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Big at Bigsound 2016: 15 Must-See Artists

We profile our top picks from the Australian music showcase.

Annual music conference Bigsound has dropped a stellar lineup of Aussie musicians to play at the 15th anniversary of the industry event from 7th to 9th September. From an eclectic program of acts spanning from laid back hip-hop, to space-age electronica, to garage jangle-pop, we’ve pulled together our favourite fifteen artists appearing at this year’s showcase.

View the complete line-up at the Bigsound 2016 website.

By Lucy Shanahan and Jonny Nail.

A.B. Original

Following a steady run of impressively ante-up introductory tracks dripped out through the course of the year, A.B. Original — the hip-hop super duo of Briggs and Trials — look set to reveal their debut LP, Reclaim Australia, at the Brisbane showcase in September. In a recent interview with Rolling Stone, Briggs boldly stated it was the right time for the LP, in part because “there’s been a lot of rap music coming out in the country that doesn’t even sound like rap music no more.” Bottle that no-bullshit energy and put it on a stage, stat. [J.N.]

Alex Lahey

After her recently-wrapped July tour and a spot at Splendour in the Grass, Alex Lahey is set drop her debut EP B Grade University in August, ahead of bringing her hook-laden tracks and head snapping grooves in the Bigsound stage. “Let’s Go Out” is the unpretentious, no-fucks stand out single. Mingling breathy phrases with straight-laced melodies, Lahey is the indie-pop/rock artist you’ve never heard of, but won’t want to miss. [L.S.]

B Wise

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Sydney-based emcee B Wise’s progressive hip-hop pits razor sharp lyrics against samples that stretch the rhythm like salt-water taffy. Having just signed to Urthboy’s label, Elefant Traks, we’re hoping the African-Australian artist will bring not only a slew of fresh tracks to Bigsound, but will smatter his set with the fluid freestyle tracks he’s become known for on Soundcloud. Stand out track “Lately”, mixed by Sydney-based producer Dopamine, plays with atmospheric synths and lithospheric vocals, with B Wise’s voice front and centre. [L.S.]

Braille Face

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Braille Face’s music is slowly trickling out for public release, although the one-man electro-acoustic project has a significant repertoire at his disposal. In 2015, Braille Face took on the challenge of writing an album a month, resulting in over 100 tracks. Piquing the interest of independent record label Spirit Level, headed by Gotye and Double J producer Tim Shiel, Braille Face released his first single, “Glow”, earlier this year. The track oscillates between fragile shimmers and emotional resilience, refusing to explode under crackling pressure. Braille Face followed up his debut single with ‘Backwards/Medicated’, a delicately layered, though minimalist tune, proving his songs are no write-for-the-sake-of-writing rush job. [L.S.]


As their new “Laundry Echo” video brilliantly captures, Ceres’ passionate pub-punk sound is purpose built for sweaty live shows. The Melbourne quartet’s Bigsound appearance coincides with the release of their new LP Drag It Down On You, scheduled for September 2nd. [J.N.]


Gawurra’s music is strikingly soulful. Performed in Gupapuyngu language, his debut LP Ratja Valiyali — meaning ‘Vine of Love’ — embraces the spiritual significance of the East Arnhem Land life. Gawurra will follow-up his run of 2016 accolades — including opening for Peter Garrett and starring at the recent NIMAs — with his first ever Bigsound showcases. [J.N.]

Gabriella Cohen

Gabriella Cohen finds a niche blend of sound that lies somewhere between Lou Reed, Kate Bush and the Shangri-Las. The singer-songwriter established herself as a promising artist in Brisbane’s indie scene, collaborating with Kate Dillon (Full Flower Moon Band) and Bella Carroll (Moses Gunn Collective) over 10 balmy days in Queensland to record her album. Cohen is bringing her haunting, tender and hallucinogen-laced songs to Bigsound following the release of self-produced 10-track album, Full Closure and No Details, in March. [L.S.]

