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CONFIDENCE MAN They embraced the backlash and now own what they do Aus stars discuss the legacy of Gurrumul
The cultural side of the Commonwealth Games
The local pub choir that went viral
A collaborative album consisting of 16 songs created from Johnny Cashâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s unknown poetry, lyrics, and letters set to music by an astounding array of contemporary artists. INCLUDING Chris Cornell, Ruston Kelly & Kacey Musgraves, Rosanne Cash, Alison Krauss & Union Station, Brad Paisley, Kris Kristofferson & Willie Nelson, John Mellencamp, Elvis Costello, and more.
BACK WITH THEIR SEVENTH STUDIO ALBUM AND JUSTICE FOR NONE STANDARD ALBUM
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FFEATURING EATURING TTHEIR HEIR EEPIC PIC CCOVER OVER OOFF THE CRANBERRIES CRANBERRIES CCLASSIC LASSIC ‘ZZOMBIE’ OMBIE’ THE
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Credits Publisher Street Press Australia Pty Ltd Group Managing Editor Andrew Mast National Editor – Magazines Mark Neilsen Group Senior Editor/National Arts Editor Maxim Boon Editors Bryget Chrisfield, Daniel Cribb, Neil Griffiths, Velvet Winter
IIss it over yet?
Assistant Editor/Social Media Co-Ordinator Jessica Dale
nyone else out there who doesn’t watch Married At First Sight? Do you also feel that you have been left out of the national conversation for the past two tw months? Forget the ugly SA and Tasmanian elections. Forget thee Battle Of The Batman By-election. Forget the Michaelia l a Cash outburst (actually, I think we all forgot that scandal li waaaaay too quickly). It’s all been about the cheating cads of waa wa Married At First Sight. Ma And if you haven’t been watching, you have no idea why everyone around you is discussing Troy’s virginity, Tracey’s break-up or prime time partner-switching. And there’s no snobby reason behind not watching Married At First Sight – I’ll watch cheap reality TV along with the best/worst of them. Trust me, when the St Kilda version of The Block launches later this year, I’m all in. And try keeping me away from the various Bake-Off, Runway, Drag or Amazing races. It’s just something about watching hours of squabbling couples that has zero appeal. Don’t we see enough of that at family gatherings or on public transport? So, we offer a mostly-Married-At-First-Sight-free zone this issue (for those who want more Married At First Sight though, skip straight to The Final Thought at the back of the mag). Th is month we celebrate some notable Australian talent. To coincide with a new documentary about Gurrumul – and the release of a posthumous album – former editor Steve Bell discusses the legendary singer’s legacy with Briggs, John Butler, Sarah Blasko and Caiti Baker. We also have regular contributor – and local beats expert – Cyclone chatting with Alison Wonderland, who is currently leading a new wave of Australian dance breaking into the US. And be sure to check our round-up of April-released album reviews. In there you’ll find mention of Ryan Downey’s Running. The Melbourne singer’s hometown show last month was a stunning acoustic preview of the new album. It’s already a lock for the ol’ Albums Of The Year list. Get excited for Ryan Downey. Get excited for April.
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WARNING: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island readers are advised that this issue of The Music contains images and names of people who have died.
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This month Editor’s Letter
Cousin Tony’s Brand New Firebird
Th is month’s best binge watching
Kid Congo & The Pink Monkey Birds, John Garcia
Shit We Did: Intermittent Fasting
Brian Ritchie Best known as the Violent Femmes bassist, Brian is a US-born, Australia-based musician and curator with over 30 years experience touring, selling five million records. Since
2009, he has been an award-winning interdisciplinary art curator at MONA in Hobart, and director of the annual Mofo Festival.
Guest editorial: Brian Ritchie
16 Amateur Hour We join a pub choir, a dance studio and do some live storytelling
Confidence Man Talking about haters and crowdsourcing dance moves
Is fentanyl the new heroin?
The alt Latin pop phenomenon
40 Felicity Case-Mejia
Gurrumul Aussie artists open up on his legacy
Felicity is a Melbourne-based graphic
designer and illustrator. She is also a three-dimensional character with a love of all things
The best arts of the month
pop culture. You can often find her scouring the internet for celeb goss, or watching an unrealistic amount of television.
Brisbane Street Art Festival
Mullets The return of business at the front and party at the back
Portgual. The Man, Biffy Clyro
Your Town Festival 2018 at Commonwealth Games
The Big Picture Giulia McGauran from the world of fashion and music. May contain traces of zebra.
