Malaysia

March 2-3 2019

Good Vibes Festival : Kuala Lumpur

Genting Highlands, Malaysia

GV logo.JPG

A regular favourite for the central Malaysia crowd, the regular Good Vibes Festival will happen this year on 2-3 March 2019 at The Ranch, Gohtong Jaya in Genting Highlands just a couple of hours drive from the capital.

UK smoothies Honne will be headlining this year. Courtesy Good Vibes.

UK smoothies Honne will be headlining this year. Courtesy Good Vibes.

This year will see the sixth rollout of the Good Vibes with back-to-back headline shows by English electronic music duo HONNE and Irish rock band Kodaline. The rest of the lineup has not been revealed, but judging by the 2018 cast it should be good.

Last year saw global names like Lorde, alt-J, Nick Murphy and Majid Jordan. The venue, The Ranch, is the open air part of the Highlands development, with stunning views and a guaranteed warm climate for attendees.

The venue also offers food and other entertainments (like horse riding) if you get tired of the fantastic music. There is also the usual giant playground with plenty of puerile attractions for those that want to regress. Plenty of swings, see-saws, slides, and bouncy mats and bags, plus a Trampoline Frenzy. As if that wasn’t enough, expect goodies like last year’s hipster happenings like airbrush tattooing and beard growing (OK, we made that last one up).

Kiwi sensation Lorde played GV last year. Courtesy Good Vibes.

Kiwi sensation Lorde played GV last year. Courtesy Good Vibes.

Just in case it rains (it will still be warm!), the organisers will provide wooden walkways to avoid Glastonbury-style mudwalks. They have also upped the count of tables, benches and rest areas for the players that want to just hang out rather than swarm the mosh pit. The new entrance location will also help with an easier, faster entrance queue, they say.

Just in case it rains (it will still be warm!), the organisers will provide wooden walkways to avoid Glastonbury-style mudwalks. They have also upped the count of tables, benches and rest areas for the players that want to just hang out rather than swarm the mosh pit. The new entrance location will also help with an easier, faster entrance queue, they say.

And best of all, the festival will aim to be as carbon neutral as possible in the catering areas at least, with a blanket edict to stallholders to dump the plastic and replace all disposable cutlery, plates and serving materials with biodegradable utensils instead. Great news!

Tickets start at RM120, and go up to around RM200. The organisers are restricting attendees to 18+.  

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Nature Tribute at Rainforest World Music Festival 2015

Nature lovers can look forward to songs being sung and music being played that are dedicated to elements of nature. How apt, since the setting is by the rainforest of Santubong in Sarawak.

Beto Jamaica Rey Vallenato in Rainforest World Music Festival

Sarawak’s top musical event, the Rainforest World Music Festival 2013, featured Colombian folklore music performed by accordianist Alberto (Beto) Jamaica and Vallenato ensemble. An exclusive by Mallika Naguran.

Review of Rainforest World Music Festival 2013

Mallika Naguran checks in to Sarawak to check out the region's popular world music festival.

Kuching, 1 July 2013. The 16th edition of the Rainforest World Music Festival (RWMF) in Santubong, Sarawak was a highlight in Asia's world music calendar. As before, the organisers Sarawak Tourism Board and artistic director Yeoh Jun Lin brought in mega international acts to perform alongside lesser known ones – striking varied rhythms to unleash vibrations of energy – from meditational low to fever pitch high. Festival-goers of nearly 20,000 over three days lapped it all up, 80 percent of which were mostly from West Malaysia and beyond, according to Angeline Bateman, communications director of Sarawak Tourism Board.


Sarawak native chanting for blessing

Dizu Plaatjies & The Ibuyambo Ensemble

Australian native gig Nunukul Yug

This year, RWMF 2013 showcased great acts from the corners of the world. Literally! Australian aboriginals Nunukul Yug; Ukrainian Spiritual Seasons; Habadekuk from Denmark; Kila from Ireland; Dizu Plaatjies & The Ibuyambo Ensemble; Kries from Croatia; Alp Bora from Turkey; Pine Leaf Boys from Lousiana; Chet Nuneta from France; Mohsen Sharifian & The Lian Band from Iran; Rey Vallenato Beto Jamaica from Colombia; and Palsandae from Korea.


Nunukul Yug

On the home front were heritage showcases of culture set to music. The audience loved the local Borneo and Southeast Asian acts for their authenticity. From Sarawak, we had Maya Green, Gema SLDN-SCV, Lan E Tuyang (led by Matthew Ngau Jau) and Madeeh (featuring Arthur Borman “Bai Kas” Kanying). Malaysian Rhythm in Bronze gave uplifting gamelan and gong sounds, a pleasure to watch and listen to. Rafly Wa Saja crunched the spiritual nuances of Acehnese folk with groovy vocals using scat technique improvisation.

