Category Archives: Music

Afro Dance (aka how to shake those knots out)

I just wanted to share with you this YouTube channel, which I “discovered” the other day and look forward to seeing grow. Titled ‘Afro Dance’, it aims to bring subscribers the highest quality dance videos within the afrobeats scene. I’m using dance as pain relief these days – a way to loosen and work out the knots and tightness in my upper body that inevitably accrues with wheelchair use. So these kinds of clips are my aerobics videos.

Here are two of my favourite routines so far – published in the last few months:

Love seeing a Black Woman and Black Man working together flawlessly…

…and a dark-skinned Black Woman slaying so hard.

“Meri Tolai… yu stap lo we?”

“I’m right here, baby!” – me.

Still in holiday mode, stuck in Melbourne but listening to island music to transport me away. I’d like to take a moment to acknowledge and appreciate PNG/Melanesian Men Musicians for the number of love songs about Tolai* Women that exist. REPRESENTATION! Black Love is still strong in the Pacific. And of course ALL Melanesian Women are worthy of a million songs dedicated to their magic.

I am curious as to whether other regions in the world manifest this phenomena; the practice of lyrically identifying the ethnic group of the woman being sung too? It only just occurred to me that this might seem odd or inappropriate to outsiders.

That said, I love this track 🙂 ‘Ayo Meri Tolai’ by Dezine. I’m windin’ to it to wake up my body this morning…

*I am a Tolai Woman.


The year I become my own Hero.

Mood going into 2017 🙂 Listen to the words:

Some more words from the great one Herself:

Its been proved time and time again that a hero was always reluctant of their gift within.
The only difference with myself as an artist now and my audience is I’ve tapped into my strength.

In a year I went from audience to artist.
Solely because of embracing what makes me…. me.
HERoes is about finding the hero within.
The true gift and talents of oneself and nurturing the hero that is already there.

Wear your cape.


Listening to this young, brilliant, autodidact musician Tash Sultana transports me (I really want to continue enjoying her art, so I hope she either never makes a political statement or if she does, she’s on the right side of history). Here’s her live bedroom recording of ‘Synergy’:

And her live bedroom recording of ‘Notions’:

Here is her interview with Marc Fennell for SBS’ The Feed. This interview resonated with me on so many levels; particular her words on the mental space she goes into when she’s performing:

And one more thing…

Paul Kelly, and A.B Original doing a cover of Paul’s legendary anthem “Dumb Things”. listen to A.B. Original’s lyrics…

Stella Mag Blog posts (May – Oct)

Links to all my posts for the Stella Magazine blog published since mid-May below – newest to oldest.



25 OCTOBER 2015

Film: Tanna (2015)

Shot completely in Vanuatu, award-winning film ‘Tanna’ tells a true story of forbidden love.



23 OCTOBER 2015

Music: ‘Once’ by Ngairre

Ahead of the release of Ngaiire’s 2nd album, we’re tuning in to our Issue 7 cover girl’s latest single & performances.



22 OCTOBER 2015

Women candidates in Pacific elections

We take a look at some of the recent stories about increasing female representation in parliaments across the Pacific.



07 OCTOBER 2015

Music: Blue King Brown & Nattali Rize

Check out what Stella’s Issue 13 cover story BKB are up to now, & the fantastic new solo EP of frontwoman Nattali Rize!



01 OCTOBER 2015

The ‘trickle down’ aid myth

Australia has been urged to adopt a new approach to aid in PNG: one that empowers its grassroots citizens & civil society.




Free And Equal in the Pacific

How do we free our communities of homophobia & transphobia? This awareness campaign leads the way.



07 AUGUST 2015

The ‘Chocolate Voyage’

A look at Melanesian cocoa making, as a Fijian crew sail to Bougainville for the ‘Wellington Chocolate Voyage’!



22 JULY 2015

Climate Change & “Refugees” from the Pacific

We look at recent Pacific climate change stories making headlines. It is all connected.



06 JULY 2015

Primer: Pacific Games 2015

It’s finally underway! Today we take a glance at The Pacific Games – its past, present, and future



30 JUNE 2015

Exposed: Corrupt Australian professionals exploiting PNG

How foreign professionals bribe PNG politicians – and launder dirty money in Australia.



