With each consecutive year, it seems more and more boutique festivals emerge onto the Victorian market — each with a unique flavour or musical niche trying to set themselves apart. But one undoubtedly pioneering festival that many of these new players have drawn inspiration from is Strawberry Fields. Its established place in the summer calendar has long been, and remains, a standout date with festival goers — largely due to its consistent quality and continued innovation. This is proved by this year’s stellar lineup, that acts as an example of how the festival continues to keep its finger on Australia’s musical pulse and draw the attention of music fans once more.
Located on the beautiful banks of the Murray River, Strawberry Fields is truly a meeting of art and music. While many festivals claim this moniker, few actually deliver more than a few token installations and a poorly attended workshop. The stage design and visual art of Strawberry is, in many ways, its defining feature. Ambitious, intricate stage designs and sweeping large-scale projections help to define the ambience of Strawberry’s various music spaces, creating an experience that truly combines both audio and aesthetic.
As the festival has continued to grow and its lineups and developed, 2017 is no different. Here are some of our top picks (in no particular order).
One of the biggest names on the line up for good reason, Daniel Avery has been on a relentless touring schedule since the release of his break out album ‘Drone Sounds’. The success of these shows is one of the reasons he is consistently placed in the Resident Advisor top 100. His music combines traditional dance and techno sounds with more unconventional elements and vocals perhaps more at home in psychedelic releases. These experimental moments should make for an engaging performance
Expat Mall Grab has been making big waves since moving across to be based in London. His 2017 release ‘Pool Party Music’ is unique blend of garage, house, disco sounds and even a little hip-hop, that come together perfectly to create a polished, finished album that breaks many of the conventions associated with its respective parts.
The evolution of his releases shows a clear growth in his music appreciation and a drawing of inspiration from his new surroundings — recent live sets reflect this, too. What ever plays out at Strawberry, this’ll certainly be feel good hour or more of music.
Sampa The Great
Sampa is a local talent that continues to grow and impress with each successive release. Her unique style of rap breaks the mould for what has come to be expected from many female MCs and even Australian hip-hop in general. Putting a label on her music is hard to do but her renowned live set is certainly going to be one of the more unique in an otherwise largely tech-heavy set list.
Tall Black Guy
Vibe bringer Tall Black Guy’s Detroit origins are evident in his sets and productions. Jazz, Motown and hip-hop all form a strong foundation for the more modern, subtle layers of techno and house on his own music and the carefully crafted extended sets that fill soundcloud and youtube. If these sets, and reports from his Australian shows earlier in the year, are anything to go by this will be an act to absolutely not miss for fans of hip-hop and lounge instrumentals.
French producer Oxia has had a massive 2017 so far. The re-release of his techno classic ‘Domino’ along with a suite of remixes saw it enter back into the dance charts, along with his brooding take on Moby’s 1999 ‘Why Does My Heart Feel So Bad?’. His brand of melodic deep house is both approachable and engaging and sure to be worth checking out.
Since it moved from the laneways of Melbourne’s CBD to Footscray Community Arts Centre in 2010, St Jerome’s Laneway Festival has grown exponentially. Laneway has not only expanded across the country, but jumped the oceans to Auckland, Singapore, and a brief showing in the US. With the demise of festivals like Big Day Out, Laneway has grown into the space and become one of the premiere festivals on the Australian scene.
A few of us at Ripe went down this year to take in the sights and sounds of the day. In between dashing off for interviews, Alex Gleeson and Georgia Hamilton-Myers took in as much as possible, and they’ve joined forces to recap their experience of the day. These are their stories…
Alex Gleeson (AG) : Well, where do you begin? I’ve kinda avoided Laneway for a little bit. Last one I went to was in Sydney. Was it fun? Heck yeah. So why all the avoiding? I got elbowed in the face, heard more homophobic f-bombs than I did compliments, and felt the festival was a far cry from its original warm, safe and welcoming space. That being said, being 18 (or thereabouts) for my first Laneway, I hold the experience of sliding on in with my dad close to my heart. It was the only festival at the time booking the music I loved, without asking me to travel two hours outta town and sleep in a tent with snoring mates.
I thought that was pretty grouse.
So this year I tried not to let past experiences ruin my expectations and excitement, and instead just go with the flow. So how was the crowd? Yeah, look. It wasn’t the best. The singlet bros chanting over the top of Tame Impala’s live set wasn’t a highlight on the day. BUT, with a few handy clashes and perhaps positional fortune, I found that the slots I was looking towards with the most excitement seriously delivered.
Georgia Hamilton-Myers (G HM) : I’m with Gleeson on the dichotomy of Laneway, but I do have a slightly different relationship to the festival. I’ve only missed two of its last seven outings, although I have to admit going into this year I was a little wary, preparing myself for a day of trekking throughout the grounds and fighting through drunk teens. I am glad to see Laneway grow, but a bigger festival means bigger crowds, bigger sponsors and a loss of the feeling that you’re part of a special little separate world for a day. The space at FCAC is ideal for a festival, but as the stages have been pushed further and further apart you end up spending a lot of the day going up and down concrete ramps in the beating sun. Another drawback of the setup is clashes hit harder, with hefty transit time limiting how long you can spend at the stages. Basically as impressive as the line-up always is, you have to accept that you’re going to miss a big chunk of the music you’re there to see.
