Strict Face picks 6 Australian club producers you should be listening to

The Adelaide resident lets you know what’s good down under.

As Strict Face, Jon Santos has been building melodious, grime-tinged tracks that have found homes on a number of quality labels over the past few years. There’s his wistful ‘Fountains’ single for Gobstopper, the brooding wonder of his split with Rabit on Mumdance and Logos’ Different Circles imprint, and this ferocious Britney Spears flip ‘Toxic Gunner’. That’s just for starters. Dig deeper into Santos’ discography, and it’s only then that you get an idea of the sheer depth of his productions.

However, he isn’t the only artist making waves in Australia with music that strays from the norm, so we called upon Santos to share some of his favourite Aussie artists. As he told us over email, the list consists of “Australian ‘club’ producers I’ve been into over the last few years or so. Some of the YouTube links featured may not necessarily be my favourite material from the producers, but due to the limited amount of music floating on the aforementioned platform, it’ll have to do.” Educate yourself below.

Strict Face will play in London on May 21 alongside Moleskin, Lolingo and Boylan (+ residents Oil Gang and Slackk) for the next instalment of Boxed. Grab tickets here.

1. Air Max ’97

Oli (Air Max ’97) was one of the first Australian producers I came across who were doing something that isn’t in line with what’s trendy in Australia, which was a majorly pleasant surprise. Though his first few EPs (like Anodized and Fruit Crush) were really good (considering how much I was surrounded by house, techno or trap producers in Australia), he’s come a long way in the last year and a bit… I dunno if he thinks he has, but I think he’s found his own voice within the landscape of Australian producers. A valuable asset.

2. Nina Las Vegas

I may be biased because I consider her a friend, but I think Nina is one of the few people of her status (if not the ONLY one) in Australia who actually gets what’s going on outside of the country musically and can educate people on it without having it come out as cringeworthy. Whereas a lot of other producers/DJs who are as well-known as her here have more or less played it safe, she’s been a lot more ballsy and stuck up for emerging peeps over the last few years, which is essential for a scene like ours.
3. Waterhouse
It’s a bit hard to enunciate my thoughts on what Jade (Waterhouse) makes without coming across as a wanker, but it’s definitely some of the most riveting Australian music I’ve come across in a while – not just in a “club” context, but also within the wider scope. Something that’s just entirely of its own ilk without any comparable local precedent.
4. V Kim

Yet another producer, much like Air Max ’97, who I discovered doing something refreshing in Australia. Even with the incredible K-Ballroom stuff he started off making, he’s grown heavily over the last few months. What he’s doing with the Eternal Dragonz crew is genius, as a proud Asian who’s been hoping for our own equivalent to like-minded crews like NAAFI.

5. Cosmo’s Midnight

Although I was a little wary of the music at first because of the crowds their music tends to attract, I’ve taken a huge liking to what guys like Cosmo’s Midnight, Wave Racer and Basenji have been making recently. I vividly remember when Cosmo showed me the early version of this track and being blown away by it: all of those guys just have such an unrivalled ear for earworm melodies and well-structured tunes.

6. Mike Midnight 

One thing I like about being in Australia is the isolation in terms of being influenced as a producer – it basically allows you to do your own thing without pigeonholing constraints AND still have it picked up by people in and outside of Australia easily. That pretty much applies to guys like Mike Midnight – even though I first properly came across his music when he was making grime (which still sounds fucking sick), he’s gradually matured since and thrown a bit of a curveball… well, if you didn’t know he liked techno as much as grime, I guess. Then again, he showed me some grimier tunes he was working on the other day which sound incredible. See what I mean?

 Featured image: Sebastian Petrovski