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Uncharted Musical Territory

The Territory music scene is booming, with artists as diverse as Caiti Baker, Gawurra and Baker Boy making waves around Australia – and internationally. 2017 was a massive year for music lovers around the world to sit up and take note of the stories we have to tell – and the unique ways we have of telling them. 

So what can we expect Territory musos to deliver in 2018? Who are the artists we can expect to hear more from, and how will the Territory scene capitalise on some of the great achievements of the last few years? Mark Smith, Executive Director of Music NT, spoke to Off The Leash about last year’s successes, and what he’s looking forward to this year. 

What were your highlights of 2017?

2017 was a year when the Territory hit the national stage in a big way. We had more than 10 acts playing Nannup Festival in WA early in the year, and a host of acts including Yirrmal, Guwurra, At the Dakota and Dave Garnham pulling off some massive national tours. There were also four NT acts showcased at the Bigsound music conference – which has never happened before. It’s also been exciting to watch the rise and rise of Baker Boy; Caiti Baker taking the country by storm; and the emergence of Kardajala Kirridarra from remote community to national stage.  

Artists like Caiti Baker, Gawurra and Baker Boy have all been Music NT Song of the Year award winners in recent years. How important are these awards for giving Territory musos national coverage?

Awards are a great way for acts to get recognition from their peers for their achievements. The NT Song in particular was set up to provide a platform to showcase the NT to the rest of the country and it feels like this is having an impact. After five years, the awards feel like they are firmly  established – and we are currently working on the plans for this year’s event. We will have some exciting announcements in the coming month.  

Bush Bands Bash, Desert Divas, the National Indigenous Music Awards, and the InTune Music Conference – these are some of the big dates each year on the Music NT calendar. How will these events continue to shape NT music this year?

This year we celebrate 15 years of both the NIMAs and the Bush Bands Bash. Both events have developed into unique, nationally significant pro-grams that shine the light locally on the Territory, but also on the depth  of Indigenous talent across the country. The fact that both of these events are held in the Territory only highlights the Territory’s ability to lead the country in supporting and recognising Indigenous musical talent.  

Who are the Territory acts we should keep an ear out for this year?

Stevie Jean is recording at the moment and with the buzz around her there is the potential to break nationally. Tapestry recently released the debut single off their upcoming album, proving they are one of the most progressive bands to come out of the Territory for a long time. Kardajala Kirridarra are embarking on their first national headline tour and the buzz following their Bigsound showcase is massive. 

Anything else you are looking forward to in 2018?

This year MusicNT will release the inaugural NT Live Music Study and Census which captured the economic and social value of live music in the Territory for the first time. This landmark report shows just how important music is to the Territory and we are excited to launch the campaign to ensure that NT music continues to be supported to grow and prosper into the future. 

INFO musicnt.com.au

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