For BARKAA, born Chloe Quayle, music is power. She’s a proud Barkindji woman and mother who raps about important issues that have affected her personally, and those experienced collectively by Blak Australia. Her recent songs ‘Our lives matter’ and ‘I can’t breathe’ – the latter a collaboration with Murrawarri artist DOBBY (Rhyan Clapham) – became prominent cultural anthems during the 2020 Bla©k Lives Matter protests that swept across so-called Australia in the wake of the brutal police killing of African American man George Floyd.
BARKAA’s playlist is about survival. Bringing together community anthems, she opens her playlist with ‘Welcome’ by DOBBY, then ‘Smoking ceremony’ by Skinnyfish Sound System, B2m, Birdz, and Tasman Keith. Both tracks feature language, highlighting cultural inheritance and the steadfast survival of First Nations people. Further into the playlist, ‘The children came back’ by Briggs (Adam Briggs) lauds Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders who have triumphed – and thrived – despite oppressive government policies that allowed children to be removed from their families. The inclusion of Briggs’ track is also a nod to BARKAA‘s own personal journey, the adversities she has faced but, mostly importantly, those she has overcome.
The playlist closes with the 2019 track ‘Heartbeat’ by Wilcannia Barkindji Soldiers. A call to arms, the lyrics highlight the dire environmental situation in the far west of NSW, particularly in relation to the state of the Baaka, or Darling River. This mantra advocates for positive change, encouraging leaders to listen to First Nations people. In no uncertain terms, we must listen and we must speak up and demand change.
BARKAA is a Malyangapa, Barkindji woman from western NSW, now living in south western Sydney on Gandangara land. Music has been part of BARKAA’s journey to express herself, the truth and issues impacting First Nations people. She released her debut single last year, ‘For my tittas’, and has performed at a number of iconic venues including the Sydney Opera House, Enmore Theatre and the Sidney Myer Music Bowl in Melbourne. One year into her career, BARKAA has already made a name for herself with her powerful delivery and lyrics, and her live shows are full of energy and raw intense emotion.