Arnhem Land band K Squad use rock and reggae to encourage rejection of grog, ganja and violence


Posted

October 19, 2018 13:23:19

Rock and roll and sobriety aren’t known to go hand in hand — but in a far-flung corner of Arnhem Land, a group of young men are bucking the trend.

Key points:

  • K Squad using music to speak out against substance abuse and petty crime
  • Ngukurr band performs for the community in a converted shipping container
  • Business training in the works, as the band dreams of touring nationally

In the remote community of Ngukurr, K Squad — a hybrid mix of rock and reggae — are using the power of music as a force for good, persuading their peers to reject drinking, drugs and violence.

The band members feel too many young people in their community are being draw into petty crime and family violence, and hope their songs will encourage others to reject that life.

“We’re just giving them courage to stay away from trouble and all that,” drummer Jayden Daniels said.

“Just making them relax, listening to all the lyrics and vocals and all that.”

Some of the band members, now in their early 20s, spent some of their teenage years in trouble.

Even though alcohol is officially banned is their remote community, they said drinking and drug taking was still rife.

“I’ve had a lot of struggle, been through a lot of things. Break and entries, yeah, fighting, just drinking grog, smoking drugs,” Mr Daniels said.

“But then I started thinking to myself, I grew up, wanting to have good thoughts.”

The band members have pulled themselves out of a cycle of negative of substance abuse and petty crime.

They have government jobs as school attendance and sports program officers.

“My day job is to work at sport and rec, help kids, working with children. I like it very much,” said the band’s lead singer, Preston Harris.

‘I don’t want young kids to grow up with violence’

For Fred Nunggumajbarr, the band’s bass player, the discipline of practicing at night helps to keep him on the straight and narrow.

“Family get me involved with fighting and all that stuff, I don’t want that to happen around here anymore,” he said.

The group are all worried about the future of their community.

They said every night young children roamed the streets and slept during the day.

Mr Harrison said he hoped their peers in the community would listen to the lyrics of their songs.

“I don’t want young kids to grow up with violence, that’s why we came up with the idea to make a band, and sing for them and perform for them,” he said.

“They are seeing a lot of things happening, and like, young kids they learn, they learn quick about everything, you know fighting and violence.”

The band hope to follow the success of another Ngukurr group, The Lonely Boys.

Their performance space is a converted shipping container which sits outside the community’s art centre.

The Ngukurr art centre’s manager Jude Emmett helped K Squad apply for federal youth diversion program grants for music gear.

“They’re excellent musicians, so I think they’ve got an excellent chance,” he said.

He said he also hoped to help to arrange business training for the band.

“About what contracts mean, how you arrange a tour, so that that business side of things stays in the community and it’s not necessarily managed by whitefellas elsewhere,” he said.

K Squad have only been practising together for a few weeks, but they have big dreams.

“To travel, that’s our dream, all of us, yeah travel and sing on the big stage, in front of thousands of people, crowds, that’s it,” Mr Harrison said.

While you’re here… are you feeling curious?

Topics:

arts-and-entertainment,

indigenous-music,

music,

community-and-society,

indigenous-aboriginal-and-torres-strait-islander,

indigenous-culture,

indigenous-other-peoples,

ngukurr-0852,

nt,

darwin-0800



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