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April 17, 2021

Man of the world

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Mandy Nolan

Xavier Rudd is renowned for being a one-man-band setup with a half-dozen guitar choices, three didgeridoos and various styles of native drum.

This year Xavier will embark on the next adventure as frontman to Xavier Rudd & The United Nations. Featuring guitar, bass, drums, percussion, keys, horns, flute and backing vocals, the collaboration brings together musicians from all corners of the globe with diverse musical influences representing the cultures of Australia, Indigenous Australia, South Africa, Samoa, Germany and Papua New Guinea.

Hi, Xavier. Congratulations on your new project – it’s really an amazing achievement.

Can you give me some background on this project – what was the inspiration for bringing so many musicians from different cultures together?

Thanks! It’s something I’ve wanted to do for years. I always wanted the time to be right so I’ve really taken my time with it.

It’s an amazing collaboration of different people, all with strong ancestors and stories of great magnitude, coming together to play music with all of their individual styles… It’s very powerful.

In a political landscape of fear and disharmony, what do you see as the bigger importance of a project like this?

The messages in the record talk about simply respecting creation, aside from human beings… It’s sort of like the concept of everyone putting down their weapons and their fears and their barriers as humans and remembering the earth. We’re just a natural part of the earth, and so often our egos lead us away from that natural energy.

MKT_Xavier-Rudd_SDo you think music can change the world? Or, at least, some of the people in it?

Music is the world. I think that the world as we know it comes from song, originally. Every culture has their song, but a lot of people have strayed away from that song. The question is, can we change the world to go back to music.

How can we learn from ancient traditions – are they still relevant in our rapidly progressing postmodern world?


Every native person in each place has a key to the energetic connection between the land and that place. Human beings have an energetic connection to the land like a plant does, but we’ve had our egos that have strayed us. Our native custodians in each place still hold those songs, which can be with all of us, but they are the ones who hold it.

So it’s important for anybody who wants to be connected to land to connect to the native song and the native people of that area.

What was the songwriting / song creation process like?

It was like being catapulted around the world at a really fast rate. Just a massive power centre that gave me huge insight into some questions that I’ve been asking. That’s how I remember it. Blue and white and yellow lights running past the memories… at high speeds.

What have been the highlights for you working on this project so far?

The whole thing has been a massive highlight. I just feel stoked to be part of it! It’s a banging band – it’s pumping! Everyone is really great at what they do; I just feel really honoured to be part of it. It’s insane, you know.
We have a great time when we play. We all just feel really elevated and we haven’t even played any shows yet so that’s just at rehearsal and in the studio. When we play shows I think it’s going to be really powerful, it’s going to be really fun.

How does the album translate to the stage?

It will translate pretty close to the record because we recorded everything live. There aren’t a lot of overdubs so the record is pretty much just us playing.

On stage it will be the energy, the spirit we bring as individuals, but in real time that will be with us during the show and the songs will be hitting people through a big speaker system and everyone will be shakin’ their booty.

What should we expect for your show at Bluesfest?

It’s going to pump! It’s going to be really fun.

I believe we’re on before Ben Harper & The Innocent Criminals, which is a big honour; they are such an amazing band. We’ll be excited and we’ll be ready to hit people!

Xavier Rudd appears with The United Nations at the Byron Bluesfest over the Easter weekend – April 2-6.

For ticketing and program information go to bluesfest.com.au.

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