Samuel Leighton-Dore Samuel is a queer writer, director and visual
artist living on the Gold Coast. His achievements include releasing his children’s book, I Think I’m A Poof, and his short film, Show-
Record Store Day
boy, winning Best Short at Melbourne Queer Film Festival. In his spare time he enjoys playing with clay and painting orgies on walls.
Alison Wonderland How the words on her album dictate her actions in real life
APRA Music Awards
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For real big If you missed Alex Lahey’s Summer Sessions tour with The Belligerents, don’t stress. She’s strapping her boots back on and taking Bloods on the Huge And True tour this 6 Apr, which will roll right into to her Groovin The Moo appearances.
Keep on truckin’ We’ve finally got our hands on Flowertruck’s boss debut album, Mostly Sunny, and this month you can clap eyes on them too. The Sydney indie-rock outfit are heading around the country from 6 Apr. Flowertruck
Take a Jill pill One third of electronic dance giants Major Lazer and world class producer, Jillionaire, is returning Down Under this 5 Apr for a headline tour. He’ll play seven shows before wrapping on the Gold Coast on 14 Apr.
Shawn weighs in US actor Shawn Wayans hits Australia 10 May for his headline solo stand-up tour. The comic, best known for his roles in White Chicks and Scary Movie, is headed for the Gold Coast, Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth and Sydney. Shawn Wayans
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Is Don. Is good. Donny Benet, the century’s most sophisticated lover, is releasing his new album this 6 Apr and the next day he’ll be in Perth, sharing some synth and sax with the nation on the first stop of The Don tour.
This month’s best binge watching
Assemble! Big Bad is here, the team’s all over the place, Cap has a beard - shit is going down harder than a cuppa hot concrete. Avengers: Infinity War hits cinemas Australia-wide on 25 Apr and we cannot wait.
Chef’s Table Pastry
Emmy Award-winning documentary series Chef’s Table is back to overwork our saliva ducts yet again this month. Their fourth go is a little different, however. While previous seasons have focussed on renegade chefs of wildly differing disciplines, this newest one will zoom in on the tantalising world of haute desserts. Streams from 13 Apr on Netflix.
Jane The Virgin, season four
Avengers: Infinity War
The misadventures of Jane, a young Latina university student who, after swearing to God and grandmother both to save herself for marriage, is accidentally artificially insemi-
nated with her boss’ sperm (gasp!) continue. Loosely based on telenovela Juana la Virgen, if evil twins and love triangles are your bag then Jane’s your girl.
Brissie four-piece The Jungle Giants kick off their national single tour for Used To Be In Love this 5 Apr. They’re playing a whopping 16 dates through the month including a bunch with Alive Ivy and Evan Klar.
Streams from 27 Apr on Netflix.
The Jungle Giants
Retsuko is 25, single, and a Scorpio. She has “blood type A”. She’s also a red panda. Stuck in a thankless office job, Retsuko’s only outlet for her mounting fury is to get head over fluffy tail
plastered and sing death metal karaoke after hours. Seems like Hello Kitty creators Sanrio are looking to tap into the boozy animal tragi-
Orange Is The New Black favourite and lauded jazz singer Lea DeLaria has announced that she’s extending her Australian tour in June. As well as her initial Sydney show, DeLaria will also be making a stop in Melbourne.
comedy niche BoJack opened up and we’re all for it. Streams from 20 Apr on Netflix. Lea DeLaria
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Pol goals Aussie metalcore outfit Polaris are finally taking their November-released debut album, The Mortal Coil, on the road this 12 Apr. The Sydney quintet will kick off the run in Perth, followed by stops in Brisbane, Sydney, Adelaide and Melbourne.
Podcast of the month: The Lashes We’re normally against shameless self-promotion but since The Music’s podcast The Lashes is objectively the best podcast ever - maybe even the best thing - we feel confident giving it a quick plug. Catch Max, Sam and Erin blindly tackling the big issues weekly.
Buggalugs Last year Jake Bugg gave us his fourth LP Hearts That Strain, and early this year the UK songwriter dropped word that he was making his way to Australia for a solo acoustic tour. The run starts 19 Apr in Sydney.
Pew pew VR company Merge have announced the 6DoF Blaster, a big purple pistol that supports mixed reality games. That means you can mount your smart phone on it and force-feed robots lasers in a 3D environment without ever leaving your room.
Damn it, Planet, I love you Have you really even seen the Earth until you’ve seen it scored by a live orchestra and hosted by Eric Bana? The BBC’s Planet Earth II Live In Concert tours from 27 Apr with footage from series and music from Hans Zimmer, Jacob Shea and Jasha Klebe. Planet Earth II Live in Concert
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Robinson redo Netflix have gone and remade kitsch ‘60s sci fi serial Lost In Space and we’ll be damned if the teasers don’t look amazing. The bestreamoth are releasing the reboot on 13 Apr so clear your schedules.
