We just came back from our enlightening Pacific premiere performance, where we joined the first ever Torba Arts and Music festival, put together by our friends from Vanuatu women's water music group and it's manager Sandy Sur.
Vanuatu, the inspiration to begin Small Island Big Song five years ago. Where we learnt of the seafaring connection across the Pacific and even the Indian Ocean, where we also saw sea level rise first hand. This time, we’re back with four Taiwanese indigenous musicians and friends from Australia to be part of the festival which took place on a very special (and remote) island called Mota Lava in the Banks Islands.
During the festival, we sat with mamas to make Laplap, we harvested breadfruit, and set out canoe trips with kids, it was more than ever we felt the connections with the community are not just within music, but in the way of living. In return, SiaoChun Tai was inspired by the interactions with the local kids and shared children's game from her Paiwan community, and Pitayru Ukah from the Truku people shared his trap technic using local bamboo. We also had a special under-the-star film screening. It was truly a priceless cultural exchange... and we found words we all share as well!
The ferry which brings all the important resources only comes once a month, so most of the residents of Mota Lava rely on home grown food. There are plenty of coconuts, breadfruits (what Mota Lava is famous for), taro, yams, greens from their gardens, and fish from the sea.
Laplap - one of the locals' favorites - is made from grated yam, topped with different nuts, and wrapped in banana leaves. It is then cooked using heated stones on the ground. Bubu, the elder, said that when food is cooked using the energy from the Earth, it doesn't just give them the power of nutrition - it also keeps their connection with the land strong. #slowfood
This kind of simple lifestyle, having an emphasis on the relationship between land and people... We can see why Vanuatu was rated the happiest country in the world.
Currently, Vanuatu is experiencing the sea levels rising firsthand. In 2004, almost 70 people from a nearby island were forced to relocate to higher ground due to rising sea levels threatening their homes. They were the world's first climate refugees.
Small Island Big Song believes art and culture play a vital role in shaping social narratives. they define our relationship to community and environment. By recording music which sings of place and bringing musicians together, we can create a world closer together, for our island, Earth.