Shining The Spotlight On Some Of The Gold Coast’s Most Inspiring Indigenous Artists

In celebration of NAIDOC Week 2020, taking place this year from 8 – 15 November, we took the opportunity to chat with a few of the Gold Coast’s most talented indigenous musicians, to discover more about their music and what their heritage means to them.

 

ELEEA

Genre: indie pop/roots
Key track to check out: Space

Can you give us a snapshot of your music and where you’re heading with it?

I’m a singer-songwriter and avid solo traveller, so my singles this year, ‘Wasting Time’ and ‘Space’, were from ‘The Travel Collection’ of 100+ songs inspired by my solo backpacking trips. After spending three months exploring and song-writing in Tasmania, I’ve just come home to the Gold Coast to be a part of APRA’s Songhubs and to film my performance for The Meeanjin Markets, which will be airing virtually on 27 November.

This year has been a whirlwind, but I’m really excited for what’s coming up next. In the next few months, I’ll be releasing another travel inspired single, ‘Red Wine’, and getting into the studio again to record a new EP, which I’m really excited about. I’m also looking forward to returning to live gigs and taking my show on the road for a tour as soon as I can.

Can you briefly outline your Indigenous heritage and how your ancestry has helped shape your musical journey?

I come from a family of storytellers and creatives, which impacted me from the beginning and has definitely made me the avid songwriter that I am now. I think it’s so special having the ability to preserve life experiences, emotions and history in a song that can be used to connect with other people. That’s how Indigenous people have always passed on their traditions and teachings from each generation, so it’s special to feel like I’m upholding that in my own way.

I’m really proud to be an Indigenous woman, but I’m still on my own journey of tracking down my exact family history. I’ve taken on the role in my family as the ‘connector of the dots’, doing the research to uncover our roots. So far, I’ve traced it back to the Wurundjeri people in Victoria, but I still have more research to do for accuracy. It’s a long but fulfilling process and I’ve found a lot of help and support from Indigenous people in the music community who have been through similar processes.

Culturally speaking, who has been your biggest inspiration?

Thelma Plum has been a great example of a young woman using her music and platform to shine a light on causes she cares a lot about, especially in relation to her culture. Her latest album ‘Better In Blak’ was a beautiful body of work that was light and contemporary, yet still moving and educational. I’m really passionate about social justice, so I definitely see myself stepping more and more in that direction as time goes on.

 

Loki Liddle: Selve

Genre: psychedelic rock / indie
Key track to check out: Snake Of Light 

Can you briefly outline your Indigenous heritage and give us a snapshot of your music and where you’re heading with it? 

I am a Jabirr Jabirr man and an interdisciplinary artist and arts worker. Currently my greatest passion is performing in my band Selve, who are always up to all kinds of mischief.

In November we will be releasing our first EP, ‘Snake of Light’, and two music videos that we have recently created to go along with it! We also have a handful of gigs coming up in November and December that will be announced soon. On top of that we are heading into The Pink Hotel in Coolangatta to film another music video for our next body of work, which will begin to be released in Feb 2021. 

Culturally speaking, who has been your biggest inspiration?

My biggest influence and inspiration at this point in my life is my mentor Alethea Beetson, who is the Artistic Director of Digi Youth Arts. She is carving a path for young Indigenous people that we get to follow behind. And it is because of her and her work that the opportunities have arisen through which I have been able to start reconnecting to my mob in Broome. The entire Digi Youth Arts team are like family to me. Creating with them has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.

 

Lann Levinge

Genre: pop/rock / roots
Key track to check out: Truth

Can you give us a snapshot of your music and where you’re heading with it?

I’m a singer and multi-instrumentalist (guitar, bass, drums, keys, didge) and have been playing professionally throughout South East Queensland for over 20 years now. I’ve also been getting opportunities to work as a production manager, producer and musical director.

Lately because of the whole COVID thing I’ve moved into producing video content for digital platforms and get to create the music / soundscapes for that as well.

There are so many stories to be told, so perhaps developing a few documentary style pieces would be right up my alley, or working with local artists to get their stories and material together would be great. I’ll of course keep doing the live music thing and I’m currently in the process of writing heaps of new material to release.

