• MRLN and RKM will open for Midnight Oil at this year's WOMADelaide. (Supplied)Source: Supplied
MRLN and RKM are part of a group of 10 artists from First Nations and multicultural communities to take part in a new program, run by WOMADelaide and NSS Academy. The pair will also open for Midnight Oil at this year's festival.
Keira Jenkins

29 Jan 2021 - 3:59 PM  UPDATED 29 Jan 2021 - 3:59 PM

Marlon Motlop AKA MRLN 2020 was about getting 'back to his roots'.

Just like for many artists gigs were limited, but the Larrakia, Kungarrakany and Torres Strait Islander man said it was also an exciting time to create new music.

"It was tough year from a performance perspective, definitely," he told NITV News.

"But what we've seen is some exciting new sounds from people. For me, it gave me some time and space to really hone in on my craft."

MRLN is now kicking off 2021 as the opening act for Vika & Linda and Midnight Oil at WOMADelaide in March, alongside MC Rulla Kelly-Mansell AKA RKM. 

"It's amazing," MRLN said.

"Midnight Oil are such a huge Australian band. It's pretty exciting to be able to open for them at such a big festival."

MRLN said collaborating with RKM - a Tulampunga Pakana man - comes easy.

"We actually know each other from footy," he said.

"But we just sit in a room together and everything is super easy. We write songs about who we are and where we're from.

"He's from Tasmania, so the very south of the country, and I'm from up north so it's really cool that we can meet halfway and make music and get creative together."

MRLN and RKM are also part of a group of 10 artists from First Nations and multicultural communities to take part in a year-long program of workshops and mentoring through WOMADelaide and Northern Sound System (NSS) Academy.

For MRLN, he's excited to see where the program, which will include songwriting workshops, pairing up with Australian music industry mentors, and masterclasses in live performance, will take him.

"I'm stoked," he said.

"To start the year with an opportunity like this is so exciting. But if we get this right, after performing at WOMADelaide, the opportunities are endless.

"I'm super keen for all the opportunities this year."

WOMADelaide director Ian Scobie said he's thrilled to work with NSS to support local emerging talent as they grow their music careers.

“Over many years we have nursed an ambition to help build the future careers of young musicians, not only through experiencing the extraordinary artists who perform at the festival but through a tailor-made development program," he said.

MRLN and RKM will be joined in the WOMADelaide professional development program by Ngarrindjeri singer songwriter Katie Aspel who uses her music as a form of personal storytelling and 17-year-old Nukunu artist Tilly Tjala Thomas whose folk, country and indie pop songs are inspired by her culture.

While the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjantjara Lands in SA’s upper North West corner will also be well-represented with, DEM MOB - the first group to rap in Pitjantjatjara -  and Sonz of Serpent, a New York-style hip-hop group made up of Native Emcee, Native Son and Yowie, also joining in the program.

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