Silly Fest 2022, a fictitious music gathering with an all-Aussie line-up, is finally here

December marks the start of the proper festival season Down Under. Woodfork Folk Festival, Lost Paradise, Beyond The Valley, Falls Festival and NYE in the Park are all happening at the end of the month, ringing in the New Year.

But they’ve all been around for some time already. So why not throw another fresh event into the mix?

Welcome to Silly Fest 2022, a music gathering curated 100% by yours truly, Silly McWiggles, that would be 100% awesome if it were true.

PART 131 OF “AM I EVER GONNA SEE YOUR FACE AGAIN?” A RANDOM COLLECTION OF UNKNOWINGLY OBVIOUS FACTS ABOUT THE AUSTRALIAN MUSIC SCENE / THE SILLY & GREEN PROJECT

This has been a good year for music Down Under.

The sceptical experts will probably disagree. But considering all the challenges the whole business faces globally in the post-COVID era, things have started rolling in the Aussie scene again. Especially in the live sector.

Yes, many events continue to be cancelled. It’s just something new that we need to learn to cope with better. But festivals are pretty much back in one form or another.

And here’s the thing. You probably couldn’t care less, but one of my highest-ranked bucket list things in the music category is putting together my own festival. While I might not be able to do that IRL at this stage, nothing can stop me from dreaming big virtually.

So here goes Silly Fest in its inaugural 2022 edition.

And?… What do you think about the line-up?

In my event organising venture, I was inspired by the Instafest App stirring thing up on the internet just before Spotify released the 2022 Wrapped edition.

But I set myself a slightly different challenge. Instead of including the artists I’ve been listening to and covering heaps this year, I’ve picked the ones I haven’t, but who deserve a mention for the reasons discussed below.

There are 12 acts for every month of 2022. You’ll notice that, quite unconventionally, they’re listed on the poster bill alphabetically. That’s because I don’t really like that whole headliner game. Besides, since this is a fake event, I can do whatever I want. So I’d probably let all the acts just choose their preferred time slot anyway 😉

Now, let me reveal who and why made the cut.

ASHWARYA

When I heard ASHWARYA‘s song “I Can’t Relate” earlier this year, I was like, “Same”.

This Indian-Australian singer and songwriter based in Melbourne got my attention in 2021 already. And not only mine, to be honest. Since joining the Australian music landscape in 2020, she’s received praise from critics, including Vogue Australia, Vogue India, ELLE, The Guardian and NME. Her music has been played on triple j, BBC Radio 1 and BBC 6 Music. And she was nominated for Best Breakthrough Act at the Music Victoria Awards last year, too.

ASHWARYA fuses pop-minded melodies with electronic samples, unconventional arrangements, organic percussion and traditional Indian instrumentation to create a unique sound. Her influences include Rihanna, Travis Scott, Sufjan Stevens and SZA.

And I’m predicting we’ll hear more about her in 2023. So I couldn’t not include her in my Silly Fest.

CASEY BARNES

I’m probably the only person in my music circles openly admitting to liking country music. Try not to if you ever visit Texas. But it turns out Australia has a surprisingly large number of country artists who craft catchy, melodic tunes that are not half bad. Casey Barnes is one of them.

The problem with talented country musicians is that they tend to look for their luck in Nashville fairly quickly when their careers take off locally. Morgan Evans is a good example. No wonder. This American city is the undisputed capital of country music. The chances of being discovered are much greater in Tennessee than in Australia. So kudos to Casey Barnes for still recording Down Under.

He’d have pretty good reasons to escape to the States, though. The level of exposure he’s gained in his genre is already significant. Winning the ARIA Award for Best Country Album this past November is a testament to that. And previously, he was also a contestant in the seventh edition of ‘Australian Idol’.

So I definitely want to have him on my Silly Fest bill now before he decides to pack his bags and jet off to Nashville one day.

CROOKED COLOURS

Electronic and dance music has recently been high on my genre preference list. And while I’ve had quite a few fan moments when it comes to RÜFÜS DU SOL this year, there are heaps of other Aussie bands I follow in this space.

Not everyone knows Crooked Colours has been around for nearly ten years now. From DJ-ing at house parties, the gig gradually developed into a three-piece live band.

