Sisterhood, from river to sea.
Celebrating the release of their respective debut albums, two powerhouse Indigenous artists, Wannadilyakwa woman Emily Wurramara & Wergaia woman Alice Skye, have teamed up & announced their co-headline ‘River Eylandt’ national tour. Emily interviews 22-year-old singer-songwriter & touring buddy Alice for Earhart.
Emily Wurramara: What inspires you to be doing what you’re doing?
Alice Skye: Honestly...people like you who are so generous and happy to share their stories. It’s still a learning curve for me to think people are interested in listening to what I have to say. So it’s artists like you that are encouraging me to keep sharing my stories, or people who tell me it resonates with them—that means the world to me!
If you could record an album with one person who would It be?
Damnnnnnn this is such a hard question. Maybe we should?
Where did you grow up? And what makes it so special?
I grew up in Horsham. I spent most of my teens hating it, but I’m actually so glad it’s where I grew up. We made our own fun and found weird things to do to entertain ourselves. I was also really lucky to have a family farm that looked directly on to the Grampians. That's the place where my parents met, where I spent a lot of my childhood...just the most magical place in my eyes. It’s not my peoples country, but it’s the country I grew up on, and I think there’s no feeling the same as being there feels.
What are you most looking forward to while on tour and why?
It's my first headlining tour, and all the songs on my album mean so much to me, so I’m just excited to share them around the place. Also, I think it’s so special that I get to do it with you! Creating a space where we can really celebrate being young First Nations women in our own way.
Top 5 artists your listening to right now?
I’m going to let my recently played answer this for me:
Middle Kids, Ecca Vandal, Stella Donnelly, Emily Haines & the Soft Skeleton, Elton John
As a young indigenous woman, what do you hope to see change?
A lot of things need to change, to be honest—but a big part of it is people’s attitudes. It’s reconciliation this week, and it sort of feels like we’re the only ones aware or speaking up about it. I wish people would choose to be more aware of what it means to live on stolen lands, rather than choosing to ignore or remain indifferent. I hope to see our languages and our people brought to the front!
What would you say to your 16-year-old self and why?
DO NOT BLEACH YOUR HAIR BLONDE OR GET EXTENSIONS and also be way nicer to your mum, she’s amazing.
What’s your go-to song that gets you hyped?
Oooo I’m really loving “Price of Living” by Ecca Vandal as my angry hype song or “Ornament” by Electric Fields is always good.
When did you start pursuing music as a career?
I think it must be 3 or 4 years ago now, which seems crazy. Feels like no time at all.
What are 3 honest pros and cons of being in the music industry?
Pros: (1) Getting to do what you love in front of people; (2) Meeting amazzzzing people; (3) Doing things and going places you never expected.
Cons: (1) Having to do what you love in front of people (lol); (2) Meeting amazzzzing people but being too socially awkward to talk to them; (3) And honestly, constantly feeling vulnerable and a little scared.
Alice & Emily's Tour Dates
In 2016 Groote Eylandt via Brisbane singer-songwriter Emily Wurramara released her debut EP Black Smoke, containing stories from her heart and childhood sung in both English and her traditional language Anindilyakwa, the EP stunned listeners across the country and saw Emily tour nationally and internationally.
Black Smoke amassed over 1 million Spotify streams, 25K Shazams, 54K YouTube views, rotation on JJJ and ABC Local x 2, 10 weeks in the AMRAP charts, a Queensland Music Award, a publishing contract with Mushroom and live showcase slots everywhere from BIGSOUND as a Triple J Unearthed feature artist to Folk Alliance International in the USA.
Now, only two years on – with a child of her own and a world of wisdom at her feet, Emily Wurramara has officially announced the long-awaited release of her debut album Milyakburra.
Released now and steeped in the sand, salt and concrete of her family, community, culture, islands and all of the souls that have played a part in her journey so far, Milyakburra is 11 tracks again sung in both English and Anindilyakwa that explore the contrasting themes of the two worlds in which Emily grew up – the island and the city.
In her own words: “I grew up in two different worlds with two different perspectives of life but I’ve always had a strong love for protecting my land and inspiring and empowering my people through the preservation and protection of our culture, which is why I sing in my language.” Milyakburra is the community on Bickerton Island, a smaller island off Groote where Emily would visit her Grandparents on the weekends and hear dreaming stories.
Emily explains “They’d tell me the stories of the islands and the beings that walked both the land and the ocean. I wanted to name the album after Milyakburra because that is where my ancestors come from. My Great Great Grandfather Joe Wurramara established a community on Bickerton. Before the Dutch named Groote, the Maccasans used to travel from Makkasar in Indonesia to trade trepang (sea cucumber) with my people and in return they would give dumbala (material) and planted tamarind trees. The history is so rich that if you go to Bickerton there are Maccasan burial sites and their homes and the things they brought over are still intact”.
Teaming up again with award winning producer David Bridie, Emily has added some extra special collaborations to Milyakburra with features from her Uncle Enoch, some of the children of Groote Eylandt and her Great Great Grandmother ‘Gayangwa Lalara’. “Carry Me Home is a very special track for me because it features my Gayangwa Lalara! She’s a very wise woman and holds many sacred stories for the women in my community.”
‘Ngarrikwujeyinama’ was the first single to be lifted from Milyakburra, released earlier this year the track was added to rotation on Double J and ABC Local nationally, took out the number 1 chart position on AMRAP and saw Emily take home her 2nd Queensland Music Award in May.
To celebrate the release of Milyakburra, Emily is hitting the road again, this time with fellow songstress Alice Skye for a co-headline national tour. Launching their respective debut albums, the two young singer songwriters share not only an indigenous heritage but a beautiful friendship that will make for unforgettable live show. For more tour details visit Emily’s facebook.