For many, language is sacred. It gives people a gateway into their heritage, allows for a deeper understanding of yourself, and keeps traditional values alive. Just ask Yirinda.

The Australian duo of Samuel Pankhurst and Fred Leone mix ancient Aboriginal language with modern sounds on their debut single, “Yuangan (Dugong)”. It’s a song that brings the traditional Butchulla language to wider national prominence, Leone being one of three Butchulla song-men, a song and language custodian for the Butchulla people from Queensland’s Fraser Coast region.

“In Butchulla culture there are only two seasons. Walai-Walai Djau – the cool dry season runs from April till September,” he explains. “Walai-Walai Daju cool and dry Ngooringan – wet and warm and runs from October through to March.”

“Yuangan (Dugong)” was originally recorded around 1960 and was subsequently stored at the University of Queensland Anthropology Museum. As Yirinda, Leone and Pankhurst “Yuangan (Dugong)” deliberately reclaimed and reimagined the migrational song.

Signed to Chapter Music, Yirinda have longevity in mind, with a debut self-titled album scheduled for release in February of next year. Yirinda the album has gone from Sydney to Abbey Road, where Alex Wharton (The Beatles, My Bloody Valentine) did the final master after Pankhurst’s original recording in Brisbane.

The album promises to be an intriguing combination of experimental soundscapes, Buchulla culture and tradition, and a lot of fine instrumentation and gorgeous vocals.

While it’s their debut as a pair, both Pankhurst and Leone have extensive musical backgrounds and together have performed across various national events and festivals such as the Australian Art Music Awards and Golden Plains (to name a few).

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Before Yirinda’s formation, Leone was a member of The Black Arm Band, a band that championed Indigenous culture on the global scale, performing music, and other arts across wider Australia and the rest of the world, and also formed Queensland’s first Aboriginal hip hop label in 2009 with Impossible Odds.

Their debut album is available on February 16th next year.

Yirinda’s “Yuangan (Dugong)” is out now. Their self-titled debut album is out February 16th 2023 via Chapter Music (pre-save/pre-order here). 

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