Spacey Jane, Ocean Alley and more about their favorite Indigenous artists


After a sad absence of a few years, the National Indigenous Music Awards return to the Darwin Amphitheater on Saturday August 6th.

And the event is making up for lost time with a massive celebration of Indigenous music scheduled for the evening: Thelma Plum, King Stingray, Emma Donovan & The Putbacks and more will all perform on stage.

This year’s nominees were announced last month, with BARKAA topping the list with four nominations. Baker Boy also has a chance of winning three awards, including Entertainer of the Year (see the full list here).

To celebrate the welcome return of NIMAs, 12 of the biggest names in Australian music have chosen their favorite songs from Indigenous artists, explaining why they love them so much.

Tickets for this year’s NIMA are on sale now via

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ocean walkway

King Stingray – ‘Let’s Go’

“It has a great upbeat chorus, then breaks down into a bridge and rebuilds with didgeridoo and psychedelic guitar, which is what we love to listen to. The imagery of Arnhem’s central highway is also so vivid and fits the music well, it’s just very thoughtful. It’s another masterpiece from the band.

Jaguar Jonze

Emily Wurramurra – ‘Mamalika Diraka (Wheels of the Bus)’

“I’m obsessed with Emily Wurramurra’s take on well-known children’s songs with her latest EP Ayarra Emeba (calm songs). “Mamalika Diraka (Wheels on the Bus)” is the most nurturing hug. Emily is an immense talent and it has been an honor to watch her grow as a friend and as an artist over the past few years.

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Teen Jesus and the Jeans Teasers

Jessica Mauboy – ‘High/Low’

“One of my favorite songs has always been ‘Up/Down’ by Jessica Mauboy,” says Scarlett of Teen Jesus. “It was the first concert I went to and I bought his album from Big W the very next day. 2009 was a great year and I thank Jessica for her service.

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Amyl and the sniffers

B-Town Warriors – “The People of the Red Sunset”
June Jones (Alice Skye Remix) – ‘Party Tricks’
JK-47 – ‘Wings’ and ‘The Recipe’
DancingWater – ‘White Noise’
Dameeeela ft. Tjaka – ‘The Shake Up’
BARKAA – ’22clan’
Waak Waak Djungi – ‘Mother I’m Going’
Roger Knox – ‘Koori Rose’

“The favorites right now are Barkaa, JK-47 and Alice Skye. Briggs is also obviously awesome, as is Kelly from Camp Cope,” shares Amy Taylor.

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Sneaky Tourniquet

Beddy Rays – “Alone”

“We love this song and this band,” says Sam of Sly Withers. “Such a bright, no-frills Meanjin-rock banger from a bunch of the cutest guys you’ve ever met. Good luck trying to get any of Jacko’s melodies out of your head for the next day or four days after your first listen.

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King Gizzard and the Magician Lizard

King Stingray – “Get Me Out”

“When we saw them play at the By The Meadow festival just outside the Otways on the Victorian Surf Coast, that track stuck with me the most. Having lived in the town since I was 18, it’s the only place I ever wanted to be, though as I got older the Surf Coast where I grew up is starting to get more and more appealing.

“Some lyrics stand out so powerfully. Painting a nostalgic image of their homeland with lines on the deck like “Feel that cool breeze on your face/Feel that rain on your hair/Run to you” really takes you there- down with them. When vocalist Yirrŋa Yunupiŋu starts moaning in his native language and singing the words “Get Me Out of Town”, you can feel the tingles in your spine. Amazing songwriting with heartfelt feeling and honest knocks every time.

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spacey jane

Sycco – ‘Superstar’

“We love Sycco’s ‘Superstar’ – it has such great energy with an amazing groove (that bassline is poppin!) Sycco is a superstar!!”

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Vera Blue

Miiesha – ‘War’

“The War” caught my attention and interest when I heard it on triple J while driving. Her voice is so unique, her tone is crystal clear and has so much depth and emotion. She also has super real and honest lyrics. The production is experimental, which I love, and the use of vocal and distortion effects complement the feel and energy of the track’s sounds. It’s heavy and dark but so beautiful at the same time.

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ruby fields

King Stingray – ‘Milkumana’

“Besides the boys who are all absolute legends, their musical sense is incredibly unique and beautiful. They have such a visceral and creative way of telling stories.

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King Stingray – ‘Let’s Go’

“One of my favorite bands. The chorus is so epic and big and has a good joyful and sad energy. I also like the songs on the road.


Musgrave Group – ‘Families’

“I know very little about the Musgrave Band, except that they come from APY lands”, explains Alex de Bad//Dreems. “Miles (the band’s drummer) told me about it and it was the first song I played. It opens with a provocative bush reggae groove. The voices then arrive a little later and they are magnificent. Gloomy and plaintive, like the rain in the desert. I don’t understand the language, but I don’t need it. It’s beautiful and moving. Next comes a crystal-clear guitar solo that would put Mark Knopfler to shame. These guys are the real deal.

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The Giants of the Jungle

Dameeeela ft. Tjaka – ‘The Shake Up’

“Dameeeela is a proud DJ Yuggera from Meanjin (Brisbane), who has been a diligent champion of local and indigenous music of all different styles for the better part of a decade,” says Andrew of Jungle Giants. “It’s his first outing and it’s an absolute heater with a nostalgic Brisbane-meets-Manchester rave video. If you feel like you need more (you will), be sure to check it out. Take a peek at his Boiler Room set and dive deep into his frenetic and awe-inspiring musical taste.

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