Avant Garde Sounds
of the deep South

2012 — 2015

New Weird Australia Logo

Photo: Ona Janzen

Founded in 2010 by broadcaster Stuart Buchanan as a program on Sydney’s FBi Radio, New Weird Australia gradually evolved into multiple record labels, a touring company, a podcast series, and something of a cultural movement all centered around new “eclectic, abnormal, & weird” Australian music. Heath worked with Stuart from the project’s early days, designing the identity and providing creative direction across all products and communications. Heath also helped develop experimental offshoot projects including a public domain image bank. After five years of operations, New Weird Australia boasted over 400,000 downloads - a number that continues to grow today.

New Weird Australia — Landscape Logo

The Australian music scene has always had great artists and passionate audiences but very few champions who really helped emerging talent break through, making New Weird Australia particularly significant in that it was devoted to promoting challenging and uncommercial sounds. While some of it was absolutely out there, much of the music championed by New Weird Australia was quite accessible with just a little experimental twist. This quality informed Heath’s approach to the branding which takes a fairly plain looking typeface and flips a few of the letters around to give it a peculiar but still appealing look. It’s the familiar made unfamiliar. The ordinariness of the type also made the label feel timeless and provided a nice counterpoint to the more playful and often strange designs it accompanied.

Early live show & touring posters

Early live show & touring posters

“New Editions” series album covers

Early social media promotional graphics

Heath created nearly all of the New Weird Australia album covers, posters, and merchandise. In the beginning stages, images from old paranormal and occult textbooks were used. Over time, many of the album covers were developed in collaboration with the artists, who would supply photography and illustration. In order to achieve some consistency for an emerging artist micro-label series called New Editions, Heath created a 4 panel grid system which was filled with a shape, colour, and supplied image. After the completion of the New Editions series, album covers were designed on a case by case basis, sometimes with input from artists, sometimes not. Many of the artists went on to commission Heath after the closure of the label, including Sam Price, whose album Jindabyne was also named by Heath.

“New Editions, Sampled” Compilation

“New Editions, Sampled” Physical Release

“Jindabyne” by (New Weird Alumnus) Sam Price

“The Sound of Young Canberra” Compilation

“Processed Harp Works II” by Kris Keogh 

“Strange Forces” by Eli Kalaitzides

“Build Ruins” by Forenzics

“Passages” 3 Part Compilation Series

One of the unique projects started under the New Weird Australia umbrella was the popular New Weird Library. This Flickr group provided an easy way for fans and collaborators to share images under a creative commons license, with the idea being that all images shared could be used by New Weird Australia to create album art, posters, and other products. People immediately started contributing the project with dozens of uploads, ranging from photographs of nature, art, and abstract digital creations. In addition to helping invent and manage the The New Weird Library, Heath also created a unique identity for it.

The New Weird Library Logo

The New Weird Library (Flickr Archive)

As the project grew in size and popularity, so to did the shape and scope of its ambitions. Eventually an entirely new imprint emerged, a sister label called Wood & Wire which sought to release work that didn’t quite fit within the New Weird Australia stable. Again Heath worked with Stuart to create the brand, this time also producing a template that could simply and easily be used to create the designs for all releases. Echoing the label’s angular logo, the design is dominated by a triangle that can be filled with imagery supplied by the artist. The background of the triangle then features a colour selected from that same imagery. As with the New Weird Australia label, many of the artists went on to commission Heath for future releases once the Wood & Wire label had completed its journey.

Wood & Wire Logo

Wood & Wire Website

“Ears Have Ears: Soundtracks” Compliations I & II

“Domestic Cinema” by David Evans

“Domestic Cinema” by David Evans (Physical Release)

The project undoubtedly helped launch a number of Australian artists who would not have had a champion without Stuart and New Weird Australia, and Airfield was proud to be a part of shaping this rare, galvanising, and community minded enterprise.

A small sample of New Weird Australia farewell messages

Following the closure of the label and its sub-projects, Airfield went on to brand Stuart’s current record label Provenance.

New Weird Australia Founder Stuart Buchanan

New Weird Alumnus AXXONN

New Weird Alumnus Spartak

New Weird Australia audience at FBi Radio

Made on Awabakal & Worimi Lands