Whilst we know Aussie bands like Tame Impala and The Rubens and singers like Sia as the stars they are today, like every other Aussie muso out there, they had to get their start somewhere.
Lucky for their fans, that start is usually immortalised in the form of demos, early independent recordings, and these days, smartphone footage – remember that clip of Tame Impala playing to no one at a Perth festival?
So in the interest of archiving some of these little-known artefacts and giving a confidence boost to the struggling musos out there who are currently recording their own demos and indie EPs, here’s a selection of demos from some of your favourite Aussie artists.
Before he was Flume, Harley Streten was bugging his dad for a box of Nutrigrain with free a music-making program. After sparking his passion for music production Streten began releasing fairly filthy house remixes as well as a few originals under the name HEDS. In the wake of his upcoming Skin LP it’s clear than his tracks have definitely levelled up since, but HEDS remains a good reminder than everybody has to start somewhere.
Alternative rock enigma Spiderbait are know for releasing music that is fairly off the wall. The flute filled instrumental ‘America’ is now almost extinct, released with the 1999 Grand Slam as part of the ‘Dodgy Bonus Disc’. Unsurprisingly 17 years later it hasn’t found its way onto the band’s upcoming Greatest Hits album, but America remains one of the greatest dodgy bonus tracks the Spiderbait ever pressed.
Cut Copy were the pre-eminent Australian party-starters of the 2000s, with a discography now timeless dance floor fillers to their name like ‘Going Nowhere’ and ‘Lights & Music’ that made sense of the white noise between dance and indie rock. But back in the day, they were channeling a sound that sat somewhere between early New Order and Kraftwerk.
Hard Rock fans may have internalised every bar of Wolfmother’s 2005 self titled but I guarantee you’ve never heard Woman like this before. The funky ‘early days demo’ of the iconic track is nothing short of intensely bizarre, including both synth solos and falsetto crooning. A slew of demos and b-sides of similar quality were packaged with last years Wolfmother 10-year anniversary release.
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In their formative years the Hilltop crew released a samply heavy, cassette only demo – ‘Highlanderz’. A serious gem of early Aussie Hip-Hop this track is both soulful and hard hitting, packed to the brim with the flowing rimes the group is now infamous for. Maybe if you ask nicely they’ll give it a spin for old times sake on their next tour.
Before she was the go-to songwriter for Beyonce and Rihanna, Sia Furler was the singer in Adelaide acid jazz band Crisp. After departing from the group, Furler released a solo record titled OnlySee on the down-low. The album’s downtempo, trip hop sound is a stark contrast to the platinum-wigged, pop bangers Furler is known for.
It’s every bedroom producer’s dream to go from uploading tracks to SoundCloud and praying for listens to a nationally recognised name booking prestigious festival appearances and getting airplay on triple j. That’s precisely what happened to Elizabeth Rose and here’s where it all started.
Sampa The Great
Sampa had only just become great when she released this clean rhyme, touching on the topic of love, romantic and otherwise, and not letting the little things get you down. While it didn’t make the cut for last years massive release The Great Mixtape it’s still dripping with the hard hitting poetry and lyrical style that is distinctly Sampa.
Having topped the latest triple j Hottest 100, these guys are currently on top of the world, which actually looks an awful lot like an oyster to them. But before they topped the world’s biggest fan-voted music poll, The Rubens were another Aussie band uploading tracks to triple j Unearthed.
After being blown away at Parkways Drive’s first show ever, I Killed The Prom Queen frontman Michael Crafter was freaking out. Getting Parkway’s massive breakdowns on a split CD was the only obvious choice for Crafter, releasing them on a brutal four track in 2003. With guttural screams and neck-breaking rhythms, it’s easy into see why Parkway are now staples of Australian Metalcore.
Back in 2008 when they were just DZ, Shane and Simon dropped a seriously loose, borderline gratuitous video for Unearthed gem Mess Up. The boys from DZ might have done a lot of growing up since then but the clips description is still pretty accurate – DZ Deathrays = 2 guys, 1 bottle of Jagermeister, 3 minutes.
In 2005 Tame Impala was still finding their feet, and many of the Aussie band’s key members were playing musical walkabout. One of Kevin Parkers side projects, Mink Mussel Creek, featured Nick Allbrook as frontman and a drum sound so massive the term heavy pysch gained whole new meaning.