Will Kepa

Rhythms of AustraNesia is the name given to the team of musicians who are responsible for creating the traditional and contemporary music that supports just about all AustraNesian contingents, whether it be in the recording studio, or performing live on stage with the full ensemble.

Like the choral sections, the band is made up of “Austranesian” members, and lead by Torres Strait Islander multi-instrumentalist and music producer – Will Kepa. Heavily influenced by traditional music, song and dance elements from Indigenous Australia, Melanesia and Polynesia, he is adept at fusing cultural music into modern contemporary styles.

Kepa is also guided by long-time leader in Melanesian music, Papua New Guinean icon – Ben Hakalitz. Ben has toured extensively around the globe with well-known Indigenous Australian rock band from the 90s, Yothu Yindi, and has also been a vital member of bands such as ‘Not Drowning Waving’, ‘George Telek Band’, ‘Sanguma’, ‘Melanfunk Collective’, and a whole string of bands and/or music ensembles promoting “Nesian” music.

Other members who also come from professional performing backgrouds include Jonathan Imani (PNG), Emmaline Anderson (NZ), Ian Lewerissa (PNG), Mayella Dewis-Batzke (TSI), Dimple Bani (TSI), Danny Bani (TSI), Joe Pulea (Fiji) and our Choir Director Rubina Kimiia (Cook Is/Samoa). Between these members, instrumental flavors consist of modern sounds with Drums, Guitars, Keyboards, etc, along with traditional instrumentation with large lizard skinned island drums, large carved log drums, bamboo flutes, didgeridoo, clap sticks, seed shakers, trumpet shells, ukulele’s and more!

Highlights include:

  • Headliner act Cairns Festival, July 2013
  • Australian Tourism Exchange, May 2014
  • Cairns Indigenous Arts Fair (CIAF), Opening Ceremony, July 2014
  • Queensland Music Festival, September 2014
  • Australia Council Marketing Summit – 2015
  • Global Executives of Exxon/Mobil Dinner – 2015
  • Department of Premier and Cabinet – 2015
  • Munro Martin Parklands Official Opening – 2015
  • Soweto Gospel Choir, Opening for and singing with – 2016
  • Sounds of AustraNesia Songbook Launched – 2016

Although the band may seem to be the backing component for the Sounds of Austranesia, they can also perform mixed repertoires of Aboriginal, Torres Strait Island, Melanesian and Polynesian favorites, classic hits and instrumentals, and will also facilitate traditional instrumentation workshops and instrument making.