City life is business, job, hustle and new deals made everyday. I quickly learned some rules of the game when I first moved to Singapore. Protect your contacts, guard your ideas and be weary of everyone. I felt this was very contrary to my nature as I naively ran around asking different people to collaborate or work together. This was not so successful as they were suspicious of my intentions, or didn't have the time if big money was not on the table. Discouraged but not defunct - I wanted to find out what would happen if we did the opposite - break all the rules. What if I pulled out my rolodex of all the most talented, well connected and resourceful people I have met over the years all around the world and get them all together in 1 place. What if they met each other in a meaningful way and shared contacts, ideas and memories in a special space, defying these new rules of business I learned. With these ideals in mind, and a motto of "Together Good Vibes Can Grow" we set out to create Bintan Dub Club, 3 days of Reggae, Bass and Dancehall Music, workshops, connections and good vibes.
The key ingredient was good people. Good people to work with, good people to perform and good people to invite. My partner in Singapura Dub Club, DJ Rumshot, was excited for the possibilities and together we formed alliances with friends in Bintan (photographer Cano and his wife Dian) to make this happen. We chose Bintan because it fascinated me that somewhere so close to the metropolis of Singapore could be so different and still centered in Island community life. Mostly we like locations that don't have noise complaints so we can go all out on the sound system and bass levels. We pulled in the Singapura Dub Club team to help get people on the ferries, put up decorations and organize (Thank you Dini, Syaquil, Annissa, Shaiful). I knew this would be the start of something beautiful, and called in the social media eye of Char Loro and our media sponsor AFO Radio. An added blessing was the assistance of some of our booked DJs who believed in the movement of Reggae in SE Asia, and arrived on the island early to help with the decor and set up of sound. Special thanks to Diggy Dang (Reggae Rajahs, India), Dublicious (Obeah Sounds, Mexico) and Boron (King Horror Sound, Barcelona).
Not everything ran smoothly or according to plan. Food arrived late, schedules were not met, technical equipment was not working...and somehow it all still worked out. People just sat on swings and hammocks a little longer, created their own games and conversations and consistently offered to help out with a smile. Our bartender for the Brugal Rum bar couldn't make it, and as I panicked to Travis von Cartier and his friend Malori - they informed me that they were bartenders. (And the best damn bartender duo possible!) The most notable "mishap" was a tropical sized rain storm that happened on the main night, where the live bands and artists would be performing. Around the end of my set with The Irietones, the rain came down with such a force that it scatteried all the people. Some of us took refuge under the surrounding rocks. For a moment my heart sank - months of preparing the band and DJs technical riders and now, none of these international talents would not be showcased? DJ Sarasa (Japan) tells the story best:
I think the most beautiful moments of life happened on the last night around the time Masia One was performing with the band. Everyone looked forward to her performance and shit was bananas with special appearance with Malaysian rapper Miyo. But Out of NOWHERE we had monsoon rain and all electrical equipment had to be taken down and hidden safely under the huge rocks where we also hid. It was raining pretty badly for a while... and just as everyone thought "Ah lets just go home" "Its over" "Its boring" Someone hit the conga. Then Travis played the melodica to it, then Masia One started freestyling over it, then Diggy Dang put a bit of Reggae Flavor to it, and next thing you know the whole room (well under the rock) saaaangin!!! Thing just became a real nice jam session that we didn't even realize that the rain had stopped in the midst of it. The energy level didn't stop going up...
The cypher was taken outside the rock shelter where people who we thought went home came back and the cyper became even bigger. Same rhythm was kept and the party people in the house threw in choruses of corny hit songs where the whole crowd just sang along laughing in tears. Thanks to Brittany Spears and Backstreet Boys and the Lady Gagas. Oh the medley just didnt stop! Arrested development, Bell Dv Devoe, C&C Music Factory anything you wanted to hear was available if you just shouted it out. With only humans, a few congas and a shaker, we really just enjoyed being present, taking in the moment and loving life.
After the rain, the show went on with Bintan's Reggae Band Zionway, Yella Sky Soundsystem (Jakarta), XXX$$$ (Bass Music from Japan) and Singapura's own Ragga Waka Dancehall Dancers. The experienced really taught me that sometimes that when unexpected things happen in life, we go with the flow, keep an optimistic attitude and something even better is around the corner.
What a blessing to have positive people come from Singapore, Malaysia, Japan, Ukraine, USA, Canada, Mexico, Spain, England, India, Indonesia and as far away as Jamaica to share this special time in SE Asia. Bintan Dub Club was such a learning experience for me and I got to meet new friends and get to know old friends on a deeper level. It was tremendous to hear Reggae soundsystems from Barcelona to Jakarta, and a true honor to have the Grand Daughter of the Legend Bob Marley - Miss Donisha Prendergast come and share her thoughts, ideas and blessings with the Singapura Dub Club.
I am currently working together with Char Loro of lovehard.ca to create a Zine full of images as a wrap up of this year's Singapura Dub Club. The zine will be available online, or for purchase in printed form. If you were at this year's Bintan Dub Club please send your photos to firstname.lastname@example.org or drop us a message on our FB page.
We will also be announcing the location of next year's Island Dub Club through this zine so stay tuned and keep March 2016 scheduled in your calendars.
I am truly thankful to everyone that came out to the Bintan Dub Club. With all the barriers set up for us in society, from culture, distance, race, economic status, language - it is profound to see how easy it is to overcome these barriers, and it was truly amazing to be a part of a true community for these special 3 days on the Island. "Together Good Vibes Can Grow".