After getting my bearings and finding some friends, I managed to catch most of Julia Jacklin‘s set at the Spinning Top stage. Her dreamy vocals floated across the crowd and towards the back of the grassy hill, over the scattered groups of people applying sunscreen and huddling around sheets of set times. I was forced to sheepishly reassess my curmudgeonly attitude towards the rambunctious youth who have co-opted my favourite festival, and realise that maybe wanting something you love to stay secret and safe is erring too much on the side of pretension to be valid criticism. By the time she launched into her beautiful cover of ‘Someday’ by The Strokes‘, I was pretty damn excited for the rest of the day.
AG :Whitney’s crowd felt thinner than I envisioned, however they brought such bliss to the mid afternoon. A live show that felt more buoyant and a heap more jazz-oriented than their LP would suggest, you could never have picked while watching them that they’d had a hefty night on the Friday prior to the show. Nor would you have guessed that they were smack bang in the middle of an extensive touring schedule, and no doubt growing tired of that rotating wheel.
Call me a romantic but I can’t help enjoying seeing a crowd smile in unison. And that’s the state that Whitney left the crowd in. Rollicking, freewheeling, and god damn amazing.
Hmmm. Me thirsty. Not sure if I’ll get a Corona® from the ‘CANS, CANS, CANS’ bar, or a Budweiser® from the Budweiser® Car. Man, it feels good spending $10 on shit beer. At least it wasn’t a Somersby®.
Camp Cope were on before Whitney. Not sure why I started with Whitney. Such was the impact of their set… I guess? Anyway, Camp Cope are a band that everyone who plays music would like their band to be. It’s remarkable how they can seem so unabashed, personable and genuine, while maintaining the highest levels of cool. They nailed it with their first album. Absolute cracker, filled with some serious goodies. ‘Stove Lighter’ has so much anthem in it, and anyone who thinks lyricism is a dying art should be promptly directed toward ‘Charlie’s Song’.
My past experiences with them are limited to seeing them at a boozy Music Victoria Awards a few months ago. Hardly the perfect introduction, but they still managed to kick up a serious storm at that one.
This was something different though, hey. With an on-stage dynamic, and a set that seemed expertly crafted, they operated on levels of serious might. Not an easy task in the heat, with a decent sized crowd. Georgia Maq’s delivery is deserving of no lazy comparisons, I honestly believe it transcends all that bullshit. They’re superb musicians, hastily carving a path that hasn’t been walked before by contemporary Australian ‘rock’ musicians. Super cool.
G HM: While Gleeson dived into acts early, I took in the rest of the festival and had a wander down to the Very West Stage. Down a side street to the right were a handful of market stalls, including clothes, jewellery and a glitter application station. There was also a stall selling records, which I’ve never really understood the idea behind. I get irritated enough having to carry a bag with water and my phone, let alone a breakable 12″ disc. Putting one aside to pick up in store could be an option, although sinking money into something while in an altered state may not be the most advisable choice. Walking back to the stage I figured I was there early enough to get a decent spot for Tash Sultana, but alas! I was severely mistaken. Happy to see such a strong crowd for someone so deserving of recognition, I’ll hopefully catch her before getting tickets is impossible.
AG : I caught ten minutes of Carseat Headrest, who probably had the most vibrant crowd I came across for the day (keeping in mind i missed both King Gizz AND Dunies). Another example of Laneway giving us some kick arse international tunes so close to home, their 2016 LP hit the lofty peaks of many ‘End Of Year’ lists. I would’ve stayed for longer, if not for holding a ticket to their sideshow at The Gaso.
So yeah, the LP is incredible, but the big wow-factor came with Carseat Headrest’s early cover of Rowland S Howard’s spine tingler ‘Shiver’. Serious task, but I reckon Will Toledo’s voice hung on all the right notes, culminating in a moment that felt more suited to a brisk night in a tiny pub, rather than an sunny-day open air fest. Not a complaint by any means. Quite the opposite. I wholeheartedly enjoyed the jarring nature of its setting!
G HM: Say what you will about Aussie hiphop (and I certainly have), there are few other genres that attract people so ready to let loose and party. The hype levels of the crowd were high, peaking when ‘Turn Down For What’ played for AB Original to take the stage. The only backdrop a huge Aboriginal flag, Briggs and Trials don’t shy away from their ambition to create music with a message and a purpose. They started some call and response and this crowd was so down, getting their asses up off the grass and swarming towards the stage before the end of their first song.
I had to run over to see British producer Tourist, and as I slipped down the side to find a spot there was a noticeable shift from the hype I’d just left at AB Original’s set. It really speaks to Laneway being whatever you make of it now, with something to do at any point of the day regardless of what your tastes are. Tourist’s stage set-up was minimal, just some long freestanding LED lights and the DJ decks, but being at the smaller Future Classic stage it fit well. His music is deeply considered but still definitely dance, and his set mirrored that with solid builds and great dance peaks.
AG : Sampa The Great is so refreshing. I am someone who admittedly knows very little about the realms of hip hop, but the feeling I get is that Sampa gives hip hop newfound levels of positivity and authentic self-confidence that I haven’t yet encountered elsewhere in the genre. Rather than arrogance or aggression, her lyrics find their strength in pleasure and self worth. Not only this, her on-stage composition has lifted to masterful levels, with particular credit deservingly sent in the direction of her backup singers, sitting on those melodies with such beauty, and occasionally stepping up to soar on a solo.
‘FEMALE’ felt like a serious moment, with all the “queens” in the crowd chanting the letters at quite a rate. There was the patchwork that floated across the sea of hands. Gorgeous no doubt, however I felt an explanation wouldn’t have hurt! However perhaps in it’s ambiguity, that people could find their own reasoning.
