Kardajala Kirridarra melt traditional with contemporary in new track ‘Ngabaju’
If you consider this land’s very long and very rich history, it can be surprising to think that we only really hear such a small, select type of music. Well, KARDAJALA KIRRIDARRA, which translates to “Sandhill Women”, have arrived and they plan to change all that. With their self-titled debut album slated for a July 7th release, as well as having the prestigious NT Song of the Year award under their belt, Kardajala Kirridarra are setting themselves up for an amazing year with the drop of ethereal new song ‘Ngabaju (Grandmother’s Song)’.
A quick history lesson: the members of Kardajala Kirridarra were brought together by the Barkly Regional Council’s ‘Barkly Desert Cultures’ multimedia program, which was aimed at using art, like music, to express the social issues of young people growing up in the Barkly region of Northern Territory. Vocalist Eleanor Dixon met producer Beatrice Lewis and thus Kardajala Kirridarra was born. Add in Eleanor’s aunty Janey Dixon as well as MC Kayla Jackson, and you have the completed and current lineup of this gorgeous and important group.
‘Ngabaji (Grandmother’s Song)’ is very much the band’s raison d’être. Since the band’s inception, they have set out to empower women across all aspects and across all stages of life. The song is an understated, and at times haunting, electronic journey that never beams too loud but nevertheless it shines so very brightly. Sung in the seldom-heard language of Mudburra, as well as Jackson rapping in English, the song is an entrancing dream taking us through history while keeping us firmly planted in the present. “Now that I’m older I see what you mean to me/I see the kind of woman I’m meant to be/I want you to know that I gave my daughter your name/Didn’t know it was possible to feel this much pain,” Jackson spits over a traditional clap-stick helmed beat, whose melancholy and hurt that she has drenched her verse in is almost tangible.
Kardajala Kirridarra are very truly artists of Australia, and you’d be doing yourself a disservice not to hear what they have to say.
Words by JACKSON LANGFORD