By Fr HARRY GAHARE and ZACHERY PER
KAINANTU, dubbed cowboy town, is one of PNG’s growing district centres with business activities thriving.
Historically, Kainantu was a World War II airfield town, providing a transiting airbase for the allied forces during the war. The colonial small town then became a launching pad for alluvial gold miners and colonial administrators.
The evidence of gold rush activity is seen in the surrounding villages, rivers and streams is present to this day.
Geographically, Kainantu blends the high and hinter land freezing cold and the humidity of lowlands.
It houses some of PNG’s national institutions such as the National Agriculture Research Institute (Nari), Coffee Research Institute, and the Ramu hydro power station. Its location and popularity makes Kainantu the Highlands’ main transit point to the coastal towns of Madang and Lae.
The fertile soil of the valleys make Kainantu a viable economic zone.
Culturally, Kainantu’s diversity makes it very unique. It is located in the highlands but has a lot of coastal influences and variations.
Such is the reality and complexity, its musical nexus is revealing where it blends both the coastal and highlands ingenuity.
A recording studio, Tawa Watch Productions, was recently established in Kainantu to showcase such raw talents in the musical arena.
The studio is owned and managed by Mathias Taman and his wife Lucy who hail from East New Britain.
Taman is a policeman attached to Kainantu police station. The couple is not new to music as they have recorded two albums with Recko Sonic studio in Goroka in 2004 and Echo Sounds in Yonki town in 2013. One of their more popular songs was J Lewa. The song is about an island girl who stole the heart of the Kainantu boy.
When asked why a new studio was established when there were so many others mushrooming elsewhere in PNG, Fred Meko, the former drummer of Squatters Band of Morata (NCD) who is the sound engineer with Tawa Watch Productions, said “we want to provide an alternative within the highlands rather than travelling down to the coast.”
Music is developing swiftly in the highlands comparable to the former times where Whagi Hell Cats had stormed the musical scene in region.
Renowned musicians like Augustine Emil, Lait Uwai and Thomas Lari, Wame Blood, McDonald Taylor and HLP Crews are some artists who are making an impact in contemporary music for the Highlands region.
Music has become a medium of conveying messages of development, lifestyle, environment, social behaviour and in fact a whole range of human experiences.
Taman is keen to promote the creativity of upcoming musicians should they want to record in his studio.
Asked what genre of music the studio would most want to promote, he sighed and said, “a whole range of music so long as it is original and unique”.
Since its establishment in 2016, the recording house has rocked Kainantu town when the studio musicians did gigs and promotions.
For music lovers and especially fans in Kainantu, the Tamans’ duets with a new band 92 Ants called Freedom and Meri Watis Ailan, a blending of Kuanua and Tok Pisin, are songs that are sure to hit the local radio stations.
According to Meko and Taman, the studio will promote raw musical talent in the highlands while at the same time provide a pathway for musicians to choose music as a profession.
For Taman, he is convinced that through music unemployment and lawlessness and unemployment can be reduced.
As a policeman, Taman knows all too well that a lot of the youngsters, when left idle and hopeless, resort to anti-social behaviour. Music can ease such social upheavals and give hope to the hopeless, he believes.
Few artists have recorded so far with Tawa Watch Productions and their recordings would be released soon. Though small, the studio it is striving to achieve its goal – to give the unfortunate some hope in life through music.
The charges are minimal, ranging from K200 toK500 per song. Most of their recording is done using Midi programming and session musicians do live guitars and drums work.
Their gravest concern as music producers is the crime of piracy with the use of technology.
Piracy threatens the growth of the music industry and makes the country prone to transnational crime as well.
Interested musicians and artists who wish to record with Tawa Watch Productions can contact engineer Taman on 73089907 to arrange recording sessions.