I’ve also recently written and produced a commissioned piece for AMEB (Australian Music Examination Board) ‘Morning Star and Evening Star’ with my cousins Candace and Bella Kruger as part of the AMEB online orchestra 2021. I also did the video content for the song. And I’m currently part of the production management team for Bleach Festival 2020, as well as working with Yugambeh Youth Choir on new things for 2021.

Can you briefly outline your Indigenous heritage?

My heritage is Kombumerri with Quandamooke and Nughi  – pretty much from the Gold Coast up to Moreton Bay and North Stradbroke Island. I’m a fifth generation Gold Coaster on both sides of the family – my dad being First Nations and mum being a direct descendent of William Duncan (William Duncan Primary School), one of the first white settlers in this region. My grandfather owned and ran the dairy at Benowa.

How has your ancestry helped shape your musical journey?

For me, perhaps it’s the other way around – music has opened a path to my culture and heritage.

You see I come from a time where my elders refrained from speaking language and had no real opportunity to outwardly show their culture. It didn’t mean things weren’t handed down, we still learnt traditions, but in an adapted way. I guess the feeling of connection to the area, the salt water and the natural beauty of the place, has always given me the inspiration to act upon my creative desires and has helped me to gravitate towards the artier side of things. Music is just something I’ve always known as part of myself and who I am. I don’t do it for recognition, but making a living from it is a blessing, that’s for sure. During the last few years my craft has brought me deeper into first nations cultural and I feel that part of me getting stronger with every collaboration I’m lucky to have the opportunity to be part of.

Culturally speaking, who has been your biggest inspiration?

Definitely family. I have great parents and so many wonderful Aunties and Uncles that have always nurtured my aboriginal side. The connection between my white heritage and black culture has always been strong. Right back to William Duncan and his friendship with the local Kombumerri.

I certainly look to the little people in the community who are forever making sure there are paths open for the next generation to live their culture proudly. This is the inspiration to become involved and help where I can.

 

Shaun Allen: Nerve Damage

Genre: hardcore punk / metal
Key track to check out: Aways Was / Always Will Be

Can you give us a snapshot of your music and where you’re heading with it? 

I’m the front person of a band called Nerve Damage, a multi-member band from Yugambeh/Bundjalung lands. We write noisy, protest type Punk/Hardcore. We just put out a single a few months back for our annual ‘Close The Gap’ mixtape, and have a new single, (part of the ‘This Is Australia’) 7inch, coming out via Last Ride Records/Bloke records in December.

After that, early 2021 looks busy for us. There’ll be a new 7 inch single coming out, another single for Triple J (we were awarded with the level up grant via Triple J a few months back), and a few collaborations with some local artists too. We’re looking forward to playing some shows again and getting back out there as soon as possible.

We also do another band called Empress, who has a record coming out on 5 November titled ‘Wait ‘Til Night’. Check it out! 

Can you briefly outline your Indigenous heritage and how your ancestry has helped shape your musical journey? 

Just like most mob, tracing back my heritage isn’t a walk in the park, and it’s a journey I feel like I’m forever trying to prove to white Australia. It’s something I continually try and dig back on, but I am met with continual rock blocks when it comes to the gathering of information.  Being a ‘half caste’ has shaped my journey in so many ways. Having issues with identity and then being asked to prove who I am continually, has led me down certain paths that I feel have influenced my musical journey the older I have become.  

Culturally speaking, who has been your biggest inspiration?

Culturally speaking, all the young mob out there telling their story are my biggest inspirations. There’s a whole pool of talent who are speaking up – but the question is, are you actually listening?

Trauma is handed down through generations, and to have peers speaking about the same things makes me feel less alone.

Other than that, there’s the greats like Uncle Kev Carmody and Archie Roach. And Stan Grant – the way he can articulate his thoughts and feelings and express them in a way that everyone can understand is inspiring!

Footnote: Another Gold Coast artist who we did not have the opportunity to speak with before this story went to press was guitarist and singer Ondre Davis, who’s currently performing as part of  The Yams (previously known as the Ondre Davis Experience), who describe themselves as “a triage of musicians creating a foundation for the pure enjoyment of the improvised jamming experience.” He also performs under his own name and as the guitarist for Gold Coast indie rock band Loose Leaf.

There’s also a whole bunch of fabulous Indigenous artists based in Brisbane who are making great music, including:

  • MiCCY (dance/electro/hip hop)

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