Meet The Ancient Bloods, who strive with their new album Where We Stand
The group of Queensland musicians make a statement with their second album, all while connecting to a rich history of culture.
There's something remarkably special about The Ancient Bloods. It's a group of First Nations musicians who have been busy refining their skills as a part of the Digi Youth Arts mentoring program, bringing together cultures and stories from across land - they consistent of Kabi Kabi, Bundjalung, Wiradjuri, Jabirr Jabirr, Garrwa, Butchulla and Darug members - with a shared emphasis on finding the passion and storytelling of these cultures, which they distil into genre-varying bursts of music that reflect the group's wide-ranging diversity and tastes.
It's a musical process the group have been plucking away at for a while now, reflected on their 2018-released debut album Golden Veins and again this week with the release of their second album Where We Stand. It's a record that builds upon their introductory moment for something that sees the group reach for the stars, emphasising the sheer talent that underlays the group's members and their differences to one another in backgrounds and influences - something they bridge together throughout the course of the entire record.
It's really something you see within the depths of Where We Stand, and how it dances amongst the worlds of indie, rock, hip-hop, electronica, pop and R&B with free-floating confidence that comes from their extensive musicianship process, and how they dig deep into the stories and experiences that define the communities around them - as well as the band members themselves - for inspiration. The end result is something brilliant, capturing stories of the past and present in a way that makes it feel forward-thinking; the group feeling synonymous with every era of First Nations culture and everything that's built within that.
"The Where We Stand album is a versatile collection of songs written from the heart," says the group's Nadia Morrison on the record. "The album has strong messages about culture, strength and identity. It was such an honour and inspiration to work with so many incredibly talented artists in this process. The songwriting process was so relaxed because every time we got together there was always such a great vibe. For me personally, this album has helped me a lot with healing and my cultural identity."
There's a lot of that within Where We Stand, to the point where you feel like the album isn't just a reflection of the group and their individuality, but also them better understanding that and where it arises from; the processes of healing, self-discovery, empowerment and more encapsulated within the album's 30-minute duration. "The process helped me to realise that I am not just a musician, but a link in a very long lineage of song, music and storytelling, nursing a very old and sacred flame through this obscure time so it can be passed to future generations," says another member, Loki Liddle.
It's a special moment that you can dive into below ahead of a launch performance at QPAC on December 11th, and underneath that, better introduce yourself to the group and their story, as they detail their second album and what it means:
Tell us about yourself?
We are The Ancient Bloods, we are an interchanging band that delivers music projects as part of Digi Youth Arts. The current iteration of the band is a part of the Where We Stand project and is made up of Nadia Morrison, Michaella Stubbs, Cormac Finn, JP and Loki Liddle. The Ancient Bloods work adds to an anthology that responds to political issues, cultural heritage, and identity. With backgrounds including the Kabi Kabi, Bundjalung, Wiradjuri, Jabirr Jabirr, Garrwa, Butchulla, Darug we explore a range of stories, truths and musical styles from our unique perspectives.
What’s the ‘vibe’ music-wise?
There are five members of the band & we all have our own flavour, so our vibe jumps from grunge, to RnB hip hop, to rock and roll and folk – so our genre palette is diverse as who we are as individuals. Everything we make is connected to our experiences as young Indigenous people, so the main thing that links our styles are the themes rather than genres. Everything we make is connected through our message of Where We Stand. A lot of the songs explore political issues and are about solidarity, sovereignty, and the stance of, we as young people against the ongoing things we face because of colonisation on this continent - which is why the album is called ‘where we stand’, because we’re stating our place and making a statement of who we are.
What are your production and writing processes usually like?
We started this project in 2018 and have been developing all the songs together. We hung out in our rehearsal space every week or so to work on the songwriting with our music mentor Luke Daniel Peacock who played a huge role in helping us tie everything together. Each song came together differently though, for some, like I Stand Tall, lyrics came first & then we layered guitar and drums and built the track - but with Aunties on my Timeline the beat came first, and we riffed over the top.
Can you tell us a bit about this new album, Where We Stand?
Where We Stand is a statement from young Indigenous people who connected through the process of creating this album and have grown as artists and musicians together through the process. It's kind of like the album itself is a kind of meeting ground where a handful of young Indigenous people have come together from different places and been able to grow stronger together in it and we hope that the album can be a meeting ground for the people who listen to it.
What topics does the record tackle?
The whole album explores our connections to Country, Ancestry, and connection to spirits. It tackles identity and culture. We look at ideas of grief, revolt, and some of the difficulties of being young Mob existing in so-called Australia. It also celebrates our relationships to Country and the land, and our love for Country.
What do you want people to take away from the project?
We want everyone who hears our album to really listen, listen to the voices of Indigenous young people. Where We Stand is how we are continuing our long tradition of storytelling – and we have a lot to say. We would not be able to do this without the ongoing work of the First Nation’s people who came before us. We walk on paths that have been laid down by our Ancestors. We hope the album can help people understand and value who we are and what we have to say.