Sydney-based alt-pop artist XIRA has released her second single ‘Sleep Talker,’ a hazy, playful follow-up to fierce debut single ‘Locks Changed,’ and a great indication of even more forward-thinking pop to come from the artist. With even two singles, XIRA is already showcasing a distinct voice in the realm of Australian pop music, though it’s important to add that she hasn’t just come out of nowhere.
Having grown up in Adelaide spending her early years learning from her jazz keyboardist grandfather, XIRA moved to Sydney after attending a jazz camp there with her cousin, which led to her realising just how much she loved and wanted to pursue music. After singing cover gigs and finishing her studies, she then travelled America for almost 3 years before returning to Australia to launch XIRA.
In her own words, the project is “one side of my personality, amplified…happy, strong, colourful and powerful.” Though she notes that as humans we can’t always be these things, for XIRA’s purposes it’s important that the project is, to show women and young girls the power in being genuine and honest, open and transparent. These sentiments are reflected well in ‘Sleep Talker,’ especially as a follow-up to ‘Locks Changed.’
Boasting melodic hooks and minimalistic production reminiscent of Scandinavian pop (i.e. Tove Styrke), the song draws its subtle power from clear influences such as 90s Christina Aguilera, Selena Gomez, Janelle Monáe and Lorde. ‘Sleep Talker’ is a sleeper hit waiting to happen - just a few listens and it will be locked in your memory, replaying its deceptively simple hook over and over and over again.
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‘Sleep Talker’ was written while she was in Brisbane for BIGSOUND. Her friends booked a massive AirBnB and she was terrified that she’d say something embarrassing in her sleep. Having worked herself into a frenzy, she dove into a 3am songwriting session, forming the beginning of ‘Sleep Talker.’
Just as with ‘Locks Changed,’ which targeted the masculine bullshit of modern dating politics, beneath her hook-laded bop exterior is a place of introspection that adds depth and character to the songs and the project as a whole. In ‘Sleep Talker,’ she explores the story of someone trying to play the game, who’s just starting something new and is wrapped up in emotions - playing it cool, taking it slow, only for something unguarded to slip out and mess everything up. It’s a common anxiety that she's playing into, but in a novel format, which only makes ‘Sleep Talker’ all the more intriguing.
There’s plenty more to come, too - she says she’s “sitting on a few favourites” ready for release next year, including tracks she’s worked on with Maribelle, Cam Nacson and Kota Banks. She’s also in the studio for most of December and January, keeping the hit parade going. With all this going on, it's easy to see why XIRA is definitely an artist-to-watch, and we can't wait to see what she does next.
Photo by Tiffany J Williams
Words by MICHAEL STRATFORD HUTCH