Australia’s homegrown R&B and hip-hop scene is flourishing – Western Sydney was as soon as the cultural hotspot, but now Sydney’s aged rival Melbourne is back again in the recreation. PANIA (aka Pania Hika), Western Melbourne’s mysterious new alt-R&B queen, is unveiling her debut EP, burnt ur apparel & adjusted the addy – a coming-of-age saga. The takeover has started.
A self-explained “Westside lady”, Pania is chatting about Zoom – glamorous with her impeccable make-up, ponytail and white crop T (it has the sassy graphic “u say im skuxx? pls dont lie”).
In the latest days Melbourne’s traditionally functioning-course, multicultural Western suburbs – subjected to harsh lockdown restrictions amid the COVID-19 pandemic – have battled floods. The Maribyrnong River is overflowing, nonetheless Flemington Racecourse, household to the Melbourne Cup, has been spared because of to a controversial protecting barrier. Although Pania is protected, her mates were not so fortunate. “I failed to even know it was flooded,” she exclaims. “I will not look at the information or the Net substantially – like I’ve been active, so I didn’t even know it was flooded until I went on Instagram and I saw a image.”
Several a huge star shy away from the stage. Famously, Beyoncé Knowles made an alter ego, Sasha Intense, to prevail over social anxiousness. Pania can comprehend that duality. With a Māori mother and Indian father, her upbringing was communal – but she was an introvert. “I’m nonetheless really shy as a particular person.”
Tunes delivered Pania with a crucial perception of her Pasifika heritage. But, nevertheless actively playing guitar, she did not envisage herself pursuing a pop vocation, enable by itself executing. “I failed to even use to sing when I was a kid,” Pania reveals. “All my ideal pals ended up in the choir, but I was just like, ‘Nah, not my detail.'” On the other hand, she recognised the pull. “Audio was kinda like a way where by I felt like I could link with something. So I often cherished that feeling.” Pania envied her buddies’ relieve. “I was like, ‘Fuck, I desire I could sing.'” Privately, she experimented with – and when the besties eventually read her voice, they have been encouraging. Later, Pania posted tracks on SoundCloud, attracting community producers.
Curiously, it was Justin Bieber who enthusiastic Pania. “I was a significant Belieber – like a substantial lover,” she laughs. “I don’t forget observing his documentary [2011’s Justin Bieber: Never Say Never], and there was a scene the place he was singing to the crowd, and they have been all singing [back] – like the entire stadium was packed, singing all the words and phrases back again to him – and his parents were in the again crying. And, in that moment, I was like, ‘I feel I wanna sing’ – like ‘I believe I wanna do this.'”
As a substantial schooler, Pania learned confessional soul vocalists – Lauryn Hill, Erykah Badu and Amy Winehouse – appreciating how “raw” and “susceptible” their new music was. “I truly resonated with that – and it motivated me a ton,” she says. “Then I began writing songs on my guitar. I performed them at small gigs about Melbourne, and people today were being like, ‘Yo, I adore your songwriting.’
“It was weird to me ’cause I am not that into writing or looking at. So the truth that men and women can resonate with the words and phrases that I’m putting into my songs was a excellent indicator for me that it was connecting with persons.”
In 2018 Pania broke out with Lotus, a break-up tune helmed by the underground Eleftherios, building blog excitement that inevitably led to her signing with Warner Tunes Australia.
Pania achieved the Melbourne-based mostly engineer/producer HAMLEY at a Sony songwriting camp. His credits include things like Allday (the now landmark Startup Cult!) and Stan Walker’s smash 2020 Even larger – platinum in New Zealand. “We truly hit it off,” she states. At the time, Pania was a newbie, slicing demos. “I failed to truly know a great deal about recording in a studio – like I will not feel I’d ever been to a studio.” HAMLEY served Pania acquire her craft – and a audio.
Pania would get the job done with HAMLEY on her very first formal single ICYY – once more about heartache – which aired in May well 2020, a Pt 2 that includes Kiwi Keziah Feterika. She inaugurated the roll-out for burnt ur apparel & transformed the addy in February with the bash banger tiki. “I feel I am going to usually like tiki because of the vibe it delivers, and the strength it brings, and shooting the tunes online video – like the reminiscences I have with the tune, and just the reach that it realized as nicely.”
Since then, each ICYY and tiki have been synced for Netflix’s commonly lauded reboot of Heartbreak Superior – the original ’90s teen drama establishing Alex Dimitriades’ profile. “I have not effectively watched the clearly show nevertheless, but I will get to it,” Pania divulges. “I’ve just been chaotic. My focus span is so bad now that I will watch a clearly show and just get way too distracted.”
Intellect, Pania did check out how her tunes was utilised. “When you see things like that, you’re like, ‘All suitable – this is why I do this. I have to have to keep heading.'” She recollects listing her objectives – a person getting to have music licensed for Netflix applications. “So the truth that it took place is crazy.”
Pania has had other prospects. This calendar year she joined an Worldwide Women’s Working day digital concert hosted by US rapper Saweetie, who herself blew up with 2017’s ICY GRL. Then, in July, Pania fulfilled Tyler, The Creator.
