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Chasing Ghosts take listeners on Ancestors' journey

Rachael Knowles -

First Nations-led punk rock band Chasing Ghosts released their debut single from their upcoming EP, Homelands.

The single, Summer, recounts the horrors of the 1856 Towel Creek massacre through the eyes of Aboriginal Elder, Baaba (Babaang) Jack Scott, the only survivor of the massacre.

Thungutti frontman Jimmy Kyle described his anxiety around the song creation.

"I wanted to make sure that the song was given the space, the time, the respect and the protocols that were needed to do it right," he said.

"That was something in my mind that was so important was to ensure that my community back home was happy with it.

"It speaks to the legacy of Uncle Baaba Jack Scott and it was important to make sure his family were happy with it. Making sure the storytelling was done in a way that there was a little bit of artistic flare but it, for the most part, is verbatim."

The single features the artwork by Wiradjuri/Ngiyampaa creative Charlotte Allingham, otherwise known as @coffinbirth on Instagram.

Cover art for 'Summer' by Charlotte Allingham @coffinbirth. Photo Supplied.

The song hears Kyle weave English and Thungutti language.

"I'm a fan of learning language and in particular Aboriginal languages. It reveals heaps, a lot about our past, a lot about the way our Old People think and thought and the humility in our people," he said.

"In the past I hadn't used language in a narrative because I didn't want it to feel cheesy or forced, but this [song] ... in the way that language was peppered in ... for me as a songwriter, it's what the song asked for.

"I wanted to do something that spoke to local identity and local community and that could be shared to the mainstream."

The Summer video clip is an emotional and powerful visual experience.

"The young actor who plays the chap with the flag around his neck ... he was having a spiritual kind of awakening to Aboriginal culture for the first time," Kyle said.

"We explained to him every process, what the song meant, why we were doing what we were doing, what the visuals meant.

"His whole perspective on Aboriginal culture shifted entirely to immense appreciation, and a pride in being on set.

"We knew at that point we were creating something challenging but important."

The band's new EP, Homelands, is set to drop early this year and is set to be a collection of work that takes on the big conversations.

"I didn't have the rules on me on this record, I decided I was going to write in a way that I wanted to write. I put the songs first, they're all topics that are really, really challenging," said Kyle.

"This whole EP is driven by these very sensitive topics in an attempt to navigate through them and bring people on the journey."

"They're all still very catchy songs and enjoyable but I wanted to approach really challenging issues and, hopefully, do them justice."

Kyle noted that Summer, being the first release off Homelands, attempts to approach the subject of white nationalism.

"White nationalism and entitlement permeate quite a lot of stuff, people sometimes don't notice it, sometimes they're more delicate and polite with it, and other times we're really confronted with it. What the songs initially tries to address is that there is a third option," Kyle explained.

"It is to learn more about us and to see and to reach out to one another, to have an affectionate relationship with one another. At some point we embrace one another.

"That is going to require truth-telling which will be painful, but in my mind as a musician and as a human being and as a proud Thungutti person, is what do we leave for our kids and grandkids if these two communities do not know each other better?"

Kyle also referenced the continued legacy of colonialism in our contemporary names.

"My nephew is going to be the first Aboriginal captain at his school, but his high school is named after Governor James Stirling ... why is my nephew going to a high school named after a mass murderer?" he said.

"If we think about what the Christchurch Massacre did to people, and if we think about what the massacre at Port Arthur did to people, that impact on the country and the world â€" what do people think hundreds and thousands of massacres on innocent people in this country did? What did they think that did?

"When you hear people say, 'Be grateful it could have been worse'. No, it could not have. 90 per cent of our population was wiped out, do not ask me to be grateful for that.

"Empathise with your fellow human beings ... we lived through the invasion; we are still in it today."

Kyle noted that coming together begins with listening.

"Unless you are one of the roughly 800,000 people who has thousands of generations of Ancestors here ... unless you are one of those people, an Aboriginal person, you should be listening," he said.

"You should be trying to understand and be more curious rather than judgemental because we have to build a close relationship.

"Right now, it feels like Reconciliation has been all about Aboriginal people being very, very patient. It feels a lot like governments not being interested in actually changing."

Chasing Ghosts will be touring later this month. For more information, head to their Facebook page here.

By Rachael Knowles

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