It doesn’t get any better than chill vibes, good tunes and Aussies.
This post comes from our Australia contributor, Miann Scanlan!
On the point furthest east of the Australian mainland sits the bohemian coastal town of Byron Bay. One of the first things people notice about this town is the sheer number of incredibly beautiful people, everywhere. Radiant women with intense feminine energy seem to float just above the ground when they walk, while boys with long golden locks and tanned bare feet pile retro surfboards into their vintage station wagons which conveniently double as mobile homes.
There’s really no other place quite like the Bay — its unique, almost tangible vibration in the air has a way of convincing even the most cynical city slicker to go barefoot through its long balmy days, endless beaches, reliable surf breaks and droves of bohemians in search of unity who flock there from all corners of the globe. The town is a beautiful example of what it means to be truly happy and free. The moment you edge your way into town via the lush green highway there’s an energy so heavy you can almost reach out and touch it. The Bay summons those who enter to let down their hair (and maybe add a few flowers, too). Of the Bay’s intensely redeeming assets, it’s the male musicians who fill the streets with music that perhaps leave the longest impression well after you leave. Dubbed The Boys of Byron Bay, here are four of Byron’s incredibly talented exports.
The Babe Rainbow
Flamboyant, playful, and profoundly poetic, The Babe Rainbow boys may remind you of Mick Jagger’s roc kstar antics and Jim Morrison’s melodious wild mind. The band first formed in 2013 when the three friends — Angus Darling, Kool Breeze and Dr. Elliot Love-Wisdom — were living together in a bookshop-come-kaleidoscopic-artist-loft above the town bank in the Byron hinterland. Their sound is undeniably catchy, upbeat and drenched in hazy summery vibes, and summarized by their debut single, ‘Love Forever’. I met Angus in high school and we ended up at university together, always skipping class in favour of road trips to the beach in summer, laying under the jacaranda tress in spring or sitting in the quad creating characters and alter egos for ourselves while scraping together coins to go halves in packets of cigarettes — he has always been colourful and larger than life. That adventurous spirit has served him well. He now translates the inner workings of his highly imaginative mind into poetry and music which sends you floating upstream in a tranquil mix of echoey vocal harmonies, crisp beats and the band’s trademark 70s psychedelic guitar melodies.
I’ve never met anyone as soft, humble and gentle as Luke. With long golden hair and piercing ice-blue eyes, his music is a natural extension of his calming nature. Luke played our Free People Australia summer party in Byron a few months back, setting up with just an amp, a mic and his trusty Persian rug. At first, his music was a welcome accompaniment to the moments when we sat and relaxed around the deck as we hung out and digested our late lunch but, the moment Luke arrived at the first chorus of Chris Isaak’s ‘Wicked Games,’ everyone fell instantly silent. And that’s what his music does. It takes you on a pleasant and steady journey until one particular melody or key change sends a shiver up your spine and immediately stops you in your tracks. His soft voice transcends tearjerkers so personal that you feel like an emotional trespasser every time you listen. He recorded his independent album ‘Sugarcane Road’ in friends’ living rooms and farm houses and frequently gigs around Byron where, if you’re lucky enough to watch him live, you might hear a few of his spine-tingling covers.
I first came across Ziggy one balmy afternoon in the streets of Byron. Hearing his throaty, shaky, powerfully delicate voice grow stronger as walked toward the sound. Appearing just around the corner there he was. Shirtless and glowing in the hot afternoon sun, seated on a stool plucking and tapping percussively on his guitar while stomping his foot on a kick drum in his unique one-man-band style (best exemplified in his song Land & Sea). You get the immediate impression there’s something different about him. He’s academically inclined, musically adept and unfailingly polite, a grand example of unconventional home-schooling and a super tight family. Teaching himself guitar via YouTube, he plays only by ear, admitting he doesn’t know the names of the angelic chords he strums, which is why this coastal folk songwriter, free surfer and environmental enthusiast has won the hearts and minds of people literally all over the world. But when you get to know Ziggy you soon figure out that he’s a just humble guy who lives in his van, walks around town barefoot with his reusable coffee cup and seems to want only two things: for the world to be a better place and for everyone to be happy.
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