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The Merindas gear up for a jam-packed 2019

The Merindas have been quietly working their way around Australia playing gigs since their first high-profile set launching the 2012 film The Sapphires, but since they moved to Melbourne in January, their hard work is starting to pay off.

2019 looks to be the year the pair become household names, starting in February when they play the Yaluk-ut Weelam Ngargee festival in Melbourne’s City of Port Philip, and then play with Yothu Yindi & The Treaty Project in 2019 (you heard it here first) in what can only be considered a huge honour for any Indigenous artist.

Candice Lorrae is 32 and a Jawoyn woman born in Darwin. Kristel Kickett is 30 and a Noongar woman from Tammin in Western Australia. They first went to music college together in Perth and later connected when Lorrae invited Kickett to come and sing Motown hits with a tribute group. But soon the pair decided to break out on their own and become The Merindas, an Eora word for “beautiful woman”.

The name fits well with the new aesthetic the pair has created for themselves, one quite removed from their Motown beginnings. They’re now rocking a warrior queen vibe and sing about female strength and empowerment. They describe the sound of their upcoming debut album as “electronic with a lot of harmony, a dance hall feel, with a lot of afro beat, hip hop, R&B” mixed in with traditional language.

“We call it a warrior feel,” Lorrae explains, “so when you’re listening to it you just feel empowered.”

If their song ‘We Sing Until Sunrise’  is anything to go by, then fans are in for an absolute treat with the upcoming album. It gets you moving no matter how you feel, and the use of language gives it depth and beauty. Together the pair have been writing for about two-and-a-half-years and record all their songs at home, before sending the files to their Perth-based producer who helps to refine the sound.

In the past year, one of the duo’s highlights has been playing Brisbane’s BIGSOUND and the other was playing an open-air gig in Federation Square, which they said had a really excellent vibe. With a debut album set to hit early in 2019, the pair is focused on playing as much of Melbourne’s famous festival scene as they can, saying their sound and look is perfect for that style of live festival performances. 

When they first arrived in Melbourne, The Merindas saw a poster for the Yaluk-ut Weelam Ngargee festival and said “we’ve gotta go there and get to know everybody”, Lorrae says. “When we got there we were thinking we’ve got to perform here next year.

Just a few months later they were performing at a flag-raising ceremony at St Kilda Town Hall and the invitation to play the festival was signed, sealed and delivered. Since launching in 2006, the Indigenous Arts & Cultural Festival has grown into a revered music, dance, film, marketplace and sustainability program.

The party kicks off with a concert at St Kilda’s Memo Music Hall with Mojo Juju and The Merindas, then an open-air family festival will open the following day at O’Donnell Gardens. It’s set to be one of the highlights of the year for The Merindas duo, along with the huge honour of playing with Yothu Yindi.

As Lorrae explains, “What we’ve been working on for so many years is all to do with timing and I think this is the right time for us now.”

Yaluk-ut Weelam Ngargee kicks off with a concert at Memo Music Hall on Friday February 1 and continues as a free family festival on Saturday February 2 at O’Donnell Gardens. Visit ywnf.com.au for more information.