Airileke Ingram is a musical pioneer and a fighter for freedom traversing a timeless sonic globe without frontiers. Born in Australia with roots in Papua New Guinea, Airileke grew up between the shores of both PNG and the Top End. He grew up learning traditional drumming from his ancestral village of Gabagaba (Drumdrum) near Port Moresby, the region’s ‘sing sing’ grounds for drums, dance and ceremony.
"My approach to music is it comes from the beat first. Like the heart beat, the first rhythm, the first sign of life. The first drum I heard was the Gaba from my grand fathers, then came the Log drum the garamut from my neighbours. At a roots level we use it for communication, for ceremony, not for entertainment. Now we communicate on a world wide scale… to connect, to reconnect and reunite. Rhythm reminds me of family, even though we are separated by oceans the rhythm is like home. It speaks of youth and ancestry, history and future. To keep us connected in our daily life to the heart ... family."
Born in Australia with roots in PNG Airileke grew up between the shores of both PNG and the Top End. Airileke is a musical pioneer and a fighter for freedom traversing a timeless sonic globe without frontiers. He is a percussionist, producer, composer, activist, recording and global events facilitator and, in the words of Britain's Songlines magazine, "cause for celebration".
He was also the co-Artistic Director at the Pacific Games Opening and Closing Ceremonies PNG 2015.
irileke, one of the Pacific’s most respected drum masters grew up in a village named Drumdrum or Gabagaba in his Motu Language. (of Course he did!) And what an amazing village it is, with half the houses out on the ocean built on coconut palm trunks, scattered across a tranquil bay, stunning. We were there for five days staying and recording out on the water. Gabagaba is known as the village of the Kundu drum, a skin drum with a narrow hour glass shaped carved body. Airi has been developing a unique method of strapping three tuned Kundus together, you can hear him playing on Rajery’s ‘Zebu’.
As a touring percussionist, his resume expanded from Melanesian heroes Drum Drum and Telek to Australian indigenous trailblazers Bart Willoughby, Wild Water, Gurrumul, Yothu Yindi & Yirrmal.
Airi’s unique sound melds progressive ideas with beats of ancient Melanesian culture. Hip-hop production, fierce log drumming, Papuan chants, atmospheric soundscapes and samples from the front line of the Free Papua Movement combine to evoke one of the region’s darkest stories: the illegal occupation and ongoing oppression of West Papua. In 2012, he co-founded the Rize of the Morning Star global solidarity movement and independent record label, with the intent of raising awareness about West Papua and other indigenous cultures in the region. The organisation develops new music from West Papua and PNG as well as nurturing art and culture in service of West Papua’s ongoing fight for “merdeka” — freedom.
“BLAKTIVISM is about Blak beauty, it’s about silences, it’s the Blak voices. It’s about feeling beautiful, using our voices and singing our story and feeling empowered and empowering each other to reach that place. The show is so dynamic because that’s who we are as people and that’s how we get our message across to reach a whole diverse range of people. We have really beautiful moments that are quite subtle and intimate, to the big hip hop hits, and anthems by Uncle Bart Willoughby, all honoured on the same stage,” says Briscoe.