When I was a teenager, my goals at the time didn’t extend to musical superstardom. I was more preoccupied with boys, trying to make myself look less lanky and somehow attempting to survive Year 12 exams.
Now that I’m halfway through my 20s, I look at all the emerging artists coming through Australia (and NZ, even though we’ll claim ‘em as our own) and hold the same view I had of all the first year university students I’d see begin at my campus when I was nearing the end of my degree. In a nutshell – they seem to be getting younger.
Black Summer, the youngest triple J Unearthed artist to be picked up on the station’s radar (he’s 11), is currently a hot topic at the moment and has already locked down popularity with many. The young EDM producer scored an appearance at Groovin’ the Moo, appearing behind the decks with Zan Rowe as she DJed in between sets.
Thinking about the attention being shone on the youngbloods coming through and slaying right now – take a look at just some artists who are currently doing massive things locally and around the world with their music, who broke through and made a name for themselves before they hit their 21st year.
She’s a Grammy Award winner. She paid homage to Kurt Cobain by fronting Nirvana when the band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame last year. She’s also one of Taylor Swift’s best friends. Yet, it’s funny to think that when the 16-year-old Lorde was asked to step in and take over from the ill Frank Ocean at Splendour in the Grass in 2013, she still had to ask her parents’ permission to make the flight.
Still only 18 years old, Lorde is probably one of the biggest breakout stars of the last few years. The Auckland bred songstress’ debut EP The Love Club was already a hit with the SoundCloud community and online bloggers before radio stations and the bigger international publications picked up on it, so when singles “Tennis Court” and “Royals” triggered a rapid rise to superstardom for the teenager, she already had a large fan base cultivated.
The accolades Lorde has managed to accrue in the last few years are numerous and yet she’s still managed to keep her cool despite it all. Though her presence with Australian music fans has been a strong one, we’ve only seen her a handful of times; touring with the Laneway Festival in 2014, then on her own headline tour of some large theatre venues.
Some will remember her small club shows back in the day, even though the idea of her performing on those types of stages at this stage of her career is almost unthinkable now.
Twenty-three-year old Harley Streten may be currently one of the world’s biggest names, but the Sydney producer has been making and crafting beats since he was a young teenager. Being discovered and signed by tastemaker label Future Classic in 2011, Flume soon had his debut EP Sleepless circulating on radio and being picked up by international blogs after displaying a talent that showed more than a flavour of the month appeal.
Since the release of his 2012 debut album Flume, he’s gone on to perform at festivals around the world, tour Australia relentlessly and take his music to larger venues with each tour. The album hit the #1 spot on the ARIA charts, the first electronic album to do so since Sneaky Sound System’s album 2 in 2008. Flume also went on to win four of the eight ARIA Awards he was nominated for in 2013.
Along with his solo material, Streten was also one half of duo What So Not until 2015, when he announced he was no longer working with fellow Sydney DJ and producer Emoh Instead. His work with Chet Faker also extended to an EP release, with the Lockjaw EP dropping late in 2013. Not bad for a lad from the Sydney’s Northern Beaches who now famously began his foray into beat making after fishing out a production CD from a cereal box, hey?
Before there was Lorde tearing it up internationally for the Land of the Long White Cloud, Kimbra Johnson was breaking down barriers with her unique and unforgettable stage presence and music.
Relocating to Melbourne in 2008 at age 18 after being signed by independent label Forum 5, the NZ songwriter began crafting some incredible pieces of pop music that would go on to put her on the map. The same year Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used to Know” was released, Kimbra released her long awaited debut album, Vows, that featured some now crowd favourites – “Cameo Lover”, “Settle Down”, just to name a few.
Kimbra’s success off the back of her Gotye collaboration brought many great opportunities for her internationally; she performed on Saturday Night Live and Jimmy Kimmel Live! in 2012 while also appearing on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno in the same year. An ARIA Award winner and has since worked with the likes of John Legend, Daniel Johns, Thundercat, Dillinger Escape Plan and more as she’s continued to explore the melting pot of musical influences that have formed her creative body of work. And she’s only 25.
The Findlay sisters won triple J’s Unearthed High competition in 2010 and fast became one of the country’s favourite touring rock bands. By 2011, the girls had played Glastonbury and had a debut EP in Through the Clover circulating well on triple J as well with live music lovers.
Having spent the bulk of their teen years in the music industry, Stonefield may still seem really young in the eyes of many in terms of experience, but by the time they released their debut self-titled album in 2013, the girls had a wealth of experience behind them already.
Stonefield are on tour this month and July on the Golden Dream Tour:
June 26th – Shadow Electric, Melbourne
July 2nd – The Brightside, Brisbane
July 3rd – Goodgod Small Club, Sydney
July 4th – SS&A Albury
July 5th – Home Tavern, Wagga Wagga
July 10th – Cats @ Rocket Bar, Adelaide
July 11th – FourFiveNine @The Rosemount Hotel, Perth
July 12th – Mojos, Fremantle
The Jungle Giants
The Brisbane indie legends have been together since 2011, meeting in high school. The She’s a Riot EP, when released in 2012, saw the band launched well into the hearts of the triple j community and soon, The Jungle Giants were touring the country supporting the likes of Two Door Cinema Club, The Vaccines as well as their own headline dates – all well received shows.
The band spent some time away after the album touring cycle for debut record Learn to Exist wrapped, but recently they were back on the scene with new single “Every Kind of Way”. The tune took The Jungle Giants around the country last month, selling out dates before leaving for a tour of Asian cities.
Undoubtedly one of the biggest breakthrough Australian artists of 2014, Adelaide’s Tkay Maidza is going from strength to strength. The 18 year old hasn’t released her debut album but already, her Switch Tape EP has shown that Tkay is a musician who isn’t content to remain within the boundaries of quintessential ‘Aussie hip-hop’.
Having worked with the likes of Paces, Bok Bok and SBTRKT already, Tkay has taken her music to the US and through the UK and Europe in the past 12 months, most recently supporting Years & Years on their headline European tour.
Run the Jewels love her, she’s had her music featured in a Stella McCartney fashion show, was recently featured in Vogue Australia and will be one of Mark Ronson’s special guests at his Splendour in the Grass sideshows this year. Not a bad year for young Tkay so far.
17 year old producer Gab Strum has already played quite a few big name shows and yet, for the winner of the 2014 triple j Unearthed High competition, it’s obvious that he’s just getting started. Releasing a new EP this year and touring before hitting the Splendour in the Grass stage in Byron Bay, Japanese Wallpaper is already moving tickets quick.
These are going to be the last shows fans will be able to get to for the year, because Strum has his Year 12 exams coming up. Balancing school with mad generating hype for your music = the struggle has been real.
An intriguing musical brain, everything we’ve heard from Japanese Wallpaper since he burst out on to our radars last year points to a strong amount of potential and given the success of recent tours, many other people agree.