Kardajala Kirridarra translates to ‘Sandhill Women.’ Kardajala is the name of the mysterious bush woman from the sandhills behind the community of Malinja, NT.
From their inception until now, Kardajala Kirridarra has won the NT Song of the Year award, played at Golden Plains Festival, Wide Open Spaces, Barunga Festival and were the first all female band to appear at Bush Bands Bash in 2016. The descendants of a mysterious bush woman from the Northern Territory, these compelling women are from the communities of Marlinja and Kulumindini (Elliott) and together with Melbourne based producer Beatrice they form Kardajala Kirridarra. With the July 7th release of their debut self-titled album featuring new single Ngabaju (Grandmother’s Song), Kardajala Kirridarra meld the contemporary with the traditional. Sung in both Mudburra and English, together they tell the story of the connection between Aboriginal women and country as a reminder about the importance of women as creators.
Kardajala Kirridarra were brought together by the Barkly Regional Council’s National award winning ‘Barkly Desert Cultures’ Multimedia program aimed at using music and film to express stories and social issues of young people living in the Barkly Region of the NT. It was here that songwriter and vocalist Eleanor Dixon (Rayella, Desert Divas) met Melbourne vocalist, multi-instrumentalist and electronic producer Beatrice Lewis (Beatrice, Haiku Hands) and together they began the Kardajala Kirridarra story. Later joined by key translator, story-teller, poet and Eleanor’s aunty Janey ‘Namija’ Dixon; and rapper, MC Kayla Jackson, Karajala Kirridarra create music to empower women in all aspects of their role as creators from young girls through to being mothers and grandmothers.
This June, Kardajala Kirradarra will travel to some of the most remote communities in the world in the Barkly region of the Northern Territory, to perform concerts showcasing their upcoming release. A culmination of work over the past three years for the Barkly Regional Council’s Youth Diversion music and multimedia program, the seven date tour will take them to Tennant Creek, Elliott, Alpurrurulam, Ampilatwatja, Arlparra, Ali Curung and finishing up in Alice Springs.
Recorded primarily in the intense summer months in a hall in Marlinja NT and produced by Beatrice, Kardajala Kirridarra features sounds from the surrounding lands, such as seed pods, thunders storms and clap sticks made by Eleanor’s father. The fruits of these sessions were co-produced, mixed and mastered in Melbourne by Marc Peckham aka Monkey Marc. Sung in a rarely heard but beautiful Indigenous language, the Kardajala Kirridarra woman will take you on a journey through the heart of this beautiful desert country.
We are from the communities of Marlinja and Kulumindini (Elliott), which is about halfway between Alice Springs and Darwin in the Northern Territory. Beatrice is from Melbourne but spends half her time out here with us, she has a skin name now and knows how everyone has their lalija (tea): Janey ‘Namija’ Dixon has black tea with a little bit of cold water to cool it, Eleanor ‘Nalyirri’ Dixon and Beatrice ‘Nalyirri’ Lewis have our tea the same, milk with no sugar and very rarely but sometimes a bit of honey and MC Kayla Jackson is all about the cold drinks.
Beatrice was brought up here by the Barkly Regional Council’s ‘Barkly Desert Cultures’ program, a multimedia youth development project. It was through this project that Eleanor and Beatrice met and they instantly bonded over a mutual love of lalaija and music. Beatrice showed Eleanor Bjork and Ibeyi and Eleanor showed Beatrice bush medicine and the desert. Together they began the Kardajala Kirridarra story… A bit further down the line Eleanor’s aunty Janey came into the group as the key translator and cultural guide, MC Kayla Jackson joined and brought the mad powerful gangsta hustle.
The vibe is pretty magical… It has the ancient story and feelings of the country we are from. A story that connects women to the earth through the feelings of creation and life. It is a combination of this depth of traditional desert life with the more modern tools of Ableton and synths as well as sampled sounds from the desert around us like seed pods and summer thunderstorms. The music comes from Beatrice and Eleanor writing together in Marlinja, Elliott and Tennant Creek over a year or so, mainly in a old clinic out the back of Marlinja in the summer. We had to turn of the air-conditioning to record anything and then get sweaty and light headed til we hurried and finished recording to turn it back on. We then took the songs down to Melbourne where Monkey Marc and Beatrice engineered and mastered it.
Eleanor 'Nalyirri' Dixon, Janey ‘Namija’ Dixon, Kayla Jackson, Beatrice 'Nalyirri' Lewis.
Darwin NT, Australia