Aussie pop duo Veronicas strike a chord stateside

Published by Reuters


In Australia, the effervescent Origliasso sisters have long been household names. But identical twins Lisa and Jessica — better-known as pop pair the Veronicas — have had to bide their time waiting for audiences abroad to catch on.

The wait, it would appear, is over. The duo’s single “Untouched” (Engineroom/Sire/Warner Bros.) has so far reached No. 17 on the Billboard Hot 100, making the Veronicas the first Australian pop act to crack the top 20 since Kylie Minogue peaked at No. 7 in March 2002 with “Can’t Get You out of My Head.”

“We’re really excited to see all our hard work translate into that,” said Lisa, back in her hometown of Brisbane after a two-week U.S. promotional tour. “That’s the biggest compliment for us — America is saying we’re new and fresh and unique.”

“Untouched” has sold more than 835,000 downloads in the States, according to Nielsen SoundScan, and has reactivated interest in the album “Hook Me Up,” originally released August 26, 2008. The set has climbed as high as No. 107 on the Billboard 200 albums chart and so far has scanned 65,000 copies. The band’s previous album, “The Secret Life Of …,” peaked at No. 133 in 2006 and has sold 121,000.

The duo, which has had supporting slots in concert with the Jonas Brothers, Natasha Bedingfield and Hanson, will make a guest appearance on “90210” later this month, and Nickelodeon’s “The N” will air a special feature hailing the Veronicas as its artist of the month. The sibling act launched its own Web series, also called “Untouched,” through the act’s Yahoo Music channel in October.

The act was signed by Sire founder Seymour Stein and developed in the States but has enjoyed great success in its home market, with both albums peaking at No. 2 and spawning several hit singles.

“Their work ethic is just astounding,” said Warner Music Australia and New Zealand chairman/CEO Ed St. John. “For a number of years they were big here and a lot of people didn’t know who they were overseas. That was becoming a bit difficult for them to understand and accept. They don’t have to worry about that anymore.”

“There were definitely times of frustration,” Lisa said. “It has been a somewhat tough road, but right now it’s a good time for music, and our music is speaking for itself. Artists like Lady GaGa, MGMT and Katy Perry are breaking, and they’re clearing the way for electro and beat-driven music over there. ‘Untouched’ may not have been the right thing for America eight months ago, but it’s definitely the right thing now.”

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The Empire Strikes Back

Published in Billboard Magazine

Australian electropop duo Empire of the Sun has emerged as one of the most hotly touted bands for 2009.

Made up of Luke Steele from alternative rock band the Sleepy Jackson and Nick Littlemore from electronic act Pnau, its dreamy title track “Walking on a Dream,” and its colorful videoclip, which was shot in Shanghai, China, have been the linchpin for one of the early buzz tales of the year.

“We seeded it out to a couple of key blogs, and the blogosphere reacted,” says EMI Australia VP of A&R Craig Hawker. The “Walking on a Dream” album is certified gold in Australia (35,000 units) after its Oct. 4 release and will land Feb. 23 in the United Kingdom and Europe, with a U.S. release to follow.

Touring will have to wait. “They have a very elaborate, visionary approach to how they want to present their live show,” says EMI Music Australia chairman Mark Poston. “Because they want to get it right, it won’t be ready until the summer.”

Live dates—booked by the Sydney-based Harbour Agency’s Brett Murrihy for Australia/New Zealand and London-based Mike Greek of Creative Artists Agency for the United Kingdom and Europe—will likely kick off this August in Australia. Steele is published by Sony/ATV, Littlemore by Control.