2020 might be a wash for just about every high school student in Australia, but at least one school-aged musician will be having the best year of their life, with triple j announcing their Unearthed High finalists this morning.
Since it first launched 13 years ago, triple j’s Unearthed High initiative has managed to uncover some of the best and brightest artists who are barely old enough to enter the venues they’re booked to perform in. Over the years, names such as Snakadaktal, Stonefield, Japanese Wallpaper, Asta, Arno Faraji, and Gretta Ray have all won the competition, while last year saw Adelaide artist George Alice introduced to the world.
“I didn’t expect anything at all to come from Unearthed High, I honestly just wanted to be a part of it and to hopefully learn a thing or two from experience!” George Alice explained last month. “Not only did I meet so many great people along the way, but I get to do what I’ve always wanted to do and be who I really am.
“It’s still sinking in a year later, but winning Unearthed High really changed my life and gave me countless opportunities to succeed.”
Now, following its return in late July, triple j have today unveiled its five finalists for 2020, along with the winner of their annual Indigenous Initiative.
“In this year’s cohort we’ve seen the continued rise of self-reliant solo artists and the influence of modern giants such as Rex Orange County, Billie Eilish, as well as alumni like The Kid LAROI and Hockey Dad,” explained triple j Unearthed Music Director Dave Ruby Howe. “But the thing that’s struck me most this year is the creativity and resolve of young Australian musicians.
“They’ve braved the many challenges of 2020 – a health crisis, remote learning and being isolated from friends – and turned to making great music as a way through it. While 2020 has been tough for everyone, this year’s Unearthed High class have shown that there’s plenty to look forward to.”
This year’s finalists kick off with something of a repeat offender, with 2019 Indigenous Initiative winner Aodhan representing Albion Park High School thanks to his song “Twelve Again”. Melbourne producer and vocalist Oscar Kahans appears under his ok2222 moniker by way of “Demons”, while Mundaring Christian College senior Raymond Zhang shares “Taxi Driver” thanks to his Raymondouu project.
Sam Windley takes influences from Unearthed names such as Middle Kids and Courtney Barnett to represent Woy Woy’s Brisbane Water Secondary College with “Neighbours In The Morning”, while Gleeson College duo Teenage Joans put Adelaide in the running for a second year thanks to “Three Leaf Clover”.
Last, but not least, the Unearthed High Indigenous Initiative crown goes to 17-year-old Larrakia man Rudeboy E, who shared his debut track “Cold” to help bring the NT’s Palmerston Senior College into the spotlight.
triple j will be showcasing the finalists across the coming week, before announcing the 2020 winner on Breakfast with Sally & Erica next week.