New ANU recording studio free for First Nations musicians

Will Kepa records singer songwriter Uncle Joe Geia in the new Yil Lull recording studio at the Australian National University. Picture: Jamie Kidston/ANU
Will Kepa records singer songwriter Uncle Joe Geia in the new Yil Lull recording studio at the Australian National University. Picture: Jamie Kidston/ANU

The Australian National University is launching a new recording studio that will be dedicated to First Nations musicians and free for them to use.

The Yil Lull studio will be open for business at the university's School of Music from Monday, and will offer free recording and music assistance to First Nations musicians from across Australia.

The recording studio will be led by Torres Strait Islander musician Will Kepa, who was set to run live recording sessions at its Monday launch.

"This new Yil Lull recording studio here at the School of Music is a place for us, our mob, to come and meet, to create and to share, to expand on our stories, to keep our culture alive and our music alive, and to just keep that fire burning," Mr Kepa said.

"It's also a place to come to feel like we belong here.

"This space is not just my space, it's a space for all of us to be here together."

The Yil Lull studio drew its name from a song by Aboriginal singer songwriter Joe Geia. The song originally appeared on his 1988 album of the same name.

Mr Geia said the new recording studio was a great opportunity for First Nations musicians to bring their songs to a new audience.

"I noticed that there's the School of Music and the School of Art right next door to each other at ANU," he said.

"In Aboriginal culture, we've used our song and dance and we've used our art to communicate.

"We had to tell our stories and keep our important things in either song and dance or painting. A traditional painting has a dance and it has a song to go with it.

"These are all communicating skills we use to share stories with others in our mob, regardless of their dialect."

The School of Music's head, Associate Professor Kim Cunio, said the idea for the recording studio came about in a submission he co-authored with Indigenous faculty lead Dr Chris Sainsbury in 2019.

He said the School of Music wanted to be of service to First Nations musicians.

"Initially, it was to be a mobile recording studio. This will now be the second stage of this project and something we will do in 2022," Associate Professor Cunio said.

"We had a space that wasn't being used, so we decided to transform it into a space that would inspire Indigenous musicians to tell their stories through song."

Associate Professor Cunio said lots of musicians were already interested in the studio, and Mr Kepa was a great choice to lead it.

"Will is hugely respected by Indigenous communities," he said.

"Lots of musicians are already interested and we did our first recording with Uncle Joe Geia, a Queensland master storyteller and musician who has gifted the name from his Yil Lull song."

Associate Professor Cunio said First Nations musicians living in Canberra would be among those to use the recording studio.

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The launch of the studio was set to start at 10.30am on Monday at the university's School of Music.

Among those performing at the launch event on Monday would be the Tiwi Strong Women, Mr Geia, Dr Sainsbury, Mr Kepa and classical rapper Rhyan Clapham, otherwise known as "Dobby".

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This story 'Keep that fire burning': New ANU recording studio free for First Nations musicians first appeared on The Canberra Times.

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