9 Australian Artists to Look Out For
Written & compiled by Maddy Crehan
Australia is renowned for its vibrant and diverse music scene, however it’s still unfortunately seen as a bit of a boys club. So we thought we’d put together a list of some kick-arse female singers and fronted bands that we’re really excited about at the moment. Enjoy!
1. Sampa The Great
Sampa The Great is exactly as her name suggests, so it’s no wonder she’s on a rapid rise to the top! Born in Zambia and raised in Botswana, Sampa is equal parts artist and activist and uses music as a powerful instrument for positive change. Now based in Sydney Sampa has supported the likes of Kendrick Lamar and Hiatus Kaiyote and sold out headline shows and festival slots at Golden Plains, Sugar Mountain, and more.
2. Totally Mild
Totally Mild are a Melbourne-based band, fronted by powerhouse woman Elizabeth Mitchell, who has an impressive falsetto range to compliment their “disjointed pop” style. Starting off as Mitchell’s solo project, the band soon expanded to a four-piece and have taken Australia by storm receiving multiple music award nominations for their debut album. Last year they supported Best Coast (another amazing female-fronted band) in their Australian tour and finished off the year by performing at Meredith Music Festival.
Born in Papua New Guinean, Ngaiire spent her early childhood in New Zealand before moving to Australia. She has toured extensively throughout the UK, Japan, Europe and Canada as a backing singer with band Blue King Brown. She released a ‘future-soul’ album >Lamentations in 2013, but the biggest project for this eclectic performer has been her latest record Blastoma. Ngaiire is considered one of Australia’s most unique artists for her “electric shows, spine-tingling vocal deliveries and outrageous costumes”.
4. Gabriella Cohen
As well as being the front woman of rock ‘n’ roll band, The Furrs, Gabriella Cohen recently released a debut self-produced 10 track album Full Closure And No Details. The album includes poetic lyrics and intense emotional stories of heartbreak, combined with some kick-arse girl-group melodies to provide the perfect pop/garage/rock re-telling of young Australian women putting up with the bullshit of young Australian men. Occasionally joining the band on stage is the The Carpark Choir – 30 harmonising singers – making her live performances unlike anything else.
5. Two Steps on the Water
Two Steps on the Water are a Melbourne-based three-piece whose music is as heart-wrenching and genuine as their lyrics. After releasing their latest EP Having pop feelings in a country-western body, the band are gearing up for their LP God Forbid Anyone Look Me in the Eye. Earlier this year they appeared at the inaugural Rack Off!, a Melbourne festival that champions female dominated bands and supports the Victorian YWCA. In an interview about their recent release of the YoYo (below) front-woman June Jones says she wrote the song for both her younger self and her experience growing up trans but “also for anyone who needs to hear that it’s not their fault, that they are beautiful and dangerous”.
6. Thelma Plum
Thelma Plum is an Indigenous Australian singer/songwriter from Delungra, New South Wales, now based in Melbourne. She released her debut EP, Rosie, in March 2013 and followed it up with a second, Monster, in 2014. A well-known champion of Indigenous culture, Plum has also proven herself as a social media activist recently calling out several people for participating in ‘blackface’ costumes. Plum is currently in the midst of her national tour in which she has been showcasing some of the new material she has been working on soon to be released.
7. Meg Mac
Meg Mac is absolutely killing it right now with her incredibly striking voice, ultimate fashion sense and all-round lovely persona. The Sydney-born singer is making a name for herself all around the world with national and international tours aplenty. Though a full album is yet to come, Mac’s self-titled EP as well as more recently released single Never Be have received incredible popularity, which is most likely attributed to her lyrical and onstage genuineness.
8. Jess Kent
Born in England, Jess Kent moved to Australia at age 11 where she began writing and playing her own music. She released her first single, Get Down, late last year; a song about growing up as a teenager in suburban Adelaide. Some have compared the singer to the likes of MIA and Santigold. With musical influences ranging from The Clash to Bob Marley to the Kooks, Kent’s unique pop/reggae/dance number is certainly worth a listen to.
9. Ella Thompson
Ella Thompson’s musical resume is one to be admired – formerly part of The Bamboos and Axolotl, and now currently fronting the bands Dorsal Fins and GL, as well as building an impressive solo reputation, the multi-talented Melbournian is kicking goals all over the place. Though each project is different, Thompson’s unique, soulful-pop voice provides a distinct similarity. Her debut solo album, Janus, was released in July last year, to much acclaim.
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