Hot on the heels of news about their forthcoming support slot with Craig David, Melbourne based warrior queens, The Merindas, have announced national tour dates to launch their debut album, 'We Sing Until Sunrise', which will see them sharing their songs, language, dance, stories and powerful messaging through major cities including Sydney, Adelaide, Melbourne, Brisbane, Gold Coast, Perth, Darwin and Broome throughout March and April, 2020.
The Merindas are the collective force of Candice Lorrae of Jawoyn and Thursday Island heritage (born in Darwin) and Nyoongar Ballardong Whadjuk woman Kristel Kickett (from Tammin, Western Australia), bringing an on-trend style of rhythmic, expressive and beautiful music dedicated to their cultural heritage. They describe their unique sound as "electronic pop with a dancehall feel, alongside hip hop and R&B influences."
With two singles under their belt (We Sing Until Sunrise and Before Daylight), their hotly anticipated debut album We Sing Until Sunrise ("'Ngangk Ngoorndiny Ngala Warangka' - strongly reflects that we are forever singing, forever dancing and forever celebrating our culture").
This is the essence of who The Merindas are and the ethos they bring to each of their performances.
During their 75-minute performance, audiences can expect a night of extraordinary choreographed dance moves, soaring vocals and visual projections that weave into the fabric of their music and stories. Garnering rave reviews on the live circuit, playing festivals and major events across Australia, The Merindas present a world-class, fresh and energetic show and their first headline tour will see them backed by the mastery of DJ Jake Steele and joined by 'Wala Connections' - the fierce dance duo of Thara Brown and Natarsha Bamblett.
Together with the The Merindas, they add strength and beauty to celebrate the continuation of culture through music and dance. Special guests will also soon be announced.
The Merindas - We Sing Until Sunrise Album Tour is supported by Australian Council of the Arts.
For more info/tickets head to www.themerindas.com/shows or check the Facebook events tab on The Merindas page.
Question: How would you describe your music?
Candice Lorrae: Our music is the very sponge of many influences from the girl groups of the 90's of which we grew up on through to today's music. Our sound is built around our melodies and powerful messaging. It's a fusion of traditional language and English in a unique blend of Alternative R&B, Electronic Pop and Dance Hall feels. It's very hard to identify who we sound like, it's a very unique and distinctive blend that we have together as a duo.
Question: Can you tell us about the upcoming debut album release?
Candice Lorrae: We are extremely excited about this album; I think it's something that we are proud of. The lyrics on the album didn't take long to write but it was the music that has taken a good three years. We started with a self-produced demo back in 2017 then we worked with producers, Dazastah (Perth, WA) and Frank Keys (Auckland, NZ) to finalise the album. It was built on the support of Australia Council for the Arts and Creative Victoria.
Kristel Kickett: The album is titled 'We Sing Until Sunrise - Ngangk Ngoorndiny Ngala Warangka' in my language (Nyoongar Language) taken from our first single released in 2016. The meaning behind this title strongly reflects that we are forever singing, forever dancing and forever celebrating our culture. This is the very essence of the stories held within the album.
Question: What motivates you most when writing music? Candice Lorrae: Many things motivate me to write music. It's making people happy on stage, it's a way of escaping reality and expressing myself. The inspiration for writing music for me is change and anything that is new. It could be a new feeling or a new place or new people that I meet.
Kristel Kickett: Wine (laughs) on a serious note I could be inspired by life changing experiences and someone might tell me a story that sits with me for so long that I have to write about it.
Question: What should we expect from your upcoming tour?
Candice Lorrae: On tour we are presenting an exclusive showcase that is built around the theme of the album. Within our show there is powerful messaging around identity, culture and healing. Most of the songs in the show are originals but we will perform some covers as well.
Kristel Kickett: Also, people can expect choreographed dance moves, amazing costumes, beautiful harmonies and visual projections that weave into the fabric of our music and stories. We have our amazing DJ Jake Steele and backed by our dancers, our beautiful sister girls Thara Brown and Natarsha Bamblett.
Question: Which is your favourite song to perform live and why?
Candice Lorrae: That's an extremely hard one because we write all of our songs to be our favourite. But I guess for me it would be 'We Sing Until Sunrise' because it's what people know and it was our first single.
Kristel Kickett: My favourite at the moment is 'I Feel It' because lately during performances I've been feeling it (laughs) the crowd are really responding to that track as well.
Question: If you could have anyone, in the world, attend a show, who would it be?
Kristel Kickett: That's a hard question to think of any names. I don't know who that person would be but I hope that person will come to take our music across the world to millions of audiences.
Candice Lorrae: I agree, our aim is to share our music to the world and create more recognition for First Nations people within Australia on a global platform.
Question: Do you prefer performing live or recording?
