New Caledonia is a hidden gem. But while it’s known for its idyllic shores and stunning scenery, it’s the island’s pulsing arts and music scene that stole our hearts; there’s a genuine excitement, vibrancy and diversity.
As always, the best way to get to know a place is to talk to the locals – so we hit up rappers Nasty & Reza and street artist Kuby Kolor to get the inside scoop on New Caledonia’s utterly fascinating culture.
With over 300-plus Kanak tribes speaking 28 different languages and the lilting sounds of French filling the streets, New Caledonia is truly a musical melting pot. Wander through Nouméa and you’ll hear all kinds of sounds – from reggae to jazz to the traditional Kaneka.
In the middle of it all is a thriving hip-hop scene that’s making its mark both locally and
Nasty & ReZa are at the forefront of this – making beats for the last seven years.
Having the same passion for writing, production and rap, they started sharing a few songs then quickly made an album together. It was released in March 2016 under the name Common Disagreements.
The pair absolutely radiates positivity, and it flows through organically to their passion for local
music. While live music venues in Sydney might be quietening down, the pair tells us that New Caledonia’s scene is going from strength to strength.
“The bars and clubs where many musicians express themselves are found mostly on the Nouméa
side of Lemon Bay,” they explain. “There are also record stores where you can find all the styles of music practised in New Caledonia, as well as French and international music.”
There is a place dedicated to all forms of art called ‘Le Rex Nouméa’ where Nasty & ReZa spend a lot of time recording their songs, rehearsing and checking out the work of other local artists.
And their favourite local artists? Julia Paul, I & I, Marcus Gad, Les 100 Fous, Kydam, Ina Di Street, Pacifika Hood, Ekoten, Rosi Garrido, A7JK, Boagan, and Fuego Gitano, are apparently all well worth checking out.
Meet Greg Kuby (but everyone calls him Kuby Kolor).
Kuby’s a renowned local artist whose murals adorn the walls of Nouméa, the territory’s
He’s a busy man – torn between his tattoo shop, graffiti for private commissions, and work on
canvas. Wisely though, his weekends are booked for his wife and daughter.
And the search for new artists to collaborate with is neverending – constantly finding himself at festivals like Paroles de Thio.
“Sometimes I find pleasant surprises at an event called Les Jeudis Du Centre Ville.
“It’s a famous outdoor market situated at the coconut place in Nouméa’s centre. The vibe there is
great; you can listen to good music and appreciate local crafts.”
For fine art fanatics, the Le Chevalet D’art, a gallery situated at Ouémo is the place to be.
Kuby also reminds us of the island’s natural wonders. “As if you didn’t know already, nature is EVERYWHERE in New Caledonia, but my favourite has to be the Isle of Pines. “It’s a really inspiring place for me and I love to go there to unwind.”
He’s not wrong.
When you’re done with the Isle of Pines, head to Turtle Bay in Bourail.
In the last two years, there’s been a ton of cultural events, pushing the boundaries of the local art scene further than ever. These include Blackwoodstock, a three-day weekend of camping and culture that shows off the island’s rock music scene, Francofolies, another three-day event showcasing local acts and chart-topping bands from France, and Nouméa’s ‘Fete de la Musique’ (music festival) is a feast of New Caledonia’s diverse music scene.
Each event has its own importance, with Kuby saying, “They will be even more special if our
Australian neighbours come join us in the festivities.”
And just what did one of Australia’s favourite local bands think of New Caledonia when they visited
for the first time?
Recently, rising stars Crooked Colours explored the South Pacific island as part of a collab with New Caledonia Tourism, to show off a different side to the destination.
Sounds of New Caledonia, an exclusive track and music video inspired by the sounds of the island.
“New Caledonia really is the perfect combination of French European lifestyle and tropical paradise. One really cool experience that we had was a wooden canoe trip. Not only were we able to capture some great sounds from the canoe and waves, but the open water was great for clearing our minds for creativity. The overall laid back nature of the islands were also key to the style of song we created for this campaign. It was impossible not to get inspired by everything around us” — Crooked Colours, discussing their Sounds of New Caledonia recording.
See below to watch the video: