Alex Dyson talks reconciliation with Jeremy Marou

Hi, Alex Dyson here. Over my time working on the Triple J breakfast show I’ve had the pleasure of meeting some extraordinarily talented indigenous musicians. As well as having a very large smile, they’ve always got a few stories to tell, so i thought the best use of my National Reconciliation Week blog would be to introduce you to a couple of them!

First up is Torres Strait Islander and guitar plucking maestro Jeremy Marou; who along with his good mate Tom Busby is one half of Aussie indie/folk act Busby Marou. These guys got plucked from relative obscurity to appear on the Finn brothers tribute album He Will Have His Way, and have since taken the Aussie music scene by mellow and thoughtful storm. Their track Biding My Time scored number 81 in triple j’s hottest 100, and you can even check out their killer Like A Version for triple j below. Take it away Jeremy!

Tell us about the first time you picked up an instrument?

As a typical Torres Strait island black man, growing up in a large Torres Strait Islander family music is simply a way of life. From as early as I can remember my dad and uncles had guitars, drums etc around, so I always would muck around on different instruments (mainly guitar).   It wasn’t until I was 14 years old however that I worked out the effect of the guitar on girls and actually asked my father how to play… He showed me some basic chords then told me to use my ears. Best advice.

Who do you look up to musically?

I have music idols like Brad Paisley, Keith Urban as I love a country music sound.   Love the guitar tones and sounds these guys get also the quick country style “chicken pickin” most guitarist brush off.  Although Busby Marou aren’t a country band you can hear my country influences.

How do you think your culture affects your sound?

Natural harmonies.  Like most island cultures the “island harmony” comes natural. This definitely reflects the sound I create with Busby.  I’ve heard people say my guitar playing reflects cultural influences – this is far from the truth. The Torres Strait Islander much like the maori”s have one maybe two strumming patterns.

If your music was a scrumptious meal, what would it be?

It would be a big red emperor fish, baked with lemon garlic and herbs… Of course I caught the fish.

And finally, what does reconciliation mean to you?

Reconciliation isn’t about all black fellas celebrating how far we have come… Rather a black and more so white celebration.  Reconciliation week there will he thousands of different events around the country to acknowledge reconciliation, 99% of these events will be driven by black people.  Reconciliation is about black and white people.  I hope people look at Busby and myself and see us as living proof of reconciliation.

To find out more about Busby Marou, visit their website here.

Paul House with gum leaves and smoke
Paul Girrawah House

Paul Girrawah House has multiple First Nation ancestries from the South-East Canberra region, including the Ngambri-Ngurmal (Walgalu), Pajong (Gundungurra), Wallabollooa (Ngunnawal) and Erambie/Brungle (Wiradyuri) family groups.

Paul acknowledges his diverse First Nation history, he particularly identifies as a descendant of Onyong aka Jindoomang from Weereewaa (Lake George) and Henry ‘Black Harry’ Williams from Namadgi who were both multilingual, essentially Walgalu-Ngunnawal-Wiradjuri speaking warriors and Ngunnawal–Wallaballooa man William Lane aka ‘Billy the Bull’ - Murrjinille.

Paul was born at the old Canberra hospital in the centre of his ancestral country and strongly acknowledges his First Nation matriarch ancestors, in particular his mother Dr Aunty Matilda House-Williams and grandmother, Ms Pearl Simpson-Wedge.

Paul completed a Bachelor of Community Management from Macquarie University, and Graduate Certificate in Wiradjuri Language, Culture and Heritage and Management from CSU.

Paul provided the Welcome to Country for the 47th Opening of Federal Parliament in 2022. Paul is Board Director, Ngambri Local Aboriginal Land Council, Member Indigenous Reference Group, National Museum of Australia and Australian Government Voice Referendum Engagement Group.  

Paul works on country with the ANU, First Nations Portfolio as a Senior Community Engagement Officer

Acknowledgement of Country

Reconciliation Australia acknowledges Traditional Owners of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing  connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures; and to Elders past and present. 

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples should be aware that this website contains images or names of people who have passed away.

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