Interestingly, their sound is classified as alternative dance, so a mix of alt/indie rock and electronic beats, synths and samples. It’s the same genre as The Prodigy.

I can totally vouch for Crooked Colours because I actually saw them live at the Laneway Festival some years ago. Hence, their place on my fictitious festival line-up. And my opinion is not isolated. The WA-based band are regulars at music events in their home country. But they’ve also performed at the colourful Bonnaroo.

DANIEL JOHNS

What can I say? I grew up in the grunge era. And while the chances of the three Silverchair members getting back together are as high as me putting Vegemite on toast ever again, I’ve been following Daniel Johns in his other musical endeavours since his teenage years.

And there have been a few. Apart from solo albums and numerous collaborations, he’s been a member of other bands, too. The Dissociatives with Paul Mac happened at the beginning of the 2000s. And he teamed with Luke Steele of Empire Of The Sun to form the experimental outfit DREAMS a few years ago.

I’m not even going to attempt to mention all the awards, accolades and projects from the artist’s illustrious yet turbulent career. One thing I wish I’d done in Melbourne in 2022, however, is visiting the “Past, Present & FutureNever” immersive experience, full of Daniel Johns-related memorabilia and stories. Plus, I’m still waiting on the “What If The Future Never Happened?” movie.

I’m aware that the muso is not keen on performing live. And 2022 hasn’t been his best year. But again, Silly fest is a dream of mine. And everything goes in dreams, right?

ELIZA HULL

In a 2019 article called “Where Are All The Disabled Musicians”, a prominent music company rep stated, “We’d like to work with disabled musicians, but we don’t know where to find them.” It sounds brutal, but it’s still the reality in Australia.

Thankfully, there are activists trying to highlight this issue and change the situation for the better. Meet Eliza Hull. A contemporary artist herself, she’s a disability advocate, panellist, audio producer and writer with a neurological condition known as Charcot-Marie-Tooth that makes it difficult or even embarrassing to perform in the ableist music world.

This year, her work has been recognised by a nomination for the Done Good Award. Hopefully, it means that the discussion about making the Australian music business more accessible and inclusive has finally been given the consideration it needs.

While making my fictitious Silly Fest wheelchair accessible is only one of the many accessibility features that should be a part of every event, I hope Eliza would approve of it.

ELSY WAMEYO

Aussie female rappers rule! That’s a fact. Sampa The Great, BARKAA or TKay Maidza are all proof of that thesis. Currently, another artist is making her mark in the Australian hip-hop scene.

Also known as just ELSY, Elsy Wameyo is a Kenyan-born Australian singer-songwriter and producer who “sees her talent as a gift from God”. Apart from hip hop, heaps of seemingly different musical elements make up her original sound, like gospel, African beats or contemporary R&B. Kendrick Lamar, Little Simz and Ludwig Göransson, the composer behind the Black Panther movie, are all cited as the artist’s influences.

I came across the muso when I was researching new acts in South Australia for a radio show this year. But it looks like I’m a bit late to the party because she already won the People’s Choice Best Hip Hop Award at the annual South Australian Music Awards in 2019.

So I’m not taking any more chances of missing out again. And that’s why you’d find her name on my Silly Fest line-up.

GENESIS OWUSU

You might not remember, but Genesis Owusu cleaned up at the ARIAs last year. He scored four awards, including Album of the Year and Best Hip-Hop Release for his debut, Smiling With No Teeth.

He returned to the event this year – this time, as one of the hosts. Nevertheless, his name has been on everyone’s lips for the past couple of years. Perhaps his Bachelor of Journalism degree has helped him achieve that level of hype… who knows.

Real name Kofi Owusu-Ansah, the Ghanaian-Australian artist is the younger brother of another rapper, Citizen Kay. So it’s true that sometimes “it’s all in the family”.

Genesis Owusu proudly reps the Canberran music scene, but he’s now taken his music to the biggest festivals in Australia, like Splendour in the Grass. That’s why I didn’t hesitate a minute while “booking” him for my Silly Fest.

GRENTPEREZ

Do you also have the impression sometimes that we’re missing artists doing things the simple way nowadays? Like playing the guitar and singing over it? Well, if that’s your feeling, you should check out grentperez.