Sh*t we did With Maxim Boon
Lost In Space
Intermittent Fasting Halsey
In the words of the late, great Freddie Mercury, “Who wants to live forever?” Erm, doesn’t everyone? But damn it, Ol’ Father Time has
New Jersey pop singersongwriter Halsey is coming our way this 21 Apr off the back of her Hopeless Fountain Kingdom album. If that’s not enough, she’s also bringing Grammy-nominated R&B singer Kehlani for support.
different ideas as he marches each and every one of us, day by day, towards the ultimate, inevitable abyss. Everybody poops and everybody dies. Fun thought, eh? But, what if you could hold on to this mortal coil just a little while longer? Research in recent years suggests there might be a simple way to stay alive and kicking for decades longer than your sell-by date. Fasting is a millennia old practice, used as an act of spiritual devotion or penitence. But now health gurus are jumping on the fasting bandwagon as a way of boosting the immune system, cleansing the body of toxins and improving general well-being. And this isn’t just wishful thinking. The science behind fasting has shown that limiting calorie intake can put the body into a state called ketosis, which promotes a process called autophagy, meaning the body metabolises (i.e. self-consumes) dead cells and other toxins lingering in the blood and soft tissues. The most prolifically followed form of this calorie restricted regime is known as Intermittent Fasting. This involves abstaining from eating and drinking anything other than water for strictly adhered to window each day, which is generally around 16 to 18 hours long. For example, if you eat your last meal of the day at 8pm, the next time you’re allowed to eat is the following day at 2pm. So, is the wane worth the gain? There’s only one way to find out…
The Verdict I love my food, but I’m not a compulsive eater. I’ve probably gone without eating for 18-hours by accident when I’ve been really busy with work (or at a bush doof). But the second you set a rule removing the possibility of eating, it’s a whole other ballgame. On day one of this experiment I reached 8pm and turned my back on the kitchen, vowing to only return
App of the month: Sky Guide AR Sky Guide AR is a little Galileo in your pocket, just point it at the sky and it automatically locates constellations, planets and satellites and provides immediate interactive info on all those heavenly bodies. A must for any stargazers. Merge 6DoF Blaster
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for a late lunch the following day. At 8:05pm a voice in my head was screaming, “EAT A COOKIE!” One hour in I fell off the wagon, convincing myself that I could perhaps defer my fasting to the following day. Once I’d run up a fasting backlog of nearly a week, it was time to throw in the towel. Looks like I’m dying young, but at least I’ll make a beautiful corpse.
The anatomy of a music city Brian Ritchie, MONA’s Music Curator and bass guitarist for Violent Femmes, shares an insider’s guide to building a city that makes beautiful music together ahead of his appearance at this year’s Music Cities Convention.
A music city has: live music in every nook and cranny. Pubs, schools, boats, cafes, bridges, tunnels, gazebos, bandstands, courtyards, museums, hospitals, doorways, alleys, basements, airports, garages and playgrounds. A music city has: a regional specialty, like New Orleans jazz, Seattle grunge, Brooklyn hip hop, Kingston reggae, Coimbra fado, Athens rembetika, Jakarta gamelan, Chennai carnatic, Chicago blues, Viennese waltz, Austin country swing. Some of the best music cities have more than one. A music city has: educators who teach the kids the tools of the trade but leave room for them to have fun. It’s called playing music for a reason. It should be playful. A music city has: filmmakers, poets, dancers, light-show artists, painters, sculptors, puppeteers, chefs and athletes who love music and want to collaborate with musicians. We can’t do it all ourselves. A music city has: record labels documenting the music created in that city and launching it onto the world stage. Th is can be utterly commercial or niche as hell. The echoes of this work are heard decades later. A music city has: festivals big and small throughout the year. Music festivals, food festivals, film festivals, literary festivals, all programming musicians. A music city has: a symphony orchestra. Symphonic musicians anchor a music city by all their ancillary work like teaching, spin-off bands, backing up touring musicians and being visible representations that music can indeed be a job or profession. A music city has: recording studios, big and small. Sometimes a recording studio can change the entire destiny of a music city. For example, Sun Studios in Memphis, Studio One in Kingston or Abbey Road in London. Th is is becoming rarer due to the collapse of the recording industry and availability of home recording gear. So support your local studio! A music city has: tuneful animals. Cicadas, crickets, locusts, frogs, birds. Animals are some of the best musicians. Musicologists think music arose as an imitation of their sounds. A music city has: patience. Sometimes the music of a city takes decades or even centuries to reach its apotheosis. Keep plugging away. A music city has: last but foremost. Listeners and audiences with big and hungry ears. Music is its own reward but without an enthusiastic crowd it gets starved of oxygen.
