Emily Wurramara on making Black Smoke, incorporating her culture into music & more

Groote Eylandt songstress Emily Wurramara has been celebrating the release of her debut EP Black Smoke – a brilliant and ambitious introductory offering of music from a young artist brimming with potential. Ahead of her run of tour dates with the new material (she’s on tour right into August), Wurramara describes the importance of sharing her culture with her audience, her musical upbringing and more.

Congratulations on the EP – it’s got to be exciting to think that this is going to be the collection of music that a lot of people around the country are going to be introduced to you through? 

Thank you so much. It’s really exciting releasing my first EP, its been such a long journey, a lot of sacrifices has been made to get me where I am today.

Is there a particular song on the record that sticks out to you as a favourite (and why)? 

“Ngayuwa Ngelyeyiminama Nungua (I love you)” –  it’s such a groovy song. Every time I hear it I dance, I love the harmonies, and singing in my language is the best; this is the most beautiful way you can say I love you to a woman in my culture.

I love that you’ve been able to produce a record so balanced and full of texture. Having tracks both in English and in language is also something I believe people are going to be drawn to in particular; I know those songs especially hold a special spot for you, what does it mean to share your culture with others in this way? 

To be able to share my culture through music is such a special feeling, knowing that I’m representing my people I couldn’t be more prouder, music is such a universal language, and in a way I feel its archiving my language for the next generation. My culture is such a huge part of my life, it is my identity.

Describe your musical upbringing – when did your love for music first stem from? 

Well, I was always surrounded by music growing up; at family BBQ’s we’d listen to music ranging from Alan Jackson to Tupac to The Beatles. Being from a very strict cultural family on my mother’s side, I was engulfed in songmen singing the language songs and my uncles jamming in their community bands (Poison Whiskey, Mlyakburra Band, Yillila Band) and on my father’s side, there was a lot of karaoke. My father was a singer back in his younger days, so we would always be jamming or singing along to something! Us Filipinos love our karaoke – music has always been a part of my life, through every aspect.

With this EP in particular, how would you say your songwriting has developed as a result of writing for the record? 

With this EP, my songwriting has developed so much, I’ve been songwriting since I was six years old, when I first moved to Brisbane. I feel very comfortable to put my emotions down exactly how I feel it; I know I have a long way to go but being where I am now, there are no words to express how blessed I am.

What was it like working with David Bridie on the EP? What did he bring to the project? 

David is a music god, he has such wild and crazy ideas, for example in “Ngerraberakernama”, David suggested that we put the ukulele in and it just worked so well! He understands how the music is to be expressed, with the language songs he really made them pop! In “Black Smoke”, he bought in a cellist, who just absolutely killed it! He really bought the emotion and depth out of Black Smoke. To be able to have worked with such a talented crazy guy such as David was such an honour.

You’ve got some exciting tour dates coming up – how has preparation for these shows been treating you? 

I’ve been really nervous with the tour coming up, not gonna lie, but I’ve just been looking after my health, practicing the songs by myself and just relaxing, soaking everything in. I’m just very excited for NT, I can’t wait to see all my family and perform for my community.

How is the rest of 2016 shaping up for you and your music? Where would you ideally love to be at the end of the year in terms of new music, shows and extending your music’s reach? 

I know I have so much to look forward to!! I hope to be back in the studio for another EP, maybe with some deadly collaborations! I really want to bring world music in the mainstream scene; some instruments are just so over looked, and I want to be able to bring that into my music.

Emily is on tour with Black Smoke in July and August!

EMILY WURRAMARA TOUR DATES

June 30th | Wesley Anne, MELBOURNE
with Charles & Maimarosia
Tickets on the door

July 2nd | Nexus Live @ The Lion Arts Centre, ADELAIDE
with Cory Theatre & Vonda Last
Tickets HERE

July 6th | The Cardigan Bar, BRISBANE
Special Guests TBA
Tickets on the door

July 9th | Lazy Bones Lounge, SYDNEY
with Chris Cavil
Tickets on the door

July 17th | Chambers Crescent Theatre, DARWIN
Special Guests TBA
Tickets on the door

July 23rd | Walking With the Spirits Festival, BESWICK NT
Tickets HERE

July 27th | Yirrkala Art Gallery, YIRRKALA
Free Event

July 28th | Groote Eylandt, NT
Free Community Events Across the Island
Check FACEBOOK for details

August 11th | The Milk Factory, BRISBANE
Special Guests TBA
Tickets on the door