When Gorillaz debuted in the late 1990s/early 2000s, it was a bold experiment that the music world was watching with great interest.
Hiding behind an animated band and building an entire storyline behind them wasn’t exactly an original idea, though. There had been similar concepts much earlier on. But never had a virtual music collective gained so much worldwide attention before. And there hasn’t been such a case since, either. Especially not in Australia.
The creator of the Big Sand band wants to change it.
PART 102 OF “AM I EVER GONNA SEE YOUR FACE AGAIN?” A RANDOM COLLECTION OF UNKNOWINGLY OBVIOUS FACTS ABOUT THE AUSTRALIAN MUSIC SCENE
Sally Coleman is a familiar name in the Aussie music business.
First and foremost, she was half of the hip-hop duo Coda Conduct. They released their first EP in 2015 and dropped another one, plus a few singles. The pair appeared at various local music festivals, like Listen Out and Spilt Milk, and supported legends in their genre, amongst them Hilltop Hoods and Thundamentals.
Together with her bandmate, Erica Mallett, Sally also hosted various shows on Sydney’s FBi Radio and the national youth broadcaster, triple j, including the latter’s popular “Brekky” show. So everything seemed to be going rather well for the duo.
And suddenly, at the end of 2020, the girls called it quits on all fronts. They left their gig at triple j and disbanded. However, they bid their fans farewell by saying that “there’ll still be a lot of creative stuff in the works from each of us personally”.
There weren’t many music updates from them since that time, though. Until April 2022, when Sally dropped news about Big Sand.
According to Sally, “there’s not enough aliens in pop music”. That’s why the project was created in the first place. It stems from the musician’s interest in sci-fi and fantasy novels that she’s been a fan of since childhood. Its Spotify bio encapsulates those main influences. It reads, “The elevator pitch? Gorillaz, but Aussie. Disney, but indie. Pop, but weird and nerdy”.
Big Sand is a virtual science fiction band. When it comes to its general image, however, it’s a creative fusion of different art forms, not only music. Much like in Damon Albarn’s animated project, the visual aspect cannot be underestimated here. Sally has collaborated with animators, designers, and developers, “experimenting with new technologies” to bring the characters to life.
At the moment, we know there are a few members of the Big Sand crew. So far, we got to meet Taal, a blonde female in a blue uniform (that reminds me so much of Sally herself, most likely on purpose). Taal introduced everyone recently to her band’s “biggest fan (and our roadie)”, Kiz-OO, too. It looks like we’ll be gradually finding out more about the premise and protagonists from the project’s socials.
It should be no surprise that what stands out in this project are digital art and visual storytelling. The immersive world in which the characters appear is set “in a beautiful and harsh desert planet”. This idea drives the whole narrative. See how the story unfolds on TikTok:
On the music front, there is an EP, Welcome To Big Sand, coming sometime in the future.
For now, however, the band will be releasing stand-alone singles. The first one, “Take Me Home”, dropped in the last week of April 2022. And it gives a pretty good idea of what Big Sand is all about.
The song is a collaboration with musician Alice Ivy. But it is Sally who wrote it and who performs it.
As with the whole project, the track is playful, adventurous, and fun. As also expected, it is a definite departure from the Coda Conduct vibe. The single targets much younger audiences. Especially fans of pop, the world of animations, and immersive gaming realms will find it appealing.
The lyrics tie in with the storytelling concept as well. On “Take Me Home”, they are a recount of Taal’s first moments on the planet:
“It’s hard to trust when your luck is low
Look at me with the eyes of a stranger
Hot to touch, I was all alone
Didn’t know if I’d last when you came past
But you saved me, didn’t have to
But I’m here now
Bring me water, how to thank you?
‘Cause I’m here now”
No video accompanies the song at this stage, and it’s currently unknown whether it will drop at some point. I have to say I’m a little disappointed by it. A visual representation of the Big Sand music adventures seemed natural, considering that animation is at the heart of its concept. Plus, the short clips on TikTok and Instagram look as if Sally had it all figured out story-wise.
Rumour has it the next two singles will feature Aussie acts Tia Gostelow and SAFIA. I’m guessing it will be a continuation of the storyline in some context. Perhaps they’ll even “play” some other characters in this quirky world. By the time they’re released, Sally will have surely peeled back the curtain behind the project a little more. So I’ll keep an eye on the Big Sand adventures for sure.
Overall, Sally Coleman’s new music project is an interesting undertaking that will surely find its niche. Especially since the amount of work the artist has put into creating it is truly impressive. Whether it will become “Australia’s answer to Gorillaz”, however, is yet to be seen.
Check out “Take Me Home” below:
Get social with Silly McWiggles here:
Read about some other creative projects from Aussie musicians:
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