KCRW’s Global Beat is a new series highlighting emerging artists from around the world. We’re kicking the series off with our friends in Australia by partnering with The Australian Music Alliance and the Australian Music Radio Airplay Project (Amrap), a uniquely Australian organization designed to support Australian music on public radio.
KCRW DJ Raul Campos hosts along with Amrap Manager Andrew Khedoori for this week’s Aussie artist spotlights on TKTKTK Gordon Koang, Tesba featuring Electric Fields, and Squidgenini. Catch up on all the artists from the series (plus bonus tracks!) with our Global Beat: Australia playlist.
Gordon Koang is probably the most recognized artist on Music in Exile, a label that releases work from musicians living and seeking asylum in Australia. It's an incredible initiative. Koang is a bonafide superstar in his native South Sudan, where he's known as the “King of Music” and has released more than 10 albums. But he's very quickly become a firm favorite in Australian music since relocating to Melbourne a few years ago.
Being locked down at home, it's only fitting that we play a new song from him called “Coronavirus.” I'm sure there are a few songs called that floating around at the moment, but none of them are as funky as this. Koang gets down and direct on dark topics like this one. He sings a lot about the civil war and his homeland. He's no stranger to huge upheaval. But he also makes you shimmy to the message, which is just so great. It's just so incredibly infectious in spite of the subject matter.
This track could make any scenario just that little bit sunnier. It bursts out with color and warmth. Hear this once and I reckon it's a hit in anyone's universe, surely. All we know about Tseba is that he’s a new producer with a bit of a history, but he's not revealing what that history is right now. They're keeping it under wraps with more to come.
But what a way to come out of the blocks. Electric Fields themselves are an electronic duo who kind of like to think they’re something like Daft Punk meets Nina Simone. I also like the idea of merging traditional Indigenous culture with electronic music, and they do that so well on their own, but on this track, it's just so heady, blissful, and beautiful.
Squidgenini is possibly one of the coolest names going around in Australian music right now, but she’s still really young and under the radar. She was born in Queensland, but also spent some time living in the U.S. She's fiercely independent, production-wise, and I love this quote from her where she says she's “not interested in pop that's been touched by 76 different people.”
I love how the deeply personal moves so well within a big R&B style here. She's also got a reputation for smashing it with her DJ sets, but with her own tracks like “Into My Heart,” she’s definitely out on her own edge.