music city has: musicians who aren’t satisfied with what’s available and start their own scenes. Don’t wait for someone else to do it. A music city has: a bustling street music and busking scene. Preferably not officially sanctioned by the nanny state. Chaos, noise and beauty interrupting people’s concentration while they’re circulating. Music on the street corners, subways and in the parks. Get out and play. A music city has: official and unofficial music mentors who take young musicians under their wings and help them find their voices. A kind word at the right time can change a musician’s future. A music city has: young leaders who set a visible example for other kids and don’t leave for greener pastures. Brain drain kills the smaller music cities. A music city has: fashionistas who link in with the music scene. Make it difficult for people to tell if you’re a performer or just look like one. A music city has: musical instrument manufacturers, inventors, luthiers, violin makers, drum makers, nerds building synths and pedals, people carving flutes. A music city has: people to repair all those instruments when they break. A music city has: record shops that cater to all tastes and genres. You can buy music on the internet, but you will meet people in record shops who will become lifelong friends in reality. I have. A music city has: a steady influx of immigrants and visitors. All great music cities represent crossroads and intersections of cultures. A music city has: women who don’t care what men think and go on to defy the music industry and education system. We are one of the most backwards professions. Women lead the way despite that. A music city has: churches, cathedrals, temples and meditation centres with vibrant and joyous music pouring out the doors and windows. Choirs, organs, drums, gongs, oboes and flutes sounding for no other reason than glorifying higher forces. A music city has: newspapers, websites, fanzines, radio and television stations who promote local music, even that of little commercial value. The airwaves are a public resource, paper is expensive, let’s use it for something useful. Bonus points for television and radio broadcasting live music. A music city has: amateur music associations, groups and events. People making music for the love of it.
“A music city has: musicians who aren’t satisfied with what’s available and start their own scenes. Don’t wait for someone else to do it.”
the new album OUT APRIL 20 THE MUSIC
Shut up and dance After Confidence Man’s Splendour In The Grass appearance went viral last year, what followed was a tidal wave of negative comments. Co-vocalist/ dancer Janet Planet tells Velvet Winter what’s important is getting a reaction.
Check The Guide on theMusic.com.au for more details.
n the past 12 months, Confidence Man have become an unmistakable part of the Australian music scene. Boasting choreographed dance moves and tastefully synchronised costumes alongside their trademark infectious earworms, it’s hard to imagine the band without their defining accoutrements, but, as vocalist Janet Planet recalls, the sound was always at the forefront. “The music came first,” says Planet firmly. “We were all doing rock stuff initially and we were all living together, so we started writing this new stuff. It’s part of all living together, all being young and all writing music together — that’s where it came from.” Originally from the Sunshine State, the outfit is a product of the Brisbane music scene’s penchant for supergroups, containing members from The Belligerents, Moses Gunn Collective and The Jungle Giants. However, Confidence Man are far too clever to be slapped with the side-project label, adopting new personas (and in the case of bandmembers Reggie Goodchild and Clarence McGuffie, apiarist hats and veils) to avoid being prematurely judged. “I suppose the stage names were, essentially, because we were doing dance music as well. Having any integration between rock and dance is kind of frowned upon. In a way, we didn’t want to mesh those two worlds and be seen as a rock band trying to write dance music or the other way around,” Planet says. “I think keeping that separate allowed us to make our own way instead of bouncing off the back of the other bands or being associated with those acts. That was kind of how that happened and now we’re happier that we did that, we got away without looking like a side-project.”
