By­ron Bay singer-song­writer Xavier Rudd cel­e­brates his be­liefs in his latest al­bum, Nanna, inspired by his great-grand­mother whom he de­scribes as a strong spirit who comes through in his mu­sic

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - FRONT PAGE - STEPHANIE ES­LAKE


Aus­tralian singer­song­writer Xavier Rudd doesn’t con­sider his mu­sic po­lit­i­cal. “I don’t know much about pol­i­tics, I’m just in­ter­ested in what I be­lieve and what I know,” Rudd says.

“I am aware of the threats to our en­vi­ron­ment and I’m aware of the in­jus­tices faced by our Abo­rig­i­nal peo­ple and I sing about it.”

Be­hind his bare­foot surfer ap­pear­ance and catchy in­die tunes, the By­ron Bay singer­song­writer has had a strong pres­ence as a so­cial and en­vi­ron­men­tal ac­tivist and his latest al­bum, Nanna, is a cel­e­bra­tion of his be­liefs.

Rudd heads to the Gold Coast this week­end as part of his 35-date Flag Na­tional Tour fol­low­ing his re­cent ap­pear­ance at Splen­dour in the Grass.

The tour, named af­ter the al­bum’s sin­gle Flag, marks the de­but for Xavier Rudd & The United Na­tions – a band made up of mem­bers Rudd hand­picked from around the world.

Al­most ev­ery mu­si­cian comes from a dif­fer­ent race, and Rudd recorded Flag and tours with band mates who have her­itage in South Africa, Pa­pua New Guinea, Samoa, Aus­tralia, Ger­many and with Abo­rig­i­nal and South Sea is­lan­der an­ces­try.

As for Rudd’s own cul­tural her­itage, he de­scribed him­self as a “full cock­tail – I’ve got a mix of ev­ery­thing”.

He has Dutch, Ir­ish and English in his blood but it’s per­haps the Abo­rig­i­nal an­ces­try that in­flu­ences him the most.

“You have to un­der­stand where my mu­sic comes from,” Rudd says.

“Some­times it’s ob­vi­ous that it comes from my emo­tional con­nec­tion to the world. But quite of­ten it comes from some­where else – the spirit of an old woman who had a lot to say.”

Rudd, 37, refers to his great­grand­mother, an in­dige­nous woman whose pres­ence he feels in his song­writ­ing.

“She’s quite a strong spirit that comes through in my mu­sic,” he says.

Ded­i­cat­ing Nanna to this fe­male fig­ure, Rudd says the al­bum is “about re­spect­ing that great-grand­mother cre­ation in all of our cul­tures and that we all come from a tra­di­tional place orig­i­nally”.

Nanna isn’t the first mu­si­cal tie Rudd has made to his Abo­rig­i­nal her­itage – he recorded with yi­dakis (didgeri­doos) as early as his 2002 de­but al­bum To Let.

“The spirit of our in­dige­nous cul­ture is very pow­er­ful and mag­i­cal and passes through ev­ery­body,” Rudd says.

“It might ap­pear in some of us who say ‘I love that view’ but there’s also a spir­i­tual ac­tiv­ity that’s go­ing on in each place. It’s part of why we love this coun­try.

“This al­bum is about re­spect­ing cre­ation and the fu­ture above our hu­man cul­tures and ego.”

Rudd has a history of speak­ing out on cul­tural and en­vi­ron­men­tal is­sues.

As a long-term sup­porter of ocean wildlife and con­ser­va­tion, he re­ceived the Sea Shep­herd’s Rock the Boat Award and through his live per­for­mances, he has helped raise sup­port and aware­ness for its cam­paign.

He has been named one of PETA’s sex­i­est veg­e­tar­ian celebri­ties and has vis­ited Tas­ma­nia to sing in protest against old-growth log­ging in a mass rally in the Up­per Floren­tine.

In the sin­gle Flag, Rudd doesn’t talk about the flag of an ex­ist­ing na­tion but rather “wav­ing the flag for what we be­lieve”.

“It’s for change in this coun­try and world­wide,” Rudd says of the song.

“Whether it’s an en­vi­ron­men­tal protest where we’re get­ting shut down or whether it’s a protest for in­dige­nous rights, the song Flag is about stick­ing to­gether … for the fu­ture of our coun­try en­vi­ron­men­tally and the fu­ture of our chil­dren.”

Since the re­lease of his de­but al­bum To Let, Rudd has met with song­writ­ing suc­cess as he fuses gen­res from blues and roots to reg­gae and tribal jam. His 2004 al­bum So­lace went plat­inum and scored two ARIA nom­i­na­tions, with three of its songs fea­tured in the Triple J Hottest 100. Xavier Rudd & The United Na­tions, Mi­ami Mar­ketta, Rab­bit + Co­coon, Sun­day


Xavier Rudd and his band, The United Na­tions, play Mi­ami Mar­ketta on Sun­day.

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