Dem Mob represent Adelaide at Primavera


As DEM MOB took to the stage at the 2023 Primavera Sound festival on a warm summer night in Barcelona, their electrifying performance captured the hearts and minds of a global audience, transcending linguistic barriers and igniting sparks of inspiration and optimism. With each beat, DEM MOB wove a story of resilience and hope, infusing the crowd with their energy and Australian First Nations culture and heritage.

Fresh from their electrifying performance at WOMADelaide ’23, DEM MOB members Jonta’e Dare, Elisha Umuhuri and Matt Gully, the first rappers to perform and record in both Pitjantjatjara and English, were one of only 50 acts chosen from around the world to perform at Primavera’s festival and adjacent conference, Primavera Pro, showcases.

The opportunity was a direct result of UNESCO Adelaide City of Music inviting Primavera Pro Director, Elena Barreras to visit Adelaide during the 2023 March festival season. Elena met a diverse range artists, organisations, and institutions that make up Adelaide’s vibrant music and arts community, including the globally unique, Indigenous tertiary music education program, Centre for Aboriginal Studies in Music (CASM) where DEM MOB are currently students. Their story of transformation through music proved inspirational.

DEM MOB were joined on their first ever international trip by University of Adelaide’s CASM Co-Director, Grayson Rotumah and Adelaide City of Music’s General Manager, Joey Hay. While DEM MOB’s journey to Primavera was initially perceived as an individual accolade, the symbiotic relationship between the group and CASM, underscored the collective spirit of Adelaide’s music community. Together, DEM MOB and CASM embarked on a voyage of discovery and affirmation, bridging continents and cultures through the universal language of music.

In addition to their performances in Barcelona, DEM MOB joined CASM to present a panel discussing their experiences and education vision at the Primavera Pro conference. The panel also provided a unique opportunity for reflection on CASM’s 50th anniversary, their achievements and exciting plans for the future.

DEM MOB, CASM, and ACOM also met with the Primavera Foundation and the wonderful people from Xamfrà, a music community centre in Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter. A bridge for Barcelona’s diverse communities, the fellas got to sit and talk about experiences and music as a tool for positive community transformation. DEM MOB and the Xamfrà students then performed at a public concert held at Plaça Reial, in the Gothic Quarter with the students joining DEM MOB with their own freestyle. This proved a moving and important moment for DEM MOB, crossing new cultural and linguistic divides and introducing them to some talented Barcelona musicians. The moment worked to remind all involved that they weren’t alone in the world, that anything is possible, and that music was a positive instrument for empowerment and liberation.

The demand for Australia’s First Nations artists internationally is on the rise, and Adelaide City of Music is proud to play its part in celebrating our important stories and creating connections for musicians and music organisations across the UNESCO Creative Cities Network and beyond. DEM MOB has emerged as an important voice in Australian music, carving a new path in hip hop, and strengthening culture through song and stories.

DEM MOB, in addition to their other initiatives, are actively developing an innovative music-centric curriculum. This endeavour underscores the profound impact of education and highlights the invaluable role educators play in shaping the destinies of young people, particularly those residing in marginalised or remote areas. By driving the development of this curriculum, DEM MOB not only fosters musical talent but also empowers individuals, scaffolding a sense of belonging and opportunity within underserved communities.

The collaboration between DEM MOB and CASM at Primavera Sound symbolises more than just a musical partnership—it represents a convergence of dreams, aspirations, and shared humanity. From the small sound studios of CASM to the global stage of Primavera Sound, DEM MOB’s journey serves as a testament to the transformative power of music to unite, uplift, and empower. Primavera has shown that DEM MOB are ready to take on the world and share their story of optimism in the face of struggle. The cultural exchange is also a testament to the unwavering commitment of Adelaide City of Music to amplify indigenous voices and champion cultural diversity on the world stage.

Adelaide City of Music would like to again thank Primavera Pro and Primavera Sound for this opportunity and their hospitality and support. ACOM would also like to thank the organisations whose funding helped make this fantastic opportunity a reality, the Australia Council for the Arts, the South Australian State Government through Arts South Australia, the University of Adelaide, and the City of Adelaide.