18 JUNE 2015

Film ‘Blackbird’ shines light on Pacific Islander sugar slaves in Australia

Filmmaker Amie Batalibasi’s period drama explores Australian South Sea Islanders history



10 JUNE 2015

Josephine Getsi’s historic win

An unprecedented number of women ran for open seats in the recent Bougainville election. Josephine Getsi was one of them.



29 MAY 2015

Thank You, ‘Haus Krai’ anti-violence activists

Stories and photographs of some of the women and men who joined Haus Krai 2015.



15 MAY 2015

Haus Krai 2015 & The Leniata Legacy

Join demonstrations in PNG, Australia & the U.S tomorrow for ‘Haus Krai’: a call to action to end violence against women.


Stella Magazine Issue 15 on sale now!

I know it has been a lot longer than 3 days since my last post… sorry. All I can say is that life is requiring my full attention right now. I am also spending A LOT more time thinking, questioning, researching and developing than I am broadcasting at the moment – refining my own beliefs, ideas, and vision. But this the first in a return to regular posting on Just the Messenger. For real.

So here we go. The revamped, thicker Stella Magazine Issue 15 is currently on sale! I was honoured to write the cover feature story for this one, ‘Conscious Entrepreneur‘, on the courageous and indomitable Grace Dlabik – parent, humanitarian, boss lady at GiDi Creative and Global Creative Director of Empire star Malik Yoba’s iconic32 (page 47-60). This is a fantastic, content-rich edition and, as always, an aesthetic feast for the eyes. I am so proud to be involved with this outstanding publication. And we have an app now (see below!)

Stella Issue 15

List of stockists here.

As mentioned, Stella magazine is now also available digitally through our brand new app! 

Available on the iTunes app store here.

And on GooglePlay here.

Online subscriptions are available for residents in PNG, Australia, New Zealand, Asia/Pacific and the Rest of the World.

Subscribe here for your chance to WIN a prize!


Stay in the loop by liking Stella Magazine on Facebook here. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram.

And sign up to our newsletter to get blog posts from yours truly and the Editor via our website (pop in your email address in the ‘subscribe to newsletter’ box on the right hand side).

Pic by cafe, wholesaler, market stall and caterer Mama Coco!

Photo by cafe, wholesaler, market stall and caterer Mama Coco!

Two Coins.

I am still terribly obsessed with this song. So much love for the lyrics, & the melody.

It’s always the simple ones, eh:

North west is where I’m heading
Underneath the golden sky
I’m searching for wisdom
That every man seeks to find

I’ve got wicked thoughts brewing
Many evil deeds I’ve done
I’m looking for a reason
For a reason not to run

Cuz I’ve always been dark
With light somewhere in the distance
I’ve always been dark
With light somewhere in the distance

I’ve got no destination
No place to call my own
I’ll explore the constellations
Til I find the cause I’m mean to hold

But come fever or come famine
Come the biting winter cold
Just put two coins upon my eyelids
So I can pay the boatman’s toll

Cuz I’ve always been dark
With light somewhere in the distance
I’ve always been dark
With light somewhere in the distance

I’ve been so unforgiving
Stranded in old traditions

Cuz I’ve always been dark
With light somewhere in the distance
I’ve always been dark
With light somewhere in the distance

I’ve always been dark
With light somewhere in the distance
I’ve always been dark
With light somewhere in the distance

(dedicated to my fellow screw-ups oxo)

Making GREEN music festivals.

I’ve attended a lot of art events, and seen a lot of plays, this year, for educational purposes. Everything from Aidan Fennessy’s The National Interest to Stephen Adly Guirgis’ Motherfucker with the Hat. Not so much live music, though. But the weekend before last, I attended The Harvest Music Festival, in the manicured grounds of the Werribee Mansion. And for the second year of the festival’s existence, it was a very enjoyable day – minus all the teething problems of last year.

Back in 2011 when I blogged about Harvest [in this post HERE] I said I would write about environmentally friendly music festivals “some time in 2012”. So here it is: a post about a few things I have learned about making music festivals green.

