For the most powerful heads within the music industry in the Southern Hemisphere, the 21st edition of BIGSOUNDis an unmissable date on the calendar. For artists, it’s an amazing opportunity for networking, performing, and potential breakthrough (just ask Tash Sultana and Flume). Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley will be lit up by some of Australia and New Zealand’s most promising acts, with a plethora of industry critics, fans, needle movers, and label representatives crowded its streets in search of the next big talent.
Imagine you’re driving alongside a tropical, blue beach in the summer, eating ice cream with the breeze blowing through your hair, but with a small dash of self-reflection and nostalgia. That’s what it feels like when you listen to Perth-based smol fish and their new EP, Crocodile Tears, which was released last week.
The sx-track EP is their second project, following 2021’s sooky la la, and a clear level-up. smol fish are made up of four members who are all best friends, Hannah Coakley (bass and backing vocals), Josephine Offer (keys), Catherine Zoller (drums), and Clancy Davidson (guitar and vocals).
On Crocodile Tears, they express feelings towards significant others, their childhoods, and ponder becoming an adult. Sounding like Courtney Barnett fronting Goat Girl, their melodic indie rock should go down a treat at BIGSOUND; there’s a reason that Perth label Sidequest recently signed the tight-knit foursome. Expect to hear lots more from smol fish from
Hannah: I have had Platonic Sex’s newest single “Bitch in the Heat” on non-stop replay all month! Huge, unapologetic, queer rock that makes my heart ache in all the best ways, you won’t want to miss these folks at BIGSOUND this year.
Tamara & the Dreams
Clancy: When I was in Melbourne earlier this year I had the absolute pleasure of seeing Tamara & the Dreams. The set was completely delightful, she is a phenomenal songwriter and was genuinely hilarious between songs. Literally could not wipe the smile from my face.
Hannah: We got the chance to catch Suzi at SideFest this year and this band did not disappoint! Heart on her sleeve lyricism paired with a pop punk sound – you will sing and dance and do all of the good stuff at a Suzi set.
Clancy: I am super excited to catch Felivand at BIGSOUND this year. I am in constant awe of her music and in love with her voice. Always so impressed and inspired by what she creates.
Mikayla has the most beautiful voice, her melodies are infectious, and we have been obsessed with her track “Damage You Still Do” since seeing her live over here in Perth.
If we’re having a conversation about interesting come-ups, Miss Kaninna’s name would be near the top. She’s a proud Yorta Yorta, Yirendali, and Kalkadoon artist now based in Melbourne, who’s been blowing up with her critically acclaimed debut single, “Blak Britney”.
Miss Kaninna has one of the most impressive live performance resumes for someone who, up until May, had never officially released music. Growing up in Tasmania’s Bruny Island, she’s been an on-stage regular from a young age, and evidently never stopped having so far played sets at festivals like Pangaea, Party in the Paddock, The Great Escape, and so many more.
Despite this impressive resume, Miss Kaninna’s goal runs much deeper than music. Her hope is to put on for her community and to shed light towards a lack of support from the music industry towards the representation of Blak women in Australia, something she hopes to play a role in changing.
Below, Miss Kaninna shouts out some other BIGSOUND artists whose music she loves.
I first heard of Jada Weazel when her song “Skin” was played on triple j, as it played right after mine and I was like, ‘Yo who is this woman?” I was first blown away by her super buttery R&B vocals which sound so effortless. Having a closer look at her lyricism, I think she has a great way of putting her emotions into words, while also making you wanna bop your head. I have very high expectations for Jada as she has come out the gate so strong, I feel like she is going to really make an impact on the R&B scene. I am really looking forward to seeing what she brings to a live set.
Well, what am I not excited for? This artist has been making waves since he first released music back in 2018. Kobie Dee has such a massive influence on the younger mob in such a positive way. My little brothers and cousins are all obsessed with Kobie and for good reason. I honestly am so confused as to why Kobie isn’t headlining world tours, bros got flow, tone, energy, and substance, which is super hard to find in hip hop in this country. I had the privilege of being on the same line as Kobie and it was the first time I saw him live and bro did not disappoint. The way he tells his story and connects with the crowd is insane. He makes his performance so personal while also giving hella energy. Watch this brother, he is gonna be big.
Dean Brady has one smooth soulful voice, his brother Ancestors are singing through him. When I heard his debut single “Falling”, I snapped my neck and asked, “Who is this singing?!” I have always loved soul music as I grew up listening to so much of it. Dean has had so much success with “Falling”, I really can’t wait for him to release new music. I have not seen him live so best believe I’ll be up front at BIGSOUND!
