Artists to Watch in 2019: XIRA

To stand out in the pop music landscape these days is no mean feat—streaming platforms are so clogged with would-be Lorde’s that every new music Friday can oftentimes feel like flogging a dead horse. XIRA, the alt-pop solo project of Sydney-based Tamika Stanton, has achieved with just two tracks what many artists fail to achieve until second or third albums – genuinely interesting pop.

The two songs put out in 2018 – ‘Locks Changed’ and ‘Sleep Talker’ – showcase a broad palette of sounds and influences.

‘Locks Changed’ is a raucous trip through contemporary dating politics, a weird-and-wonderful mixed bag of clear synths, eclectic percussion and wobbling sub. XIRA’s idiosyncratic taste is shown best in the chorus, which doesn’t so much kick things up a notch as it does deliciously sink down into the pit, stripping back to the sub, percussion, and an alarming background scream that is equal parts disquieting and thrilling.

‘Sleep Talker’ makes for a great contrast, gliding over dreamy pads and a minimal beat, with a hook that snags your memory with just one listen. Both showcase XIRA’s deft lyricism and songwriting abilities, and her distinct sense of vocal cadence, which intrigues with its unexpected twists and turns.

Coming from a background of family musicians and cover gigs, it’s clear with even a few listens that XIRA isn’t at all the usual industry fluff—there’s chops here, and a distinctive character of production. In her own words, the project is “one side of my personality, amplified…happy, strong, colourful and powerful.

Following from the success of her first two singles, there’s plenty more to come in 2019—she’s “sitting on a few favourites” ready for release, including tracks worked on with MaribelleCam Nacson and Kota Banks, as well as writing new material over the summer. With already such a unique voice, it will be interesting to see what other directions XIRA is able to take her work in 2019. We can only hope that there’s even more left-of-centre bops and sleeper-hits on the way.

Photo via Facebook

Words by MICHAEL STRATFORD HUTCH

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