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Love List:
Vivid LIVE 2022

by Ben Marshall

Love List is our Spotify series where we ask Opera House guests, friends and staff to curate a playlist dedicated to an artist, genre or theme of their choice – an ode to something they love.

Ben Marshall is the creative mind behind contemporary music at the Sydney Opera House and Vivid LIVE curator for the seventh time in eight years. Under his curatorship, the Sydney Opera House has hosted Nick Cave, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Wu-Tang Clan, Iggy Pop and Lizzo under its iconic sails, a testament to Ben’s ambitious and forward-facing vision in nurturing contemporary music in Australia. Since assuming the role of Vivid LIVE Curator in 2015, Ben has programmed specially-commissioned works such as The Cure’s Disintegration 30th Anniversary performances, Max Richter’s Sleep and Bon Iver’s special in-the-round performance Cercle as well as seminal artists like Solange and Ice Cube. For Vivid LIVE 2022, Ben drew on Australia’s immensely talented, multifaceted musical communities and a selection of world-class icons to put together a festival that celebrates contemporary music in our incredible Harbour City. 

Before the festival kicks off on 27 May, get up to speed on the artists at the forefront of culture. Chuck on your headphones and tune in to this curated selection of magical and diverse music.  


▷ Nils Frahm - Says

“Like a gently exploding supernova of emotion in your heart, let this electronic/ambient calling card from the magnificently talented German producer/pianist Nils Frahm work its magic over its gorgeous ascent.”

▷ John Talabot (feat. Pional) - Destiny

“Catalan DJ and producer Oriol Riverola aka John Talabot keeps ascending into Andrew Weatherall territory for me. His deft use of melancholic/euphoric dynamic tension and steady, unrelenting build is on full display in this high point from his debut album.”

▷ Tkay Maidza - Where’s My Mind?

“Uber cool Australian/Zimbabwean singer, songwriter and rapper Tkay Maidza deploys giant slabs of synthesiser to drive this sensational and thoroughly modern cover of the Pixies’ classic track.”

 

Georgia Maq performing as part of Camp Cope in the Utzon Room

▷ Georgia Maq – Driving Blind

“Best known as singer, songwriter and guitarist for Camp Cope, “Driving Blind” from her debut solo album displays a thrilling indie synth pop left turn, with all the integrity and vulnerability you’ve come to expect.”

▷ The Buoys - Lie To Me Again

“Awesome heart-breaking power-pop from Sydney indie band The Buoys, this is the sound of a fantastic new act hitting their stride, and showing how far they’re going to go.”

▷ Thelma Plum - Better In Blak

“An astonishing talent, Gamilaraay woman Thelma Plum put out one of the albums of the year in 2019, and while it’s incredibly hard to choose just one song, its title track “Better In Blak” captures so much of what’s making her one of our brightest musical lights.”

▷ Paul Kelly - To Her Door

“I remember being in primary school when this song came out, sitting in the back of my parents’ car listening to this, and being incredibly affected by this adult tale of separation and attempted reconciliation. A giant of modern Australia and our unofficial poet laureate.”

▷ Ed Kuepper - The Way I Made You Feel

“I firmly believe there’s no culture without subculture and Ed Kuepper emerged from the Australian underground long ago with The Saints (RIP Chris Bailey), contributing more than his fair share to modern music ever since. Listen to this stellar, sparse song of love and regret to realise Ed Kuepper’s magnificence all over again.”

▷ RVG – A Quality of Mercy

“The jangly/dark song from one of Australia’s most exciting bands that originally hooked me  – it sounds post-punk, Australian and 100% uniquely like the Romy Vager Group.”

 

Still from Low Life’s 2020 Digital Season performance in the Joan Sutherland Theatre

▷ Low Life – Lust Forevermore

“Genius, jagged song from Sydney’s post-punk heroes. We’re lucky to have them.”

▷ BLESSED – Sorrows

“Versatile and emotional, he’s written many great songs but let’s start here with the mighty BLESSED.”

Sampa The Great – Final Form

“Surging horns provide a bright, vibrant backdrop to Sampa’s powerful ode to her Zambian heritage, who she is and where she’s going.”

▷ TEEKS – These Hands

“Remember his name, Māori soul singer TEEKS is heading for superstardom, and it starts here.”

▷ Masego - Tadow (with FKJ)

“Exactly how talented is Jamaican-American musician and singer Masego? Listen to his 8 minute improvised breakthrough track “Tadow” for a glorious taste of what he can do and experience his signature TrapHouseJazz sound, inspired equally by Cab Calloway and Andre 3000.”

Tom Misch and Yussef Dayes performing

 

Yussef Dayes performs with Tom Misch

▷ Yussef Dayes - Nightrider (with Tom Misch & Freddie Gibbs)

“An early evening, top-down sonic ride around LA by way of South London’s jazz impresario and virtuosic drummer Yussef Dayes.”

▷ S1MBA - Rover

“An artist from Harare, Zimbabwe via Swindon, UK, this track is the insanely catchy, playful and surprise worldwide hit that introduced us all to S1MBA.”

▷ Youngn Lipz - Broken Home

“Australia’s undisputed king of R&B comes from Cabramatta and Youngn Lipz shows how strong he is with this achingly personal, vulnerable slice of brilliance.”

▷ Jay1 - Ocean

“‘Ocean offers up the softer, more melodic side of staunch Coventry rapper and songwriter Jay1.”

