Australia's Next Crop: The Best Of BIGSOUND 2015

BIGSOUND_REVIEWBIGSOUND doesn’t have a bad track record. If you just look at last year’s live lineup and compare it to where they are now, it should just about justify BIGSOUND’s importance for new artists. This week, SAFIA and Tkay Maidza are touring around the country on sold-out national tours, DMA’s, George Maple, Maidza and more have played international festivals while Hayden James has scored an international hit with Something About You - that is, of course, an abridged version of a long list of accolades. Knowing the potential of these young artists approaching this year’s event made it all the more exciting.

These are our picks of the bunch - the one’s we think we’ll be talking about as the most successful graduates come this time next year.

Day One Highlights


Sydney artist Charmian Kingston AKA. BUOY was hit with one of the more unfortunate mishaps of the week when her sound cut-out midway through the set but it did little to dampen what was a memorable first half. She’s got this effortless, water-soaked sound that washes right over you. Her voice is ethereal and perched in front of the piano, she looked shy but quietly confident. She’s one of the artists here whose music has already extended beyond this country, featuring on a number of international blogs. We reckon a hop over the pond next year could be very easily facilitated.

Set Mo

Sydney duo Nick Drabble and Stu Turner, better known as Set Mo, are proof that one song can really get your career firing. Their Deutsche Duke-featuring track White Dress has become one of the year’s best local releases and from Splendour In The Grass to BIGSOUND, every time they drop it, it sounds mighty. DJ sets at industry-showcase type shows can always feel a bit awkward but Set Mo managed to gather a dense crowd and got them firing with richly melodic house music that’s destined to soundtrack Aussie festivals over the next year as well as make them a big player in Europe.

Ready, Set Mo @setmomusic @bigsound #bigsound

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Life Is Better Blonde

Melbourne producer Life Is Better Blonde may only really have two released tracks to his name, Mine and Follow Me, but they have both been strong enough to gather some serious support online. He channels that James Blake singer/songwriter-cross-producer aesthetic and live he sat at the piano playing with a vocoder, churning out intimate, sonically-interesting tracks. He’s without a doubt an exceptional musician and it seems he’ll really benefit from a full-length release where he has the space to build and diversify his music showing everything he can do - which is a lot judging by his BIGSOUND performance.

??>?? Life Is Better Blonde @bigsound @viceroyaltymusic

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There was a lot of dark, brooding electronica at BIGSOUND this year so it was refreshing to see an act like Porsches with explicit pop sensibilities, bringing a bit of fun to the stage. Fully co-ordinated in Adidas tracksuits, the duo pulled one of the bigger crowds of the week and actually managed to create a bit of a party - impressive for a Wednesday night. Their sound sits somewhere between Jungle and Hot Chip, sounding like it could simultaneously win over a huge triple j festival audience and be added to heavy rotation on commercial radio. Their recent work with producer Kilter on Want 2 has put them in an envious position where they can jump between club music and alternative-tinged tunes with ease. By the sounds of it they have a number of hits at the ready and one of those could be their next single dropping next week. Very high hopes for Porsches.

Slum Sociable

Every year at BIGSOUND you know there are a handful of acts that the label has been hiding away, quietly confident in their immediate brilliance. Last year we saw it with George Maple and this year we saw it with Mushroom’s Slum Sociable. Their two tracks Anyway and All Night had them sounding a bit like a production duo, but what we got on stage was something very different. They presented as a full band with an exploding, soulful sound that felt vintage and nostalgic but also something completely different to everything else we were hearing at BIGSOUND. They spectacularly transferred their bedroom-sounding production into mainstage players that bursted with energy, easily making them one of the top three live acts of the week.


You get the feeling that playing in an industry setting before midnight is probably not the optimum habitat for Melbourne duo friendships but they didn’t let that deter them at BIGSOUND. Their abrasive brand of electronica physically rumbled the dancefloor and amongst all the delicate electronica this week, hearing Pedal To The Medal rumble out of the speakers was somewhat refreshing. This is a sound that’s begging to find a home in the depths of a Berlin nightclub at 5am but the tracks are so memorable that they even packed a real punch before midnight.

