Whilst barriers for artists to self-release, promote and publish their own material has seemingly never been easier, with this rich bounty of opportunity comes with it, a stark reminder to those artists on the fringes, who have limited accesses to studios, producers, contacts, and industry knowledge, that making music a mainstay in one’s life is still a monumental challenge.
GRID Series confronts these challenges head on, working with musicians in outer suburban areas, and linking them up with mentoring, top producers, studio time and video content to super-charge their careers and break down barriers for entry for artists living on the cities fringes.
For the last 5 months, GRID Series have been working with 8 emerging artists from the Wyndham area in Melbourne’s deep west to help develop their craft and work towards the release of new material. Producers and mentors involved in GRID Deep West included Anna Laverty, Oscar Dawson, Joelistics, Kylie Auldist, Lior, Russell Fawcus, Ariel Blum, Vader Fame and Millie Dwyer, all working tirelessly to give these artists a shot at establishing themselves in the Australian music landscape in 2019.
With Melbourne’s Deep West region being incredibly rich in diversity, community and culture, themes of identity, place, home and ascendance are unsurprisingly key cornerstones to the story telling and expression of the 8 artist’s work.
Damon Paraha a.k.a. Nomad, was Born & Raised in “Burn City” Australia to Maori/Samoan parents. His biggest influences are J. Cole, Jay-Z and Kanye West. Citing his uncles purchase of a MacBook as the starting point of his rap journey, Nomad uploaded his first project, the “Fixtape Vol. 1” in 2017, which would be engineered by @IconicBeats, the eventual co-founder of The Movement Recording Company. In 2018, Nomad would join the Stir It Up crew with a role in the Mark Hellinger directed “Talent Show” short film, where he would also debut his first official single ‘An Unexpected Variable’. That same year he would go on to win the Push Start Regional Finals, resulting in a Grand Finalist spot at St Kilda Fest 2019 where he would win The Push/APRA Songwriters award.
Working with producers Iconicbeats and Joelistics, ‘Destined’ is a defiant throw down against “a system that was never really working”, continuing Nomad’s efforts in inspiring Pasifika youth to chase their artistic dreams. The track’s climax is a letter Nomad wrote to his new born child, closing out the track with a profound statement of empowerment.
Niasha personifies the saying that dynamite comes in small packages. Singer, rapper amnd spoken word poet, the Zimbabwean-born soul performer will get you in your feelings, as she delves into the topics of love, identity and a fulfilled life. Her artistry is set to leave your soul tingling.
Her new release, ‘Respect My Space’ (produced by Anna Laverty and Ariel Blum) nods towards early 00’s RnB, with a strong smattering of Afrobeats. To coincide with the release of her offering, Niasha will be performing at Lost Lands Festival 2019.
KrookLetter – ‘Wagwarn’
Introducing KrookLetter, Polynesian radical, gifted the ghetto to build a foundation, but offered the world if he worked for it. KrookLetter’s smooth-as-honey vocals juxtapose the ferocity of his lyrics, telling stories of life growing up in South Auckland. Working with producers Russell Fawcus and Ariel Blum ‘Wagarn’ hits an up-beat afro-beats tip and celebrates rising up against hardship and struggle “from the ghetto to the islands”.
Social-activist, Rapper and Music curator Titan Debirioun, is Melbourne hip hop artist, producing fierce boom-bap and trap offerings. Working within the Sudanese and communities at large, Titan creates funky political conscious Hip Hop, paving the way for black and indigenous artists in Australia.
His new offering, ‘Cheques and Balances’ (produced Wiz Aiden and Joelistics) brings the boom-bap fire once more, taking aim at media representation of African Youth.
Unstoppable new voice in R&B and soul music, Hvsh will make you think your listening to D’Angelo or The Soulquarians. As he walks long and twisted path of multi-faceted complexity. Hvsh’s supple, gentle tenor, and his distinct falsetto recall the ‘90s vibes in technical ability and performance.
His debut release ‘About You’, produced by Oscar Dawson is a steamy late night jam then will hit you in all the good spots.
South Sudanese rapper Mac-Eleven’s debut release ‘Money More Problems’ highlights the struggle of negotiating life in Australia with the pressures from family and friends back home in Sudan. As a young rapper, Mac-Eleven’s ability to paint two distinct worlds in his track is profound, highlighting the problems that come with the perception of “living the good life” all the while struggling to combat the day to day problems as they come up.
Ag Johnson is an independent singer/songwriter based in Melbourne. Her debut release, “Beauty Within” tackles ideas of identity, visibility, beauty and self- love. With the key hook of the song “the complexion of my skin, doesn’t determine what’s within, melanin is as rich as gold and your spirit can’t be sold”, Ag’s bravery and bold strength as a songwriter and activist is evident immediately. Produced by Oscar Dawson and with a guest appearance from fellow GRID artist, Nomad, ‘Beauty Within’ is a piece of ambient pop goodness, with a knockout message that will no doubt strike an immediate chord with listeners.
CRYBABY are a new grunge-soul band hailing from a small back shed in Geelong With inspiration from classic soul and blues, funk and punk this band is one that will keep surprising.
Their debut release ‘A Happy Song’, produced by Anna Laverty, sees vocalist Brianna Dahlstrom soar in to action, backed by an almost Mr Bungle-esque feeling, featuring abrasive guitar, horns and a mean rhythm section.
GRID Series Deep West is supported by Creative Victoria, American Music Backers Grant, Wyndham City Council, APRA AMCOs and Box Hill Institute.