by Hobart Magazine
Tassie girl Miss Kaninna’s debut single Blak Britney rocketed to the top of the Triple J charts earlier this year. From a childhood in the bush and beaches of Bruny Island and Dodges Ferry to a performing arts academy, a national tour with The Sapphires theatre show, performing her own song on festival stages and that number one single, it’s been a big few years for the Yorta Yorta, Kalkadoon and Yirendali artist. Kaninna sat down for a chat with us to reflect on her success and to look back on growing up with racism in Tasmania. Oh, and to share her intense enthusiasm for Hobart’s cafes.
Congratulations on your incredible year! How has it been for you? This year has been crazy, I’m still getting used to this type of lifestyle, city living. I’m really enjoying all the new experiences and getting to meet so many talented people in the arts but it can be overwhelming sometimes for this little island girl.
Your massive breakout hit Blak Britney just went bonkers this year – tell us about why and how you created that song? Blak Britney was such a fun process to make with Finn Reece (another Tassie born-and-bred artist). I actually wrote the hook of that song driving in the car on the Tasman Highway in traffic! I showed Finn the idea and he was keen on it, so we developed the bones of the song over zoom. We then finished the song in his studio in Melbourne while I was there for The Sapphires rehearsals and developments. I was so surprised the song did as well as it did and I am so grateful to all the people who supported the song.
What was your Tassie childhood like? Childhood in Tassie was pretty bush for me. I lived on Bruny for most of my childhood and went back and forth between Dodges Ferry and Bruny Island, so I spent most of my time at the beach or out bush. Although I am very grateful for growing up in Tassie and having access to so much beautiful nature, I do however acknowledge the racism I experienced both in schools and in public. Tasmania has a very serious racism problem that needs to be addressed and as one of the only little black kids at my schools, I copped a lot of racism. I hope to help change that.
How important are the arts and performance to your family? The arts are huge in my family. My nan was a very famous painter and also loved singing country music, my pop also never failed to buy the best country music CDs and have them on full blast in the car when he would take me to work. My mum [Ruth Langford] is a singer/artist/performer/ everything under the sun arts-wise and my uncles don’t shy away from smashing the strings in the guitars at family events.
What do you want to convey with your music? I want to represent black people and black women in music and give voice to those who aren’t heard. I want to shed light on the racism that Aboriginal people face in this country and I also want people to feel good about themselves. I want to make impactful music while also at the same time make music people can shake their ass too!
Please tell us there is more new music coming soon?! Of course there is girlll, since putting out Blak Britney I have become way more harsh and critical of my own music, so I wanted to be 100% happy with the next single before releasing it.
When you do come back home for a visit, where do you go first? I always go straight home to my family home and see everyone, then I go for a long walk with my doggy on the beach and connect back to country.
What are some of your favourite places to hang out in town here? Hmm, I love to eat, so probs Ginger Brown cafe in South Hobart, they have this lamb salad and it’s the shit!!! I get it every time without fail. Omg, Dana Eating House, the oysters there!!! I’m pretty sure I went there every couple of weeks for like a year. I also love Saigon Express, everything from there is good af.
What are you looking forward to over the next 12 months? I’m looking forward to creating new music and performing. I have so many shows over the next 12 months in all different states as well, so I am looking forward to meeting new people and seeing new places.