Australia's Coolest Indie Imports: Amy Shark, Middle Kids & More Discuss Rising Up From Down Under
Established Australian acts are having a moment on the charts -- 5 Seconds of Summer nabbed its third No. 1 album on the Billboard 200 with Youngblood in June, and Courtney Barnett’s latest, Tell Me How You Really Feel, earned her her third top 10 on Alternative Albums and Top Rock Albums. But a new crop of artists from Down Under is rising up as well. These acts, all of which have debuted on a Billboard chart since April 2017, are on track for international breakthroughs.
Hometown: Gold Coast, Queensland
The hit: Shark released her debut album, Love Monster, in July, and, in her second appearance on the chart, saw her dark-pop single “I Said Hi” bow at No. 40 on Triple A.
How she did it: “There weren't many venues where I’m from -- a small beach town. You had to go to Brisbane, Sydney or Melbourne,” says Shark, 32. “It was hard to make any waves where I was from, but that’s why it was always going to be all or nothing. I knew I had something, and I [had] to give it a go.”
The hit: The indie-rock trio, which has toured with Ryan Adams and Cold War Kids, released Middle Kids, its U.S. label debut, in May, reaching No. 24 on Alternative Album Sales.
How they did it: “Labels were into the fact that we were like, ‘We will play [shows] however much you want us to play,’” says guitarist Tim Fitz, 28, of the group's members, who were performing long before they formed Middle Kids. “We are a better band because of all of those gigs.”
The hit: Since her home recording of experimental rock track “Jungle” went viral in March 2016, netting 20 million YouTube views and hitting No. 39 on Alternative Songs, Sultana set to work on her debut LP, Flow State, out Aug. 31.
How she did it: After busking in the streets of Melbourne, Sultana, 23, embarked on her first U.S. tour in 2017. It quickly sold out. The self-taught multi-instrumentalist later assured Billboard that her skills have sharpened since she left busking behind: "You only get better at stuff; you don't get worse."
GANG OF YOUTHS
The hit: The band’s rollicking single “The Heart Is a Muscle” -- off its punky second album, 2017’s Go Farther in Lightness -- debuted at No. 37 on Triple A in June.
How they did it: “Building a story in the U.S. can be hard,” says bassist Max Dunn, 27, of growing the quintet’s stateside appeal. “[But] regardless of who shows up, make sure you do.”
Additional reporting by Lyndsey Havens