How This Sydney-Based Pop Artist Built A Community That Encourages Fans To Embrace Themselves

For Sydney-based pop artist HANDSOME (aka Caitlin Park), fostering a community and connection is at the heart of everything she does.

HANDSOME makes brooding, synth-driven alt-pop that begs for the listener to daydream their wildest fantasies while listening. It’s centred around the themes of self-expression, identity and creativity, using pulsating and woozy melodies as a vehicle to reel in anyone searching for connection – it’s what has hooked fans in so tightly since the project kicked off in 2017.

Her debut singleLate Night Ball Game’ feat. Joyride struck an immediate chord with the queer community and HANDSOME has been a poignant voice within it ever since.

“Celebrating self-expression is the glue of the world and exploring who you are should be fun and fruitful and admired. I think this resonates with fans of HANDSOME, and it creates a safe space for people that want to discover more about themselves. I think it’s really powerful,” said Caitlin when explaining the ethos of the project to PEDESTRIAN.TV.

The music industry took a particularly huge hit in 2020. With live events put on hold, artists and fans were left without their main avenue for catharsis and connection. In the midst of the crisis, HANDSOME was one of the many talented recipients of the $1 Million American Express Music Backers Grant – a program designed to give artists and music businesses the leg-up they deserve to aid the creation of various initiatives. The fund’s initiatives were created to help keep the music scene alive in Australia, offering grants of up to $50,000 to a range of artists, as well as facilitating studio time and mentoring programs to up and comers. It also gives punters the chance to nominate their hard-working muso mates to win a cash boost of $1,500.

HANDSOME’s live show has been an integral part of the project since its inception, having taken to the stage at major festivals like Falls and Secret Garden, and sharing the stage with acts like Montaigne, No Mono and more.

“2020 was a really interesting challenge for all musicians, I think. The HANDSOME live show is such an important part of building and nurturing our community, and connecting with fans is imperative,” explained Caitlin.

“Last year was really hard not to have that. Our final live show was in Brisbane in early March and then just a deafening silence for the rest of the year. It was weird not to be at the airport every week. But the slow-moving at home also came with a lot of writing and developing production, which felt really rewarding. It also gave me time to expand ideas and think outside the box, which makes this year feel much more exciting.”

For HANDSOME, the Music Backers grant will see her create a film that amplifies the messages present in her music, further creating ways to interact with fans on a visual level.

“I’ve always wanted to make a film, and I’ve always written music with a visual in the next step. It’s really exciting to have the opportunity to bring my new EP to life on the screen and give the music a new voice,” she said.

“The film will be set in the outback, and that’s about all I can say at this stage. We have built a beautiful team to make the film, and we are currently locking in locations and cast. It is a really exciting world I am excited to be a part of.”

Clearly, her fans are itching for more – ‘I Am No Fun’ released in the midst of 2020, has since racked up over 1 Million streams, meaning the HANDSOME community is only growing and connecting with more like-minded punters daily.

“I’m excited by the rise of community-driven work. I think musicians are starting to realise the power of their fans these days, rather than just industry accolades, and that is extremely exciting.”