Another stunning single released in conjunction with the Singing Our Futures program, aka The Archie Roach Foundation’s mentoring experience helping emerging First Nations artists on their songwriting and recording journeys, the powerful new track Disconnected (and accompanying live music video) from Torres Strait Islander artist Kiwat Kennell is a warm and wondrous ode to yearning for deep connection.
With Kiwat mentored by the one and only Dan Sultan to bring Disconnected to life, the lush track draws creative inspiration from Sultan himself, his proud Torres Strait Islander heritage, plus a range of artists from Matt Corby, to Budjerah, Bumpy and Kee’ahn and the storytelling prowess of figures from Kiwat’s own past, including Uncle Kutcha Edwards, the late Uncle Archie Roach and Jack Charles. Centred around a significantly personal narrative for Kiwat, Disconnected touches on the aftermath when connections are suddenly lost, alongside hope that often lingers on the horizon for those who have strength to reach beyond the darkness, as Kiwat elaborates, “Disconnected tells the story of how my father saved my life, from my own actions, in one of the darkest periods of my life. The yearning for a connection of any kind in a post-lockdown life is one that too many of us have all experienced. Through an unhealthy relationship with my mental health, I lost many personal relationships, resulting in a downward spiral, solo journey, that would eventually have me reconnect with my father, after many years of being apart. What began as a deeply negative and traumatic experience, has me now connecting to family, culture and life!”
Produced by Candy Suite alongside Kiwat, with mixing by Simon Moro and mastering courtesy of Paul Blakey, Disconnected may vividly and lyrically stem from physical and emotional disconnections, but it also ultimately fostered an extremely special and fruitful connection between Kiwatand his mentor Dan Sultan via Singing Our Futures. “My mentor in the program was Dan Sultan, someone who I’d always looked up to,” Kiwat shares. “We had known each other socially for a few years, but when I found out that Dan would be my mentor, and I would have the chance to work with him in a professional capacity, I couldn’t believe it. Dan Sultan has always been a huge influence on my career, his ability to captivate a whole audience with just his voice and a guitar, will always astound me! Being able to collaborate with Dan on this track has really changed how I approach songwriting. He taught me that the story, or song, that you start writing at one point in time, doesn’t have to be finished at that moment. Because like in life, you evolve… and your story isn’t finished yet. Sometimes you have to walk the path, to see where it leads.”
Surrounded by music from a young age, Kiwat’s earliest musical memories revolved around his experiences having his father as his first teacher, and sitting around the table with his family and singing together, Kiwat says “This track has strong Torres Strait Islander foundations, reminiscent of my childhood being surrounded by culture.” Growing up on the road and moving towns frequently, Kiwat’s musical identity would be shaped by some of his dad’s favourite artists, featuring Archie Roach, Gavin Somers, Charlie Pride and Randy Travis; but it wasn’t until Kiwat realised the extent and connection that this very music offered at a young age, that his musical journey truly ignited, before fittingly leading him to become part of Archie Roach’s legacy as a key part of the Singing Our Futures program, as Kiwat shares, “Here we are singing along to Uncle Archie Roach as kids, thinking that these were our special little family songs, but once we connected with mob across the country, I started to find others singing these songs. It was here that I discovered the power of storytelling and the ability to connect with people through music… the rest is history.”
A meaningful and culturally safe songwriting program that supports young First Nations artists to tell their story through songwriting, Singing Our Futures was devised pre-COVID and is one of the leading programs of the Archie Roach Foundation. Led by Candice Lorrae (The Merindas), an established singer-songwriter and music producer with Jawoyn and Torres Strait Islander roots, Singing Our Futures has evolved into an impactful and ever-growing initiative for emerging artists and storytelling that spans genres and generations.
A live celebration of the next Singing Our Futures program participants will take place on Sunday July 30 at the Brunswick Ballroom, with Kiwat set to perform Disconnected – and some special surprises in store for the night as well as for the rest of 2023, as he concludes, “I’ll be set to perform the new single Disconnected at the Brunswick Ballroom show, possibly with my band (and a few of the old Singing Our Futures crew) there’s a section that has a choir, so you might recognise a few voices. I also have a few more releases planned for the rest of the year, plus a few firsts, including a music video that will be coming out with the release of Disconnected and my first batch of merch will be available via my website…. but the big news for 2023, is that I will be planning to embark north along the east coast and begin a deep dive study into my Torres Strait Islander heritage, culture and songs. This will be the basis for my first solo album.”
Disconnected is out today, Wednesday July 26.
The Singing Our Futures EP will be released later this year.
SUN 30 JUL | BRUNSWICK BALLROOM, BRUNSWICK VIC | ALL AGES
Tickets available from TBC | TBC | All TBC Outlets