Featured Artist: Gawurra
June 23, 2016
Stanley ‘Gawurra' Gaykamangu is a Yolngu performer hailing from Arnhem Land. With a deeply resonant voice and musical sensitivity to match, Gawurra celebrates the natural wonders of his homeland in Gupapuyngu language across his debut album ‘Ratja Yaliyali’.
Firstly, tell us a bit about where you’re from and what inspires you to write the kind of music you do.
I was born on the Gove Peninsula and spent time as a child on my grandmother’s land of Yathalamara before moving to live on Milingimbi Island with my family. My culture, history, nature and family inspire me to write my songs. I want to bring those feelings to everyone who listens to my songs.
We’re always amazed at how artists like yourself manage to sing in your own language, yet can convey an immense emotional response from those of us who can’t understand your lyrics. Is this something that you’re conscious of when writing a song, or is it more to do with how songs are written traditionally?
I write from my heart, and I think people understand my songs with their heart. You don’t need to understand what I’m saying to understand the feeling behind the words.
You recently released your album, ‘Ratja Yaliyali’, with the title track having one of the most beautiful video clips we’ve seen in a while. Can you tell us a bit about the sentiment of the song and its clip?
Ratja Yaliyali is a Yolngu songline, translating to Vine of Love. It’s the thread of love that keeps everything connected. When Yolngu people hear it they feel the spirit in their hearts. If they have a problem or feel gloomy, they listen to Ratja Yaliyali as it touches them and builds their spirit, making them stronger and brighter. The music video shows that thread of love that connects everyone from all over the world, and makes them all one.
Your album debuted high on the iTunes charts and received a 4.5 out of 5 from Rolling Stone. How does it feel to have such a huge response to your album? Where do you hope this will take your career?
It makes me very proud and happy to represent my family and culture, and hear that people are liking my music. It gives me hope that people who hear my music are understanding the feelings behind it. I hope for a musical career that will take my message to all Australians and to the rest of the world. So that people understand that we all can learn from each other, and we are all connected.
What are your plans for the rest of 2016? Can we expect a National tour?
I am very excited to be performing soon at many festivals – Walking With Spirits Festival in July, the National Indigenous Music Awards, Garma Festival and I am very proud to be supporting Peter Garrett at the Darwin Festival in August.
Purchase Gawurra's debut album Ratja Yaliyali on iTunes..
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