The Best Is Yet To Come

23 April 2014 | 9:09 am | Carley Hall

"I think the nature of humans is to compare or draw some sort of parallel to familiarise a sound with someone else. It doesn’t bother me."

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There's definitely something to be said for the conviction of youth. Since farewelling the comforts of high school, hardworking 22-year-old Nikki Thorburn, aka indie chanteuse Iluka, has taken her soulful, yesteryear sound from her Sydney home and shared it, recording it with primo industry names along the way. Her bohemian style is a throwback to her childhood diet of 1960's and '70's pop and rock courtesy of her guitar-maker father, and her mythical lyrics offer an insight into her vivid personality.

So when Commercial Radio Australia and the Mushroom Group announced Iluka as the inaugural winner of their First Break competition back in 2012 – gifting the emerging young artist the seemingly ideal platform to catapult her career to the next level – the question of whether this commercial opportunity could threaten her creative singularity was one worth asking.

“When the whole First Break thing happened, I mean I was always essentially doing the same thing and I'm still doing what I was doing,” Thorburn reasons. “I'm still writing songs that I want to write, and I'm still following the vision that I want to follow. It's just now I have an amazing support network around me, which I guess is, as an artist, what you dream of; there's only so much that you can do by yourself.”

While the prize indeed had its fair share of bonuses – single releases, music videos, promotion, tour support – it's clear Thorburn's stamp is all over her musical project, just as she says. Her first single, 12th Of July, is as effervescent as her prior indie releases, and those comparisons to Edith Piaf, Nancy Sinatra and Dusty Springfield are still flying thick and fast, not that she minds.

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“It's funny actually; they're quite diverse!” she laughs. “Yesterday one of the guys who interviewed me said I remind me him of Janis Joplin, which I haven't got before but she's a huge influence of mine. And there has been Stevie Nicks with her voice.

“I think the nature of humans is to compare or draw some sort of parallel to familiarise a sound with someone else. It doesn't bother me. I guess it more bothers me when people think you're trying to be someone or replicate some sort of sound.”