Good Boy

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Brisbane-based band Good Boy’s is just one of Bigsound’s resident modern Australiana groups. Highlight tracks “Green Dress” and “Higher” swing between self-conscious antics, youthful innocence and incidental, although pointedly resonant, insight. Following their debut EP No Love For Back Home, a national tour and new single “Poverty Line” released last month, Good Boy’s dolewave jangle-pop is a welcome addition to the showcase. [L.S.]

Hideous Sun Demon

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For a hit of clanging distortion and pleasurably indistinguishable instrumental explosions, check out Hideous Sun Demon. Easing from deadpan deliveries like “I’m the real deal” or “I keep it cool man” into guttural throat singing in highlight track “Oscillate”, the Fremantle four-piece are sure to unleash rounds of elegant fury amidst pseudo-arrogant angst. If the release of single “Cul-de-sac Visions” last week is any indication of their debut album, due later this year, Hideous Sun Demon’s unique blend of garage pop and thrash metal is sure to turn any polite crowd into a riotous frenzy. [L.S.]

Middle Kids

Raw, burgeoning and emotionally brooding, lead singer Hannah Joy’s voice soars over tightly packed instrumentation, falling occasionally into earthy wails. Joined by fellow soloist Tim Fitz and newcomer Harry Day, Middle Kids will be bringing single “Edge of Town” and their debut EP (to be released later this year) to Bigsound this September. Bellowing with ideas, dark tones and thick swells, it’s the creatively crafted space that showcase the highlights of the track (notably, when Joy sings ‘hey guys, I got something on my mind, tick tock, could you take it for a while’). It’s in these moments that “Edge of Town” flies, and establishes Middle Kids as a band to watch.


Lilting and softly spoken with a grungy bed of sound simmering underneath, newcomer Mossy is our pick for the down-set to balance the high energy pace that defines much of Bigsound’s 2016 lineup. After uprooting to New York in 2014 to build on his repertoire, Mossy worked with producers Dean Tuza and David Kahne (the Strokes, Paul McCartney), and by coincidence, next-door-neighbour Stuart White (engineer for Jay-Z and Beyonce), he moved back to Sydney to release his self-titled debut EP. “Ginsberg” is a slow burning ballad with crystal clear vocals, whilst “Electric Chair” is a spacey blend of electronica and rock. [L.S.]

Rebel Yell

Grace Stevenson, aka Rebel Yell, creates music that exists in solitude, torn between the widely separated spectrum endpoints of minimal electronica and brooding industrial. As much brutally abrasive and confronting as hypnotic and haunting, her debut track “Never Perfection” — off their forthcoming EP, Mother of Millions — suggests an immersive style best suited for the live experience, whether that be dark rave caves or abandoned outskirt warehouses. Given the sheer size of the Bigsound line-up this year, it’s conceivable that the latter might be the only available space. Perfect, then. [J.N.]

Sampa The Great

After dropping her 2015 LP The Great Mixtape and landing a run of support shows for Hiatus Kayote and Thundercat, Sampa The Great is bringing her spoken word poetry and thrumming energy to Bigsound 2016. Hailing from Zambia and based in Sydney, Sampa Tambo weaves politics into her lyrics, finding spaces to act for positive change between tempered beats. Produced by Sydney-based beatmaker Godriguez, The Great Mixtape is a frenetic mix of heavy bass lines, tinkering percussion and sliding harmonies. Between complex cross rhythms and nuanced issues, Sampa The Great paints an unmistakeable lightness that’s not to be missed. [L.S.]


Following the release of their debut EP Lonely Cities earlier this year, Tigertown craft floating, transcendental melodies flirt with bubblegum-pop before rumbling into unrestrained and uplifting anthems. The Sydney-based band have been dropping singles since 2012, with Lonely Cities their first curated release. [L.S.]

Tracy McNeil

Having just wrapped an extensive national tour off the back of her “masterful” new album, Thieves, Tracy McNeil and her GoodLife band should be well-prepped for their Bigsound showcases in September. We’re predicting that the hopeful heartland aspects of her West Coast alt-country sound will be an unexpected resonator with the rock-ready revellers. [J.N.]

Top image: Courtesy