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5 Aussie Artists To Watch In 2023

29 December 2022 | 1:00 pm | Mary Varvaris

Our final Cover Story of 2022 focuses on five Australian artists we think you need to watch in 2023. Read on to find out who they are!

The Music has published over 45 Cover Stories in 2022, sharing stories told by your favourite artists, including Missy Higgins, Hatchie, Sampa The Great, Flume, Ball Park Music, Spacey Jane, Tasman Keith, Parkway Drive, Thelma Plum, King Stingray, Pania, Cub Sport, Mia Wray, Jimmy Barnes and many more. 

When we were thinking about the final Cover Artist of the year, we thought, why stop at one artist? Why not share a take on Most Anticipated lists and introduce our readers to Five Artists To Watch In 2023? And so, this Cover Story was born. Find Q&A's with each artist below.

Beckah Amani

Beckah Amani waltzed gracefully onto the scene in 2018 with her single, Breathe, but really caught people's attention with her 2020 single STANDARD, which was a sort of reclamation of self relating to the Black Lives Matter movement and her own experience with micro-aggressions and outright racism. Her music could be compared to SZA or Arlo Parks, with a bit more of an upbeat swing.

Born in Tanzania before emigrating to Australia when she was eight, Amani embodies her West African heritage, creating a warm and joyful sound with rich vocals and funky beats. Recently winning the triple j Unearthed x SPRINGTIME Festival competition, the 2022 APRA Professional Development Award for Popular Contemporary Album, and the coveted QMA Award for Emerging Artist of the Year in 2021, Amani is clearly sought after, making her an artist to watch next year.

Q: You released your debut EP, April, this year - what behind-the-scenes stories can you share with our audience?

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A: Feels so good to finally have my debut EP, April, out in the world! In the track April, you can hear a voice memo at the beginning of the verses and the outro. Those voice memo clips were actually taken from a real voice memo my dad sent to me a few weeks after moving to London. 

In my native language of Kirundi, dad basically asks me how I’m really going, if I am ok, and to call back when I get a moment. My response to his voice note is what forms the body of the song. It was special to have my dad (unknowingly) a part of this track. 

Q: What inspired your creative process for what’s coming next in 2023?

A: All things lead back to storytelling for me. I’ve spent a lot of time in transit this year, and that gave me a lot of time to read and watch lots of movies. I’ve been inspired to create a cohesive world in my next project in 2023 that ties these things and music together. 

Q: We’ve gone from two years of uncertainty surrounding the music industry to playing live shows again; what have the past couple of years taught you?

A: It has been such a rollercoaster, hasn’t it? The past couple of years has taught me that life isn’t linear. It’s bound to change, explode, expand and shrink. The only thing I’m in control of is how I respond to the circumstances and ride the waves. I’ve learned not to take people and the freedom to be with others physically for granted. It has also made me appreciate going and playing live music so much more. 

Q: How did you find hope to continue throughout the last few years?

A: Family and loved ones. Not letting my output of work (music) define my worth. Seeing people show up for each other. Finding beauty in the ordinary. Being present with people, place and self. Accepting that I am on my own journey, not competing with time, relevancy and other artists.  

Q: What music did you release this year or to be released next year are you proudest of?

A: I’m really proud of my debut EP. I am particularly proud of the track Smoke And Mirrors. Working with Matt Corby was really special and a dream come true for me. I hope highlighting the issue of climate change in a delicate and thought-provoking way invites audiences to take this issue seriously. 

Q: Every now and then, we hear people say that the album format is dead and that singles are the way to go. How do you feel about albums in general or on a personal level?

A: I personally love albums. I grew up listening to a whole body of work and appreciate singles as a small appetiser preparing you for a complete and nuanced meal. I personally don’t think the album format is dead at all. However, I believe that how people consume and interact with music has changed. In saying that, ultimately, I do also think albums still hold a lot of weight and that fans eagerly wait to hear a full body of work. 

Q: What do you want audiences to learn about as an artist and your music coming into 2023?

A: Writing is my favourite part of the creative process. I spend a lot of time working on lyrics and carving storylines. In 2023 audiences can expect a cohesive second body of work that leans into my passion for reading and films. 

