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SA duo Electric Fields brings Indigenous culture to Eurovision stage

David Prestipino -

Indigenous music duo Electric Fields have fallen just short of making the final of the iconic Eurovision Song Contest in Sweden overnight but still delivered a powerful performance of First Nations culture to more than 160 million TV viewers across the globe.

The South Australian electronic duo - Michael Ross and Zaachariaha Fielding - created quite the buzz at the in Malmo with their performance of One Milkali (One Blood), becoming just the ninth entrant in 68 years to represent Australia at the epic annual extravaganza.

The pair were joined on stage by Butchulla song man Fred Leone, who played the yidaki (didgeridoo) for the first time on the Eurovision stage, as his tribal families in Garrwa and Butchulla watched on from his home town of Hervey Bay, in south-east Queensland.

"It feels surreal to be playing at the world’s biggest song contest," he said.

In Tuesday's first semi-final, Mr Leone joined vocalist Ms Fielding, keyboardist Mr Ross and back-up singers Brendan Maclean, Alyson Joyce and Simi Vuata, with artwork on his body representing Bunaja, or eagle feathers, and crow footprints on his legs and kneecaps; both birds being central to Mambaliya songlines.

Prior to their semi-final, Mr Leone said it was an honour to bring an instrument more than 65,000 years old and known across the world to the iconic annual contest.

"Adding that deep, spine-tingling rumble to a modern dance song is something extra special," he said.

While Electric Fields' 'killer performance' of One Milkali had the audience in raptures, Eurovision judges felt differently, with Ms Fielding commenting to media backstage the pair's snub could inspire their next big hit.

“We felt like rock stars. That audience, they were just giving. It’s going to be a memory that will be embedded with us for the rest of our lives," she said.

“We can write about these things,” she added, suggesting a song titled 'You Got It Wrong' might be next on the cards. 

“We’re creative people. We’re going to create songs out of it because that’s what we do. You can write songs of heartbreak.”

Mr Ross said their Eurovision performance was not possible without the backing of several supporters, and they approached the contest and the future promotional opportunities it creates "with open hearts".

"It’s been a major undertaking for a lot of people ... we’re so proud of what we've just done." he said. 

The music won't stop for Electric Fields, with more exciting projects and performances on their schedule.

“I am relieved now, because we can move on with the path that is ahead of us, which is albums and New York and [a collaboration with] the Darwin Symphony Orchestra," he said.

“Keep an eye on our story because, even though Eurovision is a major, major deal, a major moment, it’s actually not the best of what we’ve got coming."

Only 26 of the 37 countries in this year's contest progress to the final, with Croatia, Switzerland, Italy, Ukraine and Ireland the favourites for Sunday morning's (Australian time) contest, with regular favourites Spain, Germany, France and the UK also finalists.

The 2024 contest in Sweden comes 50 years after Swedish uber group ABBA won with their hit Waterloo.

Watch the full performance of Electric Fields in the semi-final on SBS this Friday at 7.30pm EST, with the second semi-final broadcast live on Friday at 5am EST and the grand final on Sunday at 5am, with a replay that evening.

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