Elsy Wameyo: Moving to her own unique beat from South Australia

20 April 2023

Discover why Elsy Wameyo, an Adelaide-based musician who’s fans include hip-hop royalty Masego and Aminé, believes South Australia holds the key to her creativity.

Laneway. Groovin the Moo. Splendour in the Grass. Falls. Dark Mofo. Vivid Sydney.

It’s the festival round-up any Australian act — or international, for that matter — would dream of performing.

Add a national tour and Triple J Unearthed Artist of the Year 2022 Award to the mix, and it’s clear RnB, rap and soul musician Elsy Wameyo’s star is on the rise.

But fame is not the goal for 24-year-old Elsy, an Adelaide artist who’s fans include music royalty like Masego, Aminé, Sampa the Great and the Hilltop Hoods.

“My purpose at this point is not just to create a song that gets a number of streams or whatever…I think music can do so much more than that,” she says.

“I perform to inspire, to move and to empower…it’s a beautiful thing to see people’s faces light up and to see people enjoy my music.

“To show them that I am here all the way from Kenya and living in Adelaide, that in itself is a milestone.”

Hailing from the Nilotic tribes of Kenya, Elsy and her family migrated to South Australia when she was seven years old.

Her debut EP ‘Nilotic’ proudly embraces her cultural heritage and identity, while exploring her experiences growing up, and living, in Adelaide.

Self-produced from her home studio, Elsy credits the “space” she finds in South Australia as a key ingredient of her creative process.

“There’s more space here…physically, mentally, spiritually,” she says.

“Adelaide just gives you that space to breathe, to think, to experience, to recollect before you before you create.

“It gives you an opportunity to be more intentional.”

Blending choral chants with melodic bass lines, and incorporating elements of jazz, soul and funk, Elsy is becoming well-known for her unique style — a rarity in today’s commercially-driven music scene.

“As an artist, I can be very influenced by other artists or other creators,” she says.

“But Adelaide doesn’t give you that pressure of having to feel like you have to create a certain ‘thing’…I can be myself here without anyone judging me.

“This means I can create from a very pure place…I can create with uniqueness and authenticity.”

With a rising profile at home and across the globe, Elsy acknowledges the role that international travel will play in her personal and professional growth as a musician.

But South Australia will always be home.

“To grow, you have to leave, for sure…I recently spent a month in London, and I’m always excited to go and stay in another country for a while.

“But in the back of my mind, I know that where I need to be grounded is Adelaide…the place I feel heard, I feel warm and I have the space to be who I am freely.

“There are not many other places you can do that.

“South Australia is where it’s at.

“That’s what I’m saying!”