Pinoy St Party Spotlights Filipino Music, Culture & Food At 2021 OzAsia Festival

Published in Music  
Pinoy Street Party takes place as part of OzAsia Festival at Nexus Arts (Adelaide) 29 October. Pinoy Street Party takes place as part of OzAsia Festival at Nexus Arts (Adelaide) 29 October.

Part of Adelaide Festival Centre's OzAsia Festival 2021 programme, Pinoy St Party is a night of street food and entertainment led by Filipino musician and Darwin resident Kuya James.

Connecting with Filipino (or 'Pinoy') communities across Australia, Adelaide-born music producer and DJ Kuya James (Kuya meaning 'older brother') mixes old- and new-school songs of the Philippines to bring both elders and new generations together under a universal love of music.

A joyous celebration of heritage, get ready to fill the dance floor as Pinoy Street Party takes over the block with the freshest MCs, singers, musicians and DJs from Darwin to Adelaide.

Add local street food and entertainment for the whole family, this will be a sensational night of hip hop, dancing, and culture to induce all your senses.

We check in with Kuya James (aka James Mangohig) to find out more about Pinoy Street Party and the awesome list of artists he's showcasing at event to be staged later this month (29 October).

What does it mean to you personally living as an Australian with Filipino heritage?
It's always been a part of my life due to my Tatay (father) taking myself and my brothers back to the Philippines on the regular growing up.

Unless you're Indigenous, we're all immigrants to this country so for me being Filipino has helped provide cultural grounding too. I'm also half Dutch, so that combination has been interesting to juggle over my life. At times it's been stressful, but mostly a positive thing.

How are you sharing Filipino culture through OzAsia Festival's Pinoy Street Party? What can punters expect to see, hear and feel?
I'm sharing a mix of the type of Filipino culture I experienced growing up and also my take on what it means to be a Filipino Australian in 2021.

Culture evolves and I know a lot of Filipinos hold onto the things that they remember growing up, so my goal is to provide that balance. Punters can experience some old, classic Filipino songs given a new twist, plus some of the ways Filipinos are expressing themselves living in Australia today with storytelling and hip hop-influenced bangers. Collaboration is also a big part of what I do, so there will be a few surprises for everyone.

There's a stack of talent coming with you from Darwin, joining an even bigger crew from Adelaide. Can you share some details of the collaborators you're working with for this event?
I'm bringing three incredible artists down with me from Darwin. Emcille is a multi-faceted Filipino artist who expresses herself through rapping, dancing, singing, instrumentation and storytelling. By way of a small fishing village in Negros, Occidental, in the Philippines, Emcille speaks Visayan, English and Tagalog.

Serina Pech is one of my main collaborators. She is a phenomenal singer, songwriter and quirky performer. We have known each other a long time and worked on many projects including her solo stuff. At the Pinoy Street Party in Adelaide, she will show the audience some of her different sides. Her voice often leaves people in awe.

Iselle is the leader of the all-Filipino dance crew PHLtheBeat. She is a very captivating dancer and has displayed incredible leadership skills in growing the group over the past two years. There is a lot of buzz about them around Darwin, so it's great that Adelaide gets to see one of their key members in action.

Traditional Filipino music... how diverse is it, and do Filipino people – young and old – have a strong connection to it? Is it still a major part of modern life in the Philippines?
Due to COVID I am unable to bring over a beautiful instrument called a Kulintang. This instrument is a key part of traditional Filipino music.

I am not sure how it fits in with modern life in the Philippines these days, but one of the artists from Adelaide named Clai used to play it a lot at Mindanao State University back in the Philippines, which leads me to believe they are still keeping it alive and well.

I think depending on where you grew up (or where your parents grew up), you would have seen and heard more traditional Filipino music. I didn't hear much as a kid visiting the Philippines, although I did hear a lot of disco hits with my cousins dancing around a clothesline covered in lights.

How do you plan to get the party jumpin' with your own DJ set; what music will we be dancing to?
My DJ sets are known for their feel-good vibes, so I'll play a mix of gems that I've found on Bandcamp which I think people should check out and move to. I also come from a real '90s hip hop background so I often mix in some classics and house party type tracks while trying to push some rarer underground bangers.

