Female hip-hop duo wants to share their confidence with young Indigenous girls

The Merindas are performing this month at Djarmalak: Concerts on Country. Photo supplied by the Merindas.

Tribal hip-hop duo the Merindas are ticking off their bucket list playing the Djilpin Arts’ festival Djarmalak: Concerts on Country in Beswick, NT in late June, alongside a sisterhood of First Nations female artists.

The Merindas, originating as a Motown cover band, caught their break during the film launch of The Sapphires back in 2012.

Now the duo, Candice Lorrae and Kristel Kickett, are living in Melbourne and pursuing their own style.

Although from Darwin, Ms Lorrae has ties to Jawoyn country where Djarmalak will take place.

“We are very excited to be performing out on country, especially country that all my grandmother’s family has ties to. Going there and working out my connection is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time,” Ms Lorrae said.

“We are excited but nervous about what the community will think of our show – it’s so different to anything else, with the charisma and the costume and the dance, especially women doing it and big women, curvy women.”

The women will be bringing a new type of music to the festival, describing it as a blend of tribal, pop, hip-hop and electronic that has an element of culture within it.

“When we are adding cultural elements through our music in language, we must make sure that we abide by the rules with traditional rights and we always make sure we get that permission before we go ahead as it’s so important,” Ms Kickett said.

The pair hope that the concert will open avenues for more connection with remote communities and the chance to inspire future female artists.

“We hope to get our foot in the door – we want to empower the youth and our women in those communities. We have been out to them doing workshops many times, but we’ve never actually had the opportunity to perform,” Ms Lorrae said.

“It’s a new change in genre for Indigenous music, but people like Baker Boy are already doing it. We are females at that forefront. We want people to hear our music for the first time – we want to share our confidence with other young girls and show them we are role models,” Ms Kickett added.

Inspired by powerful women, the Merindas have moved forward from their Motown roots and into their own, individual genre of expression.

“This music has changed us, we’re a lot happier doing us. I grew up listening to a lot of girl groups like Destiny’s Child, TLC and now being in one, I’ve been inspired by that. We put in our own little twist and flavour,” Ms Kickett said.

Djarmalak: Concerts on Country will take place in the remote Aboriginal community across weekends in May, June and July and is a first for Aboriginal communities in the Territory.

It is an homage to the late founding and Artistic Director of Djilpin Arts, Balang T. E. Lewis, who aimed to create a culturally safe space for all to engage, enjoy and reflect upon his message of culture as identity and art as medicine.

More information can be found at: https://www.djilpinarts.org.au/djarmalak-come-together-concerts/.

By Rachael Knowles

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