“Of all the countless violinists I’ve played with over the years, Xani stands out as one of the greatest.
She’s got that rare thing called soul.”
– Jens Lekman
Fuelled by a fiercely uncommon authenticity and limitless vision for the magnitude of her craft, violinist and collaborator, Xani Kolac is amongst the most celebrated musicians of her generation.
An AU Review Best Live Instrumentalist award nominee and ten-year stalwart of the Australian indie scene as a member of The Twoks, Xani has since joined forces with Tim Rogers, Jens Lekman, Kate Ceberano, My Friend The Chocolate Cake and Clare Bowditch, appearing live at Arts Centre Melbourne’s Hamer Hall and Edinburgh Fringe Festival, and on ABC’s RocKwiz. Xani’s unbridled joy and onstage energy has cemented her spot as sought-after feature performer for theatre shows including the multi-award-winning Come From Away (2019-20) and festival projects with Melbourne Theatre Company and Malthouse Theatre (Melbourne).
It’s for good reason too: this spellbinding brand of music-making is boldly, brilliantly, her own. Mesmerising adventures into the spaces between pop, jazz, electronic and chamber music repertoire are coloured by contrasts between the ferocity of her instrumental output and the unassuming warmth of her voice.
Drawing parallels with the ethereal, multi-skilled likes of Camille, Björk and Australian legend of song-and-stage, Tim Minchin, pedals, effects and completely improvised live sets are all home turf for Kolac, a true musician of the rarest skill.
The corner of the music world that Xani has come to occupy has neither walls nor ceilings. All-at-once unique in artistic quality and fearless in her defiance of genre-based boundaries, “I’ve never strived for anything but freedom,” she says.
Xani’s releases, 1 (EP 2017), 2 (EP 2018) and 3 (LP 2018) paint a similar picture. The latter record, her first full-length instrumental album and offering on vinyl, was met with bold praise. Lyrics or otherwise, Xani’s music elicits themes of introspect, heartache and political sovereignty bound by a refreshing aural humility.
“It’s rare to hear a musician who plays as gloriously and with as much passion as Xani.
We’ve been waiting for this album for years.”
– Clare Bowditch
Still, it’s her standing amongst collaborators that has crafted Kolac’s position as the one to watch in Australian contemporary music. As the keystone and founding member of Melbourne’s SPIRE Ensemble and chamber pop aficionados, Melbourne Amplified Strings (MAS), Kolac has programmed blockbuster, all-female projects alongside guest artists Kate Miller-Heidke, Jen Cloher, Tex Perkins, Harry Angus (The Cat Empire), Steve Kilbey, and more. Together with her community of colleagues, Kolac wants nothing more than to create visceral, earth-borne sonic entities that move everyone in that damned venue to dance.
But on violin? That’s just it. She’s an artist of thrilling juxtapositions that come together in the most seamless and captivating of forms: Xani Kolac.