What's On

We Take Back Our Mother Tongues


Presented in Season 1 2022

World Premiere
Presented by Arts House

Fri 6 & Sat 7 May, 2022

Audio Describer Guides & Tactile Tour, Sat 7 May
Personal describer guides available for meet & greet on arrival and one-on-one live descriptions of the performance. Optional Tactile Tour and opportunity to meet the Artists starts 6.45pm.

3 hours

This event will commence with a Welcome to Country on Fri 6 May
Set times to be announced.

General Admission $20
A small transaction fee will be charged per order.

Coarse language, possible haze, intermittent loud sounds.

Event information
Standing event with optional seating. Chill out space available with ear plugs, fidgets, charging station for mobility devices.
Priority accessible seating area available front of stage.

Arts House
North Melbourne Town Hall
521 Queensberry St,
North Melbourne

Read our COVID-19 Safety Plan here.

Wheelchair Accessible
Quiet Space Available
Assistance Animal
Companion Card
Assistive Listening

Due to unforeseen circumstances, Arts House’s presentation of We Take Back Our Mother Tongues – FAMILI on 6 & 7 May 2022 has been cancelled.

Ticket holders to performances between these dates will be contacted directly regarding a full refund.

For further information or enquiries, please contact Arts House on 03 9322 3720.

Come and experience the next creation from FAMILI, in a spellbinding evening of queer Pasifika and First Nations music, installation and connection.

Get on your feet and soak your senses in a powerful night of music, movement and mental restoration. 

FAMILI brings together 15 artists whose bloodlines hail from Pasifika, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, weaving together some of the most essential queer and Bla(c)k voices across Australia.

Featuring two DJ sets, video and visual installations, and a powerhouse live musical performance at its heart, FAMILI is a multidisciplinary storytelling project in which Oceanic artists represent their complex experiences of culture and identity in diaspora.

The threads that feed into this sonic tapestry draw on hip hop, new wave R&B, Oceanic musicality and more, driven by the powerful currents of queer and LGBTQIA+ experience. 

Neo-ancestry, mana and empowered music add alternate voices to the challenging conversations we need to have, while the practices of deep listening and oration are given new opportunities to create change in an evening that welcomes all.

Come experience FAMILI.

“Goosebumps and joy… I am forever grateful I got to witness these Pasifika creators, and celebrate with them.”
– Liminal Mag

“Famili was a success, a collective effort and an embodiment of celebration, of togetherness, sensuality, reclamation, and survival.”

Listen to an in-depth chat from Creative Director Ripley Kavara on The Story of FAMILI via the Podcast link below.

Images: Gianna Rizzo


Artist Statement

FAMILI began as a calling to explore queer Pasifika sounds. I was keen to express our cultural identity, our music, our traditional instrumentation, our expression, our language, our gender and sexuality, through contemporary sounds.

The aural and visual narratives traverse our diasporic experiences in so-called Australia; we are black and brown settlers navigating this space in solidarity with First Nations communities, highlighting similar experiences of colonisation and the different effects that it has had on our communities. Our connection to culture is fragmented and to some extent lost because we are here, away from our lands and waters.

FAMILI reflects who we are as a people. It is contemporary electronic music, yet we are drawing on instruments traditionally used in our music like conch shells, log drums (garamut, pate), bamboo shakers, split canes, flutes, and an incredible range of percussive and melodic instruments.

We use song structures and harmonies common to Pasifika music where there’s a lot of spiritual collective singing, and it’s different from what you’d hear in a Western religious context. There’s something sacred about people singing together, to each other, and that’s something present across most cultures.

In the first EP the artists were responding to the 4 classical elements: The element of Earth is about personal homecoming, Papua New Guinea, West Papua and the struggles my people face. We need earth to ground us, to grow our food, to sustain us.

We need fire to cook and rebirth and transform things. Fire – in our ‘Mana’ track – is about empowerment, talking back, acknowledging where we came from.

Air is about the communal breath, winds of change, challenging and talking back to any kind of oppressive system, whether it’s white supremacy or conservative cultures elders that don’t recognise or support our queer and trans identities.

Water is about the threat the Pacific Islands face to their lands through the rising sea levels. The track ‘Neck Deep’ acknowledges the consequences – and our collective grief.

- Ripley Kavara

About the Artists

Ripley Kavara is a transdisciplinary practitioner with a deep grounding in musical forms destined to be liberatory. He believes in the power of music as a conduit for black queer spirituality and dedicates his time to coaxing the spirits to dance. Born in Papua New Guinea and living in so-called Melbourne, he embodies an artistic practice that is generative, community based and attuned to a sense of place where he creates on Wurundjeri Country. He has worked extensively for the past six years as a musician, producer, DJ, educator, event organiser, youth worker, curator and project lead. He works to create spaces for emerging underground performers and artists, focusing on elevating underrepresented voices in music and arts.He has supported notable acts including GAIKA, Kojey Radical, Elysia Crampton, Klein, at events such as Dark Mofo and Liquid Architecture. Kavara’s work as an artist has been exhibited in Australia, New Zealand and Canada.

Lay the Mystic is a Naarm (Melbourne) based lyrical poet, musician and multi-medium performance artist. His work explores themes of diaspora, transient belonging and the feelings in between. Reaffirming the opinion that we are defining the cultures we are born into by simply existing, Lay interrogates his position within that publicly through performance. His current works explore what it means to be a queer, trans, femme- boy of Tongan and Lebanese descent, who is learning his ancestors through his own body.

