Rogue Traders – chilling out with heart and soul

March 1st, 2024Rogue Traders – chilling out with heart and soul

My first impression of Rogue Traders band members Natalie Bassingthwaighte and James Ash is just how grounded and real they both are.

My first impression of Rogue Traders band members Natalie Bassingthwaighte and James Ash is just how grounded and real they both are.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of their first album, which has sold over a million records globally. Through it all they have remained the best of friends while navigating relationships, parenthood, fame and life.

So having the band headline at this year’s ChillOut Festival’s Carnival celebrations at Victoria Park in March is a fantastic coup for the event organisers and participants. And the duo is excited to be a part of it all.

While admitting they didn’t know a lot about the festival, after a rundown of its history and significance, they both felt ‘grateful’ for being part of such an event.

“I have goosebumps hearing about it,” was Natalie’s reaction.

“The history and the stories. It’s a weekend that is so inclusive; so full of joy that we are truly excited.

“In this world we all want a sense of community, without being judged and permission to be ourselves. Being part of ChillOut is being part of something that connects us, allow us to be ourselves and we all should be able to express ourselves exactly how we choose to.”

James knows just how much pressure there is for us all to conform.

“There’s a great deal of pressure for conformity and it’s a matter of finding your people, those who you feel safe with and connect with, and I think the queer community teaches us all that everyone is diverse and an individual,” he said.

It’s lovely listening to the two chat during the interview, which feels more like a catch-up than an interview. And it is obvious the two share a unique bond. They agreed their friendship goes far beyond the band – their kids have grown up together as they have shared life’s ups and downs.

Festival programming committee member Jacqui Walter said the committee was excited for this year’s line-up of entertainment and believes having Rogue Traders perform is testament to ChillOut’s reputation as Australia’s longest-running queer festival.

“We are super excited to have Rogue Traders at ChillOut as they are so prominent on the Australian music landscape. We can’t wait to welcome Nat and James live to the ChillOut experience – the feeling of connection and love. That’s what it’s all about,” she said.

Jacqui is also looking forward to performing with her band Lost Girls, who are all still enjoying performing into their late 50’s and early 60’s.

“I can’t wait to play ahead of Nat and James and the entire audience to show that age is no barrier,” she said.

Natalie, now 48 and touring while raising teenagers and navigating life, said ageism was a thing in the music world but she sees a shift happening.

“It’s like we give ourselves permission to let loose and don’t have the pressures we had when we were younger. And I think it helps when the likes of Kylie Minogue are creating amazing music…it sends a message that we can simply be who we want to be and be true to ourselves.”

For James and Natalie both agree playing at LGBTIQA+ events are where they have the most fun.

“The events are safe and we are fortunate to be asked to play at such events,” James said.

For Natalie, queer events have greater meaning in her life now ‘for obvious reasons’ and said she feels grateful to be part of ‘heartfelt celebrations’.

So, after a lengthy conversation (the pair were so generous with their time) about life, parenthood, and sharing reviews on streaming shows, the pair were getting ready for rehearsals and their next gig. And genuinely looking forward to being part of the 26th ChillOut Festival. Visit www.chilloutfestival.com.au.

Words: Narelle Groenhout | Image: Contributed

More Articles

Back to top