Candice Lorrae: Being a recording engineer and producer, I can easily spend days in a studio but I'd much rather be on the stage where I can connect with new faces and expand on new opportunities.
Kristel Kickett: Performing for sure, I hate closed in spaces.
Question: What is the story behind the band name? Candice Lorrae: Merinda means 'Beautiful Woman' in the Eora language. It was given to us by the mother of a former member. She suggested the word 'Merinda'. There were three of us at the time so we called it 'The Merindas'.
Question: How did the band come together?
Candice Lorrae: The local Indigenous radio station in Perth 'Noongar Radio' was hosting a premiere of The Sapphires film at Luna Cinema in Leederville. Mechelle Wilson from the station asked me to put together a girl group to perform a one off show of Motown covers to open up the night. At that time we called ourselves the Motown Girls, performing this show opened up so many opportunities where we formed a band, gave it the name 'The Merindas' and sold out our second show. The Merindas became an entirely new entity that grew and transformed into something really beautiful over the last eight years and that's what Kristel and I have today. We decided to go back and write our own originals about 4 years ago now.
Question: Which music/artists are you currently listening to?
Kristel Kickett: Depending on what kind of mood I'm in, I listen to everything, but mostly I listen to female R&B and Hip Hop artists.
Candice Lorrae: Yeah, it depends on what I'm doing, and lately it's been making costumes, painting on canvas and sitting at the computer working on projects. So I've been listening to Solange, Anderson.Paak, Ella Mai, Erykah Badu and The Internet. Actually, I think that's all I've been listening to for a few years now (laughs).
Question: What or who was your inspiration to go into the music industry?
Candice Lorrae: I was seven years old when my mum and nana drove me from my hometown Darwin to Perth. At that time Whitney Houston's song 'I Will Always Love You' was a huge hit. We stopped on the side of the road to find The Bodyguard soundtrack on cassette tape. The rest of the drive was only Whitney Houston and by the time we arrived in Perth I wanted to be a singer and that's all I ever wanted from that point. I have never stopped dreaming of being a singer.
Kristel Kickett: I use to sing and dance a lot to girl groups of the 90's with my cousins and we'd put on performances in front of family. So I guess it was the encouragement from family to keep singing and knew that it was a strong passion of mine.
Question: If you could collaborate with another artist, who would it be?
Candice Lorrae and Kristel Kickett : LIZZO!
Question: Was there a moment you contemplated throwing in the towel?
Candice Lorrae: I have contemplated to give it up maybe in my 50's but never to this day. Also I think being in this together really helps. Kristel and I are always so honest with each other and can overcome any argument. We are there to mostly support each other and help lift each other up.
Kristel Kickett: So many times, the struggles of being a mum in the Industry but hey eight years has been a long time and I'm not about to give it up now. And yes it's great that we have each other in this business. Everyone needs a shoulder to lean on.
Question: What is the biggest challenge you have faced along the way to your musical success?
Candice Lorrae: There are many challenges and I'll highlight them all. Doubting our image and talent has been the biggest challenge. I think as we have grown we have become more confident. Also just being a woman in the music industry has been the biggest challenge in such a male dominated arena. Lastly, it all depends on money - having the budget to create our vision has been really hard. We are high maintenance (laughs).
Kristel Kickett: Over the years, me being a mum has been the most challenging as there is just so much responsibility and pressure of balancing time with my family. We would all agree as artists, money has been the biggest challenge but because we are so passionate and we love what we do, we continue with the hope that it will pay off.
Question: What's a typical day like?
Candice Lorrae: We do this full time so we have to make sure that we are always working on our craft, filling up our calendar, being ahead of the game and keeping up with social media. We are thankful for having a team around us that make the time to work with us. Samuel Gaskin from Beat Entertainment is our Choreographer and Creative Director with Johnny Hamilton. We work with producers and communities delivering workshops for youth.
Kristel Kickett: Our office is the cafe or at Candice's house. We are always networking and meeting with our manager Joel from August Management. Candice and I see each other every day, (laughs)! We rehearse with our backup dancers Thara Brown and Natarsha Bamlett at Patrick Studios Australia and MAPA. We are constantly working on our costumes which can be a very long process. We fit all of this in, week after week.
Question: What has been your favourite part of becoming a music artist?
Candice Lorrae: There's a feeling that I get when I'm on stage and it feels good. I feel like whatever is going wrong in my life disappears when I step out onto the stage. I become who I am meant to be. What I love most about becoming a music artist is the way it's connected me with wonderful people over the years. You share so much through music and it's something that has enabled me to get close to people.
Kristel Kickett: I feel like I'm a different person and it's a better version of me. I have learnt to love myself and being on stage makes me feel confident and I really believe in myself as an artist. I can't imagine doing anything else.
Interview by Brooke Hunter