back-pocket, to think about when the times are getting tough as a change maker.

On a late night wander around the interwebs, I was having a whale of a time discovering old Australian funk groups. And then I stumbled upon Leong Lau, an Indonesian man who speaks with the most ocker accent you could possibly expect of a man from the Aussie outback, and has some incredibly tasty tunes.

Unfortunately, like most of this old music, there isn’t much information about this man available. Google it, and you’ll see one fantastic DJ’s effort to document Australian funk, and that’s about it. If you root around, you’ll be able to download the album in the Youtube video above. (I wouldn’t feel guilty about the download, since the only other way you can hear the music is by buying a $300 vinyl that is available very rarely.)
So why does this guy get to be my Monday mover, shaker and game changer?
Because he obviously was outside the square to the enth degree. He made music that is ageless – it could be played when he made it in the 70s, it could be played on Gilles Peterson’s show today. It’s great stuff. It’s also out there. He doesn’t really sing – he tunefully talks, I don’t think you could even call it rap. I don’t know. It’s awesome and Which is even cooler, seeing as he is an Indonesian man.
And from his name, I surmise he is a Chinese Indonesian, which in the 70s would have been a pretty rough deal under Suharto’s ‘Basic Policy for the Solution of the Chinese Problem’ – yeah ouch.

Yet his album is intertwined with Indonesian references. It’s named ‘That Rongeng (sic) Sound’, ronggeng being a type of dance and music. A track is called Naga Rock Music, naga being dragon in Indonesian.  It’s made in Australia, in English, but is so obviously Indonesian influenced. It’s the perfect example of multiculturalism.

And Australia wasn’t all sunny fields of multiculturalism in the 70s either. The ‘White Australia Policy’ was only legally ended as of 1973 or thereabouts. What an intensely racist hotbed to go from and come into.
But he made this album to reflect him, and it’s the truest act of artistry, because you really feel a sense of this man through his music. This ain’t no cookie cutter album.

He really inspires me to be true to myself, all the cultures I come from, have joined through my partner, and live in – and to express myself to reflect that and me. And if it comes out as cool and funky as his work, I’d be damn happy with that!

Do you have multiple cultures in your life that you would like to enjoy and express more?
Btw, if you’re wondering how I can be employed in HR, and write about HR – here‘s my explanation.

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  • 8 October 2012