Joint ventures. Six times Aussie musicians pulled off epic collaborations with overseas counterparts

It’s a fact. There won’t be any overseas acts performing in Australia for a (longer) while. Which is not that bad. It will be a good excuse for Australian music fans to catch up on the local trends Down Under. But a little Billie Eilish or Harry Styles never killed nobody, either.

How about some Down Under vs. International productions in that case? Let’s take a look at six epic collaborations between Aussie musicians and their overseas counterparts.

PART 46 OF “AM I EVER GONNA SEE YOUR FACE AGAIN?” A RANDOM COLLECTION OF UNKNOWINGLY OBVIOUS FACTS ABOUT AUSTRALIAN MUSIC SCENE

Collabs are now easier to pull off than ever. Technology made it possible to work on music and share feedback in different time zones and geographies. You don’t even have to meet your partner in crime “in person” to record a song “together”.

And there’s one alleged collab I’m very keen on.

In 2019 Lime Cordiale and Chugg Music (the band’s management company) joined forces with Dre London and Post Malone for a new venture. The first step in the cooperation was the recent release of the Aussies’ album 14 Steps To A Better You. And it looks like a song collab might be their next move. According to Dre London, “It just has to be the right organic song, like everything we do. You never know, anything is possible, and they definitely vibe.” Fingers crossed that vibe turns frutiful soon.

Not all collabs are bangers. But they’re often a way for musos to “branch out” and venture to new creative destinations.

Here are my fave ones so far, involving Aussie artists.

AMY SHARK + MARK HOPPUS (BLINK-182)

Amy Shark has quite a lot to be proud of recently. Her newest single “Everybody Rise” was played on Elton John’s #RocketHour show last weekend. And she collaborated with an iconic Aussie surfer on a documentary about… sharks 🙂

You might know the Gold Coast singer/songwriter from her breakthrough single “Adore” that landed at #2 of triple j’s 2016 Hottest 100 countdown. Later on, Love Monster – the artist’s first album – was released to much acclaim.

Shark went fairly quickly from supporting Sia or Germany’s Milky Chance to headlining her own tours and festivals. And another perk came with this newly gained fame.

Everybody, including musicians, has their heroes. It seems that the indie pop artist is a punk-rock fan as well. When Shark was working on her LP, she was fortunate to interest Blink-182’s guitarist and vocalist, Mark Hoppus, in one of her songs. Not only did the American produce the track but also featured on the song and spoke highly of the collaboration with the young Aussie singer.

After recording “Psycho”, Shark confessed, “I just can’t stop listening to it. I’m addicted to it. Every time his voice drops in I’m just like, Mark Hoppus is on my album”. How many other artists can boast such a cool collab?

GUY SEBASTIAN & LUPE FIASCO

If you don’t know this tune that Guy Sebastian calls his “proudest release”, then – frankly – where have you been for the last decade?

“Battle Scars” went to #1 on the ARIA charts right after its release in 2012. It was the highest-selling single by an Australian act that year. Since then, it has been certified platinum 11 times (!) Down Under.

On the other side of the Big Pond, it spent almost 5 months on the Hot 100 Billboard charts and also went platinum. Additionally, it was exceptionally well-received in New Zealand, Norway and Sweden.

Sebastian said of the song, “Every now and then, in your career, you release something that you feel has a deeper meaning and purpose.” Both him and Lupe Fiasco praised their counterpart’s contribution and lyrical abilities, and emphasized the importance of the song in their respective careers.

Apparently, Fiasco was the Aussie singer’s first choice when potential collab partners were considered because “he doesn’t rap about booty-shaking or cash, he’s much more political and insightful and exactly what I wanted”.

Sebastian is a talented R&B/soul/pop musician who has been widely commended for his songwriting and active participation in the local music scene (minus the recent mishap with his brother winning “The Voice Australia”). “Battle Scars” remains his most famous tune to date for a good reason.

KEITH URBAN + CARRIE UNDERWOOD

How about a Nashville collaboration that’s more than country?

“The Fighter” is a pretty catchy tune, with an interesting vocal dialogue between the two singers. According to Keith Urban, “it was just a very quick, quick song to write because I literally thought about Nic and I, and our relationship in the beginning, and some of the things we had said all went into that song”. I reckon that direct reference to Nicole Kidman is reflected in the song’s overall mood.

