Growing up in the sleepy rural town of Harcourt, Victoria, Oliver Northam was a pianist the moment he could reach the keys. His father was a musician, his mother a ballet dancer and teacher. The house was never quiet, even the walls seemed to sing. Whilst teaching himself guitar in early high-school he soon discovered a love of folk music and began developing the art of storytelling.
His passion for songwriting continued to grow, however, at the age of 15, Oliver woke to find he had lost his hearing completely. Struck with fear, his parents rushed him to the emergency room and after several weeks of intensive care, he regained his hearing in his left ear. Despite being unable to hear half of what he once could, Northam spent much of his later schooling locked in the music rooms with just a grand piano and his dad’s 16-track recorder for company.
Upon graduating he was fortunate enough to be offered a part-time position as an accompanist for the Australian Ballet School. Here he he honed his talent for improvisation and composition, and after completing his double degree of Music Performance (Songwriting/Piano) + Applied Business Management Northam was promoted to the full-time position of contemporary musician. Since then, he has performed original works at venues all around Victoria including Hamer Hall, The Geelong Art Centre, Horsham Town Hall, The Playhouse, and The State Theatre.
During this time, Northam also formed his band ‘The Elsewheres’ and in 2019 he started strong with a string of festivals including headline slots at Newport Folk Festival, The Village Festival, Bale Out Festival, Boarding Pass Festival, as well as performing at Sofar Sounds and supporting seminal 90’s band ‘The Badloves’ at Melbourne’s Bird’s Basement. Northam secured residencies at Swamplands and The Palace Hotel, and by December he had a show booked for every night of the month.
Despite gigging relentlessly, studying third year university, performing at the Australian Ballet School, and teaching, Northam always found time to write, and by October he had released his debut single ‘Into His Arms’ which garnered community radio support, was voted ‘Hottest Track of the Week’ by FV Music Blog in the UK, and spent 5 consecutive weeks in the top 10 Triple J Unearthed Chart, peaking at #3.
Following this success, Northam was offered a performance on Melbourne’s iconic community radio station 3RRR and was soon after selected as 1 of 7 songwriters to represent Australia in the London MX Music Exchange, scoring him mentoring with UK rapper Nadia Rose, South African songwriter and vocalist, Nonku Phiri, and Australian rapper and Triple J ‘Unearthed Artist of the Year 2018’ Kwame.
With this momentum building 2020 began with headline slots at Nightjar festival, Applefest, Basin Festival and plans to release his debut EP accompanied by a national tour. However, as the pandemic hit, Northam’s plans were put on hold. Not to be halted, Oliver kept developing new material and in May, won the Push Songwriting Competition granting him mentoring with Australian singer/songwriter Alice Skye. Northam continued to work hard and was accepted into the Music Industry Mentoring Edge Program in July, giving him the chance to work with one of Australia’s most respected songwriters, Liz Stringer.
Northam is currently putting the finishing touches on his debut EP with Melbourne-based producer, Lee Bradshaw (Rach Brennan & The Pines). The 2023 release supported by On The Map PR will see collaborations with a range of talented emerging and established artists from all mediums to create one hell of a splash!