Q: What were your favourite musical moments of the year? They can be your own, a gig you saw, a song on tv, or something totally unexpected. What moments profoundly moved you?

A: Damn, there's just so many! I’ve spent the majority of my time in London this year, so I’ve collected most of these moments from London. Here are a few; seeing Tems live at the KOKO was inspiring. Ed Sheeran at Wembley was electrifying and emotional for me. I was greatly moved by Sampa The Great, and her track Never Forget featuring Chef 187, Tio Nason & Mwanje. Absolutely world-class! 


Folk Bitch Trio

Folk Bitch Trio made up of Melbourne singer-songwriters Heide Peverelle, Gracie Sinclair and Jeanie Pilkington, formed their group in 2020. Their raw, melancholy guitar melodies and harmonies have received comparisons with Julia Jacklin, boygenius and Swedish favourites First Aid Kit. 

After watching the group at BIGSOUND this year, Double J's Dan Condon said, "I'd put money on the word 'sublime' being used to describe Melbourne's Folk Bitch Trio plenty in the wake of their BIGSOUND performances too, and for good reason. Their flawless three-part harmonies are stunning throughout their entire set, their songwriting is already accomplished but will only get better, and they have a quiet self-assurance that makes them even more magnetic." That's high praise, and it's well deserved. 

Q: You released Lost/Shivers and more singles this year - what behind-the-scenes stories do you remember the most?

A: We recorded these two singles in very different environments… 

Lost, we recorded in Audrey Studios with producer Anna Laverty and engineer Craig Pilkington in December 2021. We had just recently come out of what felt like an eternity of lockdowns and were feeling quite strange diving into our first actual studio project. We were there for five days and recorded a few songs we wrote a few years ago. It was extremely satisfying to get them out of our heads and have Anna and Craig facilitate and kindle our raw songs and turn them into something more fully formed. Shivers was recorded live this last winter in a cold warehouse, which felt fitting to the song written by Roland S. Howard. We teamed up with friends Pat Telfer who recorded the track, and Celeste De’clario, who captured a live video and our latest press shots while we tried to do the cover justice! 

Q: What inspired you in 2022, and what's coming next year?

A: We’ve been inspired by watching and playing live music! Having the opportunity to see such refined and beautiful national and international acts has felt very special this last year. In the past, we’ve individually written a song and brought it to the group, but recently the three of us have been sitting down and collaborating more in our songwriting. It’s been scary but wonderful and has inspired us further. We’re looking forward to this next year of writing and recording new music!

Q: The uncertainty of the last few years has affected everyone differently. What have you learned in that time? How did you cope with Melbourne's lockdowns?

A: Despite the mess of the last couple of years, we’ve felt quite lucky and grateful for the opportunities we’ve had. It’s been interesting to enter the music scene at the beginning of the lockdown. In some ways, it was lucky because we didn’t really know what we were missing out on. Though we could recognise the devastating effects it had on the musicians and punters around us. 

We didn’t put too much pressure on ourselves to create anything remarkable; we kept writing songs but only when it felt right to. We mostly prioritised getting together as mates rather than to make music until things opened up again. 

Q: What music did you release this year or to be released next year are you proudest of? 

A: Our collaboration with Bones and Jones, a band of dear friends from the  Naarm/Geelong area, was a special project to both release and record. We released a double 7” inch early on in the year, and it led us to some pretty memorable things, like our first festival sets and interstate tour. We played some beautiful sets up north in the Northern Rivers and Coolum Beach that wouldn’t have necessarily happened if we didn’t release the singles, so we’re pretty proud of where that project has taken us. 

Q: We keep hearing that the album format is dead and that singles are the way to go. How do you feel about albums in general or on a personal level?

A: As a band and as individuals, we love and appreciate the artistry that goes into making a record and listening to one. Singles are great, but we are collectively very excited to make a whole body of work that shows more than a single can, and we feel like this art is very much alive. 

Q: What do you want audiences to learn about your band in 2023? 

A: Coming into 2023, we’re mostly just very grateful to be playing shows and having people listening to our music. People knowing who we are is exciting enough. We’re playing Auckland Folk Festival in January, which is super surreal to be starting the year overseas, and we are keen to keep the ball rolling on forwards from there. We have our sights set on continuing to play, write and record together in the new year. 

