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New Single Madjadjumak ft. Sauljaljui of Taiwan

Now available on all streaming platforms

Sauljaljui of Paiwan, Taiwan

I wanted to write a song about my relationship with the mountains and the ocean. For someone who lives on the mountain like me, how do I connect my story with the islands from afar even though I am fearful of the ocean?
Once I asked my Ina (mother), how would our elder describe the ocean in Paiwan? She said “no way, we couldn’t even see the ocean when growing up. Ocean is huge, we can only use ‘aiyanga’ (sigh in Paiwan) to express our feeling towards something outside of what we can imagine and describe.
My home is Kapanan - the community along the river in Paiwan language. I have most of my childhood memories by the river, we live with the river, eat from the river. We catched fish almost everyday, mountains and rivers formed the people we are today. Because of the construction of a major dam in 1995, most of our ancient custodial land is now underwater, many places can only be reached by waterways. Not only is the river now muddy all year round, our daily living environment has been greatly affected. We don’t see not just Valjukuc in the river, but Ragaman (native prawn), Saili (river snails) and many more. What we lost is not just a river.
We had a serious drought this spring. One day I took my dogs for a walk on the dry river bank. I remember feeling sad for the river, but suddenly I thought “Even though the river is dried up, it will know its destination, the ocean, when the rain comes.” This gave me the inspiration to write this song Madjadjumak.
I brought in the perspective of the river, and wrote “Even though my eyes are covered, I will pave the way for you. Even though my legs and arms are severed, I will pave the way for you.” Even though there’s destruction and drought on the land, water, the source of life, will guide us. I also wanted to invite Selina of the Marshall Islands to collaborate on the song, because part of her traditional custodial land is also underwater, due to rising sea levels. That is not in the future, but right there, right now. This is not just a matter of environmental concerns but survival.
Writing this song, I thought about my family across the ocean from the Austronesian diaspora, we’re so far apart but then so close. Our voice is our shared path to our way out. The world is too grand to change by any of us alone, but if we are willing to lend each other a bit of courage and strength, creating a space where we unite not divide, I think we might actually have a chance for hope and for the better.

Selina Leem of Marshallese of Marshall Islands

In Madjadjumak, I'm describing the difference of the nature of the day before and the day after. Before it was all bright and green and gay and the day after it's all burnt, despondent and destroyed. And that comparison came from thinking about the droughts that my country had faced and is facing, the water rising and washing all over the land, destroying our crops. Going from one end of the island to the other, you really realize just how fragile an ecosystem can be when things are disturbed, and that is what is happening to our home and the entire world’s ecosystem.
Towards the end of the song there is hope, because I'm talking about our ancestors who have sailed across the seas, and they have come to save all of us, and I was trying to use the imagery what I was told by my grandparents, “ When you see a bird out at sea, there's hope, because land is near.” So this is a reminder that each of us are the world's birds, because we all have a responsibility. That is what we all are and that is what we need to do. We give light, we give hope and we all have a hand in saving our world. Not just us here on Small Island Big Song, but each and every single one of us are birds that our island needs.

A collaboration of

Sauljaljui — Lead vocals, guitar, composer
Putad — Vocals, electric bass

Selina Leem — Spoken word

Richard Mogu — Kundu drum, Kuakumba, shakers, chant
Airileke — Garamut, Pate log drums

Sammy — Jejy

Emlyn — Ravann, vocals
Kokol — Ravann
Kan Chan Kin — Ravann

Yoyo Tuki — Hoko chant

Jerome Kavanagh — Excerpt of Haka chant “Ngati Kahungunu” written by Ancestor Waimarama Putara

Alena Murang — Chant

Tim Cole — Shakers

Sounds of Longan river in Taiwan (including eagle sound)

Arrangement & Music Production — Tim Cole
Project Producer — BaoBao Chen


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