Mixed Relations

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Mixed Relations
Origin Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Years active 1988 (1988)–1995 (1995)
Labels Red Eye
Associated acts
Past members
  • Bart Willoughby
  • Murray Cook
  • Sue Irvin
  • Sharon Carpenter
  • Brenda Gifford
  • Leroy Cummings
  • Alvin Duffin
  • Alice Haines
  • Vanessa Lucas
  • Selwyn Burns
  • Meg Briansky
  • Rachel Perkins

Mixed Relations were an Australian band formed by Bart Willoughby. They played a mixture of reggae, pop, rock and jazz. Mixed Relations toured Aboriginal communities, Australian cities, Pacific Islands, New Zealand, United States, Europe, Canada and Hong Kong. The group were chosen as the closing act for the 1989 inaugural Invasion (aka Survival) Day Concerts at La Perouse, Sydney and then every Invasion Day concert until its final date at La Perouse in 1994. Their track, "Aboriginal Woman", was listed at No. 89 on the Triple J Hottest 100, 1993.


Mix Relations were a reggae, rock group formed in Sydney by Bart Willoughby on percussion, lead vocals, guitar and didgeridoo in late 1988.[1] Willoughby had been a member of No Fixed Address, Coloured Stone and Yothu Yindi.[1] Australian musicologist, Ian McFarlane, felt that Mixed Relations played "an infectious and funky hybrid of reggae, pop, rock and jazz. The band established a solid live reputation."[1] Their debut performance was at the Aboriginal Music Festival, Darwin, in December 1988.[2]

In August 1991 the group toured Europe and Canada.[3] Kaarin Davies-Cassin of Green Left Weekly described their sound, which "blends syncopation and counterpoint harmony, weaving traditional Australian rhythms and melodic form with traditional and Western instruments."[3]

In October 1992 Mixed Relations issued their debut extended play, Take It or Leave It, on Red Eye Records.[1] Alongside Willoughby the group included Murray Cook on keyboards and bass guitar (ex-Warumpi Band, Happening Thang), Leroy Cummings on guitar, Alvin Duffin on drums and percussion (ex-Mantaka), Brenda Gifford on saxophone, piano and backing vocals, Alice Haines on vocals and percussion, Vanessa Lucas on bass guitar, violin and backing vocals (ex-Tall Tales & True).[1] They followed with their single, "Aboriginal Woman" (February 1993), and their debut album, Love, appeared in April.[1] The Canberra Times' Nic Haygarth opined that the album was "a concoction of joyous sounds urban and outback, indigenous and electric, with the spirit of Aboriginal culture at its core."[4]

Willoughby explained his stylistic philosophy to Haygarth, "There are people who came from radio to black and white television, and people who came from black and white television to colour, and there are people born to go from colour to virtual reality. We are the ones that remember the change from black and white to colour. And now you've got no corroboree rock, but a black and white sort of thing. I had to find some way to change from No Fixed Address. Mixed Relations allows me to work with whoever I want and play whatever I want. This style is like the middle where I am."[4]

"Aboriginal Woman", was listed at No. 89 on Triple J's listener's poll: Hottest 100 for 1993.[5] In November 1993 Willoughby was presented with the best indigenous performer award at the Australian Music Awards.[6]

Other musicians in Mixed Relations included Megan Briansky on keyboards and vocals, Sharon Carpenter on percussion and vocals, and Suzanne Irvin on keyboards.[1] The group disbanded in 1995 when Willoughby returned to his Pitjantjatjara community as a music teacher. From 1997 he worked as a solo artist and in 2008 he reformed No Fixed Address.[7]

After disbandment Murray Cook joined Mental As Anything. Selwn Burns played with No Fixed Address, Coloured Stone and Blackfire. Vanessa Lucas was a short term member of Tall Tales and True. Brenda Gifford, a music teacher, later recalled her time with Mixed Relations, "It was a really great experience, I got to see Australia – urban, regional, remote, traditional. And we got to see a bit of the world."[8]



  • Love (April 1993)

Extended plays[edit]


  • "Aboriginal Woman" (1993)


  • Bebbington, Warren, ed. (1997). The Oxford Companion to Australian Music. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-553432-8.
  • McFarlane, Ian (1999). "Whammo Homepage". Encyclopedia of Australian Rock and Pop. St Leonards, NSW: Allen & Unwin. ISBN 1-86508-072-1. Archived from the original on 5 April 2004. Retrieved 3 October 2013. Note: Archived [on-line] copy has limited functionality.
  1. ^ a b c d e f g McFarlane, 'No Fixed Address' entry. Archived from the original on 9 August 2004. Retrieved 9 April 2017.
  2. ^ Polglaze, Karen (25 May 1989). "Good Times: Rock for the Forests". The Canberra Times. 63 (19, 587). p. 23. Retrieved 10 April 2017 – via National Library of Australia.
  3. ^ a b Davies-Cassin, Kaarin (12 June 1991). "Oil war shoots holes in band tour". Green Left Weekly (15). Archived from the original on 23 May 2012. Retrieved 9 April 2017.
  4. ^ a b Haygarth, Nic (1 July 1993). "Mixed Relations' love for music has no fixed address". The Canberra Times. 67, (21, 261). p. 34. Retrieved 10 April 2017 – via National Library of Australia.
  5. ^ "1993 | History | Triple J Hottest 100 – 2008". Triple J (Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC)). Archived from the original on 3 December 2014. Retrieved 10 April 2017.
  6. ^ "Top music award goes to Baby Animals". The Canberra Times. 68 (21, 411). 28 November 1993. p. 2. Retrieved 10 April 2017 – via National Library of Australia.
  7. ^ "Celebrity Vibe – Bart Willoughby". Vibe Australia. Archived from the original on 4 January 2006. Retrieved 10 April 2017.
  8. ^ "From Mixed Relations to Music Composition". ANU College of Arts & Social Sciences – Australian National University (ANU). 28 February 2017. Retrieved 10 April 2017.