RICEWINE sits in his studio. (Photo courtesy of Liam Edwards)
Mission Viejo High School

Australian artist RICEWINE spreads Melbourne’s sound worldwide

Headlining an overseas festival is a lofty goal for any artist, but RICEWINE has crossed it off his list at only 20 years old. Despite garnering international recognition at Indonesia’s Lokatara Music Festival, Thai-Australian singer Talae Rodden hardly gets to interact with fans in his current home of Melbourne. 

“A lot of people in Melbourne don’t really listen to my music,” he said. “I didn’t really know I had that big of a fanbase overseas, so it was quite surprising seeing a room full of people singing my songs.”

RICEWINE started his career on a much smaller scale. Feelings of isolation built up while living as one of the few people of color in his small, Australian hometown, so he began making music to express his feelings. 

As he taught himself to sing, rap, produce and design, his solitude was reflected in his early sound and artistic direction. 

“I used the name RICEWINE because I was living in a small country town and I didn’t want people to know I was making music. I wanted to keep it anonymous,” he said.

By the time the artist was 17 or 18, he felt he had outgrown his hometown. He decided to move to Melbourne after his earnings and Spotify numbers skyrocketed — a relocation which has paid dividends for his current career trajectory.  

“The music culture in Melbourne is pretty sick — everyone is real supportive and constantly trying to outdo each other,” RICEWINE said.

Embracing this community has helped him break out of his shell and simultaneously accelerate his artistic growth. 

“I was playing live a lot in Melbourne and I realized my music is not very fun to dance to, so I wanted to make some more upbeat songs,” he said.

RICEWINE’s new song “Ocean,” the third single from his upcoming album “Lovesick,” accomplishes that goal as the singer floats over breezy piano chords and hip-hop influenced drums. He sings a rapid-fire melody that practically hugs the beat, making way for an infectious hook and a laid-back rap verse. 

The entirety of “Lovesick” is similarly relaxing, its combination of soft singing and warm instrumentals giving the project an intimate feel. Years in the making, the album was recorded during a transitional period in RICEWINE’s life, while he was first learning to live on his own as an 18-year-old in Melbourne and constantly having new experiences.

“With this album, I really wanted to collaborate with people in Melbourne so I can show the Melbourne soul to an international audience,” he said.

By featuring instrumentation and guest vocals from his newfound colleagues, he easily captures the Melbourne sound in his new project — but describing this sound proves a bit more difficult.

Whether you call it indie-pop, lo-fi inspired, or something else, don’t let descriptors generalize RICEWINE’s music. It’s essential that he doesn’t get put in a box. From his sound to his role as a musician and even his physical location, he’s always striving to refine his art and grow as a person, he said. 

RICEWINE said he doesn’t want to stay in Melbourne forever, despite the support he’s received from the musical community.   

“I’d like to go to Thailand and write an album, hang out with my family over there,” he said.

He also plans to start a label and release clothes as another outlet to express his creativity. 

Although it seems RICEWINE could end up anywhere in the world creating any kind of art, he doesn’t stress too much about his future plans. 

“I just want to keep making good music and hopefully people keep listening,” he said.

“Ocean” is available for streaming on Friday, Jan. 31. RICEWINE’s album “Lovesick” is slated for release in April.