Energy explosions: Glastonbury, Bonnaroo, Coachella, et cetera.

There is no doubt – music festivals expend a lot of energy, and produce a lot of waste. Many festivals, however, have been trying to reduce the environmental impact of us indulgent, spoilt music fans in the West, in various ways. The location and season inevitably dictate the nature of the measures. I’ll discuss one festival that has introduced fairly obvious ones. Despite being massive and well established, I think it’s still interesting to compare these measures to ones you have possibly witnessed and encountered at Australian festivals. Or, perhaps, to think about their absence.

The Glastonbury Festival in the UK, one of the largest music festivals in the world, has long championed environmental issues. Today all festival programmes come in 100% organic unbleached cotton bags, printed with vegetable dyes, and official tees are printed using water-based (non-pvc) inks. Only compostable or re-useable plates and cutlery are permitted. Cleaners use eco-friendly cleaning products (i.e. non-petroleum based) for toilets, and all traders are encouraged to use eco-friendly cleaning products in their kitchens.

A lot of the waste generated by the festival is recycled: cans, glass, paper, electrical and electronic equipment, wood and organic waste are separated and recycled “as locally as possible” (the Fuji Rock Festival outdoes all in the recycling department, though). 1,300 recycling volunteers make Glastonbury’s initiative viable – 1,200 of them work for a ticket, and the others for a nominated charity like WaterAid, Kiota, or Bhopal Medical Appeal.

And the festival is turning to the sun to meet energy needs (as we all should). So far solar power and green technology is being used for three stage areas, and all cafes, stages and stalls above the old railway line in the Green Fields are run on wind or solar power, as are the showers. They have expanded their solar capacity, too – Michael Eavis, Glastonbury Festival organiser, installed 200 new solar photovoltaic panels on the roof of a shed at his Worthy Farm this year (a smaller installation than the 1,100 panels that were installed in autumn 2010).

Other initiatives have included the introduction of biodegradable tent pegs to offer festival campers, as an alternative to metal pegs many festival goers had been using that endangered local cows. Only Fairtrade tea, coffee, sugar and hot chocolate are on sale (expect a future post on what Fairtrade means, in practice). In an effort to reduce road deliveries, reservoirs have been built to store water and food (all of the festival water will apparently come from the mains in future, and the water is heavily monitored and quality tested twice a day).

Being enormously successful, Glastonbury have been able to invest money into local sewage plants, so that Festival sewage waste can now be processed within a 12.8km radius of the site, and gives to green organisations – Glastonbury claim to be the world’s biggest single regular donor to Greenpeace. Finally for this post, they PLANT TREES – over 10,000 native trees and hedge plants in the local environment, with other initiatives to maintain a high level of bio-diversity in the area. Overachiever.

There you have it – just some initiatives to think about. I’m certainly going to make myself more aware now about the festivals I attend, and the measures they are taking to lighten the environmental impact of our emptying of wallets and fleeting enjoyment. Certainly there are things we can all do as individuals to not leave behind a bloody mess. My disability may be fuel inefficient (taxi rides, yo) but I can at the very least car-pool, re-use bottles, and put waste products in their appropriate place.

That is, if I can access the festivals in the first place – expect another post comparing festivals on that issue.

Back to Harvest.

This year Harvest featured U.S. acts like Mike Patton, Beck, Santigold and the U.K’s Crazy P  – I was mostly excited about Beck, having never seen him live before (last year it was the Hypnotic Brass Ensemble, Mercury Rev and Portishead who drew me in/sent me away satisfied). Unlike last year, where I was awkwardly “danced with” by a lady in a kaftan and asked if I had drugs by some fellow who had clearly already taken some, I had a heart-to-heart with a lady in a kaftan who was high. It’s like the two previous “WTF” moments morphed into one this year. Something new though – a “What the HEY! Is that okay?” moment – I spotted a young man proudly carrying a Papua New Guinean bilum. I thought that was cool, though. Not so cool… man wearing Native American headgear. Reminded me of THIS & THIS.