With @friendshipsau like these, who needs enemies? @bigsound #bigsound

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Ngaiire is kind of a veteran in the industry. She first came to the public’s attention in the first season of Australian Idol before collaborating with Paul Mac. Since then she’s risen up the ranks on triple j and has finally landed on a sound that’s really working for her. She pulled a massive crowd for her night-ending showcase that was full of powerful vocals atop subtle electronic arrangements. The album sounds like it’s going to be a stellar collection of future soul that showcases her beautifully textured voice alongside really strong melodies and electronic soundscapes. Once is an unbelievable entrance to that album and live it sounded beefed-up with backing vocals that made the chorus soar. She had everyone dancing and nearly everyone in awe of her voice.

Getting some serious @liannelahavas vibez from @ngaiire ??? #Bigsound

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Day Two Highlights

Gill Bates

Day Two was all about the new wave of Australian hip-hop and Gill Bates kicked it off with a sound that’s more influenced by Future and Travis Scott than Hilltop Hoods. He’s obviously grown-up devouring stateside hip-hop and he interweaved his set, sampling those tunes amongst his own. He’s the type of artist who could easily score a radio hit and craft a critically-acclaimed album because he lays down pop-infused hooks alongside impressive verses. BIGSOUND crowds aren’t the most lively at the best of times but he did a phenomenal job of getting Oh Hello going and once he’d gotten everyone to step closer to the stage it felt like a firing club show.

Oh hello, @gillbates_aus! #bigsound

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From one hip-hop act to the next, Rara are also inspired by US hip-hop. Chatting to us earlier in the day, they said they weren’t afraid to enter into the world of pop and cited influences from Justin Bieber to Travis Scott. On stage, they brought exactly that. At one stage they had all four mics front and centre of stage, looking like we were about to get a Boyz II Men show. That’s not what we got, obviously. Instead, they bounced off each other, delivering verse after verse over beats that ranged from slow-bangers to thumping house tunes. They dropped a number of new tunes off their forthcoming EP Planet 2016 with the title-track sounding particularly appetising.


Like so many of the young-guns who performed at BIGSOUND this year, cln has only been in the public-eye for about a year. In that time he’s gone from a bedroom beatmaker to a singer, at the request of his manager. He’s obviously still not completely comfortable singing as he let the crowd know a number of times but it would’ve been hard to tell had he not told us. Hold Me and Found off his latest EP are his strongest tracks to date and live they felt intimate and stirring. He makes stunning electronic soundscapes and manages to make them sound atmospheric while still being a “banger”, as he put it.


Baro feels like the Remi of 2015 - not that Remi has disappeared. He has a really international appeal but also has this organic quality to his beats that sound distinctively Australian. He’s got a huge musical palette and it comes across live as he fuses jazz with international hip-hop and pop, amping up the crowd with immediately catchy hooks while throwing down intricate, left-centre verses. He really understands rhythm and melody, finding sweet spots in places you wouldn’t expect. He dropped cuts off his latest EP 17/18 with This Is For You, Fuck Everybody getting the crowd particularly rowdy. It took him and his sidekick Marley a little bit of hyping but they weren’t going to give up until the whole audience was moving - and by the end they were.

@barryisrichard (Baro) dropping a ??? unreleased track. #BIGSOUND ps. pls release.

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We were already pretty convinced that Olivia McCarthy AKA. JOY. was brilliant and BIGSOUND just reaffirmed that for us. From the minute she walks on stage she’s utterly captivating, holding her hand out in front of her and rotating it as if that’s her wand to put everyone in a trance. Filling up the set mostly with songs from her debut EP Ode, she easily pulled one of the biggest crowds of the week and justified it with a stunning set. Her vocals are so effortless that sometimes it feels as if they fall from her mouth without her even opening. From the enchanting opener Crazy For You to the four-to-the-floor beat of About Us, McCarthy delivered a near-perfect set that made everyone either fall in love with her or cry from jealousy.

