Triple J Unearthed National Indigenous Music Award winner 2013
Tell me about your family and their Country
My great great grandmother was stolen generation and taken from our lands (APY lands in Central Australia). She was moved to Adelaide and had a daughter who was then taken away from her. That daughter was brought up to Queensland where she had my mum, who was also taken away and brought up by a Catholic Irish family in Brisbane. It’s pretty sad, but they were the times.
How did you find all of this out?
My grandma was well into her 30s – 40s when she found out she was adopted. She was raised to believe she was Irish – and had no idea about her heritage. It was just weeks before her mum died when she found out she was adopted. And then it was a bit of a journey for her from there to find out who her family was and she connected with a sister. And then the journey began in terms of where our aboriginal side comes from.
Tell us about your music career?
It’s brand new (laughs). I studied music at uni and have been playing guitar for 13 or 14 years, but yeah, success was an accident. Last year I got together with my best friend to make some music. We put it on Unearthed, because that’s what you do, and didn’t expect anything of it. Then we just happened to win the Unearthed competition.
It’s slow and steady which is a good thing. I want to build fans as they come and I’m not in any big rush. A music career has a certain time frame. Singles will come out and from there momentum will slowly build. I’m happy to take the slow path – if it means a longer career in what I love.
Tell us about your ‘other’ work?
AIME is the Australian Indigenous Mentoring Experience. In my last year of study at QUT Brisbane, AIME came to the university and did some recruiting – basically a program where you get to help out Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander kids – help them get through school. It’s something my partner and I connected with and thought iw as a great way to give back. So I started working at Loganlea High School and then a job opened up at AIME at Bond University and I jumped at it. That was 3 years ago.
Recently my first lot of year 9 students from 2011 just came to their year 12 program. At the end of the session they wrote speeches about their time in school. And there were about 7 of them who said if it wasn’t for you Robbie coming to my school to help them out with AIME I would have left school a long time ago and you’re pretty much the reason why I’m here today. That did bring a tear to my eye and made quite a few people cry and it’s proof that what I do really does work.
Getting kids through High School is really important to me and I’m just really glad I get to do it day in day out.
What’s next for Robbie Miller?
I release a song last year called Sunday and put it up on Facebook and didn’t do anything else with it. A few people think it’s probably worth more than just doing that, so I will probably do a second round with that, maybe try to commission it to radio. There’s a film clip to come with that too and then another single coming out, which will coincide with my EP. I’m not allowed to say when it’s coming out, but I have finished most of it and am just working on that new single.
Music’s one of those things where everyone can have an opinion about what the song’s about. Sunday is kind of just looking back on a life– a retrospective view of a life. It is about specific people in my life – not me personally, but people really close to me. It’s abut them and their story.
I’m a big fan of stripped back. I like the idea of having a message in songs and using your voice to deliver a message. The music just fills in what the song’s about. Not to give too much away about the EP but that’s what you’ll get.