In its five-year history, Puerto Galera’s very own Malasimbo Festival had been headlined by some of the most talented musicians in the genres of reggae, jazz and alternative rock, among others.
Joss Stone, English singer and songwriter, and Jimmy Cliff, Jamaican ska and reggae musician, visited the island in Oriental Mindoro to perform at the 2013 festival. The following year, it was Swedish folk singer Jose Gonzalez’ turn to rock the Malasimbo stage. On the festival’s fifth edition in 2015, no less than the son of reggae legend Bob Marley, Ky-Mani Marley, came to delight returning and new festivalgoers.
As the festival continues to grow in terms of number of shows and audience attendance, co-founder and curator Miro Grgic has also found a bigger mission. That is to introduce up-and-coming musical acts from around the world who deserve attention and recognition from Malasimbo audiences and beyond.
As such, Grgic, who is Croatian, proudly announced the line-up of performers for this year’s two-weekend festival at a news conference held at Sofitel Philippine Plaza in Pasay City.
The music of Malasimbo
Topping Grgic’s list is Jacob Collier who will be headlining the Malasimbo Music and Arts Festival from March 4 to 6. At a young age of 21, Collier has gained the support of American record producer and composer Quincy Jones—the man behind the successful solo albums of the late King of Pop, Michael Jackson.
“I am happy to finally work with Quincy Jones. For me, he is the biggest name our festival has ever worked with,” enthused Grgic.
Considered as Jones’ protégé, Collier is hailed for his ability to create “a digital one-man band using contemporary technology—multitrack recording, looping pedals, and a strange Vocoder-like program that enables him to sing audacious harmonies through a Novation keyboard.” (www.theguardian.com)
On the other hand, South Korea’s Gong Myoung is making a comeback after performing at the first ever Malasimbo festival in 2010. Called the “ambassadors” of Korean traditional music, they have been touring for numerous international festivals.
Grgic also revealed that an exciting first for Malasimbo is slated: a concert featuring Australian beat boxer Tom Thum and the country’s very own Manila Symphony Orchestra (MSO).
As a professional sound engineer, the Croatian is both “excited and nervous” to stage the collaboration between the two especially because of their opposite musical genres. He noted, “Tom is so loud while the orchestra is so ambient.”
On where the idea of combining them in one stage came from, Grgic shared that he had watched a YouTube clip of Thum recording with a five-piece foreign orchestra inside a studio. This, on top of his dream to work with an orchestra, resulted to the upcoming Malasimbo show titled, “Thum Prints.”
The show will feature the returning Thum together with a 16-piece MSO, which will be under the baton of Brisbane composer Gordon Hamilton.
From the local music scene, Grgic is excited to introduce to Malasimbo well-loved Tacloban-based Beatles’ cover band Reo Brothers.
“I have heard many bands cover the Beatles but they are nothing compared to Reo Brothers. They sound just like the Beatles!” he beamed.
Other must-see and must-hear acts include Asian blues band Brat Pack, classical-contemporary guitar trio Triple Fret, Australia’s jazz guitarist Lachlan Mitchell and funky group Golden Sound; while local favorites include percussion band Brigada and soul band Sinosikat?.
As part of its commitment to unearth new talents, Malasimbo once again partnered with Radio Republic to showcase Crwn, Reese Lansangan, Lustbass, RH Xanders, Moophs, Paolo Mallari, Asch, and Soul_Brk.Local.
Lights and dance fest
After the arts and music festival, the Malasimbo Lights and Dance Festival will then take place from March 24 to 26. Only on its second edition, the festival falls during the Holy Week. Grgic further noted that this is the first outing to be slated in time for a long holiday.
As for its exciting line up, international and local DJs renowned for their contributions to the funk, house, hip hop, drum ’n’ bass, and electronic music genres have been invited.
Wolf Squared, Afro x Chrizo, Aries, and Diamond Heights are just three of the under-the-radar yet brilliant local DJs who will make their musical works known to Malasimbo’s appreciative audience.
Internationals acts debuting at the lights and dance fest include English record producer Lapalux with his brilliant, eclectic mix of R&B and house, French hip hop beatmaker Onra, and house and techno DJ San Soda from Belgium. Returning to Malasimbo are British drum ’n’ bass guru Goldie, MBE; and Japanese hip hop DJ and turnatablist Kentaro.
Another unique performance happening at the second Malasimbo fest is the live and joint performance of the Dance Daloy Company and Aliens of Manila. Asked what to expect from this, Grgic answered: “Something out of this world.”
Other components continue
Also present at Malasimbo 2016’s press launch was Hubert d’Aboville, Grgic’s co-founder to the festival, who proudly shared that the festival keeps true to its four pillars of music, arts, environment and indigenous peoples (IPs).
For its IP component, d’Aboville said that the Iraya from Puerto Galera and Hanunuo from Mansalay would continue to present their indigenous cultural heritage by selling their handicrafts at the festival site’s permanent Mangyan Village, which they built themselves in 2011.
As the festival is nestled within the Malasimbo Mountains—from which it takes it name—it has also promised to help in saving Mother Earth. Throughout the years, proceeds had gone to the D’Aboville Foundation’s environmental conservation efforts like tree planting on the Malasimbo grounds and mangrove reforestration on Puerto Galera bay. The foundation is also involved in the protection of the tamaraw.
Completing the overall Malasimbo experience is its arts component, which is led by visual artist Olivia d’Aboville-Grgic.
For 2016, the festival’s Sculpture Garden will be dotted by 24 visually arresting and thought-provoking installations inspired by nature—from the ocean to the cosmos—created by 26 contemporary artists from the country and abroad. Names include Sam Penaso, duo Dan Scotti and Rafaella Las, Jinggoy Buensuceso and Raphael David, among others.
Throughout the years, the festival grounds has featured installations from the country’s leading visual artists like Leeroy New, Grace Katigbak, Billy Bonnenivie, Russ Ligtas, and d’Aboville-Grgic herself.
For the complete and official line up of performers and all things Malasimbo Festival, visit its newly revamped website www.malasimbo.com.