Australian aboriginals Nunukul Yuggera commanded attention with their narrative styled acts relating stories close to the heart of the people. There were adulations of dolphins for their role in saving mankind. There were calls made to the spirits for the protection of earth. There was a live demonstration of the art of making fire from sticks and hay. Yes, the way things used to be back in the good old days before the invasion of electric stoves and microwave ovens!

High-energy performances by Kila and Habadekuk stole the limelight, got audiences raving and dancing on their feet, while Colombians sent Latino-styled currents to the crowd but with authentic Cumbia and Vallenato performances. Alberto “Beto” Jamaica had a few years ago gotten a name for being the best accordionist in Bogota for Vallenato style music, pitting against 100 others to clinch the first position. Indeed, the Latino Vallenato folk compositions were among the highlights of the evening.


Habadekuk

While smoothly run most of the time, the festival programming seemed halting with Sarawakian performances coming on in between with bigger sounding acts. The music revelers that had their hands high and feet thumping before suddenly stood still to soak in meditational sequences and chants. From the programming perspective, this might have been deliberate, to try to inject some variety, alternating the pace for some relief. For some, it was time to visit the loo and grab the beer, passing over the rather pricey wine at RM18 for a puny glass. 


Korean Palsandae

Kries from Croatia was beautifully dark, haunting and gothic, but not quite the right band to slot in as the night’s anchor. Prior to it was Dizu Plaatjies & The Ibuyambo Ensemble - the pride of South Africans.  Once again, as in most world music gigs, the Africans delivered!  There were every minute mesmerizing, culturally engaging, danceable and melodioius with amazing vocal harmonies. The call to remember ailing Nelson Mandela, South Africa's first black President and all that he brought to South Africa was touching. After all what is world music if there aren’t any activist rejoinders? 

But there’s only so much that one can write about music. To appreciate these musicians, you’ll have to buy their CDs and listen to their tracks. Hook up with their vids online, or watch this space for Gaia Discovery video posts. Better still, be there in Sarawak next year to enjoy some wonderful world music, actually among the best in this region, and that can only happen at the Rainforest!

Photography by Mallika Naguran and Sarawak Tourism Board.

Read Gaia Discovery's article on Chet Nuneta's reasons for singing in disappearing languages.

Penang World Music Keeps Folklore and Traditions Alive

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Penang World Music Festival 2013: Heritage Set to Tune

More than just musical acts, the Penang World Music Festival brings audiences closer to seasoned musicians and their precious heritage in afternoon workshops and nightly concerts, reports Mallika Naguran.

CausewayEXchange: Lit Up KL, Plays, Film, Poetry Slam

Singapore and Malaysia got together for a unique cultural programme, CausewayEXchange 2011, where Mallika Naguran joined fellow Singapore travellers to enjoy the weekend's literary affair in Kuala Lumpur.

15 August 2011, Kuala Lumpur. Singapore invaded the arts scene in Kuala Lumpur city in August 2011 for a brief period, bringing an artistic fabric sewn with a cultural thread that reflected the island nation's identity. Singapore and Malaysia share a common history and were in fact one country before 1965. They also saw the horrors of World War II, the Japanese occupation, and rode out many regional crises together.


A Singaporean and Malaysian playwright collaborated in theatreworks at CausewayEXchange

Plays, films, poetry slam (Malaysian wit put to test against Singaporean erudition), talks and photo exhibition – what a treat it was for art lovers and for city fugitives. The CausewayEXchange was organised by the Asian Culture Enterprise Singapore and DMR Productions from 4-7 August 2011. It reprised the 2010 event where 30 Malaysian artists performed to an audience of 3,000 at The Singapore Arts House.

On Friday 1 August 2011, two coaches hit the road from Singapore to the Malaysian capital city, taking some 60 people from the art, music and media industries, plus tourists who signed up for this unique programme.

The Singapore participants took in a tour of Johor on the way to Kuala Lumpur.  First stop was to sample superlicious nasi lemak at Danga Bay, then learn about mushroom cultivation at Kampong Tewaka in Kempas, about an hour’s drive from the Causeway.


Kampong Tewaka mushroom farm in Kempas, Malaysia grows oyster mushrooms using organic methods

Back on the road the tour stopped again to sink its teeth into Anthony Fish Ball in Yong Peng, apparently the favourite of Colin Goh, CEO of The Arts House. Well, trust Singaporeans to spot the good eating-places, even in Malaysia.

Singapore - An Accidental Nation

Once at the destination of Kuala Lumpur, the main venue was the heritage grounds of Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre @ Sentul Park (KLPAC).