It's not just music that will be celebrating Filipino culture – there'll also be street food vendors and entertainment for the whole family, right?
We have two hours of music and dancers, and it's definitely family-friendly. There will also be the amazing The Filipino Project setting up a food stall. I was lucky enough to sample their food at Gluttony earlier in the year. It was incredible.

What's your favourite traditional Philippines dish and why?
It's a classic, Chicken Adobo, but I gotta be specific that my Tatay makes it the best. It's essentially chicken, soy, vinegar, bay leaves and black peppercorns. Tatay has a way he cuts the chicken too that makes sure the juices really get into every corner of the meat. I could live off that and steamed rice.

Your Facebook page shares that you're a part-time cook. How adept are you in the kitchen, and what are you specialities?
My specialty is actually Mexican food. I fell in love with cooking certain dishes when I lived in Melbourne and could get access to these amazing chillies. I became obsessed with them.

I think I'm known most for my Mexican feasts and my garlic fried rice with egg and crispy pork belly. One of my secrets is using this salt and pepper from Taiwan. The food over in Taiwan is crazy and I stole some tricks for sure.

Further to the last question, if we were coming over to your place, what would you cook us?
If you wanted Filipino food I would make garlic fried rice and Chicken Adobo, and for dessert Ube ice cream with banana and mango (and maybe jackfruit if you roll like that).

While you're in Adelaide, do you plan to attend any other OzAsia Festival events?
I'm lucky to be spinning on the 23rd at the Lucky Dumpling Market so I look forward to that as well as the Pinoy Street Party on 29 October. I hope on some of my nights off I'll get to check some other stuff, too.

It's hard to think about when you're getting ready for a show... On 30 October my friend Jennifer Wong is hosting The Special Comedy Comedy Special so I look forward to being tired but sitting in that audience and laughing a lot. She's a really great person and so witty. I used to go watch her do small rooms at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival many years ago.

Would it be fair to say that music consumes you almost 100 per cent of the time? And would you have it any other way?
Most people who know me well know that I'm pretty obsessed with music all the time.

Just recently I spent three hours making a new playlist for an idea I had – it's one of those ideas you have to park 'cause you've got too much work to do. I am so lucky that music is my full-time job, but I definitely have moments where I need to remind myself to be a 'fan' again – just enjoy listening without analysing and thinking about it all.

Even when I watch a show or movie on one of the streaming platforms, I often Shazam a bit of it. I love the emotion you can attach to music through visuals and storytelling.

You recently produced fellow Darwin artist Caiti Baker's new song 'Mellow'. How much of your work time do you dedicate to producing music for other artists? Are there any projects you’re working on that you can share with us?
It goes in and out of working on my own stuff and stuff with other people.

Because I'm not a vocalist, even when I'm working on my own stuff I still collaborate with others. Really it comes down to the purpose of the project. When I produce for someone like Caiti, ultimately she will decide on the final production and make the last calls.

Myself and producer Papertoy definitely get a say in it all too, but she is the boss of that project as it's her name behind the music and she'll be the one carrying the flag.

The other records I'm working on at the moment are for a hip hop crew from Brisbane called Eastmode. I'm also working on Emcille's debut solo project, which is almost at the mix stage and I'm really excited for that to go into the world. Adelaide will get a sneak peak of some of the tunes we've been working on.

Tell us about your own music – are you working on anything new at the moment?
In the Kuya James world, I'm working on two records at the moment but both are very different. One is an Asian psych-rock album that I've produced with mostly live instruments, and the other is a soundtrack for a theatre show I'm developing called 'Hymns For The Witching Hour'.

Thanks for your time. Is there anything else you'd like to add?
Adelaide, get tickets. We're gonna have a party and celebrate how good it is to have Filipinos in our local community. You might come and experience something you've never seen before and you will definitely want to dance and eat delicious food.

Pinoy Street Party takes place as part of OzAsia Festival at Nexus Arts (Adelaide) 29 October. OzAsia Festival runs 21 October to 7 November.

Pinoy Street Party 2021 Line-up

Darwin crew
Kuya James
Emcille Wills
Serina Pech
Iselle Grosskopf (PHLtheBeat)

Adelaide crew
Brian Ruiz
Ben-Hur Winter
Kissey Gulle
Clai Pasion
James Sace
Becky Blake
Jennifer Trijo
Nicole Vergara
Kent Klakhaeng
Aksel Lor Encho
Miggy Hutton
Dangerous Trio



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