Tycho sounded a lot like Tycho at the main stage. I like the way Tycho sound, so that’s ok. It was pleasant, the sort of music you can sway to effortlessly, with the gentle haze of your Corona® intoxication slowly settling in. I feel like the Paradise promoters must be shaking their fists in despair when they see Laneway consistently landing the perfect weather, year after year. For Tycho, there was the most delightful of golden hues, sitting atop the milling crowd, shimmering off the neighbouring river. It made everything seem infinitely better.
G HM : In the interest of full disclosure, I have to admit Glass Animals hold a very special place in my heart. I saw them live the first time they toured here, early enough that for their encore they had to ask the crowd which of the nine songs they had we wanted to hear again. With the incredible success of their two LPs since then and the hectic touring schedule that followed, their presence and energy on stage was incredibly impressive. Their set was undoubtedly my favourite of the festival. A shoeless Dave Bayley built on the crowd’s raw enthusiasm, who in turn built on his, and vice versa to create a magical atmosphere. It was a blistering set, with a blistering version of crowd favourites “Youth” and “Gooey“.
AG :Floating Points played to a crowd of about 300 people, and it made me so happy. Having room to move is a priority, especially when experiencing something as monolithic as his live debut in Melbourne. With visuals almost as astounding as the sounds, the set was an unbelievably polished work of art. It’s near impossible to dislike what is happening before you. Operating as the leader of the 45 minute long, near solitary composition, Sam Sheppard seems to breathe new life into the idea of instrumental jazz music. The electronic component sits quite pleasantly, toiling away at a level that is exploratory yet holds a beat constant enough to have people moving, some (quite possibly) in a subconscious state.
Laneway now is too big and expensive to be a sweet indie darling, too niche to be a festival that attracts the ‘mainstream’ crowd. But that really isn’t a fault of the festival. They’ve found their space, and it’s up to the crowd to adjust their own expectations and take the day for what it is. True, it isn’t a kickabout festival jammed into the laneways of the CBD anymore, for people who want to be at the very cutting edge. Even if it loses that crowd, if it gains 18 year olds discovering live music for the first time and realising they love it, adding more people to a thriving music scene. Above anything else, its a day where people have a whole damn ton of fun.
Ripe’s Australian Chart is our weekly rotation of the best new music by Australian artists released in the last month. With so much great local music coming out at the moment, we’ve got a huge pile of 40 tracks in this week’s playlist.
We start at #39 with another track from the Brisbane record label Tenth Court, giving the label now three tracks in the chart. This time we have ‘Sunshine Song‘ by Sydney2000 off their new untitled six track EP. If you dig gritty, lo-fi garage rock then dig into Tenth Court’s catalog. Next we skip down to #28 with ‘Everyday‘ by Edward Vanzet from Melbourne. Edward is the younger brother of Jack Vanzet A.K.A. Thrupence. ‘Everyday’ is the titled track off a new four track EP and Washed Out fans will find it’s calm pacing, very comforting.
Galapagoose from Melbourne makes a return at #26 with ‘Free By One‘. It’s not clear if it’s a new single or what the context of the song is from, but if you dig the rhythmic patterns of Footwork music and the more spaced out moments of Flying Lotus. Then ‘Free By One’ will interest you. We stay in Melbourne at #21 for the pioneers of jazz-gaze – Cool Sounds. In-jokes aside, ‘In Blue Skies‘ will feature on their forthcoming debut album Dance Moveson Deaf Ambitions. ‘In Blue Skies’ is perfectly seasoned for Autumn with its nostalgic lust wanting to save a relationship about to end.
At #16 Sampa The Great has teamed up with Remi for ‘For Good‘. It’s the first single from Remi’s forthcoming album Divas and Demons, but it’s Sampa The Great who continues to steal the show. Her verse doesn’t kick in until the back half of the track, but it’s worth staying tuned for. She’s growing into a showstopper, who everyone is going to want to collaborate with and I’m not talking about just in Australia. The Murlocs are back and slide into #11 with ‘Young Blindness‘ off their latest 11 track album of the same name. ‘Young Blindness’ maintains the consistent standards set by the country-psych band and comes with a video-clip resembling an animation you’d find in the trippy Adult Swim series Off The Air. Next month the Melbourne band are touring Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth and Fremantle.
Black Cab jump into the top ten with ‘Uniforms‘ at #9. You may have witnessed the dark-electronic Melbourne band at the recent Golden Plains festival. ‘Uniforms’ has heavy roots in ’80s music, but the Perturbator-esque, trance-state synths played by Mikey Young are too euphoric to turn away from. The trio are playing their ‘Uniforms’ single launches in both Melbourne and Sydney in May.
The track of the week however belongs to White Lodge from the Gold Coast with ‘Bella-Union Creep‘ at #3. White Lodge follow in the footsteps of Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever with that carefree, hair to the wind, simultaneously loose in nature and yet tight in garage rock execution. Throw in that bridge section switch up and wicked guitar solo and ‘Bella-Union Creep’ is a flat-out jam. Can someone please bring this band down to Melbourne immediately.
