Archie Roach stands at a microphone singing. He is holding his arms outstretched.

Archie Roach interview

Archie Roach exclusive 2019 interview

On family, songwriting and more
 Beth Taylor

To coincide with the release of Archie Roach's autobiography and companion album Tell Me Why (2019), the NFSA honoured Archie's career with two curated collections, Archie Roach and Archie Roach and Ruby Hunter. Each collection is filled with rare footage, live recordings, photographs, documents and home movies.

WARNING: this article contain names, images or voices of deceased Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

The powerful songs of Archie Roach (1956–2022) tell his story of heartbreaking loss, love and healing through music. These clips come from an exclusive NFSA interview with Archie conducted in October 2019.


A Gunditjmara (Kirrae Whurrong/Djab Wurrung), Bundjalung Senior Elder, Archie Roach was born in Mooroopna, Victoria in 1956. Archie was a member of the Stolen Generations. He was forcibly separated from his family when he was two years old, placed into foster care and told he was an orphan.

Archie has been a part of many families in his life, and family is an important theme in his music. Archie's families include his birth family, the Cox family who fostered him as a teenager, the 'parkies' he met living on the streets of Fitzroy and the family he created with his partner Ruby Hunter.

He was also passionate about bringing together Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, building communities of First Nations people around the world and exploring the universal experience of being human.

Music as a healer

In Tell Me Why (2019), Archie says 'I've wrestled most of my life with addictions, but music has always been my saving grace. It's where I go to heal':

Songs maturing over time

It's lovely to hear Archie refer to his songs as if they are children. In this clip he calls them 'little fellas', commenting that he's coming to understand them better over time:

You can learn more about his collaboration with partner Ruby Hunter in the Archie Roach and Ruby Hunter collection, and check out the Archie Roach Collection, which includes never-before-seen home movies, live footage and interviews from his career spanning four decades as well as one of his later songs, 'Place of Fire' (2019).