GREEN-wise, there is room for improvement – although carpooling was advocated, standard recycling bins available, and free water stations (patrons were encouraged to bring an empty reusable bottle). Harvest will likely turn into an annual tradition for me – such an easy weekend of tunes, art performances, and (so far) “civilised” crowds, in one of the most elegant places in Melbourne.  The second last act I caught for the night was Icelandic band Sigur Rós – I had never seen them live before, but they left many as moved as Portishead had the year prior. I was also impressed by their fans, who parted like the Red Sea to let me roll right up in front of the stage, centre (wheelchair perks!)

The ‘Great Lawn’ stage where they (and Beck) performed was enormous, situated in front of the Werribee Mansion. It was used cinematically by the Icelanders – massive, filmic projections cued to the music, with complementary lighting effects, and a mini-orchestra. The experience was… moving, ethereal, and majestic, of course (it’s Sigur Rós). I’ll put it this way – the guy next to me said “…I’m gonna cry”. I think that pretty much sums up the experience ;P

Finished off the night with Santigold. Special thanks to the security staff, who were angels to me, and to Mzrizk for pushing my tired ass across the Big Lawn so I could see Beck, then went away, and came back, squeezing through the tight crowd to deliver to me a spiced rum and some swag. TOP lady.

I’m sure I will be going again next year – how could I not when it’s so near my ‘hood? Even though I am utterly broke now, and life is a glorious mess. At this point in the journey I don’t care 🙂 I feel so present. Am enormously proud of myself for coming so far in one year, in terms of stopping all the negative mind-chatter – that voice in my head sounds mostly like a really great, supportive friend these days, and my understanding of (and faith in) life, in the universe, is stronger than ever. Focusing now on the work I have to do and enjoying Victoria on a budget with my whole family, and friends, these holidays. Next festival to attend will be in January, interstate… more on that when the time comes.


Just managed to have the first genuinely relaxing & angst-free weekend in a long time (I needed it). Got some Christmas shopping done, caught up with family, chilled with my Sistas, Mama and Sister-in-law at the once-a-month Weaving Circle, & visited a new artist run space I will write about very soon. Also leisurely attended to some household/life to-do items I’ve tenaciously ignored for months. I can see my desk now!!!

Finding You.

Woke up to The Go-Betweens this morning. Hence feeling warm and hopeful.

This is actually my favourite song… and mission statement. The “you” here being a metaphor for everything (places, experiences, people) that are Dharma (for me. All songs mean something different, to different people… I think interpretations are merely projections and reflections of our own Selves, anyway).

Enjoy, and more posts, when Spring has sprung:

What would you do if you turned around

And saw me beside you

Not in a dream but in a song?

Would you float like a phantom

Or would you sing along?


Don’t know where I’m going

Don’t know where it’s flowing

But I know it’s finding you


What would you do

If you saw me driving by in a car

The quickest you’ve ever seen me spin?

Would you smile and wave

Or would you bow and get in?


Don’t know where I’m going

Don’t know where it’s flowing

But I know it’s finding you


And then the lightning finds us

Burns away our kindness

We can’t find a place to hide

Come the rainy season

Surrender to our treasons

Can we even find our tears?


Don’t know where I’m going

Don’t know where it’s flowing

But I know it’s finding you

Gathering for music.

As a birthday present, I picked up some (discounted) tickets for my brother and I to attend Harvest PresentsThe Gathering’ Music Festival, held this year on the lawns of the elegant Werribee Mansion. It was very hot, sunny, fedora-required weather for late night music. The event had an almost carnival feel to it, with various arts performers marching around the grounds and in one of the venue stages – a vaudeville tent. I was unimpressed with the signage on the surrounding roads, the coupon system for drinks was apparently disastrous (I opted for a dry day), and punters were pissed about pre-festival timetable delays. The only thing I really care about these days, though, is ACCESSIBILITY. The fact is that the lawns of the mansion are beautiful. And flat – being in a wheelchair, this is something I always need to consider, when going anywhere.

When I saw the line-up, it was like a trip back to high school & 2005 for me: Mercury Rev, TV on the Radio, Bright Eyes, Flaming Lips, and Portishead(!) all headlining acts. Not exactly times I want to go back to – I’m one of those weirdos who finds it difficult to separate music from people, events, and places in memory. Listening to a song can unleash a flood of memories I have great difficulty controlling. So, I thought that seeing these bands now, I’d be able to create some new pleasant memories for songs I used to love. Not far from my house. And I did.