The two plays staged here reflected themes that both Singaporeans and Malaysians could identify with. Singapore playwright Desmond Sim collaborated with Malaysian writer Nandang Abdul Rahman to produce a series of short plays collectively dubbed Food, Sex and Death.


Nandang Abdul Rahman's 'The Five Stages of Grief' playlet as part of Food, Sex & Death theatre show

I caught up with Desmond Sim before the start of the play and discussed how special it was for Singapore to share its culture with Malaysia when Singapore – being connected to Malaysia by a couple of bridges - is not all that different.

Sim agreed. “Both countries were one before. If you think about it, Singapore is an accidental nation because of what transpired in Malaysian politics,” he says, referring to the split in party lines back in the sixties.

KLPAC's Theatre for Young People featured five actors who switch roles to enact different characters in a set of five plays written by Desmond Sim and Nandang Abdul Rahman, and directed by Christopher Lim. In four of the plays, humour laced the lines that also depict universal emotions of human relationships. In the fifth play titled 'The Five Stages of Grief', the theme of death was dealt with, demonstrating progressively disbelief, anger, blame and remorse that happen with the demise of a loved one. Poignant indeed.

Kuala Lumpur premiered On TheEmerald Hill, a dramatic monologue by Singaporean actor, director and playwright Jonathan Lim. Directed by Christina Sergeant, the play thrilled the audience from the second the curtain opened to reveal a believable cemetery (actually transformed theatre seats with stenciled gravestones). A reversed theatre it was, with the small room of audience sitting on the stage area, looking on to scenes of Emily of Emerald Hill at Choa Chu Kang Chinese Cemetery.


Jonathon Lim stars in the monologue 'On This Emerald Hill', which he also scripted

In the play, a gregarious Peranakan woman - Emily of Emerald Hill - meets an ordinary Chinese Singaporean man who is overwhelmed with having to bury his dead father in a hole that isn’t big enough. The re-enactment of Kuo Pao Kun’s The Coffin is Too Big for the Hole is brilliant as Jonathan Lim combines both iconic Singapore plays with amazing wit, humour and nostalgia.

Other programmes that entertained Malaysians were CausewayEXchangefilms, exhibitions, literary talks and poetry slamming.  There was the screening of filmmaker Tan Pin Pin’s highly acclaimed Singapore Gaga. And anyone could walk in to appreciate the exhibition of cartoonist Heng Kim Song’s works and JFlash Studio’s photographs of Singaporeans from all walks of life.

Lit Up KL featured writer Ken Mizusawa, an award-winning Japanese educator and playwright who lives in Singapore. 

Malaysian Versus Singaporean Poets


Heng Kim Song's telling cartoons featured

Later that night, the poetry slam was great fun as youths from Singapore and Malaysia pitted their literary strengths against each other. While the Malaysians raged about political and education systems in their country, Singaporean poets took on a more artistic stance to display literary art forms in verses – rhymed or blank.

Special mention has to go to Marc Daniel Nair from Singapore for his amazing talent in writing and delivering good poetry, with good use of allusions, imagery and metaphors.  His poem on Hector and Mbuyisa Makhubo titled How Secrets Are Made was particularly touching. Ben Chua was also a favourite, as he recited his highly imaginary and funny poems, each about three minutes long, all from memory.


Poetry slam winners (from right): Marc Nair (2nd, Singapore), Michelle Lee (3rd, Malaysia) and Thato Ntshobele (tops, Malaysia). Watch the videos on Gaia Discovery YouTube station.

The judges’ top favourite was the animated Thato Ntshobele who roused chuckles within the audience as they snapped their fingers and stamped the floor in appreciation of his rap beat and rhythm in poetry reading.

If you want to get a closer look at the poetry slam, why not watch the short videos I took?

The overall winner - Thato Ntshobele - was not strictly speaking a Malaysian, but an African studying in Malaysia, so the Singaporean supporters were left confused as how he could represent Malaysia in the next big challenge - the Asia Pacific poetry slam. But you know what Singaporeans are like - they play by the rules, almost robot like.

Maybe it takes an exchange programme like this with Malaysia to appreciate that sometimes, rules can be bent, just a little, just because they can. As we tucked into Portuguese delights in the famous historical Malacca town on the bus ride home, we were still struggling with the answer.

Nonetheless, we all thoroughly enjoyed the three-day cultural encounter with our best neighbour, and look forward to the next CausewayEXchange.

Photos by Mallika Naguran

For more information, please visit www.klpac.org ; www.causeway-exchange.com or www.facebook.com/causewayexchange.

Organisers:

Contact Danny Chan

Producer| Asian Culture Enterprise (S) Ltd

danny@spaces.org.sg

Contact Shawn Lourdusamy

Director

DMR Productions

shawn@dmr.com.sg

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