1. IT AIN'T THAT FAR FROM BABYLON
It's only 1 hour and 45min from Singapore. The irony of the situation is more Singaporeans were concerned about Bintan being too far away than guests I spoke to living in Canada, USA or Berlin. After spending the last 9 months in Singapore, it has been amazing for me to discover that you can travel under 2 hours away for a culture, food and an experience that is totally different from City life. Singapura is still an island at the end of the day, and it is important to remember this so we can foster a sense of community, warmth and relaxation, even in the heart of the city.
2. THE NATIONAL COLORS
National colors of Bintan happen to be the Rasta colors of RED, YELLOW and GREEN. When I first accompanied Addis Pablo to Bintan at the time of Singapura Dub Club's launch, we were amazed to see Rasta colored flags lining the streets. We believed we had been given a Reggae hero's welcome to be later informed these were Bintan's national colors. Even so, how amazing to travel half way around the world to find the same symbolism and sentiment on an island.
3. AN INSPIRATIONAL ARRIVAL
The first sign you will see when you arrive at the port in Tanjong Pinanag (from Tenah Merah ferry terminal in Singapore) reads "Together we build an ever lasting peace". A few more steps and the next sign reads "Build your soul, Build good vibes".Our motto at the Singapura Dub Club is "Together Good Vibes Can Grow" Perfect match, Jah blessing.
4. THE PEOPLE OF BINTAN
When I first met Cano, I read the tattoo across his back "Everyday is a Sunday". Yes! Then we met the other members of Bintan Reggae band Zionway (also known as the Reggae Association of Bintan) Andy, Aexea, Dian and many more...my heart was full from their hospitality, generosity and infectious personalities. Living on an island encourages a sense of community and warmth between the people and each time I have traveled to Bintan, I have shared the most music, laughter and joy with my new friends there.
5. SKY, OCEAN, SAND, HAMMOCK
The grounds of the Dub Club are set in a secret location. Along the lesser visited side of Bintan Island, the event will happen away from golf courses and seedy bars. Here you see the raw and untouched beauty of life on the island with natural rock formations and white sand. The tide pulls out during the later half of the day far enough to take a long walk along the ocean bed and returns by nightfall - ready for the beachside sound system. It is important to reconnect with nature and it is wonderful to have a sound track of sweet Reggae music playing.
6. THE FOOD
Seriously the food in Bintan is amazing! Indonesian cuisine is deeply flavorful, explores numerous textures and is made even better when the food is fresh. From deep fried "Bak Wan" to the local "Nasi Pandang" everything tastes full of richness and flavour. The signature dish (and national symbol of Bintan) "Gong Gong", is an edible conch snail (may seem scary to the Western palette but it's basically calamari). My favorite is the Otak Otak. I noticed it was only available on some days and not others...when I asked why they told me "If the sea is rough, we don't catch the fish for Otak Otak". Now that's fresh!
7. THE TALENT
From 14 years in the music industry I've made a lot of connections with incredibly talented musicians and phenomenal minds. I've attended so many music conferences which by in large are expensive, set in a conference hall of some sort and turn into a business card trading bonanza at coffee breaks. This is not to discount the value of getting promoters, venue owners, brands, small business owners, talent and entrepreneurs together in the same room. Here's a thought: What if we get these amazing people together on a beach, on an island, and foster a sense of community. I would rather discuss a business venture with someone while sipping a Rum cocktail then in a carpeted room with bad air conditioning. We have turned the hotel's Karaoke room into a recording studio to facilitate any spur of the moment creations. We have set up a Rum Bar / trading post which will be a meeting point for a drink and a contact exchange with a stranger. On Saturday night, we have lined up a phenomenal LIVE concert at the hotel gazebo, and a beachside Sound System Singapura that will go until sunrise. No noise complaints here, life life. Dub Club stands by our motto "Together Good Vibes Can Grow" and we are getting proactive on how we can allow people to come together.
8. THE VIBES
Someone asked me recently "What is this Irie Vibe you keep talking about". Naturally I referred them to the Urban Dictionary which defines IRIE as "To be at total peace with your current state of being. The way you feel when you have no worries". Truth be told I've had a lot of worries since moving back to Singapore from culture shock, starting a new business, leaving all my friends and mostly - leaving Jamaica. I fell in love with Jamaica because I felt that I could be myself and was totally accepted for that. I could play music or sing at the top of my lungs. Instead of noise complaints, I was encouraged to play MORE. I could creatively carve out my plan for each day as I felt and when I was hungry ate from the ocean or my garden. I sulked for my first 3 months in Singapore, angry that I had to leave my private utopia and return to REALITY. When I woke up from my tantrum, I realized that instead of feeling angry I should SEEK those vibes here and bring them to Singapore.
I LOVE my friends here in Singapore and around the world that have my back as I stew up these hair brained ideas. My most VIBESY people will be traveling from Japan, Canada, USA, Germany and as far as JAMAICA to join myself and the Singapura Dub Club members in Bintan. This is a special moment and my heart is ever grateful.
See you on the Island of Bintan and let's get Together, and let the good vibes grow.