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Triple J unearths NMIT talent

10 Jun 2010

NMIT Bachelor of Australian Popular Music student, Amy Findlay, deserves bonus marks for her latest assignment which has just earned her and her band, Iotah, the title of Triple Js Unearthed High winner for 2010.

Amy, a third year student at NMIT's Fairfield campus, penned the winning song 'Foreign Lover' with her three younger sisters and all four perform together in the rock outfit, Iotah. (Listen to mp3 - Foreign Lover)

Unearthed High is Triple Js competition to find Australia's best high school band. Amy's sisters Hannah, Sarah, and Holly all currently attend Gisborne High School in Victoria's Macedon Ranges so Iotah more than met the Unearthed High competition requirement to have at least 50 percent of band members currently enrolled in the same high school. They beat 600 entrants and five other finalists to win the 2010 Unearthed High title.

“My sisters and I were all listening to the radio. It was crazy, everyone was screaming and crying ... happiness and shock at the same time,” recalls Amy of the moment Iotah was announced on Triple J as the winner.

Amy says Iotah, a four-piece featuring drums, guitar, keyboard and bass, like all kinds of music but get their 70s blues / rock influence from their parents. “We grew up listening to a lot of that 70s rock stuff.”

The 20 year-old provides the rare combination of lead singer / drummer for Iotah and says she decided to study NMIT's Bachelor degree because “I didn't want to focus on just one genre. The NMIT course seemed open to different styles and my former music teacher also recommended the course.”

Amy is currently completing the final year of her degree. “For the first two years I focused on singing as my principle instrument but this year I switched to song writing and it's the best thing I've ever done. I get a lot of assistance from teachers like Greg Arnold.”

Amy says the course includes weekly song writing workshops where she and classmates bring in a variety of original songs for further development. Each semester, students spend a day in the recording studio recording a track of their choice and Amy chose 'Foreign Lover' as the track for her first session.

Greg Arnold, lecturer in NMIT's Bachelor of Australian Popular Music program and former member of the ARIA award winning Things of Stone and Wood, worked with Amy and her sisters in the studio to produce the track.

“During the NMIT degree program we work on the song writing, assist students to craft the songs and take their work through to demo stage so students can get an idea of how to communicate their song to a broader audience,” explains Arnold. “We encourage students to bring in a lot of the ideas they're working on and we really workshop the material, focusing on melody, lyrics, chords and structure.

“The band has this strong 70s rock authenticity and I felt that recording at a major studio like Atlantis was the right way to go - the best thing for the band and the song.”

Arnold, who still combines performing and recording with lecturing at NMIT, won APRA songwriter of the Year in 1993 and has also recently produced the likes of Skipping Girl Vinegar and Carus Thompson.

As part of their Triple J Unearthed High prize, Amy and her sisters will be flown to Sydney to re-record their winning track with Triple Js engineers and producers and receive airplay on Triple J and Triple J TV. They will also get to play at an awesome lunchtime gig at the girls' high school MC'd by Triple J presenters and also featuring national rock heroes, British India.

While still flying high after news that she and her sisters had won, Amy now plans to focus on completing her degree and thinks she might follow it with a Diploma of Education either next year or the year after. “I'm thinking it's probably best to get a steady job like teaching but I also want to work on side projects helping kids become involved with music. Living in a rural community, I know how important it is to young people to have access to such programs.”

Amy and her sisters also plan to perform more live gigs this year and record an EP.

To find out more about Iotah go to Iotah page or . To learn more about NMIT's Bachelor of Australian Popular Music go to
Listen to the winning track as an mp3 - Foreign Lover


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NMIT (Northern Melbourne Institute of TAFE) - Situated on seven campuses and six training centres throughout Melbourne's north, NMIT delivers vocational training, higher education and lifelong learning capabilities for a global workforce. NMIT forges partnerships with community, industry and government to produce practical, solution orientated graduates capable of making meaningful contributions to their chosen field of endeavour.