Paiwan singer Abao (Aljenljeng Tjaluvie) founded the cultural-creative brand “Nanguaq” to bring indigenous music onto the world stage.
Taipei, Taiwan (Merxwire) – Abao recently collaborated with internationally renowned cellist Yo-yo Ma, Bulareyaung Dance Company, and contemporary artist Reretan Pavavaljung on the video project “zemian! Get in a circle and dance together!” This cross-border cooperation did showcase indigenous culture using a combination of music and art in a way that brought indigenous music to the attention of the world.
The cultural-creative brand “Nanguaq” (derived from the Paiwan word “nanguaq,” meaning good and beautiful) was founded by Abao with the hope that more indigenous artists could be encouraged to be creative using their own native language, thereby contributing to the preservation of minority languages in the world. The album “Nanguaq: N1” was compiled by seven young indigenous creators from four different ethnic groups (Paiwan, Rukai, Bunun, Amis), including some with multiracial backgrounds. Ranging in age from 17 to 29 years old, the participants included Dremedreman, Kivi, Makav, and Natsuko who had already participated in the “Nanguaq Sound Gathering Project.” The seven original songs in native language compiled in “Nanguaq: N1” cover a wide range of life-related topics, including thoughts about love and the pressures in the real world. The use of youthful language makes it easy for listeners to connect. Through the fluid presentation of the songs, a culture where words come straight from the heart and where there is a strong sense of tribal identification full of happiness is revealed. While presented in different styles of electronic music, the sense of sincerity is strong throughout.
One of the artists, Natsuko, who has an Amis and Hakka background, is the lead singer, songwriter, and single illustrator of “Collage,” a band that is highly popular online. In the past, Collage’s songs have repeatedly won editor recommendations on StreetVoice, scoring high in weekly rankings and topping instant hot lists. The band was also nominated for the Golden Indie Music Awards. In just half a year, songs published on YouTube have received two million views. In their music, Collage shows many diverse aspects of Taiwanese culture. Among the different styles used are Japanese-style rock, electronic music, fine traditional tunes, opera singing, and metal roars. Stories of Taiwan’s land and its people are told in a combination of Taiwanese, Japanese, Amis, English and other languages. The music is paired with personally created illustrations, the ingenious blend of fantasy colors and warm emotional poetry reflecting the unique characteristics of Natsuko’s music creations.
According to Abao, “The most difficult part of making indigenous music is to preserve its original nature.” It’s the ancient ballads that take her home and also guide her on her way out into the world. The album “Kinakaian | Mother Tongue” won the 31st Golden Melody Award for Best Album of the Year. In addition to featuring European-style electronic music, Japanese R&B, and other genres, the album also showcases Paiwan language and indigenous culture. Through her vigorous way of music interpretation everyone is given the opportunity to cross cultural and language barriers, listen carefully, and enjoy the pure beauty of indigenous music. There are only about 100,000 Paiwan living in the world and due to social circumstances the use of the mother tongue has been decreasing in their daily lives. Abao hopes that by promoting indigenous music, the younger generation will be given more opportunities to learn the tribal language and use it more frequently.
In recent years, Abao has been invited to participate in numerous well-known music events abroad such as the Glastonbury Music Festival in the UK, Canadian Music Week in Toronto, TAIWAN PLUS in Tokyo, and Taiwan Waves in New York’s Central Park. On the international stage, she sings Paiwan songs brimming with confidence, firmly believing that each time new friends from around the world will get the chance to learn about the Paiwan people, indigenous music and culture.
Starting with the album “Kinakaian | Mother Tongue,” Abao has taken the lead in creating a dialogue between indigenous music and the world. Furthermore, she has led seven young indigenous artists in compiling the album “Nanguaq: N1.” Through the diverse identities of the creators, telling cultural stories in different tribal languages, using a combination of pure indigenous music and electronic music, the work has been brought onto the world stage. Electronic music presented in indigenous language will surely help to inspire a new wave of indigenous artistic expression in the future.