Interview: DRMNGNOW on the power of First Nations music and curating his show for FUSE Darebin

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Interview: DRMNGNOW on the power of First Nations music and curating his show for FUSE Darebin


DRMNGNOW (Neil Morris) has been a staple of the music and arts scene for a number of years now, working on music with acts like Emily Wurramara and Adrian Eagle, as well as presenting his own show on Triple R, Still Here.

Now, as the world moves back to normal and shows can happen with some confidence again, Neil is back out on the road, with a highly-curated show that will be taking place at FUSE.

What you need to know

  • FUSE Darebin is lighting up the northern suburbs with a phenomenal arts and music festival
  • DRMNGNOW’s We Are Song, We Are Dreaming, We Are Country is taking place at the Northcote Social Club
  • It’s happening on Sunday March 20 at 6:30pm. Tickets are free.

Read Melbourne’s most comprehensive range of music features and interviews here.

Neil notes that FUSE have done a great job in supporting his vision for the show, meaning it’s able to take place exactly how it was first imagined, and he’s able to create a space for candour between artists and audiences.

“It’s great that they’ve supported concepts around an Indigenous show,” Neil says. “It’s something that’s been really important to me for quite a long time.

“Having solid conversations with all the artists, and as an artist myself, it’s been one of the things that I value as much as anything: having those conversations.”

Like the work of DRMNGNOW and his First Nations and Indigenous contemporary peers, stories are interwoven magically into their artistic productions, inviting the listener in and enthralling them in his engaging production, no matter how connected they were to First Nations culture previously.

The world of First Nations music rarely fails to carry a heartfelt and emotional story, it inspires a deeply emotional response in all people, and it’s proven particularly effective at engaging those who have never had a stake in the plight of First Nations people before.

“When you have songs that lean on a person’s Indigenous cultural values and cultural connectivity through their songs, even if that’s through what’s considered contemporary genres, and soundscapes and so on, it’s partly the story, but also for me, there’s a spiritual dimension to it as well,” Neil continues.

“I suppose, in the way that it’s often done by an artist, it’s often done in a very inviting way, it’s done in a way that’s full of grace and gratitude as well, it’s done for our connections to this land for a very long time.

“I’d like to think that it lends itself to people being able to feel like they can really be in the experience with the artist.”

Neil has curated a show featuring some of Australia’s best up and coming artists; there’s Djirri Djirri, Fred Leone (one of the Butchella Songmen), as well as music from renowned singer BUMPY, as well as a performance from the amazing Lady Lash.

“The line-up that I put together is one of great respect for those artists, in great admiration, great appreciation for how they practice their craft, and how they are as people in their craft,” Neil says.

“How they are as people is deeply, intrinsically intertwined. They are all artists that have a great sense of respect, which they value to culture is held within themselves and all in their own way, in their own unique way.

“We’ve got Djirri Djirri, who will be opening the event up, but they’re not there just to open the event, they’re traditional custodians of the part of Country where the show is. That means a lot, to have them participate in the show is absolutely vital to this show being able to function in a right kind of way.

“When it comes to the richness of what we can bring to a space, nothing is more powerful than traditional custodians from that very landscape, practising that song and culture and sharing stories as well.”

Gaining the opportunity to create a space in Australia that’s respectful and endearing towards past generations, truly means a lot to Neil, and he hopes it will to you as well: “It’s vital for me, even a show of this nature, that we are the custodians playing our robust leadership role in this event.”


We Are Song, We Are Dreaming, We Are Country is taking place Sunday, March 20, grab your tickets here.