Izy / Waari (performing at BIGSOUND as part of Izy)
Izy is such a special band. All three men bring such a different vibe and together they gel perfectly. I love watching them because they look like they are having fun and that’s what’s important. Waari is one of those artists where everything he does is pure talent: when he sings, he sings to a part of your soul that you didn’t even know existed until you hear him. Not only is he an extremely talented bass player in Izy, he is an exceptional story teller. I have seen Waari perform enough times to know not one performance is the same. Waari is able to deliver such unique performances which makes it so easy to watch him over and over and over again. He is a seriously talented young Black man and who will make history very soon.
It’s been a busy year for Perth locals Joan & the Giants. They’re two singles deep this year, while only releasing their five-track debut EP, Me & You, last year. Officially formed back in 2019, Joan & the Giants have used their time wisely, improving their songwriting so much that they’ve reached the awards stage: they collected the award for Best Rock Song at this year’s WA Music Awards, not to mention picking up another two awards on the same night.
“Sleep Alone”, their most recent single, is an emotional ballad about loneliness, led by powerhouse vocalist Grace Newton-Wordsworth. It’s more of an alternative pop release than a straightforward rock song, with Joan & The Giants frequently showing their creativeness as a band and a clear motive to challenge themselves.
Below, Newton-Wordsworth lists eight other BIGSOUND artists she and the rest of the Giants like to see perform live.
I LOVE her sound so much, I remember hearing “Fern” for the first time on triple j Unearthed and becoming immediately captivated by the indie pop production and lyrics. This one stayed planted in my head – “I wanna put you on a pedestal, eat you like a cannibal.” This is epic – it’s dark and haunting but goes with such a huge, upbeat pop sound and I love that juxtaposition.
Jarred is an absolute legend, we’ve played a few shows with this incredible musician over the years in Boorloo and his voice and storytelling is really special. I love his track “The Battle” and the music video that goes with it is incredible! The hook, “there’s a battle up ahead, I’m wearing the crown”, this just lives in my head rent free, and goes round and round.
“When the Curtains Close” is basically one of my favourite songs of all time! I am addicted to the simple and guitar-focused production that lets the lyrics and emotional vocal performance really shine. You can’t help but go to another place when listening, and it can make car drives dangerous for me haha.
Oscar the Wild
“My Daisy” is an absolute BANGER! The lyricism is super honest, and really puts you in their shoes. I love the truth and connection in their music and this is a performance I’m really looking forward to seeing live! “And I need to improve myself, ’cause I have awful mental health” – this is relatable as heck. They keep it real, say it like it is and it’s powerful.
“When the Honeymoon is Over” – I just love this song, and cannot wait to hear these beautiful vocals live! I am a sucker for indie pop, and this is reminding me of all my favourite artists in an entirely new and fresh way, which is such a special find!
The chorus is soooo good, with the pulsating synth that comes in and just lifts the production into something new and entrancing after such a vulnerable first verse – “will you run out of reasons, to change your plans for the weekend”… “I hope that you know I’m not letting go, I hope that you don’t when the honeymoons over” – AHH I LOVE THIS! Cannot wait to see Yorke omg omg omg.
I love their track “Stop Sign” a lot! The guitar riffs [and] the vocal hooks are so catchy and you can’t help but sing along! “You know, I know, you know, I know we’re gonna be alright” – can’t get this out of my head. I also love seeing a band out of WA killing it, and these guys are smashing the festivals, national touring, and getting so much love around Aus and that’s super inspiring! WA is a small scene, and you just can’t help but love seeing a band flourish and travel and be well received – it’s super exciting!
“Lost in Limbo” is a song that really captivated me from the first listen. “It’s kind of funny don’t you think, it’s kind of funny don’t you think, that we were loving now you want nothing to do with me” – her gentle production and honest and quirky lyrics really paint the picture of exactly what’s going on.
After you listen, you feel like you completely understand this relationship, and it’s super heartbreaking and takes me back to my own memories. This is a song I would listen to on repeat in times of heartache, and it’s just the gentleness you need in moments like this. “I had dinner with the moon, looked up and wished that it was you” – oh my god, I just love this.
I am really enjoying Bec’s track “Big Worry” a lot! Such a huge chorus with that crunchy edgy production, that makes you want to listen on repeat. I think her lyrics are really grounded and relatable, she says how she feels with that big, heavy guitar sound and I’m a sucker for distorted guitars! It’s grungy indie rock and her voice is INSANE! “How the fuck am I gonna make it with no self worth” – this line stuck out big time.