Lead vocalist and songwriter of the all-female band Karadajala Kirridarra Eleanor Dixon talks to NITV about the band's latest album and being nominated for the 2018 NIMA’S.
By
Georgia Durmush

10 Aug 2018 - 4:21 PM  UPDATED 10 Aug 2018 - 4:24 PM

Eleanor Dixon, a proud Mudburra woman from Marlinja community, formed a passion and love for music when she was very young. 

“I started singing when I was four in a church, singing a lot of gospel songs and listening to my grandparents sing a lot of traditional songs," she told NITV.

"Everyone in my family sang even on my mother’s side it’s a beautiful thing.”

Eleanor was the first woman to perform at the Bush Bands Bash concert. The music event gives Indigenous musicians living in Central Australia the opportunity to showcase their musical talent with the rest of the Northern Territory and South Australian community. 

"Karadajala Kirridarra name comes from a spirit being, she is a Sandhill Woman. She’s kind of like a goddess."

Eleanor is both a solo artist and a member of Karadajala Kirridarra. The women in the band are from the communities of Marlinja and Kulumindini (Elliot) in the NT, and work with Melbourne electronic producer and vocalist Beatrice Lewis. 

The name of the band Karadajala Kirridarra translates to 'Sandhill women' in Mudburra language, and holds a significant cultural meaning.

“Karadajala Kirridarra name comes from a spirit being, she is a Sandhill Woman. She’s kind of like a goddess.

"The feeling that developed was to write songs that gave recognition to the Earth as well as to women because Earth is much apart of who we are. That was the main thing we wanted to share."

The journey of the band began when Eleanor met Beatrice in Melbourne. The pair soon began to produce music together and decided they wanted to incorporate rap music into their contemporary electronic. Not long after, they asked Eleanor’s niece, Kayla Jackson, to work with them. 

“The songs that Aunty and I have written some of them have come straight up into language and others in English,”

Passionate about keeping language strong and the need to embrace culture, the group teamed up with Elder, poet and Eleanor’s Aunty Janey Dixon. 

Janey and Eleanor work together to finds ways to bring Mudburra language into the band's songs. 

“The songs that Aunty and I have written some of them have come straight up into language and others in English,” Eleanor said. 

Kardajala Kirridarra won the 2016 NT Song of the Year, and performed at festivals including Golden Plains Festival and Barunga Festival.

The band's music explores themes such as the importance of Country, cultural identity and the challenges of walking between two different colliding worlds: the Black and the White.

Through the wide use of instrumentals like clap sticks, seed pods, vocals and music programs, the band brings listeners to their country and homelands of Marlinja and Kulumindini communities. 

Music as a tool for change 

For the leading vocalist, the band's main mission through their music is to celebrate the power of feminine energy while also connecting and empowering Indigenous women. 

In particular, the band hopes to remind all women of the importance of Mother Earth. 

“To empower our mob, our women but also remind all women that every action and every intention that they set out into the world they have to always remember that Earth is one of the greatest mothers of them all,” Eleanor said.  

“Every Aboriginal woman carry’s so much knowledge and wisdom that has been passed down by our grandmothers."

The song ‘Two worlds collide’ from their latest album Bardakurru Ngurra comments on the challenges First Nations women face when living in two colliding worlds.

“I think writing the song comes from a place of spiritual level. Trying to be like, how do I fit in as a spiritual being in two of these worlds. There are so many places where you are trying to fit in how do you do it?,” Eleanor said.  

What’s next for Karadajala Kirridarra? 

More recently, Karadajala Kirridarra is set perform at the 2018 National Indigenous Music Awards (NIMA’s), along with other major music acts like Baker Boy, Yirrmal and the Central Australian Women’s Choir.

The band has also been nominated for two awards including Album of The Year for Bardakurru Ngurra, and Song of The Year for Ngurra.  

“I am really grateful, it's great to see all our hard work and what we do go back into community. It’s an honour and it's really a beautiful thing that people from the NT are being recognised along with our languages.”  

NIMA’s is an annual music festival that showcases Indigenous music talent. The festival invites leading and emerging Indigenous artists and bands to perform under the stars at the Amphitheatre in Darwin.  

“There are a lot of things we want to do, but for me it's wherever the music takes us,” Eleanor said. 

“We are very humble and for us its about the music than the success."

Tune NITV's Facebook Page on Saturday 11 August at 7pm to watch Karadajala Kirridarra perform live at the 2018 NIMA’s.