Loki Liddle discusses the Indigenous Contemporary Music Program

The Federal Government recently announced a funding commitment of $2 million over four years to be invested towards the Indigenous Contemporary Music Program, to assist in the support and development of contemporary First Nations musicians and performers. It includes an investment of $250,000 to the Australia Council to deliver First Nations music grants, consisting of:

• $150,000 for an Indigenous contemporary music projects competitive grant program
• $100,000 to run a matched funding initiative to support the development of the Indigenous music sector

For Gold Coast musician Loki Liddle, singer/song-writer with arty, psych pop act Selve, the program is both crucial and richly deserving. Loki is immensely proud of the musical legacy of his ancestors and contemporaries. He has some firm and progressive ideas on the plight of indigenous music in this country and what can be done to further its deserved exposure. He also shares how’s he been keeping busy musically during these challenging times. Take it away Loki…

What are your thoughts on this recently announced program? And what role do you see it playing in nurturing and developing First Nations Music in this day and age?

I think it’s great to see First Nations artists being prioritised in this way. Australia has a rich contemporary music culture and a history of great musicians who have put us on the map as a country that produces impressive artists. But the history of Australian music is only a sub-branch on the old rock n roll tree, sprouting from the Beatles, the blues, jazz and the symphonies of the classical age. And though this musical tree is awesome, beautiful and powerful, it is a young sapling when placed beside the 60,000+ year old culture of music and song that has been cultivated and practised in this land by the First Nations peoples.

Our ancient culture of music has grown around the introduced western music tree like a strangler fig and integrated its fruits into our own expression and skill sets. Now we have incredible Indigenous artists applying their ancient voice across all contemporary genres and doing so in the most bad-ass fashion. It is these First Nations artists that the Australian music industry should be most proud of and most devoted to supporting and developing. It is these artists that Australia should be promoting and exporting to the international stages and circuits, for it is these artists who carry the soul of the land and its music.

This program will help enable emerging First Nations artists to develop and move into the next phase of their career, which is an awesome thing. But when they do this, will the industry and labels actually be there to support them further and enable them to establish a sustainable career? Or will First Nations artists have to keep applying for grants to support their work well into their old age? This remains to be seen. But the program is certainly a step in the right direction, and I express my gratitude to the individuals who have made it happen.

Would you consider applying for one of the grants on offer? And if so, how would it benefit you and your music specifically?

At this point I’d most certainly apply for the funding, in order to record Selve’s debut album and pay for all the necessary promotional/media support needed to release it properly. The funding would enable us to record the music we developed in our recent residency at The Pink Hotel Coolangatta to a high standard, film some music videos, wax up a couple of singles and share the music that we love with the people that we love.

Selve is currently independent, so outside of the main focus of making good music and sharing our souls, the desired outcome would be to attract the attention of labels and further support networks so that we can continue making music and devote ourselves to Selve without having to apply for grants into eternity.

Further to this program, do you have any other thoughts or ideas on how indigenous music and artists can best be supported in this country in the year 2020?

Once the music industry is rolling again post-COVID I think the big festivals, such as Splendour In The Grass, could really step up and contribute towards the development and support of Indigenous artists. It’s well known that artists such as Lorde, Gang of Youths, Tame Impala and Tones and I have exploded after performing at Splendour. As the #1 Australian festival Splendour (and Triple J) should acknowledge their importance and power and take some direct responsibility for giving more Indigenous artists that opportunity for big exposure. In the next three years Splendour should make it a goal to have a First Nations headliner on the mainstage on at least one of the three days.

On a personal level, what’s in store for you musically for the rest of the year? And how have the impacts of COVID-19 affected you as a musician and what have you done to adapt to the circumstance until things return to normal?

Selve has some really exciting stuff coming up over the rest of the year and early into next year. We will be dropping our first EP, ‘Snake of Light’, very soon and we’ve also created a whole album’s worth of new music during our residency at The Pink Hotel and will be kicking off recording the first singles ASAP. I won’t give away too much but we are very stoked with the new tunes and you can expect some new songs, a documentary and a big ol’ event coming out of The Pink Hotel in the early  stages of next year.

As far as COVID-19 goes it did throw a spanner in the works, but we just used it to enter into a deep phase of creating, and we are really happy with what’s come out of it. To be honest we just can’t wait to just start playing again and to help bring the Gold Coast music scene back to life. We have all these new songs we really want to perform and old songs that we haven’t performed enough so we’re just busting to get mingling out in the sonic stratospheres and making ripples and noises and mischief and all that jazz. Until then, Selve loves you, Selve is with you, forever and always until the rings of eternity roll around the corners of your soul yet again.


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