Going from gigging in front of a dozen people to selling out shows all over Australia was never the plan, though. It started as most great things do, with some good friends having fun. “We’ve been friends for years and years. Reggie is my brother, too. We were all really close. That’s the way we all are together; we never took ourselves too seriously, particularly writing dance music. We had never tried to write dance music before. Initially it was all a little bit of a joke, which is why it was so much fun. “Slowly, as we began to write more and more we started to realise, ‘Maybe this is really good.’” From there, the Confidence Man train has taken off at full speed, landing them on international festival line-ups like The Governors Ball in New York and Primavera Sound in Spain. It’s also led to their debut album, the highly anticipated Confident Music For Confident People — an LP that, like the band, is overflowing with ideas. “The way we work is that we’ll start writing and when we hit a roadblock we’ll sit there and be really grumpy until we put it away and work on something else,” Planet says. “So there’s a bunch of half-finished songs that we just couldn’t get to work. One of these songs we were really disappointed about, because it had the best chorus in the world but we could not do the verse. So we had this amazing chorus but nothing else. “Maybe we should put out a mixtape of just all the good bits, ‘cause we even have this one song that we really wanted on [the album], that has Clarence scatting and it’s, like, the best 20-second scat of all time and we need it somewhere. So maybe we’ll just do that,” laughs Planet. Scat or no scat, the album encapsulates everything that the band have been working
towards: toe-tappingly good melodies and slapping bass lines enrobe tongue-in-cheek lyrics that playfully poke fun at everyone and everything. Case in point: the wickedly sharp and extremely danceable single Don’t You Know I’m In A Band. “I suppose it’s about people we know and, in a sense, about ourselves. Like, there are so many people I know that are like that. So it was just playing with that to a point of absurdity. Half of our friends must be like, ‘Oh, no, did I say something or do something around them? Did they say that about me?’” Planet chuckles Th is isn’t even the most salacious insider goss on the album. That award goes to the innocuously titled COOL Party. “There’s a line in there that says, ‘I even went to a party where a guy shoved a lightbulb up his ass’, and that actually happened at Splendour 2017,” Planet explains. “I remember, it happened in the Tackle Shack, I was there with all the Northeast [Party House] guys and all of our friends. We were all taking pictures of this guy that had literally put a lightbulb up his ass and was dancing around; it was the craziest thing I’ve ever seen.” While last year’s Splendour In The Grass might have provided valuable album material, it also led to the band’s first taste of a backlash. Sparked by a live video and a suggestion that they were Australia’s next big thing, what followed was a tidal wave of negative comments that attacked everything from the outfit’s music to their members. However, Planet is firm that the reaction was a positive thing. “Initially, I was a bit confused because I was like, ‘We’re doing everything silly and we’re dancing and stuff, how can you not like that?’” Planet says. “Then I thought about it and I talked to some friends in the
“I think that’s really important: if you’re not getting any backlash then there’s never going to be people that really love you either.”
music industry as well, and it was like, if your band doesn’t get the reaction of hating or really loving you then you’re not doing the right thing. If you’re mediocre, you’re never going to get that response. Even if we garnered a negative reaction, it was still a reaction. We were doing art, in a way. I think that’s really important: if you’re not getting any backlash then there’s never going to be people that really love you either.” Did the experience make the group rethink the way they conducted themselves? Not on your life. “We thought, ‘Oh, we need to add more live elements,’ and the more we talked about it [the more] we came to the realisation that the reason why we’re different is that we actively chose not to do that, and that’s what sets us apart. We set out to be different. What we need to do is [remember] that every time we get a negative reaction [we need] to think, ‘The reason why that reaction is there is because we’re different.’ I think that’s a good thing.” So what’s the secret? How did a band from Brissie, dressing up and doing wacky dance moves, hit such a nerve with Australian and international music lovers? Turns out it’s all about confidence. “We created it for people like ourselves, there was never any kind of thinking of strategy. Like, ‘Th is is what we gotta do,’ or thinking, ‘Are we good enough?’ That kind of honesty and lack of pretence is probably what draws people there. We’re not trying to hide behind anything, we just created exactly what we wanted. I think that’s why it connects so well: it’s something that we wanted and other people got that.” Confident Music For Confident People (Independent) is out this month. Confidence Man tour from 7 Apr.
Could fentanyl be the new heroin?
You may not have heard of fentanyl five years ago, but chances are you’re more than familiar with the musicians whose deaths it has contributed to. Jessica Dale investigates the issue and how deadly the drug can be.
