Within the midst of these troubling, speculative times, when the world feels ireful and bitter, it’s vital and humbling to pay reverence—and listen—to those creating art, energy and light through creative practice. The deeply healing and mystic powers of the music created by Kardajala Kirridarra, hailing from the northern communities of Marlinja and Kulumindini, is just that and so much more. Deeply refreshing, poignant and ethereal in nature, their sound masterfully encapsulates a landscape rich with feminine energy and a history of subsistence. I spoke with Eleanor about weaving story into song, the importance of feeling—over seeing and hearing—and a magical union made over lalija tea and Bjork.
To begin, ‘Ngabaji (Grandmother’s Song)’ is beautiful, surreal, purposeful and different to anything I’ve ever heard (musically, or otherwise) before. Why aren’t there more sounds like yours in the Australian music industry?
You know, I honestly believe that this song is something that needed to be expressed now, right now, because of the feminine energy being felt in the world as a result of the current climate. I don’t really know why there hasn’t been anything like this in the Australian music industry scene, but I believe that the music we create has a purpose of acknowledging the land we all live on.
Your sound has been described as vocal landscape; creating the effect of layers of healing, delicate energy. Can you share a little about your writing process?
The songs come from the country. That delicate, healing energy come from the earth, the mother. If you think about it, she is alive. That is what we sing for. So, when I finished writing ‘Abala Barlawa,’ everything was at peace. That was the beginning of the concept of the creation story that each song consists of. I heard layers of voices when I wrote these songs. Beatrice—also in Kardajala Kirridarra—helped to create the landscape-y feel with the beats that represented the earth’s heartbeat and I guess we’ve just worked with the feelings of creation and the earth from acknowledging that energy.
Your name Kardajala Kirridarra translates to ‘Sandhill Women’ and refers to a mysterious bush woman from the sand hills in the desert of the NT. What does this notion mean to you?
Kardajala is a goddess, who to us holds the story of creation and life. We carry her in the sounds that you are hearing when you listen to our music. This, here, is the most important and sacred thing to be expressed by us yet.
You were brought together by the Barkly Regional Council’s ‘Barkly Desert Cultures’ multimedia program. Would you please share how your creative collaboration was initiated through this space?
It was Beatrice and I that had first met through this program – we connected over lalija (tea) and Bjork. Having spent so much time together, we then took the opportunity—lead by feeling—to connect on a deeper level through music. So then the rest of the Kardarjala story continued… and does.
What inspires your unapologetic style of art? Where do you look to for the energy to protest and ignite change
The energy of our music comes from our culture and country. The creation energy is what sits in the core of this art. We acknowledge the fact that our culture and stories need to be heard just as much as any other culture in the world – and we knew it was best represented through the language of music. As a united people, universally, we now need to feel more. If we can’t feel, then we can’t live.
In your opinion, what does your dream-future look like for female/female identifying artists? And what can we—the public—do to help you?
Thank you so much for asking a question like this, because I honestly feel that it is time to acknowledge the feminine energy. It doesn’t take much to do it, yet the effects can be astounding and unifying. Life is created from feminine energy; no matter what shape or form this within which it is carried, it is important to revere its presence, its ultimate importance.
My dreams have always taken me places that have made so much sense – in terms of energy. I know and believe that females and female-identifying artists will be heard and seen and acknowledged. Each and every one of these people carries the energy of creation so that should not be ignored on any level. Our future depends on it.