40. Bent – ‘Skeleton Man’
Uploaded: February 29th | Last Week: #40
39. Sydney2000 – ‘Sunshine Song’
Uploaded: March 17th
38. Tourist Dollars – ‘Horse Girl’
Uploaded: February 29th | Last Week: #39
37. Mope City — ‘Letterbomb’
Uploaded: March 9th | Last Week: #37
36. Spookyland — ‘Big Head’
Uploaded: March 10th | Last Week: #36
35. Wireheads – ‘Arrive Alive’
Uploaded: March 14th | Last Week: #35
34. Blake Gilray – ‘Guru Glock (Preview)’
Uploaded: March 1st | Last Week: #34
33. Ariela Jacobs – ‘Lost’
Uploaded: February 29th | Last Week: #33
32. Milwaukee Banks – ‘Reincarnated’
Uploaded: February 24th | Last Week: #32
31. Lucianblomkamp – ‘The Overman’
Uploaded: February 24th | Last Week: #31
30. Arvo Tanty – ‘Forget This Mourning’
Uploaded: February 26th | Last Week: #30
29. Gonzo Jones – ‘Misty Dreams’
Uploaded: March 8th | Last Week: #29
28. Edward Vanzet – ‘Everyday’
Uploaded: March 13th
27. The Pretty Littles – ‘Pride’
Uploaded: March 23rd | Last Week: #28
26. Galapagoose – ‘Free By One’
Uploaded: February 28th
25. A.M. Limonata – ‘After Midnight Special’
Uploaded: February 28th | Last Week: #27
24. Tiny Little Houses – ‘You Tore Out My Heart (Anatole Remix)’
Uploaded: March 2nd | Last Week: #25
23. Smile – ‘Old Boys’
Uploaded: March 9th | Last Week: #24
22. Bad Vision – ‘Goons’
Uploaded: February 29th | Last Week: #22
21. Cool Sounds – ‘In Blue Skies’
Uploaded: March 17th
20. Antony & Cleopatra – ‘Love Is A Lonely Dancer (Amateur Dance Remix)’
Uploaded: March 12th | Last Week: #21
19. The Goon Sax ‘Up To Anything’
Uploaded: February 24th | Last Week: #20
18. Nasty Mars – ‘Sundaynight’
Uploaded: March 11th | Last Week: #19
17. Tiny Little Houses – ‘Milo Tin’
Uploaded: March 13th | Last Week: #18
16. Remi ft. Sampa The Great – ‘For Good’
Uploaded: March 16th
15. Rainbow Chan – ‘Nest’
Uploaded: March 3rd | Last Week: #17
14. Mall Grab – ‘Down’
Uploaded: February 29th | Last Week: #16
13. Hoodlem – ‘4 Real’
Uploaded: March 11th | Last Week: #14
12. Loose Tooth – ‘Sherry’
Uploaded: March 4th | Last Week: #13
11. The Murlocs – ‘Young Blindness’
Uploaded: March 15th
10. The Goods ft. Unkle H – ‘Only One’
Uploaded: March 11th | Last Week: #11
9. Black Cab – ‘Uniforms’
Uploaded: March 9th
8. Summer Flake – ‘Wine Won’t Wash Away’
Uploaded: February 27th | Last Week: #9
7. Ciggie Witch – ‘Meet Me In The Middle’
Uploaded: March 2nd | Last Week: #8
6. SHOUSE – ‘Support Structure’
Uploaded: February 24th | Last Week: #7
5. King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard – ‘Gamma Knife’
Without a doubt 2015 has been the best year in the history of Australian music. The amount of quality tracks and artists that we couldn’t fit into this list was astounding.
What’s particularly exciting is the fact that most of these artists are new, which makes the prospect of putting together next year’s list seem even more daunting.
We would like to thank all the artists for making the music, the readers who share our site’s content, the writers who contributed this year, and everyone else who makes the Australian music scene extremely enjoyable to be a part of in our own small way.
2015 in Australia has definitely been dominated by guitar bands, with many including The Ocean Party, Dick Diver, Blank Realm, Royal Headaches and Twerps delivering their most mature efforts to date. Other artists originally considered a little bit more left of field, such as Sui Zhen, Kučka and I’lls, found a more accessible middle ground with their releases.
Some young artists like Amateur Dance, Crepes, Gold Class and Good Morning flashed their future potential, and a few debut releases by Jaala, Roland Tings and Sampa The Great might be considered one day to be Australian classics. Meanwhile, Tame Impala and Courtney Barnett demonstrated why they’re clearly the current quality benchmark in Australia and around the world.
If you’re looking for Christmas presents, click on the album images below for links to purchase the albums and support Australian music.
25. Banoffee – Do I Make You Nervous?
24. Oisima – Nicaragua Nights
23. Summer Flake – Time Rolls
22. Sui Zhen – Secretly Susan
21. King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard – Paper Mâché Dream Balloon
20. Amateur Dance – It’s Really Something
19. Flowertruck – Dirt
18. Terrible Truths – Terrible Truths
17. Crepes – Cold Summers
16. Gold Class – It’s You
15. Hiatus Kaiyote – Choose Your Weapon
14. The Ocean Party – Light Weight
13. Kučka – Unconditional
12. I’lls – Can I Go With You To Go Back To My Country
11. Jaala – Hard Hold
10. Good Morning – A Vessel / Radiovoice and On The Street / You
9. Totally Mild – Down Time
8. Blank Realm – Illegals In Heaven
7. Dick Diver – Melbourne, Florida
6. Royal Headaches – High
5. Roland Tings – Roland Tings
4. Sampa The Great – The Great Mixtape
3. Twerps – Range Anxiety
2. Tame Impala – Currents
1. Courtney Barnett – Sometimes I Sit and Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit
Welcome to our latest feature – Ripe’s Australian Chart, where we post an update every Sunday on our top tracks uploaded in the past month by Australian artists, ranked all the way to #1. You’ll find our chart below, and a weekly playlist on the Ripe SoundCloud.
