Acoustic folk-duo, Busy Marou, will be playing a special event on behalf of Maserati’s Mother’s Day Polo classic, this weekend (Saturday May 9th) and all proceeds will go towards people living with disabilities as aid for the development of day programs that will assist them in their daily lives. We had a chat with the lovely ukulele player, Jeremy Marou about how the pair landed the charity gig, his ongoing commitment working with Australian Indigenous Mentoring Experience (AIME) and one life-changing event that he will cherish forever…
So on Saturday you guys will be playing at the Mother’s Day Polo Classic – a charity event that will help fund individuals living with disabilities. Could you tell me how you guys landed the gig and what this event will entail?
We get asked to do a lot of charity-type events and I think it’s between our booking agents and for us, we sort of choose the ones that we think is worthwhile and this one was. We’re obviously looking forward to it; Tom [Busby] and I haven’t played in a while so apart from doing something that’s towards a great cause, it’s also getting to catch up with each other at the same time. It’s something that we’re both looking forward to and obviously being that it’s on the Mother’s Day weekend, we’re assuming that there’ll be a lot of people with their mums out there. Tom and I come from very big families so families are very important to us and Mother’s Day is one of those days that we always look forward to.
Following up on that, I’m expecting that the event will have a diverse audience with people coming from different age groups. How does it feel knowing that you’ll be in the spotlight for this event?
Oh look it’s great – we’re artists, we love being in the spotlight. I guess a lot of people look at Tom and I like as two diverse people. I guess in a sense, we’re used to it and we’re also kind of used to doing something different. We’re used to being in the spotlight for these sort of events and hopefully that can be an example for this event. Hopefully with this event and the diverse crow, it shows that two different people can work together.
I think it’s great that you’re doing this charity event. Being in Busby Marou, does it feel like you’re giving hope and inspiration to people with your music?
Yeah, absolutely. It wasn’t really until we kind of gained a profile that we realised the influence that we had on people; it’s something that I’ve obviously never looked at it like, “Oh you’re an Australian and I’m a Torres Strait Islander Australian,” it was obviously never like that; but now, we just do it because of the love for music and that’s the main reason why we’re doing everything that we are now. Now that we’ve had success in the music industry, for us to come back and play at this event, it means a lot for us and it’s also self-rewarding knowing that we can put back into our community.
Yeah absolutely. Do you feel like it’s encouraging for you to be able to play at an event knowing that you’ll make a difference for individuals in need? ’cause I think it’s amazing what you guys have been up to in the recent months with everything that you’re working on.
Oh, absolutely. It’s very self-rewarding and at the end of the day, we have so much fun performing for people and we get as much satisfaction seeing other people happy or enjoying our music; so really for us, it’s a two-way thing. We consider ourselves very lucky and fortunate that we’ve been put into this position to do this sort of thing like play at these sort of events and these sort of charities.
I know it’s been a while back but I think it’s brilliant that you work closely with AIME to promote the music talent of Indigenous high school students and I see that Ed Sheeran paid a visit [in one of the schools] too which was pretty rad. How was that experience?
It was a very, very exciting experience obviously. I basically went up to Warner Music, our label and asked, “Hey, do you think Ed [Sheeran] would be interested talking to a group of students?” and they were like, “Oh yeah, he likes doing that sort of stuff,” and he was very excited. Obviously we had to use our profile to use our strings to get some things for people like Ed Sheeran to come out and talk to a group of students but at the end of the day, it was a moment that I’ll remember forever. I had a group of eighteen students and they’re very, very talented students and they had no idea that Ed was coming and I still remember their faces as I said, “Okay guys. We’ve got one of our friends coming in. You might’ve heard of him – Ed Sheeran is gonna pop in for the next couple of hours to hang out with you.” To see the faces of some of these young kids was just priceless and something that I’ll cherish forever.
That’s amazing. It must’ve been so amazing to see their faces and their reactions to be in the same room as Ed Sheeran! [laughs]
[Laughs] It was incredible. Like some of them cried, some of them kinda went into shock. Tom and I were both there and we were just as excited. In terms of what went down, Ed actually entertained and sat down and talked for 2-3 hours with the kids. The opportunity to actually hear from like you know, a superstar doesn’t come around very often and if we can make things like that happen and do things like that ourselves, it’s very inspiring for us and everyone that we’re affecting. Hopefully this Saturday, we can have the same effect on some people out there.
