DO: Explore First Nations Songlines and Stories in a Modern Context at Sydney’s ‘Emerge’

“We never create alone. We always have each other's backs.”
Arielle Richards
Melbourne, AU

This Thursday, July 27th, Sydney’s Phoenix Central Park will host Emerge, a showcase of emerging artists across diverse mediums. 

The evening will hold traditional songlines and stories, swooped into a 21st century context, from spoken word and dance from Hylander, who will be performing works from his forthcoming EP angel boi, to eclectic, ethereal pop from Akala Newman, and a set on traditional and modern instruments from electro-soul trio Bow and Arrow.


Gadigal electronic artist Hylander, who partnered with Phoenix to build out Emerge, said “the first priority was to display deadly, diverse First Nations talent with undeniable stage presence”.

“Mob have been weaving songlines since the Dreamtime, and I see an inherent unique ability within every First Nations artist to convey stories and bring something new to the medium or genre they choose,” he said.

“In curating the lineup for Emerge, it was important for me to spotlight examples of creative leadership that are emerging among the next generation of First Nations artists. I was really inspired by the accomplished multi-instrumentalists that make up Bow and Arrow and Akala who doubles as an incredible creator and an educator.”

“Triple threat” artist, activist and academic Akala told VICE her performance will be unique to say the least. 

“It is a treat for the ears and the soul,” she said. 

“An apocalyptic dark pop experience from movement to song, something you’ve never seen before.”

For Akala, the importance of showcasing contemorary Indigenous talent couldn’t be underestimated.

“I want to challenge the stereotypical assumptions about what people think First Nations music is meant to sound like. I want people to feel free, have fun, be one,” she said.


Three-piece band Bow and Arrow, who dropped the first single from their forthcoming debut album, 7 FORCES, in March, said audiences can expect to experience “joy, strength, connection, Blakness” and “a kaleidoscope of colour fusing modern and traditional First Nations instruments”.

“Our performances have been described as both ‘an esoteric experience' and ‘a soul-healing sound bath’,” the band told VICE.

Curated by Hylander, each artist was selected to perform with the medium they are most connected to. Hylander’s forward-looking music is a playful, creative interpretation of pop-electronica. 

Thematically, Hylander said Emerge was an opportunity to “repurpose frequently misused messaging into something relevant and powerful”

“Among mob, Elders don't 'emerge', but that word is more appropriately applied to the voices and creativity of generations to follow. In what can seem to be a saturated creative industry, I’ve partnered with Phoenix to convey but a few examples of Blak expression and excellence that will make the audience feel something special.”

“It’s an absolute honour to be chosen by Hylander and to get the opportunity to play such a unique venue,” Bow and Arrow said. 

“We’re excited to join a full First Nations lineup and have more diverse blackness be showcased on Gadigal land.”

“It’s so exciting to see the brilliant buffet of sound Hylander has curated,” Akala said. 


“We never create alone. We always have each other's backs.”

Tickets to Emerge are free, and available via Phoenix Central Park’s ballot process, find out more below.

“[Wiradjuri Language] Mandaang guwu-bu Yindyamarra to Gadigal Country for holding us all in this space, strong,” Bow and Arrow said. 

“See you there 6:30!”