SYDNEY — Big things are expected of Erthlings.
The quartet of Sydney schoolgirls, each member just 16 years of age, has just been signed by Sydney record label Future Classic. “Bridges,” the group’s debut single, bowed in August on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s national youth radio network triple j.
The moody indie pop tune with dreamy, washed-out vocals — which has clocked 300,000 monthly listeners on Spotify Australia, with nearly 800,000 streams — was quickly picked up internationally by Matt Wilkinson and Zane Lowe on Apple Music’s Beats 1 Radio; Austin, Texas, radio station KUTX, which named Bridges ‘Song of The Day’ on Sept. 21, and The Line of Best Fit, the U.K.’s biggest independent music discovery web site. The latter’s editor, Paul Bridgewater, described “Bridges” as “the most impressive debut single you’ll hear this year.”
Last month, Erthlings shot their first video with Sydney fashion photographer and videographer Cybele Malinowski and did two live performances at the Bigsound music festival in Brisbane, Australia, followed up by several live gigs at Sydney music venues — all while juggling Year 10 exams.
“It was all pretty crazy,” says Issy Lowe, who helms the band’s vocals and keyboards, together with Taylor Shutes on bass, guitarist Jessame Stepto and drummer Lissa Evans.
“Future Classic is so influential that it kind of had a pretty sudden impact, which we really weren’t expecting — we were thinking we would go out there and a couple of people would like it and that would be it. Luckily, it kind of took off,” she adds.
“At times it can be pretty stressful,” says Stepto. “But everyone’s been really supportive. I get a lot of girls coming up and saying how much they love the song. And all the teachers are very supportive, like when we had to go to Bigsound they worked with us and helped us get around everything.”
A second single and video are due for release by the end of the year.
“We just want to kind of grow pretty organically and meet more people and get more involved in the whole industry, because it’s actually really exciting and it’s a nice community,” says Lowe. “And hopefully just bank up some songs while we’re doing the HSC [the Higher School Certificate or final high school exams] so we don’t have to worry about it all too much.”
The girls, who attend three different Sydney high schools, first met at age 8 at the Kings Cross Conservatorium, an inner-city music school, and started writing music together a year later.
Originally founded in Melbourne in 1990 as the Rock ‘n’ Roll High School by Litany drummer Stephanie Bourke and visited by international touring bands such as Sonic Youth and Rancid, the school is believed to have inspired Richard Linklater’s 2003 movie “School of Rock” starring Jack Black.
“Ten years ago it might have been a bit more of an oddity for people to take such young artists so seriously and the reaction would have likely been, ‘Oh, just wait, let them finish school and then they can have a crack at it’,” says Dave Ruby Howe, music director of triple j’s new music discovery platform Unearthed.
“But now you see artists in their teens who are genuinely carving out careers at a young age. Internationally, Lorde and Billie Eilish come to mind but locally you’ve got artists like E^st, Golden Vessel, Ruel, KIAN, Gretta Ray and now Erthlings standing up, backing their talent and running in the same space as musicians who may have had more experience than them. Rightfully, it should come down to the music that’s being made — is it good? If so, then everyone wins.”