FROM STRUMMING IN THE SCHOOL BAND TO PERFORMING AROUND AUSTRALIA, LUCAS IS PROOF PASSION IS WORTH PURSUING
Iwas born in Casino with a younger brother and sister and my parents are both schoolteachers. We moved around the Tweed Valley and Lennox Head and then lived on the Tweed Coast after that.
With my parents being teachers it was just the nature of the business.
I didn’t mind moving around. We got to make different friends in different areas.
I was really into surfing and music growing up. Mum and Dad both play guitar. Dad loved surfing and fishing.
Mum grew up in a big family, on the indigenous side of the family. Growing up we’d be on the back of fishing boats, digging pipis and sea worms, mud crabbing. Saltwater lifestyle.
I’ve always been curious about music, the art of it. Through high school I was in little bands, playing guitar at lunchtime. It was the cool thing to do.
The guitar was always around the house. I’d wake up in the morning and play guitar. It was never far away. I grew up listening to Paul Simon, Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder. Dad loved Jethro Tull, Neil Young. We listened to everything. My Nan was into opera. That used to put us to sleep.
When we got to high school we met a lot of other mob who were culturally connected to the region. A couple of old uncles put an aboriginal dance troupe together, they just put it out to the community and we all put our hand up. That was way back in ’92.
Since then we’ve performed all around Australia – local, on to state then national. It was amazing. It was a good way to build our confidence and get an understanding of our surroundings and culturally connect to the land.
We’d be dancing for our regions. There’d be five to 10 dances and songs about fishing, hunting, celebration of finding food and whatnot. Fast, quick dances. We ended up heading down to Sydney and opened the Sydney School Spectacular in ‘96 or ‘97. That was a highlight.
It’s bringing back memories now. It was awesome. We had a girl’s troupe as well. We made lifelong friends.
What I do now is travel around to schools and do my own cultural performances, playing guitar, didgeridoo and stomp box. It’s been almost a decade. I describe it as entertaining and contemporary Indigenous cultural education.
This year I collaborated with a Sydney-based Indigenous illustrator, David Hardy, who has worked with Disney on The Lion King 3: Hakuna Matata, Tarzan II, Lilo & Stitch 2: Stich Has a Glitch and Return to Neverland for my book series. It’s a six-book adventure series called The Proud Foots. They’re kids’ books and they explore Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and will hopefully inspire people to learn about Indigenous cultures from around the world.
We used to perform for NAIDOC week, wearing lap-laps and all painted up. We were a little bit nervous performing in front of our own
“IF YOU GO TO BED THINKING ABOUT SOMETHING YOU KNOW THAT’S FOR YOU.”
mob, but it made us feel proud.
I perform in many different settings – from affluent Melbourne suburbs to rural Australia. I think racism is there if you go looking for it. I’m pretty open-minded and accepting. I try to go into everything with a balanced mindset. The biggest thing I find is that you can avert almost everything by communicating. I feel communicating is a big thing. If you go in without an open mind and preconceived notion you can set a tense situation up to be a certain way. When you listen to some of the old ones talk you’ve gotta be open-minded and drawing on that perspective of previous experiences you can guide your way. You just can’t get drawn into the negativity.
I think in life the most important thing is to be passionate about what you do. I love what I do because it’s enlightening people on Indigenous culture in a method I love.
If you go to bed thinking about something you know that’s for you. You’ll know if something is for you or not, it’s about sticking at it. You need to want to do it. You can achieve really great things if you’re passionate.