From WAT to Wominjeka: Bumpy steering Melbourne Music Week’s ‘beautiful celebration’
23.11.2021

From WAT to Wominjeka: Bumpy steering Melbourne Music Week’s ‘beautiful celebration’

Bumpy Melbourne Music Week
Words by Talia Rinaldo

For nine consecutive Melbourne Music Week nights this December, Melbourne/Naarm will come alive with the sound of live music, both indoors and on the city streets.

The program this year is massive, with over 300 artists playing nearly 70 events around the city with a focus on local musicians, female artists, the LGBTQI+ community, Aboriginal talent and other diverse cultures.

Kicking off the annual bonanza of local music is Opening Night’s Wominjeka at MPavilion in Queen Victoria Gardens, which promises to be an iconic celebration of First Nations artists.

Keep up with the latest music news, festivals, interviews and reviews here.

Following on from last year’s stunning Wominjeka display, curated by Kee’ahn, this year sees that honour passed on to proud Noongar woman and soulful vocalist and songwriter Bumpy who has put together a truly special collaboration of First Nations musicians.

Named after the Woi-wurrung word for “welcome”, Wominjeka is a musical evening that will feature performances by Emma Donovan & The Putbacks, Squid Nebula, the aforementioned Kee’ahn Murrundaya Yepengna Dance Troupe, Izy, and dj pgz.

“I’ve been lucky and so honoured to be asked to put this together,” says Bumpy.

“I’m really excited to be engaged and just showcase amazing First Nation’s artists for the opening night. It’s really important on opening that we acknowledge where we’re standing and working and moving on. I’m just so excited with this line-up, I can’t wait for this night.”

Collaborating to promote and provide a space to celebrate First Nations cultures, a Welcome to Country and Smoking Ceremony will be presented by the Wurundjeri Corporation, followed by performances with Bumpy actually joining in on the festivities, performing with Melbourne five-piece Squid Nebula on vocals and keys.

Making a name for themselves as one of Melbourne’s most vibrant bands in the soul, jazz and disco scenes, Squid Nebula has cemented themselves as a mainstay in the scene, building their work around collaboration and connectivity.

Alongside Squid Nebula, Bumpy was excited to land Emma Donovan & The Putbacks on the lineup. Acclaimed Indigenous vocalist Emma Donovan and Melbourne rhythm combo The Putbacks burst onto the Australian scene with their album Dawn in 2015, announcing a new voice in Australian soul music. Since then, Emma’s songwriting is optimistic, impassioned, and bruisingly honest and references her heritage in her music by singing in the traditional language of the Gumbaynggirr people, while The Putbacks’ music is fluid, live and raw. It’s a collaboration that sits perfectly within the Wominjeka lineup, reflective of everything the event stands for.

“When I was booking the event, I wasn’t entirely sure if it was going to go ahead, so I was like ‘okay if this happens, who would I really LOVE to see on the lineup,” she explains.

“I think it showcases the First Nations musicians that are prevalent in Melbourne at the moment. The fact that Emma Donovan and The Putbacks can jump on is just amazing; they’re making waves at the moment, releasing two albums, Crossover and Under These Streets, in 10 months.

“I think the entire Wominjeka lineup – with Kee’ahn and Naarm’s Izy as well – it’s just a beautiful representation of that First Nations prevalence in the Melbourne music scene at the moment.”

While recognised for her role in Squid Nebula and as a performer in the First Nations collective DRMNGNOW, the past couple of years has also seen Bumpy emerge out of Melbourne’s expansive music scene with her independent blend of soul, pop and jazz with her solo project.

Her debut release ‘Falling’ (Sept 2020) caught national and international attention and saw her featured in ABC’s NAIDOC Special alongside Emma Donovan and The Putbacks, Uncle Kutcha Edwards and Kee’ahn.

With a raw, soulful sound, the singer-songwriter uses music to explore her identity and truths as a First Nations artist. Capturing you with her mesmerising vocals and her emotional and compelling lyrics, music lovers will be able to witness the Bumpy in her solo form on the second night of MMW as part of the showcase event, WAT Artists Presents Fam Jam.

Founded in 2009 by James Ware, WAT is a Melbourne based arts management and booking agency that represents unique artists, DJs, bands and producers in the electronic realm. The showcase will feature an exciting lineup of live acts from the WAT roster alongside Bumpy, including the likes of neo-soul artist Akosia, tantric electro-jazz band Claps, the esteemed Dan Cut Copy (DJ set), Loure, Morgan Wright and dance powerhouse, Simona Castricum.

“This showcase is all about celebrating the people on the WAT roster and it very much a family affair,” Bumpy shares. A captivating and utterly sincere live performer, Bumpy’s performance here will be a kaleidoscopic homage, featuring her debut single and a preview of her forthcoming single, due to be released early next year.

“To keep it going, they’re even putting on a ‘kick-ons’ party of their roster as well as the Sub Club. The whole evening is just going to be a really beautiful celebration of the roster of local talent.”

For Bumpy, being a part of a community-driven week showcasing the best local music across some of Melbourne’s best venues is an honour. With eight huge nights of non-stop music with local, interstate and international acts, MMW is perhaps the most important event for people to embrace and attend in 2021.

“The majority of this line-up is local so it’s just so important to support all these artists who we haven’t had access to in so long and it just brings people together in a really beautiful way as a community event.

“MMW is a major event bringing back everything out of lockdown, it’s such a time for celebration. It’s so excited that we’re able to come out and celebrate all this amazing talent that is based in Naarm.”

Wominjeka goes down at MPavilion – Queen Victoria Gardens on Friday, December 3. The WAT Artists Presents Fam Jam will take over Max Watt’s on Saturday, December 4. Tickets for both events are available here.