• Jarrod Smith, Serwah Attafuah and Birrugan Dunn-Velasco front Sydney-based three piece 'Dispossessed'. (Dispossessed)Source: Dispossessed
Following the release of their first album 'Insurgency', NITV had a chat with the Dispossessed crew about promoting resistance and educating the public through their music.
Karina Marlow

6 Jul 2016 - 1:30 PM  UPDATED 6 Jul 2016 - 1:33 PM

How did the band come together?
Birrugan: Just being young, crazy and believing in justice, I wanted to play in a band that spoke about our mob’s reality to get it across to colonial Australia.
Serwah: I was one of the last original members of the band. Birrugan met me on the street one night walking to a party and asked me to be the vocalist… Now I am one of the guitarists. We have had some very talented and special friends in the band previously.
Jarrod: I joined the band earlier this year but I know they formed it last year and the lineup up has shifted over the last 12 months to what you see now.

What is the significance of the band’s name, Dispossessed?
Birrugan: Just telling it like it is. Everyone is dispossessed in someway shape or form but primarily our mob. We were the first hit in this country by a larger force that afflicts all under it, therefore our plight for humanity and existence must be paramount to solve the rest.
Jarrod: The significance lies in the history of our people and the 300 or so years of oppression of foreign settlers
This is what we represent as a band and what we stand up to and give our voice to.

Can you describe your musical style and influences?
Birrugan: Bits and pieces of different heavy metals, punk and all music that speaks of spirit, resistance and love.
Serwah: A few people have described our music as ‘a rainbow’ because we are never playing just one musical style. We make grindcore, post-punk, shoe gaze, sludge, doom and anything in-between. So long as we enjoy what we are playing and it conveys a feeling or message, I don’t think it matters too much about the genre or style. We hope to expand and experiment with our sound in the next album.
Jarrod: Our style? Indigenous Metal/Indie. Our influences are a mix of everything, from metal to grindcore, to screamo to stuff like rap, hip hop and RnB. We mix so much together its hard to say where one style or genre stops and another begins.

If you could choose to meet and perform with any artist/band, who would it be and why?
Birrugan: Would love to have a jam with a lot of mob across the country like Gurrumul, Aunty Marlene Cummins, Bart Willoughby, Joey Geia, Warumpi Band, Provocalz and Felon, Marcus Whale. Fullas overseas like Erykah Badu, Flying Lotus, Thundercat, Tosin Abasi, Fishbone, Bad Brains, Run The Jewels, Xibalba, H09909, Clipping and Death Grips would be mad to collaborate with, to name names.
Serwah: Bad Brains or HO99O9 (Horrors). They are both amazing black punk bands that break boundaries of genre.
Jarrod: Probably Mike Patton or Tool, just someone who's really inspired me as a musician.That would be a fun time!

The metal/punk scene is not normally associated with racial diversity: how does your background affect your music?
Serwah: Part of my heritage is Ghanian. We have a genre there called ‘Highlife’ which is like an upbeat funky kind of rock. I try to replicate that style sometimes in the shoegaz-y parts of our songs.
Jarrod: I feel that people believe us more, because we are indigenous. Not just because it's politics we are singing about and bringing culture in, but it gives people the integrity that we are real and what we sing about is real. 

Your new album Insurgency has been recently released. What is the drive behind those songs?
Birrugan: There's been an insurgency since 1788, just new blood, old stains.
Serwah: Being fed up with this mostly white punk and hardcore scene in Sydney. Its a ‘f*** you’ to the people who say and act like black/women/disenfranchised people can’t make metal or whatever. These songs were written over the past year, mostly written over sleepless nights and days trying to push the album out and trying to write new material for shows.
Jarrod: The drive is very just anger and frustration at the government, people, the continued ignorance of Indigenous issues, the history of black Australia. These all fueled the fire for Insurgency.

What has been the reception to the album?
Jarrod: The reception has been overwhelmingly good actually. It is surprising the amount of people behind us and continues to amaze me every show we play and everyone who we touch.

Why is it so important to you to include lyrics in language in your songs?
Birrugan: It is important to sing in our old ways, to revive what many have lost, our culture I believe is intrinsic to our healing as a people. We’re just trying to express ourselves in a different way through death metal.

How do you use your music as a tool to educate your audiences?
Birrugan: We use dispossessed as a vessel of our ancestor's spirit and voices. As a platform for the rest of our mob, standing up nations wide to promote thought and understanding through inspiration and education to all peoples.
Jarrod: We use the lyrics to educate people, I feel for future music that we'll be shifting more so to music but right now it is lyrics.

Your songs have a strong political message: if were Prime Minister, what changes would you make on Day 1?Birrugan: Everyone seems to ask us this haha. I'd never go for the big job and I can’t speak for anyone but there's a lot you can do in a day. Hand over to Elders to speak for our communities not any paternal government, have self-determined control by our people in our hands. Have our lore and sovereignty respected and ingrained above the occupied colonial regime. Have a big mob takeover to take back what is ours. Destroy the Recognise campaign. Hold trials for reparations. I'd like to call out sellouts such as Stan, Marcia, Warren and Noel that have not helped achieved this as well. There cannot be justice without peace and there cannot be justice without equality.
Serwah: Hand over parliament and the government to the first nations people. Close all these detention centres.