When drawing one of the biggest crowds at @bigsound ain't no thang... @joyaus_ #bigsound

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Koi Child

If you’ve heard Tame Impala’s Currents you’d know that Kevin Parker’s taste is pretty damn good, that’s why you’ve really gotta pay attention to a new band that’s been produced by Parker purely because he thought they were great after seeing them live. It’s easy to see why too. They combine hip-hop with jazz and Badbadnotgood-style instrumentation on-stage to create a rhythmic party driven by frontman Shannon Patterson’s unbelievable flow. Put simply, there wasn’t a live set that came close to the quality of Koi Child’s. Given they have only had one song, the excellent Black Panda, they managed to keep the crowd entertained for the entirety of the set and even had them asking for an encore. Their chemistry together is infectious and they bounced off each other the whole time looking like they were having the time of their life. You’ll be hearing a lot more about Koi Child before the year is out.

@koichild were so fly ??????

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This Week's 5 Gigs Under $50


The music scene in Sydney is bursting with talent, but between the plethora of international acts and growing number of lesser known artists performing each week, it can be tricky to choose where to spend your time and cash. Here at the interns, we make it our mission to fit in as much music into each week as humanly possible. This week we’ve got a taste of soul, hip-hop, chiller vibes and everything in between. Get amongst it Sydney.

Vallis Alps
Thursday, 6th August @ Goodgod Small Club
How Much: $13.90

Shortly after the release of their self-titled debut EP earlier this year, Vallis Alps announced a debut headline tour including shows in Sydney and Melbourne. They wowed audiences at last month’s Splendour In The Grass, and now the duo are set to play an amazing intimate show at Goodgod. Two million plays on Soundcloud can’t be wrong, and although the gig is officially sold out there are plenty of tickets being posted and sold by punters on the Facebook event page here.

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Thursday 6th August @ Newtown Social Club
How Much: $18

Since the release of her debut LP Lamentations in 2013, Ngaiire has proven herself as one of Australia’s most eclectic artists, with her live shows known for an unsurpassed vocal delivery and outrageous costumes. She’s played shows with Alicia Keys, John Legend, played at Glastonbury, and now returns to launch her new single Once down at Newtown Social Club. Tickets available here.

Friday 7th August @ The Metro Theatre
How Much: $39.15

Still best known for his iconic 2008 single Jimmy Recard, Drapht has been kicking it with the best of Australian hip-hope over the better part of a decade. This tour represents his first national run of shows since 2013 and with support from The Funkoars, Drapht will be revving up audiences across the country in anticipation of the release of his forthcoming fifth studio album 7 Mirrors. Tickets from Ticketek.

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Saturday 8th August @ Goodgod Small Club

It’s all going off at Goodgod this week, with LA producer Knxwledge backing up from his set at Splendour In The Grass to play a very exclusive show on Saturday. Having released his debut album ‘Hud Dreems’ earlier this year, Knxwledge has also spent his time and talent over the past few years producing for the likes of international superstars Kendrick Lamar and Joey Bada$$. Best of all, entry is free with a secure RSVP, just follow this link.

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Saturday 8th August @ Chinese Laundry
How Much: $27.70

A staple of the UK Bass and Trap scenes for a number of years now, Hucci makes his return to Sydney this Saturday at a venue known best for being filthy in both its vibes and its beats. Support will be there in droves, with local acts Spenda C, Aywy, Ventures and TDY among others representing the best of Sydney’s bass scene. Tickets are in their final release here.

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10 Songs You Need To Hear This Week: Janet Jackson, Years & Years, Lianne La Havas And More


If you're reading this it's a harsh reminder that you're not at Glastonbury and no matter what you do you're not going to have the best weekend of your life this weekend. But that's ok because you're housed and clean and don't have to listen to Brits bitch about how Kanye West is no Oasis. Also, you're reading this. That's another positive. Here's the best goodies we received this week.