n the past ten years, some of the highest profile deaths in the music industry have all had one thing in common. No, it’s not just superstardom, best-selling records or critical acclaim that ties the likes of Prince, Tom Petty and Michael Jackson together; it’s the fact that they all had the opioid fentanyl in their systems at the time of death. So, what is fentanyl and why is its use on the rise? “Fentanyl is like the nuclear option of opioid. It’s one of the strongest drugs you can be prescribed,” says Laura Bajurny, spokesperson for the Alcohol & Drug Foundation (ADF). “Fentanyl is a wholly synthetic opioid, so you don’t need to have access to an opium poppy plantation in order to manufacture it. “Because of the fact it’s synthetic, it’s also considerably stronger than its natural analogues. It’s about 80-to-100 times more powerful than the morphine you’d be given in a hospital. It’s scary-strong.” Amanda Roxburgh is a senior research officer and coordinator at the National Illicit Drug Indicators Project through UNSW’s National Drug & Alcohol Research Centre (NDARC)) and spends her time analysing drug use and trends in Australia. “In probably about 2006 in Australia, it was actually expanded out to the use for the treatment of chronic, non-cancer pain, so then that’s why we started seeing an increase in prescribing of fentanyl in this country,” she explains. According to the ADF, medicinal fentanyl is available in three main categories, although their forms and strengths vary transdermal patches (Durogesic and gener-
ic versions), lozenges/lollipops (Actiq) and intravenous injection (Sublimaze). Additionally, to these prescribed, pharmaceutical options, fentanyl can also be obtained illegally through illicitly manufactured versions (referred to as fentanyl analogues), as well as extracted from the transdermal patches to then be injected. So far in Roxburgh’s studies, illicit fentanyl use is still low in Australia. According to the 2017 Illicit Drug Reporting System survey study, which found of drug injecting users surveyed, just 9% nationally had injected pharmaceutical fentanyl in the past six months. The risks between using legally and illegally produced fentanyl is easy to understand, but what should be made clear is that, according to Bajurny, “a lethal dose of fentanyl is about two milligrams,” which carries a risk for both variants of the drug. In the case of Tom Petty, who passed away in October 2017, the Los Angeles County Medical Examiner ruled that he died from “multisystem organ failure due to resuscitated cardiopulmonary arrest due to mixed drug toxicity”. As well as noting that Petty also had coronary artery atherosclerosis and emphysema, they found fentanyl, oxycodone, temazepam, alprazolam, citalopram, acetyl fentanyl and despropionyl fentanyl in the musician’s body at his time of death. “Our family sat together this morning with the Medical Examiner - Coroner’s
Office and we were informed of their final analysis that Tom Petty passed away due to an accidental drug overdose as a result of taking a variety of medications,” shared Petty’s wife Dana and daughter Adria in an official statement. “Unfortunately, Tom’s body suffered from many serious ailments including emphysema, knee problems and most significantly a fractured hip&#133;” “On the day he died, he was informed his hip had graduated to a full-on break and it is our feeling that the pain was simply unbearable and was the cause for his over-use of medication. We knew before the report was shared with us that he was prescribed various pain medications for a multitude of issues including fentanyl patches and we feel confident that this was, as the coroner found, an unfortunate accident.” “If people have underlying issues in terms of cardiac problems or liver function problems then that’s also going to complicate their ability to process the drug through their liver,” explains Roxburgh. “And so, it will actually mean that it’s definitely a risk marker for overdose.” According to a 2016 report from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, drug-induced deaths caused by “other synthetic narcotics” - which categorises opioids fentanyl, tramadol and pethidine - was at 68 people in 1999, dropped to 19 people in 2007 and then rose up to 234 in 2016, making it the sixth most common cause of
“Fentanyl is like the nuclear option of opioid.”
death that year - with benzodiazepines the leader, followed by opioids including oxycodone/codeine, psychostimulants with abuse potential (amphetamine, ecstasy, MDA, MDMA, speed, methamphetamine, ice, caffeine), heroin and other and unspecified antidepressants. While death caused by fentanyl is still relatively low in Australia, compared to the 663 deaths caused by benzodiazepines in 2016, it’s the potential influence of illicitly produced fentanyl analogues that holds great risk for the future. “It’s just really important to be clear, because they’re really different drugs with obviously a really different harm profile,” explains Roxburgh when comparing the differences between pharmaceutically and illicitly produced fentanyl. “And we’re obviously wanting to be very vigilant for the fentanyl analogues hitting this country.” “British Columbia [Canada] has such a fentanyl crisis they’ve declared it a public health emergency. It’s terrifying. Nine months in 2017, they had over 1,000 fatal overdoses in that one province alone,” shares Bajurny. “The police seizure data has found traces of fentanyl in every single type of drug except for cannabis, so that’s MDMA, that includes cocaine. People who are not expecting to get an opioid drug are winding up accidentally overdosing.”
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Beyond the rainbow Less than a year after the sad passing of revered Northern Territory musician Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu his ambitious final musical statement arrives alongside a documentary telling his inspiring life story. Friends and collaborators Briggs, John Butler, Sarah Blasko and Caiti Baker give Steve Bell their takes on the man behind the myth.
