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Young Australian artists share their process and musical journey

Photography by Lilli Boisselet

What it takes.

Making it as a musician in 2020 isn’t a linear process; it’s full of ups and downs, ambiguity and, oftentimes, a lot of frustration. So what is it that makes people keep going, and what lessons do you learn in your first few years in the industry?

What better place to find out than a festival full of said musicians – Bigsound. Their lineup last year was packed with local artists currently rising through the ranks of the music industry.

Photographer Lilli Boisselet had the chance to shoot some of these up-and-coming talents and get some insight into how they’ve navigated their careers so far.

Here’s the wisdom they had to share.

Jaguar Jonze

“When I started songwriting, everything was very coded and cryptic. I thought it was exposed and expressive, but as I’ve spent years writing, I can see that development of me opening up as a person. At the start, I really struggled with that vulnerability, but now I really embrace it because it’s important for me not to carry things deep inside.

I love criticism of my work because I need to be learning and I need to be growing. As long as it’s not toxic or manipulative, I work with constructive criticism to push my boundaries and develop my artistry and get better as a human and as an artist. I don’t want to just live in this fake bubble, I want to get better and be bigger.”

Yergurl

“I just love music. I have such an emotional response to music. And when other people tell me they have an emotional response to my music it’s the coolest thing, because I love how much music can affect us and change our mood. It’s crazy that my music can hold that power for people, too. Even if it all ends now, I’ll still be proud of how far I got. Success for me is that I even get to take my music outside my bedroom.”

Stevan

“Music-making technology has come such a long way. I can start off [writing a song] with a really cool guitar riff, and then lay it out and play all the instruments on top of that, and then start writing lyrics. I can make a whole song by myself, which is really cool.

I’m a lightening-in-a-bottle type of guy – songs come to me in the moment and if it feels right, it feels right and if it doesn’t, I don’t keep the song. Sometimes, the best thing I can do is step away if the music isn’t flowing. Sometimes it’s just not the right time for a certain thing. I might have a sad instrumental piece worked out, but no lyrics fit with it. Then something sad happens and I think ‘Oh wow, this is perfect!’ I always let songs live in their own little corners until life comes around and I think, ‘Okay, now this has a proper vehicle for me to be able to share it’.”

Aquila Young

“My career has always revolved around music. I’ve tried a lot of different pathways, but I’ve always come back to the song. I feel like a lot of people can relate to this – trying to avoid something that seems like such a big, daunting task, but something keeps drawing you back to it. It’s that human desire that compels me to keep going, to keep creating.

How does it feel to be on stage and share personal moments with strangers? At the start, it was definitely confronting. But now that I’ve gotten used to it, it feels really good, in a cathartic sense, to just sing from the heart. Sharing some of the raw emotions and raw energies that were captured in time in the past. I do really enjoy being on stage. I feel like it unleashes a whole different side of me.”

Stellie

“It doesn’t take that long to write a song, but it takes a long time to perfect it. I’ve learnt to really block out other peoples thoughts and feelings and stick with my own way of doing things. It’s so easy to get caught up in other peoples ideas, [I want to] go back to where it started, honing my gut musical feeling.

The hardest thing [about being a musician] is putting yourself out there. When I write, I want it to feel like you’re reading my journal. I want it to be super personal, but sometimes it’s easy to do that in my bedroom, then when I bring it out onto stage it gets tricky. My last track ‘Love Me First’ was written purely for myself and no-one else to hear, and then it was released and played everywhere, and I started playing it at my shows. It’s a very unusual feeling.”

To see more of Lilli’s work, head here

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