Read: How To Stream Glastonbury From The Comfort Of Your Couch 

Lianne La Havas
What You Don't Do

Lianne La Havas is such a class act every time she releases a track it feels like she's got nothing to prove. She's got effortless, honey-soaked vocals that feel easy but probably aren't really. What You Don't Do is a far more slinky, slender tune that its predecessor Unstoppable. It's armed with a radio-friendly tempo and a few doo-wops to please casual fans, but even for the avid LLH fans there's plenty here to like. She absolutely slays it vocally at the end, all the while remaining calm, cool and collected. What a gal.

Years & Years

We're used to hearing radio-friendly bangers from Years & Years but they took a slight left turn this week, dropping a moody, haunting number. The vocals, as always, are sweet but the instrumental is dark. The accompanying video goes for the same kind of vibe, showing frontman Olly come back to life in the middle of his own funeral. Funnily enough, everyone seems to be rather confused about the whole thing.

Quiet Achiever

Its been said a number of times but it's so apt we need to say it again - Quiet Achiever is the most perfect name for a Yeo song ever. The track has picked up an add on triple j this week and with a Peking Duk feature on the way, Yeo seems to be poised for major popularity after chipping away quietly for plenty of years. Quiet Achiever gives the people exactly what they want. There's tropical steel drums, trap elements and delectable vocal samples. It's by far his most accessible thing yet, but it's also undeniably a Yeo song which is a major win.

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Two Minds

Disco crossed with EDM and electronica sounds like a devil of a genre-baby but Nero gave birth to one this week and it actually is pretty pleasing. Two Minds is taken from their forthcoming LP Between II Worlds and is by far their most melodically rich track from the album yet. We reckon this will be the track to really stand out on radio and return them to the chart-heights of UK number one Promises.

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Black Vanilla

We heard this a few months ago when Black Vanilla burnt the Sydney's Civic Underground down (not literally obviously, it's still very much in tact) and were instantly in a trance. Slug is a violent monster of a song driven by thumping bass and demonic vocals. It's the kind of song that goes wasted if it doesn't draw sweat from its listener - a track that's heavy and yet full of space to weave in thrashing dance moves. There's not enough violent dance music out there. Kudos Black Vanilla - we feel violated but pleased.

Read our interview with Black Vanilla here.

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Ngaiire was actually in the first season of Australian Idol but as people do in the space of XX years she's flourished into one of Australia's finest soul vocalists. Once is a track that doesn't throw itself in your face. Rather it just slowly walks closer and closer until it sinks into you. It occupies a space somewhere between Solange and Erykah Badu with a coolness matched by a fine mastery. She's worked with everyone from Paul Mac to Kilter but this feels like her defining track as an artist.

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Jack Grace

There are a lot of Australian males crooning over electronic beats at the moment but Jack Grace stands out from the rest. Hills is an experiment in colliding electronic elements. There are sweet pop hooks, industrial beats and auto-tuned vocals are thrown into the mix and the result is thrilling, actually. The hook sounds a little Andy Bull but then the auto-tune is unashamedly Kanye and the production tips its hat to Hudson Mohawke. It's a song that didn't go unnoticed this week and that's because its an artistic risk. It's paying of if you ask us.

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Petite Noir

Not many South African artists have been able to cross over into the Western music spectrum but things are about to change with the introduction of Petite Noir. Yannick Ilunga possesses the voice of an old soul and on Down he melds that with a feel for organic rhythm into something that feels summery and cheery without a hint of gimmick. It's taken from his debut album La Vie Est Belle / Life Is Beautiful which is due for release in September. Last time we wrote about Petite Noir we said we get naked to his music. We still feel that way.

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London vocalist Anne-Marie has toured with Rudimental as their live vocalist and this week she popped up on their latest track Rumour Mill but, dare we say, this one might be better. Gemini is taken from her debut EP and features production by Two Inch Punch who's produced for Sam Smith and Jessie Ware. It's a breezy, beautifully robust track centring around her airy, delicate vocals. Anne-Marie and Two Inch Punch are a dream team and if more stuff of this quality comes through she'll be making Rudimental her support act.

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Janet Jackson
No Sleeep

This is all you need to know. Janet Jackson is back, she's spelling sleep with three e's and she really couldn't care less what you think because she's in her fourth decade as a superstar and at the point you become immortal.