Samantha Brown – Southeast Asian-based journalist and editor

Music: Completing the magic of Karma

01.09.2010 (12:00 am) – Filed under: Lifestyle ::

As an orange orb dips and melts into the horizon across a vast Indian Ocean, a DJ plays a set to an adoring, happy crowd alive on life, energy and music. At Karma Kandara’s Nammos Beach Club, this kind of special evening isn’t a rarity any more; it’s fast becoming a norm as the focus on music at Karma resorts ramps up with the spectacular Nammos in Bali the focal point.

Ever eaten a meal at a restaurant, vaguely aware that something is wrong, and then suddenly realised that it’s the lack of music making everyone slightly uncomfortable amid the clinking of cutlery? Or worse still, ever been driven out of a bar because you just can’t bear the music they’re playing?

That ’s something you won’t find happening at any of the Karma resorts, and at Karma Kandara’s Nammos, you may in fact be enticed to visit thanks to the club hosting some of the hottest DJs and musicians on the planet, with plenty more lined up over Bali’s high season in 2010.

It’s a deliberate policy, driven by John Spence, chairman of the Karma Royal Group, who in a former life was an agent for bands in the United Kingdom.

“I think music is a vital component in the making of a great holiday experience and all too often hoteliers pay the selection and quality of music little or no attention,” Spence told Karma magazine.

“Ever since my days in the music business I have had a passion for music, and I am keen that all our guests experience this, whether it be the playlists in the restaurants, the DJs at Nammos or the live events we promote. A visitor to Karma knows that they will hear great music which complements perfectly our resorts and locations.”

Jane Sling from Young Strangers is the person tasked with the mission of positioning Karma Resorts not only as a leading luxury resort group, but also as a group renowned for its fantastic music and in-house live music entertainment programme.

“Music is such a big lifestyle driver, and therefore we want to ensure that the musical experience for Karma guests is as special and unique as they are,” she said.

“Long term, we want to keep raising the bar on the talent we have playing at Karma, and extending the ‘Karma music family’ among a worldwide network of like-minded music artists.”

Thankfully no arm-twisting is required to get artists to make the trip to Karma Kandara down on Bali’s spectacular Bukit peninsula, where limestone cliffs tower over the ocean in an almost mystical setting. Nammos, reached by inclinator at the bottom of these cliffs, is on a postcard-perfect beach, with white sands, turquoise waters, and live corals blooming offshore.

“It’s not often that a DJ gets the opportunity to play to a beautiful crowd of relaxed, happy people lounging on daybeds, sipping cocktails, frolicking in the ocean while they get to play an exclusive set of music they adore,” Sling told Karma magazine.

“More often than not bigger profile DJs are regarded for certain sounds or styles of set that they play at massive venues and festivals around the world. At Nammos Beach Club, we welcome them ‘digging in their crates’ to play a repertoire they don’t often get the chance to play. The DJs are always very appreciative for that experience.”

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Events at Nammos have already caused a stir on Bali, where the party season really kicks off in earnest in August. The Freemasons played at the club in 2009, creating quite a party. “It was a little out of control actually, but in a great way!” Sling said. “They’ll be back this Christmas, and we can’t wait quite frankly.” Two special performances are slated, one of which will be a special Sunday session on Boxing Day, so mark your calendars!

Katherine Ellis, one of Karma’s favourite vocalists, performed on an amazing night at Di Mare, the restaurant at Karma Kandara perched on a cliff 150 metres above the ocean. A standing ovation topped off her gig.

“She’s a world class diva and is another artist that we’re looking forward to welcoming back early in 2011,” Sling said. Meanwhile Rob Kay and Paulie played an unforgettable sunset performance at Nammos last summer. “Paulie’s live trumpeting over Rob’s beautiful house set was really special while basking in the sunshine,” recalled Sling.

Three-times-number-one Australian DJ Kid Kenobi played a sublime dubbier-style set that was meant to last a few hours, but ended up playing well over that as he was engaged and in love with the experience of playing those sounds at Nammos Beach Club, Sling said.

Kid himself described his experience as “amazing”.

“Chilled funky tunes, awesome cocktails and food and on one of the best beaches on the island. Couldn’t really ask for more!” he told Karma magazine.

Steve Edwards, singer of World, Hold On with Bob Sinclar, played at Karma last year and is returning late 2010 or early 2011.

