Who Are Our Favourite Unearthed High Winners?
We're about to start the search for your new favourite highschool artist! Before we do that, we gave some of our mates from around triple j a real tough task. We asked them to pick their favourite victorious teens from Unearthed High classes past. It's impossible to choose a favourite child but for whatever reason, everyone has that one winner that has stuck in their memory strongest. These are them.
Bridget Hustwaite - Hunting Grounds (FKA Howl)
Ya darn right I’m coming in to bat for not only my hometown, but my HIGH SCHOOL! The HOWL boys brought life to our school assemblies and their Unearthed High win in 2009 had students so amped up that their moshing literally left a hole in the basketball court. A literal hole.
They went on to smash up festival stages at Big Day Out, Groovin The Moo and Golden Plains, leaving punters in a total frenzy over their hugely energetic performances. After changing their name to Hunting Grounds, their 2012 debut (and triple j featured) album In Hindsight showcased an epic fusion of sounds (indie rock meets punk rave meets melodic dream pop *catches breath*) but it also broke the norm of frontman duties by alternating THREE lead vocals throughout the record. I seriously feel like they could rerelease this album in 2018 and it would be a hit. Yeah, that’s how it’s done in the 3350, people.
Declan Byrne - Stonefield
A mother from rural Victoria tells her four daughters, ranging from 12 years old to 20, to enter the triple j Unearthed High competition which closes that night. Luckily, they’d just recorded a song for a school assignment. It’s a story as old as time!
Stonefield (fka Iotah) took out triple j Unearthed High in 2010 and haven’t looked back. Growing up on classic 70s rock, their music is full big riffs, powerful vocals and a free-spirited sound. Stonefield songs evoke memories of road trips, summer festivals, expansive fields and maybe just a couple of dreamcatchers.
They’ve released three albums, had a song in the Hottest 100, played huge shows and festivals in Australia and the world and recently signed to King Gizzard’s label. Plus, it’s incredible to think that three of the Findlay sisters are still under 25. With so much ahead of them, it clearly pays to listen to your mother.
Max Quinn - Gretta Ray
For me, it's Gretta Ray.
I so distinctly remember finding 'Drive' in 2016. That song is my favourite song ever to come from Unearthed High, and maybe one of my favourites ever to come from Unearthed. It's evocative and vulnerable and confident. I get little goosebumps thinking about how there isn't a word out of place, how it's arranged so delicately and with such care, how the melody wraps around you like a ribbon. It sounds like falling in love.
I knew straight away that I'd come upon not only the winner of Unearthed High for that year, but also an artist destined to resonate. So far, the returns speak for themselves, and there’s more to come: last year we sat in a cafe and Grett played me some of the new record she’s working on. It’s great. Promise.
Dave Ruby Howe - Japanese Wallpaper
Japanese Wallpaper's reputation quite literally proceeded him before he ascended to the top of the honours list in Unearthed High 2014. I remember first hearing of him in 2012 when Nick Murphy was in the Unearthed studio recommending some of his favourite tracks and mentioned this prodigious Melbourne producer who would've been 13 or barely 14 at the time.
Press skip on a couple of years and the growth that Gab (the brains behind the 'Wallpaper) had shown in such a short time was astounding. Here was this gorgeous and sweeping music, with a meticulous level of detail to each individual sound. To call it cinematic would be too literal as his track with Wafia that year, 'Breathe In', landed in Zach Braff's Wish I Was Here feature film.
Since winning we've seen JW crack the Hottest 100 more times than any other Unearthed High winner (#97 in 2014, #69 in 2015 and #44 in 2017 with his Allday collab) and quietly commence work on a debut album. I've got a feeling it's going to be a special one.
Nat Tencic - Snakadaktal
I liken Snakadaktal a lot to The Middle East. A powerful, talented outfit, making a singular sound that struck a chord and sounded like a moment in time, burning bright but also fast. Internal disputes unseen at the time put a short expiry date on the Steiner School kids from Melbourne, but in their moment they were transportative. Their winning song Chimera still sends shivers down my spine, "Peter Pan, take us to school" was too fitting a refrain from a band that might stay crystallised in youth.