‘Here’s to making some real change’: Marlon x Rulla bring powerful storytelling to Treaty Day Out

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‘Here’s to making some real change’: Marlon x Rulla bring powerful storytelling to Treaty Day Out

The dynamic First Nations duo will perform at Treaty Day Out festival, a celebration of Victoria’s Treaty journey and the oldest surviving culture in the world.

Aboriginal and Torres Straits Islander readers are advised that this story contains the name and image of a person who has died.

Marlon x Rulla are powerful, sensational and unstoppable. Joining the ranks of the many talented Indigenous Australian artists making evocative, moving, and sonically inspiring music, the dynamic First Nations duo are bringing excitement and power to the stage and the industry with their storytelling.

Bursting onto the scene in 2020, Marlon x Rulla is the collaboration of Larrakia and Torres Strait Islander man and former Port Adelaide footballer Marlon Motlop and Tulampanga Pakana man and ABC’s Rulla Kelly Mansel. 

Keep up with the latest music news, festivals, interviews and reviews here.

Playing a blend of acoustic soul and rap, Marlon x Rulla create music that is infectious, thoughtful and cutting, circling themes of persistence, love, humanity and culture woven throughout their lyrics and melodies, painting a clear picture of their lived experience within this country.

In less than two years, Marlon x Rulla have gone from being teammates on the footy field (playing AFL for the Glenelg football club in South Australia) to collaborating to create thought-provoking music and performing on some of the nation’s biggest stages. They’ve opened for Midnight Oil at WOMADelaide, rocked Bass in the Grass in Darwin, Party in the Apocalypse in Tassie and wowed 30,000 fans at the AFL’s Sir Douglas Nicholls round, just to name a few. 

With a shared love of music, infectious chords, bolstering insurgent messages and a six-piece First Nations band, the duo have achieved this meteoric rise with only two releases under their belt, reflecting their powerful and meaningful presence in music. 

“We just really love being to tell our story and connect with people around not only the country but around the world,” Rulla shares. 

“I can safely say for both of us, we’re just rooted musicians in a sense where it’s great we’re able to do what we do and share that space with so many people, but at the end of the day, we just bring back to the music and what we do as a passion and we’ll be doing this until that day, you know, whether it’s just in our room or with our family.

“We’re very fortunate that this passion is allowing us to travel around the country and connect with people and help people feel more fulfilled about themselves.”

Fresh from touring across the country with Xavier Rudd and off the back of sharing their potent single ‘Unceded’, the deadly duo will be bringing their authentic and larger-than-life live show to Dja Dja Wurrung Country this weekend as part of Treaty Day Out, a one-day outdoor music festival to raise awareness (and support) for the journey towards treaty in Victoria.

Championed by the First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria (often referred to as The Assembly), the independent and democratically elected body to represent Traditional Owners of Country and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in Victoria, Treaty is the opportunity to tackle the racist legacies of invasion and create a better future together. Treaty is to always have the freedom and power to make the decisions that affect First Peoples’ communities, culture and Country.

A state-wide Treaty that will cover state-wide matters; empowering the diverse Traditional Owner groups in Victoria to negotiate Treaties that reflect their specific aspirations and priorities; better representation and political power for First Peoples; a Self-Determination Fund that can help build wealth for future generations; and a more equal playing field for Traditional Owners to enter Treaty negotiations with the Government are just some of the key concepts the journey to Treaty aim to achieve. 

“Self-determination is something that we should all have, and it shouldn’t be something that we have to fight for – it should just be there,” Rulla explains. 

“But the reality is we’re trying to get a space that we can all – our young boys and girls, all people and particularly us black fellas – be proud of who we are as human beings and feel valued as a person and feel accepted and determined that they can go anywhere or choose to be or do anything they want to.” 

“If I’m being honest, I think in a lot of industries, including ours, there’s a lot of lip service and so we’re coming to Treaty to remind the audience what real self-determination is.”