▷ Miiesha – Damaged

“An emotive, powerful piece of personal R&B from breakout star and Aṉangu/Torres Strait Islander woman Miiesha"

'The song came to me in the form of a dreaming poem that I’d written for my Grandmother... I originally envisioned a bird coming as a messenger to let her know that everything would be ok.'

▷ A.GIRL - Play

“A mighty slice of future-leaning R&B out of Western Sydney from rising Maori-Australian star Hinenuiterangi Tairua aka A.GIRL.”

▷ BARKAA - King Brown

“Crowned by GQ as “The new matriarch of Australian rap”, Chloe Quay is a proud Malyangapa and Barkindji woman whose skills, power and charm are on full display in this sharp, catchy ode to getting the respect she richly deserves.”

Multiple rappers on stage for Brigg's house party show in 2019

 

Briggs’ Bad Apples House Party from Vivid LIVE 2019. Image: Daniel Boud

▷ Briggs – Bad Apples

“Briggs’ muscular songwriting at its cinematic, truthful best, and the song he named his record label after, the first Indigenous Australian owned and operated record label.”

▷ 1300 - Smashmouth

“Energetic, unpredictable hip-hop from 5-strong Korean-Australian collective on the rise.”

Hiatus Kaiyote performing in the Opera House

 

Hiatus Kaiyote performing as part of the Nooks & Crannies series

▷ Hiatus Kaiyote – Get Sun

“Blazing back after 6 years between albums, the luxurious strings & horns of this lead single from their new album heralds a mighty return for the polyrhythmic genre-fluid champions.”

▷ Tangents – Terracotta

“Sublime orbital post-rock from one of the finest modern exponents of the form, this is brain music with a heart.”

▷ GODTET – Enumerating

“Floating, joyous instrumental track remeniscent of early Bonobo, and cannot help but put you in a good mood.”

▷ Tiny Ruins – Carriages

“One of the very best folk artists working, once you hear this song you’ll be as grateful as David Lynch that Hollie Fullbrook is making music for us.”

▷ Liz Martin – Led Me Down

“ABC Radio National’s Tim Richie described Liz Martin as ‘Evocative, alluring and strangely comforting’ and I’m not sure that description can be topped for this wonderful song.”

Gordi performing in the Opera House

 

Gordi standing outside the Opera House. Image: Daniel Boud

▷ Gordi – Unready

“Three and a half minutes of pure sonic radiance from Bon Iver protégé Dr Sophie Payten, aka Gordi.”

▷ Eliza Hull – Going Soon

“Swirling indie-folk displaying Eliza’s textured voice to great effect.”

▷ Moses Sumney - Me in 20 Years (live)

“Every now and then, a singular voice cuts through the clamour of modern music and makes us all stop and listen. That Moses Sumney has one of those voices is beyond doubt as you’ll find when you listen to this gorgeous live rendition of ‘Me in 20 Years’.”

▷ Meg Mac - Never Be

“Taking its cue from Memphis soul, Meg Mac’s fantastic breakthrough single is all driving kick drum and piano with a gospel-style chant that just won’t leave your ears.”

Gordi performing in the Opera House

 

Electric Fields performing on the Opera House forecourt

▷ Electric Fields – Don’t You Worry

“Feel your mood lift with this huge song from the brilliant duo soundtracking this year’s Lighting of the Sails, and may be making an appearance in a Club somewhere over Vivid LIVE.”

▷ Skeleten – Live In Another World

“Irridescent dance music next door to Hot Chip, Russell Fitzgibbon’s Skeleten project continues to impress.”

▷ Hermitude – Promises

“Surging, uplifting emotive track from the Blue Mountains heroes for the party we’ve all been holding out for.”

▷ Rainbow Chan – Nest

“A vibrant, off-kilter gem from talented Sydney producer, vocalist and interdisciplinary artist Rainbow Chan.”

▷ KUČKA - Down By the Water

“PJ Harvey’s ‘Down By the Water’ gets turned inside out by one of the world’s most forward-thinking electronic musicians, Australian glitch-pop experimentalist and regular Flume collaborator KUČKA.”

Marcus Whale, Rainbow Chan pose in dark photo, red background

 

Performance artist Eugene Choi alongside Rainbow Chan and Marcus Whale for In The Mood.

▷ Marcus Whale – Undead

“Emotive, synth-heavy single from the multi-faceted Marcus Whale.”

▷ HTRK – Venus in Leo

“Spacious, disquieting and compelling, “Venus in Leo” captures so much of what makes HTRK essential listening.”

▷ Boris - I Want to Go to the Side Where You Can Touch

“The shapeshifting (and uber-heavy) Japanese trio create a sinuous, folding python out of an ambient track that’s equal parts drone and dream-pop.”

▷ Liars – Plaster Casts of Everything

“Liars’ new album The Apple Drop is fantastic, go check it out, but I can’t help but choose my favourite, fierce, Liars song (the final minute from 2 mins 56 secs is the peak). Listen loud.”

▷ The Double - Dawn of the Double

“Look out, Dirty Three’s Jim White and Cairo Gang’s Emmett Kelly serve up a massive brain-frying 40 minutes of minimalist rock & roll in one take here. This wall of guitar and relentlessly shuffling beats manages to build a bridge from Bo Diddley to Glen Branca, and makes you want to dance across it.”

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