Today is technically Australia Day.
But honestly as someone raised to recognise, call out and fight inequality, I cannot sit here and pretend like everything is okay in this country I love so much.
What many people outside Australia may not know is that the 26th January is the day the First Fleet arrived in Sydney Cove and began a brutal systematic genocidal invasion of a land that had been lived in for over 65,000 years by what is recognised as the world’s longest continuing surviving culture.
It’s not the day to have a national day of any kind, and so while I am making use of this gazetted day to promote some powerful music from great Australian artists, I am mindful too that we have a long way to go in truly making this country something of which we can be even more proud.
As that fight continues, please listen to these artists, two of whom in particular are making their own statements on what matters to them and their Indigenous culture, and three others who reflect the vibrant face of multicultural Australia.
“PSYCHO HOLE’ by ASHWARYA
One of the most things that can happen to you when you listen to a lot of new music is to discover a music artist who has wholly distinctive style of their own.
You might think that’s true of every musical talent but the truth is not everyone has a style so out there different that you sit up and take notice —but Victorian ASHWARYA most definitely does.
Kicking things off with “Psycho Hole” and following up with the equally memorable “BIRYANI” and “COMIN@ME”, ASHWARYA blends hip hop Indian cultural influences and pop into a mesmerisingly catchy mix, folding in some fierce emotional resonance in for good measure, delivering up songs that are melodically rich, lyrically thoughtful and endlessly, compellingly listenable.
Even more impressively, she launched her career in the midst of a gathering pandemic and still managed to get some serious attention going on.
Now, that’s someone worth getting on your musical radar.
“Missing You” by Budjerah
Like many a prodigious talent, Budjerah, a young Coodjinburra man from the Budjalung nation, who hails from a small town called Fingal Head in Northern NSW, is getting going early with a catchyily laidback sound on “Missing You” that Pile Rats has beautifully described this way.
“… the track plucks from a long-winding list of influences in soul, R&B, indie and pop to carve a sound that feels like the meeting place all of them, rich with the tapestries of a multi-faceted – and still developing – artist whose work builds from years and years of cultural impact.”
Coming from a musical family, Budjerah is one of those artists for whom music is life and sustenance and it shows in a song like “Missing You” which is so soaked in longing and emotionality, thanks to the artist’s richly resonant voice, that it seeps out of every word and note in this wholly appealing track.
He is a musical artist who will go places precisely he’s not simply singing these songs, he’s living them and in a world full of posed insincerity, that’s a powerful point of attraction that will only see him grow in popularity.
“All I Ever Wanted” by BEXX
Good lord but “All I Ever Wanted” is spectacularly chilled and infectiously danceably emotive, paired with music that doesn’t ever take the expected route from points A to Z, resulting in a song that manages to be both thoughtfully laidback and upbeat and not sound like it’s stuck somewhere awkwardly in-between.
The song comes from the talented hands of BEXX, who triple j unearthed bio describes her as an “Electronic Producer and Performance Artist from Perth” whose fans love her for “the high energy and theatrical elements in her performances.”
While performances have been few and far between in a year of pandemic – Western Australia has fared better than most states, thankfully – you can hear the crackling emotion and power in a track like “All I Ever wanted” which reflects someone determined to bring personality and zest to all her music.
When all the negativity and bad news has got to you, and you wonder if you can handle one more pandemic-laced piece of darkness, crank up BEXX’s songs and remember that the “QUEEN” has your back and will raise your spirit with pop that has passion and a palpable sense of soul-restoring momentum.
“Super Single” by Genes
Heading to the north of Australia this time, we meet Genes (aka Maddy Rowe), a Townsville, Queensland-turned-Melbournian singer-songwriter with a light, bright voice that suits the jaunty bubbliness of “Super Single” perfectly.
Previously working with artists like Young Franco and Kilter, Genes has crafted a song that is a buoyant breath of fresh musical air which is why Pile Rats gushingly, and rightly, described it thus.
“Genes made a strong-armed entrance with Super Single, a song that wasn’t her first – not even her first for the year – but one that left such a refreshingly invigorating impact that it felt like a rebirth; a new side to the pop force that felt like it came from someone elevated onto a completely new level. It’s the type of charged, high-octane pop tune that you’d expect from those with labels – and the accompanying money – behind them, but coming from a completely independent rising face from Queensland’s north makes it even more exciting.”
It’s pop like this that makes you glad to be alive, reminded that for all the terrible things out there, there are music artists like Genes who can combine music and words so beautifully that you just feeling all the better for listening to their songs.
“FOR MY TITTAS” by BARKAA
A Malyangapa and Barkindji (NSW) woman, BARKAA pours tremendous power and passion for real change into captivating tracks like “For My Tittas” which, like her other tracks is not backward in coming forward, combining immensely intense music with lyrics that knock it out of the park and have something incredibly important to say.
“Her track ‘Our Lives Matter’ was played over speakers as Indigenous Australians protested for action in-line with America’s Black Lives Matter speakers and her song ‘For My Tittas’ has become a championing victory lap for First Nations women; two songs that see Barkaa channel the empowerment of hip-hop in the same way as some of her idols (think Missy Elliott or Lil Kim, for example).” (Pile Rats)
This is pop that has potency and agency and relevancy in an age where many First Nations are fighting back against oppression and continuing racism, bigotry and inequality, and it cannot help but affect you.
She has a full album coming sometime this year, which is bound to make massive ripples on a music scene aching for authenticity and on a polity who need to hear the truth about the lives of many First Nations people in Australia and make real change so all Australians are treated equally and past injustice can be righted.