King Stingray is a story of lifelong friendship and two cultures coming together. Growing up together in Yirrkala in North-East Arnhem Land, founding members Yirrŋa Yunupiŋu (frontman) and Roy Kellaway (guitar) have been playing and making music together for as long as they can remember.
Yirrŋa and Roy formed King Stingray with mates Dimathaya Burarrwanga (rhythm guitar, backing vocals and yidaki), Campbell Messer (bass) and Lewis Stiles (drums) in 2019, before officially welcoming Yidaki-master Yimila Gurruwiwi into the fold in 2022. The band blend ancient indigenous melodies with surf, indie and funk influences to create their unique “Yolŋu surf-rock” sound which has captivated the nation.
Propelled by the instant success of their debut track “Hey Wanhaka” in 2020, and subsequent singles “Get Me Out”, “Milkumana”, “Camp Dog” and “Let’s Go”, the band soared to unexpected heights in record time. Hailed as "one of the most exciting acts in the country today" (NME), King Stingray took out triple j's 'Unearthed Artist of the Year' J Award for 2021, NME Australia's 'Best New Act From Australia' and Rolling Stone Australia's 'Best New Artist' award all before an album was released.
Their much-anticipated debut LP ‘King Stingray’ dropped in August 2022, supported by a typically cheeky campaign encouraging fans to take #kingstingday off to celebrate the album’s release. Declared by triple j as an “instant Australian classic”, ‘King Stingray’ saw the band nominated for a whopping five ARIA Awards (including a win for the ‘Michael Gudinski Breakthrough Artist’), and claim the prestigious 2022 Australian Music Prize. The band dominated the 2023 AIR Awards, converting three of four nominations to wins for ‘best independent rock album or EP’, ‘independent album of the year’ and ‘breakthrough artist of the year’. Their song “Milkumana” won a NIMA (National Indigenous Music Award) in 2022 for ‘song of the year’ and claimed 1st prize in the 2022 Vanda & Young Global Songwriting Competition, while ‘Camp Dog’ took out 3rd place in the same competition. “Let’s Go” was awarded two NIMA’s in 2023; ‘song of the year’ and ‘film clip of the year’.
On the live front, the band haven’t missed a beat. They’ve shared stages with Ball Park Music and Midnight Oil, performed before more than 70,000 AFL fans during the 'Dreamtime at The G' match, sold out a massive 11-date national headline tour and played countless festival slots including Falls, Spilt Milk, First & Forever and Splendour In The Grass.
“You can sense “King Sting” are part of a bigger cultural movement, as evidenced by the huge reaction the band received for their set at the recent Splendour In The Grass festival” observes the Daily Telegraph “... you can guarantee in three years, about 100,000 people will be claiming they were there.”
With fans in every corner of the country, King Sting have had the opportunity to work on some serious collaborations including one with Australian retail giant Cotton On where a range of eco-friendly King Stingray apparel and accessories were designed and sold in over 280 stores across the country. They also recorded an epic version of Down Under by Men At Work for Tourism Australia’s Come and Say G’day campaign, which served as a conduit to their first international trip as a band and an official introduction to the rest of the world.
Australia’s Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has even championed the band on multiple occasions, selecting Get Me Out as his favourite song of 2022, and wearing his King Stingray t-shirt on Aus Music T Shirt Day!
With friendship, family, connection to country and culture resonating through everything they do, King Stingray are on track to forge a lasting legacy in the Australian music landscape.