Dewayne Everettsmith

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Dewayne Everettsmith

You would have heard him before as the voice of Tourism Australia’s $250 million international advertising campaign singing his song, It’s Like Love, he has also performed showcases in the States as well as supported the likes of Archie Roach and Gurrumul. Now, Tasmanian Dewayne Everettsmith has released his very own album, Surrender, and has hit the road on a national tour in support. We spoke to Dewanye ahead of his headline shows in Colac, Ballarat and Bendigo this week.
Hi Dewayne, how’s it going? What are you up to at the moment? 
I’m currently on the road, touring nationally on my new tour “Beyond Surrender” and I’m bringing to the audience a whole new show.  Usually I travel with just myself and the guitar but I’m now travelling with a popular duo Sietta who are my backup band as well. It’s very exciting, I’ve included in this new show some originals from my debut album “Surrender” and I’ve also reworked some of those originals into new songs and have included some new songs that I’ve recently written so I’m very excited to bring this show to a whole new audience.
How has the preparation for the tour been coming along and are there any favourite places that you are looking forward to visiting? 
It’s really exciting to be bringing this new show out on tour.  I’ve reworked songs from my debut album and have some new songs that I’ve been rehearsing with my band (the duo Sietta) for some time now and we’ve worked really hard.  We’ve put our heart and souls into these songs and we have bared all. I’m really excited about the new show.  It would be fair to say that I’m looking forward to visiting a lot of the regional towns because I’ve never been to some of them and it’s a whole new adventure.  We always say we should explore our own backyard and this is part of that for me, getting to know and getting to see more of Australia and performing at some really unique and different places.
Your debut album, Surrender, was released last year, it has a pretty strong title and explores a number of themes, how did fans respond and how did it feel to finally get that one out?
Generally fans have responded really well and the audience, regardless of age and social and cultural preference and all those kind of things respond well when they are listening to something that’s genuine and authentic and comes from a place where they can relate as a human being.  The songs have connected really well.  What’s great about my debut album “Surrender” is that it’s interpretable.  Anybody can take it in as their own and take these songs and relate it to something that has happened in their life.  The audiences have reacted well and it’s been a really cool thing to watch the audience react positively.   It’s excellent to have the album out there.  A lot of these songs I wrote when I was really young (sixteen) and some of them, like “Surrender”, I wrote when I was twenty-one or twenty-two so it’s really cool to have these songs out. One, to share them and release that burden off my shoulders but also I’m ready to showcase Dewayne Everettsmith now and how Dewayne Everettsmith has grown and changed so it’s really good to have the first chapter out.
One of the songs, ‘Milaythina’ is a beautiful piece, sung in traditional Tasmanian Aboriginal dialect, what is the song about and is it one you enjoy to perform? 
The song “Milaythina” is a welcome to country song so it’s a song that we sing to welcome people to Country but it’s also a song of stance. So often Tasmanian Aboriginal people were told that we no longer exist and there is no such thing as a Tasmanian Aboriginal person so I guess when you have a language and a culture, it’s really hard for a culture to go unquestioned and continue on as non-existent.  The Tasmanian Aboriginal language, we call it “Palawa kani”, is now a combination of thirteen traditional languages so it’s all those thirteen Aboriginal languages coming together to make the one. It’s really special to have this language alive still, being able to sing it, to showcase Tasmanian Aboriginal culture but also to say that Tasmanian Aboriginal people do exist and we are here and our culture is strong.  Yes, it’s one of my favourite songs to perform and I love singing it and sharing it.  For me it’s really important that the great thing about songs and language is that they invite people into Aboriginal culture in a non-Political way.  So they can be a part of Aboriginal culture without feeling like they have to be involved politically and I think that’s a beautiful thing.  I think it’s a beautiful step towards reconciliation.
You have supported the likes of Gurrumul and Archie Roach, how did you enjoy that? Do you feel that these experiences have helped you to become the true headline performer you are today?
I like ‘headliner’, that’s pretty cool! Archie Roach is a huge hero of mine, so to support him and have praise from him is a phenomenal feeling like it is for anyone who has met their hero.   To go on and support Gurrumul on a European tour and a national tour of Australia has been a phenomenal thing.  I always feel like a grasshopper around him, watching him work and watching him in action.  There is only one thing you can do around Gurrumul and that is to sit back and take in and watch him because he’s such a legend, such a unique musician and so talented and a very laid back guy.  They definitely influenced me but they influenced me in a way that says that they are Aboriginal Artists but they are Artists like everybody else who is trying to make it and like a lot of other people, they have a message and a story to tell.  They have been an influence to me that they continue to thrive as Artists, not just Aboriginal Artists just Artists.
You have also recently played the Byron Bay Bluesfest, what were some of your highlights?
I think it’s a highlight to perform at the Byron Bay Bluesfest in general.  I can’t remember the band’s name but I really enjoyed sitting behind stage watching an old school, African-American Blues band (a lot of the band were in their sixties and seventies) and I was really taken aback at how much it wasn’t like a band getting on stage it was like watching these people’s livelihoods, like watching their whole life, their battles, their trials and tribulations.  The feeling that you got was that they’d sung and played these songs a million times but it was like they were playing them for the first time ever and the reaction by the band members and the people who were backstage (who were part of the band) to these songs was that it was like a religion, it was their belief, their survival.  You can just tell that these songs came from somewhere that was a real struggle, really heartfelt.  It was really cool to witness that.  I think on some levels, we miss that here in Australia and we need to find it.
What can audiences expect from the upcoming performances?
The aim of the show and this tour “Beyond Surrender” is to showcase and sing some of the originals from the “Surrender” Album as they are but also to showcase where Dewayne Everettsmith is heading.  I want to head into more funk and funk/pop kind of music rather than folk/soul so it’s a showcase to prepare the audience for that change.  Having Sietta who have a blues electronic, hip-hop kind of sound combined with my sound which is folk/soul, we are bringing those two diverse music genres together and bringing diversities together.  The hidden message with that is that kind of cultural and social diversity we have in the world today and how we can combine those diversities, still be very beautiful and get along really well but be one individual at the same time.  It’s got me still doing some songs solo (just me and the guitar) and me with the full band so I’m really excited about this show.
When can we expect your next record and what will you be exploring in the recording?
I’ve only just started writing and I’d like to start recording (hopefully) in the next year.  I’m not sure what to expect. I want to explore more funk, soul and blues kind of sound and more pop but my music is also influenced by my emotional state so it could do anything at this stage but that’s the beauty of albums and that’s what I believe albums should do. They should take on what the Artist is then and there and how they are feeling because that’s true and organic and raw.
When & Where: Colac Otway Performing Arts 20 May, The Capital Theatre Bendigo 23 May, Her Majesty’s Theatre Ballarat 24 May