“To play at Karma Kandara was an experience like no other,” he said. “The performance was right on the beach and to hear the waves lapping onto the shore and watch the sunset as the audience are dancing away is my idea of heaven.”

Jane remembered that Edwards sung his Billboard chart smash with Cassius “Sound of Violence” literally as the sun went down: “It was a total goosebump moment.”

Peyton, one of House music’s most soulful superstars, said he has had awesome opportunities to perform at some of the world’s greatest venues, “but few have compared with the experience of singing for Karma in Bali. The undeniable spiritual energy of the island, coupled with the beauty and sophistication of the Karma resort, made my gig there something that I will never forget for the rest of my life.”

Nammos really left an impression on the experienced American singer. “When you are working in a different city, and a different country almost every weekend, it’s easy for the places and parties to start merging into one big hazy disco dream, but I can still see the sunset at Karma, which was the backdrop to my performance, as clearly today as if I were there right now, washing back a few lychee martinis and having a laugh with the smiling bar staff. It was like discovering paradise, inside of paradise.”

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Sling says Karma will not be confined to any one specific genre or style of music, nor will the music in-house be confined to purely DJ-based entertainment.

“Of course DJs make up a staple base of the music program, but within this there will be a great range of diverse genres. There is a lot of fantastic music to draw from both past and present that works in the Karma environment, so one day you may enjoy a lovely house-ier set from an international guest while the sun goes down; another day you may hear some fantastic new European influenced sounds like Nu Disco; other times it may be a seamlessly mixed set of classics like rare groove, disco and funk; other times you may hear some awesome chilled out dubbier vibes.”

This northern summer, the musical attention is particularly focusing on Karma Kandara and Nammos Beach Club.

“We’re very confident that by having a clear strategy for Karma’s music program, and executing an exciting entertainment schedule this season, that this will extend to other Karma resorts going forward,” Sling said.

“We want to ensure that we’ve got it 200% right at Kandara, then apply the strategy globally in a tailored manner to the other Karma destinations.”

Sling sees a huge opportunity for Nammos Beach Club to progressively transform into a venue renowned internationally for world class entertainment that visitors and guests can enjoy in stunning surrounds.

“What we’re working towards is having a program over the peak season that delivers live music entertainment seven days a week, during every opening hour at Nammos Beach Club, with special featured guests on key nights of the week,” she said. Sundays in particular will be a key day for in-house guests combined with selected visitors from around the island.

“I can’t think of many Sunday sessions around the world on a private beach club that you can only access by hill tram down stunning cliffs looking out to the ocean!” Sling sees Sundays as likely to lure down the huge number of musically savvy expatriates in Bali, particularly from Seminyak, where a large community of stylish people from the creative industries dwell.

“But of course, we welcome the like-minded any day or night of the week. The amazing thing about Nammos Beach Club is that it’s still so undiscovered. We will certainly retain its exclusivity but we’re excited that there are still so many special people yet to discover Karma Kandara’s little treasure!”

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Coming up over the northern summer and later in 2010 are some special guests who are worlds away from dance or electronic music, Sling said, with a number of live acts scheduled as well as live musicians teaming up with DJs to extend into live entertainment.

Expect, Jane said, to see world class percussionists, saxophonists, vocalists and some really special art-style performances over the next two seasons. And keep an eye out for Karma special food and beverage events which happen regularly over the summer season, into which a number of musical elements will be incorporated.

And something else special: keep an eye out for Karma’s first exclusive in-house compilation, which will be based around the Nammos sessions.

“Watch this space, it will be out later in the year,” Sling said.

Another development Nammos will be involved with is hosting events to promote luxury and lifestyle brands in Bali, as Karma will be able to deliver a comprehensive solution to companies by providing music tailored to their event.

With the growth of music in the past five years has also come the growth of music events, Sling notes, with literally millions of people attending large scale music events and festivals each year. However, a lot of brands that still want to associate strongly with music and lifestyle are starting to reverse their strategies.

Five years ago it was all about reach and mass numbers, but these days, Sling said, ”it’s definitely moving towards smaller, very exclusive and intimate, bespoke events. This is an area where Karma can really deliver.

“Through flawlessly executed events in such perfect locations, enhanced with carefully curated world-class music, we can create a truly unique and unforgettable brand experience linked with music and luxury lifestyle,” she added.

“Already there is interest from a number of key brands in the Asia Pacific region looking at the creation of bespoke events at Karma over the coming year.”

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