Miss Blanks brings her own brand of empowerment to Aussie hip hop

Miss Blanks brings her own brand of empowerment to Aussie hip hop

Photo by Mitch Noakes
Words by David James Young

Despite only being on the circuit for just under two years, Brisbane-born and now Melbourne-based MC Sian Vandermuelen – best known as Miss Blanks – has left an indelible mark on Australia’s hip hop scene. 

Daring to be different and never backing down from speaking her mind, Blanks has offered up a slew of sharp, confident and inspired singles to increasingly positive public reception. Her latest is the Baltimore-club flavoured ‘Tommy’, a collaboration with her upcoming tour partner Alice Ivy that matches a vocoder-driven hook with some of the most rapid-fire flow Blanks has ever delivered on record.

“She’s gonna kill me for saying this, but I don’t remember how we actually met,” says Blanks of Ivy, with a laugh. “The first time we properly worked together, though, was when she did Like A Version last year. Our relationship is really great. There are people I’ve worked with that have a creative energy I connect with, but I feel like we’d never meet up or cross paths outside of music.

“With Alice, though, we have this friendship where I would want to spend time with her away from the studio. Together, we’re really confident – and I’m really happy with what we’ve gotten out of working together.”

Interestingly, the dynamic of ‘Tommy’ was initially shifted in Ivy’s favour – the song was poised to be released under the tag, “Alice Ivy ft. Miss Blanks”. After a while, however, Blanks took the initiative to have the billing switched so that it could become an official Miss Blanks single.

“We talked about it, and I explained how much I wanted this,” she says. “Alice ended up agreeing – she said that this song was right for me, and it would fit as being my song as opposed to hers.

“I think our experience of working together is reflected in the track. There’s a lot of energy in it, and I feel as though both of our characters really shine through. What you’re hearing on that song is really us as people – I like to think we’re both really energetic and fun to be around. We wanted that to be part of the experience of this song.”

‘Tommy’ follows on from Blanks’ two standalone singles released in 2018 – the unsubtle banger ‘Good Good D’ and the G-funk pastiche ‘This Bitch’. All three songs, although stylistically and musically different, are unified by Blanks’ sex-positive lyrical content and sassy sense of humour.

It’s worth noting, however, that having songs that are not meant to be taken too seriously doesn’t cancel out Blanks’ wish to be taken seriously as an artist and a figure within the Australian music industry. There are multitudes within Blanks as a person, both on and off the stage, and it’s something she feels isn’t acknowledged as often as it should be.

“To create something that is super-serious musically, something really political… I mean, that would be easy for me,” says Blanks. “What’s interesting about my catalogue of work, though, is that it can be enjoyed without all the additional messaging – but at the same time, if you scratch below the surface, you can see me bringing feminism and a lot of other different conversations to Australian hip hop.

“Stuff like empowerment and body positivity are important to me. You can rap about sucking dick and still be an articulate and educated person. We have the power to do that.”

Blanks doesn’t see herself as some kind of paradoxical being – in fact, the only reason she thinks people are paying any notice on that front is because she doesn’t fit any generic mould.

“If white, cis-het men can be sexual beings but also reclaim their agency and be taken seriously at their corporate nine-to-five, then why can’t women?” she asks. “Why can’t femmes? It’s been really cool to navigate these conversations with people – especially because I love to talk a lot.”

Miss Blanks’ new single ‘Tommy’ is out now. She hits the stage alongside Alice Ivy at the Northcote Social Club on Friday May 31. Head to the venue website for tickets.