Chris Tamwoy shares Torres Strait identity on upcoming debut album

Releasing his debut album in early 2020, proud Torres Strait Islander man and former Australia’s Got Talent contestant, Chris Tamwoy, is reflecting on the journey from island living to musician life.

Reality Is is Tamwoy’s upcoming album, which fans were given a taste of with his release of the single, Monkey and Tortol.

“I’m very excited, it’s my first album so it’s been nerve-wracking. Just the process, you write the songs, then go in and record them,” Mr Tamwoy said.

“We’re at the stage where I can hear it playing on the radio, so it’s exciting but sometimes you have to take a minute and sit back and really reflect and enjoy that moment because that’s your hard work and your craft.”

Mr Tamwoy grew up in Badu, an island in the Torres Strait, and notes the influence of music within his early life.

“When I was a child we didn’t have Play Stations or Nintendo, it seemed unnecessary. We made do … whether it was playing touch footy after school, or basketball or going fishing … I made do with music.

“I fell in love with music and it kind of helped that my teacher at the time would start the day off every day by playing guitar and singing us songs. It gave me more inspiration and drive to learn music, and a lot of the Torres Strait Islander songs.”

Mr Tamwoy has musical talent which shines through strongest when a guitar is in his hand. Possessing an incredible ability, he is self-taught and began playing around Year 6.

“The first instrument I started playing was drums, then I started playing guitar when I was in Grade 6 – I know that because I played our Grade 6 camp song on the guitar which was pretty cool,” he laughed.

“I’m very reflective because of how far I have come. When I first started to take music seriously, I could only really play two instruments, but this album has me singing along with guitar – singing with harmonies and the studio band.”

“This is what makes this more special and meaningful because it shows how far I’ve come as a musician and it is inspiring because I can see how far I’ve come and that gives me drive to see how far I can go.”

Mr Tamwoy shares intimate parts of his identity on the album, including four different languages. He hopes it will reach out to those listening and allow them to take something from it for themselves.

“The album is a true reflection of who I am, it comes from past experiences, present experiences, as a Torres Strait Islander man. It comes from within when I talk about my totems I’m talking about where I come from in terms of the Torres Strait, east and west.

“When you write songs, having that played back and hearing other people’s reactions, particularly when people listen and write their story to you and how they have connected – it’s that that I really enjoy reading or listening to.

“I write music not just for myself, I write to base it on everyday struggle, or happiness, good times and bad times for everyone.”

With the year wrapping up, Tamwoy is gearing up for a big 2020.

“Hopefully a tour, whether that be my own tour or going to support another artist … performances across the country and people can come and see the songs live.

“As eager as this sounds, I am keen to perform and get writing so we can get album number two on the way because I am feeling in such a good headspace, I am so musician inspired I want to write for ages.”

By Rachael Knowles

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