What I dig about the young, Sydney-based muso is his authenticity and real enthusiasm for what he does. Even his bio shows the human side of him, “Heyo! I’m Grant, otherwise known as ‘grentperez’. I love creating music, and I hope that you enjoy the music that I create, because that would be sick as!”

A fun fact – he’s recently released a pretty Chrissy song for the festive season. So what’s not to like, right?

His vibe is an eclectic mix of indie, soul, jazz and hip-hop, served up straight, without over-production. The audiences seem to respond to it very well. So welcome, grentperez, to the Silly Fest line-up.

JEN CLOHER

Okay, so let’s talk about rediscovering one’s roots. Because that’s been the focus of Jen Cloher‘s year in music.

The folk/rock artist and co-founder of Melbourne’s Milk! Records considers herself “an eternal misfit”.

The singer-songwriter was born in Australia, but she’s of Māori origin. I remember listening to the ‘Hit Different’ podcast last year when she revealed she’d be moving to Aotearoa [New Zealand] and working on a new album. The new record will include a series of waiatas [Māori songs], sung in Te Reo Māori [the native language]. Its theme suggests that “home is not found in a place or a politic, but in the community you keep”.

She’s delivered on that promise already, at least in the musical context, having shared two new bold tracks in 2022. And I’d love to see her perform them live at my Silly Fest.

KANADA THE LOOP

One fine morning, I was listening to the New Music Friday AU & NZ playlist on Spotify. And – not to be ignorant – but once I heard “Cali4nia”, I ignored the rest of the songs straight away, and listened to this catchy tune on repeat for the rest of the day. So, naturally, I had to find out who the singer was.

KANADA THE LOOP has managed to stay anonymous for a fairly long time. That air of mysticism around the artist is partially due to necessity and partially – laziness. What we know today is that the Indigenous muso based in Adelaide is called Brice Young. He was previously part of the indie group Pinkish Blu. And his interest in music stems from his church upbringing to a certain extent.

His style is super chill and quirky. It fuses elements of pop, punk and some heavier sounds. And it seems it caught the attention of the Aussie music industry already because KANADA THE LOOP was one of the official BIGSOUND feature artists this year.

So if the music videos released so far are anything to go by, his appearance at my Silly Fest would be absolutely mad.

KING STINGRAY

If a band gets an ARIA Award for a Breakthrough Act, you wanna keep the finger on the pulse and follow its career from that moment onwards. Because, most likely, they’ll be doing even greater things next.

Apparently, King Stingray started as a ‘do-it-yourself’ challenge. But it’s fairly obvious that the group has already stolen Australia’s heart.

It’s an interesting outfit made up of five Yolŋu (Aboriginal) and Balanda (non-Indigenous) lads from north-east Arnhem Land and Queensland. The mix of the Indigenous musical style, traditional instruments and lyrics delivered in both the Yolŋu Matha language and English with the Western-style electric guitars has gained the band a lot of traction in the country within just two years.

So I’m pretty sure they’d be a great addition to the Silly Fest line-up.

MATT CORBY

Matt Corby is back, baby!

And not that he was forgotten or lost. But since releasing the highly-acclaimed Rainbow Valley album in 2018, he’s only dropped a handful of music, including collaborations with Tash Sultana, Kwame and Triple One. So I’m not sure if it was deliberate, but after two years of no music at all from Matt Corby, the new track “Problems” is pure gold.

The song is very much on-point, in many regards. I’d need to quote the entire lyrics to illustrate that, but even this part will tell you heaps about the song’s theme: “Future generations have too many wrongs to get right / It’s resting on how many will take up the fight / Yeah, that’s the situation, they run down the chain / I’m wondering if we’ll ever be back here again”

Silly Fest, albeit fictitious, aspires to be a music gathering tackling social issues and supporting activism through music. So Matt Corby joining the line-up would be everything!

That’s it, festival goers. Maybe one day I’ll actually see you at my Silly Fest. So keep your fingers crossed!

Last but not least, of course I made a playlist for you for the festive season. And obviously, it consists of the songs by my chosen Silly Fest acts.

So Happy Holidays! And Happy Listening! I’ll catch you again next year.


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