I’m very familiar with AIME and it’s such a great organisation because it encourages Indigenous high school students to get involved in the arts and the music side as well. I was originally an AIME mentor except unfortunately, my mentee didn’t show up for a few sessions so I got taken out of the program. What have you learnt so far from this experience? ‘Cause I know you’re heavily involved with the organisation which is so great to see.
Yeah. I actually came as a guest speaker [for the program] and then it moved to Rockhampton, which is a regional town and I still felt like I was impacting the students in a positive way. If you look at the whole theory behind the program – it’s a mentorship program and to explain it is that everyone is successful in life, whether they admit or not have or had some kind of mentor bring that in those important stages [high school] and basically that’s what we’re trying to nurture; putting in some key mentors in place with the students and get them to talk about things is important and that’s what the program does. It’s proven to work and I put as much time as I can to the program and it’s good to watch these kids actually excel because of the things that we’re talking about with people like yourself who are studying or working and making a difference.
Yeah, that’s so true. I like the fact that it’s a very hands-on program and the students that go to university spend time with these kids once a week and get involved with these interactive activities to help them find inspiration to complete school and accomplish other things in life. Following up on that, do you do any other things apart from AIME and being a guest speaker for schools?
Yeah, I do a lot of it. Obviously, music is my hands-on trait and apart from AIME stuff, my part is to really get those guys out to not feel the shame of jumping on stage. I do a lot of specialised workshops on ukulele playing. Unfortunately, I’m not the songwriter in the relationship so I can’t talk too much about how Tom puts together songs so brilliantly. I also do workshops on guitar and drums performing live – the ins and outs and the event’s side of performing which is the fun and the cool side of things.
So you play the ukulele, how did that start? What was the initial motivation for you to play it?
[laughs] It kind of started when we were making a song. It kinda started where we wanted a song where it had a ukulele vibe and Tom and I experimented with it for a bit and that’ show it came about. I basically came up with a riff and I kind of played the ukulele similar to a guitar with some different techniques and it’s kinda just worked for us. It’s a fun instrument to play and we have a couple of songs that work really well with the ukulele. It’s a craze that’s going on pretty hard around the country. A lot of kids are just playing around with it at school and you can chuck ’em in your school bag and you can drag them around and they cost $30 bucks, you know – coolest instrument to play.
It’s a very cute instrument to play with.
Oh, it’s a great instrument and there’s like a stack of little ukulele clubs around. There’s one that I know which has like 70 people playing the ukulele. It’s a really cool instrument to play.
Are you guys working on new music lately? I’ve noticed that Busby Marou have been pretty quiet in terms of that side of things.
We toured so hard last year that we thought we’d just have some time off – you never wanna oversaturate the market anyway. We’ve just been spending time with our families and they’re very important to us but we are working on new material too. It’s hard to write new material when you’re constantly on-the-go. In a fortnight’s time, Tom and I have a pre-production back at the studio so we’ll start to put some songs together and by the end of the year, we’re planning to have a new album out. It’s been a great break – we’ve been both very busy doing our little side projects and different things, especially with this weekend when we finally get to play together again. I think it’ll spark us again and we’ll be ready to start writing songs and writing a new album and then getting back on the road.
I think it’s very important to take a break from the music side of things because it can be very exhausting but at the same time, you need to recharge.
Oh, absolutely. We’ve learnt from some of our friends and other musicians who have given us advice that taking time off is so important; it’s not just for our families but for our relationships as well. Being married and having families, we never want to jeopardise that and that’s always been our first priority and music will always come second.
As a musician, what do you think are important values to have to stay true to the art of music?
I think if you’re enjoying it – that’s pretty much it. Even now, sometimes we find ourselves writing for a certain purpose or writing for a certain reason but at the end of the day, performing songs and music because we simply enjoy it is the pure essence of music and why music is music; people enjoy it so I think that’s pretty much the key, you know. If you’re enjoying it and you’re doing it for the right reasons then it’ll always be pure.
Catch Busby Marou this Saturday at Maserati’s Mother Day’s Classic Event.
Refer to the information below about the event:
Date: Saturday, May 9
Time: Gates open 11am – 6pm
Location: Kurri Burri Polo Club, 226 Edwards Road, Richmond Lowlands, NSW 2753
Tickets & info: http://www.polosociety.com.au/
Tickets: $50 – $140 – range of offerings including car boot options for the family
Children under 14 – FREE