The Struggling King

Mark Riches, pictured far left, is our latest Nipper Tabagee Scholarship recipient. 

Mark Riches, pictured far left, is our latest Nipper Tabagee Scholarship recipient. 

Meet Mark Riches, a basketball star, a rock star, and our latest Nipper Tabagee Scholarship recipient. Mark’s the keyboard player in The Struggling Kings, an alternative rock band originally started by his brothers. 

“My brothers have been making music for a few years now and they’ve always tried to get me involved. At first I played guitar, but I gave up, I never really had the desire,” Mark says. 

Then he discovered the keyboard. The keyboard’s an instrument he does feel passionate about.

“I definitely prefer it to any other instrument. I really wanted to work on my skills, so I’ve been doing a Certificate II in Music through the Abmusic Aboriginal Corporation in Perth.”

Mark used a Nipper Tabagee Scholarship to set himself up with a new keyboard, an amp and a keyboard stand, which has helped him with his studies. It’s also meant he’s now fully equipped to tour … 

In September this year, The Struggling Kings played gigs at Derby, Cape Leveque, One Arm Point and Cygnet Bay. 

“It was my first proper experience of playing music in front of a crowd. I had about six weeks to learn 20 songs. And it was awesome! The first gig in Derby was really rowdy!” Mark says.

A Karajarri and Bardi Jawi man, Mark has lived in One Arm Point, Perth, Melbourne and New York. He won a scholarship to play college basketball in the US, which resulted in a fast-paced few years, travelling to Pennsylvania and North Carolina in addition to the games in New York. He broke freshman records in his first year at college; he was a leading player in scoring and steals.  

These days, he’s based back in Perth.

“I miss basketball a lot. I play in the WA State League but I do miss playing in America. It’s not quite the same. That said, basketball has taught me what commitment really means. And for now, I’ve switched my focus to music. While it might be a struggle at times, I’ve been working hard at getting better!”