Younger acts I was keen to see included Hypnotic Brass Ensemble and Seekae. Thanks to annoying set clashes, brother went off and enjoyed Seekae whilst I was busy overwriting my memory with Mercury Rev (Seekae are local, I’ll see them again). Also caught The National ( some interesting interpretive dances going on during that) and some of  Clap Your Hands Say Yeah‘s set. A woman in a kaftan decided to dance with me during. Always fun/awkward. Strangest part of the day though came courtesy of this clearly high fellow:

Him: Hey. Do you have any drugs?

Me: Sorry, no.

Him: Oh. Who’s on next?

Me: Clap Your Hands Say Yeah.

Him: Ahhh… NOW it all makes sense….

He then wandered over to a speaker and stared at it for 5 minutes, until a friend of his pulled him away. Drugs are bad for you, kids.

Anyway. The ever energetic Hypnotic Brass Ensemble had brother and I bouncing with JOY to a performance of this song, ‘War’ (love this track in the morning!):

Mercury Rev soothed my soul with their performance of this song, ‘Holes’ (my former lullaby):

PORTISHEAD, though, took the main prize for both my brother and I.

My girl crush on vocalist Beth Gibbons has been rekindled:*

And the band pounded my head into a blissful trance with ‘Machine Gun’. One of the great things about having a wheelchair is that the bass reverbs in my metal, under me. Especially when I am close to the stage. Talk about feeling the music (not the best sound quality in this clip, but you get the idea):*

*not my videos

In a nutshell, the weather was perfect, the venue was great, the bands on their game and the crowd appropriately civilised (if you don’t count the usual peeing in bushes). My brother enjoyed his birthday present, and I can listen to my old CDs in peace, now. If they go for festival #2, I hope they hold it at The Werribee Mansion again – perfect flat (and local!) ground for this Westie. Thanks to AJ Maddah for bringing together a great line-up. To hades with the haters. As a cripple, I was satisfied.

Green Music Festivals?

I couldn’t help but think, in the midst of all the music, about ways a music festival could be made more environmentally friendly, or energy efficient. As with everything else we do (including use this computer) there is always an environmental cost with a music event: bands have to be flown in (air travel is awful for the environment, in terms of carbon emissions – frequent flyers be aware), and sound and lighting are an energy drain. But there are ways that both individual music fans and festival organisers can minimise the harm.

Have added this to my ridiculously long list of things to research. Expect a post on this topic some time in 2012.

In the meantime, music wise, The  Australasian World Music Expo (AWME) is kicking off this week. It is both a trade fair, providing a platform to foster stronger relationships with music industry associates both nationally and from around the globe specifically interested in product from this region, and a music showcase for the public. I know peeps performing as part of this. Check the website for details. Bands/groups performing include:

Grrilla Step

Aaron Choulai & We Don’t Dance For No Reason 


Khalil Gudaz

Emily Ulman

Kylie Auldist

King Kadu

Richard Mogu

Graveyard Train


The Public Opinion Afro Orchestra

Stiff Gins

Mulatu Astatke (Ethiopia) and Black Jesus Experience

I’m probably going to the opening and will hopefully catch a couple of shows.

Speaking of ‘world’ music (a term too insultingly generic and vague for the quality and diversity of the artistry that is lumped together in this genre), my friend Inderdeep, who wrote the Big Issue article that inspired this response piece, has invited me to an Indian Spiritual gathering (she’s a Sufi) featuring the music of Dya Singh (Melbourne based interpreter of the traditional Sikh hymns, shabad, with diverse influences from around the globe). I’m unable to attend, having plans already for that date, but Dya Singh’s music is wonderful. I first listened to his music back in early 2010, oddly around the same time I met Inderdeep. Love this quote I saw on his Myspace page once: “If you don’t see God in all, you don’t see God at all.” I have serious issues with religion and ‘God’ and whatnot, but the universal message behind that is awesome.

I’ll leave you with this track, ‘Void’, from Seekae. Recently, when I can’t sleep (like now) I put the headphones on and listen to this while I write:

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