"We’ve seen enough media horror to last us a lifetime. We’ve lived through a fucking pandemic. Everything is very crazy and in your face. We are stuck in this crazy capitalist hellscape."
Generation Z is constantly mischaracterised. We are pushed as a soft, privileged and inconsiderate generation of people who are fascinated with one thing, ourselves. Often we are portrayed as lazy and naive, without the will-power and dedication as we are too addicted to our phones or whatever the latest app is. Amidst any discussion about Gen Z any older person will almost always reflect on the good old days, before the oversaturation of society, culture and technology
It’s the good old days that have many young people feeling doomed. The foundations laid in these good old days have left young people with resentment and passion to make the world that has been handed off to them a better place. Consequently, the society that we’ve inherited has filtered into our patterns of behaviour, technology, social interaction and most importantly the art that we consume. Within this oversaturated world of constant angst exists microcosms of escapist art, formed by communities of all backgrounds, demographics and locations. Internet pop stars are now receiving significant limelight, with their art manifesting as literal worlds that their fans can engage and participate in.
As we shift through to a post-pandemic era, these worlds are now coming to life, traversing from the screens that we have become so obsessed with to physical spaces that have never before been seen or felt. We are living in a revolutionary, generational period of artistic excellence and in Australia, one artist is at the forefront of it, daine.
“I’m an iPad baby for sure,” they comment on the period of time they grew up in. “Year 7s in school are fucked. iPads were already a thing when they were born.”
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daine grew up just before the world in which kids were exposed to a plethora of technology from birth. After listening to US emo bands and working through a few of their own failed high school bands, they found their home within Melbourne’s hardcore scene from the ripe age of 13. After being teased by the world through live music and being inspired by their surrounding community, the great pause began. During that time daine began to fully establish their craft moving from emotive emo-pop, Soundcloud rap inspired melancholic music to a full blown experimental pop artist. Since then, they’ve received co-signs from mega-stars including Charli XCX, and collaborations with the likes of Ericdoa and Bring Me The Horizon’s Oli Sykes.
On being born on a cusp generation, between strong real life communities and then the digitalisation of these cultures, daine sees the benefits of both sides. “I even resent it a little bit. I got a flavour of everything being so cool and fun and real world. Now because of the internet everything is so oversaturated. Algorithms have effected the way in which we produce art. Everything is so full on and constant that nothing is really iconic anymore. I got the tail end of things being iconic and exciting. It then fell apart in my hands. I only got two years of that fun energy. I’m trying to make it fun and it kind of is. There’s something missing.”
As the world changes however, it’s wrong to suggest that these two worlds aren’t rapidly combining. Human beings are intrinsically attached to human connection and they’re quick to note that these worlds “aren’t separate at all.”
“I love being an online artist. There are specific niches that have mainly found success digitally, especially when they are niche things. A lot of the time I do sessions with online artists and we have no idea what to do with each other in real life. In the same way, playing shows felt unnatural. We build these fantasy worlds and transferring them to real life is crazy. People and audiences then become more intrigued and infatuated by it. Seeing it in real life is surreal because they also can’t believe it's finally real and in front of them. It’s a different and unique dynamic that’s emerging.
“It’s amazing, I cried so much after my London show. It made me realise that the people on the screen are actually real. It’s beautiful and makes me so emotional. It’s a big moment.”
The music they’ve made up until this point pose as scattered vignettes into the conceptual, creative yet abrupt and urgent emotions that daine faces, ones that while sonically varying, exist in a very distinct and surreal world. Take for example their 2021, Dylan Brady release boys wanna txt which is a glitchy, sticky and colourful take on contemporary pop music. While other early singles Ascension and Angel Numbers focused heavily on emotionally driven pop music, daine utilised the track to add the lush world of hyperpop to their already bubbling brand.
“I have this concept of daine as an artist rather than a person, then the world forms around it,” they reflect on their scattered yet consistent sonic platform. “Sometimes the music informs the world around it and sometimes the world informs the music. Sometimes they don’t impact each other and they’re just coexisting in a way that is contrasting. For example boys wanna txt was abit of a corny song and the lyrics are very direct and goofy. But the cover art is still super ethereal and in this realm of stuff I keep in my brain.”
While still at the ripe age of 19 years old, it's incredible to see how despite being driven by rapid, trigger happy emotion, daine has a distinct vision for the music and world that they’re building. With more eyes than ever on their musical project, they’re making career defining music. A first taste into the fully evolved world of daine was their debut mixtape Quantum Jumping, a chronological timeline of music that they made from the age of 16. It tracks their coming of age in real time, as they build their own space in the world that many youth feel rejected by. Quantum Jumping sounds nothing like other daine music and nor will it sound like anything they’ll release again. Their guitar playing makes consistent features along the project's run time, balanced by meticulously created melodic and emotive peaks as they reflect on the melodrama of growing up. As they swiftly move towards other sounds, Quantum Jumping acts as an important introduction and hallmark in their discography. daine agrees and they’re undeniably proud of it, whether it resonates with them now or not.
“The mixtape I released (Quantum Jumping) doesn’t resonate with me at all. It’s not current. I wrote it a long long time ago and it sounds like that to me. Whatever though, it spoke to me at the time and I have to honour that. I think all my music is going to be cringe to me one day, or will sound dated to me one day. It’s telling a story though publicly and it's my story. People are too afraid of that. I also think there’s a timeless quality in everything I write, so even if it doesn’t resonate with my aesthetic three years down the track, I know the writing is really strong and it spoke to me at the time. I’m confident in my next few releases that they’re accurate representations of what my life is like right now.”
While entirely different, Quantum Jumping lays a platform that allows daine to enter any direction they wish. Nothing signifies this more than their latest effort, boythots. Their most anticipated single to date, daine was inundated with fan videos, comments and requests to see the release of their poppiest, most upbeat and most danceable single to date. boythots beyond delivered, giving men a taste of their own medicine within relationships. Its hook, treat that boy like a slut, has already become a cult adored line that defines their fanbase. They rap and sing with a tongue in cheek over the mid tempo, bass driven beat produced by collaborator hearteyes.
Fans can expect more tongue in cheek, pop sensible tracks from daine as they comment, “It is so fun and easy. I was so excited to do a track like that. I get so many comments that tell me music is too slow and that people can’t dance to it. My natural response was to say fuck you but now I’ve done something dancier faster and fun and easy, I’ve realised how addictive it is. I want to keep doing it, it's so much fun.”
Now that their momentum is well and truly rolling and their discography is building gorgeously with every subsequent release, the world they’re creating acts as the perfect representation of the plight of artistically inclined youth in how they engage with the world around them. We desire art that removes us from the real world, a break from reality that is constantly portrayed to us as a capitalist hellscape by media and social media. Their self coined world and aesthetic dainecore is gives youth a break from the extreme capitalist world we live in.
“I think growing up any time in the last 20 years we’ve seen enough media horror to last us a lifetime. We’ve lived through a fucking pandemic. Everything is very crazy and in your face. We are stuck in this crazy capitalist hellscape. I know this sounds hedonistic but art should be somewhat escapist. I like political art that’s confronting and in your face and makes you think, but personally I feel like I do way more than enough thinking. I want art and my art to be escapist. We’ve seen the fall of religion over the last couple of centuries.
“We needed art to replace that but art isn’t really cutting it. That’s why there needs to be a whole world surrounding art forms like music to connect the audience to some sort of divinity like religion would. I like using esoteric symbolism and Christian symbolism in my music for that reason. I rock with Christianity and I rock with music these should be our guiding forces against the terror of society in 2022. It sounds really dark but it is what it is.”