Iki Finau is a Queer singer/songwriter and performing artist of Tongan descent currently residing in Melbourne. He has been in amongst the music and performance circles here in Melbourne for the past three years predominantly performing as a vocalist and a dancer. Iki has been seen in such creative art works as Põuliuli for the YIRRAMBOI First Nations art festival & Midsumma: Cocoa Butter Club. Recent musical performances include The Sunset series and Jazz Out West - Melbourne International Jazzfest.

Kalala is a singer/songwriter based in Melbourne. She is of Samoan-Chinese and Fijian heritage. She has performed extensively in Melbourne including Melbourne Music Week, The Sunset series and most recently at the Melbourne International Jazz Festival. Kalala features as a frequent live performer on PBS and RRR on a number of radio shows, which has seen her gain popularity. She has a stage presence to be reckoned with and a unique song-writing voice.

Bella Waru (Ngati Tukorehe // Te Ati Awa) is a movement and sound artist, cultural producer, performer, weaver, community arts facilitator and body worker living, listening and responding across sacred, unceded Indigenous lands, currently those of the Kulin Nation in so-called-australia. A diasporic Indigenous Sovereign and queer femme, Waru creates stories and spaces to honour, uplift, protect and nourish the vitality of their communities, ancestral knowledges, cultures and lands. They create, emerging from and returning to the body as a vessel of personal, ancestral and earth memory, invested in embodied experiences of connection, healing, incantation, transmutation and celebration.

Kalyani Mumtaz is a Trawlwoolway musician, curator, and DJ living in so-called Melbourne on Boon Wurrung and Wurundjeri Lands. Kalyani is Associate Producer at Arts House, former Producer Mumtaz is a Producer at at Brunswick Mechanics Institute and a core member of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander arts collective, this mob. They worked in the experimental pop duo Willow Beats for seven years producing three EPs and an album, a record deal with Warner Music, and tours with major festivals such as Clockenflap (Hong Kong) and Falls Music and Arts Festival (Australia). Kalyani currently performs as a solo artist and released an EP, a leaf a flower, with her project Kalyani & Isha. As DJ KYAANZ, she has shared music inside ACMI, Melbourne Museum and at festivals like Sun Cycle and Dark Mofo. Kalyani’s work as an artist and curator centres truth and responsibility.

Porobibi is a West Papuan artist, currently based in Naarm. He uses storytelling through music, spoken word and community organising to highlight movements of resistance and the continuity of culture, particularly of First Nations people and people from migrant and refugee backgrounds like himself. He has a background in grassroots advocacy work and is passionate about using creative projects to develop accessible opportunities, engage in collaborative works, and share cross-cultural storytelling through people’s lived experience. Some of Porobibi's works include; leading production for the United Struggle Project theatre, having poetry published in A Voz Limpia vol.4 and being a performance artist in FAMILI.

Paul Gorrie (Gunai/Kurnai/Yorta Yorta) is an emerging filmmaker, musician, DJ, producer, youth project worker and radio presenter based in Naarm on Wurundjeri Country. He has performed with acts such as Drmngnow and Kee’ahn.

Vika Mana, is a proud Torres Strait Islander and Tongan shapeshifting storyteller. They descend from the Zagareb and Dauareb tribes of Mer Island and the village of Fahefa in Tonga. They perform poetry, write criticism, and breathe life into worlds. They've written for Overland, The Saturday Paper, The Spinoff and several publications both at home and internationally. They've been a part of the Next Chapter (2019-2020), Spotify Sound Up (2021), Signal Boost (2021) and recently was selected to be a part of Instagram and Screen Australia's First Nations Creators Program. They're also the owner of Solwata Mana, a healing project that has now manifested into a store that sells wearable art.

Lonelyspeck is the project of Adelaide-based singer, songwriter, producer and visual artist Sione Teumohenga. Freely yet cohesively mixing eclectic styles, their distinctive sonic palette emphasises a morphing, hyperreal sense of space and texture while remaining grounded in a strong pop sensibility.

Geryon is an electronic producer, screen composer and guitarist based in Naarm on Wurundjeri country. Their work aims to deconstruct the role texture, sound and the voice have in forming narrative and gender expression within electronic music. Having scored music for a range of film, TV and dance productions, Geryon’s work has seen their compositions screen at film festivals including Frameline, Melbourne International Film Festival and Salento International Film Festival as well as Netflix and ABC.


Listen to an in-depth chat about where it all began.
The Story of FAMILI

Recorded, Produced and Edited by Guy Louis Faletolu
Story by Ripley Kavara


Creative Director: Ripley Kavara
Performance and Musical Co-Director: Bella Waru
Technical Production Manager: Guy Louis Faletolu
Art Director and Installation Artist: Mossy 333
Artists & Performers: Lay the Mystic, Iki Finau, KALALA, Kalyani Mumtaz, Porobibi, Meleika Gesa Fatafehi, Lonelyspeck, Paul Gorrie and Geryon
Associate Producer: Eliki Reade
Company Manager: Monikha Aryal

This project has been assisted by the Victorian Government through Creative Victoria, Australia Council for the Arts, Multicultural Arts Victoria, Drummond Street Services and the City of Melbourne through Arts House.

Image credit: Dissident Media 

Image description: A digital rendering of three artists submerged in the water of a coral reef. A sunken ship is overgrown with sea plants/coral. Artists are suspended underwater, their hair is floating upward. There is coral in the foreground, and schools of fish billowing around them to the effect of cloth floating in water. 

Related News & Insights:


Q&A with Ripley Kavara from FAMILI

A powerful night of music, movement and mental restoration.

The making of FAMILI

An artist statement by Ripley Kavara