You may already be familiar with the adventures of Beat Making Lab, a project which started life as a college course at UNC Chapel Hill and is now a full-blown PBS series following beatfreaks Pierce Freelon and Apple Juice Kid as they bring their guerilla-style workshops in studio tech and desktop audio to various corners of the globe. There was that time they linked up with the all-female music collective Gotal in Dakar, Senegal, for instance. Or the kora-based dancehall project they ran with the homie Walshy Fire of Major Lazer fame. But the crew clearly racked up a whole new level of frequent flier (and frequent sea traveler?) miles with their latest excursion to the Fiji archipelago in the heart of Melanesia.
Okayplayer is proud to present the world premiere (and yes, I do mean ‘world’) of the very first installment of the Beat Making Lab’s Melanesian campaign: “Heartbeats of Fiji”–the first in a series of 5 episodes. The beats range from atmospheric EDM/trap to the distinctly Major Lazer-ish to club tracks inflected with the cadences of North Indian bhangra music (Indo-Fijans comprise just under 40% of the nation’s population, so South Asian beats flow there at least as naturally as hip-hop)–and the studio settings from your typical mixing board set-up to laptop sessions on the most achingly beautiful tropical beach you’ve ever seen. The whole narrative unfolds in an area of the world where collaborating can mean a 12-hour Pacific ocean voyage just to get to the studio, adding a whole new dimension to the project. For my money, this new incarnation of Beat Making Lab represents not just a new horizon for this pretty inspiring endeavor but a new level of cinematic artistry as well. No matter how you relate to the subject matter, this is documentary filmmaking at it’s hypnotic best and in the sequences where the beats made in the lab coalesce into the undulating waves of the South Pacific swirling onscreen, you may sometimes wonder if you’re watching a PBS doc or trancing out to, say, a Sonnymoon video. Watch below and stay tuned for episodes 2-4.