Australia likes to claim Urban’s talent despite his place of birth (New Zealand) and usual residence (Nashville). He surely is the most successful country artist representing Down Under overseas. He has also unquestionably paved the way for other promising acts (like Morgan Evans).

Urban has cooperated with other notable American country stars over the years. On his 2013 album Fuse, Miranda Lambert appeared on the track “We Were Us” and Eric Church lent his voice on “Raise ‘Em Up”.

But the artist’s recent records transcend genres and clearly show that he’s trying to keep up with the modern trends in the business. For instance, for the album Ripcord, he wrote a song with Nile Rodgers and Pitbull.

LABRINTH+ SIA + DIPLO = LSD

What’s better than putting together a supergroup made up of a British rapper (Labrinth), an Australian singer hiding her face (Sia) and a popular American music producer (Diplo)? Only calling it LSD 🙂

When their first single “Genius”, with a trippy animated clip, dropped in 2018, it was a little unexpected (or maybe unannounced). On the other hand, Sia is a prolific writer with a wide network of contacts in the music industry, especially in the UK and the States. So an awesome collab was in order at some point.

You should know the Adelaide artist as a successful solo act (remember “Chandelier” or “Cheap Thrills”?), a songwriter for Rihanna (“Diamonds”) or David Guetta (“Titanium”). She has collaborated with other international superstars, i.e. Beyoncé and Flo Rida, including her compatriot, Kylie Minogue.

Apparently, Labrinth, Sia and Diplo are friends who had known each other from prior projects. Although the American producer admitted this about their LSD collaboration, “Originally, I wasn’t in [LSD] and then our publisher had the idea to throw me in there; those two artists, together, are two of the craziest, most creative people I ever met in my life. I think they have the most severe attention deficit disorder together, their ideas are so crazy, so I helped put their ideas together, taking the job of their producer.” And he did a pretty good job, I’d say.

To make things more interesting, it wasn’t just an odd, one-song project. The collective has released six singles and an album (Labrinth, Sia & Diplo Present… LSD) together. Their future as a supergroup is unknown, though.

TASH SULTANA + MILKY CHANCE

There is one thing that both Tash Sultana and Milky Chance have in common: despite their popularity, they are sort of outsiders, doing things their own way. Maybe that’s the reason they decided to collaborate on this tune in the first place.

If anybody asked me to describe the sound of either one of the collaborating acts, “daydreaming” would be a pretty obvious choice.

Although, in relation to this joined Australian-German effort, Milky Chance explain that “it’s about those mechanisms that start working when you don’t know how to deal with reality.” The song’s lyrics certainly prove that point: “Maybe we’re just passing through / Two souls venturing into the moon / The life before, whoever really knew / Seek a different part of you”.

“Daydreaming” is not an instant hit. And I guess, overall, it’s a more Milky Chance reggae/ska vibe than Tash Sultana alt-rock/indie territory. But it’s a good tune, nevertheless.

The duo even flew to Melbourne to record the song with the Aussie singer in person. This proves Sultana’s reputation in the business that expanded beyond Oz a long time ago.

The Aussie songwriter has dropped a few new songs recently, ahead of their upcoming second record. Since Sultana’s had plenty of time to work on their music in lockdown, maybe it’s a sign that more international collabs are on the way?

TKAY MAIDZA + JPEGMAFIA

I’ve written about rap fairly often on this blog, yet it’s not my go-to genre. But this tune is sick. And the funny thing is, the first time I heard it, I was “probably awake / rollin’, rollin’ up and down the place” for the rest of the night 🙂

“Awake” is really everything that you would expect from the Adelaide rapper and her American collab partner. The hook is straightforward and raw. The rhymes are sharp and unapologetic. The video clip is dark (literally) and disturbing. It all adds up to a pretty intense experience that any trap fan will dig.

It looks like Tkay Maidza particularly enjoys working with other artists. She had previously enlisted a few other names to feature on her songs (like Duckwrth on the 2018’s track “Flexin'”). Kari Faux contributed to Maidza’s newest single “Don’t Call Again”. Additionally, the Adelaide hip hop artist provided stems for a triple j Unearthed’s #DYISupergroup competition, so that unsigned acts could use them in a new song to enter the contest.

Based on how things have been playing out for Maidza, I wouldn’t be surprised if her next tune was a collaboration with Kanye West himself.

Last but not least, here are some other popular Australia vs. The World productions:

And if the Lime Cordiale brothers and Posty really hit it off on the collab front soon, I’m sure I’ll count it into that list as well.

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