[INTERVIEW] Archie Roach, 'I think that each of our stories are Australian stories'

Our country is rich in talent, and when it comes to Indigenous music festival NaranaFest, they had the pick of the crop. Archie Roach is one of Australia’s most respected musicians. Calling on the deep sounds of his vocals, his words resonate with generations of Australians as he discusses some of the most poignant and important topics of our nation.

“Music brings people together,” Archie says. “It’s good to be involved with anything to do with the event and discussing things like reconciliation. It’s an important event.”

It has been eight years since the last NaranaFest, which featured the likes of Dan Sultan and Xavier Rudd. And after the success of pop up events Narana Unplugged and gallery launches, the Narana Aboriginal Cultural Centre is bringing back the family-friendly festival to Geelong in a day full of music, food and culture.

Joining acts like Yirrmal & the Yolngu Boys, and Chris Russell’s Chicken Walk, Roach leads the line up as he celebrates 25 years of his debut album Charcoal Lane. “It’s always an honour to be the headline act,” he says. Having some friends join him as he revisits classics, the significance of the songs of Charcoal Lane have only grown through time.

“Some of the songs…they’ve become more poignant. They’ve taken on a different meaning. When you first write songs and record them, they are just babies. They take on a deeper meaning,” says Roach. “They’ve grown with me.”

Known for prolific tracks like ‘Took The Children’, Roach is unafraid to pour his experiences into words. “Music is healing on so many levels. People listen to music when they’re down and sad. Even when you’re happy, people get up and dance,” he says.

Going through his own struggles in the past few years after losing his partner Ruby and having significant health problems, Roach’s music is more than just the sound of a nation; it is the voice of a man finding peace and comfort in his craft, “Music has a great way to heal”.

Bringing together everyone in the local community, NaranaFest is designed to be a Unique Live Music Experience, highlighting established and up and coming Indigenous music talent. The Narana Aboriginal Cultural Centre sits on the Surfcoast Highway as a cultural tourism and educational hot spot, teaching the art of listening and sharing to cultivate a culture of reconciliation.

In this way, Roach seamlessly fits into the timely event. His music crosses borders and draws us together as one, telling us about, “Who we are as a country, and that’s all together as a people”.

“I think that each of our stories are Australian stories. My story is your story, and your story is my story,” he says.

“We are not as divided as some people think we are. We all pretty much hope,” Roach continues. “It’s all up to us.”

NaranaFest will be held on Saturday, November 14 at the Narana Aboriginal Cultural Centre, 410 Surf Coast Highway. Running from 10am-9pm, tickets are on sale now at oztix.com.au. As it’s a family friendly event, any children under 12 can attend free with an adult ticket holder. With food trucks, an especially designed Boomerang stage, and a cultural exhibition, it will give festival goers the full Narana experience as you see and hear the best of what Australia has to offer.