As the Australian music scene continues to gradually return to its pre-COVID glory, community radio Music Directors and presenters from around the country shine a light on the finest local talent doing the rounds today.
While many of us are adjusting to a new sense of normality after 2020, Australian musicians are still facing enormous limitations in working opportunities to support and sustain their careers. Exposure is more important than ever and ironically harder to come by in today’s media landscape.
The Australian Music Radio Airplay Project – best known as Amrap – offers Australian musicians a pathway to airplay to the many community stations who have long championed Australian music of all stripes. Providing exposure often before anyone else, community radio is a strong and unique network immune to passing trends.
In this Tone Deaf series, we’ll turn to the Music Directors and presenters at some of the amazing community stations from around the country and get their latest favourite Australian music discoveries from Amrap.
“8CCC has continued to embrace new technologies and media platforms to create connection through music, art and culture.”
This week, the series continues with a collection of tracks from artists in Central Australia thanks to Benjamin Erin, the Station Manager for Alice Springs’ 8CCC.
“8CCC Community Radio broadcasts on Arrernte Country in Mparntwe/Alice Springs and Warumungu country in Tennant Creek, with a commitment to featuring 1/3rd Local and 1/3rd Australian music,” they explain.
“The station just turned 40 and was the first FM station in Central Australia – a new format at the time uniquely suited to bringing new music to the masses! While technology has changed the core of community radio music programming remains the same- curated and human – and 8CCC has continued to embrace new technologies and media platforms to create connection through music, art and culture.
“Working closely with MusicNT and with support from APRA AMCOS 8CCC runs a series of incubator workshops for local songwriters to develop craft and connect with the broader music industry. On Air performances and multitracked live streams support local artists to develop their demos and build audiences that are not limited by a remote location.
“8CCC broadcasters keep connected with the latest releases from around Australia through AMRAP – the Australian Music Radio Airplay project – though here Station Manager Benjamin Erin profiles some of the latest contributions from Central Australia’s thriving music scene, that you can hear on community radio around Australia!”
Check out ‘Skinks Don’t Surf’ by Gurun:
Desert surf’s not dead with this sandy instrumental from three-piece Gurun. Building on stripped-back releases from frontwoman Dina Indrasafitri, this single teases the band’s upcoming debut album which traverses genres including a cover of Indonesian folk classic ‘Bubuy Bulan’, sung in Dina’s fathers West Javanese dialect of Sundanese.
“The album is a collection of moods – I am very much inspired by dramatic storylines in fiction as well as real life, therefore there will be melancholic, angry, manic, and so on,” says Dina who along with drummer Mischa and Bassist Filippo has been living the unpredictable musical philosophy on stages across Alice.
Recorded by Darcy Davis at rammed earth studio ‘The Red House’ and mastered by Jeremy Conlon of ‘Left of Elephant Sound’ this is a Central Australian production complete with sand dunes – check out the music video!
Check out ‘Home’ by Jessie May:
‘Home’ is Jessie May’s second release and the first song she ever wrote. While new to recording her own tracks Jessie is prolific performer and multi-instrumentalist whose work as a music teacher was recently featured by Paul Kelly, showcasing her school choir performing a rendition of ‘Sleep Australia Sleep’ in a spectacular clip filmed in the West Macdonell Ranges with recording, mixing, vocals & guitar by Jessie.
Whether playing first violin in the Alice World Chamber Orchestra or rocking folk bangers at an open mic, Jessie’s performances are captivating, a feat recognised by MusicNT’s ‘Create and Release’ grant which, with support from Spotify, has allowed her to team up with Alice Springs’s producer Ross Muir to begin recording a debut EP.
‘Home’ is the first single, full of bittersweet nostalgia, warm harmonies and honest neo-Australiana folk narrative.
Check out ‘Sing It Out’ by Katie Harder:
Katie Harder is a legend of the Alice Springs music scene with three EPs and two albums to date. A mother of four, Katie gives voice to an earnest female perspective that contrasts vulnerability, strength, independence and commitment – perspectives informed by both parenthood and touring/ performing at every festival in the NT!