Q: What were your favourite musical moments of the year? They can be your own, a gig you saw, a song on tv, or something totally unexpected. What moments deeply moved you?

A: The gigs that have moved us as artists in 2022 were a Phoebe Bridgers’ set in Munich, RVG’s set at Queenscliff Music Festival, our collective deep dive into Wilco’s discography, a surprise midnight Marlon Williams set at BIGSOUND (to name a few). A big one for us was supporting Julia Jacklin in April, who we are all huge admirers of. That felt pretty unreal. 


Forest Claudette

Forest Claudette balances a heavenly falsetto with multiple genres of music, going from smooth R&B, deep beats and rap music to something edgier and more surprising. He has released three stellar singles to date, including his debut and second tracks, Creaming Soda and Gone Without A Trace, which have collectively received praise from the likes of triple j, Teen Vogue, Tone Deaf, Sniffers, MTV, Attwood Magazine and more. Hologram followed in early September and arrived with the announcement of Claudette's debut EP, The Year Of February, at the end of that month. His talent and buzz surrounding him definitely make Claudette one to watch.

Q: You released your new EP, The Year Of February, this year. What can you tell us about your experience making it?

A: One of my favourite stories from the making of the EP is Goodbye. I wrote that song with my friend and producer, Alex Laska. It was one of my first co-writing sessions, and we’d planned on meeting at a cafe first, so when one hour passed and then two, and I couldn’t get a hold of him on his phone, I figured the session was likely cancelled, and I’d been stood up. Eventually, he arrived and had the courage to ask me if I’d eaten yet. I love Alex. 

Q: What inspired your creative process this year?

A: I’ve spent a lot of time in LA this year (2022), so I’d say that dynamic of being away from home and missing loved ones, contrasted by the experiences I’ve had out here (in LA writing this), which have been for the most part really wonderful and forced me to learn more about myself. 

Q: We’ve gone from two years of uncertainty surrounding the music industry to playing live shows again; what have the past couple of years taught you?

A: These past two years definitely taught me patience, which I’m very grateful for. I also got to spend a lot of time with my parents, which I wouldn’t have otherwise. I feel like I’m at that age where you start to see your parents more and more as their own people, which in turn, allows me to understand myself better. 

Q: How did you find hope to carry on throughout the last few years?

A: That time, for me, was very much centred around Blackness. I bought a bunch of Black literature from diaspora and Black American writers and just took in everything I could. I needed more context for what was unfolding before the world’s eyes, and I’d always intended to dedicate time like that to reading. That’s actually how I found my name. I read an article that had a brief summary of Claudette Colvin’s (Before Rosa Parks, There Was Claudette Colvin: NPR) role in overturning the segregation laws in Montgomery and Alabama.

Q: What music did you release this year that you're proudest of? 

A: Finally releasing The Year Of February this year has been everything to me. In the end, I spent about four years writing that EP, and I think it did just about everything I wanted it to do. The most important part for me was making sure it captured some of the genre-bending that I wanted to establish early so as not to be boxed in while also finding a throughline when it came to the narrative. Moments from the beginning until now, all folded neatly into a 6-track EP - not bad if I do say so myself. 

Q: Now and then, we hear people say that the album format is dead and that singles are the way to go. How do you feel about albums in general or on a personal level?

A: I love this because I’m absolutely an album listener. That’s how I consume music, and that’s how I feel close to the artists I look up to. I usually go through fazes of one or two albums at a time where that’s all I listen to - Little Simz just announced a new one, and I’m freaking the F**k out. 

Q: What do you want audiences to learn about you as an artist coming into 2023?

A: I’m not sure if I’m too phased if people learn more about me or not. I’m really interested in how people connect with my experiences through their own though. I had a friend listen to some demos a year or two ago, and he got something out of the track that I had never intended, but it was so special to hear how he interpreted it. So now, with music coming out, those interactions with fans are what I look forward to most. 

Q: What were your favourite musical moments of the year? They can be your own, a gig you saw, a song on tv, or something totally unexpected. What moments profoundly moved you?

A: Playing my first live shows this year has been amazing, especially doing so with my band. They’ve been so patient and understanding when it’s come to this process, so to be able to finally share the stage and experience the energy from the crowd all together has been so special. 

