Hey Wanhaka - Single

Hey Wanhaka - Single

King Stingray vocalist Yirrŋa Yunupiŋu and guitarist Roy Kellaway could barely have had a better Indigenous rock ’n’ roll education–Yirrŋa is the nephew of late Yothu Yindi vocalist Dr M Yunupiŋu, and Roy is the son of bassist Stuart Kellaway. Together the duo grew up in the North-East Arnhem Land community of Yirrkala, and spent their formative years backstage at Yothu Yindi shows. “Their songs have been embedded in Yirrŋa and I since we were infants,” Roy tells Apple Music. “Their music forms our constitution of who we are.” Imagine the thrill, then, when the duo were invited to join Yothu Yindi around 2017. “Growing up we were such big fans,” says Roy. “Any music we had on our phone was only Yothu Yindi music.” It was during the downtime between gigs that Yirrŋa and Roy hatched the idea for King Stingray, teaming up with friends Dimathaya Burarrwanga and Campbell Messer. The quartet gravitated towards “energetic, upbeat music” like surf rock, with Yirrŋa incorporating lyrics inspired by traditional Yolngu songlines. They dubbed this new sound ‘Yolngu surf rock.’ The first taste comes in the shape of their debut single “Hey Wanhaka,” which draws on the traditional manikay (songline) of the lorrpu (the white cockatoo). “What we’re doing with this song is putting the word out to the white cockatoo, getting the word out to share around to everyone, checking in with everyone going, ‘Yo, what’s everyone up to?’” says Roy. “Because ‘wanhaka’ means ‘where,’ but in new-generation slang it’s like the Yolngu way of saying, ‘What’s up?’” With Yirrŋa alternating between English and his traditional Yolngu Matha, the song incorporates slashes of didgeridoo amongst its driving rhythms and ominous guitar work. Though they share Yothu Yindi’s desire to showcase Yolngu culture and multiculturalism, King Stingray is determined to be judged on their own merits. “We want to do our own thing and not be a Yothu Yindi cover band,” says Roy. “We’re just young ones from the bush trying to play our music.”

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