The Blue Comets



The Blue Comets

Commission for public space in The Hague/Kijkduin region, 2005. Presented at HCBK Stroom, Den Haag

For the new bicycle route between The Hague and Rotterdam, six artists were asked to make a work that referred to the region’s cultural history which cyclists could take along with them on the route. Janssen used the history of Indo-rock music as her point of departure. The Hague was the birthplace of this genre in the 1950s and ’60s, after the end of the colonisation of the Dutch East Indies in 1950 and the repatriation of Dutch Indonesians. Indo-rock is a mixture of American rock music and Indonesian Krontjong influences. Krontjong songs were traditionally accompanied by ukulele, violin and flute, which characteristically spoke back and forth to each other individually, as opposed to playing at the same time. These traditional instruments were replaced by electric guitars and a new genre was born: ‘Indo-rock’, a melancholic genre that conveyed the longing for Indonesia. While the Indonesians walked in the footsteps of their idols from the USA, it became fashionable for The Hague’s youth to dress ‘Indo’, which included dyeing their hair black and tinting their faces a darker shade with iodine! The golden years of Indo-rock were from 1958 to 1964. Hundreds of bands were formed, not only by Indonesian musicians but also by Dutch musicians, mainly in and around The Hague. In the Netherlands the older generation rejected this new ‘wild’ and ‘black’ music, but in Germany these bands were in popular demand to perform in clubs, at talent shows and on American military bases. Within a few years the Netherlands had ‘lost’ all its good Indo-rock bands to Germany.There are still several Indo-rock bands in The Hague region today. Most of the musicians are now 60 years of age or older. Janssen recorded a CD with typical music from this slowly disappearing genre with The Blue Comets, for which the band members reunited. The CD was recorded at Villa Ockenburgh (temporarily transformed into a recording studio) in Kijkduin and was presented on 25 May 2005 at the HCBK Stroom centre for the visual arts together with the original scrapbooks of the band members. Cyclists could listen to the music en route on a discman.

For further information see the CD’s printed insert.

The Blue Comets: Audio CD, printed matter, pin buttons, original Blue Comets scrapbooks. Presented at HCBK Stroom, Den Haag.