Innovative new band King Stingray are breaking the mold, continuing an impressive indigenous musical legacy in their own right through their own unique genre of Yolŋu surf-rock: creating music that blends ancient indigenous melodies with surf, indie and funk influences.
Four-piece from Yirrkala, North-East Arnhem Land, King Stingray was formed by Yirrŋa Yunupiŋu (nephew of the late Dr M Yunupiŋu - Yothu Yindi frontman) and Roy Kellaway (son of Stu Kellaway - Yothu Yindi founding member and bass player) and includes young multi-instrumentalist Dimathaya Burarrwanga on drums and percussion, with Campbell Messer taking care of bass and back up vocals.
With the Yothu Yindi legacy to uphold, King Stingray’s distinctive sound quickly turned heads, catching the attention of The Chats, who didn't waste any time signing them up to their label Bargain Bin Records, just in time for the release of King Stingray's debut single ‘Hey Wanhaka’.
A playful song about finding love in the city, ‘Hey Wanhaka’, literally meaning “Hey, where you going?” is written in both English and Yolŋu Matha, the band integrating the traditional Yolŋu manikay (traditional song-line) of the Lorrpu (white cockatoo) into a groove heavy, indie rock song.
A stirring blend of ancient and modern, ‘Hey Wanhaka’ merges Yirrŋa's timeless Yolŋu manikay vocals with Roy’s indie pop credentials. Combining sound and language to create a spirited track, ‘Hey Wanhaka’ features captivating vocals interwoven with ear-catching hooks and pulsing didgeridoo. The contagious chorus is sure to take up residence in your brain while the enchanting instrumental build in the last third of the track holds enough electricity to induce goosebumps.
King Stingray is a celebration of lifelong friendship, family-built legacies and the unity of two cultures. From toddlers in the Yothu Yindi tour entourage in the 90s, to fully fledged Yothu Yindi members today, Yirrŋa and Roy have a rich history of playing and making music together, this camaraderie shining through in King Stingray's ‘Hey Wanhaka’.
Following in the footsteps of their parents in Yothu Yindi, King Stingray hope to inspire a new generation by celebrating first nations culture and multiculturalism through their music. Well, after hearing their ripper of a debut single, it's safe to say that they're already succeeding!