Chasing Ghosts address colonisation & reconciliation on thoughtful new song, 'Summer'

23 January 2021 | 7:51 pm | Alex Sievers
Originally Appeared In

Chasing Ghosts talk matters of white nationalism, colonialism, reconciliation on 'Summer,' just in time for Invasion Day.

Melbourne's Chasing Ghosts talk matters of white nationalism, colonialism, reconciliation on new punk rock jam, 'Summer,' just in time for Invasion Day. 

The frontman and driving songwriter force of Melbourne six-piece outfit Chasing Ghosts, Jimmy Kyle, makes no qualms or excuses about his Aboriginal heritage. He has always poured himself personally into the songs he has written. As a proud Koori member and descendent of the Thungutti mob, the Australian summer period - namely the final week of January and the celebrations surrounding Australia Day National Day Of Mourning - can be a challenging time for Jimmy. Like it can be for so many Indigenous Australians around the country. But that challenge can turn into creativity to create conversation. Which is where Chasing Ghosts' latest song, 'Summer,' comes in.

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On Chasing Ghosts great new slice of music since 2016's 'I Am Jimmy Kyle' album, the melodic folk-punk of 'Summer' has lots of hooks, but also plenty of heart, too. For the first time in the band's history, Jimmy sings in both English and his native tongue, lyrically tackling the frontman paying respects to his ancestors every summer, the issues of white nationalism, as well as colonisation and reconciliation. How Australia is happy to honour 'Lest We Forget' and love our Diggers' contributions in World War I and II - and so we should - but how our nation also actively silences and expunges the horrific bloody skeletons in our nation's historical closet when it comes to the treatment of First Nation People's in order to make our history seem superior, better, less violent and far less evil than what it actually was.

In 1856, during the Frontier Wars period, on the banks of the Upper Macleay River in New South Wales, the Thungutti people evaded and resisted invading English forces, NSW Police and the occupation of foreign squatters who had even formed their own militia to claim Thungutti lands as their own. It's a dark time in Australian history, one that has only recently been openly discussed on a larger scale. 'Summer' - taken from their upcoming 'Homelands' EP, which releases May 14th - focuses in on this moment, offered in memoriam to the sole survivor of the Towel Creek Massacre, a baby named “Baaba” (Babaang) Jack Scott, and those who lost their lives that day (First Nations People) and Baaba's many descendants that still call Bellbrook in NSW their home.

[caption id="attachment_1109580" align="aligncenter" width="760"] The beautiful, fitting artwork of co-existence for 'Summer' was created by art designer @coffinbirth. Always has, always will be. [/caption]

Directed and produced by Ben Anderson, and Ben McFadyen of These Wild Eyes (known for his work with Bliss N Eso and the NGUMPIN KARTIYA, a film about the Gurindji people, The Killing Times, the 55th anniversary of the Wave Hill Walk-off, and Freedom Day) the imagery to this new Chasing Ghosts music video is seriously powerful stuff. It sees an Indigenous man - played by Uncle John Harding - and a caucasian man - played by Joe Molony - facing down one another. Seeing the former actor covering himself in those prime Aboriginal colours, removing an Aussie flag from around the latter's neck, but then also helping the latter to paint himself as the pair then performs a traditional Aboriginal mosquito dance. (A dance that Jimmy tells me was the first dance he learned as a kid.) It's a visual message of solidarity and unification. About Non-Indigenous Australians seeing themselves "as an extension of Aboriginal people," as Jimmy himself put it in a presser upon the release of 'Summer' earlier this week.

If Joyner Lucas' 'I'm Not Racist' was a stark look at the difference of views between BLM and MAGA supporters, that unity can be achieved and should be strived for, then Chasing Ghosts' latest video is a look at the two different perspectives of Indigenous and Non-Indigenous peoples in Australia currently. The importance of the video is that, yes, Indigenous people cannot forget or forgive what has been done to them - and no one should blame them for that - but that there is a middle-ground that they can meet white Australia upon. That blackfellas and whitefellas alike can live in harmony. Only if Non-Indigenous Australians are willing to meet them on those middle-grounds with respect and open-ears.

This time of year in the Australian calendar should be a great point of education. Got the day off work on the 26th? That's fine, but leave the flags at home, don't wear them obnoxiously around your neck or put them on the roof of your car. Still see your mates and have that BBQ, sure, but also keep your ears open and take time to listen to what Indigenous leaders and elders are saying, to read up about the horrible things that modern Australia was built upon. To please still be respectful and keep an open mind about hearing other experiences from our Traditional Land Owners. Because listening to, being an ally and being empathetic towards Indigenous folk doesn't make you weaker, less Aussie or even less white. If anything, it makes you more Australian.