Feature: National Indigenous Music Awards 2018 nominee Ziggy Ramo on hip-hop as a form of activism

Thursday, August 9, 2018

To celebrate the 2018 National Indigenous Music Awards, which are set to take place this Saturday, 11th August, we had the opportunity to ask a few of the immensely talented nominees a few questions in the lead-up to the big day.

Ziggy Ramo, who is currently in Europe, has had a major 2018— including the release of his single 'A to Z', playing Splendour in the Grass and his nomination for 'Best New Talent' at this year's National Indigenous Music Awards. He talks about his experience in LA, as well as the importance of hip-hop as a form of activism.

Congrats on your nomination for ‘Best New Talent’ for National Indigenous Music Awards! Did you do anything to celebrate your nomination?

Thank you! It still seems surreal. It has been a pretty busy time lately so there wasn’t a big party, but it was a great reminder to be present. I had a really lovely call with my parents. Sharing moments like that with the people who have supported you from day one is honestly the best thing.

Your music has not only allowed you to travel the country, but you also spent some time writing in LA? What was the experience like? Did you work on ‘A to Z’ whilst you were there?

It was a whirlwind. I look back on it wishing I was more prepared, but I only feel more prepared now because I have now experienced it. For me it really opened up my mind and approach to making music. It’s just another beast over there. ‘A to Z’ was already written pre-LA but when I got back, taking from what I had learnt the song grew into what it is today.

Also, congrats on playing your first Splendour in the Grass! What was it like?

Blurry. Super blurry. I usually feel really present when I perform but the whole experience was just so surreal that it didn’t start sinking in until days after I had played. It was a blast though, loved every second of it.

What other art forms apart from music have influenced you as a creative?

Everything. That is a super corny answer but it’s just how it is for me. I try and be open to receive inspiration from any input. I just think art in general is so interesting. I would say though that I am very influenced by artists advocating and crafting work that is creating safe spaces for all intersections.

Hip-hop and activism have a shared history globally, how would describe the importance of hip-hop and speaking out against injustices, particularly in an Australian context?

I think it is a case of the voiceless finding a platform to be heard. To be honest I think it is pretty wild that there is an expectation for the marginalised group to carry the heavy load in creating change, so as important as using my voice is, if another artist just wants to write bangers they should have the agency and freedom to do it. However the more I get to travel the more I see the same mentality, the same experiences for oppressed people. Nowhere is perfect, each country puts out the positive aspects but under the surface, there is a lot of terrifying things going on. So in an Australian context, I think it's really important to breakdown the stereotypes, using my voice to report the reality. Equality is about sharing, getting everyone to an equal playing field.

What are you most looking forward to on the night of the National Indigenous Music Awards?

I am so sad that I am not physically able to attend. I am currently in Stockholm, Sweden and am not back in Australia till September. But for me, it is so amazing to see so many amazing creators coming into their own. I think the diversity of music being created by Indigenous Australians is so exciting as it will play a big part in breaking down the idea that we are homogeneous. We are united by our Indigeneity but we are individuals in our own right. So to see so many individuals celebrated for their own unique art makes me so incredibly proud.

The National Indigenous Music Awards will take place this Saturday, 11th August at 7pm. If you're in Darwin, tickets are still available here. Stay tuned to all the action by following @NIMAwards on Twitter.

Written by Amy Smolcic