Director David Batty talks about the music in Black As
After shooting the pilots for Black As I asked Joe if he had any local music we could use in the edit. He gave me a USB stick loaded with all kinds of music from Arnhem Land. I waded through it and selected a bunch of tracks. Turned out every one of them was from a band in Ramingining. To my surprise I discovered it had been produced by the legendary Allen Murphy, ex-New Yorker, now Territorian….and former drummer of The Village People. The tracks were quirky, had a unique feel and above all were really catchy. They had a “poppy” feel but the traditional singing, didj and local language located it firmly in Ramingining. I loved it and wanted more of it for the series.
Allen had a long relationship with Ramingining and its musicians and singers. He took little convincing to come on location and record more music for the series. He set up a temporary recording studio in a nest of demountables with a mountain of gear, all brought in from Darwin. In no time word got around and Allen was inundated with local musicians keen to write, record, sing, wail, drum and generally be involved in the whole creative process. Every few days I would visit the musicians, show them rushes and talk about what I wanted and what might work. I was always met with lively enthusiasm and fresh ideas.
Over the next two months Allen recorded and mixed over thirty new tracks that gave us the unique local feel that drives the series. It was a pretty intense undertaking but worth all the effort. It not only brought an immense amount of integrity to the project but gave local people a strong sense of ownership and involvement which is evident throughout the series.