Introducing Olana with debut single ‘Skillful Man’ produced by Swick, out now via NLV Records

Photo by Sarah Pannell
April 5 2024


“Bursting with humour and wit”

It's Nice That

“His distinct voice, drawn from his life as a refugee in Norway and migrant in Australia, is humour-filled, popular and incisive”

ABC Radio

“Olana Janfa only picked up a paintbrush in 2018, and yet, he’s taken the art scene by storm”

ABC Arts

“Olana is... creating his own rules”

The Design Files

“a compelling and prolific creator whose art playfully reflects nuances of pop culture, politics and identity.”

National Gallery of Victoria

“In addition to his gentle and playful demeanour, the most impressive detail in Janfa’s story is that he is completely self-taught.”

Australian Design Review

‘Skillful Man’ is out now via NLV Records, buy/stream here.

Acclaimed Ethiopian-Norwegian visual artist Olana Janfa today shares his musical debut, ‘Skillful Man’ out via NLV Records. LISTEN HERE.

Produced by Swick (M.I.A, Diplo, Tkay Maidza), ‘Skillful Man’ marks the first musical outing for the Naarm/Melbourne-based multidisciplinary artist, who in just a few short years has established an instantly recognisable presence locally and internationally for his unique style of self-expression and playful perspective on everything from politics to privilege and pop culture.

With his artwork deftly positioning sharp cultural commentary and satire alongside his signature bold imagery, Olana has emerged as a unique new voice on the Australian art scene, and his work has appeared across large-scale murals, book illustration, fashion collaborations and creative projects with names including Nike, Nicholas Daley, NGV, SBS and more. Along the way, he’s garnered widespread local and international media recognition with outlets including Vogue UK, Vogue Living, It’s Nice That, Hypebeast, ABC TV, SBS Radio, Broadsheet, The Design Files, The Sydney Morning Herald, Australian Design Review and Fashion Journal, among others.

His voyage into songwriting and performance sees Olana dive deep into his passion for Jamaican music to craft a lyrical sound that represents a fitting sonic translation of his distinctive visual aesthetic. Set against a deep reggae bassline, melodic flute and bright kineticism, Olana opens with a welcome in his native Amharic tongue before launching into a witty broken-English monologue that shines a light on the working class and the everyday deeds that keep the world turning; offering an upbeat nod to the unheralded ‘skillful people’ who earn their living in factories, kitchens and taxis.

‘Skillful Man’ travels through Olana’s richly nuanced worldview with a distinctive offbeat reggae sound that captures his fearless creative approach, of which Olana shares: “Music has always been a big part of the art that I make – reggae, hip hop and afrobeat lyrics have often been a starting place for my works. Sometimes just one line is enough to inspire a new painting.”

Having met Swick in Melbourne’s northern suburbs in late 2023, the pair instantly connected and organically forged a creative partnership. Of the collaboration, Olana explains “When I linked up with Swick over ice cream last year we quickly bonded over a shared passion for music, art, Africa and soccer. Heading into his studio was unintentional, very organic. In his quiet way, Swick got me to put my thoughts down and get on the mic. There’s an easy energy between us that just made everything flow.”

To celebrate the release of his debut single ‘Skillful Man’, Olana will be hosting a launch party Saturday 6 April at Fenton in Carlton, Naarm/Melb. Kicking off at 3PM and going late, there will be Ethiopian and Vegan food provided by Afro Cafe, plus DJs Kgomotso, Navy Blue Radio,, Evripidou and collaborator, Swick performing throughout the day. Free RSVP HERE. Alongside this, he has also released a special merch drop of limited edition screen-printed T-shirts, which are available for purchase HERE.

Showcasing Olana’s intuitive dexterity as a self-taught creative, ‘Skillful Man’ is a gently humorous sonic expression from one of Australia’s most original creative voices. Charting previously unexplored territory, this uplifting debut sets a singular tone while playfully probing notions of identity, class and culture at large.

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