Although not having been around for long, NT band Kardajala Kirridarra ‘Sandhill Women’ has already won the NT Song of the Year Award for ‘Best Folk Song’, played at Golden Plains Festival, Wide Open Spaces, Barunga Festival and were also the first ever all female band to appear at Bush Bands Bash in 2016. The Kardajala Kirridarra story started through a meeting between songwriter and vocalist Eleanor Dixon (Rayella, Desert Divas) and Melbourne producer Beatrice Lewis (Beatrice, Haiku Hands) at the ‘Barkly Desert Cultures’, a program aimed to express stories and social issues of young people living in the Barkly region of the NT. They were later joined by key-translator, story-teller and poet Janey Dixon (Aunty of Eleanor), and rapper MC Kayla Jackson. Together they meld contemporary with traditional and creates spellbinding tunes which came together to a self-titled debut album released in July this year. Be sure to check out this empowering band as they hit the big smoke to showcase at Brisbane’s BIGSOUND Festival on September 6th and 7th. Here’s the Kardajala Kirridarra Savvy Seven!
How did you get your start in the music industry?
I had been dabbling in electronic music for a few years when I wrote a Creative Victoria grant application in pencil and sent in my demo’s on a cassette (which had never been heard by anyone but my mum).
I was lucky enough to get that grant and it instilled some confidence in me and my music that I previously didn’t have. I was also then able to work with another producer on my compositions and it took my music to the next level and kick-started my career in a really good way!
What advice do you have for someone who is planning and heading off on their first tour?
This is really boring but work out a budget and stick to it!! You always want to do a cost analysis for the tour and make sure you’re comfortable with the outcome.
It sucks to lose money but sometimes it’s a worthwhile investment. But you definitely want to know what you’re getting yourself into.
My best business tip for new artists is…
Spend as much time as you can on the actual music. It’s easy to get sucked into the business/admin/social media side of things but it’s the music where everything comes from. I did ‘The Seed’ a few years ago (every self-managed artist should apply) and when I was there I had a conversation with Jen Cloher about how when you tick off everything on your admin ‘To-Do’ list you feel like you’ve “really achieved” something, where as when you play music sometimes you can jam for hours and not come up with anything. BUT the music is where it all starts and ends. Make really really really good music and the rest will sort itself out.
My biggest barrier that I have faced in my career has been…
Finding the time to make as music as I want. As you can see from the previous question the admin/music making balance can be a tricky one. It’s lucky that I earn enough to live off my music but that has taken a while.
What would be your advice to an emerging artist looking at spending money on a PR campaign? Was it worth it for your band in terms of outcome for investment?
OMG yes times one thousand!!!! You have to find the most relevant PR person for you and your style of music and when you find them pay them handsomely. They work so hard for you! We couldn’t have done any of this without Positive Feedback our PR company. We are eternally indebted and we love them!
In my opinion, the most important issue facing the music industry is…
The massive changes in streaming and people not buying music anymore. The whole industry is in a state of flux and to me that is exciting. It does, however, mean how you earn a living from your music is changing too and that can be a bit scary. I read a quote once called “Take Risks (to pay rent)” that’s what it feels like a bit at the moment.
What would be a songwriting challenge or road block you’ve encountered and what methods have you used to work around it?
Confidence really… Self-doubt manifests itself in very odd ways sometimes so definitely being aware of why or why you are not doing certain musical things. I guess it’s the old ‘Know Thyself’ thang.
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