NYAI (2021) – electroacoustic composition, soundscape art and mixing for a composition and contemporary dance film by Stefanie Inhelder

“Three generations ago, Swiss men colonised Sumatra, Indonesia. Not only land, but also women.

This is a story of one of them.

Of how she became a mother of three children,

Of how her sons were taken away from her,

Of how her Swiss husband returned to Europe with a new wife,

Of how colonised women disappeared into history.”

NYAI is a contemporary music composition and dance film by choreographer, composer and director Stefanie Inhelder (b. 1988 Switzerland). I provided the electroacoustic layers (electronics) and soundscape design for the music, and mixed and co-produced the overall composition.

segments of the composition coming soon

NYAI investigates the interlinked issues of colonisation, exploitation and deforestation through a personal family history. It tells the story of a colonised woman, Anne Lak Inhelder: a Nyai (bought wife) to Willhelm Inhelder in the Swiss plantation of Dolok in Sumatra, Indonesia, around 1900. She gave birth to one girl and two boys. The boys, while still children, were taken away from her to their father’s native country of Switzerland. When Willhelm Inhelder returned to the plantation with his Swiss wife, Anne Lak had to leave with her daughter, disappearing into history. The piece asks the question: who owns the body and the land in the context of the Swiss colonisation of Indonesia. 

The film contemplates equally the deforestation in Indonesia, caused nowadays by palm oil production and its global demand. The Dolok plantation continues to operate today, but instead of rubber, coffee and tobacco, its land is being cleared for the palm oil now.


Artistic Director – Stefanie Inhelder

Performance – Kuan-Ling Tsai, Stefanie Inhelder

Camera Operator – Axel Töpfer, Youssef Chebbi


Composer – Stefanie Inhelder

Composition Mentor – Javier Munoz Bravo

Sound Artist – Ilpo Jauhiainen

Sound Engineer – Sebastian Fecke Diaz

Mastering Engineer – Gregor Zemljic

Pianist – Thea Soti


Produced by Splash & Burn, Studio Birthplace

Visual Artist – Ernest Zacharevic

Cinematographer & Editor – Nicholas Chin

Producer – Sean Lin

Art Assistant – Marsya Mohd Johari

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