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 Merpire, Joelistics, and Sampology. Catch up on all the artists from the series (plus bonus tracks!) with our Global Beat: Australia playlist.
Andrew Khedoori: “What I really like about Melbourne’s Merpire is that she doesn't name musical influences. She goes for film genres like rom-coms and horror movies when it comes to what goes into her songs. And you can certainly hear the melodrama in her latest song ‘Village.’ I really love the story behind it.
Merpire’s real name is Rhiannon Atkinson-Howatt. She used to have a day job guiding boats around the lake in the middle of Melbourne's famous Botanic Gardens. And in doing so, she would see all the various elements of our ecosystem interacting—plants, insects, and animals—and how they all rely on each other to be nurtured and evolve. And she attached that idea to feelings about her personal life, and out came ‘Village.’ It's like a film in itself.”
“Joelistics, born Joel Ma, is a long term Melbourne-based rapper and producer. Years back, he was part of a hip hop-trio called TZU, but he's been doing his own thing for quite a while now. And he often really stretches the conventions of hip-hop and beat productions. When you hear this, you won't be surprised to know that he also wrote, produced, and starred in a theater show about what it means to grow up Asian in Australia.
This album in particular has its genesis back in 2016, when he stocked up on old Cantonese pop records on a trip to Malaysia, where he was born. And then he started to use those records to play on ideas of memories and dreams, as well as his own Chinese heritage. What we have is a really cinematic-feeling album, so no surprise this is called ‘Joelistics Presents Film School,’ with a very expansive vision in mixing samples from those old Cantonese pop records, rock, classical instrumentation, and hip-hop with non-Western sounds and feels. It's sort of trippy as well as cozy at the same time. It often feels like one big hug.
The song “Samsara” from the album features Parvyn Singh from a band called the Bombay Royale. They're a great pop group from Melbourne, and they fuse Bollywood sounds into the music. I love that these types of records are just part of the vernacular of Australian music. Now we're a thoroughly multicultural nation. And it's really starting to show more in Australian’s approach to making music and the audience that's keen on hearing on it. We're talking about second and third generation Australian musicians telling their stories with amazing music that wasn't part of our landscape not so long ago.”
“Sampology is out of Queensland in Australia. He's a little deceptive these days and going by that name Sampology because he's moved from DJ to full blown producer. He arranges and records all the instruments that you hear on this track, from woodwind sections to guitar to congas to harp, and he weaves them all together into tracks like ‘Memories in Flight.’ He’s no longer just a vinyl nerd. What we're talking about here is classic sounds turned over into new vibes.
He's got family members in the Queensland Symphony Orchestra, so he may have had a little bit of inside running in creating such a sound. I love the progression in his work. This one is definitely for fans of the Avalanches. I'm really looking forward to where it goes with his new album due out in September, which is called ‘Regrowth’ in tribute to all the Australians who suffered enormous hardship and loss in the intense bushfires that began in late 2019 and defined that year’s summer. And then of course, the start of 2020, which was then compounded by the pandemic that we're still in. So in that context, Sampology is making music as a soundtrack to the way forward. And whatever the context, it's just a beautifully groovy way to end proceedings here, really.”