Hot Six: Meet the South Australian bands poised for success in 2016


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By David Russell

Everyone loves discovering music, but short of spending late mid-week nights in pubs all over Adelaide, finding awesome new bands can, for some of us, be difficult. Fortunately, Rip It Up has done the legwork yet again with the Hot Six. They’ve been picking bands on the cusp of success since 2008, and these guys know what they’re talking about. Previous Hot Six winners include Tkay Maidza, Bad//Dreems, Horror My Friend, Strict Face and Timberwolf. As always, this year’s line-up is young, vibrant, and diverse. The 2016 Hot Six will be celebrated at an event at Fat Controller on Friday, January 29, which will include performances from the bands (tickets $10).  Inside South Australia caught up with the Hot Six winners to find out what makes them tick, and what’s in store for 2016.

Maggie Rutjens

A native of Crystal Brook, Maggie Rutjens has been busy reinventing herself. “My music is changing all the time and the ‘indie folk’ box I was comfy in for a long time doesn’t seem to fit anymore,” says Maggie. “My music is better crafted (now), with production in mind while I’m writing.”

Maggie has been working with Michael Zubreckyj (from Brokers) on new sounds and has secured Matt Birkin and Louis Donnarumma to play drums and bass respectively. “I’ve never played my music with a band before… (but) I adore the craft of working alongside others. I find it makes my music smarter, fresh, and I actually enjoy performing when there are people on stage to smile at.”

Maggie has played the National Folk Festival and Port Fairy Festival and more recently played gigs with Daniel Champagne and Timberwolf. This year she’ll be releasing an EP “inspired by new sounds and better minds”.


When Elena Nees and Miles Smith started gigging together as solo artists, they quickly realised a collaboration could be greater than the sum of its parts. “We were gigging together before we knew what our sound was… That’s been really good in shaping the music we’re making,” says Elena.

Hummingbird’s minimalist pop-rock-electronic sound has been lapped up at city venues like Ancient Worlds and Format, and attracted radio play on Triple J, Fresh and community stations.

This year they’ll be releasing an EP, likely to drop in late February or March, and will be playing gigs in Melbourne and Sydney.

Joy & Sparks

The music of solo artist Joy & Sparks isn’t exactly easy to categorise. “With today’s music becoming an eclectic mess of genres I have decided to name my music trap elek-tribal rhythm and bedroom, with a firm tongue in my cheek,” She says.

Joy & Sparks isn’t new on the scene; she’s played festivals including Strawberry Fields and Lost City, and supported the likes of The Hilltop Hoods, Banoffee and Oskar Key Sung. But there’s plenty in store for 2016: “I am set to release my first solo EP very soon with a whole plethora of video clips I’ve made in collaboration with some of South Australia’s most talented artists.”

West Thebarton Brothel Party

 West Thebarton Brothel Party is what happens when a whole bunch of mates from a whole bunch of bands get together to hang out and play music. “It’s good old garage rock and roll with a few other influences creeping,” says drummer Brian Bolado. The seven piece formed in 2012, taking the inspiration for its name from the recording studio the guys rehearsed in on West Thebarton Road.

WTBP has built a dedicated fan base in Adelaide through regular gigs in pubs and music venues, have supported Courtney Barnett and King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, and went on tour with previous Hot Six winner Bad//Dreems late last year. They’ve also had plenty of radio play around the country, but have no plans to relocate.

“I feel like it’s a cop-out when people think they need to move to another city. I understand when bands say they want to move… but I feel like if you’re not working on your music first and making sure that’s good, (moving) isn’t a good way to go about it. Adelaide has what you need… it’s easy to get to know people, (and) easy to get help because you overlap and play gigs at the same places. Adelaide has a nice eclectic mix of things going on.”


Three-piece electronic indie group Skies is the result of the marriage of a blues-and-roots inspired frontman (Dusty Stephensen) and an electronic beatmaker (Micah Cearns). Multi-instrumentalist and producer Michael Zabolocki ties it all together, to great effect.

The band was stoked to make this year’s Hot Six. “It was a dream of Dusty’s for the last five years to make it (so) we let him steal the limelight and embrace in the glory of the title by being the only one from the band to appear in the promo pics! For the rest of us, we also feel honoured to receive the title. We hope… that through this more people will discover our music.”

Skies have had plenty of love from local radio and Triple J Unearthed and played at Here’s To Now and Bigsound Festival. They’ll be releasing their next single in a few weeks.

The Hard Aches

Adelaide music fans are about to see a whole lot more of The Hard Aches. The two piece ‘slacker rock’ band took out the Triple J Unearthed competition to open this year’s St Jerome’s Laneway Festival. The band released their debut LP Pheromones in mid 2015 to widespread acclaim, supported Bad//Dreams and The Bennies, and played Gingerfest and Fools Fest. 2016 will be just as big, with an East Coast tour in February and a new EP on the way.

Book tickets to the Hot Six launch party at Fat Controller on Friday 29 January. 

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