Music

The Local Artists That Will Define 2018

Australia's big things.

By 4pm last Thursday, Australian pop music had already had its first big moment of 2018.

On the dot, Perth act Troye Sivan dropped his new single ‘My My My!’, the first taste of his highly-anticipated second album. The song — with its sweeping chorus and Madonna-inspired film clip — received near universal acclaim, and is currently poised to become the first Australian #1 single of the year.

Buy ‘My My My!’ won’t be the only big Australian music moment this year. From pop to punk to rock and hip-hop, the next eleven and a half months look set to be full of big releases and career-making ascents.

These are the artists we think are going to be dominating our stereos in 2018. Get stuck in.


Troye Sivan

When teenage YouTuber Troye Sivan announced he was releasing a full-length album back in 2015, the news was met with more than a few raised eyebrows. But when Blue Neighbourhood finally arrived, all doubts were quashed: Sivan, with the help of gun songwriter Alex Hope, had produced a triumph.

He’s been touring constantly over the last two years, as well as finding the time to link up with superstar producer Martin Garrix on the track ‘There For You’. But 2018 is the year Troye comes back in his own right — he’s just dropped a new single titled, ‘My My My!’, the first banger off his highly-anticipated second album.

If the album is anything like the single, then it’s set to be one of the best of the year.


Photo: Tiffany J. Williams

Kota Banks

Kota Banks came through with one of the best pop tracks of 2017 with the bubbling ‘Holiday‘.

The track marked a new musical direction for the Sydney artist and longtime songwriter, who also ticked off another milestone last year by signing to Nina Las Vegas’ steadily-growing label NLV Records.

We’ve been assured that a full Kota Banks EP is around the corner, featuring production from the likes of NLV labelmate Swick, and ‘Lay Down’ hitmaker Touch Sensitive.

Expect bangers. Lots of them.


Baker Boy

50 Cent isn’t right about much, but he is right about Baker Boy. This week, the rap superstar named Baker Boy — AKA Danzal Baker — as the support act for his upcoming Australian tour, alongside dons A.B. Original.

It’s a very strong sign of what’s to come for the Arnhem Land artist, who picked up the gong in the Urban category at the NT Song Of The Year Awards last year for his track ‘Cloud 9’.

More recently, he’s been dropping fiery tracks such as ‘Marryuna’ — which is almost guaranteed to land in the top ten of the Hottest 100.


Sampa The Great

Sampa Tembo chose a spot-on moniker, that’s for sure.

Over the last two years, the Zambian-born, Botswana-raised, now Melbourne-based artist has chalked-up support slots with the likes of Kendrick Lamar, Joey Bada$$, and LA legend Thundercat.

2017 saw her cross the country with REMI on a co-headline tour, and link up with Grammy Award winning singer Estelle and iconic rap producer Rahki for her EP HERoes Act 2. If that wasn’t enough, she immediately followed the EP up with her second full-length mixtape, The Birds And The BEE9. 

Before 2018 is through, Sampa will release her official debut album. Get ready for the year of Greatness.


Photo: Naomi Lee Beveridge

Camp Cope

If the last couple of weeks are anything to by, then 2018 already belongs to Camp Cope.

The Melbourne band made headlines two weeks ago after blasting Falls Festival for their male-dominated 2017/8 line-up while on stage in Byron Bay, with singer Georgia Maq pointedly editing the lyrics in their song ‘The Opener‘ to say: “It’s another man telling us we can’t fill up a tent, it’s another fucking festival booking only nine women”.

It kicked off another round of conversation about the chronic lack of diversity on Australian festival line-ups, and this time female artists across the board weren’t bothering with politeness — Jen Cloher, Julia Jacklin, Nina Las Vegas, Courtney Barnett, and Stella Donnelly were just a few of the artists to throw their weight behind Cope and demand better from festivals and promoters.

When Camp Cope say something: you listen. Their second album, titled How To Socialise & Make Friends, is due out March 2.


Muki

Sydney synth merchant Muki had a cracker of a year in 2017, notching up support slots for Client Liaison and Paces off the back of just two singles: the sugary ‘Sassaparilla’ and ‘Friends Don’t Make Out.’

Between the amount of new music she premiered on the Paces tour, and the fact she leapt into the studio with fellow pop fiend and ‘Tulips’ hitmaker Tigerilla last year, we’d wager that we’ll be hearing a lot more from Muki very soon.


Manu Crook$

Along with acts like Sampa The Great, L-Fresh The Lion, and B Wise, Manu Crook$ represents a much-needed change in the Australian hip-hop landscape.

His 2017 debut EP Mood Forever — crammed to the hilt with glitchy trap production courtesy of studio whiz Dopamine — was more polished and cohesive than any debut has a right to be, and brought about such a wave of praise that grime king Stormzy invited him to open his recent Australian tour.

Crook$ isn’t just matching strides with Atlanta’s best — he’s beating them at their own game.


Stella Donnelly

Of all the ridiculously talented acts that swept through last year’s Bigsound conference, it was Stella Donnelly that impressed punters the most. So much so, in fact, that the Perth songwriter ended up taking home the inaugural Levi’s Music Prize.

That wasn’t the only gong Donnelly took out, either: in December she was crowned triple j’s Unearthed Artist Of The Year, joining rank with artists like Meg Mac, Gretta Ray and Japanese Wallpaper.

All this was off the back off her debut EP, the incredibly-titled Thrush Metal. Imagine what she could do with a full album.


Photo: Savvy Creative

Miss Blanks

Brisbane rapper Miss Blanks made serious waves last year with her groundbreaking EP Diaries Off A Thotaholic, which saw her added to festival line-ups like Meredith, Let Them Eat Cake, The Plot, Secret Garden and the upcoming Laneway run.

With tracks that brutally examine femininity, sexuality, and identity, Miss Blanks is a desperately needed presence. She’s just kicked off 2018 by releasing a new track, ‘HATERS‘, featuring fellow Bris rapper Aywin. Big things await.


Photo: Jeff Andersen Jnr

Boat Show

“Yeah you got friendzoned and fired from your job / ‘Cos you’re a woman hater and a fucking knob.”

So begins ‘Cis White Boy’, one of the best tracks from Perth crew Boat Show’s no-fucks-given debut album Groundbreaking Masterpiece — a record which not only scored them a spot at Bigsound, but also a record deal with indie tastemakers Select Music.

The band clearly aren’t resting on their laurels: they’ve already followed up Groundbreaking Masterpiece with a new album, Unbelievable. 

If you like your punk punchy and feminist, look no further. Expect to see them at a pub near you soon.

Jules LeFevre is the Staff Writer at Music Junkee and inthemix. She is on Twitter

Article image by Jampal Williamson