From backlining monthly Alice Jam night, the ‘Desert Music Club’ to collaborating as a mentor in NT women’s song writing program the ‘Desert Divas’ Katies generosity of spirit shines through in her music. Returning from her 2017 EP Beloved and inspired by conversations with local women about the cathartic power of song, Katie set out to write A Healing Anthem For The Nation… and she did, with the epic track – ‘Sing It Out’.
Recorded by NT producers Ben Allen and Dave Crowe and released on Alice indie label Sing Hum, this is an NT antidote to the year that was with a triumphant chorus that will make you want to… Sing It Out!
Check out ‘Mapenzi Business’ by Katanga Junior:
Katanga Junior – ‘Mapenzi Business’
‘Mapenzi Business’ is the first single from Katanga Junior’s upcoming debut EP Moto – which means FIRE in Swahili. And ‘Mapenzi Business’? In Junior’s East African home turf of Tanzania, it’s ‘Love Business’ – and the track is Fire!
“Growing up with Musicians in my family meant music naturally became part of my life. Influences ranged from African Rumba to Reggae and later Hiphop. Then moved onto guitar and rapping in ‘Ragga’ Swahili Style” says Junior, who collaborated with Red House producer Darcy Davis to realise and release ‘Mapenzi Business’ with Dub infused beats and laid-back funk flavour.
Junior performs regularly in Alice Springs, with King Marong’s West African Inspired ten-piece ‘Tamala Express’ and as an MC/ soloist, performing his original music in Swahili.
Check out ‘Rise’ by Bambadino:
Bambadino’s music is honest, exploring themes of marginalisation, depression and relationships through love songs to the mundane that are full of cutting wit and playful insight. In her own words “Bambadino is a Filipino-born lesbian maths teacher singer-songwriter who writes songs about life, love, and bellies.
She’s lived in Alice Springs for seven years and plans to live there forever. In her spare time she likes to cuddle her dogs and make roo ragu. ‘Rise’ is my favourite track from First Light, Bambadino’s fourth album on Alice Springs label Sing Hum. It follows 2019’s ‘Zanzibar Jam’, and 2020’s ‘Me and My Friends’ & ‘Rest + Resist’, showcasing the evolution of Bambadino’s song writing and production.
“I was having so many conversations about the world being in turmoil, changing and shifting and these reflected my own,” she explains. “The songs are a way of letting these feelings find their beauty…. and having a bit more of a play. I really love how power and fun can both be part of the same song. ‘Rise’ is one of Bambadino’s darkest tracks with drum machines, distorted guitar and bittersweet resolve.
Check out ‘Bow And Arrow’ by Resin Moon:
Resin Moon AKA Dave Crowe is a full-time musician and producer with his label Sing Hum showcasing artists from Central Australia. ‘Bow and Arrow’ is the latest in a series of single releases from Resin Moon building on Album’s ‘Salt’ and ‘Oscillations’.
A collector of vintage Synths and a sound design fanatic, Resin Moon’s production is detailed and intricate supporting his transcendent voice with synth pop hooks and ’80s nostalgia earworms shooting throughout ‘Bow and Arrow’. Resin Moon will be performing as a duo with drummer Tom Cox (Justice for Dragons, Adjuster) alongside artists such as Briggs and Haiku Hands at Central Australia’s premier music festival Wide Open Space on April 30th, 2021.
Check out ‘Calling To You’ by Sally Balfour:
Sally Balfour – ‘Calling To You (feat. Xavia)’
‘Calling to You’ is one of 11 tracks composed and performed by Sally Balfour in collaborations with a huge lineup of Alice Springs music royalty. It’s wild… like wildlife, with the feature artist taking on the personas of different animals found throughout the NT. The album follows the journey of ‘Clara The Crocodile’ as she follows the Stuart Highway from Darwin to Alice in search of a new home, and yes, this is a children’s album – but not as we know them!
This ambitious project defies genres and adult expectations creating a musical showcase of the NT and Central Australia that anyone would want on repeat. Collaborators include bush balladeer Ted Egan AO, singer/songwriter Warren H Williams and daughter Genise Williams, electro-pop artist/producer Dave Crowe, Katie Harder, MC Ash McDonnell, funk virtuoso Darcy Davis, and Maggie Church-Kopp
‘Calling to You’ features Xavia (check out her track Horizons!), as dragonfly, in a love song to Mparntwe Alice Springs, to home.