The passing of any Yolngu person is usually accompanied by strict traditional protocols which preclude the use of the deceased’s name. The immediate family of Gurrumul have been clear throughout the grieving process that the contribution he made and continues to make to Australian and Yolngu cultural life should not be forgotten. The family have given permission that following the final funeral ceremony, his name and image may once again be used publicly to ensure that his legacy will continue to inspire both his people and Australians more broadly.
n mid-2017 Australia lost what was widely recognised as one of our most important ever voices when Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu passed away in a Darwin hospital at the age of just 46, finally succumbing to complications stemming from longstanding liver and kidney disease. Born blind in a remote community on Elcho Island — off the coast of Northern Territory’s Arnhem Land — Gurrumul spent his early years immersed in music of all persuasions and then, in adulthood, embarked on a mission to take the traditional music of his people to the world. Having cut his teeth in both Yothu Yindi and Saltwater Band, Gurrumul’s solo career kicked off in 2008 when his eponymous debut album — performed in a mixture of his native Yolngu tongue and English — took the world by storm. This unique, ground-breaking collection went triple platinum, took home two ARIA awards and announced Gurrumul as a global force to be reckoned with. For the next decade he took stories of his land, family and people to the wider world, introducing his culture and customs to whole new audiences who were inspired by both his amazing journey and his angelic, otherworldly voice. Yet Gurrumul was a shy man who carried himself with a quiet dignity and mostly shunned interviews, so even as his profile skyrocketed we never really learned too much about him as a person, save what could be gleaned from his beautiful music. Now two near-concurrent releases will attempt to delve into Gurrumul’s history and let us understand a little more about the man himself. Paul Williams’ stunning documentary Gurrumul offers a wonderful depiction of a fascinating life, slowly painting a portrait of a man stuck between cultures and their often-contradictory requirements and expectations. Gurrumul’s posthumous fourth album Djarimirri (Child Of The Rainbow), on the other hand, is a four-year labour of love that strives to bring these disparate worlds together. It presents traditional Yolngu songs and harmonised chants placed within hypnotic western orchestral arrangements, not only fusing cultures together but also shining a light onto the creator’s life and deep-rooted connection to his people. “I think he’s the whole package,” reflects contemporary and collaborator John Butler. “If you could break it down with some cultural and economic analyser there was a whole thing going on there, he’s the whole package. He’s a very soft-spoken, intelligent, deep-thinking man who sang like an angel, he was blind, he played the guitar upside-down, he sang in language — there’s so many visceral hooks. Was it his voice? Was it how he looked? Was it his culture? Was it his language? Was it his songs? He was awesome, a full package of delights. “I guess what struck me most of all was that he was good at what he did, and he had a very angelic voice, and it was a nice culmination of all these dif-
Stills from Gurrumul
ferent attributes from Indigenous to western and so on — which is great — but I was just really stoked how the Australian zeitgeist attached to it, and totally identified with it and was utterly struck by it.” Sarah Blasko was another musician who worked closely with Gurrumul, recording a duet of his track Bayini in 2012 and often joining him on stage to perform the song in concert. “It’s kind of amazing because, in a way, I feel that we really just communicated through the music and that was always such a spiritual experience,” she recalls. “I don’t think I’ve ever performed with someone with so much purity in his voice and absolutely no pretensions. The pop world or mainstream can be pretty vacuous at times, with people putting on personas and affectations, but Gurrumul’s music is so much about his spirituality and his family, and going from this other world to communicating with him through his music, I found it very overwhelming and I found it very emotional, almost embarrassingly so. It was just something very special to perform with him.” Northern Territory musician Caiti Baker also often crossed paths with Gurrumul, and got to see a slightly different side of the singer when he’d come to Darwin from Elcho Island to record and hang out. Caiti Baker
“He was afforded the opportunity to represent his people to the world and that’s why we say his name, so the world doesn’t forget.”
John Butler. Pic: James Minchin III
“He loved playing over all music — he just loved music,” she smiles. “He’d get up on stage with me at gigs that I’d do around town and just humbly sit in the back, and plug his electric guitar in. I’d call him ‘Willie Yunupingu from the south’ and he’d transform into this amazing blues guitarist. “I guess it was just normal times, that’s just who he was when he was around us all. And we were all aware of him being increasingly unwell, but we didn’t expect to lose him yet... You just don’t want to, so you don’t think it. “But getting to perform with him on stage was just amazing: his voice and his presence is unsurpassed, but also his musicality and his musicianship are brilliantly flawless. He just loves music, there’s no pretention and no ego, none of that at all.” Another musician with whom Gurrumul struck up a powerful rapport was Vic-
torian rapper Briggs. Despite coming from different musical worlds, the pair found common ground straight away, Gurrumul guesting on tracks for both Briggs’ solo efforts and his acclaimed collaboration AB Original. “We both enjoyed music and where we ended up musically was beside the point,” the Shepparton-bred MC explains. “I think we both just enjoyed good music, and the main common denominator for it all was humour: we both laughed at the same stuff and were into jokes and messing about. Th at was always the main core of our friendship: the fact that we were just laughing at everything. “When we connected it was like connecting the north and south, it was about bringing our two stories together and our two sounds together, and changing the expectations that people had about both of us and what we were capable of — and musically what we stood for and what our values were — and bringing that to the forefront of our collaborations. Th at was an important moment: to be able to mix the remote with the rural and the city as well.” Without exception, these artists who’d gotten to know Gurrumul — the man as well as the musician — are
delighted that these projects will help keep his name and legacy alive for future generations. “He was a beautiful man and his music touched so many people,” Blasko offers. “I think that his spirituality was intrinsically entwined in his music and who he was, and that’s a pretty powerful thing because there’s a lot of music that’s disconnected from the place that it comes from, or spirituality in general. A lot of music out there is disconnected and soulless, and doesn’t really mean much; that’s why music like his will always be important.” “He was afforded the opportunity to represent his people to the world,” says Baker solemnly, “and that’s why we say his name, so the world doesn’t forget.”
