1962: Clipper Cowbridge

1963: The Swiss Invasion

1965: Marilyn Kaye

1969: The Fold

1970: Yorgi

1971: Devon Shire

1972: Sandee Saunders

1976: Rockfinger

1978: The Spooky Bunch

1979: Decoupage

1981: Bleep

1984: Tiger Love

1985: Laryssa Foxxx

1986: Smasher of Things

1987: Suthrn Cuzn

1989: ~pianogirl~

1990: Razorflesh

1995: Breaker Bear

1996: Action Plus

1998: J Lounge

2001: Eesk

2004: Lazarus Project

Tiger Love: WAY Outsider Music (1984)

INDONESIAN POP BAND TIGER LOVE, whose distinctive sound borrowed from U.K. punk, gamelan, and pan-Asian bubblegum pop, was one of Clubbo’s most unlikely (and some might add unlistenable) acts.

Tiger Love was the musical outlet of teenager Siri Batawi, whose dreams became vinyl when her devoted father, a Balinese restaurateur, crossed paths with a vacationing Clubbo exec.

Siri’s sole Clubbo release was a 45 of “Feelingful Mood,” in which the lovelorn singer confesses a crush on an Australian boy on holiday with his family. The song was later championed by radical rock critic Byron Jenkowitz as “a lambent ziggurat of outsider sensibility.”


“Feelingful Mood”

“Feelingful Mood” lyrics and credits


Clubbo Records has always been known for its willingness to stray from the mainstream. But seldom did the label stray quite so recklessly as in 1984, when it released a disc by Indonesian pop act Tiger Love.

“I’ve heard some truly bizarre rumors about how the Tiger Love record came to be,” former Clubbo chieftain Bas Carlton said recently during a phone interview from his home in the Cayman Islands. “That I signed Siri Batawi just to settle a Balinese bar tab. That I was blackmailed after being caught with cocaine. Or misbehaving with a trio of underage prostitutes. Or both. All lies, I hasten to add. There’s only one thing that compelled me to release Tiger Love. And that was Siri’s heartfelt innocence and honesty.”

Siri Batawi was the teen visionary who wrote, sang, played, and co-produced the record that critic Byron Jenkowitz hailed as “an amalgamation of unadulterated pop nescience.” And that’s one of the more comprehensible descriptions that’s been applied to Tiger Love’s singular blend of gamelan percussion, pan-Asian pop, and crude, DIY rock.

Siri was the product of a mixed marriage. Her mother, Laxmi, was a Hindu from a wealthy Balinese hotel clan, while father B.K. was a minor diplomat of Muslim ancestry. The pair met at the Universitas Indonesia and married against opposition from both families. When Laxmi died shortly after Siri’s birth in 1967, B.K. insisted on raising the child himself, despite the travel required by his position as a junior attaché in the Indonesian diplomatic corps. As a result, Siri followed her father to London, where she attended an English girls’ school and developed an early interest in UK punk.

Buru Island, located in the historically bloody Maluku province (the original “Spice Islands”) in eastern Indonesia

Unfortunately, just as Siri was becoming fluent in English and making new friends, her father was implicated in a still-murky political scandal that resulted in a quick transfer back to Indonesia, where he served as an under-warden at the notorious Buru Island prison colony.

Music was Siri’s sole consolation during those lonely years on Buru. She replayed her British cassettes until they disintegrated and taught herself guitar rudiments on a handmade instrument purchased with a basket of chickens. Siri practiced her English on occasional visits with a Canadian missionary, who also taught her a few chords on a wheezing pump organ.

By the time the Buru Island colony was disbanded in 1979, B.K. Batawi had mended fences with his former in-laws, who offered him a new career managing the Jolly Sun bar and restaurant in the Balinese resort town of Kuta. The now-teenaged Siri’s musical world expanded to include U.S. disco, Japanese pop, and such Indonesian styles as dangdut and kroncong. She began writing her own songs, which B.K. paid to have recorded at a local radio station. Siri called her band Tiger Love in tribute to her kitten, Tiger, whose voice appears on several of the recordings.

Tiger Love's 1984 debut album (Clubbo Records)

When Siri’s proud father learned that one of his Jolly Sun guests was a vacationing record executive, he played the tapes for Carlton, and the rest is history. Or at least cult history, since only 500 vinyl copies of “Feelingful Mood” (backed with “Miau Miau Song”) were pressed.

But each of those copies seems to have duplicated many times, passed furtively from hand to hand like Buru Island escape maps. One listen to “Feelingful Mood” explains why a certain perverse segment of the listening public has remained fascinated with Tiger Love — and why they continue to feel guilty about it.

The song is a lovelorn plaint for a vacationing Australian boy on whom Siri developed a crush. Happily, this teen melodrama had a fairytale ending. Against all odds, Siri’s subject, Nick Begley, heard the song playing at an Indonesian restaurant back home in Brisbane. Nick and Siri commenced a long pen-pal relationship, and the couple finally married in 1993. Today they manage the Jolly Sun and a half-dozen other Balinese hostelries. Siri tells us her two young daughters are “even more musical” than she was, but we have yet to receive the long-promised demo.