Arts & Entertainment

Pirra’s Jess Beck Explores Her Indigenous Heritage During Lockdown

Photo: Nigel Kippers

Although they are originally from Sydney our close neighbour Wollongong can now lay claim to indie-pop/dance outfit Pirra. This four piece band consisting of Jess Beck (vocals), James McKendry (guitar/synth), Curtis Argent (bass/synth) & Jeffrey Argent (drums) are making huge waves both here in Australia & internationally.

Not only do Pirra produce incredible music they also have an incredible story, which is uniquely Australian.

Front-woman Jess Beck is a First Nations artist who’s heritage traces back to the Luritja nation in the central desert of the Northern Territory. Whilst speaking with City Hub Jess expressed how grateful she was to have bandmates who are supportive of her journey to discover more about her heritage.

“I’m really grateful to have such a supportive band… They’re all super happy when we are asked to perform at First Nations events because those are really special experience for them too.”

Jess’ bandmates were so supportive in fact that the group chose the Luritja word for ‘moon’ as the name of their group.

The band was encouraged & given the blessing to use the name by Indigenous music legend, Uncle Sammy Butcher from the Warumpi Band. As part of his blessing to use the name Jess said Sammy had one condition, “you tell everyone about your heritage!”

As Jess explains this condition was not a problem at all. In fact Pirra have now made it a goal to “be a part of as many First Nations events as possible.”

In order to be a part of these events Pirra need music. Their latest track Never Apart could not have been more timely, given the most recent NSW lockdown.

Never Apart is all about still feeling connected with someone no matter the distance, so obviously it’s really fitting timing,” explained Jess.

Whilst the lockdown hasn’t stopped Pirra from writing music it has sadly prevented any live performances off the back of the release of Never Apart. Something which for Jess has been particular devastating.

“Not being able to play live has certainly affected me the most. The reactions from a live audience is what keeps me going, so losing that has been really tough.”

To overcome this Pirra & Jess have formulated a couple of strategies to stay sane amid lockdown.

As a band they recorded a live performance before the strict restrictions were enforced & did a live watch-along stream with fans. A strategy which Jess said, “to this day we still haven’t seen anybody do it that way.”

On a personal level Jess has found two smaller treats to look forward to each day as motivation.

“I have been treating myself to a bought coffee every morning, because that gives me something to look forward to every day. Walking the dog along the beach with Curtis has also been so special. Living in Wollongong & being able to do that has been so great.”

Pirra are hopeful that their scheduled show at Sydney’s Oxford Art Factory on Sept 3 will go ahead.

Keep up with Pirra on social media at: www.twitter.com/PirraMusic  or www.instagram.com/PirraTheBand

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