Bob Marley and Marijuana: Why Clay Cassar-Daley loves rap music

An interview with the 2014 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander music competition winner Clay Cassar-Daley.

Indigenous music competitionEach year for the past… well, a long time… NCPIC has been hosting a series of creative competitions for young people, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, to encourage them to think more about the effects of drugs on community, relationships and future opportunities. We really love these competitions, they are a chance for us to foster creativity in people, and get them to explore drug issues in their own time and space. While we do have a great range of resources available for drug education, thinking about drugs and telling the story of drugs the way you see it, can often be a really great way to learn about the issues and also define what you personally think about it.

Over recent years we’ve had some amazing winners, the last year’s poster – a monopoly board showing the consequences of cannabis use – and the 2013 song from the Wadja Wadja team in North Queensland blew our minds – we knew there were a lot of creative people out here, but these were knock out entries.

Our 2014 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander music competition was another one of those ‘blow your mind’ type situations for us, with the winning song from Clay Cassar-Daley a real attention grabber, and quite raw in the way it tells its story – and all to a really funky beat! Our runners up – the Wadeye Group – were also amazing and stole the show with some really insightful lyrics and music that combined modern and traditional sounds. We’re lucky to get such great entries, and as we launch our new competitions in 2015, we’re looking for more talented people to get involved! So if you know designers, singers, writers, young directors – let them know they have a chance to win!

To kick off this year’s competition, we sat with Clay Cassar-Daley to talk inspiration, musical aspirations and the importance of the message. Clay entered his winning song, ‘STARTED A FIRE (Arringurry's song)’, at age 15, and recently travelled to Darwin to record the song with Indigenous record label, Skinnyfish Music.

So Clay, why did you decide to enter the competition?

A teacher from school told me I should just enter and see how I go. I wanted to write a song about cannabis because it’s affected some members of my family on the North Coast of New South Wales and I just wanted to get the word out there.

What inspired the song?

The song was inspired mostly by my family and community. The song is about a fictional character named Arringurry, who is the combination of many characters and stories I have come to know. The song outlines the story of the spiral of Arringurry’s addiction and how it affects his whole life.

How would you describe your style of music?

For this song I chose to use rap to tell the story, but rap as a genre is actually out of my normal comfort zone. I love Rasta and Reggae, so I guess the song is a bit of a fusion of a few different styles coming together.

Tell us a bit about your experience in Darwin

The trip to Darwin was out of this world, I really had a fantastic time. It was amazing to have the chance to record with Skinnyfish and we even made it into Darwin’s own version of the hottest 100 which was awesome! It was fantastic to be able to share the experience with Charlie and Nic (Clay’s teacher and school friend who both helped with the song). It was such a great experience and I feel like I made some really good connections through Skinnyfish.

What would you say is the most valuable thing you gained from entering the competition?

Everything about the competition has built me up and given me a bit of a self-esteem boost. I’ve never made any money from my music before, so it was great to be rewarded for doing my own thing.

Would you have any advice for other musicians or writers looking to enter?

Go for it! No matter what style you have, there’s a good chance you might win so just give it a go.

What are you planning on doing with the prize money?

It will either go towards my first car (an old van I can go touring in) or I’ll spend a bit on a new guitar and save the rest.

Why is cannabis use an important issue?

At the end of the day, I reckon we all need to know more about drugs in general. It’s just going to get you into trouble and cause more problems down the track. Cannabis affects everyone differently and I’ve seen first-hand some of the damage it can cause.

Thanks Clay, and congrats on winning the competition! Details on the 2015 music, poster and film competitions can be found here.

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