Walking off the tarmac into the arms of 100 people

Jeremy Marou with his grandmother and Tom Busby. Photo by Brodie Rocca.

The spirit of the Torres Strait takes a front seat in Busby Marou’s upcoming album, The Great Divide.

After a decade away, Jeremy Marou (along with Tom Busby) returned home to Murray Island in the Torres Strait to create from the heart.

Born in Rockhampton, Mr Marou has a strong connection to Murray Island. His father, a Murray Island man, taught him tradition and culture.

“We grew up in Rocky, my dad was a very cultural man. A lot of men leave the Torres Strait because of the lack of opportunity up there and he came down here to start a family. However, he kept such a strong connection to culture, we learnt song and dance, he taught us language and stories,” said Mr Marou.

Living on the mainland, Mr Marou finds it difficult to get back to Murray Island so returning home was something extra special.

“The cost of going back is a few thousand per person, it doesn’t make it easy. My family and I talk on a regular basis but you still feel very different.”

“Torres Strait Islanders are fairly emotional people and as soon as the plane was coming down to land, my brother, my uncle and myself, were balling our eyes out. Even though it wasn’t our place of birth, we have a strong cultural connection, it was an overwhelming sense of coming home.”

“We walked off the tarmac and our family, over one hundred people, were waiting there welcoming us – this is real, this is family, this is home. We were welcomed back to our country.”

Whilst on the island the duo worked on creating the song ‘Turn it Up’ for the upcoming album. The song is inspired by Mr Marou’s father and his journey.

“We had the song written and recorded, but we wanted to capture the sounds of Murray Island – which has some of the oldest drums in the Torres Strait. We grabbed some drums, went up to the school and taught the kids a song and they sang with us.”

“We recorded a whole lot of sea sounds, birds tweeting, island drums and different sounds. We want people to get that sense of culture.”

“Warner Music was really supportive of me taking family with me and staying a while. The whole experience was incredible, and when the album comes out, I know Murray Island will feel like they are a part of this album.” 

The Great Divide has been finalised and is ready to be released in late September.

“The fact the album is finished is so relieving, particularly coming off the back of our trip. It’s been such a nice time in our lives.”

The album draws from many aspects of the duo’s personal and professional lives.

“We aren’t writing about one night stands or little love stories anymore. We’re writing about happy families, and dealing with real life. It’s really just getting all these conversations started.”

“We have a song called ‘The Great Divide’ and it’s about mental illness and a few of our mates who have struggled. Some of our mates have taken their own lives and we hope this is a way to start talking about it.”

The name holds traces of home for the boys.

“When we were on the island, my grandmother was explaining that the Great Barrier Reef is the beginning of the Great Dividing Range. Murray Island is the start of the range that runs down the east coast of Australia. That’s where we live.”

Mr Marou has embraced the experiences and realities of home and has strengthened his voice as an advocate for community.

“I’ve always been an advocate for the Torres Strait Islands and the people and the issues that arise there.”

“The cost of living in the Torres Strait is ridiculous. There’s a lot of people making a lot of money, capitalising on this remote place. But you must ask the question, how is this not regulated? People shouldn’t be taken advantage of because of where they live.”

Even climate change, it’s a huge issue. But what people don’t realise, is that some of the Torres Strait Islanders could become climate change refugees in the coming years. And when you realise that it makes you think, far out, this is real. I’m learning how to use my voice to advocate for the Torres Strait.”

The Great Divide will be released on the 27th of September, however, the first single ‘Over Drinking, Over You’ will drop on the July 5th.

By Rachael Knowles

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