Packing a glitzy, eloquent punch and serving up sophisticated, fresh raps that cover a range of critical social matters, Miss Blanks is not your average pop star. Making her presence on the music scene just about impossible to ignore, Brisbane born and raised Sian Vandermuelen is an artist, performer, body image advocate and voice for female hip hop artists in Australia.
Having already established her place on the Australian hip hop block with her dynamite performances at BIGSOUND earlier this year, having worked with ’90s legends Salt’n’Pepa and being recognised by Ying Yang Twins, it’s powerful artists like Miss Blanks who are creating a kind of metamorphosis within the Australian industry. With absolutely no apologies, she is dancing her way to the top of a predominantly straightwhitemale-dominated market.
It was always written that Sian Vandermuelen would end up pursuing a creative and colourful career. Having a very supportive mother and awesome female role models to look up to, she always found herself in a nurturing and inspiring environment. “From an early age, my mother was always very supportive of my involvement in the arts. She would also always be playing old school R’n’B, hip hop, rap, dancehall and a bit of soul, with such a strong focus on female identities and artists. I was doing dancing and music classes outside of school and my mother was also a poet, so the crossover from poetry to rap was quite seamless for me,” Sian remembered.
Being a transgender woman of colour, Miss Blanks realised that there was both a gap to be filled within the industry and a light to be shed on artists who wanted to project messages in their own creative way. “Once I decided to get into music, within the past year, it was very clear that there weren’t any spaces for me to exist and do what I do,” she said. A definite absence of female and trans artists gave her inspiration, direction and an opportunity to lead the movement, paving a space for others to also showcase themselves and their talents.
“There aren’t any artists like me, who offer the style or presence that I offer, especially in hip hop here in Australia,” she remarked. “I really needed to carve out my own space, not only for me, but for other artists that are similar but also don’t have a space for what they want to do. It’s a really healing thought, but it was also sometimes a bit of a burden, but I’m enjoying the process none the less.”
On the BIGSOUND stage in September this year she left the LunchBox team short of breath from her fiery energy and unapologetic stage presence. Miss Blanks had punters astonished and electrified by her raw lyricism and ability to make her set extremely inclusive for every person there, craftily through music and conversation. She decided to make BIGSOUND not only a showcase of what’s on offer, but also an opportunity to give back to someone incredibly important: herself.
“For me, BIGSOUND was first and foremost a platform for me to present myself as an artist, musician and performer, but also to be able to give myself quite generously. It doesn’t always have to be super complicated either. I needed to enjoy it for me and sometimes the energy can become quite dense. Performing is a way of reclaiming the energy. I wanted to steer the conversation and give people a sense of being free and open and by the end of it, I feel like people realised ‘Okay, this is an important artist with an important message.’ The fact that I brought on five extremely talented female hip hop artists alone says something because no one’s ever done that in Australia before.”
Continuing her bold narrative, Miss Blanks in on the brink of releasing her first EP titled Diary Of A Thotaholic. “My friends and I always joke around about being little thots [for those not down with the lingo, thot is an abbreviation for “That Hoe Over There”], and being little hoes. I thought up the concept of Diary Of A Thot and one of my friends laughed and said ‘Oh it’s kind of like Confessions Of A Shopaholic,’ and then it just clicked and I thought Diary of A Thotaholic!”
Dark, dirty, sensual and honest, this EP marks personal growth and transformation, while still powering those electric late nights out with your girlfriends. “I’d have to say you can expect it to be loud, a lot of sexual energy, strength and vulnerability, it’s quite a journey. The idea of Diary Of A Thotaholic is about me living my best life, glowing and shining. In a way, it’s me, writing out my diary. Imagine that each page of my diary is each song. It’s about my experience with music and about my journey,” she shares.
Music talents aside, Miss Blanks is also an essential voice for equality and diversity in the music industry. Although praising BIGSOUND on their efforts to shift the stigma surrounding diversity, she also raises some valid ideas regarding consistency when it comes to making changes in the music industry. “Seeing incredible diversity on the line-ups when it comes to LGBTQ+, female and people of colour, just to name a few, that’s super important, but that needs to be part of the infrastructure. Building a protocol to ensure that has longevity and that we’re putting in place practical measures to build on that, because it’s one thing to just include different kinds of people on the line-up, but it’s also giving power to these groups to then steer and direct conversation and to be able to navigate these bases freely. I think it’s important to let people be a part of the conversation.”
When asked about her most difficult career focused challenges, Miss Blanks answered from a more personal place. Speaking of having the ability to recognise and embrace change, she wishes to allow others to join her. “Because of the rarity of my situation and career progression in such a short amount of time, and the sound I provide to Australian audiences, being able to give power and control to other people to step in has been really difficult, which is an internal thing because I also understand Australia’s consumption of hip hop is quite commodified and it’s consumed in its most commodified form. It’s also mainstream, so there’s a template and formula of how things have been done in the past, which is why I think it’s important to recognise when it’s time to change things in order to allow others to be a part of that narrative.”