Airileke is a musical pioneer and a fighter for freedom traversing a timeless sonic globe without frontiers. He is a percussionist, producer, composer, activist, recording and global events facilitator and, in the words of Britain's Songlines magazine, "cause for celebration".
Born in Australia with roots in PNG Airileke grew up between the shores of both PNG and the Top End. Currently based in Far North QLD he continues to travel back and forth.
Airi's unique sound melds progressive ideas with beats of ancient Melanesian culture. Hip-hop production, fierce log drumming, Papuan chants, atmospheric soundscapes and samples from the front line of the Free Papua Movement combine to evoke one of the region's darkest stories: the illegal occupation and ongoing oppression of West Papua.
Urgent, fiery and innovative, this is the new sound of urban Melanesia.
Airileke Ingram [pronounced Irie-leck-eh] grew up learning traditional drumming from his ancestral village of Gabagaba (Drumdrum) near Port Moresby, the region's ‘sing sing’ grounds for drums, dance and ceremony.
As a teenager he studied classical percussion and log drumming all over PNG and the Pacific, toured internationally with the Australian Youth Orchestra, and began blending these experiences into his first studio productions. As a touring percussionist, his resume expanded from Melanesian heroes Drum Drum and Telek to Australian indigenous trailblazers Bart Willoughby, Wild Water, Gurrumul, Yothu Yindi & Yirrmal.
In 2006 Airi relocated to Melbourne, to pursue his career as a Producer & Artistic Director. He co-founded the Wantok Musik Foundation with David Bridie (Not Drowning Waving), which has since become a leading Indigenous and Pacific Island record label.
His debut album, Weapon of Choice, dropped a bombshell on the Australasian musical frontier in 2012. The culmination of his lifelong immersion in the sounds of Melanesia, it created a new hybrid music community between Australia and the Pacific, acknowledged by an ARIA Awards nomination and a Top 10 accolade in the UK’s Songlines magazine.
In 2015 Airileke was Co-Artistic Director and Composer for the epic arena spectacle the “PNG 2015 Pacific Games Opening”. The show was an Olympic scale event, viewed by over 10 million viewers across the globe. The Opening Ceremony set a new bench mark in cultural performance in the Pacific, involving over 6000 performers from every province of Papua New Guinea, school students, and international athletes and performers. Airileke's PNG based’s company Makoda Productions produced both the Opening and Closing Ceremonies.
In 2017 He developed and delivered "Rebel Musik". A commissioned piece by Arts Centre Melbourne for AsiaTOPA. The work brought together 15 emerging & legendary performers from the Pacifc region. The work is now touring internationally under the name "Sorong Samarai" (checkout the live show below)
SOUNDTRACKS - FILM, TV, THEATRE, DANCE
He has been commissioned for dance company scores by Mirramu Dance Company (Australia) a production based on the "Morning Star" songlines of Arnhemland, Tracks Dance (Australia), Sama Ballet (Sri Lanka), Sunameke (Australia/Pacific), and Bidiggal (Far North QLD).
His unique palette of sounds, grooves and effects is in high demand for feature films, TV series, art house movies and documentaries as diverse as Hollywood Feature: Journey 2 Mysterious Island, SBS TV: The Straits, Kokoda, Survivor, RAN, In a Savage Land, Strange Birds in Paradise, Gone, Dolphin Guide, Byron and Bran Nue Dae.
Airileke's music is inextricably bound to his advocacy for Indigenous self- determination and West Papua's independence movement. In 2012, he co-founded the Rize of the Morning Star global solidarity movement and independent record label, with the intent of raising awareness about West Papua and other indigenous cultures in the region.
The organisation develops new music from West Papua and PNG as well as nurturing art and culture in service of West Papua's ongoing fight for "merdeka" — freedom. So far they have engaged more than 100 bands in 20 countries, staged events and released compilations of new songs commissioned for the cause.
NEW SINGLE OUT NOW
Latest work is Sorong Samarai, an urgent rallying cry for "merdeka" inspired by exiled West Papuan Independence leader Benny Wenda, with a film clip directed by Blue King Brown’s Carlo Santone across the politically divided, spiritually united borders of West Papua, Papua New Guinea and Australia. The film clip is another epic scale production from Airileke that shines a line on the human rights issues in West Papua.
COLLABORATIONS AND SESSIONS
Dj Dexter (Avalanches), YothuYindi (Australia), Gurrumul (Australia), Bart Willoughby - No fixed address (Australia), Yirrmal (Australia), Salt Water Band (Australia), Yilila Band (Australia), Coloured Stone (Australia), Yung Warriors (Australia), Wurrumpi Band (Australia), Telek (PNG), Gulaan (New Caledonia), Jboog (USA), O-shen (USA/PNG), Dadiigii (PNG), Dizz1 (Australia), Blue King Brown, Nicky Bomba (John Butler Trio), Vika and Linda (Black Sorrows), David Bridie (My Friend the Chocolate Cake / Not drowning Waving), Luciano (Jamaica), TZU (Australia), Ngaiire (PNG/Australia), Bob Brosman (USA), Lewis Pragasam (Asia Beat), Purna Das Baul (India), Danny Prasana - master percussionist (Sri Lanka), Tony Allen (Nigeria), Tribe of Jubal (PNG/Australia), Richard Mogu (PNG), Dadiigii (PNG, Paluai Sook Sook (PNG), Anslom (PNG), ProteJ (USA/PNG), Kaivili (Fiji).
Drum Drum Lahi Gabua 1997
Drum Drum 2001
Weapon of Choice 2012
Rize of the Morning Star Compilation Vol #1 2012
Rize of the Morning Star Compilation Vol #2 2016
Sorong Samarai 2016
Full Freedom (Skittles n Tea) 2017
2004 - "Sounds of Polynesia" A software sample library with Native Instrument (USA) / Zero G Native Instrument (UK)