Last year was a great 12 months of discovering Australian artists who, as the year went on, kept demonstrating a bold approach to music and the creation of artistry that didn’t necessarily stick to any set of conventions established before them. We’ve seen a broadening of perspective when it’s come to the way Australian hip-hop has been accepted and embraced, an even deeper delve into some layered and complex electronic/dance sounds and our songwriters have been standing out from behind guitars and the like, weaving some great lyricism into well refined arrangements.
Females within the industry have been continuing to make an impact in different genres but as we wrapped up last year, it was obvious that for ladies in Australian music, there are going to be some exciting times ahead in 2016. Debut albums are being worked on, more tour dates being locked down…we take a look at just handful of the talented women we’re particularly excited to see more from in the near future.
Sampa The Great
Sampa the Great recently blew people away at the FBi SMACs in Sydney and it’s become a familiar response the Zambia-born, Botswana-raised artist has been met with in recent months. The poet and songwriter has cultivated a sense of intrigue around her art and the way in which she delivers her words and music is arresting, powerful and for some people perhaps, came from left field.
Sydney based, Sampa has continued to work on her aesthetic and with the release of The Great Mixtape, she made her presence definitely known. In much the way acts like Hiatus Kaiyote have flown the flag for some avant-garde and interesting R&B infused sounds, Sampa is doing the same for hip-hop and its fusion with spoken word.
In a similar way to Tkay Maidza’s initial steps into the spotlight with “Brontosaurus”, “Get Down” has brought Jess Kent to the attention of many around the country. A triple j favourite and recently winning the Unearthed competition run to fill the opening spot on this year’s Field Day line up, Kent killed it on stage and highlighted a fresh and exciting potential still waiting to be tapped into. The Sydney-based performer, like Sampa, was born abroad (moved to Australia from the UK at age 11), and had her musical palette flourish and diversify with releases from the likes of The Clash, Bob Marley and more growing up in Adelaide.
“Get Down” proved to be the perfect debut release for Kent and a perfect entry into summer time playlists around the country; with that easy going, vibrant rap-beat vibe influenced by Santigold and early Lily Allen, Kent’s own natural talent comes through just as fluidly as those influences she’s been open about. An exciting year ahead for this girl – we can’t wait to see how she continues to grow as a writer.
Joy & Sparkes
Adelaide producer and vocalist Joy & Sparkes is a lady local SA music fans will have seen much of in previous years, with her collaborations with the likes of K21 and Question Question resulting in some great music that hasn’t adhered to any genre boundary. Her voice, along with a knack for creating some warped and wonderful beats and electronic sounds, captured the attention of many more Adelaide heads through 2015 as well as people outside the local haunts, winning a spot on the Strawberry Fields line up and locking away a slot at this year’s Rainbow Serpent festival.
Continuing to explore the unconventional and delve into her own eclectic tastes and influences, Joy & Sparkes has definitely got a bright year ahead at this rate.
We’ve been championing NGAIIRE for some time now but in the last six or so months especially, the momentum for the Sydney based singer has really been ramping up. Her Falls Festival set at Mt. Duneed Estate just before New Year’s was easily one of our standout performances and prior to that, her music has been reaching more and more people internationally, with well-received CMJ spots and a feature on Empire well-establishing NGAIIRE as a fire talent to keep an eye on.
New single “Diggin'” is on its way, a follow up to the dynamic tune “Once” and no doubt another tasty morsel from the much-anticipated Blastoma record, due out this year.
Yes, we know that there is obviously a male presence in this trio (shouts to Guy Faletou), but RKDA makes some cool and interesting industrial/electro music out of Melbourne that deserves to be on the list. If you dig the vibes acts like Burial, Jon Hopkins and Shlohmo have become known for, it’s RKDA that you should be switching on to next. An elusive presence through 2015 making appearances at shows in Melbourne (as well as Futuresounds in Adelaide in DJ mode), RKDA has nevertheless shown signs of surging forward with some captivating sounds that will be developed upon in 2016, such as single “Spaces” below:
RKDA enjoyed breaking ground in the US at the end of 2015, DJing in New York and soaking up the sounds of the city before returning to Melbourne to prepare for the first of ~hopefully~ many shows, hitting the Evelyn in February to DJ as part of Kalacoma‘s residency. With a launch of their own still to come, RKDA have more cards to play.
17 year old Kita well and truly burst on to the Australian music scene and wasted no time in capitalising on the hype building around her music, earning acclaim from both Australian and international blogs and spending time overseas working on music with Nick Littlemore and producers involved with the likes of M83, Halsey and Sia. Her sound is fresh and easy to hook into and in recent shows, Alexander has excited many with powerful vocal deliveries and an endearing stage presence.
Her debut EP was released back in November and has been incredibly well-received so far. She’s got the ambition and the excitement behind her, so it’s going to be interesting to see how Kita develops upon some solid work she’s thrown down already through this year.
Another standout artist of 2015 by a longshot was of course, Meg Mac. The achievements the girl has to her name as a result of multiple tours both here and abroad is becoming more extensive by the month and yet we’ve still not seen a full album from the Melbourne vocalist. A striking performer, stunning vocalist and general lady killing it in the fashion stakes, Meg’s got more up her sleeve yet, we can tell.
The album a-comin’ though, with Meg revealing to us at the Falls Festival on New Year’s that she’ll be dedicating much of the next few months to finishing what has to be one of the heavily anticipated Australian releases of the year.
ROMY’s single “Wild Heart” is a great example of the talent this girl has been refining through the last twelve months and one we are keen to hear more of. That pop-R&B slickness comes through strong in the way artists like Tinashe have harnessed a sultriness and whipped a cool edge on to it.
She’s been out to the US to work with Bryant Siono (Jennifer Lopez) while continuing to generate hype on the homefront – ROMY’s still young, but with a great team behind her, we’re keen to see which direction her music heads in next.
Sunshine Coast-bred singer songwriter Ayla has been a name being spoken about more and more in recent times, though with the release of her debut EP last year, we were really switched on to this lady’s talent. She’s already kicking into 2016 strong, touring When the Worlds End, a brilliant way to start the year. Ayla won hearts at Woodford over New Year’s, months after earning triple j acclaim and respect from industry heads around for her songwriting and releases, including “Waiting”, below:
Signing a deal with EGO Records in Italy (home to Emma Louise and The Jezabels), Ayla’s music has been circulating through Europe as well, with radio picking up debut single “Wish I Was” at the end of 2014. A high rotation-type artist, Ayla’s one to keep an eye on this year – constantly going from strength to strength.
Most recently, George Maple was featured on Tkay Maidza’s killer tune “Ghost”, a collab that saw the ladies link up with Bauuer for a spell that stands a good chance of landing a decent spot on triple j’s Hottest 100 final list being announced on Australia day. For George Maple herself though, we can be looking forward to a 2016 of brand new music, with the Future Classic labelmate working on new material in studio through 2015.
Remembering the impact her Vacant Space EP had upon its release, it was clear that in George Maple we had a dynamo on our hands and we’re very keen to hear new music from her that goes beyond a feature or two this year.