Safia with music director Michael Liu at the opening night of FASHFEST at Canberra airport. Safia could land a song in Triple J's Hottest 100 with Listen To Soul, Listen To Blues. Photo: Melissa Adams
So, it is the start of a new year and if it is going to be anything like 2013 it will be a bumper year of new music and exciting entertainment prospects. Who’d forget DaftPunk’s amazing new album or Lorde exploding onto the scene with her art pop musings.
But in our local Canberra community we already have some firmly established acts that have been showcasing their extraordinary talents for years. They’ve been blowing our minds with their independent spirit and flair and the world is now their oyster.
This city is home to a number of important musical venues and institutions and the following bands have carved out their careers from within Canberra’s vibrant music scene.
Lavers hope to unleash a first taste of their debut album early this year.
We may be a small, cosmopolitan town but we can match the very best the world has to offer and the following acts have been charging ahead at breakneck speed.
Fun Machine were the big winners at the MusicACT Annual Music Awards (MAMAs). They were named best artist of 2013 and took song of the year for Ready for the Fight at the awards night at Albert Hall.
The Aston Shuffle hope to continue touring in 2014. Photo: Martin Boulton
The band was nominated for four awards, just recognition for an indie act that supported The Darkness earlier in 2013 and then received plenty of Triple J airtime with Ready for the Fight.
Another fine example of Canberra's cultural diversity, Fun Machine are sonically rich and sound as ambitious as LCD Soundsystem in their alt-rock, dance approach.
Check out their two adventurous video clips for Ready for the Fight and Naked Body. Both songs marry elements of rock, punk, dance and just about everything else in between.
Fun Machine were the big winners at the MusicACT Annual Music Awards in 2013 and want to make their live shows more interesting in 2014.
You can see them refreshed and re-energised at Captains at Mariners at Batemans Bay on January 25. Their live show will be even more interesting, for the band was recently quoted as saying: ''We've got a huge backlog of plans for increasing spectacle. If we get the resources, we'll put on a show like Bonaparte, Sufjan Stevens, Lady Gaga or Mikelangelo and the Black Sea Gentlemen.
''We supported The Darkness last year and those guys are kind of like athletes.''
Hands Like Houses is enjoying a surge of support in the US.
Hand Like Houses
Emotive rockers Hands Like Houses are signed to a major label and last year released their sophomore album Unimagine.
This six-piece band plays an explosive form of rock that has been noticed beyond Australian borders and in 2013 were part of the Vans Warped tour in the United States.
The band is enjoying a surge of support in the US and their singles on YouTube have racked up close to a million views each.
They sound professional and accomplished beyond their years. Matt Cooper and Joel Tyrell recently reflected on playing in front of the big crowds in the US.
''There are so many stages and kids didn't have to be there watching us. We've done tours before where bigger bands and their fans will watch us play, because we're there. Warped Tour was where we found out how many fans we actually had, who came and watched us every day. Being a band from Canberra, it's pretty unreal seeing the people we had each day. We were pretty blown away by that.''
In 2014, Hands like Houses will have their first proper Australian headliner in January/February. They will play at the ANU Bar on February 1.
The Aston Shuffle
This Canberra house-music duo are renowned globally for their dance tracks and mixing of other dance songs. They have previously won the Best ACT Electronic Dance Music Producer award at the MAMAs, which is well deserved when you listen to the entrancing and accessible dance beats of songs such as Sunrise and Comfortable.
In 2014, they will put the finishing touches on a new record, which has been a huge project over the past 18 months and is due out early next year. They will also embark on a national tour in February, when they will unveil their new live show, which they are working on now.
During 2013, The Aston Shuffle had a big focus on touring overseas and they hope to continue that in 2014.
Mikah Freeman and Vance Musgrove remember what it was like starting The Aston Shuffle.
''As Canberra was a pretty small scene at the time, everyone knew everyone and it just so happened that we were into the same music, so we decided to start writing records together.
''About that time, social media was in its infancy and Myspace was the only real place to share your music online and get in contact with your peers. It really helped us get our music out there globally and it also helped us in cementing a career in music.
''Today we have a lot more tools at our disposal for getting our music out there on a global scale, so it really doesn't matter where you come from any more.''
Canberra three-piece SAFIA offer an intoxicating and stylish form of electronica that has been appreciated by Triple J fans and the wider Aussie public.
Ben Woolner, Michael Bell and Harry Sayers had been playing in various bands around town before forming the group in 2012.
Regular airplay and attention on Triple J has had a major effect on their popularity in a short space of time. SAFIA not only opened last year's Groovin the Moo but also played at the recent Foreshore festival alongside big name acts as Tiesto, Calvin Harris, 360 and Example.
Their music, which has been described as ''electrical indie'', is a far cry from the music most Canberra bands are making.
''I think we are the only ones to really do it in Canberra,'' Woolner says.
''We produce all our music using software and it's mainly electronic but we take the original file and take out bits we think we should be playing and assign them to different instruments.''
It looks as though 2014 will be another exciting year for the band, with readers able to vote for SAFIA's sublime single Listen to Soul, Listen to Blues in the Hottest 100. Voting closes on January 17.
The band will also release a new single about February or March and feature at a few boutique festivals including:
■ St Kilda Festival, February 9 (Melbourne),
■ Down The Rabbit Hole, February 22 (Fremantle)
Dom Lavers, brother Seb and drummer Matt Barnes make up indie-rock outfit Lavers, who are starting to make waves in the local music scene.
Since forming three years ago, they have released two EPs, The Street is a Symphony and Endless Corridor, and their single, Our Little Empire, was a finalist in the Song of the Year category at the MusicACT Annual Music Awards 2012.
They play emotional indie-folk music that reaches straight for your heart. They are currently bunkered down in their basement studio, hoping to unleash the first taste of their debut album early this year.