The Future of PNG Music

By Emmanuel Narokobi

Locally we are entering a sort of pre-teenage era now for our music, we have a very strong following for our music in the South Pacific and with acts such as O-Shen and George Telek, (just to name a few), who are skirting on international stardom, when do you think we can see a true international star coming about? It doesn’t have to be pop music or pop rap or all that sort of thing. The world music scene is enourmas and the world does appreciate quality music that is real and comes from a unique and individual identity.

PNG has already begun blending it’s form of RNB, Reggae, Gospel and HipHop, so who are the best in PNG and who can we promote and push into the limelight? When do you think it will be possible for a PNG artist to make an actual career and living out of his artwork? Even acts like the Massive Sound System in Brisbane need a hand!

Do you think it would be possible to get one of our artists to the Blues and Roots Festival in Byron Bay, Australia next year? Why? well because the people behind the festival have through this initiative promoted and created many opportunities for their Australian bands, while at the same time providing a quality entertainment festival for visiting international stars as well. The festival is geographically close to PNG, so besides showcasing their music, the artists are also exposed to a very well connected international promoter.

The Bluesfest is owned by a man named Michael Chugg, who owns Chugg Entertainment. Chugg is considered to be a pioneer of the Australian music industry having over 40 years experience in organising and promoting international artists. His efforts have not only included promoting some of the biggest concerts in Australia and New Zealand, but also his tireless promotion of Australian music to the rest of the world.

He has spent a great deal of time travelling across the world developing close relationships with every major record company, booking agency, management company and music convention. In 1997 (whilst with Frontier Touring), he produced the first Pacific Circle Music Convention, now named Australian Music Week.

Michael Chugg Entertainment was formed in 2000 and since then has promoted and toured over 150 Australian and international artists making the company one of the most prominent and respected promoters not only within the Australian Music Industry, but also around the world. In the 2005 half-year concert report in the industry’s number one magazine – Billboard – Michael Chugg Entertainment was polled as the 5th biggest promoter in the world and was the only Australian to make the list.

Click for information about photo sales Peter Noble, organiser of the Blues and Roots Festival, says change is afoot for the event.

Even the Bluesfest organiser, Peter Noble has said that they will one day want to move beyond just blues. Peter Noble, says it has a long way to go before it does its dash. But whether it will always be a fully blues-orientated event is a moot point, “Like any event you need to crawl before you can walk and then you need to develop your faculties,” “The Byron Bluesfest is almost out of its teenage years now and we still have a long way to grow.” But a straight diet of blues is a bit like bacon and eggs for breakfast every day.

I like bacon and eggs, but not all the time. After a while I want muesli,” Mr Noble stated. “There is a world of music out there, a world of quality music. And the right music makes a better world.” This is where Peter Noble’s Bluesfest is headed, along with his related blues fests in Fremantle, Point Nepean, Durban and Singapore: They are about people with a message who play music at the highest level. “Blues is a part of this, but it is not everything,” he says. “ I am not going to be kept in a ‘blues’ pigeon hole.”

So from what I have seen of the acts here like the Reggae from Ziggy Marley, the African Reggae from the Refugee All Stars, the indigineous funk and rock from Banawurun and the cover music from Vanuatu band The Sunshiners, to me there is no reason why we cannot have a PNG act at this festival. All we have to do is ask and see and maybe our bands themselves need to be a bit more proactive on the business side of things and look out there for their own opportunities as well.

More pictures of the Bluesfest and Byron Bay can be seen at

20 thoughts on “The Future of PNG Music

  1. Gutpla tingting blong yu brah!

    Here in Hawaii I am happy to see O-Shen doing a supporting gig with Ziggy Marley when her toured Hawaii last year. He also played at the Bob Marley Fest alongside artists such as Lauren Hill (Fugees) early this year.

    I guess our artists will need more networking and international exposure.

  2. Excellent coverage Manu.

    I totally agree with your last statement.

    PNG has a lot of talent and our music is unique. And I totally agree that PNG musicians need also to get out of their comfort zones and seek new opportunities to promote their music and themselves. We can not always expect things to be done for us! We have to step out and try! In this instance, seek new opportunites to play your music to a new audience, a new culture and experience cross-cultural interactions through music.

    There has been no PNG group that has reach the heights and standards set by Sanguma, though George Telek has done it as an individual. Sure, we can not live in the past and talk about past achivements but the lesson for PNG music groups I think is that, if you organise yourselves, increase your network and always keeping and eye out for opportunities to try something new, a new arena to perform, I am sure you will meet lady luck. ‘Cause you will only meet her if you are seeking her actively.

    I also belive that if you want to do something in life, the only way you can really know if you are capable or not is to try it. Only by trying, you will find out. So my encouragement to PNG muscians is – seek new arenas and new audience for your music. You will never know the full impact and the appeal of your music if you do not play it to a different audience with different cultural backgrounds.

  3. Manu, my apologies for deviating from the topic but just as a matter of interest to you and others…I don’t know if you have watched the documentary “Who killed the electric car?” I thought it was a facinating invention that the world never knew.

