photographs by Kira Puru

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The Melbourne-based genre-defying multidisciplinary artist Kira Puru is one of Australia’s most respected young musicians. Known for her vocal talent, dynamic live sets and outlandishly arty videos, she’s just released her new single ‘Everything is Better Without You’ and has begun her headline tour, having recently performed at Dark Mofo and the inaugural Concerts on Country. While ‘on country’, she recorded her experiences especially for Doingbird.

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“From Melbourne, it’s a five hour flight to Darwin, a three-and-a-half hour drive to Katherine, and another hour-and-a-half drive to arrive in the closed community of Beswick. I made this journey on May 27 to perform at the inaugural Concerts on Country.

At the Djilpin Arts Centre, there is a big tin-roofed stage named after the late Indigenous musician, activist and actor, Balang T.E Lewis. His name is marked, front and centre, on its proscenium. It’s Balang’s wife Fleur who produces the event and is there to greet us when we arrive before we are quickly swallowed up by the festivities. There’s a massive youth presence at the community centre, and the kids seemed really interested in who we are. The thing that struck me about Beswick is just how welcoming everyone is.”

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“Serving also as a memorial for Balang, it was obviously quite an emotional time for everyone present. Having lost my dad a few years ago myself, it definitely brought up some feelings of grief on a personal level but ultimately, I felt honoured to have been invited to be present at such a sacred event. After the ceremony, I sat in on a yarning circle and learned a bit about the local weaving techniques. A local band, the Wuggular Drifters, played as the locals got up and performed too, dancing up a cloud of red dirt while we ate ‘roo burgers in the setting sun.”

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“My set was an hour late. There’s no time on-country. The MC Constantina Bush came out for a fifth time to ask the Drifters to think about wrapping it up. A few songs in, a couple of cheeky kids took turns running on to the stage, giggling and being cute in general. I motioned them on and before we knew it, it was full of kids throwing down moves while a few stayed glued to the front. By the end it felt like I was crashing their show, to be honest.”

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“We were full, tired and sweaty as we said our goodbyes and prepared for the journey back to Katherine and it was midnight before we poured a nightcap and debriefed on the deck overlooking the hotel pool. It’s hard to articulate how the feeling of being on country, enveloped in the intense spirit of family and community, made me feel, and I’m glad I had my little point-and-shoot on me….so I don’t have to.”

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P.s. See Kira live: Friday 5 July | Jack Rabbit Slims, Perth WA Saturday 6 July | Rocket Bar, Adelaide SA Friday 12 July | The Foundry, Brisbane QLD Tuesday 30 July | UC Hub, Canberra ACT Saturday 5 October + Sunday 6 October | Yours & Owls, Wollongong NSW