Australia is known for pushing music boundaries with our homegrown exports. Take Tame Impala popularising psych-pop, or Sia’s unconventional anonymity with her international fame as examples.
In our landscape, anything flies. It’s made our country arguably the most diverse and rich music scene, reflected by the voices being showcased. Let’s examine a few of the most unique singing voices making waves in the Australian music scene right now.
TONES AND I
Following her astounding success with ‘Dance Money’, Tones and I is undoubtably one of the most recognisable voices on the planet. Her percussive intonation mixed with a gravelled-yet-almost-childlike vocal quality makes her standout from the crowd. In fact, YouTube videos of her live performances are flooded with comments of disbelief that her voice isn’t auto tuned or at least electronically altered.
Her voice isn’t the only unique thing about her: within a year, Toni Watson went from being a busker on the streets of Byron and living out of a van to the most streamed artist on the globe. It’s a testament to her cutting-edge sound that instantly has her listeners magnetised.
Adam Newling is the unique combination of raspy meets twang. His voice is distinctly rough, but also with a subtle lisp easing its way through his lyrics. This country-tinged indie rocker travels from the smoky simplicity of ‘California on Fire’ into the thrashing coarseness of ‘Two of a Kind’, showcasing Newling’s range of grit and gravity.
Australiana oozes from his act, despite referencing his Greek heritage. Having been a touring guitarist with Ruby Fields, he’s definitely no stranger to the Aussie indie rock genre and it shows – he holds nothing back with his unapologetic belting with cracks of vulnerability.
Hauskey is a fresh project on the Australian music scene, releasing his debut single ‘Slow’ in March this year. However, the man behind the name, Andy Hopkins, has been deep in the industry for a while now, producing and mixing tracks for the likes of Yorke, Emalia and Sloan Peterson. Clocking over 300k monthly listeners on Spotify and over 1.5M streams on his first solo release, there’s a blasé quality that this chaotic world is lapping up.
Placed on top of a lumbering rippled backbeat reminiscent of Still Woozy meets Kevin Abstract, Hauskey’s voice is somewhere in the same realm as Rex Orange County but with a charred whimsical edge. As his label, Republic Records, describes it, it’s “Pop with purpose, on the 45-degree tilt”.
It’s likely you haven’t yet heard of Melbourne’s SKŸE, so prepare yourself to be blown away by this discovery. With only two singles under his belt, SKŸE is an up-and-coming artist that will one day rival global female powerhouses.
Take his most recent release, ‘Love Like That’: his firm falsetto voice soars effortlessly above simple production with an inviting fragility. Listing inspirations such as Adele, Chloe x Halle and H.E.R., SKŸE is trailblazing with his bold femme-masculine vocals.
We’re expecting big things on his horizon with a voice that’s made to fill stadiums.
SAFIA transport their listeners with their intricate electro-expanses that are often beautifully chaotic. Frontman Ben Woolner’s vocals are instrumental in their inimitable sound, from his bubbled chest voice to the clarity in his falsetto. Woolner is another femme-masc. voice, this time leaning to delicacy and smoothness, and sometimes feeling very intimate.
He also brings soul influence into his lower register as well as using vibrato through longer notes, showing off the vocal training he’s pursued since he was a 15-year-old Canberra teen. It’s his vocals that cut the band through the electronic scene and make them one of Australia’s favourites over the past seven years.
NO FRILLS TWINS
“Haunting” is the best word to describe these surprising vocals. The No Frills Twins’ larger-than-life aesthetics extends into their voices, with an operatic pop grandiosity that could be depicted as a spooky Lady Gaga sound.
Vanessa and Arna Rogers have amassed an impressive following with their gothic renditions of songs such as ‘Fancy’ by Iggy Azalea, ‘Skinny Love’ by Birdy and ‘We Can’t Stop’ by Miley Cyrus. With harmonies disturbingly tight and such an intriguing quality about them, the No Frills Twins have gone on to create beloved originals beyond their covers.
Their recent releases with Island Records are a bit more commercially subdued but still with their eerie essence. For the full experience of No Frills, make sure you check them out in video.