Small Island Big Song

Small Island Big Song is a collaboration of islander artists for environmental and cultural justice. 


Small Island Big Song to release Our Island (Jan 28, 2022) and begin US Tour

Small Island Big Song is a multi-platform project uniting the seafaring cultures of the Pacific and Indian Oceans through songs, a contemporary and relevant musical statement from a region at the frontline of the Climate Crisis. The group will release Our Island on Jan 28 and embark on a US Tour at the same time (see below graphic for tour dates).

​Founded by Taiwanese producer BaoBao Chen and Australian music producer and filmmaker Tim Cole in 2015, Small Island Big Song has the two busily recording and filming with over a hundred musicians in nature across 16 island nations of the Pacific and Indian Oceans. The outcomes include an eponymous award-winning 2018 album, a feature film, outreach programs in communities, schools, and universities, and a live concert that has toured around the world across four continents reaching over 170K+ live audiences since the world premiere at SXSW 2018.

​Small Island Big Song explores the cultural connections between the descendants of the seafarers of the Pacific and Indian Oceans through the Austronesian migration, working with artists who have made a choice to maintain the cultural voice of their people, to sing in the language, and to play the instruments of their land. These unique lineages mixed with their diverse contemporary styles – roots-reggae, beats, grunge, RnB, folk, & spoken-word, establish a contemporary musical dialogue between cultures as far afield as Madagascar, Aotearoa (New Zealand), Taiwan, Mauritius, Marshall Islands, Papua New Guinea, Tahiti and Rapa Nui (Easter Island), creating “One coherent jaw dropping piece” as described by Billboard Magazine.

Our island is home to million of birds and travelers’ souls
Our island grows stronger when the ravanne plays
Our island celebrates diversity and unity
Our island knows that after the cyclone will come the sunny days
Our island lives for its people and the love we share
Our island is a land of mana
Our island is coloured with sunny blue, red and yellow
Our island is home to every children
Our island grows tiares and papayas
Our island knows how to make a cell vibrate
Our island says live, love and forgive

Culture is the framework through which we understand our relationship to our social and physical environments. It is our shared patterns of behavior, interactions, and beliefs. Fluid, ever evolving and whether we are aware of it or not, it is the core of our guiding personal narratives, our sense of self.

Our dominant global culture is failing us. Our planet’s natural ecosystem on which we depend for our very survival, is collapsing around us. The evidence is tangible, lived and indisputable. Yet we fail to respond with the resolve and urgency that nature, that our future generations demand, challenging and questioning our sense of self.

Those of the ocean have maintained successful communities on fragile islands for countless generations and their cultural lineage embodies this. Small Island Big Song is an ensemble of such people, artists who against all sensible mainstream cultural advice have made a choice to sing foremost in the language and maintain the musical sensibilities of their heritage. They are the songkeepers continuing an unbroken cultural lineage back to their first ancestors to step, sleep, die and be born on their homelands. Their music embodies this knowledge regardless of what they sing about, and as with music itself it is only revealed through movement as it is shared, through your listening it lives.

During the pandemic we have been meeting online from across the Pacific & Indian oceans to share the voice of our island homes and experiences of the environmental collapse. Some of us will lose our island homes to rising sea levels and all of us are witnessing the death of our reefs and disappearing sea life, it’s soul destroying. Our response is to share that loss in song, supporting each other and you, the listener, but also to celebrate nature and our cultures. We do live in extraordinarily beautiful places and we want to share that, too. We have to, for our island we all share.

BaoBao Chen & Tim Cole,
Small Island Big Song producers

I am acknowledging the land, the people and their ancestors. I came to this statement reflecting on the Marshallese Proverb taught to me by my grandparents. The statement translates to ‘the turning of the tides’. My grandparents taught me that the tides are blessings for our people, because they bring the gifts and treasures that we need to sustain ourselves. They taught that it is important to give back, that is what we must do, because we would not be here today if it wasn’t for those gifts and treasures — how will our actions and our decisions affect those around us? As indigenous people we acknowledge our ancestors our land, because it is from them that we get our identity, and it was very important that this be acknowledged in song.

Selina Leem,
Marshall Islands Climate Activist & Artist

Small Island Big Song is a music, film, live project featuring over a hundred musicians across 16 island nations of the Pacific and Indian Oceans, creating a contemporary and relevant musical statement of a region in the frontline of cultural and environmental challenges. The album & film were composed, recorded, shot and overdubbed in nature, on the artists’ custodial land.

A Taiwan & Australia co-production, and a fair trade music & film release.

What They’re Saying about Small Island Big Song

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