Electric Fields brings the love to Eurovision

The Australian duo taking Sweden by storm

Australia’s Eurovision entry, Electric Fields, was love bombing Sweden, performing side shows to rapturous international audiences even before their big gig at Eurovision in Malmö.

“We’ve been asked by our country to make magic in Malmö,” singer, songwriter, artist Zaachariaha Fielding tells The Weekly, “and I want to step into that.”

Electric Fields message – one planet, one blood

At a time when the world seems irreparably torn by war and division, the Adelaide duo’s euphoric dance anthem, One Milkali (One Blood), “is an invitation to make it rain love,” adds keyboardist/composer, Michael Ross, “and to get soaking wet with kindness, respect, connection and knowing that we’re all leaves on the same tree.”

The song was inspired by an artwork, Milkali Kutju, by Zaachariaha’s father, the artist Robert Fielding. “And the message is in the title,” says Michael. “Two languages; one blood.”

Zaachariaha, in ripped jeans and a white top, and Michael, in ripped jeans and a top decorated with a rainbow, sit side by side.
Zaachariaha (left) and Michael (right) on the road to Eurovision. Photo by Nick Wilson.

Zaachariaha’s childhood on Country

One Milkali introduces the world not only to Zaachariaha’s soaring, mesmerising vocals but to Yankunytjatjara, one of the languages that he grew up with in Mimili in the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Lands in north-west South Australia.

The eldest of nine children, his most powerful childhood memories revolve around family and Country.

“There’s this place called Paralpi,” he says, not far from Mimili, “where we would go with our grandparents – all the grandchildren – learning our traditional dance and traditional songs, and just being in that atmosphere of the teachings and the sound of the traditional songs and the body design that the children would wear …

“It was a very beautiful memory that was embedded in me, and now I get to bring that memory forward on the Electric Fields’ stage and in my visual art on the canvas.”

Zaachariaha’s paintings are as arrestingly beautiful as his voice. Last year he won both the Ramsay Award for his painting Wonder Drug, and the prestigious Wynne Prize for Inma, which represents the sounds of Paralpi. He described Paralpi, at the time, as “like the Sydney Opera House for the APY Lands”. 

Zaachariaha Fielding wears paint-splattered black overalls and stands in front of a brightly coloured painting.
Zaachariah Fielding with his Ramsay Award winning painting, Wonder Drug. Photo by Sam Roberts courtesy of APY Art Centre Collective.

Lives lived in music

Michael’s childhood, meanwhile, was set in suburban Brisbane, where he too was spellbound by music at an early age.

“I was five years old,” he recalls, smiling. “My cousin was playing [Beethoven’s] Für Elise on the piano. She played it once and I said, ‘Can you teach me?’ And she said, ‘Nah’, and walked away. Then, ten minutes later, my parents and aunties and uncles came into the room and asked me who had taught me Für Elise. And I looked at them and said, ‘No one. I just worked it out.’ They looked at each other and I realised that music was my way to be seen and to be heard.”

Zaachariaha (wearing a long white dress and scarf) and Michael (in a black and white checked vest) stand in a white spotlight.
Electric Fields: Zaachariaha (left) and Michael (right). Photo by Morgan Sette.

The pair plied separate paths in music, though both tried their luck on TV talent shows. Michael reached the Top 6 in the X-Factor in 2013, and two years later, Zaachariaha made it to the grand final of The Voice. Their paths eventually crossed in Adelaide not long after.

“It was in a beautiful, tall wooden house in the Adelaide Hills,” Michael remembers, “with koalas out the back and an old upright piano in the sunken lounge room. Z was singing someone else’s songs and I was producing. Then five years after that, we started writing songs together … Writing together was Zaachariaha’s idea.”

Zaachariaha performs live on stage wearing a sparkly blue dress and shawl and an earth-toned turban.
Zaachariaha Fielding performing live.

Electric Fields’ Eurovision dream

Electric Fields have long held a torch for Eurovision. In 2019, they came a hair’s-breadth second to Kate Miller-Heidke in a competition to represent Australia in Tel Aviv.

Now they’re living the dream and, whichever way the vote goes, proud to be bringing a message of hope to Malmö.

“Because of the language in One Milkali, it’s a callout,” Zaachariaha explains. “We’re saying that we’re one with you guys. We all bleed red and we’re all on this planet trying to figure out what we are … Every person in the audience and watching on TV, we just hope they tap into the same tapestry. Yes, we’re all representing our countries, but we’re all human.”

Eurovision screens live on SBS on May 8, 10 and 12 at 5am (AEST) and re-screens in primetime on May 10-12 at 7.30pm, hosted by Myf Warhurst and Joel Creasey. It is also available to stream on SBS On Demand.

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