Thriving within the heat of the tropics and off the challenges of trying to make a mark in a music community isolated from its southern and bi-coastal siblings, the Top End is producing some seriously good music. The stigma of the Northern Territory being an unviable place to tour is being dismantled and the opportunities for emerging artists to connect with nationally touring acts on the live front are growing. From the central hub of Darwin, out into remote communities surrounding the city, there are many following a passion for music and sounds and they’re being rightfully recognised for it too.
For the past five years, MusicNT and its various sponsors have been celebrating music in the NT with the annual NT Song of the Year Awards. Not only is it an opportunity to recognise and applaud the wealth of music being made, but the awards are a particular celebration of local song writing across a wide range of genres, representative of a diverse industry. The artists are given a platform to have their music reach a broader audience and as a result, past winners have gone on to secure national radio play, international song writing opportunities and extended tour options.
In 2016, a record breaking 450 entries were submitted for consideration, and it became the task of a judging panel of over 50 industry figures from around the country to whittle those down to 40. From folk to metal, through to hip hop and electronic music, there’s some solid potential here within the nominee ranks. Ahead of the July 9th ceremony, we take a look at some of the artists up for gongs!
The six-piece rock band from the Ngukurr community of Arnhemland have been impressing crowds locally for over a decade now but in recent years, their popularity has become more widespread. Wielding some excellent guitar-driven tunes, Lonely Boys have caught the attention of writers interstate and have been working on their first studio album.
Early signs of the potential for Lonely Boys to gain strong traction outside the NT came with the success of their single “The Hunter”, a result of a writing session with Nicky Bomba and Bustamento, while more recently, they’ve been in the studio with ARIA-nominated producer Forrester Savell (Karnivool, The Butterfly Effect), the results of which, we hear are astounding.
Nominated for Best Rock (“Murray Island”, “The Hunter”).
Find the band on Facebook, HERE.
Young singer songwriter Serina Pech hails from Katherine and has been quick to capture attention with her gorgeously textured approach to folk music. Her appearance in the NT Song of the Year nominee list is not her first, having debuted as a finalist at the 2013 event. Charming and effortlessly endearing, Pech has become a seasoned live performer since 2013 and has been working on new music since. Recently, she’s been working with James Mangohig (Sietta, Damn Moroda) on her debut EP in Melbourne, with the single “I Hope To See The Sun” earning national radio play and love on triple j.
Nominated for Best Folk (“I Hope To See The Sun”, “Sugar Muffin”).
Follow Serina’s updates on Facebook, HERE.
Alice Springs producers and songwriter Dave Crowe has been doing some awesome work with his electronic project, Resin Moon. Crowe’s talent for establishing some brilliantly evocative soundscapes regardless of what moniker he’s making music under and on the latest Resin Moon single, “Salt”, this element of his musicality is demonstrated particularly well. Soon to release a new EP in Salt, Resin Moon takes the isolation of the desert and uses its varying shades and tones in creating music that hooks you in.
Nominated for Best Electronic (“Salt”).
Find Resin Moon on Facebook, HERE.
SKANK & SHAKE
Fusing a love of hip hop and beats together in Alice Spring, Hugh Winterflood and James Shakeshaft quickly began making a good name for themselves as Skank & Shake. Based in Alice Springs, their location hasn’t been a hindrance; they’ve played festival stages including the Big Day Out, the Wide Open Space Festival and BASSINTHEGRASS, supported the likes of Horrorshow, Drapht and The Tongue and were also the NT support artists on the Hilltop Hoods’ Cosby Sweater mammoth tour.
Their debut album The Long Road Ahead Pt. 1 earned acclaim for its lyricism and the momentum hasn’t stopped, as the duo have continued to work on the second part to TLRA, with Shakeshaft basing himself in Byron Bay while at the SAE Institute and Winterflood still in the NT writing.
Nominated for Best Urban & Hip Hop (“Cave”).
Find Skank & Shake on Facebook, HERE.
The Scotsman, now calling Central Australia home, has been fast building a body of work that has been earning him praise and in latest single, “Give Thanks”, Lillie has further projected an honest and painfully raw sense of songwriting on to record. His debut album is coming this year and, having joined the Footstomp Music family in 2016, Lillie is in very good hands moving forward.
Nominated for Best Blues and Roots (“Give Thanks”).
Follow Colin’s music updates on Facebook, HERE.
Yolngu artist Gawurra represents for East Arnhem Land, although now living in Melbourne, and has a musical range that endears and draws the listener in. His stories and cultural influence are displayed with a pride and tenderness that has struck a chord with listeners nationally in recent months – a musician passionate about keeping his traditional language (Gupapungu) strong, Gawurra’s music is stirring and his nominated tune, “Mulunda (Kingfisher)”, is just one hint of what’s to come from this exciting new talent.
Nominated for Best Pop (“Mulunda (Kingfisher)”).
Find Gawurra on Facebook, HERE.
Moving from Darwin to Adelaide, then from Adelaide out to Berlin, Elli Belle is a folk/pop artist who has taken her music to crowds all over in some of the world’s most musically rich centres. Her debut EP was released to praise while on the live front, Elli has supported the likes of Thelma Plum and James Morrison. She landed a finalist spot as part of Telstra’s Road to Discovery, while also appearing as a nominee at the 2015 NT Song of the Year Awards. Her music, haunting and ethereal, has been recognised again this year and it’s no real surprise as to why.
Nominated in the Youth category for “Invincible”.
Check out Elli Belle’s updates on Facebook, HERE.
Purveyors of some melodically rich hardcore goodness, five-piece Tapestry have been riding solid off the back of their debut EP Growth, released at the beginning of the year. The record charted well on the iTunes metal charts and took the band over to the east coast in February. September will see the Darwin band head south again, this time for BIGSOUND in Brisbane, where they’ll have the opportunities to perform for hundreds of industry figures from Australia and overseas.
Nominated for Best Heavy (“Bond”, “Growth”).
Find Tapestry on Facebook, HERE.
For the full list of NT Song of the Year nominees and to find out more about the event’s history, visit the website HERE.