Culture, community, creation: a chat with Kardajala Kirridarra

From the first moment we came across Kardajala Kirridarra, it was apparent they were special.

Meditative, emotional and deeply spiritual, their music places fantastical verses in the rarely-heard Indigenous language Mudburra against a shifting backdrop of precisely curated, dramatic electronica. The result is unlike anything we had heard before, simultaneously something our country desperately needed.

Their debut, self-titled album took home first prize in our inaugural Needle in the Hay competition, meaning 2018 will see Kardajala Kirridarra pressed to vinyl courtesy of Zenith Records.

Ahead of their upcoming Australian tour, we caught up with band member Eleanor Dixon.

kardajala kirridarra illustration natasha michels happy mag interview
Illustration by Natasha Michels (website, Instagram)

From the remote Communities of Marlinja to fans all over Australia, Kardajala Kirridarra are capturing hearts with their altogether vital sound.

HAPPY: Hey, how are you? What are you up to at the moment?

ELEANOR: Hey, yeah life’s good. Right at this moment I am preparing and packing to head off on the Song Cycles tour.

HAPPY: Your name comes from the story of a woman living behind the sandhills of Marlinja. Could you share some of this story with us?

ELEANOR: Kardajala is a spirit being that is the most sacred to women. She is the one that gives us knowledge and guides us through life as women with the cycles that are related to the seasons which is carried through the feminine energy.

HAPPY: Has the formation of Kardajala Kirridarra had any effect on Marlinja or Elliot? Do they have a sense of the distance their stories are being spread?

ELEANOR: It’s been hard to keep up with what’s always happening for Kardajala. There is such a big difference between Melbourne and Marlinja. Melbourne is so busy and fast paced compared to Marlinja. We have celebrated with family in the Communities about some good things but there’s just too much going on. Everyone’s excited for us though.

HAPPY: Do you still spend most of your time in those communities?

ELEANOR: Yes, I live in Marlinja.

HAPPY: I recently learned that your region is the largest council in the Southern Hemisphere. What role does a sense of space and distance have to someone who comes from a place like that? What role do they play in your music?

ELEANOR: Distance is only relative to some sense of somewhere else being the centre, for example a city. For us where we come from is the centre of where we are, the seed of our country carries space, we are blessed to have space and from that space, creation energy comes. So in that way the space is country and our songs come directly from that which is sacred to us.

HAPPY: Going on six months since the release of your album, is there anything you would change?

ELEANOR: I mean there’s only so much we can want to change, when it already has happened so I guess I don’t want to change anything. Everything always makes sense when you’re not in need or wanting.

HAPPY: I hear the process of recording the album was a little shaky – a lot of makeshift studios, a lot of hot days. How did this affect the way the record turned out?

ELEANOR: Perfect! Because if it wasn’t for those hot days and those makeshift studios I don’t think the record wouldn’t have been what it is.

HAPPY: You recently shared an alternate arrangement of Warmala (Young Girls Song). How did this collaboration come about?

ELEANOR: It was with Dave Williams who is a good friend of Beatrice. We really wanted some piano in two of our songs and Bea connected up with Dave and magic happened.

HAPPY: You’re about to head on tour, playing some serious festival shows as well as individual gigs. You’ve done both in the past – how do you let the spaces you’re playing influence your performances?

ELEANOR: Well it’s more or less about the situation of the performance because it is about space for us. We always try to connect to a simple thing and then focus our energy towards it so that we hold our space while performing.

HAPPY: If your audiences take just one thing away from your shows and your music, what would you choose?

ELEANOR: It would be to take the feminine energy that brings forth creation energy, honouring the EARTH, healing, peace, and a reminder to all women of all races and of all cultures that they have power.

HAPPY: What can we look forward to come 2018?

ELEANOR: I guess we’ll let you know.


Catch Kardajala Kirridarra live on their Song Cycles tour:

Friday 19th January – Northcote Social Club, Melbourne
Saturday 20th January – Sugar Mountain Festival, Melbourne
Sunday 21st January – Mofo at Mona, Hobart
Thursday 25th January – Leadbelly, Sydney
Friday 26th January – Yabun Festival, Sydney
Friday 9th February – Perth Festival, Chevron Gardens, Perth


Kardajal Kirridarra were the winners of our inaugural Needle in the Hay vinyl competition, which is now open to singles. Enter here.

happy mag needle in the hay competition vinyl