Culture / Music

Triple J’s Ash McGregor rings in NAIDOC Week by curating a playlist of her fave First Nations artists for ‘RUSSH’

Listen to our NAIDOC Week playlist, curated by triple j's Ash McGregor

Curating this NAIDOC Week playlist was no easy feat, simply because there are too many mob creating deadly music.

As a Wadawurrung radio presenter and music curator at triple j, I share the latest and greatest new music coming out of Australia. I love hearing the new releases from all over the country, the interconnectedness of artists, the community music brings, and how vulnerable songwriting is as a practice.

Music has always been something I've held close to me; growing up, my parents forced us always to be learning an instrument, or you had to join the school choir – so I learnt the drums. My Dad is a man who could pick up any instrument and naturally know how to play it. My Mum is an Aboriginal artist whose practice, reviving traditional possum skin cloaks, focuses on strengthening community and individual identities, so in turn, she always encouraged me to explore creativity and become a storyteller.  

Music with strong storytelling stands out amongst the noise, and for us mob, it is a skill ingrained in us by our Elders. Songlines play a big part in our culture, passing on the knowledge of the land, our identities, and where we've come from. Music can be sacred. It is used in celebration and ceremony and ultimately sparks community.  

This playlist features some of my favourite Aboriginal and Torres Strait artists that have been empowering future generations. From the classics and icons that put our voice on the map, to budding artists currently making their mark, it's a playlist that makes me so proud to be an Aboriginal woman. 

Three songs I want everyone to know are... 


Milkumana by King Stingray

The Yolŋu surf-rockers from Yirrkala have been my absolute favourite band of the last three years, bringing language and culture to the forefront of what they do. This single was their third release and taught wider Australia a mindset from their Country. 'Milkumana' in Yolŋu Matha is to show, share or pass on knowledge through stories and songs. In this track, they extend that ideology by singing about the importance of setting good examples for the new generation and working as one. It's a poignant meaning wrapped in sun-soaked production, jangly guitar lines and anthemic melodies.  


We Dat Good by Flewnt x Inkabee

Repping the West Coast, this collab of Noongar Wongi father-son duo Flewnt and 11-year-old Inkabee goes hard and shows how each generation can inspire the other. Flewnt, who also works as a youth worker, uses hip-hop to educate and empower the next generation; and when his son, Inkabee, began rapping at 7 years old, he made sure to pave the way for him. In this track, they bounce off each other seamlessly, finishing each other's thoughts and giving space to confidently gas up the other's talent. They hold each other in high regard, each inspired by the other's performance and lyrical prowess, and it is incredible watching two generations and high-calibre artists collaborate.  


Wiyathul by Gurrumul

The legacy of Dr G Yunupingu is unmatched, with a catalogue of deeply beautiful music about his love of country, his upbringing, the death of his father and his spiritual connection to the land. His voice transcended boundaries and put a spotlight on songs sung in language. It highlighted the importance of protecting culture, and through his work as a solo artist and in Yothu Yindi and Saltwater Band, he empowered young First Nations artists to remain true to their identity. Wiyathul (Longing For Place) soundtracked my childhood and is a track that holds a special place in my heart, exposing wider Australia to our rich culture. 


Happy listening x  


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Image one by Myles Kalus for RUSSH. Images: two, three, four, five.