As part of the Sydney Morning Herald Spectrum Now Festival this March, Presenting Partner ANZ will launch its emerging talent program, the Blue Stage Series to celebrate and showcase NSW’s next wave of emerging musicians.


From Thursday March 3, pop up live music sites will come to life, where 24 of the state’s most outstanding unsigned artists will have the opportunity to perform in front of a panel of judges.


Heats will be held everyday from March 3-8, with the winners of each heat competing in semi final events between March 10-11 at Martin Place and Pitt Street with the final on Sunday 12 March.


To check out some of NSW’s most exceptional unsigned talent, visit ANZ Australia on Facebook for the daily line-up.


We caught up with performer Lissa Diener to find out about her performance and what to expect.


Tell us what to expect from your show at Spectrum

Expect shortness. I am short. Haha. But you can also expect a pretty honest, down to earth performance. It’s just going to be me singing and playing on my guitar.


What are you influences

My influences range from 60s stuff like the Beatles and Simon & Garfunkel, current folk artists such as Fionn Regan and Iron & Wine and I think somewhere harmonically in the background is the influence of my love for impressionistic and minimalist composers.


Will you be heading to see any of the performances? If so, which ones?

I’m not sure yet but there are definitely some fantastic things on! I was very excited to hear that Missy Higgins was headlining of course. The Morrisons’ “Man of Constant Sorrow” show will be stunning and I know some friends in Furnace and the Fundamentals; SUCH an energetic, crazy, fun covers band!!


What’s the stand out moment from your career?

Oh wow this is a tricky question! I’ve played, sung and supported some amazing Australian artists over the years. But honestly, the stand out moments for me are what seems like the simple ones. You look up during a song and see someone with tears in their eyes or someone walks up to you when you’re busking and says how much the song you just played completely echoed how they’re feeling. And you can tell they’re grateful for experiencing this small moment of release…their emotions were expressed through a song into the air. I know it sounds corny and cliche…but honestly…those moments stand out the most for me.


Tell us about your musical style

Folky and very melody driven. I love the simplicity of voice and guitar. I like trying to pull a few heart strings too 😉 I am releasing an acoustic EP in March called ‘Tahloumbi’. It’s been great to record something that feels so naked. But I’m getting itchy again and am wanting to explore a bit more of my classical roots. I’d like to somehow create a fusion of folk/minimalist writing for the next project.


Where’s your favourite place in Sydney to hang out?

Where I live! In Newtown! It caters perfectly to my extrovert/introvert personality (ambivert I think?!). When I want to be social there are a plethora of places where I can meet up with my friends and then when I want to retreat, the big park is perfect on a Summer’s night to just sit and chill out. Bookstores that are open until 10 or 11 at night are a treat for me too.


More about ANZ’s Blue Stage @ SPECTRUM

Hailing from all over NSW and representing a wide range of genres, the diversity of this year’s participants is testament to the vibrancy of the state’s emerging music scene. While acts including James Englund and I Am Apollo represent part of the Sydney contingent, others, like Wagga Wagga indie act, Jarryn Phegan and Newcastle indie poppers, Nova and the Experience, prove there’s no shortage of talent right across NSW.

Encompassing genres like jazz and rock to hip-hop and even discopunk, many acts are already being recognized for their work. These include 2016 Golden Guitar award winner Christie Lamb, and recent Splendor in the Grass performer, Adam Harpaz, a multi-instrumentalist from Bondi.

“I’m stoked to be performing on the first day of the program in Martin Place and to also experience some great performances from my peers,” said Harpaz. “The ANZ Blue Stage Series is a great initiative for musicians like myself who like to get involved in wider community activities and be heard by new audiences”.

The acts will compete for a grand prize of $15,000, a mentorship with a key industry indentity, an opportunity to and perform on the stage at the Spectrum Now Festival @ the Domain on Sunday 13 March.

The Blue Stage Series is part of ANZ’s ongoing commitment to support emerging talent across Australia.Backed by industry credentials, the judging panel is comprised of Bernard Zuel, Senior Music Writer and Chief Critic for Fairfax Media, Jennie Sager, Global Chair of Music, Manager of Music and Entertainment for @TwitterAU and Catriona Noble from ANZ.

The acts in this year’s Blue Stage Series are Borneo, Lissa Diener, Dog the Duke, James Englund, Rachel Fahim, Ainsley Farrell, Ella Freestone, Ginger and Drum, Adam Harpaz, Martin Hulbert, I Am Apollo, The Khanz, Christie Lamb, Jaime Lindsay, Mabel, Nova and the Experience, Jarryn Pheagan, Aime Pitcher, Planet, Lane Sinclair (Say My Name Band), Sabrina Soares, Tenderfoot, Ed Wells and Dylan Write.

About The Author

Lisa Hollinshead
Editor & Director

Boss lady over here at Social 101. Lover of all things that inspire creativity, individuality and happiness! Former party gal, now mama to a beautiful baby boy!

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