Soft and strong, powerful and poignant, Wergaia and Wemba Wemba woman Alice Skye has unveiled her new album I Feel Better But I Don’t Feel Good.
Released via Bad Apples Music, I Feel Better But I Don’t Feel Good serenades listeners with Skye’s iconic style, speaking honestly about love, identity, mental health and culture.
Her first album release since Friends With Feelings in 2018, I Don’t Feel Better But I Don’t Feel Good flexes Skye’s growth as both an artist and a young Aboriginal woman.
“The albums go hand in hand, the songs on Friends with Feelings I wrote when I was between 16 and 20. I’m only 26 now but quite a bit has changed,” Skye told NIT.
“It’s been a really nice process the second time around, I went into everything really blind when I did Friends with Feelings, I had no idea. That’s still very much the case now, but I’m a little less clueless, I have a little bit more knowledge behind me now.”
Skye syncs her song writing with her feelings, and taps into a place of vulnerability and honesty — a place often reflected back at her from her listeners.
“The content of my songs are talking about emotions, I am emotionally aware but I’m not always great at talking about it in my regular life. It’s nice to be able to write about it,” she said.
“For me, connection is what music is, I love it. What I find in music, is that people are pulled into feelings easier by words.
“To have my thoughts and feelings reflected back at me by someone I don’t know, it’s so special — it’s what I get out of music.”
The 10-track album concludes with Wurega Djalin. The song is the first which features Skye singing in Wergaia, her language.
Skye describes her coming to the decision to include language on the album as a “journey”.
“It is still a journey, it feels like it will constantly be a journey. I’ll constantly be learning more about my family and our language,” she said.
“I can’t speak it conversationally … that was a big worry I had about singing in language, I was worried I wasn’t going to do it right or I wasn’t going to do it justice.
“Even at times, I felt as though I didn’t have the right to [sing in language], sitting with that feeling and being confronted with those sorts of feelings really fed into the whole meaning of the song.”
Wurega Djalin talks to the experiences of First Nations peoples having their language taken, and the journey of coming back to it.
“This isn’t just about me, it’s about so much more — it’s my family,” she said.
“The whole point was to take our languages from us and discourage us from speaking them. It might not be perfect, but is just my experience.”
“I’m really glad it made it onto the album, I tried to pull back the focus to myself, for myself and for my family. I’m not speaking for everyone, it’s a shared experience for a lot of mob, but I can only speak for myself and my journey.”
With a fan-base that grows by the day, Skye is finding solidarity and providing solace to people from all walks of life.
“It’s so interesting, I get a pocket of men aged 40 and upwards that reach out to me. I never imagined that that would be a demographic that I speak to, but I am so here for it,” she said.
“It’s that idea of who is allowed to sit in their feelings right? My voice is very soft, but anyone can like anything they want. They can change their minds whenever they want.”
In February, Skye toured the Makarrata Project with iconic Australia band Midnight Oil. She also featured on the album, singing Terror Australia.
“It was just so crazy to see all these people together screaming Midnight Oil lyrics, people from all walks of life. [Midnight Oil] have such an intergenerational fan base. I love those shows as it just brings everyone together,” Skye said.
“Midnight Oil have been using their platform to speak on Blackfulla rights since the 1980s. My Aunties and Uncles just thought it was the coolest thing that I was asked to do that, and it’s so nice to share that kind of thing with them.”
From being a young girl from Horsham, Victoria, to now having two albums under her belt and making her mark as an artist, Skye is just a step away from becoming a household name.
“Tiny me would think that it’s very cool all the things I’ve been able to do. I’m not very good at acknowledging achievements, I think we all downplay what we do — especially Blak women,” said Skye.
“We don’t want to feel like we want to take up more space than what we think we’re allowed. I’m just so proud and glad that I’ve kept doing it, even though I have no idea most of the time what I’m doing.
“Sometimes I think that this music thing is too stressful, or too hard. But I love it, it’s such a big part of me and I’m really really thankful that I can do it.”
By Rachael Knowles