Releases have been a little quieter this week as things start to wind down for Christmas, and a few tracks have dropped out after their full month in the chart, so we’ve kept it to 20 tracks this week. That being said, there is still some excellent music being released this deep into the year.
Babyjuan starts us off at #20 in lazy fashion with lo-fi murmering ‘Hit The Legs’ – not the most substantial track, but one with a hazy charm that belies some heartfelt lyrics.
Melbourne producer Jahnne may have knocked this one out in an afternoon, but the pounding industrial rhythm of ‘When Your Head Is Racing (Afternoon Edition)’ goes some way to making up for the scarcity of his tunes so far, and slots in at #13. Let’s hope he finds a few more spare afternoons over the holidays.
Sampa the Great carries on her undefeated streak with Godriguez in her corner, his undulating jazz flitting about and lending energy to Sampa’s acerbic vocal, carrying ‘Blue Boss’ to the #7 spot.
Brisbane stalwart and Future Classic rep Charles Murdoch slinks in at #5 with ‘Back To It’, featuring the one-two punch of Banoffee and Oscar Key Sung. It’s as seductive as anything I’ve heard from either of the two Melbourne vocalists, a sense heightened by Banoffee’s percussive murmurs.
Not content with a single contribution this week, Godriguez has also built some cheeky piano melodies and theatrical orchestration for Sydney-based future-soul gem Wallace to lay her gorgeous vocals across. Her new number ‘Negroni Eyes’ jumps straight in at #3, positively dripping style.
20. Babyjuan – ‘Hit The Legs’
Uploaded: December 4th
19. Rat & Co. – ‘Spring 2’
Uploaded: December 2nd | Last week: #25
18. LUCIANBLOMKAMP – ‘Comfort’
Uploaded: November 30th | Last week: #24
17. Deer – ‘All Alone ft. Martin King’
Uploaded: November 17th | Last Week: #21
16. Us The Band – ‘And I Will’
Uploaded: November 24th | Last Week: #20
15. Anatole – ‘Colours’
Uploaded: December 1st | Last week: #19
14. Max Savage – ‘Baby Don’t Cry’
Uploaded: November 18th | Last Week: #18
‘Baby Don’t Cry’ has gone M.I.A., unfortunately, but we’re hoping it’ll make a return at some point!
13. Jahnne – ‘When Your Head Is Racing (Afternoon Edition)’
Uploaded: December 4th
12. Nutrition – ‘Advice Needed’
Uploaded: November 19th | Last Week: #17
11. Luna Ghost – ‘Eyes Of Sleep’
Uploaded: November 24th | Last Week: #15
10. Flamingo Jones – ‘Fred Bear’
Uploaded: November 16th | Last Week: #14
9. Abelard – ‘I’m OK For Now’
Uploaded: November 23rd | Last Week: #9
8. Julia R. Anderson – ‘In the Beginning’
Uploaded: December 5th | Last week: #5
7. Sampa the Great – ‘Blue Boss’
Uploaded: December 9th
6. Sleep D – ‘Backstreets’
Uploaded: November 17th | Last Week: #8
5. Charles Murdoch – ‘Back To It’ (ft Banoffee and Oscar Key Sung)
Welcome to our latest feature – Ripe’s Australian Chart, where we post an update every Sunday on our top tracks uploaded in the past month by Australian artists, ranked all the way to #1. You’ll find our chart below, and a weekly playlist on the Ripe SoundCloud.
For this week’s new entries, we have at #25 ‘Spring 2‘ from Rat & Co in Melbourne, which is the second part of a two-track release (‘Spring‘ having been released last month). If you’re looking for some Boards Of Canada escapism, Rat & Co are worth diving into further.
LUCIANBLOMKAMP emerges from the Melbourne shadows once again with new single ‘Comfort‘ – although the track provokes unease more than anything else, skittering its way in at #22.
We get orchestral at #20 with Anatole up in Sydney. ‘Colours‘ is the second single from the upcoming Surrounds EP, out on December 18th via Teef Records. It’s filled with violins, viola, cello, double bass and a clarinet – I wish Bonobo was still recording music with real instruments like this.
The Shards make a reappearance in the chart posts with ‘Gossip & Bands‘ at #13. All we know so far is that they’re from Melbourne, and this song sounds like a softer number by Dick Diver. Both the previously-listed ‘Making Shapes Out Of The Ground‘ and now ‘Gossip & Bands’ feature on their latest EP, Best New Reissue.
The Melbourne duo Ara Koufax are back at #6 with their first new song in six months, and it’s called ‘Adult Concepts‘. If it sounds like an introduction track, it’s because it was originally written to be exactly that. If you’re looking for more gentle, sprawling electronic music like ‘Adult Concepts’, check out Tycho‘s Burning Man sets on SoundCloud.
I’d never heard of Julia R. Anderson from Brisbane until a few days ago, but I’m already very intrigued and ‘In The Beginning‘ jumps right up into #5 this week. She looks like Tune-Yards and sings like Melody Echo Chamber or Twin Sister, and sounds just as tantalising as all three of those artists. Remember the name Julia R. Anderson; her debut album comes out 2016.
I’m not sure how I missed the initial upload of ‘Black Dignity‘ by Sampa The Great from Sydney. It’s the first single post her head-turning The Great Mixtape debut just three months ago. She’s already been labeled a female Kendrick Lamar, but I hear Shabazz Palaces in the space-beats, and even early Clipping in her flow. This definitely won’t be the last time that she features in the top 5.
