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Winston Surfshirt

Combining R&B, funk, hip-hop, and classic soul, Australian collective Winston Surfshirt have built their sound on dreamy low-key grooves and tight musicianship. Based in Sydney and fronted by namesake singer/rapper Winston Surfshirt, the group scored an early hit with the midnight funk ballad "Be About You," from their 2017 debut album Sponge Cake. Over the next few years, they became staples of the Australian festival scene, delivering a 2019 follow-up, Apple Crumble, and earning praise from critics and adoration from fans. A series of collaborative singles with artists like Genesis Owusu and Talib Kweli paved the way for their third studio set, 2023's Panna Cotta. In the mid-2010s singer, rapper, and multi-instrumentalist Brett Ramson began working as a solo act under the moniker Winston Surfshirt. His influences ranged from Andre 3000 and A Tribe Called Quest to John Lennon and vintage psych-pop. Moving from his hometown of Manly to nearby Sydney, he began putting together a collective of like-minded musicians to expand the Surfshirt sound into something more collaborative and unified. The newly minted six-piece eventually signed with Sydney label Sweat It Out! and recorded their debut, Sponge Cake, inaugurating a trend of food-related titles. Released in 2017, one of its singles, the funky slow jam "Be About You," became something of a breakout and helped the album climb to number 24 on the ARIA pop chart. Fans and critics fell for Winston Surfshirt's warmly produced amalgam of styles and, in addition to notching prime touring slots with Rüfüs Du Sol and Midnight Oil, they started playing major festivals like Splendour in the Grass and Falls Festival. Their follow-up, Apple Crumble, arrived in late 2019, hitting number 39 on the ARIA chart behind breezy tracks like "Smile" and "Make a Move." With live music on hold during the global pandemic, Winston Surfshirt rallied with 2021's Cover Your Mouth (Live from Lockdown) EP, then initiated a string of interesting collaborations like "Complicated" with Young Franco and "There's Only One" with Genesis Owusu. These songs later appeared on 2023's Panna Cotta, the band's guest-heavy third album which also featured Talib Kweli, Kimbra, and Dope Lemon, among others.
© Timothy Monger /TiVo

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