Dropping a song anchored with political conscience is, now, more necessary than ever. As we refresh our news feeds and our timelines, our eyes are subjected to more painstaking stories of racism, homophobia, misogyny, transphobia, corruption, police brutality, a mistreatment of Indigenous Australians and a spectacular failure of major Western governments to recognise, or even care, about these issues. Art has always been in a realm of anarchy, but when our governments and major media figureheads aren't taking a stand where they should, we see artists take the wheel. And, for collective SPINIFEX GUM, they're steering this ship right into a very important issue.
Spinifex Gum, a collective made of The Cat Empire's Felix Reibl and Ollie McGill and MARLIYA of Gondwana Choirs, is an innovative project that aims to steer conversation towards Australia's vast history - not just its white history. Their debut delivery comes in the form of 'Locked Up' - a thumping banger with a conscience. Featuring BRIGGS, who is championed as somewhat of a pioneer in modern music for having his music intwined with politics, the song is a confronting yet important dive into how Indigenous Youth are mistreated, neglected and harmed in juvenile detention centres.
The choir that all-female Marliya booked Briggs' verses with offer a chilling reality and honesty about this disgusting fate, but it's a fate that can be remedied by exposing the sickening treatment of Indigenous youth - and 'Locked Up' could be the catalyst for that. Of working with Spinifex Gum on the song, Briggs makes note of just how vital it is.
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"I got involved with the song 'Locked Up' because artistically; it sounded phenomenal. The youth justice is something I'm passionate about and the girls’ voices have brought light to such an intense subject matter. The choirs have brought such an original, honest, powerful and moving presence to the Spinifex Gum project and it was a pleasure to be part of it."
That intensity of subject matter is largely why artists' shy away from such messages. But, when a group of artists come together to speak so frankly about something so macabre like this, it's our responsibility to listen.
Words by JACKSON LANGFORD