Peruw out of Melbourne drops almost ten minutes of deep tech house at #3 with ‘Namek‘. Fresh off playing at Earthcore, while in the midst of his own personal Geyser tour around Sydney and Melbourne, Peruw clearly has high ambitions. ‘Namek’ never tries to overexert itself, instead transfixing the listener within its own restrained parameters – the hallmark of a producer who knows exactly what he’s doing.
25. Rat & Co – ‘Spring 2’
Uploaded: December 3rd
24. Zone Out – ‘So Bright’
Uploaded: November 20th | Last Week: #23
23. Plum – ‘Reveal’
Uploaded: November 14th | Last Week: #22
22. LUCIANBLOMKAMP – ‘Comfort’
Uploaded: November 30th
21. Deer – ‘All Alone ft. Martin King’
Uploaded: November 17th | Last Week: #21
20. Us The Band – ‘And I Will’
Uploaded: November 24th | Last Week: #20
19. Anatole – ‘Colours’
Uploaded: December 1st
18. Max Savage – ‘Baby Don’t Cry’
Uploaded: November 18th | Last Week: #19
17. Nutrition – ‘Advice Needed’
Uploaded: November 19th | Last Week: #18
16. Marcus Whale – ‘If (Demo)’
Uploaded: November 10th | Last Week: #16
15. Luna Ghost – ‘Eyes Of Sleep’
Uploaded: November 24th | Last Week: #15
14. Flamingo Jones – ‘Fred Bear’
Uploaded: November 16th | Last Week: #12
13. The Shards – ‘Gossip & Bands’
Uploaded: November 4th
12. Lisa Salvo – ‘Give Me Your Love’
Uploaded: November 7th | Last Week: #10
11. Arthur Miles – ‘The Prince Feat. Babicka & HVCK’
Past Editor’s note: I have only just left my official role at The Ripe as Head Editor, and nostalgia has already set it. So naturally I thought it would be a pertinent time to write an article, something that I haven’t had the chance to do in the last six months. While I am cherishing my new role, I miss not being able to shine some light on the music that I love. So prepare yourself as I try to get as close as I can to an article that somewhat resembles something of journalistic merit. Here goes. – Huw Nolan
Sam Maguire has been making music for years now, under many different guises and monikers. But there has always been one constant; the production has always been of an unrivalled high standard. Now onto a more progressive house bent, Sam’s production is clean and beautifully layered with memorable melodies. This guy, for whatever reason, does not get the recognition he deserves. I hope that some day it comes to him.
Why do our local electronic musicians not get enough props when they clearly rival their international counterparts who play sold out shows here every summer? ‘Life In Irrational Fear’ is THE track to sink your teeth into, and shows that the Jahnne can clearly match it with the best – I’m talking your Jon Hopkins and your Pantha Du Prince. This track is that good.
Sampa The Great
This African-turned-Sydney-based rapper is just about all I am listening to at the moment. My affinity with hip-hop has never been rock-solid, especially in Australia, but this might be the best hip hop release that I have ever heard come out of this country. And it all stems from one mixtape. Sampa delivers confident lyrical content, while balancing raw attitude with a relaxed flow. Her raps aren’t basic either and, considering her complex vocal lines and intricate rhyme structures, her diction is very impressive.
The other blessing on this tape is the presence of a truly gifted producer in Godriquez. I haven’t had the pleasure of listening to Godriquez before, but this definitely won’t be the last time. Sampa is a future star, unless Australia sleeps on something great – which, judging by the sort of hip-hop we champion here and the reception it gets elsewhere, sadly wouldn’t surprise me.
I haven’t heard a band with such consistent output in a long time. Everything they have released in their short existence has been pure quality. Jangly pop bands are a dime a dozen in Melbourne, and while the majority of them are genuinely fucking great, these guys really cut through.
I don’t think I have bothered playing a cassette tape in 15+ years, but when I received my Good Morning cassette, my tape player received a serious, unexpected work out. They are just as good live, and considerably tight for a band who only released their first musings last year.
Later this year, Simon Lam (of I’lls and Kllo) will release one of the best folk EPs that I have ever heard come out of this country. The fact that Simon has still has the creativity to produce music that manages to distance itself significantly from his aforementioned projects is extraordinary – but it not only distances itself from his other writing, it completely stands alone.
Check out his collaboration with Naysayer and Gilsun, as well as this new doozy, a collaboration between himself and Andrei Eremin.
Martin King has been really stepping up to the plate lately. A former member of much loved Melbourne duo Oscar N Martin and current member of The Harpoons, Martin has found a nice little sweet spot for himself. Nestled in between house and UK garage, his recent live sets have been debuting new material it sounds really, really good. Special mention goes to his long time collaborator Juliet Rowe, who perfectly complements Martin’s production.
If ‘PGF’ is an example of what we can come to expect from Martin, I will be highly anticipating his upcoming releases. If you want to gauge this newfound direction from Martin King, it would be very worth checking out his remix of Oscar Key Sung’s ‘Brush’.
Australia’s next great rap talent Sampa The Great makes her Melbourne debut at Northside Records this Friday, September 11th. Her new release The Great Mixtape scored our Album of the Week recently, the intrigue only strengthening following our recent interview.
I’d strongly recommend getting down and catching her as she stammers through the Kendrick-esque ‘Dutch Spring‘, especially considering it’s free entry.
It kicks off at 7pm on Friday, at 236 Gertrude St, Fitzroy
Sampa Tembo, aka Sampa The Great, has just released her debut EP, The Great Mixtape, and we’re all pretty damn excited about it. The hip-hop, funk, soul and jazz-infused album is impressive in its diversity of sounds, sharp production, and socially aware lyrics. We spoke with the rising star about her African roots, foray into music, and her personal philosophies that inform not only the way she writes and makes music, but how she lives her life.