Pania conceived burnt ur garments & modified the addy through the 2020 quarantine. “It really is been done for a when,” she admits. “It truly is just acquiring it out…” The EP’s title recollects typical feminist R&B bops like Blu Cantrell’s 2001 Strike ‘Em Up Fashion (Oops!), a cheater revenge anthem. Indeed, motivated by 2000s R&B as significantly as Gen Z trapsoul, Pania’s music convey the emotional turmoil of romance but are in the long run about gaining point of view, individual expansion and empowerment.
“I am human – like we’re all human, and we all go by the similar emotions, irrespective of whether it truly is excellent, undesirable, toxic, all of that stuff. We all go through it. So I’m like, ‘I wanna write about it and just be uncooked and straightforward with it’ – ’cause everyone’s gonna relate to some element of it, specifically when it will come to currently being an grownup and likely as a result of relationships. When you might be variety of in that transitional interval, like immediately after superior school, you nonetheless you should not know yourself, so it truly is tough to kinda navigate your way by means of people thoughts. So I just desired to write about that.”
Pania is eager to share the tuneful opener with/without us – the soundtrack to catching an ex residing their greatest life on Instagram, but expressing empathy above bitterness. “I just like the message,” she notes. “It truly is just like, ‘We’re gonna be alright, but I am gonna be much better with or without the need of us’ – ’cause each individual connection that I go by means of, it constantly implies a thing to me and, even if we are not amazing, I am going to normally have that like. So it really is type of just reiterating that. It really is like, ‘I’ll really like you from a length, but I am even now gonna get, and you happen to be nonetheless gonna see that – so you can do what you like with that, but it is really normally like.'”
Pania’s present single, MY CREW, is for her “homies”. “If you know me, you know how considerably I appreciate my mates,” she states. MY CREW is also symbolic, Pania repping Melbourne’s R&B movement, oft-eclipsed by Sydney’s. Ironically, in the ’90s, Melbourne R&B was popping with acts these kinds of as the Dandenong vocal group CDB – Roger Abboud’s Midnight Productions, an incubator for talent in the South East. Daniel Merriweather signed to Mark Ronson’s Allido Information, duetting with Adele – presaging the neo-soul combo Hiatus Kaiyote. Is that dynamic cyclical?
“I definitely see the Sydney target, 100 per cent,” Pania ponders. “I think it is really just [a] faster speed – like there is a lot more hustle there. Folks are genuinely hungry for it there. That is what I’ve seen when I go there. That is why I adore currently being there – ’cause I am often in a do the job manner. Whereas when I am in Melbourne, it is extremely chill… I’ll strike anyone up [to collab], and they will be like, ‘Oh, it’s possible, I don’t know…’ But, if I am in Sydney, it is like, ‘Yeah, let us do it today.’ So I consider it is [a] different life style diverse tradition.”
Pania laments the lack of area figureheads. “There was a small bit of a hole in Melbourne – like there was no one particular actually for us to look to as inspiration from Melbourne in the R&B scene that particular person that I felt represented [by]. So I feel there was no 1 really doing it.
“When I began figuring out there was Melbourne music, it was type of like REMI… I utilised to see Sampa The Great… That was just effervescent when I obtained into songs.
“So there was nothing to definitely appear to as inspiration from our personal town – to get that fireplace rolling. But I imagine it is starting off now… KAIIT was genuinely, definitely dope – a seriously great example.”
In 2022 Pania considers herself as the artist that will bring that warmth to Melbourne along with pals like the MC Agung Mango and BROCKHAMPTON-in comparison team 3K, cheekily declaring, “I guess that is our work now, hey!” She guested on the local R&B divette CD’s Catcha Grip.
In addition to her audio, Pania has introduced outré aesthetics – trend as a passion. She admires Rihanna’s inclusive FENTY attractiveness and lingerie empire. Auspiciously, Pania was included in an Adidas marketing campaign. “Just before I was into songs, I was often into manner. I was constantly that kid that would don like random scarfs at school, and it would get confiscated… It’s generally been a aspiration of mine to have my individual vogue line or just have my very own manufacturer.”
Pania, who appeared at Sydney’s Hear Out, will start her EP with shows in Melbourne and Sydney. Beforehand, the singer carried out with a DJ, but now she has a band. And Pania is experiencing the are living working experience. “I believe it really is been a method. You know, I am tremendous shy, so placing myself on a stage is like the most vulnerable spot I can ever be – for me. I made use of to get tremendous anxious, but now it’s just about inviting people today into your world – and accomplishing stay is just one more way to do it.
“I’m just seeking to embrace that much more. I’ve been rehearsing heaps with a DJ… So I just wanna generate a vibe and, whoever vibes with it, whoever fucks with it, then it really is awesome that they’re on the journey now – ’cause it’s such an early stage.
“I indicate, you won’t see this facet of me without end. So it really is amazing that I can just go to spaces and get followers at the starting ’cause they are in this article for the journey. So I think it truly is a distinctive time, for certain.”
PANIA’s E.P ‘burnt your garments & adjusted the addy’ is out November 10. You can preorder in this article.