As a nation, Australia is home to some of the hottest up and coming talent in the music scene. Not to mention we’ve produced some pretty great and iconic artists in recent times, like Vance Joy, Jessica Mauboy, Sia and Flume to name a few. But when you dig deeper than the surface, growing in our grassroots community are musicians who are about to take over the world with their sound. In particular, our First Nations artists are thriving, with thanks to music sharing services and platforms including Triple J Unearthed, Soundcloud and Spotify. Sometimes it can be tricky to put your finger on the pulse of who’s trending at the moment, but we’ve put together our top five picks on the First Nations musicians who you immediately need to add to your playlists, (yes, immediately).
Danzal Baker, professionally known as Baker Boy, is a Millingbimbi man from Arnhem Land. Incorporating both English and his mother tongue Yolnu Matha into his music, Baker Boy has quickly risen to fame as one of Australia’s best up and coming hip hop artists. He’s come a long way from his small community, and now headlines national festivals like BIGSOUND, Splendour in the Grass and Laneway Festival, collaborating with some of the best producers and musicians from all over Australia. Discovered through Triple J Unearthed and often featured on the radio station, fans have quickly come to love Baker Boy for his familiar sound and uplifting beats. In the short time he’s been making waves, Baker Boy has taken out the awards for Triple J Unearthed National Indigenous Music Awards Competition, and has taken the title of The Premier’s Prize for the Best Victorian Breakthrough Act of 2018, Best Male Musician and Best Live Act, while ‘Marryuna’ was named Best Song. He was also named the Young Australian of the Year in 2018. After such a stellar few months, it’s hard to pick Baker Boy’s top hits because they’re all absolutely awesome, but check out crowd favourites ‘Marryuna’ and ‘Cool as Hell’ below. And if you get the chance, see him perform live- it’s an experience you won’t forget.
At the tender age of 16, Kian is one of the best up and coming acts on our country’s radar. Growing up in the goldfield town of Castlemaine in Victoria, Kian and his mother often traveled on and off with his father making music in remote Indigenous communities. His influence of music at such a young age left him inspired and thirsty to create songs of his own. Kian’s number one hit single ‘Waiting’ was written when he was just 14 years old, and now takes prime position on radio stations including Nova and has over 3 million streams on Spotify. This is thanks to him winning Triple J’s Unearthed High competition last year. Having collaborated with acts including the aforementioned Baker Boy, Kian is now producing music and focusing on his blossoming career. Signing major record deals with EMI Music in Australia and Republic Records for the rest of the world, it’s clear to see the industry, as well as his thousands of fans, are supporting Kian on each step he takes. We can’t wait to hear what’s next from this young gun.
Originally from Groote Eylandt in the Northern Territory and now Brisbane Based, Emily Wurramara is a talented indie/pop/roots musician who shares the stories of her upbringing with a growing fanbase. Her childhood was one of water and music, and her days were filled with travel, fishing and her mother telling stories of dreams and dolphins that would one day become the seeds of Emily’s music. Inspired by hearing her Uncle’s sing, Emily quickly learned that the women of her community rarely sang in public. Now, wanting to inspire and empower members of her community, especially young Indigenous women to find their voice, Emily sings her original music both in English and Anindilyakwa language. With standout songs including ‘Ngarrukwujenama’ and ‘Black Smoke’, her debut album titled Milyakburra was Aria nominated as Best Blues and Roots Album of 2018, and Emily took home two QLD Music Awards. Touring the country and supporting names including Dan Sultan, Emily Wurramara’s incredible vocals are taking her to places that she once dreamed of.
An electronic music duo who are blurring the lines between Western and Aboriginal culture, Electric Fields is emerging as one of our finest global talents. Made up of vocalist Zaachariaha Fielding and keyboard player and producer Michael Ross, their modern sound resonates with both soul and electronic genres. Singing in both English and native tongues Pitjantjatjara and Yankunytjatjara, the duo most recently reached stardom in their quest to represent Australia at the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest. Although placing second overall, Electric Fields played their hit song ‘2000 and Whatever’ which reached audiences far and wide, with at least 300,000 people tuning in across Australia. Not to mention the thousands of European fanatics who have discovered Electric Fields and love their diverse and inclusive performance. Showcasing our incredible First Nations to an international audience, the duo have reached new heights with their performances and have been nominated for multiple awards at the National Indigenous Music Awards. With the world at their feet and a huge following waiting to hear more, Electric Fields are expected to release more music in the coming months which will see their name continue to make waves.
A Wergaia woman from Horsham, Victoria, Alice Skye is the 22 year old singer-songwriter debuting her talent to the world. Growing up aside the Grampians with no shortage of inspiration, music was an unavoidable passion- it was just her and her piano and a whole lot of creativity. Influenced by iconic artists including The Cranberries, Missy Higgins and Regina Spektor, Alice Skye’s sound is a mix of hauntingly beautiful piano mixed with dreamlike vocals. Her stripped back piano melodies elevate the gentle moodiness of her songwriting, transforming her once bedroom scribblings into well-crafted and articulated lyrics on love, loss and life. Her biggest tune so far, ‘Friends with Feelings’, has been featured across national radio, and its music film clip was filmed on the traditional lands of the Kulin Nations. A winner of Triple J’s Unearthed partnership with the National Indigenous Music Awards in 2018, Alice has been touring her sounds alongside Emily Wurramara and has been performing shows across multiple states. Heading back to the studio to write and record, we can expect big things from the up and coming angelic voice of Alice Skye.
Yakkazoo acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of this land and pays our respects to Elders past, present and future.
With thanks to Glenn Campbell, EMI Music, Hannah Bronte, Electric Fields and Michelle Grace Hunder for their imagery.