Alana Scully:This will likely be the first time a lot of our readers will be introduced to Sampa The Great, so I’m interested in knowing how you were first introduced to music?
Sampa Tembo: Music is almost engineered in me. I think since I was 10 or 11 years old, I’ve always liked the sound of African music, which has a lot of sounds and rhythms. I remember the first time I did actually sit down and write something, my parents had forgotten me at school. I’m the middle child, so I was so mad, I thought, “Argh, they forgot me!” And so I was waiting at school, sitting next to one of the trees, and I pulled out one of my notebooks and just wrote a song. That was probably where it began.
When I looked up your bio, I saw that you were born in Zambia, raised in Botswana and are now based in Sydney. Why the move to Sydney?
Yes, I was raised in Botswana from age two onwards. I’ve stayed in Botswana, but move between Botswana and Zambia to visit my relatives. My grandma, grandpa, and all of my extended family live in Zambia, whereas my immediate family – my mum, my dad, two sisters and brother – all live in Botswana.
I’ve been here in Sydney for two years just studying on a student visa, and have just finished my audio engineering course at SAE.
And making music?
Yeah, engineering music and making music! As part of my classes, but also just as something to do that I was interested in outside my course. The deal was: get the degree, then we’ll see about this music thing. I definitely did the degree, but I was already doing artistry.
How were you first introduced to hip-hop?
I would say I was probably around eight years old. I walked into my cousin’s room – he visited us in Botswana and stayed with us for about three or four years – and he was listening to Tupac‘s ‘Changes‘, and it was just so different! I even forgot why I went into the room! I just walked in, sat on the floor, and asked, “What is this?” And he played it again and I was just transported – it was so beautiful and honest and pure. I didn’t know who this person was, but they were speaking to me like they knew me, and from then on, I was just so interested, you know? “What is this rap?” It got even more concrete when I was in primary school. I think it was Grade 5 or Grade 6; a group of boys were rapping and I said, “Wow, this is amazing. Can I join your group?” And they said, “No, you’re a girl, you can’t rap!” And I just said, “What!?” Like, girls can rap! And so I thought, “No, I’m gonna do this, I’m gonna rap because girls can rap and Tupac is good and he spoke to me in his song, and that means I can rap, too.” I guess it became a personal vendetta: I could rap as well, it wasn’t only boys who can rap. I stumbled onto Lauryn Hill just for the, ‘Ha! See? Girls rap!”
Your influences in The Great Mixtape seem to range from Kendrick Lamar, Lauryn Hil, and even Nicki Minaj as well. How do you navigate the many things that inspire you? Do you pick and choose, or does it naturally flow into your music when you’re writing it?
I guess it naturally flows. If there’s an instrumental where I think, “This just gives me a lot of this person’s vibe,” maybe that can inspire something along those lines. Usually I just think, “This is a cool melody, let me see what I can write to it.” That’s generally the process. I haven’t really sat down and observed how it happens. I guess it just happens.
One of the things that stuck out for me in particular and which I really enjoyed about the album is that it’s very politically charged. Was that your intention going into it? Has growing up in Africa influenced that in any way?
Yeah, definitely. There’s one major influence that I don’t think is in my bio and that’s Bob Marley. He’s a huge influence, and I guess it’s always been a political stance. You never really say, “I’m gonna be political”; you’re just around the environment that sparks it. So that was always in me and not only in rapping or singing or writing – it was always in there because I was surrounded by that. It’s sort of a therapy, these songs, so the politics is always going to be in there. It’s more of a natural thing for me from the environment I grew up in, and am still growing up in!
I was looking up one track specifically, ‘Revolution’, which samples speeches from Malcom X, Leo Muhammed and Dr. Khalid Abdul Muhummad who is also used by artists like D’Angelo and Ice Cube. What inspired you to do that? Do you see music as more than just a platform to entertain but also educate and expand social awareness.
Yeah, it was such a… I don’t know if “risk” is the right word…. but with that track it was just like, “Dude, I just have to put it in.” Because sometimes as an artist you’re on the line with, “I don’t want to offend people, but this is what I think…” I’ve listened to a lot of his speeches and that one in particular just got me riled up, because as an entertainer, I still am an activist. And where do you draw the line between just entertaining and making sure everybody is happy? And being like, wait, guys, I actually am African. I actually am black, and I can’t just show you the happy side I have to show you the others as well. So that was a track I definitely had to put in. I paused a bit, but the interviewer actually asks in the track, “Are you an entertainer, or are you an activist?” And that was just exactly what I was going through. I was just like, I have to give you all, I can’t give you one, because if we’re going through this musical journey I come with political stuff.
Absolutely, I feel like it added such an extra layer of complexity and really reminded me of Kanye West sampling Gil Scott Heron’s poem in ‘Who Will Survive In America’ and reminded me how much I love the tradition of sampling in hip hop. Was it your aim to follow that tradition as well, the sampling and making reference to artists who’ve come before you? Because I noticed in ‘Born To Be Blue’, the track title is also shared with a track by Ella Fitzgerald.
With ‘Born To Be Blue‘ I actually only found out after Godriguez, the producer, told me. But that’s definitely the vibe, to always be able to say, you know, I’m a student of this person, I’m the musical baby of this person. ‘Revolution’, to me, seemed like a sample song – a song to make a statement and I definitely felt like it needed to be sampled.
