What a year it’s been for Royston Noell so far.
The boy from Far North Queensland started it by winning the new season of Australian Idol, following famed winners like Stan Walker and Guy Sebastian.
Four months later, he’s received his first-ever award nomination, and it’s a special one for the Indigenous artist. Noell is up for New Talent of the Year at the 2023 National Indigenous Music Awards (NIMAs), and he’ll compete in the category against Bumpy, Wildfire Manwurrk, Marlon x Rulla, and Tjaka.
Before he finds out if he’s won this weekend, Rolling Stone AU/NZ caught up with Noell to discuss the NIMAs, his future career plans, and that Australian Idol triumph.
More information about the 2023 NIMAs can be found here.
Rolling Stone AU/NZ: How does it feel to be nominated for New Talent of the Year?
Royston Noell: It feels amazing! I’m so honoured and so grateful. As artists, we give ourselves to the world and release music to the world in hopes that people connect and relate with it, and so, being nominated for a music award is the highest blessing and honour. I only started releasing my own original music last year – I never thought in a million years that eight months later, I would be nominated for my first music award. So crazy. I’m so grateful!
Are you fans of anyone else in the category?
As my category is New Talent of the Year, most of the artists are new to the scene too. But I have since checked out their music on Spotify and I’m such a fan of all of them. I just love how diverse the music scene is now for Indigenous artists. It’s so deadly to see.
Will you be able to attend the Awards this year? Any artists you’re looking forward to meeting?
Unfortunately, I have some work commitments that have come up so I’m unable to attend, which I’m pretty bummed about. But I’m so excited to see all the posts and celebrate with everyone virtually. I’m excited to see what everyone will be wearing.
How strong do you think the Indigenous music scene is in 2023?
I think the Indigenous music scene is incredibly strong. As I said previously, the diversity in the Indigenous music scene is amazing. It makes me so proud. It’s so deadly to see Blak excellence everywhere you turn. The representation is really representation-ing and I love that for us.
Has there been a particular Indigenous artist that’s inspired your own music?
I mean, Jessica Mauboy has always been such a massive role model for me. She was the only Indigenous artist I knew of growing up that was doing mainstream pop/R&B, and it definitely showed me as an adolescent that that was an avenue possible for me too (which I’m now doing).
How would you describe your sound to a new fan?
I find this to be such an interesting question. Because I’m a new artist, it’s been interesting navigating that space of what my sound is because I love all sorts of sounds. But for what I’ve currently released and what I plan on releasing in the near future, I would say a mixture of pop and dance-pop, with a little flavour of R&B and soul in my vocals.
Has it sunk in yet that you won Australian Idol?
Yeah, it has. It took me a while though! There are still times I’ll be sitting in my room at some odd hour of the night thinking to myself, “I can’t believe you won Australian Idol. A boy from Far North Queensland who comes from an Indigenous community of 450 people!” SO WILD!!
I think it’s more so because of how challenging it was being on the show in terms of how much I had to push myself. I’m just so proud of myself looking back on it now, because in that environment, being critiqued weekly and having to work crazy hours, it was either fight or flight and I’m so proud of myself for how much I fought and gave.
Who was your favourite previous winner of the show?
I mean, there are so many good ones but it would be hard to choose out of Stan Walker and Guy Sebastian. They’re both such powerhouse male vocalists which is so inspiring to me.
Were you happy with fans’ reaction to the release of “Invincible”?
I definitely was. The feedback I got from the public was so touching and heartwarming. From single mothers telling me they related and connected to the song in being invincible, people that went through rough relationships or childhood trauma, to people who relate the song to them following their dreams.
It touched my heart that I was able to give them something to help them on their own journey and let them know that in spite of all those ups and downs, they’re invincible. They still wake up every day and keep pushing on so they’re invincible. Making songs of hope and being an uplifting, inspiring artist is at my core, so I can’t wait to release more music that has the same effect “Invincible” has had on people.
And what’s coming up for you after the NIMAs?
There’s so much happening. I’ve been working so hard in the background. I have a single coming out very soon (stay tuned via my social media) which I’m so excited about. Later this year, I’ll be off to the US to work on my EP which I’m so excited about. Stay tuned you mob!