ST Augustine and St Ignatius lived more than 1000 years apart, but their extraordinary conversions have inspired two young Catholics to unite the holy heroes in music.
Musicians Marilyn Ng, 24, and Louisa Court, 22, both originally from Sydney, go by the rock indie duo Gus and Iggy, named in memory of “two of history’s greatest minds”.
“It came about because we were talking about saint nicknames, like Gus for Augustine or Iggy for Ignatius” Miss Court said.
“I identify with Iggy in community life (with the Disciples of Jesus) and in my own conversion to the faith, plus I love the spiritual exercises and the Jesuits.
“I thought it would make a great band name.”
But the duo’s lead guitarist and percussionist disagreed, until the pair was in desperate need of a band name before their first gig at a parish on Sydney’s south.
Despite launching their first EP Eyes Still Wide on November 24, Gus and Iggy’s unique and soothing sound has been the result of nearly four years of private and collaborative writing and recording.
“Some songs we wrote individually, some collaborative, in a way some songs have the mind of Gus, others the mind of Iggy, plus songs with Gus and Iggy,” Miss Ng said.
“I’d have a riff or a chord pattern and also have an emotion or concept behind it, words, sentences, a particular meaning.
“I would go to Louisa’s house with the music and sometimes there’d be no inspiration.”
The collection of powerful songs off their new EP is examples of what Miss Court calls “magical moments”.
“The song Nails for instance, is about spiritual growth and dealing with preconceptions of God’s work in relationships,” Miss Court said.
“Dealing with the real things in relationships, deep issues.
“It was incredible how both of us would be on a similar journey, even when we were writing individually, so we could make music from it.”
The Holy Spirit and Holy Scripture have played an important part in the writing process, with Gus and Iggy conscious of weaving a Catholic conscience into their songs.
“One thing about our music is in the lyrical content, we are trying to be in a secular market and bring the goodness, truth and beauty of God into the world,” Miss Court said.
The duo both experienced God moving powerfully in their lives as young women.
At 19, Miss Ng’s curiosity for philosophy and pondering questions of her existence led to an answer she initially wasn’t prepared to accept.
“I started asking why, and who created us, and I realised the answer is God, but I didn’t like it.
“I changed my degree to theology and through music, attending (Catholic youth event) Summer School of Evangelisation, and being in the presence of live (Catholic charismatic) worship music, I began to know God.”
Miss Court said her conversion was almost “overnight”.
“I grew up Catholic and was a Sunday Mass goer, involved in the youth group in my parish but growing up in high school I was more about community than faith,” she said.
“I had faced the reality of God in a charismatic prayer group but went a bit wayward, and took a while to realise that God’s love was real.
“At the end of Year 12 I went from an absolute rubbish, depressed state to a whole new world, almost overnight.
“I started going to daily Mass and Summer Schools and volunteered a year on the Youth Mission Team, and now I study theology.”
Music has played a common role in paving the way to understand the world’s most mysterious being, God.
“Music is powerful,” Miss Ng said.
“We’re just wired to respond to music, and music moves people, so we don’t have to add that music,” she said.
The pair also believe musicians have an almost theological duty to use their gifts to build God’s kingdom.
“I have a theory and I think there could be some theology to it, that is to do with creation,” Miss Court said.
“We are just humans using our gifts – our sense of sound, our emotions, our experiences – and participating in God’s work of creation.
“Music is what I can’t explain and can’t put into words.”
With a growing fan base in Sydney, the pair hope their music will reach ears and hearts across Australia and beyond.
“Coming to Brisbane is not out of the cards,” Miss Court said.
By Emilie Ng