It’s interesting in ‘Outro’ you kind of mention the fact that you’re talking about very serious issues, and that it should be taken seriously, and that it’s called mixtape because of this. I found that to be a really interesting contrast, was this an attempt to lighten the mood or what was your aim in this technique?
That was an attempt to show the yin and yang of my character. I think if I didn’t joke around and wasn’t very comical, I’d be a very depressed person. Because the way I see the world is very analytical, and if I didn’t have that balance of being able to laugh at it, or to have people around me to help me just laugh at it, or see things in a comical light, like, I wanted to show that balance. And it had to be fun it had to be a creative musical thing. I remember I went back home during Christmastime, and I’d done a couple of recordings before I went home, and there was just this little pressure to just be this “hard” rapper, you know, “hardcore” female battle rapper, and that is just definitely not my character. So I listened to Chance The Rapper’s Acid Rap, which a friend had shown me before but at the time I was sort of like, “Ah, whatever.” But I listened to it and it reminded me to be creative, it reminded me to laugh, it reminded me that hip hop is not all about being hard, it’s not all the battle, you know. It’s an art form that you can play with, and so that had to be in the mixtape as well.
I definitely noticed that laughter features quite heavily in a lot of the tracks, and even background talking as well. In fact, in general, you seem to play with your voice a fair bit, like stuttering and even some vocal fry. Were you just experimenting different ways of expressing voice?
Yeah, that’s very Kendrick inspired – “Use you voice as an instrument.” And Andre 3000 as well. But I guess it’s just like talking to the record like you’re talking to your friends, where we’re very comical and we always extend our voices in different ways, and I guess that just reflected onto the mixtape.
In the track “F E M A L E” you seem to be paying homage to the women from home or the women from Africa, so my question is, what is home to you?
It’s a complex question, because even coming here a lot of people are kind of like, “Australian rap, Australian rap!” And it’s kind of like, yeah, I love this place, but I’m also Zambian, so home…. What is home to you… I don’t know how to answer it actually. I guess there’s no exact answer, my mannerism and everything about me screams Africa, but I love to move around the world and see how we are all really not that different. But I don’t know, I guess for me right now it’s where I grew up and where I got to know myself as a person. I’m actually the biggest homesick baby ever. I got on the plane and already crying, and my mum’s like “Oh my gosh, can you just… grow a little” I’m like, I can’t. After just like two weeks I’m like, “I gotta go.” But I think you grow up around those people and that environment, so while it’s a complex question to answer, it’s still Zambia.
I was also interested in the fact that you call yourself Sampa The Great, and was wondering what the thought process was behind adding “The Great,” and also with regard to The Great Mixtape.
Well, with ‘The Great Mixtape,’ I wanted to be bold. It’s egocentric in saying, “This is the great mixtape,” I had a lot of doubts even before putting it out like, can we just maybe call it a mixtape? But I think I had to make a statement, to myself as well. Often people around me believe in me more than I believe in myself, you know they say you’re great, just say it, and that’s how the great mixtape was named.
As for the name Sampa The Great, I think it stems from two main things among many. One is, I asked myself what I think I would be that I could never be, and that was great, so I put that next to my name, Sampa The Great. And the second one was, I was having a history lesson with my friend, Gloria – we have our own history lessons because we find out and learn things in history that we don’t learn in school – and I remember us going through Alexander The Great. I remember my teacher once saying Alexander The Conqueror and I’d say, “No, in the history book it says Alexander The Great,” and he would say, “Why?” and I would say, “Well I don’t know it just says it in the history book.” And so we were arguing over the name Alexander The Great and Alexander The Conquerer and he was like, “How can he be great to you? Whose perspective is he great from?” and it really got me thinking on perspectives in everything, even the world, and just myself and how I see things. I guess The Great is always a reminder to me to keep my perspective open just in everything I do, because my objective is not to be a superstar queen of rap, I’m just trying to be (as cliché as it sounds) the best Sampa I can be. Not the best female rapper, not the best rapper, but just the best Sampa, and I have to keep that perspective open I guess.
Do you have any touring on the cards? Are you going to come to Melbourne any time soon?
I do! I am having a support for Hiatus Kaiyote in Melbourne, and I’m also doing like an in-store show for a record company. We haven’t yet gone as far as saying “tour” but hopefully in the long run that will be there. But I also have to master not turning up too much and to keep my voice a bit soften. But yeah, that’s definitely something in the long run I hope that we can strive for.
To finish up, a bit of a big question, but if there’s a main message or feeling that listeners can take away after hearing ‘The Great Mixtape,’ what would you want that to be?
Things that pop up to me when I think of what happened as we were making the mixtape, and what changed I guess, is more of a belief in myself – that grew tenfold. Definitely people should just take into account how great they can be. That’s what I want this to be about, like, “Oh wait we can all do this, you don’t have to have a special power, like this is human, everybody has this.”
I guess the impression I’d want people to be left with about me as an artist would be like, “This person treats music and hip hop as a language.” I’m an international student, you know, I’ve travelled to the U.S before, and so the two things that everybody speaks is love and music, I think it just goes across borders. And so treating music as a “spiritual language” is what I’d like people to think I do. It can just be to bump and feel good and to just raise your level or whatever, but it has to give you something different. I remember when music used to do that, I didn’t just listen but I’d listen and I’d want to be better, or I’d listen and I wanted to fall in love, or I’d listen and I’d want to be creative. It changed something. This is an artist when you listen to the music is changes something in me, I don’t know. That would be the goal I guess.
For more on Sampa the Great, check out our review of her debut release, ‘The Great Mixtape’, which scored our Album of the Week.