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January 28, 2021

Interview with Aine Tyrrell

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Tyrrell’s Cultural Smackdown

After living in Australia, for a decade, Irish born singer-songwriter Áine Tyrrell has carved a unique musical path, melding her own Irish roots from the ancient limestone rocks of Country Clare with her respect of the red dirt roads of 60,000 years of Indigenous culture in Australia. It is this longstanding connection between the Irish story and the experience of Indigenous Australia, in regards to colonialism, that Tyrrell calls on in her powerful, gut wrenching call to arms We Call You Now.

The 7-minute ‘cultural smackdown’ is a departure in style and tone for Áine, who gathers force in a wildly emotive spoken word rant that is reminiscent of the musical poetry of rock greats like Patti Smith. This is a woman with something to say, and she’s not going to deliver it sweetly in a song where the words might drift by, she’s going to record a few loops, then drop the guitar and give you the full force of her outrage.

We Call You Now came about after some backlash I got online about being part of the Black Lives Matter movement. It occurred to me that it was from Australians who identified as being Irish in some way. They came at me with the “all lives matter” argument, which is used all too often to try to derail race issues’ says Áine, who was invited by the Bunyarra Culture Collective to be part of Byron’s Black Lives Matter Protest in early June.

She believes the protest had an impact on those in attendance and beyond, because ‘people sat and truly listened.’

‘They listened to the experience of the local community here, and the broader Indigenous experience. It made people think a lot about their own contribution to the system – the systematic oppression. It was such a peaceful and uniting feeling and showed that we can all do something to dismantle the systems that have oppressed people. The protest was an inclusive conversation – it wasn’t an aggressive message. It felt intimate, and I think when people have intimate conversations like that it touches deeply.’

The feelings from the march, the backlash, and her own experiences as an Irish person in Australia grew in loudness in Áine’s head over the weeks that followed, until she finally penned We Call You Now in one sitting.

‘I have dealt with people’s complex emotions over their connection to Ireland and simultaneously have been involved in a lot of Indigenous spaces that share some similar complexities, due to colonisiation.

‘In Ireland we get the stories of people who left. In Australia I learned the stories of those who arrived. Once I began to listen and understand the Indigenous perspective, it became clear to me that there was a part of the conversation on colonisation and racism that was missing.  I guess somewhere deep inside I decided I needed to write a seven minute history lesson – an ancestral smack down’, said Tyrrell.

‘I didn’t mean to write the song. My brain was bubbling over with emotion after the protests and online comments, and it just vomited out of me. It wasn’t an intentional moment – it came from deep, and it pushed its own way forward.’

‘What I am saying in the song is that you can’t claim a part of Irish identity without understanding the wider history. You can’t try a little bit on like “our people were once enslaved too” and then use that as an uninformed argument to not stand with those who are being oppressed today. The song is a call to arms, for not only Irish decendants, but all white people here who have lost their country for all the variety of reasons, to rise up in support, rather than being part of systems that push down the Indigenous community’.

We Call You Now was recorded at Harry Angus and Emily Lubitz’s studio with Byron Bay engineer James Boundy.  Indigenous singer-songwriter Emily Wurramurra sent through her vocal tracks from where she is based in Tasmania. ‘I owe so much of the song to her because we toured together here and in Ireland, and the track reflects many of the conversations we had together’ said Áine.

The track also features the Bunyarra Culture Collective; Dhinawan playing didgeridoo, and two young film makers, Coedie McCarthy and Jayman Leigh Drahm, made the filmclip.

The new song and the clip will be released 14 August and the launch will be celebrated with music, dance, art, visual projections and fire ceremony at the Brunswick Picture House with Áine Tyrrell and the Bunyarra Culture Collective on 21  August. Doors open 7pm. Ainetyrrell.com/touring

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