Archie Roach, musician, Let Love Rule
Amongst the pantheon of all-time great Australian musicians, Archie Roach might be one of the most beloved. With a career spanning more than 30 years and eight studio albums, Archie’s songs are a crucial aspect of the Australian songbook. In addition to his vast musical contributions, the Deadly Award-winning musician is an outspoken campaigner for the rights of Indigenous Australians, and works to spotlight and provide opportunities to up-and-coming First Nation artists. Archie Roach has just been announced as one of the must-see acts to catch at the Queensland Music Festival, where he will be performing a one-off show featuring hits from his past three albums, Into The Bloodstream, Let Love Rule and Dancing With My Spirit. The evening will see these songs performed with a string quartet, adding an extra level of elegance to these modern classics. Ahead of Archie’s performance at The Tivoli on Friday July 5, we spoke to the artist about what we can expect from the shows and what messages he’s imbuing in his recent compositions.
In July, Brisbane audiences will be lucky enough to witness you performing your seminal album Let Love Rulealongside a string quartet as part of the Queensland Music Festival, what spurred the decision to bring the record to life in this way?
We have called the show, Let Love Rule but I will be singing songs from across my last three albums, Into The Bloodstream(2012), Let Love Rule (2016) and Dancing With My Spirit (2018) . We have just released a three-CD box set of these albums recorded live, called The Concert Collection, which is the first time in my 30-year career that I have ever have released live recordings. Another first for me will be working solely with a string quartet and seeing my songs come to life in a different way.
Looking back on the record, it seems like its messages of love and a willingness to open up to people – letting them into our hearts and also our country – is more needed than ever. What do you think listeners today should take heed of the most from the album?
With respect to Let Love Rule I wanted to write love songs initially, but realised that it was so much more than just love between two people. It encompasses respect, consideration and inclusiveness around love of country, love of culture, family and the willingness to love all people no matter where they are from.
Jessie Lloyd’s Mission Songs Project will open the event – how have you been involved in this significant project?
I have seen Jessie’s Mission Songs Project grow from the start and have supported its growth through my foundation. Some of the songs that Jessie has collected from around the country are more than 50 years old and have not been sung for a very long time. The work of Mission Songs Project is culturally significant to First Nations people as it continues the tradition of singing songs about belonging to country and a peoples.
You’ve done a lot of great work in the youth justice space, helping give troubled youngsters a voice through song. What role has music played throughout your life, in terms of therapy and healing?
It’s been a big part of my life and has helped with the healing process.
If you could go back in time and give your younger self one piece of advice about life, what would it be?
Be good to yourself. Look after your health. Don’t smoke. Don’t drink. Love yourself and everybody that’s close to you. Smoking and drinking have had a huge impact on my life as far as my health is concerned.
Could you please share any bands or musicians you’ve been listening to lately?
I am a big fan of the following young women singer songwriters: Queensland-based Teila Watson and Deline Briscoe, Alice Skye from Victoria and Emma Donovan from New South Wales.
What’s a key message you hope your music and lyrics communicate to your fellow Australians?
My music and stories speak to the place where we all come from, remembering that our beginnings on this earth started at the same place – around a fire telling stories through song and dance.
You’ve achieved some incredible things in your life so far, both in terms of music and activism – but what are you personally most proud of?
That I have survived and am able to continue to do what I love doing. I am glad I did!