Besides that, this year was Omar Apollo’s year, as far as I’m concerned. That album [Ivory] slaps. 


Loser

We first discovered LOSER from their 2018 EP Restless Noise and instantly recognised the immense talent and well-crafted rock anthems that were brewing under this first release. Since then, the band have continuously hit milestones and honed their alt-rock craft. Dubbed as a cross between Foo Fighters and Smashing Pumpkins, it wouldn’t be going too far to add Queensland's Violent Soho into that mix. Their latest release, All The Rage, introduces some more thoughtfulness to their sound and has proved that their ability to blend soft melody with heavy drums and grating guitars is unmatched.

The Melbourne natives have also dominated the touring circuit in the last few years, opening for Canadian legends PUP and Aussie favourites Luca Brasi.

Q: You released Heaven Can Wait and All The Rage and experienced huge career highlights this year - what behind-the-scenes stories can you share with our audience?

A: This year, we were finally able to tour again, and we completed an awesome national run supporting BUGS. Because flights were so expensive, we drove interstate for many of the shows; however, as we’re a two-piece and Tim doesn’t drive, the steering was left to me (Craig). For some, this would be a harrowing experience, but I’d like to take this opportunity to point out that Tim is the greatest co-pilot in the world. To make the drives easier, he curated them [playlists] beforehand - including specialised playlists for each section of the drive, pre-selected podcasts that we would both dig, trivia games and a devout commitment to never fall asleep as the passenger, so I always had someone to talk to. What a legend!

Q: What inspired your creative process for what’s to come in 2023?

A: In our band, we never stop writing. At any one point, we always have at least 100 unfinished songs we’re working on, and sometimes that can take us in all kinds of directions. What really helped focus our laser beam this year was an awesome weekend we spent with Anton Hagop (producer/mixer/engineer for artists like Silverchair, Powderfinger….and Loser ha). We hung out at Anton’s house and played him some demos, and Anton helped us to see the connecting thread that we couldn’t always spot ourselves. From this experience, our ears were opened, and we floated back to Melbourne with a new sense of self. From this, Stadium Dreams On A Bedroom Budget and the new era of Loser was born.

Q: We’ve gone from two years of uncertainty surrounding the music industry to playing live shows again. What did you learn during that period?

A: We’ve been a band for four years, two of which were spent inside. Throughout that, we still managed to release two full-length albums and the experience of doing all that taught us to stop looking over the fence. There’s too much focus on social media and comparisons, and it’s not until you eliminate these distractions that real personal growth can occur.

Q: How did you find hope to carry on throughout the last few years?

A: Sometimes, the cheesiest explanations are the most truthful, and with all sincerity, we found hope in each other. We had band members leave, tour cancellations, anxiety attacks, family losses and music industry friends pass away - but throughout it all, we had each other to keep grounded and inspired and to share the heaviness. This gave us both a newfound strength to get through it and be newly inspired on the other side.

Q: What music did you release this year or to be released next year are you proudest of? 

A: This year, we released the first two songs from our EP, Stadium Dreams On A Bedroom Budget - Heaven Can Wait and Hold On You. This EP will roll out one song at a time until May 2023. It’s the first Loser release we’ve recorded, engineered, produced and mixed ourselves in our own backyard studio, Restless Noise. This isn’t a collection of singles; it's more like a Netflix series, where it’s an entire body of work designed to flow as a whole but presented piece by piece.

Q: People like insisting that albums are irrelevant and the format is dead. How do you feel about albums in general or on a personal level?

A: We love albums and still feel they are the ultimate way for artists to present their work. But clearly, we also see the value in staggering releases as this can help build momentum and give a release a longer life span. The beauty of current times is that an artist has the freedom to release music however they want. The best releases are always ones that tell their own story, so having the option to release a full album, singles, or both, is a great way to present the theme of a release and whatever is the most relevant format for that particular art should be the only deciding factor in whether it’s a full album or not.

Q: What do you want audiences to learn about you as a band and your music coming into 2023?

A: That we do this for no other reason than that we love it and that we shred guitar like motherfuckers.

Q: What were your favourite musical moments of the year? They can be your own, a gig you saw, a song on tv, or something totally unexpected. What moments profoundly moved you?

