Jakarta is one of few cities in Southeast Asia with a Taylor Swift fanbase rivalling its American counterparts in activity. Coming in 7th place on a 2019 list of cities that stream the singer-songwriter on Spotify, this Indonesian capital is known for some truly memorable Taylor Swift fans. And like the rest of Southeast Asia, cities and towns across Indonesia are also seeing environmental ecosystems fall apart in the face of unsustainable development.
In a stunning move to heal the planet, Indonesian music fans (alongside more chaotic stans) have begun organising crowdfunding campaigns on reforestation. Through the LindungiHutan platform, music enthusiasts are crowdfunding to plant trees in urgent locations. One look through the site and its apparent that K-Pop fans have found their calling: followers of BTS, Blackpink, Red Velvet, Infinite, and NCT seem to have committed more trees to the movement than many other visible interest groups.
Now Taylor Swift’s fans, a.k.a. Swifties, are joining the party. With enough zeal to rival their K-Pop peers, Swifties worldwide have a reputation for their volume of engagement on the internet. Though their capacity to organise themselves into meaningful political action outside the US is unclear—Swift once collected over 500,000 signatures in a petition in her home country warranting a White House response—LindungiHutan could finally reveal the potential impact of Swifties on Southeast Asian society.
Cue @TaylorSwiftIndo, a Taylor Swift fanbase in its eighth year which just launched a campaign on LindungiHutan to mark the musician’s birthday in December. With more than 19,800 followers, it’s the biggest Swiftie base on Indonesian Twitter. Their ask? Donate Rp. 13,000 (RM3.75) to purchase a mangrove for replanting. The end game? Restore the mangrove ecosystem of Trimulyo in Central Java.
“As Taylor turns 31 in less than a month, we saw this as a great opportunity to do something for her birthday while raising awareness about the abrasion that’s been affecting Indonesia’s coasts,” notes the account administrator, a female medical student in Jakarta who has chosen to remain anonymous.
“In the past 10 to 20 years, tidal waves and abrasion have damaged and submerged mangrove land and the fishponds of local residents. Even today, high tides often enter people’s homes.”
Trimulyo, located in the district of Genuk, Kota Semarang, is not risking further impact of climate change. Since 2008, the small sub-district has been planting mangroves on terraced land to strengthen the coastal ecosystem and restore the habitat of aquatic life. Mangroves were picked due to their high growth success rates of up to 90%.
The person behind @TaylorSwiftIndo and ‘Mangrove for Taylor Swift’ personally names Lover as her current favourite Taylor Swift album (“she sounded so in love and free!”). She also credits Folklore as one of few things that has kept fans going amidst the pandemic. Yet, following Swift’s work is not all rainbows and sunshine, especially in the pandemic.
“Taylor’s limited edition physical albums and merchandise were only available for a short time but the official Taylor Swift store didn’t ship directly to Indonesia. We had to rack our brains to make sure we can get our hands on her albums,” confessed @TaylorSwiftIndo.
“Despite this, we are lucky enough to be able to support her works through many online platforms. Do you know that Jakarta accounts for over 500,000 of Taylor’s monthly listeners on Spotify? It is the second-highest after Sydney!”
Indonesia is the first country in Southeast Asia to have access to Swift’s digital special Folklore: The Long Pond Studio Sessions. Premiered on the video streaming platform Disney Plus (not available in Malaysia), the concert-documentary sees Swift and her key collaborators, Jack Antonoff and Aaron Dessner, speak about Folklore‘s writing and recording process then perform each track live for the first time.
The performances, also available to stream on Spotify, drew high praise from @TaylorSwiftIndo’s followers. But to these dedicated fans, the most rewarding takeaway from the film was the context provided for each song on Folklore. Swifties, recognised for their curiosity and knack for making theories about their idol’s art and activity, finally got closure through the new release.
“That’s the thing about every single song she ever wrote: they’re universal. Whatever you interpret of her music, it’s always valid.”
Follow @TaylorSwiftIndo on Twitter to check out Taylor Swift fan content in Bahasa Indonesia such as song interpretations. Also pay a visit to Lindungi Hutan! Got time to kill? Consider sending DMs to Disney Plus for sidelining Malaysian Swifties.