Think Daft Punk meets Deep Forest with the fearlessness of Nina Simone.
October 17, 2017 6:00 AM   Subscribe

Tjitji tjurta (translation ‘all you kids’) inma-ku a pakala (translation ‘get up and dance’) tjitji tjurta Tjitji tjurta inma-ku a pakala tjitji tjurta

What happens when you take the edges of gender and culture, then meet at the cross section? The result is electric, Electric Fields that is, two feminine brothers -Zaachariaha Fielding and Michael Ross - combining modern electric-soul music with ancient indigenous culture.
With his agile, androgynous voice, thigh-length cornrow braids and expansive physical gestures, Zaachariaha Fielding is an enthralling stage presence. He has come a long way from the reserved 19-year-old who appeared on X Factor in 2011, clutching the microphone with both hands and delivering a straight-down-the-line rendition of Tracy Chapman's Talkin Bout a Revolution. He had only recently moved away from the tiny Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara community in central Australia where he grew up.

Part of his evolution, he says, has been about "owning" his remarkable voice. "Back then, a male trying to sing like a female, that kind of played with my head a bit … but now I am discovering what I'm capable of and embracing the beauty of a male with an androgynous voice."
Some of you might know the classically-trained musician and gifted producer Michael Ross from Equal Love. But don't ask Zaachariaha and Micheal how they met, especially if you don't want to be cleansed under a waterfall of gorgeous giggling.

Based on verbatim quotes on freedom by the great soul singer herself, Nina Simone has a chorus repeating "Now we’re Nina Simone-ing it, Simone-ing it." Ross explains:
“Nina Simone was a lioness. She was fierce and tough and gorgeous. She wouldn’t take no for an answer, she was determined to stake a claim in creative culture. And she did it with fearlessness, even though there was so much to be fearful of."

This theme of fearlessness, and bold defiance, is something both Ross and Fielding hold dear. Growing up, they eschewed traditionally masculine modes of behaviour. “When I was a lot younger, I had to learn to master my body language,” Fielding recalls. “Walking around school, the kids knew there was something different about me. The way I talk and the type of tone I have in my voice, they’d automatically think, ‘Oh, this one’s a bit weird.’ I had to struggle to blend in. But I came from a very good family, my mother and father always accepted me.”

Ross didn’t find such acceptance until much later on. “For me, growing up as a ‘girly boy’ was one of the worst things in the entire community around me—in my school, in my church, and also in my own home. I was taught an intense lie: that being a feminine man was not only absolutely terrible, but also evil. The point at which I decided I’d be myself without shame or fear was about six years ago, when I came to Adelaide. There was a geographical change, and also a philosophical change. I had to go to the edge of dogma in order to come back to myself."
So new to the music scene they don't even have a wikipedia page, Electric Fields are winning accolades daily. Zaachariaha's voice is an amazing grace and and hallelujah to that.
posted by Thella (8 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite
 
From the fourth link, Michael Ross on the gay marriage debate derogatory debacle in Australia (previously) and his song Equal Love
a song that has been taken up by Gay Marriage USA and which he has performed at marriage equality rallies in Adelaide and Melbourne. Since the postal plebiscite, however, he's chosen to "disconnect" himself from the public debate. "I feel like I am being abused in the schoolyard again with a whole heap of people throwing in their 2¢ about whether or not I'm equal … It's too hurtful. I've done my bit."
And later on his brotherhood and identity with Zaachariaha
"Zaachariaha has said we are not an Indigenous band," says Ross. "We are not a queer band. We are not any of these things. Whatever box or word you want to attach to what we do, it doesn't matter to us because we are just doing and being."

About a year ago, Fielding started referring to Ross as his juta, meaning older brother, and said Ross could call him mala, meaning younger sibling. "I think that we are best friends as well," says Ross. "So there is best friend-ness, sibling-ness and then on top of that our creativity dovetails with such poetic perfection that it's hard not to believe that the ancestors had something to do with it."
posted by Thella at 6:34 AM on October 17, 2017 [2 favorites]


Zaachariaha has an unearthly amazing voice. What a range.
posted by grumpybear69 at 6:50 AM on October 17, 2017


Well that certainly worked for me! I love how happy they seem on stage.
posted by karmachameleon at 6:51 AM on October 17, 2017


A note on the gorgeous giggling link: 1) it's a 11mb MP3, and 2) for folks not familiar with Australian pop culture, the "rage" that Zaachariaha mentioned is a weekend-only night-time music video show on Australia's ABC1 that started back in 1987 (self-link-ish previously).

And 3) it's a wonderful, fun, lovely interview, so it's definitely worth your time and bandwidth.

Thank you so much for this, it's a great way to start the day!
posted by filthy light thief at 7:15 AM on October 17, 2017 [2 favorites]


This is SO GOOD
posted by knownassociate at 12:32 PM on October 17, 2017


Wow.

They're amazingly awesome.
posted by happyinmotion at 2:48 PM on October 17, 2017


This is great.

Also now that I know about them, I want them to do a collaboration with Magnetic Fields because of the names, even though it wouldn't really make sense
posted by vibratory manner of working at 4:18 PM on October 18, 2017


and Gracie Fields...?

If you happen to be in Sydney near the Opera House on Sat Nov 25th at 9pm, Electric Fields are performing on/in/at the Sydney Opera House Forecourt as part of the free, weekend-long Homeground Festival celebrating First Nations culture.
posted by Thella at 1:37 AM on October 19, 2017


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