On the Couch with Ripley Kavara

Ripley-Kavara-photo-by-Danielle-RiskWho is Ripley Kavara?
I work to create spaces for performers and artists to tell stories through music. I invite them to participate in a deep community led practice around creation – primarily through reconnecting to culture, ancestry, history and the grief that haunts many of our complex histories. Through these spaces, I hope to achieve a reconnection and catharsis, by naming some of those intangible feelings we live with. I am of Papua New Guinean and Scottish ancestry and live and create on unceeded Wurundjeri land.

I am the creative director of the musical collective, FAMILI. This project brings together 12 artists whose bloodlines hail from Pasifika, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. Our practice is embedded in contemporary music and the intersection of cultural music from the Pacific and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islands. FAMILI provides a platform for creatives and audiences to heal, reclaim power and connect to their culture and ancestors. FAMILI is a creative community resource that will be accessible for future generations to connect to culture through music, performance, images, video and stories.

What would you do differently from what you do now?
I think what I’m doing now has been informed by a lifelong journey of creating, dreaming and learning. I think the biggest thing I’m learning about and implementing in my life right now is boundaries. The practice of boundaries is really complex and broad but they can be  – personal, professional, mental, physical, emotional, spiritual and creative. In relation to this I think on a daily basis I hope to remember to slow down, spend more time noticing the quality of my breath. Spend more time connecting with my family. Spend more time connecting with myself and my body. Get out to the bush more often, and connecting with country. Life post 260 days of lockdowns hits different and I’m still adjusting and healing.

Who inspires you and why?
I’m inspired by so many different things – not just people. I think anyone can be a teacher, kids can teach us, animals can teach us, trees can teach us.  I learn from the people who I live alongside with and connect with on a daily basis. The artists that I work with deeply inspire me. I’m inspired by deep thinkers and people with a vision who engage community in their work. I’m inspired by the powerful experience of true art to transcend time and space, move people to tears, and to create and to shift something inside them. Black & Trans people all over the world!

What would you do to make a difference in the world?
Be myself unapologetically. Stand in solidarity with the mob in their fight for self-determination, justice and sovereignty. On a daily basis I try to live with integrity and in attunement with my values. That could look like anything from challenging the systems we live in, advocating for my community, destigmatising mental health issues, raising our kids with more acceptance and support. Keeping our cultures strong. Making people laugh… haha! Oh yeah and I try to ride my bike instead of driving!

Favourite holiday destination and why?
Solwara (the ocean) is everything to me. That’s all I need.

When friends come to town, what attraction would you take them to, and why?
Elwood Beach on Boonwurrung country.

What are you currently reading?
Super nerdy, I’m currently reading a fantasy novel, The Last Wish by Andrzej Sapkowski. I’m a gamer and I got into it after my dear friend introduced me to The Witcher.

What are you currently listening to?
Stas THEE boss & Nicolas Britell.

Happiness is?
Unfiltered raw joy.

What does the future hold for you?
Freedom, adventure, family and culture, community, healing and creativity I hope!

Ripley is the Creative Director FAMILI – a collab of Pasifika and First Nations communities highlighting contemporary electronic music. Fresh hip hop, new wave R&B, Oceanic musicality, words, and movement. Focusing on Oceanic, LGBTQIA+ and diaspora experiences. For more information, visit: www.famili.net.au for details.

Image: Ripley Kavara – photo by Danielle Risk