A: My favourite musical moment of the year was having a front-row seat to the final Violent Soho shows. We were lucky enough to open the shows, and the feeling in the room of gratitude towards the band was palpable. Soho have given so much guidance to us and hundreds of others along their journey, and to be there as they hung up the boots on their victory lap was beyond special.


Rachael Fahim

Rachael Fahim started competing in talent quests at roughly ten years of age. She released her debut single, Say It, in 2015 and the follow-up, Rope, in 2016, before winning Toyota Star Maker in 2017. Her prize pack included the recording of three singles and three video clips, a brand-new Toyota RAV4 with an unlimited fuel card for 12 months, and guaranteed performances at major festivals throughout Australia. She released her self-titled EP later that same year.

For the past three years, she’s been the second-highest streamed female country artist in Australian history after Kasey Chambers. She’s seen over 11 million audio streams since the release of her Iconic EP in 2019, which features the singles Brake Lights, Even If I Wanted To featuring Brad Cox and What I Don’t Know.

Last year, she released her smash hit single, Middle Ground, which spent a massive five weeks at #1 on the official Australian Country singles airplay chart. Fahim's latest solo single, Darts In The Dark, sat at #26 on the Countrytown Hot 50 Country Airplay Chart upon release.

Q: You released City Girls In The Country this year - how did that release go down for you?

A: Yee haww, I did! Honestly, I don’t have a wild BTS story to go along with the making of City Girls, but what feels very BTS is how much fun the band and I had playing this live. The guys have agreed to wear wigs and get dolled up for a gig at some stage, so watch this space. It’s just such a fun song to perform live.

Q: What inspired your creative process for what’s coming next in 2023?

A: Lately, life has felt so hectic, as I’m sure many people can relate - I’m getting to the stage where I’m feeling like I’m spreading myself too thin. My creative process recently looks a lot like hanging at home in my comfies and relaxing. The ideas seem to flow way more when my mind is jam-packed! Next year is really just about releasing the songs that make me happy.

Q: We’ve gone from two years of uncertainty surrounding the music industry due to the pandemic to playing live shows again; what have the past couple of years taught you?

A: For me, the past couple of years have cemented the fact that there’s no rush. I already felt this way before we were all thrown into the deep end, but I do feel content and happy to take my time. To say no to things I don’t want to do and simply be happy about what I’m doing now.

Q: How did you get through the last couple of years?

A: In the beginning, I found it really hard - mainly because I am so used to doing everything at superduperhighspeed (thanks, ADHD), but I found hope in my relationships, my new activewear collection, and Zoom. What would we have done without Zoom!! It was actually really nice not to feel so much pressure to “get out there”, ya know.

Q: What music did you release this year or to be released next year are you proudest of?

A: Ahhhh, I can’t choose! Talk about pressure! 

This is a tough question because I have so many faves, but if it comes down to being proud of the song, I have to say City Girls takes the crown (and I swear I’m not just saying this one because it’s my latest release!). This is the first song where I’ve spoken my mind and put my thoughts about something other than “love” into a song. As I’ve said - CGITC is a really fun song, but it’s also sassy and filled with my thoughts and feelings on how people have treated me during my time in the industry. Based on my background, based on where I live, based on assumptions. So yeah, I’m really proud of myself and this song.

Q: People say that the album format is dead and that singles are the way to go. How do you feel about albums in general or on a personal level?

A: I personally lean more toward releasing singles because that’s how I consume the music I listen to. However, I do love a good album. I’m not sure how I feel about releasing an album of my own, but I’m sure I will someday! I’ve got some ideas on how I’d do it in my own “RF way”, though!

Q: What do you want audiences to learn about as an artist and your music coming into 2023?

A: I would love people to keep spreading the word about how awesome country music is, specifically - Australian country music/artists. I’d love for Australia to be as inclusive as America when it comes to country music being played everywhere and anywhere! 

Q: What were your favourite musical moments of the year? They can be your own, a gig you attended, a song on tv, or something totally unexpected. What moments profoundly moved you?

A: Earlier this year, I performed at a festival, and after my set, I had a 45-minute-long line of people waiting for me to sign things. That just blew my mind and made me SO HAPPY. I just can’t get over it.