NIT Exclusive: Dan Sultan on his new album, touring in the regions and what it’s like to make the cover of Rolling Stone

Dan Sultan will headline at this year's Karajini Festival

Almost a decade after his performance in Bran Nue Dae, singer-songwriter Dan Sultan has released a new album Aviary Takes and he’s set for a regional tour, which will include a performance at the Pilbara’s iconic Karijini Experience.

Aviary Takes is Mr Sultan’s fifth studio album and it includes some older tunes from past records as well as covers.

“Things were natural and easy we got everything done in the first few takes. We had a really enjoyable time in the studio, it’s very stripped back,” Mr Sultan told NIT.

The decision to tour the album regionally came about after the support shown for his music by regional Australia.

“The music industry is everywhere—not just in the big cities. Regional places can miss out on a lot as far as bands coming through. I’ve always had a lot of support from regional Australia, so I thought it was important to show up and put on a show,” he said.

As part of the tour, Mr Sultan will be headlining the iconic Pilbara Karijini Experience on Sunday 21st of April.

The festival takes place on the traditional lands of the Banjima people and showcases an array of talent.

Mr Sultan is excited to share the stage with acts such as Gina Williams, Guy Ghouse, Russell Holmes, Deborah Cheetham and Jemma Beech in such a special location.

“I have been there once, it is so peaceful and powerful. I am excited to get out on country, and be in that place,” he said.

Mr Sultan has been strong presence in the Indigenous music scene since his debut album in 2006 and he hopes that his career has helped the progression of Aboriginal music.

“When I started out, there were definitely Aboriginal acts that would go mainstream but there weren’t really many. Ten years ago, I remember standing in line at a supermarket and Jess Mauboy and I were on the cover of Rolling Stone with Meg Washington and Parkway Drive. Gurrumul was on the cover of another magazine. I thought that was pretty powerful.”

“There’s a lot more young Aboriginal artists in the mainstream now which is great. But there’s also a—not necessarily deliberate—unspoken quota on how many are able to crack into the mainstream at any one time. I think it’s a real shame.”

“The fact is, Aboriginal artists are world class, we are the same as anyone else. And that will only get bigger. We aren’t going anywhere … [and] there’s more Aboriginal artists on radio now than there was when I started out. I’d like to think that I played a bit of a part in that and it’s something I’m really proud of …”

The Karijini Experiences, first established in 2013, is an event which connects people to the Pilbara through music, song, story, art and physical activities. The event will offer the experience for visitors to camp in the park whilst also providing photography, astrology and film-related opportunities, along with many others.

CEO of Nintirri Centre in Tom Price, James Jarvis, said the experience is unique due to its setting and the strong sense of country, Aboriginal culture and community.

“The Traditional Owners of Karijini will also continue to play an important role in the Experience, offering plenty of opportunity to share their culture,” he said.

The event runs from the 16th to the 21st of April, when Pilbara weather is at its best.

By Rachael Knowles

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