26 March 2019
Yulugi is a new collaboration between Gumaroy Newman, an Indigenous song man and didjeridu player descending from the Gamilaroi and Wakka Wakka nations, and Keyna Wilkins, a NSW-based composer and musician (piano, flute). Yulugi is a dialogue across cultures, inspired by the Australian landscape and animals, and accompanied by projected imagery. Keyna Wilkins explains how the collaboration came about.
I met Gumaroy while working with violist Carl St Jacques for his solo viola album launch Elemental Prayer in 2017 at Mosman Art Gallery. I was accompanying one of Carl's pieces on the piano, and doing a solo improvisation - Gumaroy was opening the show with a performance involving poetry and didjeridu playing. We got on well and I was struck by how great a player he is (as well as being a nice guy).
For a while I have been fascinated by Indigenous music and the original cultures of this continent and have been trying to find a way to explore this through music. I contacted Gumaroy late last year, and discovered he was interested in collaborating with Western instruments as well. So, we met for a jam, and soon it was clear that we both loved the intermixing and merging of our sound worlds. Since then we have had a few sessions. Each time, new territory is explored and the music seems to flow effortlessly.
In terms of style, I have been classically trained and have branched into jazz and flamenco, but am most comfortable in the space in between all these styles where these textures merge and coalesce. I found it very natural to freely improvise with Gumaroy. For both of us, music is profoundly spiritual, especially ensemble improvisation, when the musicians are on the same wavelength. For me it's personal spirituality - connecting to my inner self through sound, and trying not to think or plan anything, completely flowing with the moment: a stream-of-consciousness in a musical sense.
At the same time, we are listening intently to each other and having a musical dialogue. In terms of visual inspiration, we're trying to convey the heart of Australia with dream-like sequences alongside landscape depictions and animal mimicry, and echoes of tribal lores, drawing on a myriad musical influences and aiming to create a unique and authentic soundscape of Australia.
'Yulugi' means play, dance or have fun in Gamilaroi, one of the Northern NSW Indigenous languages. Our duo is being launched on Thursday 11 April at Foundry 616 (Ultimo, Sydney), followed by the thrilling flamenco troupe Noche Flamenkita.
Yulugi 11 April at 8;30pm, Foundry 616, Ultimo, NSW - event details in the AMC Calendar
Keyna Wilkins - AMC profile
© Australian Music Centre (2019) — Permission must be obtained from the AMC if you wish to reproduce this article either online or in print.
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