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Pacific Reggae: Roots Beyond the Reef

Marcel Meltherorong in performance at Fest Napuan, Vanuatu 2009

Pacific Reggae Project | Marcel Meltherorong in performance at Fest'Napuan, Vanuatu 2009 | Image © Marke Lowen

Artists: Anstine Energy (Solomon Islands), Chief Ragga (Hawai’i, United States), Paula Fuga (Hawai’i, United States), JVDK (New Caledonia), O-Shen (Papua New Guinea/Hawai’i, United States), Sunshiners (Vanuatu/France), Tiki Taane (New Zealand), 26 Roots (Vanuatu), XX Squad (Vanuatu), Zennith (Australia)

Co-organised by Brent Clough (Producer and Presenter, ABC Radio National) and Maud Page (Curator, Contemporary Pacific Art, Queensland Art Gallery)

‘Pacific Reggae’ responds to the vital connections that musicians from Port Vila to Auckland and Honolulu to Honiara make with reggae culture. Much Pacific reggae maintains key structural similarities to Jamaican roots music, including ‘one drop’ drumbeats, steady bass lines and chopping guitar, while the introduction of log drums, bone flutes, ukulele and electronic beats contribute to reggae’s unique sound across the Pacific. The parallel developments of home-recording studios and a proliferating music-video industry in the region have enabled a reggae scene to flourish and assert its own distinctive style.

The project has been developed in consultation with Brent Clough, who has a longstanding involvement with the reggae scene in Australia and the Pacific. ‘Pacific Reggae’ will present a series of reggae performances and video clips, live and recorded, demonstrating this rich musical form. On the opening weekend, the performance program will feature reggae musicians from across the Pacific and Australia, and local reggae will be featured throughout the public programs for the duration of APT6. ‘Pacific Reggae’ is a vibrant form of contemporary expression that taps into the international circuit while celebrating unique local flavours.

Brent Clough was born in Aotearoa New Zealand and worked in community radio before moving to Sydney in 1984. He joined ABC Radio National in 1988, and has produced and presented the arts and music programs Arts National, In The Mix, Radio Eye, Other Worlds, The Daily Planet, Poetica, 360, and The Night Air. From 1996 to 2007, he was a coordinator for the Pacific Wave festival of contemporary Pacific arts in Sydney. He was co-founder of Nasty Tek, Australia’s first dancehall reggae sound system and currently works with Soulmaker, Australia’s longest running reggae ‘sound’, created by Jamaican JJ Roberts. Clough has written extensively about reggae and contemporary music in Australia and the Pacific region, including essays for the Jamaican collections Bob Marley: The Man and his Music (Arawak, 1995) and Global Reggae Culture (University of the West Indies, forthcoming). 

Pacific Reggae Sounds

The opening celebration of APT6 featured reggae acts from across the Pacific, coinciding with the exhibition component of Pacific reggae. Read more

APT6 | Documentary | O-shen live in Brisbane | Pacific Reggae Sounds
APT6 | Live performance | O-shen | Pacific Reggae Sounds

APT6 exhibiting artists and projects are: Minam Apang | Isabel & Alfredo Aquilizan | Chen Chieh-Jen | Chen Qiulin | Cheo Chai-Hiang | DAMP | Solomon Enos | Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian | Subodh Gupta | Gonkar Gyatso | Kyungah Ham | Ho Tzu Nyen | Emre Hüner | Raafat Ishak | Runa Islam | Ayaz Jokhio | Takeshi Kitano | Ang Lee | Mansudae Art Studio | Rudi Mantofani | Mataso Printers | The Mekong: Bùi Công Khánh, Jun Nguyen-Hatsushiba, Sopheap Pich, Manit Sriwanichpoom, Svay Ken, Tun Win Aung & Wah Nu, Vandy Rattana | Tracey Moffatt | Farhad MoshiriKohei Nawa | Shinji Ohmaki | The One Year Drawing Project | Pacific Reggae: Roots Beyond the Reef | Rithy Panh | Reuben Paterson | Campbell Patterson | Wit Pimkanchanapong | Qiu Anxiong | Kibong Rhee | Hiraki Sawa | Shirana Shahbazi | Shooshie Sulaiman | Thukral & Tagra | Charwei Tsai | Vanuatu Sculptors | Rohan Wealleans | Leba Toki, Bale Jione & Robin White | Yang Shaobin | Yao Jui-Chung | YNG | Zhu Weibing & Ji Wenyu