As the world continues to deal with political turmoil, a heavy metal band in Sydney, Austrailia, is presenting a formidable challenge to the country’s existing state-of-affairs. Dispossessed, a three member band, is composed of Attafuah, Birrugan Dunn Velesco, and Jarrod Smith, who have no fear of confrontation in their music.
The band’s sound, as described by ABC-RN, is “driven by post-colonial theory, while their music code-switches between grindcore, post-punk, shoegaze and metal.” Their distinctly aggressive sound is at once unapologetically political and angry, determined to address the dispossession and marginalization of people of color in Australia. “When we perform we always acknowledge the earth we stand upon; this is stolen land,” says the band’s official spokesperson, Birrugan Dunn-Velasco. “Everyone is dispossessed in some way, shape or form, whether you’re queer or black. But as Indigenous, First Nations people, our sovereignty has been refuted. We are the dispossessed people of this land.’
On Dispossessed’s official website, the band has written a hard-hitting, political manifesto, their precursor statement reading, “As a collective of disenfranchised peoples of different identities and orientations disgusted with the zeitgeist of society, the illusion of where progress is leading and the apathy of our surroundings. Our enemy is the colonial, white supremacist, capitalist, cis-heteropatriarchy framework that we are all dispossessed in some way shape or form,” the script writes. “Therefore our mutual emancipation towards freedom and justice is bound within our own struggles.”
Birrugan Dunn-Velasco remains committed to political justice as a reaffirmation of his Indigenous identity:
“It’s my responsibility as a Gumbaynggirr man. It’s my responsibility to our people to be the best warrior I can. To not be silent, to not be complacent. ‘I see the work we do as Dispossessed and the work we do on campaigns, speeches at rallies, grassroots stuff like that, as one and the same. The band is a platform for a wider movement.”
Attafuah, who is of Ghanaian and British heritage, is only 18, yet offers a scathing critique of the DIY Australian punk scene’s reception to her as a Black woman. ” I’ve had people racially profile me as somebody threatening because I’m black,’ she says. ‘I’ve been not allowed into our own shows. I can’t leave politics at the door, it’s just not possible.”
Besides being the group’s guitarists, she’s also an admin, acknowledging that they regularly blend genres together. “In terms of musical style we play anything from shoegaze to grindcore to post-punk, straight-up punk. I don’t care anymore. Anything we do, it’s cool so long as it has feeling, which most of the time is angry.”
As the band gets to work on their follow-up album from their debut release, Insurgency, they remain determined to challenge whiteness and political complacency in the Sydney scene.