In 2016 Monetochka (Lil’ Coin, above), a 16-year-old ingénue whose real name is Elizaveta Gyrdymova, charmed the Russian internet with her witty bedroom pop. Playing the piano, she melded tales of teenage angst with subtle satire about Russian society – all of it delivered in a bewitching voice that sounds like Joanna Newsom, only more childish. With the release of her first full-length album, “Colouring for Adults”, earlier this year, she leapt from online hype to national acclaim. Some call her the voice of a generation. The album’s opener, “Russian Ark”, is a clever, tongue-in-cheek composition about Russia’s national identity. Her tracks have managed a rare feat: they dominate the pop charts and have become an object of fascination among Moscow’s intelligentsia.
Mojo Juju has built a cult following in Australia with her funky blues. But “Native Tongue”, a beautiful piece of modern soul, is easy on the ears only if you don’t listen to the lyrics. Mojo Juju – or Mojo Ruiz de Luzuriaga – is the daughter of an immigrant father from the Philippines and a mother with indigenous heritage. Singing above distorted percussion and the hymn-like sound of the Pasefika Vitoria Choir, she laments, “I don’t speak my father’s native tongue/I was born under the Southern sun/I don’t know where I belong”. In Australia, where nearly a third of the population is born overseas, one-fifth are children of migrants and just 3.3% are indigenous, “Native Tongue” is a rare example of a song for the many people who don’t fit the blue-eyed national mould. “I will not apologise for taking up this space,” she croons, with an edge of defiance.