A new label aims to bring music from remote Indigenous communities to a wider audience. Called Manta Tutura, which means ‘beat of the land’ in Ngaanyatjarra, the label is based in a studio in Irrunytju, a community in the Western Desert, about 1,700 kilometres northeast of Perth and about 1,500 kilometres northwest of Adelaide. The studio was built by Ngaanyatjarra Media, an Indigenous-owned media organisation that supports 15 Western Desert communities.
“What we found was that there was some great music being produced, but due to the distance and isolation — we’re talking about some of the most remote communities in Australia — we needed a distribution label to promote this fantastic new sound — desert dub reggae,” Alister McKeich of Ngaanyatjarra Media told The Music.
Manta Tutura provides local artists and bands with recording, production, release and distribution. The musicians represent their communities and usually sing in their own language – Ngaanyatjarra or Pitjantjatjara. Completed songs are made available for streaming and download via the label’s Soundcloud, Vimeo and Facebook accounts.
Recent releases include King Jahka and Salty Lewis’s ‘Wirura Nyinama’, which means ‘Do The Right Thing’ in Pitjantjatjara, and the Irrunytju Band’s ‘Kapi’, which means water. Other acts with releases coming up include Steven Tiger, Blackstone Band and Desert Stars.
Chris Reed, the Irrunyjtu Band’s front man, said, “Anangu people are tough — it is hard living out here. City people should swap and live here; otherwise, they wouldn’t understand what it’s like … We really want people to hear our language; even if they can’t understand it, they can dance to it … We sing about our land, culture, and not drinking and driving. We are hoping music can open doors for us — and other Anangu people.”
Mr McKeich said, “The musicians would really like to see their music reach a wider audience both in Australia and internationally, as well as promoting the culture, language, and sense of community that exists in the Western Desert.”