Frank Yamma plays music from the country’s heart

Frank Yamma will perform at the Candelo Village Festival. HOW does the critically-acclaimed musician Frank Yamma describe his sound?
Nanjing Night Net

“Desert sound mate, it’s a desert sound,” he said.

“A lot of bands coming from where I come from now, and they make desert sound.

“You go to the Top End, everybody playing there they call it saltwater bands.”

The Pitjantjatjara man sings in his Indigenous language as well as English, and while himself the son of a renowned musician he has had a turbulent life, spending time in prison as well as being homeless.

Now, with the acclaimed albums Uncle and Countryman under his belt, Yamma has spent the past few years travelling and playing music around Australia and the world.

His schedule means he is a busy man these days, so speaking while on the road Yamma said he had just coming in from New Zealand and was on route to Port Fairy, before going to places such as Blue Mountains.

“Then I’ll have a rest, then out again,” he said.

He was looking forward to his upcoming show headlining the Candelo Village Festival on March 28, never having done a gig in the area before.

Growing up outside of Alice Springs, Yamma travelled around a bit but was surrounded by family and music in his youth.

“I didn’t really have a home because going around everywhere I had uncles and aunties,” he said.

“Everybody was looking after me, but that’s what family is for.

“Every place I go, the family are musicians so get the band equipment out and play together.

“My brothers were musos so all grew up together playing music, you know.”

These days his brothers are a bit older, and “not as into making noise anymore”.

Yamma’s father Isaac, who passed away in 1990, was a country-singer who founded Australia’s first national Indigenous radio network.

He had his own recording studio which nowadays many Indigenous artists play in, and he and Yamma enjoyed a good relationship.

“I liked listening to him singing, and I’d be playing along on guitar,” Yamma said.

“Really good fun.”

Yamma’s mother passed away when he was quite young, and when he got to his teens he and his brothers went to do work such as stock hands and in stations.

In his younger days he spent time in prison, when he was “young and silly”.

“Teasing coppers and all that,” he said.

“Ended up in jail for one year.”

This time was spent writing songs and jamming on the prison guitar.

Frank Yamma – Everybody’s Talking“When I started getting older, I done silly stuff again,” he said.

“You know, driving around drunk and stealing because I was really, really silly.

“I got locked up again, this time for three-and-a-half years.

“It give me a lesson alright.”

He was able to study inside prison, and spent his time learning “as much as possible”.

“Once I done my time I got out, and thought ‘I gotta do something, I gotta get an opportunity to make noise,” Yamma said.

There is a strong connection between his music and the land.

“I sing about land, trees, animals, people, you know,” Yamma said.

“It’s story telling.”

The Candelo Village Festival will be on March 28.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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