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Byron Shire
April 21, 2021

Interview with Emily Wurramara

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Back on stage at Bluesfest

Emily Wurramara’s childhood was one of water and music. Growing up on Groote Eylandt, days were filled with travel, fishing, and extended family, a mother telling stories of dreams and dolphins that would one day become the seeds of Emily’s music.

Emily, what’s it like getting back on stage again and playing Bluesfest?

It’s deadly! I’m so happy to be touring and singing to actual souls. I’m really looking forward to Bluesfest. The last time I played was in 2016 and I had a ball. I think this year is gonna be an absolute blast!

How did the last year change how you make music or how you want to move forward?

I think for me I reflected a lot on who I am as a Warnindilyakwa woman and being a soul that’s constantly becoming. I feel that now when I write music it comes from a place of healing, understanding, truth, and love.

2020 was a huge year for everyone globally. We all had that big WTF moment; so many things were happening at once that it’s like the world paused in a way and we really saw and felt that no-one is immortal.

Tell me about your collaboration with Áine Tyrrell.

Áine and I tour a lot together, we first met in 2016 when she opened up for me at the Milk Bar in Brisbane for my Black Smoke EP tour.

She’s a dear sister to me. A powerful, magnificent, inspiring force and when she sent me her demo of her latest single We call you now and asked me if she should record it. I was like big YES, so to have lent my vocals to this deadly song was an honour.

We both sing about things that we’re passionate about and it’s so, so important to have your sister in the industry behind you when you’ve got shit that means that needs to be said and heard.

You both have been running decolonisation songwriting workshops. I’d love to know how you both approach that.

We had a couple of discussions and that was interesting for me to look at songwriting in that way. We chose a song each for this workshop Pretty Pretty, which I’ll be playing at Bluesfest, and We Call You Now.

For me decolonising means freedom and truth.

We can’t be free without facing the truth no matter how hard that is. The discussion was fierce with so many questions and it really got me thinking about what I was singing and how I’m telling my narrative.

Overall it was a great discussion and I think I’m definitely always learning.

Aine and I always have these discussions.

What should we expect for Bluesfest? Tell us about your band!

My band are pretty cool. Usually I play a 3-piece: Guy on drums, Roy (who also plays in King Stingray) on electric, and Troy on bass. Buuuuuuutt for Bluesfest I’m bringing on my brother Mandawuy on keys and Serina and Áine on BVs. Each just as amazing and talented, but all so down to earth and just solid human beings. We’ve got a good crew for Bluesfest. 

I’ve got a mix of some of the songs on my EP Black Smoke and my album Milyakburra, and some new ones of my to-be-named album, haha. 

I’m just so excited and grateful to be playing at Bluesfest and I cannot wait to have a dance with my friends.

Emily Wurramara is one of the must-see acts at Bluesfest.


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