It’s fair to say that Australian singer-songwriter Budjerah is about to rise to new heights.
The last time 1883 sat down with the Australian artist, he had just released his sophomore EP, Conversations. A brilliant project full of lush vocals, distinctive lyricism, and experimental R&B sonics. Last year when we interviewed Budjerah, the songwriter had already earned a 2021 ARIA Breakthrough Artist Award, he was part of YoutTube’s Black Voices Class of 2022, and the New South Wales-based artist was about to embark on a massive support tour with Vance Joy. Big moves from an exciting new artist with undeniable talent. Since then, things have gone into hyperdrive for the musician. He’s currently on an Australian support tour with Ed Sheeran, and has recently put out an irresistible single called Therapy. The artist is undoubtedly at an incredibly crucial point in his career right now and it feels like it’s only a matter of time before more and more people find out about him. 1883 Magazine spoke to Budjerah about his new single, what it’s like going on an arena tour with huge production values, and ticking off Abbey Road from his bucket list.
Hi Budjerah, last time 1883 caught up with you was after the release of your sophomore EP, Conversations. How do you think you’ve developed as an artist since then? A lot has been happening in your world.
After releasing Conversations, I’ve been doing shows every weekend for the last year. Now I just wanna make songs that hit hard when I perform live. Whenever I go into the studio now, that’s all I’m thinking about. There also personal growth that’s happened in the last year, but my life’s just become about my show and I love performing and that’s had the most impact on my artistry.
You’ve mentioned that your new single Therapy made you realise how you felt frustrated during a relationship. Why is this song so important to you and do you feel that every song you pen is a therapeutic process for yourself?
Before I answer this question, I have to tell you that I didn’t write Therapy. It was a pitch song, which is something I’ve never tried before. It was written by Sarah Aarons and the producer Stint. When I heard Therapy, I was frustrated with someone in particular and this song said everything I wanted to say to that person, and that’s the power of songwriting. The lyrics help me get out what I needed to get out at that time in my life, and when I write songs too, it’s an emotional release for me. Similar to going to a councillor or a therapist, I tell my music everything.
You’ve graduated from touring with the likes of Vance Joy to now Ed Sheeran. Tell us all about the Australian tour so far! What have you found most eye-opening or interesting when going on a big tour with huge production values?
I’m currently in the middle of the first couple shows and it’s been a super crazy experience. It kinda doesn’t feel real. Touring with Vance Joy was crazy too, so a tour with Ed is really just like ‘holy moly!’ to me. My cousins are in my band and we have been playing music together since we were young in church and now that we’ve come to this. We don’t even know how to describe what we’re seeing. There are so many crazy details about the production, but the biggest learning thing for me and my band is using In-Ear Monitors. You can’t really hear anything on stage in a stadium without them and they sound like we’re in a studio, which is a bit weird but we are getting used to them slowly.
Following on from that, what’s been on your rider whilst on tour? Have you asked for anything funny yet just to test it out?
I like to keep my rider very simple. I don’t want anything more than what I need. We got tea, fruit, snacks, just the basics. The craziest thing we got on the list is non-alcoholic ginger beer for when we finish our set. If I get a big number 1 song I think I’ll get an ice cream station with waffle cones. Different ice cream flavours in each city.
When you came to London last year for your headline show, were you able to tick off Abbey Road from your bucket list? If so, what did you think?
I love London! It was my very first time going overseas and London was the first stop. Abbey Road was really cool and walking past the studio was awesome, but I also found it pretty funny, because it is just a road. A girl sat down in the middle of the road to get pictures and there was a massive line of cars honking at her and a dude on a bike rode past and yelled “F you” at her. Another thing on my bucket list was to go on the London Eye, I didn’t to go on yet last time I was there so I need to come back so I can do that.
Who are you listening to at the moment?
I’m not listening to a lot of music right now. I listen to all my music on an mp3 player and I’m super selective with what I put on there so I’m not being influenced by so much and can really focus on the sound I like and want for myself. I’m mainly listening to my own songs that are in my show so I can remember the words when I perform.
Tell us what it’s been like playing with a full live band over the last year? Your cousins are part of the band which is cool.
Yeah my band is made up of my cousins, I love them, they’re more like my brothers. I love having a back with me on stage, I feel like I can let go when I sing now. When I play solo I feel like I can’t give everything when I sing because I have to split my energy between my guitar and voice. With the band I don’t have to multitask and I can give my energy to sing or playing something on the guitar. It’s really fun to have my family on stage with me too, lots of funny moments with them.
Finally, this point in your career feels like a huge transitional period for your art, particularly because your music is now being shared with far bigger audiences than before. What keeps you humble and what would you like to achieve in your career next?
Yeah it’s pretty crazy. we’ll see how people like the new songs, hopefully they like them. The thing that keeps me humble is my family. They come everywhere with me and they don’t play games with me. They would never let me get a big head. If they think I’m getting too big for my boots, they make sure I get the right size. The next thing for me in my career right now, I don’t know, just gonna keep doing shows and putting out songs, that’s all you can really do as a singer. I’d really love to come back to the UK and play some music festivals, if you guys would have me.
Therapy is out now. Follow Budjerah @budjerah
Interview by Cameron Poole