For some people Australia Day is about fireworks, Aussie flags, Australian of the Year awards or a day off work with barbecues and entertainment.
For others it is Invasion Day, Sovereignty Day or Survival Day. Not a day to celebrate. In fact, this year 53 Aboriginal rights events will be held around Australia from January 25 .
But for charismatic Dubmarine frontman D-Kazman, it is a welcome opportunity to perform in front of thousands of people and educate them.
“It’s always an honour to play on Australia Day,” he said.
“Australia Day for me is really about Australian unity. It’s not about black and white. There are so many races living on this land in freedom and peace. Australia is the most peaceful place on the planet.”
The Indigenous superstar and his Brisbane-based nine-piece outfit Dubmarine, the high-energy tour-de-force that smash together dub, dancehall, reggae, drum n bass, and a touch of rock, will be performing at the Festival of the Voice at The Rocks on January 26.
Presented by the Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority, the free festival will be held throughout the Rocks with the main stage under the Harbour Bridge.
D-Kazman admits that Australia Day means something different to different people. For an increasing number of young white Australians it has become a symbol of patriotism, which D-Kazman said he finds “weird”. For some Indigenous people Invasion Day is a reaction to that.
The Gangulu musician, from the mountains inland of Rockhampton, says the real war between the white settlers and the Aboriginal people happened 50 years after the first landing.
“The whites were initially welcomed but [settler] greed soon changed that.”
And the Rudd government apology to the Stolen Generation has made a difference, he said: “The apology was important because it was an acknowledgement of the wrong that was done and it represents a moving forward for the whole of Australia.”
D-Kazman is also very supportive of Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s endorsement of former Olympian Nova Peris for the Senate in the NT, saying he was very touched watching Nova’s reaction.
“Things need to change and there’s a good reason for Nova to be in the Senate. It’s fantastic. I’m very excited to see what’s coming up over the next few years.”
He sees signs that change is on the way: he welcomed the move on December 12 to make National Indigenous Television (NITV) free nationally on digital channel 34, and is confident the future will bring greater Aboriginal involvement in Australia’s culture and more Aboriginal faces in our daily affairs.
In fact D-Kazman can see the day when there will be a political party representing Indigenous Australians, a minority party “small, like the Greens” to give Aboriginal Australians a voice and some control over their own destiny.
“Our [Aboriginal] culture will be absorbed more fully in Australians’ identity as a people. For me it’s exciting that so much is happening.”
He delivers this positive vision to his audiences through messages in the songs, both political and spiritual, and intense theatrics that encourage the audience to join in.
“I paint up on stage putting my form of art on my body which is a symbol in itself. And it does get attention. I also perform what I’m saying in the lyrics.
“The intense theatrics help to give audiences something to think about and feel as well as encouraging them to get up and dance. The band performs magic to reach people and create a pure energy that makes people go crazy – a happy crazy that people want to be part of.”
Dubmarine is backed by a powerful brass section and produces bass crunching, rhythm pounding, hip-shaking modern music. In 2012, the band supported UK dub master Roots Manuva in Australia and in 2010 toured Germany, the Netherlands and the Czech Republic.
Festival of the Voice
Double headlining the stellar line-up on January 26 is Indigenous folk singer-songwriter Gurrumul along with five-time ARIA-nominee and surf fiend Ash Grunwald. Both are internationally acclaimed artists who transcend genre boundaries.
The action on Harbour Song Stage at Tar-ra/Dawes Point Park kicks off with Sietta at 4pm, Gurrumul at 5.30pm and closing with Ash Grunwald from 7pm.
The Park Song Stage at First Fleet Park will play host to a diverse range of talent with FBi DJ Shantan Wantan Ichiban getting celebrations started from 12pm followed by Tin Sparrow, Battleships, The Preatures and Dubmarine until 7pm.
George Street will also come to life with Street Song from 12.30pm with Godfrey Uke and his Orchestra, The Margaret Street Project and Tiki Song Booth.
There’s also The Rocks Markets along Playfair Street, George Street and Jack Mundey Place from 11am, and roaming live musicians along the cobbled laneways. If you prefer to be on stage yourself, there’s the Karaoke Stage in The Rocks Square.
The Rocks is traditional land of the Cadigal people and the birthplace of European settlement in Australia.