BEST-SELLING POET and hip-hop artist, Luka Lesson. is serving Australia a lesson. He wants to cease of racism in Australia and promote acceptance of different cultures and races with his latest single Living Artefact, featuring the fine vocals of Kahl Wallis.
Luka and Kahl’s backgrounds unfortunately involve racism and they both faced and continuously facing prejudice just because of their heritages; Luka from a Greek background and Kahl from an Aboriginal background. Luka immersing himself to be inspired by Greek storytellers, street performers modern musicians . So Living Artefact was born from and he found himself writing a track reflecting about his personal heritage, his personal experiences as well as the ongoing issues about racism within the Australian community and worldwide.
Thanks very much Luka and Kahl for an insightful look into the background story of Living Artefact which is now available on iTunes. Their upcoming national tour dates follow the interview.
Hi guys! Your new single Living Artefact has powerful messages. What drove you to write the lyrics?
Living Artefact came to me after a year of studying Ancient Greek history and in particular The Odyssey for another project. I realised that 3,000 years ago, in the scheme of things, is actually just yesterday when it comes to the history of human life on this planet. And that the lessons we can learn from this history is immediately applicable to our lives today, not something difficult to understand or weird. Actually, it is essential.
The song is a reminder that we are the current embodiment of our ancestors and as well as looking backwards to learn; we must look forwards to apply the learning.
Growing up did you experience racism? If so, what scars did it leave behind?
I experienced racism at both primary and high school, from both teachers and students. I’ve also experienced being treated differently at university and at writers’ festivals/in my professional life. As well as being called a wog and all the other usual names used for a Greek kid, at a very young age I was also called two derogatory names usually used for Aboriginal people – I think this embedded within me a comprehension that Australia’s cultural and racial hierarchy leaves First Nations People at the bottom in the national psyche.
Personally, the scars are related to confidence, self-belief, success, speaking out in public, needing approval from society, fear of authority/police/government, playing the safe/good/funny/ ethnic so I can be accepted, knowing my boundaries, breaking down my own prejudice against white Australia that exists because of what I experienced, learning to be forgiving and accepting but also relentless in the protection of myself and other minorities. These are just a few of the things that get ingrained in a person that experiences racism. Like I said though, I did not experience anywhere near as much as some other people are experiencing every single day in Australia right now.
Luka: What other kind of poetry do you write? Where can people purchase your two best-selling poetry books?
I write a variety of styles of poetry and on a range of topics. I guess you can say overall I have a certain aesthetic connected to my work – a rap background has given me the rhythm and energy I embed in my poetry to express what I have to say. But I also have poems not meant for the stage – quiet, subtle things that only live in my books. Sometimes a whisper is the best way to be powerful, other times you need to rage.
My books and CDs can be purchased at www.lukalesson.com.au
Kahl: I like your quote, “”For me it’s a personal, spiritual journey which has deep connection to ancestors and country. I’m a living continuation of my ancestors and we are living proof of how to maintain resilience and strength, respecting and acknowledging those who have come before us, who have shaped and inspired our voice.” Can you enlighten us about your heritage and your passion to breakdown stereotypes?
I identify with Grandfather’s mob the Wuthathi people, Shelburne Bay Cape York. Dingo is a totem of great significance. Papa worked in Far North Queensland cutting sugar cane and worked on the pearling boats. Himself along with many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders were subjected to stolen wages between the late 1800’s to the 1970’s.
My Grandmother grew up on Mapoon mission in Cape York and is a part of the stolen generation. In the 1950’s she served on the board of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advancement League in Cairns, North Queensland. She was among leading activists during the 1967 referendum.
“Breaking down stereotypes by celebrating and honouring those who’ve come before us, our family and ancestors, in turn giving the next generations a better social environment ridding discrimination and racism. I aim to share the stories, reveal the truth through the media, news and my passion through contemporary art, music and poetry. I continue the ancient songline, help heal the past and bring about a better future for our next generations.”
I bet you’re excited about your upcoming tour together after Luka performing at 2017’s Splendour in the Grass?
Yes!! I feel like Kahl is actually the perfect artist for me to tour alongside. Both in terms of our message and our styles – and the fact that we’ve become bros. His voice is haunting and his energy’s so strong. I tend to rant and get into the deep nuts and bolts of a discussion – Kahl reminds everyone it’s all going to be OK… calm down…. we just have to keep fighting. I’m looking forward to taking it Australia-wide.
Living Artefacts have excitingly announced they’re touring Australia! Here are their tour dates:
FRI, 25 AUG | Night Quarter, Gold Coast, QLD | FREE
SAT, 26 AUG | Queensland Poetry Festival @ Judith Wright Centre, Brisbane, QLD | TICKETS
THU, 31 AUG | Solbar, Sunshine Coast, QLD | FREE
FRI, 8 SEPT | The Jade, Adelaide, SA | TICKETS
SAT, 9 SEPT | The Workers Club, Geelong, VIC | TICKETS
SUN, 10 SEPT | The Workers Club, Melbourne, VIC | TICKETS
FRI, 22 SEPT | Full Throttle Theatre, Townsville, QLD | TICKETS
SUN, 24 SEPT | Darwin Railway Club, Darwin, NT | TICKETS
SAT, 7 OCT | Civic Memorial Hall, Mullumbimby, NSW | TICKETS
SUN, 8 OCT | Empire Theatre, Toowoomba, QLD | TICKETS
THUR, 12 OCT | Janes Bar, Wollongong, NSW | TICKETS
FRI, 13 OCT | Brighton Up Bar, Sydney, NSW | TICKETS
SAT, 14 OCT | The Nishi Playhouse, Canberra, ACT | TICKETS