Zaachariaha Fielding, musician, Electric Fields
It’s beautiful to have people send us messages that they have woven our music into their everyday lives ...
Anyone that has witnessed Electric Fields in concert will tell you that it’s a captivating experience. The Adelaide-based duo of Zaachariaha Fielding and Michael Ross has been carving up appearances across the country, capturing hearts with a blend of effervescent electronica, touching soul and the vibrant influence of Zaachariaha’s Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara heritage. This year is set to be a big one for Electric Fields – in a few months the duo will perform on Eurovision – Australia Decides and will be dropping an anticipated new album. Before all that, however, Electric Fields will be whipping Brisbane into a frenzy when they appear at GOMA’s APT9 Summer Festival Up Late on Friday January 18. Ahead of this performance, we spoke to Zaachariaha Fielding about the group’s harmonious collaborative process, musical growth and what we can expect from Electric Fields at Summer Festival Up Late.
To start, can you recall your first experience singing in front of an audience?
I can’t remember exactly, but it was at high school, and I sang for the other students!
I’d love to know what first drew you and Michael together and inspired you to link up and co-create music?
Michael and I met when we worked together for another songwriter. She wanted me to sing her new songs and for Michael to produce them. About five years later, I called Michael to ask if he’d work with me again. When we wrote our own songs together, there was a magic that happened and we experienced such a high we decided to become a duo.
How did you go about honing your separate energies and finding commonality in your creative styles in order to find your style?
It just happened! Without effort, both of our truths wove together beautifully – a true harmonious collaboration. Sometimes we’re so excited by some bit we just wrote that we’re there jumping up and down in the studio.
The songs of Electric Fields are simultaneously intimate and empowering. What sorts of themes, concepts and messages inform your song writing process the most?
We write whatever truth we’re feeling at the time. I might have an idea for a song, or Michael may have some lyrics he’s been working on. Michael might play me some music he’s composed and I’ll improvise over the top. We don’t pick themes deliberately, they just happen naturally. Sometimes it’s a memory from when I was growing up in Mimili community in the APY lands. Sometimes it’s a philosophical idea Michael’s been pondering.
You often weave phrases from traditional languages from the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara peoples into your songs. How do you decide when you use a particular language for greatest effect?
Anangu languages are my first languages, and I think and feel in those languages. Using Pitjantjatjara and Yankunytjatjara languages to express myself is not necessarily a decision, so much as it is about what feels right for me. It is either to reinforce the meaning of a song, or because the song just needs to be all in Pitjantjatjara and/or Yankunytjatjara. Some songs have no English at all, while others weave my first language throughout the song. There are a few songs with no Pitjantjatjara and Yankunytjatjara languages. Michael co-writes all the songs, and we decide together and if we both like the energy, we go with it.
How have you grown as a singer/songwriter since the release of your 2016 EP Inma?
I would say I have grown – we’ve got about 30 new songs we haven’t released yet and I can’t wait for the album.
Electric Fields will be performing as part of APT9 Summer Festival Up Late at GOMA – what can audiences expect from your set?
We’ll be playing the songs from our EP, a couple of songs from our upcoming album – and we will also play ‘2000 and Whatever’. We’ll be performing that for Eurovision – Australia Decides!
What has been some of the most memorable feedback you’ve received from people hearing your music?
People express very strong emotions to us about how Electric Fields affects them – not only are we thrilled that they love the music so much, but they really connect with us as people while we’re on stage. It’s beautiful to have people send us messages that they have woven our music into their everyday lives. In Germany, I sang our song ‘Nina’ into a pregnant belly and now the baby has been born and they named the child ‘Nina’.
It’s early in the new year, what have you got planned for 2019?
In February we will perform our song ‘2000 and Whatever‘ for Eurovision – Australia Decides on SBS, so we’re preparing for that! Two of our songs are on the Australian feature film Top End Wedding, which has been chosen by Sundance Film Festival to premiere in the US. We’re going to work really hard on our album and I’ll go home to spend some time with my family in Mimili community.
Finally, what are you currently finding inspiring about the world around you?
I love to go home to my family and community in Mimili whenever I can – to be back on country – to experience gravity and the galaxy in Central Australia. This is always inspiring for me.