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May 18, 2023

South Australian rappers added to Primavera Sound lineup

An APY Lands rap group and a city-based music school will head to Spain this month to appear on stage alongside Blur, Kendrick Lamar and Rosalía.

  • Words: Johnny von Einem
  • Pictures: Samuel Graves
  • Above: DEM MOB performing at the 2022 SAM Awards

A convoy of South Australian First Nations artists will take their music to the world this month, with DEM MOB and the Centre for Aboriginal Studies in Music (CASM) added to Primavera Sound’s 2023 lineup.

DEM MOB, which hails from the Aṉangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Lands, joins a bill that also features Blur, Kendrick Lamar, Depeche Mode and Rosalía.

The rappers recently appeared at WOMAD and the SAM Awards, and have made a name locally for their energetic performances, politically charged lyrics and by being the first rap group to perform and record in Pitjantjatjara and English.

Grayson Rotumah, co-director of the world-leading Indigenous music school CASM, will also appear at the festival to lead a discussion with DEM MOB about using music as a means to create social change.

“Music has always been an integral part of Indigenous culture and the reconciliation process,” Grayson says. “CASM is proud of the recognition and excited by the opportunity to tell its story and the story of Indigenous Australians on the world stage.”

CASM celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2022, and is part of the University of Adelaide’s Elder Conservatorium of Music.

A historical Malandarri band rehearsal at CASM


For DEM MOB’s Elisha Umuhuri, the Primavera billing is an opportunity to strengthen the position of Aboriginal culture in Australia and abroad.

“Music is the last link we have to our culture. Everything in our world has a dreamtime story, a song to teach the procedures,” Elisha says.

“If we lose our dreamtime stories we will lose our culture. Language is changing because of western influence but our song lines are still strong.

“Music is literally the only reason our culture still exists, the one thing that white people can’t take away from us. Music is everything to us. This is why we do what we do.”

Primavera Sound has been held in Barcelona, Spain since 2001, and last year saw almost 500,000 people pass through its gates across 12 days. The 2023 edition runs from 29 May—4 June.

The festival also has a sister music conference, Primavera Pro, which runs concurrent to the music event. Primavera Pro director, Elena Barreras, recently toured through Adelaide during festival season after being invited by UNESCO Adelaide City of Music (ACOM) general manager, Joe Hay.

“Elena’s visit to Adelaide and her decision to invite Dem Mob and CASM to Primavera reflects the depth and global importance of our uniquely South Australian music culture and the innovative and inspirational work of our world leading music programs and institutions,” Joe says.

Joe touring Elena through Emo Park


DEM MOB and CASM have received support from the City of Adelaide, Arts South Australia, Australia Council for the Arts and the Elder Conservatorium to help fund their Primavera trip.

South Australian Minister for Arts, Andrea Michaels, says the Malinauskas government is “committed to creating opportunities to support our local musicians to shine”.

“Dem Mob were an absolute hit when they performed at WOMADelaide this year and I’m sure they will be just as amazing when they take to the stage in Spain,” she says.

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