Much like Treaty itself, Treaty Day Out, hosted by the First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria, is all about bringing people together to share and celebrate First Nations culture. 

Having rocked Yorta Yorta Country in Shepparton back in February with a stellar First Nations lineup including Yothu Yindi and the late Archie Roach, the festival returns for its second edition this weekend. 

Happening on Saturday, October 1 at the Bendigo Showgrounds, Marlon x Rulla once again join some of the biggest names in the business on an entirely First Nations line-up, including Briggs, Dan Sultan, No Fixed Address, Scott Darlow, Kee’ahn and so many more for a celebration of the Treaty journey and First Nations culture on Dja Dja Wurrung Country.

“Music brings people together, so anytime it can bring people together and we can stand for a common cause, it’s really special. And here that is for Treaty and First Nation voices from all around the country; to provide that for an audience and make it into a really special day. 

“It’s just really beautiful to be a part of. And you know, it’s something you hopefully look back in time and go, ‘well, we were a part of something bigger than ourselves’, which is what it’s really about. It’s for the betterment of the First People here and our future.

“To be a part of that and share that with some of the most unique and talented musicians in the country will be unreal. It will be deadly.”

More than a music festival, Treaty Day Out is set to be a place where First Nations and allies alike can come together to celebrate culture, music, and tradition. Alongside the music, the festival will play host to food trucks, First Nations market stalls, a smoking ceremony and traditional and cultural activities for the whole family.

While the journey towards Treaty in Victoria remains at the heart of the event, it will also provide an opportunity for all to mourn and celebrate two well-respected and well-loved First Nations artists and Elders, the late, great Uncle Jack Charles and Uncle Archie Roach.

“As much of a celebration and call to action this will be, it’s also a day and night of mourning and celebrating two giants of the world, not just here in Australia, in black Australia or white Australia or both, but in the world, you don’t get too big figures like those two men.” 

As part of the stripped-down set they have planned for the festival, Marlon x Rulla will pay tribute to the late Gunditjmara (Kirrae Whurrong/Djab Wurrung) and Bundjalung Senior Elder, songman and activist Archie Roach with a performance of ‘Get Up, Stand Up’. The duo performed this song in the incredibly special Like A Version with the late Uncle Archie Roach for NAIDOC Week in July.

“It’s going to be a different set for us; it’s gonna be a bit more stripped back than the last Treaty Day Out we played with the full band. It’s just the four-piece this time and we just want to tell a bit of a story and just be in the presence of people and translate our story and our music through to the audience in a hope that helps the audience walk away with a nice moment. It’s going to be a special set and we’re pumped.” 


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With their latest single ‘Unceded’ sharing their powerful message and with the promise of more tracks to come, live performance remains at the core for Marlon x Rulla, with the upcoming festival a perfect reason to see just why. 

We’ll hopefully have another song released before the year is out and then we’ll look to the new year to jump in the studio and maybe get this EP Everyone keeps asking for,” Rulla says. 

“I know a lot of people are asking about music with us, which we understand, but we really value this connection and transaction in the flesh. We pride ourselves on how we play live and we love having people come to our show, getting out and feeling the energy, feeling our spirit and us feeling theirs too. 

“We do just want to say big thank you to anyone that’s been supporting us or who has come to a show and given us love,” Rulla adds. 

“Things have moved quite quickly for us and from Marlon and myself we want to say a huge thank you. We hope when people come to watch us play, they feel a little bit more deadly about themselves and we’re just looking forward to the future.”

“Here’s to making some real change.”

Treaty Day Out takes place on Dja Dja Wurrung Country on Saturday, October 2022. Tickets to Treat Day Out are free for Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people who have enrolled with the First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria. For friends and allies, tickets are available to purchase.

​​If you’re First Nations and would like to enrol, you can do so here. Everyone is encouraged to become part of the Team Treaty here.