DRMNGNOW and Emily Wurramara cover Archie Roach as part of ‘Deadly Hearts – Walking Together’ compilation album

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DRMNGNOW and Emily Wurramara cover Archie Roach as part of ‘Deadly Hearts – Walking Together’ compilation album

Words by Matt Martin

A celebration of music, culture, and identity, from the hearts and mouths of a new generation.

Neil Morris has released his own twist of Archie Roach’s ‘Get Back To The Land’ under his hip hop project DRMNGNOW for the third installment of the Deadly Hearts compilation album – a collection of song showcasing Australian music at its absolute finest.

While the previous two Deadly Hearts albums have had a major focus culture and identity, this year the compilation album put together by ABC Music and Universal music focuses on a new generation of First Nation storytellers, featuring artists that take on a song that is special to them and their identity.

An emotional and poignant tribute to the modern sound of Indigenous Australia, Deadly Hearts – Walking Together features Ziggy Ramo and Miiesha’s powerful representation of intergenerational trauma in ‘Tjitji’, Mitch Tambo’s reworked version of the Vanessa Amorosi track ‘Absolutely Everybody’, and Drmngnow and Emily Wurramara’s hip hop take on Archie Roach’s ‘Get Back To The Land’.

“I have since returned to My hometown of Mooroopna on Yorta Yorta country this year having felt strongly called home at this time; Mooroopna also happens to be Uncle Archies birthplace. So, choosing this and it being the first song I would record here in this return, on so many levels just felt like the only choice It could possibly be,” Morris explains.

Coming back to Yorta Yorta country was the best thing for DRMNGNOW. This timing with COVID couldn’t have been better for him with being asked to jump on bored Deadly Hearts. The song he chose really got him thinking about the tracks’ meaning, leading him to a production process that had powerful meanings behind them. It’s why he decided to record vocals on country nearby Kaiela (Goulburn River) amongst the birds, the wind and waters.

“This piece is a message to myself as well as a message to others. Obviously recording it on country in Mooroopna was really important and powerful to me. Knowing that Uncle Archie grew up within 1km from where I currently live was very powerful; knowing I had that awareness during the recording process. I felt I had to explore that vocal recording process, it was just really beautiful.”

The album’s release has coincided with this year’s NAIDOC week, a time to celebrate the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, encouraging all Australians to embrace the true history of this country – a history which dates back thousands of generations. Usually NAIDOC week is the first week of every July but unfortunately was postponed until November due to the ongoing COVID-19 Pandemic.

“NAIDOC week means a lot to me as it’s a day where our people can show our strength and drive to be resilient and to have this unshakable sense of pursuit of our rights. It’s not always easy. NAIDOC week is a strong reminder of the power of resilience and the spirit of our responsibility and our connections to the land.”

Morris says he is excited for the future of the up and coming of First Nations musicians, sharing a slice of invaluable advice.

“It’s about believing that you are valuable and knowing that there’s a profound value to them and their 80,000 connections to this land. Their music matters to the soundscape of this land and it’s always going to matter.

“It’s absolutely crucially important that they find a way to create their art and if they can’t do that then reach out for help and support.”

The Deadly Hearts album is available now. You can listen to it in full via Spotify or check it out below. You can also buy a copy here.