Xavier Rudd & The United Nations

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Xavier Rudd & The United Nations

As a solo performer on stage, Xavier Rudd is a spectacle unlike any other; both for his musical talent and extreme ability to multi task. Surrounded by a set up constructed by hand, Xavier switches between playing one of the many didgeridoos, the drum kit, his guitar and singing, but it’s something he now shares in his most recent project the United Nations.
“[Forming the United Nations] was an idea that I’d had for a long time,” he says.
“I waited for ages and I wasn’t sure how I was going to do it so I really just wanted everything to line up and wait until the moment was right. This year it all just seemed to be the right time.”
The biggest elements of all were the eight members to fill the band, including; drummer Bobby Alu, Byron Bay’s Yeshe, singer and bassist Alicia Mellor, vocalist Georgia Corowa, Chris Lane (OKA), Pete Hunt (Kooii), Uncle Tio and Uncle Eddie (who has been unable to make the Australian tour).
While Xavier is well adept at multi-tasking on stage with instruments, finding the balance with a full band required a number of training sessions to make it work.
“I’ve never had a band that big; the biggest band I’ve had was a three piece last year. So I went from a three piece to a nine piece and, more than anything, it was about making sure my parts were a bit more minimal so there was more room in the real estate for everyone else,” Xavier says.
“I had to really thin out what I do because I’m so used to making so much sound – as a solo, a duo and a trio – so that was new to me. I made sure we had lots of rehearsal so it didn’t sound like a studio.
“We had a lot of time to jam so everyone could develop their parts and take what I’d written and really have their own slant on it. That way with all the different cultures, they all brought their own influence and we were able to create a really unique sound.”
Xavier Rudd and the United Nations is a band unlike many others touring the world. Combining South African, Samoan, German, Papua New Guinean and Indigenous Australian sounds, they serve as a celebration of culture as well as doubling as a profound educational tool for listeners.
“It’s really quite powerful in that way and I have so much respect for everyone,” he says.
“That’s why we called the album Nanna, because we had so much respect for everyone’s history, their ancestors and story, so it became quite a celebration of everyone’s culture in the end.
“Because everyone’s influences were so different it created such a unique style of reggae; it sounded a bit like Jamaican reggae or African reggae but it had an Australian influence as well.”
The message of ‘oneness’ and acceptance rings true through all of their songs, and while Xavier has also been known for campaigning for numerous rights worldwide (Xavier recently spoke out via the song ‘Shame’ on the racism surrounding the Adam Goodes debacle) the message isn’t the basis for the song’s creation.
“The message is secondary to what I feel,” Xavier says.
“I guess my music has always been that way, I write about how I feel and then out of that comes a message that can be sent to a broader community. A lot of people feel the way that I feel and it’s nice to celebrate that in soul. Our shows definitely feel more like a ceremony than a show.”
One of the biggest things for Xavier and the band, is the difference they can make through song. It’s something that has a great affect on Xavier’s life, and undeniably has had a massive affect on listeners worldwide.
“Music has been connecting people since the dawn of time, it’s as old as childbirth,” he says.
“Every human being on the planet comes from some form of struggle and from some form of domination and it’s nobodies fault. We can let that stuff go and talk about how that stuff happened and we can learn together to have a laugh and just walk together and learn from each other to try and change it.”
Though with all good things, there comes an end. Confessing that the band was put together by the spirit, he doesn’t know when it will all end – he even has a feeling this may be the only tour of Australia the band do – but regardless of what’s to come, he’s simply enjoying every moment of what they’ve all created.
“It’s been a really special time and a time that I’ll never forget, it’s definitely something that’s been really precious in a lot of ways,” he says with a smile.
Written by Amanda Sherrin
When & Where: The Palais Theatre, St Kilda – September 11, The Capital, Bendigo – September 15 & Costa Hall, Geelong – September 18.