Scattered People proudly announce their new album Sugarmill Road and new single 'On The Turning Away'

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SUGARMILL ROAD - Scattered People
Produced and arranged by Robbie James

The cover artwork was painted by
Iraqi artist Towfiq Alqudy

– a tribute to the ‘the Flower project’ of 2002 triggered by the question of a little girl being held in the desert-bound Woomera Detention Centre to visiting doctors “Are there no flowers in Australia?”

A small group of Brisbane women got busy and sent the little girl’s question to florists from all over Australia.

The response was swift. A Department of Immigration spokeswoman subsequently noted “flowers were pouring in to all of the detention centres – Villawood, Curtin, Port Hedland in addition to Woomera”.

The little girl’s question was thus answered with a flood of colour.

Music performed and/or programmed
by Robbie James

Recorded and mixed by Robbie James
at Nomadsland Studio

Mastering by William Bowden

Danielle Bentley String Quintet:
Strings scored by Robbie James
Strings recorded by Phil Graham
at Gasworks Studios
Assistant Engineer: Josh Tuck

Christian Brothers Schools choir
recorded by Phil Graham

Cover Painting - Towfiq Alqudy
Design - Mike Meade

Scattered People Coordinator - Brian Procopis

Vocalists (for the preservation of anonymity, we’ll use first names for all of us)

Aileen, Aleathea, Chris, Dereje, Hadi, Indigo, Lou, Maggie W, Mark, Masoud, Mehdi, Mike, Mostafa, Naomi, Paola, Robbie, Saha, Sham, Yani, Zahra,
Students from Nudgee College, St Laurence’s, St Pat’s Shorncliffe and St Edmund’s Ipswich

Robbie James
Danielle Bentley String Quintet on
Escaping Dreams, In Your Image, Broken Wing and Somewhere In Australia
Violins - Eugenie Costello-Shaw and Sallie Campbell
Viola - Alice Buckingham
Cello - Danielle Bentley
Double bass - Chloe-Ann Williamson
Aleathea Monsour - mandolin on Limbo
Hadi - guitar (with infamous capo) on Remember
Buzz Bidstrup - drums on Patience Is A Remedy & timbales on Sweet Marmanya
Dr Kim Cunio - instruments accompanying narration

On the 9th June, 2011 a team of Scattered People musicians took guitars, percussion and mandolins into BITA (Brisbane Immigration and Transit Accommodation) – effectively, a Detention Centre for asylum seekers who had been transferred from Christmas Island. The Centre is located in Sugarmill Road, Pinkenba. Escapees from oppressive regimes, seekers of asylum with a collective thirst for a safe and liberating future gathered and listened, bewildered at first. They came from Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan and Sri Lanka. Music off-set the initial awkwardness. People began to move, to sway a little. There was hand clapping. Some of the less-inhibited Iranian males began to dance. More songs were requested. They sang some of their own – love songs in the midst of their trauma. There was laughter. Mahin the interpreter skilfully facilitated the communication. SERCO workers – themselves warm and responsive to the detainees, began to join in. They said this was the first time they’d heard such laughter in what they recognised was generally an environment of sadness and recovery from trauma.

Since that day, each week musicians/community development practitioners have been loading up their cars with instruments and making the trip along Sugarmill Road. Detainees would offer their poems written in their mother tongue asking that we make them into songs. Their writings were translated and the music followed. The results of those significant collaborations are featured on this album. Songs of hope and desperation, love songs, those that swirl us into a shared melancholy and authenticate us as fellow travellers, songs that release from within us a range of emotions that arise out of trauma and exposure to life-threatening experiences. We are continually amazed by the capacity of music to embrace all of these complexities and find for them a home.

Hans Christian Andersen understood this magical process for it was he who said: “where words fail, music speaks”


Br Jim D’Arcy for your ever-present support and for your sourcing of the seed funding enabling production to begin. Alistair Hulett Memorial Fund (Australia) for generous support. Lisa Pieca for your initial work on the crowd funding campaign, Lisa Luppi for her assistance with the crowdfunding and the Facebook page during this period. Helen Athanassiou for accommodating Saha. Trevor Brewood for kindly donating much time and effort to complete Nomadsland studio. Dr Naomi Sunderland and Dr Caroline Lenette from Griffith University for your skilled insights and commitment to taking the lessons derived from this overall experience to a broader audience. Dr Phil Graham from the QUT Music Faculty for his time, expertise and provision of resources. Jan Evans for your ongoing belief in Scattered People and for your persistent efforts in selling Scattered People CDs. Roger Henshaw for funding the live strings on “In Your Image” recorded by the Danielle Bentley quintet in 2011, and George Ellis for conducting this quintet free of charge.

John and Lizzi Swatland, Luke and Cindy Monsour for video and photography, Amanda Probert, Taylor Casey, Reilly Vanniekerk and Mike for the video. Mark Bolton and Sebastian Chase at MGM. Peter King from Mad CDs. Tim and Maggie for their helpful advice and their translating and transporting of vocalist Hadi to and from the studio, Sonia Caeiro of Truth and Wild Horses and Larissa Meikle of Catfish Media. And last but not least, all the people who donated to the cause via the crowdfunding campaign, notably Melissah Davies, Doug Winten, Robert Lachowicz, Maureen Dawson-Smith, Gaby Heuft, Rebecca Cannell, Mark Callaghan, Roger Henshaw and Geoff Stapleton.

We are also grateful to Francesca Clava of Imagem Creative Services (The Publishers of The Pink Floyd catalogue) in London and her team for supporting us in our quest to re-arrange and record ‘On The Turning Away’– a composition which highlights the tendency of first world countries to turn away the ‘pale and down-trodden’ for fear of jeopardising their privileged life style. We celebrate the irony as asylum seekers take their places at the microphone instead of the legendary Dave Gilmour. We appreciate acclaimed percussionist and honorary Scattered People member Eugene Skeef for facilitating this process.


Lifeline/UnitingCare Community, Griffith University/Queensland Conservatorium Research Centre – Music, Health and Well-Being, QUT Kelvin Grove Faculty of Music, Refugee Claimant’s Support Centre, CRA (Catholic Religious Associations), Edmund Rice Schools (Nudgee College, St Patrick’s College Shorncliffe, St Laurence’s, St Edmund’s Ipswich), Romero Centre, Communify, Women Outfront Maleny, Buddies Refugee Support Group Maleny

A Sweet Freedom Project
sweet freedom
Music that Liberates
(c) Scattered People