ICON: Your name Budjerah translates to ‘first light’. Does the theme of ‘light’ carry through into your music?
BUDJERAH: In my culture our names tell our stories and are super important to us. My goal with music is to keep telling my story. Budjerah is a word used in my language for a few different things. First light, just as the sun rises in the morning is ‘budjerah’ and the greatest love of all is also called ‘budjerah’. I always want to share love and light with people and music is the easiest way for me to do that.
ICON: You have said that your style was influenced early on by everyone from AC/DC to The Chicks to Bob Marley. Do you continue to find inspiration in iconic artists
BUDJERAH: Yeah, I’m always taking inspiration from artists I look up to. My family played so many different kinds of music when I was little and I learn so much from listening to all different kinds of music.
ICON: Working with names like Matt Corby, Meg Mac, PNAU and of course Ed Sheeran, has this incredible support felt overwhelming? Have you learned different things from each of them?
BUDJERAH: I’m very blessed to be able to work with so many talented artists, ones I looked up to when I was a kid. And I do get emotional thinking about that sometimes. I have learned a lot from everyone but my biggest teacher has been Matt Corby. We started writing music together when I was 16 and when I got a record deal he was there whenever my parents and I had any questions. And, even now, I know he’ll give me good advice if I need it.
ICON: As an artist, you are challenged to connect with people through your music and storytelling. Does it feel satisfying when you achieve this connection?
BUDJERAH: Yes, if you come to my show you’ll see that I live off the crowd. If I see them having a good time and connecting I get super hyped up. My dad always told me that music always goes past the head and straight to the heart. I want to speak to people’s hearts.
ICON: How much of your own, internal self is reflected in your music? Do you think it takes courage to be authentic and find your inner shine?
BUDJERAH: Songwriting and performing is very personal to me and when I write I put down everything I feel.
“In the beginning, I had a hard time saying how I felt about things so I would skip parts of myself that I didn’t want to share. [And though] I still sometimes have trouble letting everything out, I always try to push for realness. Because when your realness shines, it shines bright.”
ICON: Is there an artist you would love to work with, given the chance?
BUDJERAH: I’ve got a long list. Christina Aguilera, John Farnham, Stevie Wonder, Jimmy Barnes. There are heaps.
ICON: If you weren’t a musician, what would you be?
BUDJERAH: I think I would have tried to be an athlete. I’m good at running and can go really fast.
ICON: How do your family feel about your success? Do you miss them when you’re touring?
BUDJERAH: My family actually comes everywhere with me. I’ve got my cousins in my band and my Dad and Uncles drive the bus sometimes. My Mum helps me iron my outfits before I go on stage, too. My family is my biggest support.
ICON: When it comes to style, do you enjoy creating character and energy through fashion? How would you describe your style?
BUDJERAH: I grew up in a beach town and all I used to wear was beach shorts for a long time. I thought models and the fashion world were a bit weird! When I did my first fashion shoot I was a bit hesitant about some of the stuff I was wearing but after the first couple of looks I started to feel like I could be whoever I wanted.
“I would describe my everyday style as “ready to go”. Nice jeans and sneakers most of the time.”
ICON: Can you tell us what your five most recently listened to songs on your playlist are right now?
BUDJERAH: The last five tracks of Gemini Rights by Steve Lacy. [It’s] my favourite album right now.
Photography & Videography: Julian Schulz
Fashion Direction: Kim Payne
Grooming: Darren Summors
Digital Operator: Nick Shaw
Fashion Assistant: Sophia Stamellos