• Adelaide based musician and Larrakia man Jimblah has announced the launch of 'First Sounds' (NITV News )Source: NITV News
Adelaide based musician and Larrakia man Jimblah has announced the launch of 'First Sounds' - a First Nations collective for traditional and contemporary music.
Rachael Hocking

29 Jul 2019 - 9:12 PM  UPDATED 29 Jul 2019 - 9:12 PM

Frustrated with being sidelined by the music industry, a group of First Nations musicians is coming together to demand change.

Forming under the banner 'First Sounds', the collective is breaking ground as the first of its kind to represent Indigenous musicians from across the country and a wide range of musical disciplines.

Currently the collective consists of Yothu Yindi, Shellie Morris, Thelma Plum, Emily Wurramara, Mojo Juju, Mi-Kaisha, Alice Sky, Kee’ahn, The Merindas, Kaylah Truth, Kobie Dee, DRMNGNOW, Dobby, Benny Clark and Jimblah. 

They say the music industry needs a wake-up call when it comes to engaging and working with First Nations artists. One issue founder and hip-hop artist Jimblah has taken particular umbrage with is programming of Indigenous acts on a so-called 'World Stage' at festivals.

"It's just weird and awkward and... I think industry just may make that link between the language or traditional sounds," Jimblah said.

"For a long time we'd just been kind of stomaching it, you know, and just taking any opportunity that we can and feeling like we don't have a voice to speak about that. But, you know, coming off of the back of this year's NAIDOC, you know, voice, treaty and truth - it's like 'the time is now when we can speak up and represent and raise these concerns."

Meanwhile, artists such as DRMNGNOW, aka Neil Morris, are tired of seeing First Nations artists miss out on being programmed on the main stages at major festivals. He says any change in the industry will need to centre First Nations voices.

"This means significant investment and relinquishing some power and space to First Nations peoples to build on our own terms," he said. 

"Token inclusion and good intent is no longer enough. Enough is First Nations voices being central, and First Nations Voices leading. Not as merely one seat at the table, but as a collective voice."

The Collective aims to build on the work of Indigenous artists who have fought for recognition since colonisation. 

Earlier this month, Jimblah started a petition to put pressure on ABC youth broadcaster Triple J to introduce a dedicated weekly First Nations music program, an Indigenous board to curate that content and a quota of First Nations artists played each week. The petition currently has more than 1,500 signatures. 

"We really see Triple J is such an influential entity in the industry there. What a great place to start with, setting a precedent for the rest of the industry, across all levels to stop and take notice that 'Hey, there are these problematic things that are still popping in and now's the time to listen to the First Nations people'," Jimblah said. 

Shellie Morris agrees. The singer-songwriter says when she started out more than 20 years ago opportunities for Aboriginal women in the industry were 'very, very limited'.

"I didn’t realise how difficult it was going to be, with these lack of opportunities with producers and collaborators, and living in the NT," she said.

She says while there's been improvement, there is still a lack of industry support for Indigenous artists 'who have amazing talent', and that moves such as introducing a First Nations dedicated show on Triple J would benefit everybody.

"It just introduces this amazing music that I’ve been a part of. It gives a platform. And you know what, Australia is ready for it," she said.

Having just launched, the Collective has a long road ahead. But Jimblah says it will be worth it. 

"One thing that's been really amazing and inspiring for myself is seeing the unified front. Seeing how powerful that is," he said.

"And we all got different opinions and voices and truths, but it's how we can be patient and work together on that front to elevate what we want."

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