Emily Wurramara is one of music’s most inspiring Indigenous role models, and it’s only up from here

Emily Wurramara is one of music’s most inspiring Indigenous role models, and it’s only up from here

We caught up with Emily Wurramara as she continues her trip around the country with the SummerSalt concert series.

When Emily Wurramara emerged with the 11-track Milyakburra in 2018, she turned heads all across the country. The AIR award-winning and ARIA-nominated album took listeners to Wurramara’s Groote Eylandt home in the Northern Territory, educating and informing in both English and Anindilyakwa language.

It was a special journey, but one that didn’t conclude at Milyakburra‘s closure – Wurramara would step away from the recording space and find the inspiration she needed for album two. The next record in question has no name as yet, but pulls its influence from a series of Wurramara’s life stories, and sees her at her most vulnerable yet.

Before Wurramara releases her sophomore album sometime this year, we caught up with the inspiring artist to chat about what 2020 was for her, what it’s like to be back on stage, as she tours with the current SummerSalt concert series, and what we can expect from her next full-length effort.

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There’s no denying 2020 was a super tough year for the music industry, and it forced many of us to rethink and reimagine what we were doing. What was 2020 for Emily Wurramara? 

2020 for me was really interesting, I think it was the longest time that I spent in one place and not on tour, gigging and playing music. It was really interesting to have that time to connect with myself, spend time with my family and just really hold space for myself and writing songs, just really trying to enjoy the time I had and reflecting.

You released ‘Cruisin’ in December – your first new music since the critically-acclaimed Milyakburra in 2018. How did the song come about?

This song kind of randomly came to me. I literally just pressed record on my phone and the words and chords came out. I don’t know where it came from at the time, but a couple of weeks after I wrote the song, my god brother Dion passed away in a car accident and I knew that this song was written for him.

So it’s not just a dedication to him and his beautiful life, but a dedication to celebrating the lives of our lost ones and celebrating our lives and continuing our journey towards peace.

The release of your sophomore album is on the horizon. What’s inspired the new record and how does it differ from Milyakburra?

This new record was inspired by my life stories so far. Milyakburra was a dedication to my home, my country, my language and my matriarchs. This next one dives in deep and I’m super vulnerable on all the songs, inspiring healing, trust and belief in one self. It’s definitely a collection of new songs that I’m looking forward to sharing.

When discussions are had around inspiring Indigenous role models in music, the words ‘Emily Wurramara’ often enter the fray. Your relatable, honest storytelling has captured the imagination of music lovers far and wide, but your influence extends beyond that. What are you hoping to achieve through your music?

I’m so very honoured to have that role and treat this with the utmost respect and honour. I just want to connect people with my music, knowing that my song is healing someone and making them feel peaceful means the world to me.

You’ve played a few shows to kick off 2021. What’s it been like to play gigs again after last year’s extended pause?

It’s been amazing! But having to go out on stage is a bit daunting, and hearing an actual audience is a bit strange, I guess I’m slowly getting used to it again.

You’ll be playing a bunch of shows as part of the SummerSalt Festival series over the coming months, including a show at The Briars on the Mornington Peninsula. What can punters expect from your upcoming SummerSalt performances?

I’m super stoked to even be playing shows and going on tour again! I’ll be singing some old songs and some new ones as well, so I’m really excited to be sharing that. Storytelling and truth telling is my focus, I like to just let my music do the talking.

What’s next for you? Have you thought much beyond your album release, or is that the main focus for now?

I think for now I’m focussing on this new album. It’s incredible when you find your strength and stand in your power and what magic comes out of that, but that takes time you know, so I’m not in a rush.

Emily Wurramara is set to take the stage as part of SummerSalt at The Briars, Mt Martha, on Saturday February 20. Keep up to date with Wurramara via her website and Facebook page.