Damon Paraha, who goes by the name Nomad, is a Hip-Hop artist who likes to write about many topics from identity to equality. He won an APRA award in 2019 for his song writing and is one of Wyndham Cultural Centre’s Ghost Light artists.
Who is Damon Paraha? Tell us a little bit about yourself and your work as an artist.
Damon Paraha is my name, but I go by “Nomad” on stage. I am a Hip-Hop artist and have been recording/performing my original music since 2016. I am of Maori/Samoan decent, the second-oldest of six and am the father of a 2-year-old and 11-month-old. My fiancé and I have been together for nearly 4 years and have been engaged since February of this year. When I’m not performing, I’m engaging with youth throughout Melbourne with my Hip-Hop/Songwriting workshops. I have been rapping since I was 8 years old and started taking it seriously when I finished High School in 2015.
You won an APRA Award for your song writing in 2019 which is a massive achievement! How did it feel to win an award like this?
Okay, so to give you some context on that situation, it was 2019 and I was a grand finalist in a “Battle Of The Bands” type competition organised by The Push Inc. This was the final round of 3 and in a way I was representing the west side of Melbourne which I had a lot of pride in. It meant a lot to be recognised both by the APRA organisation and fellow artists – who I was blown away with – for my songs about being a father, standing up to toxic masculinity and empowering our women. I was almost 3 years into taking this seriously and to be recognised for the very craft I pour my heart into was incredibly dignifying.
You were involved in the project Congress by All the Queens Men at Wyndham City Council. Congress is a Citizens Assembly that gives voices to the often unheard. What was your involvement in Congress and can you tell us a little bit about what you spoke on?
I can’t put into words just how fulfilling this event was emotionally and spiritually. I was approached by Trish Carlon and Tristan Meecham because they’d come across my work – which I definitely was flattered by – and they asked if I’d be interested in giving a speech. I was blown away by the freedom they were proposing with this project and was given the chance to work with Fatima Measham to write an incredible speech about gender inequality and being an ally to women. It also exposed me to other true stories of some of Wyndham’s brightest citizens and I’ve been inspired by their bravery to this day.
What is your connection to Wyndham and how does it inspire you and your work?
As proud as I am to be a Polynesian, Wyndham is truly my home. In my 23 years, I’ve grown up in Wyndham by living in Werribee, Hoppers Crossing, Truganina and now Tarneit. I’ve been able to witness it’s growth through infrastructure, cultural diversity and many other improvements but I’ve also been able to witness various issues that have come up within our communities. There are various problems within our minority groups that stem from the systemic racism that this country was unfortunately built upon, and a lot of my work is inspired by my desire to see those systems abolished and hope that my kids will be apart of a new world closer to equality than we are at present.
How has the current COVID-19 situation, if at all, effected your work? What are your fears and hopes throughout this time?
So on the optimistic side, I would love to say that it’s influenced me to be a little bit more creative and innovate new ways to engage with my audience through non-physical methods such as live-streaming and more social media driven actions. But a more realistic take would be that it’s been difficult to create any new content whilst being confined within these four walls, often I feel trapped and like I’m writing the same thing over and over again so writers block is definitely a key factor and I empathise with my fellow artists that are struggling right now. Plus, with all of the injustices that the world is currently engaged with, dropping my next single doesn’t feel like too big a deal. I’ve only just begun getting back into recording new material but trust me when I say you’re not playing this at any parties. I’m working on something that hopefully creates a dialogue and helps you to form an opinion on some of the topics that have come to the forefront of this lockdown.