If you haven’t already rinsed Phantastic Ferniture‘s eponymous 2018 debut LP so much that you know the exact length of each song, you absolutely need to get onto that NOW. It’s without a doubt one of the best debut releases this year.
Fresh from the Sydney underground music scene, the three-piece bring that raw flavour straight to us right from track one: ‘Uncomfortable Teenager’.
This song speaks to the experience of growing up in the Blue Mountains, a World Heritage Site-cum-sleepy city. Located just about as far as you can go west on a train from the City, people in the Mountains never forget their proximity (and distance) from Sydney. It’s a beautiful place where you can buy a nice place and raise a family, but still commute to the city for work. It’s also a place that young adults leave. As a 19 year-old living here, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been told to ‘just wait until I move to the city’ by older adults.
Phantastic Ferniture, consisting of lead singer Julia Jacklin, guitarist Liz Hughes, and drummer/producer Ryan K Brennan, know how I feel. Jacklin and Hughes grew up in the Mountains.
The Blue Mountains has seen a heap of Australia’s best acts, with the likes of Cloud Control, Hermitude, Thundamentals, Urthboy, and Julia Jacklin among them. One of the most notable parts of the Blue Mountains origin story seems to be leaving. And usually, that means leaving before you taste success.
Cloud Control won one of FBi’s SMAC awards when three of them were uni students and one of them a full-time worker. They met at high school in Wentworth Falls. A bio from early on reads, “We grew up in the Blue Mountains and we always get asked about that. It might influence us a little bit being from there, maybe it just makes us more chilled.” That’s pretty fair – there isn’t really a sound, per se, but there is definitely a pool of talent.
The hip-hop scene in Katoomba is certainly a niche, however. Local acts like Merekat and Otherside, along with a horde of other groups and solo acts, follow in the footsteps of rappers who’ve gone on to bigger and more eminent things like Thundamentals and Urthboy. The local bars and pubs play a huge role. Weekly gigs are a given and there’s a dedicated audience for the sound, full of the support that carries artists on to greatness.
The wider music community, underpinned by The Haze Mag and the greater Blue Mountains community as a whole, makes the Blue Mountains a pretty nice place to realise your musical prowess. So why the need to get in closer to the city? Of course, the potential audience you’ll be reaching is way bigger. I’m gonna go out and say that the sociological idea of the metropoles, wherein only the things coming out of major cities like London or Sydney can be recognised on a legitimate level, still plays a big part in modern society – and this extends to cultural stuff too.
Now that the internet is connecting us all so easily, surely we can only expect that music from every crevice of this world can shine and find its audience. It’s already happening.
‘Dark Corner Dance Floor’ is another cut from Phantastic Ferniture. It’s about moving from the Mountains to the City and going out and having a good time. I think it probably sums up the kind of thing I’m trying to say in this article, so I’ll leave you with that.
Phantastic Ferniture is out now.