Earlier this year, Buddy Hippi came up with a plan to transform an empty shipping container into a self-contained music studio to serve as an extension of the cultural education and healing services he provides for the youth of Boggabilla.

Creative Director/owner of Winangali Infusion, Buddy spent his teenage years in Boggabilla and has a transformative vision for the youth of the town, especially the First Nations youth.

‘We heard about the great work Winangali Infusion was doing via our mutual friend Sydney rapper and Gomeroi man Kobie Dee.’ Said Chris Hamer-Smith, head of Nakama Arts. ‘Buddy needed some assistance to develop a music program that shares the basics of songwriting, music production and Rap, similar to the Art of Rap program that we have undertaken with Kobie’s assistance in Bourke NSW.’   

The brief matched Nakama Arts’ charter perfectly. Wholly owned and funded by TAG, Nakama Arts exists to ‘assist artists who otherwise might not have opportunity.’  

The request to Nakama Arts was to fund the purchase and renovation of the container and provide the necessary studio equipment including midi keyboards, A&H mixer, QSC speakers, Audio-Technica headphones and microphones, computers, cabling and – don’t sweat it – an aircon! 

The town of Boggabilla lies in the far north of inland New South Wales and has a population of around 1000 with over 50% identifying as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islanders. Like many other remote Australian towns, this close-knit community bears the weight of isolation and absence of many urban amenities.  

Four years ago, TAG Cares was able to offer support in Boggabilla by supplying and installing an audio system in the community centre. During the process the team became acutely aware of the town’s needs, depletion of services and dearth of activities for the youth which in turn created a sense of boredom leading to destructive behaviour and high crime rates in the town. 

Having once trod his own challenging path, Buddy’s experiences shaped his commitment to steering the youth towards something more positive. His journey is more than a personal one; it is a testament to the redemptive power of cultural wisdom and resilience. 

As a Gomeroi Songman, he embodies the cultural heritage to pass down songs to the next generation, and it is this heritage that he channels as the glue binding the growth of Boggabilla’s youth. 

‘It’s my cultural obligation as a Gomeroi person.’ He says. ‘Our people have been denied the opportunity to heal, learn and understand themselves. We work to actively collaborate and increase awareness and education so we can live alongside a system that is accountable and inclusive. Our mission is to use these ‘edu-cultural’ healing practices to enable self-empowerment and growth.’ 

With Buddy and Kobie both coming from similar communities and with cultural kinship connections to the area there was a clear understanding of how the music program would meet the needs of the youth. Not just as a physical space but a beacon of purpose, offering the youth a canvas to express, learn, and grow through art, music, song, dance, and language.  

Its convenient location means kids can walk to the studio after school and it has already become a vibrant hub for the younger ones to have fun and introduce themselves to the new music equipment and empower from within. 

In addition, a tight knit group of teens has also discovered the studio and found a new sense of purpose. The space has become a creative haven for them and given them a sense of belonging especially after graduating school.  

‘The lads have said that music is now a part of their future and they’re set on what they want to do.’ Said Buddy. ‘Having contributed on their journeys we have a compelling responsibility to support and assist them for as long and as far as their talent and passion takes them. Some of them are at a fork in the road and making hard choices between very different pathways. We need to guide them in a positive direction. That’s really what this is all about, then it’s up to them.’

The emerging Boggabilla rappers are already on the bill of the launch event, scheduled for January 26th, and will be performing Hip-Hop tracks they’ve written for the occasion. There’s a lot of effort and work going on in the studio in preparation, which indicates that one of the studio’s founding concepts is already beginning to bear fruit.  

‘There’s no shortage of skills, passion and capability amongst this community.’ Said Hamer-Smith. ‘Buddy and his team are incredibly positive and talented and their commitment to the next generation as role models, mentors and guides is truly humbling. To have played a small part in helping this vision become a reality is a huge privilege for us.’