“I think music reflects a sign of the times as a nation, and music is an avenue for people to engage with Aboriginal and First Nations’ cultures.”
This is Rulla Kelly-Mansell, a proud Tulampanga Pakana man, and Marlon Motlop, a proud Larrakia man, who form part of the WOMADelaide x NSS Academy that supports and mentors emerging artists from First Nations and multicultural communities.
From being team mates on the footy field to collaborating to create thought-provoking music, the pair now look to grace the stage alongside some of Australia’s home grown music legends at WOMADelaide 2021.
“This experience has been an opportunity for me to meet artists, learn from them, pick up some new ideas and techniques, but also continue my journey,” Marlon said.
“It’s been an absolute blast to be involved and because of it, it has opened a lot of awesome doors as well,” Rulla added.
Marlon and Rulla, or MRLN x RKM, will open for Vika & Linda and Midnight Oil to an audience of 6,000 at the festival – the duos biggest show to date.
Connection to culture has played a pivotal role for both Marlon and Rulla growing up and continues to influence their music.
“If you look at Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture, song and dance is a very big part of storytelling and gives you a sense of belonging,” Marlon said. “It tells that story of where you belong in this world. “We put a lot of emotion into our lyrics and hopefully that paints a picture of our lived experience within this country.”
“Aboriginal and First Nation culture is so diverse,” Rulla said. “Look at us for example, Marlon couldn’t be from further north (Darwin) and I couldn’t be from further south (Tasmania), and we’ve met somewhere in the middle. “It’s a really powerful tool that he can showcase his Larrakia culture and I can express my Pakana nation culture, and somehow mix it together for someone who might not know anything about that, so it’s super important.”
The pair have been busy in the recording studio and look forward to releasing some songs in 2021.
“I’m immensely proud to be in a position where we can share those stories and help people connect with us,” Rulla said.