- Words Isabelle Cassidy
- Photography Elliott Lauren
Rising Australian singer-songwriter Budjerah is back with new EP 'Conversations', a record about understanding feelings, capturing reality, and creative vulnerability.
Hailing from New South Wales, Australia, Budjerah is making music that speaks with wisdom far beyond his twenty years. Alongside his silky smooth vocals that emulate R&B greats, since releasing a self-titled EP in 2021, the artist has been going from strength to strength.
With a burgeoning career, Budjerah found kinship in fellow Australian artist Matt Corby, a relationship that proved to be fruitful for the young artist. Having since won Breakthrough Artist at the ARIA Awards, his current single “What Should I do” serves as a perfect introduction to the songwriter. With lyrics that explore loneliness and alienation, the buttery vocals emote stories from the artist’s own experiences. The inspiration for the song, came as Budjerah describes: “I noticed that my friends weren’t really texting me or calling me; they had sort of pushed me to the side. I was real sad because I didn’t have any friends, and didn’t know what to do.”
His upcoming EP ‘Conversations’ develops the themes so elegantly introduced in earlier singles. Oscillating between doing the heartbreaking and being heartbroken, Budjerah reunites with long-term producers Matt Corby and Chris Collins, for an EP with a darker, sleeker sound than previous work. Due to play a debut London headline show at the Jazz Café, before hitting The Great Escape, then supporting Vance Joy at Koko, a UK audience is about to hear a lot more Budjerah. We caught up with him to find out his musical inspirations, songwriting process, and bucket-list moments.
I like to make sure people say my name right when I introduce myself, it’s very important to me. Bu like book, dje like jer and rah like rah. I usually describe my music as Indie R&B, and that it’s very vocal based because I like singing the most.
Your new EP ‘Conversations’ is due on the 8th of April – what are you most excited about for its release? Has it been a long time coming?
I’m really excited for ‘Conversations’ to come out, it hasn’t really been a longtime coming but I’m a little impatient. This EP has a lot of new sounds in it that aren’t typically something i’d normally do, I feel like it’s a new side of me and I’m excited to share that.
What are some themes that run throughout? Did you have a sense of something you wanted listeners to take away from ‘Conversations’?
The main thing is that all of these songs actually came from real conversations. A lot happened for me over the last year and there were a lot of changes I had to go through, a few lessons were learnt. What helped me through was talking about what was going on. So the main theme of the EP is just that, ‘Conversations’. I want people to know that it is important to open up even if it’s tough sometimes. Often the people around you care and are there to help you.
I feel like I’ve been a bit more adventurous. We used more digital and synthetic sounds for this EP, which was something I didn’t want in my first EP. I was all about using real instruments and I was quite adamant about it, but now I’ve found a new side of me and I think I’ve just opened up more in general. Being more open now I think is definitely a good shift.
A lot of my early inspirations come from gospel and soul music. Aretha Franklin and Sam Cooke are my favourites. As I got older, I started listening to some jazz music and also Beyoncé. I think Beyoncé has had the biggest influence on my singing.
All my family plays music, they play a lot in church and when I was born my parents would just bring me to the practices. I was always into singing but I didn’t perform properly in front of anyone until I was 12 but once I did I didn’t wanna do anything else and I don’t think I could.
When I write songs, I just write about what’s been happening. I bottle up my emotions a lot then they just come out when I write. The music tends to be the bottle opener i think, if the beat is good that’s what I think allows me to open up. Though, if the music’s not right, I have a hard time writing anything.
When I work with people, it’s more about the relationship than it is the work. Music is a vulnerable thing and I think you need trust. It’s about maintaining a friendship really and that’s the most important thing.
Is there anything on your long-term bucket list for your career? Anywhere you’d love to play or something that will be a marker of your own personal success?
The Jazz Café was on my bucket list so that’s a big milestone for me. I freaked out when I was told I had a gig there. D’angelo made a live album there, and now I’m gonna be there, that’s crazy. My main thing on my long-term bucket list is to do a world tour of area shows. When I can do that, then I think I would’ve made it.