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Byron Shire
June 22, 2021

Aluka and Mullum Music’s big night

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Opening Night at the Mullum Music Festival is Mullum’s premier night of nights.

There will be more than eight artists hailing from Iowa, Berlin, Slovenia, Gambia, Sydney, Melbourne and Mullumbimby showcasing on two stages with two larger-than-life MCs!

It’s one big party in the tradition of the 90s Big Gig. One of the jaw-dropping acts of the night is sure to be Aluka, a three-piece experimental vocal group. Seven spoke with Annabelle Tunley about the creative liaison she shares with Rachael Head and Sally Mortensen.


Aluka-To start with can you tell me a little about your initial inspiration for Aluka? The inspiration behind Aluka was the members’ meeting each other! The band is like a mutual appreciation society for one another and we thought we’d formalise that appreciation further by writing, playing, and hence spending lots of time together. The choice to make acapella or vocal music was a happy secondary accident.

How did you girls happen upon each other? Rachael and Sally have known each other since high school but we all came together while doing a TAFE music course when we were still in our teens. That was back in the day when TAFE cost $250 a year with a healthcare card. Good times.

What is it about the human voice that can be so powerful? The human voice is so powerful because it is universal. It doesn’t matter who you are, we’ve all got one! It’s this common ground that makes people’s singing so relatable and also awe inspiring. I think…

What are the qualities in the voice that you look for when creating music? Is it like orchestrating some sort of vocal soundscape? I guess we let the songs and the subject matter or mood of the song guide us. It is like creating a soundscape and it is a case of trial and error to get the right sounds with the right notes. We have no hidden secrets or tricks; we follow no formula and use no music theory. We hit record on our phones and see where the song takes us.

Do you find yourself hunting for interesting places to sing – environments that change the way you sound? They seem to find us! I guess that was the inspiration for the album! Our band is so portable that we often find ourselves singing when we’re around each other and discovering interesting spaces.

What are you experimenting with at the moment? We’re writing material for a kids’ album! We had a great response from children for our last release and one of our ladies has a little boy so we’re thinking of writing an album for the little ones. Incidentally, it’s not that different from writing any album! You certainly don’t have to dumb it down. Kids are super smart.

Aluka-02--What have been the highlights for Aluka in your few short years together? Recording our album was a dream. We could not have asked for a more fun process or to be so proud of the end result.

There is something almost nostalgic about three women in matching frocks singing together – The Pointer Sisters, The Supremes etc; do you think you borrow from this? What of this tradition do you set out to turn on its head? Well, we certainly don’t wear matching frocks! We’d never agree on the style! We leave that to our dear friends The Nymphs, who do it much better than we ever could! I think we borrow the sisterhood, but in truth we probably learnt that from the Spice Girls and Destiny’s Child with which we grew up. I feel like we plumb very different territory from the Pointer Sisters and the Supremes so I guess our aim is to show a different side of the acapella genre. A more modern and slightly more experimental side in both lyrical content and music.

What should we expect for your performance at Mullum Music Festival? To see music performed that is equal parts innovative and impressive, and that the songs are catchy. We love performing together and love introducing people to a brand of acapella little practised. We love seeing people’s preconceptions of what is sometimes seen as a daggy genre melt away when we sing. It’s a good feeling.

Opening night tickets are strictly limited and always sells fast. Tix are $48. For program and ticketing information go to www.mullummusicfestival.com.


Find this and many other great gigs in Echonetdaily’s North Coast Gig Guide.




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