The Big Issue : Edition 542
THE BIG ISSUE 28 JUL – 10 AUG 2017 31 SONGLINE IN THE SAND culture with modern life is just a part of who we are, and Kardajala Kirridarra’s song ‘Two Worlds Collide’ conveys this beautifully. “Ancient time in a new paradigm,” they repeat – a positive and invigorating way to imagine our future. There are other integral themes that run through the album, like the power of women in her community. “[It’s about] letting everyone know that we are still here, alive and fighting,” she explains. “I feel like now it is so important that women take back control in the community to empower each other and pave the way for our children so we are the ones that hold the power.” Feminism and passing on the stories of her mother and grandmother are a hugely important part of what Dixon does. “Too much attention has been focused on the work men do in community, but we are changing that with our stories,” she says. Music with a message can often feel a little didactic, but there is nothing clunky or preachy about how Kardajala Kirridarra celebrate the black matriarchy. In ‘Ngabaju (Grandmother’s Song)’, sweeping beats are punctured by a painful reality, where the knowledge Dixon’s grandmother shares isn’t appreciated by the rest of the country. She sings, “I gave my daughter your name/I didn’t know it was possible to feel this much pain.” It is this combination of loss and hope that marks Dixon’s music and distinctive style. “Anyone can sing,” she says. “But it’s more important that stories about our women are told, so I made the decision that I would be truthful to me and where I am coming from – a remote community and language group.” Dixon knows that it will be the women’s own actions that pave the way for more of their stories to be told. And the Aboriginal matriarchy is re-emerging. In Melbourne alone, Kimberley Moulton’s exhibition RECENTRE; Sisters elevates us, and the Real Blak Tingz collective celebrate women’s sovereignty in their exhibition at the Koorie Heritage Trust. Kardajala Kirridarra’s music echoes this. Fame and industry expectations might not be on Dixon’s agenda, but there is something wondrous about the layered music she creates, and a sense that a growing audience will follow. » Timmah Ball is a writer and urban researcher of Ballardong Noongar descent. » Kardajala Kirridarra’s self-titled album is out now.