    “Who killed the electric car” is one of the most moving documentaries of the future that I’ve seen about the onset of a pollution free world with the invention of “electric cars” but its production was hijacked by the alleged suspects: the oil industry, the US Government, General Motors, the C.A.R.B. (California Air Resource Board) and the consumers – as most consumers never knew or did little to save it and its immense benefits. It is not a “dream”. We were already in the future, until…

    It was among the fastest, most efficient production cars ever built. It ran on electricity, produced no emissions and catapulted American technology to the forefront of the automotive industry. The lucky few who drove it never wanted to give it up. So why did General Motors crush its fleet of EV1 electric vehicles in the Arizona desert? “Who Killed the Electric car” chronicles the life and mysterious death of the GM EV1, examining its cultural and economic ripple effects and how they reverberated through the halls of government and big business. An official 2006 Sundance Festival Selection.

    You can learn more about this documentary by visiting:

  4. Solo, I have not seen the movie but I have been following the topic. It may interest you to find out that GM has (allegedly) not completely given up on the electric car. They have been doing research into the field that has resulted in a new model called the Chevrolet Volt.

    Futurist David Houle has been following the process and chronicles it here:

    -Back on topic-

    I think PNG music has much to gain by appearing at these festivals. If you look at the way a lot of bands have progressed its been through exposing themselves to outside influence and taking ideas and inspiration from new genres. The Rolling Stones were just a Blues band until Mick Jagger bought some records by Chuck Berry and the band started to incorporate elements of a new genre called Rock and Roll. Also take the example of Dido, she was in House music act Faithless but then branched off to become a singer-songwriter before becoming world famous through a collaboration with a rapper (Eminem).

    One of the best festival acts I’ve seen this year was at the Falls Festival and a band called The Scientists of Modern Music (TSOMM). They are two 17 year old kids, one a classical guitarist the other a rock guitarist. But now they make a type of 80’s style electro synth-pop that sounds like a cross between Kraftwerk and Daft Punk! Its these Hybrid types of music that often come from nowhere and wind up becoming massively popular. People are always listening out for a new sound and if you can come up with somthing novel that sounds good you will be popular.

    PNG has a strong musical culture. It has a lot to share with the rest of the world and perhaps may incorporate some foreign elements that could take it to new and wonderful places. Imagine O-Shen dueting with Missy Higgins, Sharzy and M.J. Cole or Massive Sound System and Basement Jaxx.

  5. Got a Shout Out here from an Amos Lee fan site…

    Thanks guys!!!


    Awesome Photos of Amos Lee and the Band by Masalai

    “Masalai”, from Papua, New Guinea has posted a great set of photos taken during an interview with Amos!

    “Masalai” interviewed Amos Lee for their blog and were generous to share their photos on Flickr with all of us fans. The interview took place at the East Coast “Blues and Roots Festival” in Byron Bay on April 7, 2007. Thanks to the staff at “Masalai”!

    Large Photo of Amos and Interviewer from “Masalai”

    Posted by Laurie at Thursday, April 12, 2007

  6. Hey Manu, I visit Os most weekends to keep him from being homesick and also when I need a break from studies. Said he’s heading for home (PNG) later this month or early next month. He’s working on getting his new album out before he leaves. Let me know what ideas you have and I’ll talk it over with him.

    I also have a copy of the movie “Who killed the electric car?”. I still can’t figure how I can send it electronically if anyone wants it. Let me know if anyone has any ideas. Otherwise, I guess by postage would also be fine.

  7. Solo that would be Awesome!! Can you give the movie to O-Shen to bring it to me and I can meet him when he gets to POM? You also wouldn’t happen to have a copy of ‘An Inconvenient Truth’?

    Can you tell O-Shen about my ideas and see what he thinks? Basically I want to see if he’s keen on playing at the Bluesfest 2008, next year so that we can represent PNG here. I have made some good contacts with the Bluesfest organisers now so I should be able to work something out with them or at least find out what is happening with the organisation for next year.

    Ideally also I’d like to see O-Shen perform with another PNG artist as well so that we get more out of one band so to speak.

    Let us know Bro!

  8. That will be great. Top idea!

    O-Shen still has to confirm when he’s flying to PNG. His mum’s going before him though. I just gave him a call and told him about your idea. He’s really excited and will love to meet you when he comes to POM.

    Yes, I have “An Inconvenient Truth” also. Will let you know when I confirm O-Shen’s itinerary.

    Thank you Manu. I think we’ve already made progress in making it a reality.

  9. Wow guys. I know it’s early stages but i’m excited. Great initiative Emmanuel, & if this works out, make sure they hit the West Coast Blues ‘N Roots as well, we’re sometimes neglected.

  10. Maybe you could leverage the whole Oshen performance at Copenhagen to fit in with the whole ‘earth love’ feel of Byron?? Is it ur befday 2dae?

  11. Hey Emmanuel, that was a cool article. It’s good to know there are people open minded about the PNG Music Industry so far. We just cant be going following the old routine all the time when it comes to music like: just get a couple of guys that know how to play, make a couple of demos, go into recording and then distribution. At least our we’re on the cover and PNG will know we’re musicians… and then HISTORY!!
    Music originally is an art no matter what ever genre it comes under therefore music requires talents, skills, feelings, experiences and the right mediums as you’ve mentioned for it to be advanced and outstanding. I’d say if we look at music with passion and having these things in mind, we will create another benchmark in the industry.
    Over to you…

  12. Thanks Matu, we are slowly progressing with some areas for promoting our artists, the digital age has actually presented a number of opportunities which we are currently looking into.

    But if you’re not a member already and you’re on facebook, ‘Like’ our RokRok Music FB page to see what’s happening,

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