Djarimirri (Child Of The Rainbow) and Gurrumul are released this month.
Mullet over? Nah, mate, it’s having a comeback! In these trying times, it’s hard to keep up with life’s never-ending demands. To be healthy, meet what society expects of you, support your fellow human and at least appear like you’ve got life in check. So friends, pray tell, how have we seen a resurgence of the mullet? To give you the latest on the style craze, Antony Attridge goes where barber’s fear to tread. Illustrations by Felicity Case-Mejia.
Stranger Cringe Oh, the heart-throb that is Dacre Montgomery! The “Stranger Cringe” mullet so effortlessly balances, “I’ll steal your heart,” with, “I’ll steal your car.” No defamation to Stranger things, it’s a brilliant show with some incredible casting. Yet this stylistic approach to an angst-ridden youth so perfectly encapsulates the violation of a no dickhead policy. We get it mullet lovers, you’re free spirits. But will someone please introduce a mop chop to these youths before we’re drowning in bravado-fuelled Camaros across the country! Still, at least it lends itself to all genders and non-binaries, so that’s something.
Long Lost Love Picture the scene. It’s prom night. You look in the mirror and see it. “Th is is me!” Th is is the physical representation of your identity and all that you’ve studied for. Long flowing locks, a delightful shaved texture around the ears and an “O’Doyle Rules!” spiked garnish. “Th is is the haircut I can confidently walk to the shops with, free of ridicule and judgement!” Granted, this one is a little rarer — dare I say, old skool — than your standard Cringe-mullet. But the fact is that it still exists. All we can say is, ‘Nope.’
Sideshows Announced Perfect for those little Nascars you played with as a kid, this haircut literally has a full circuit running the circumference of your head. If that wasn’t enough, there’s an elegant Ronaldo-esque tuft at the front (WTF was that all about!?) accompanied by a delightful something to pull on at the back. How do you even ask for this at the barbers? Then again I suppose you don’t. It’s something your 13-year-old brother “can do for you easy, bro” in the back shed.
ou’d be hard-pressed to throw a stone in any direction in Melbourne, Syders or Brissie and not hit someone sporting this hairdo from yesteryear. It’s like the Pied Piper has begun his quest in Melbourne’s north and the rats are swamping the village! It’s hard enough to grasp that wooden crates are ‘chairs’ now, and vegemite jars are ‘drinking vessels’. But now you’re telling me that the frayed carpet with the man attached is my barista? The Nathan Barley episode was a premonition folks, this is “Rise of the Idiots” and either a lack of hair care or sheer, ignorant effort (it’s often hard to tell) is being put into breathing life back into what can literally look, well, like something dead on a head. But if you thought the horror stopped there, you’d be wrong, my poor naive friend. The world of mulletry is a rich tapestry of crimes against hair. So, to help you navigate the new norm, here’s a handy cheat sheet. Mullet bingo anyone?
Fake Drake Commonly sighted at rural hip hop shows, the Fake Drake offers a certain epidermis ‘bling’, which is surely no easy accomplishment. It almost certainly involves a level of man-scaping that surely renders you late most mornings, while illustrating to the opposite gender you’ve got more money than you know what to do with (thus spending it on stupid haircuts). The balance is all in keeping the beard length fading into the undercut. There are just no words...
Stuart Little The delightful rat tail! Arguably this one never went away. Nothing says childhood trauma like the appearance of a rat on your shoulder without one actually being there. Not really sure whether to blame the kids or the parents here but when we see 18 to 25-year-olds sporting this rodent-fascinator we can only really blame ourselves. Again, it’s a non-gender specific, which I suppose shouldn’t be criticised. But 2017/18 has had some real hardship and the return of the rat tail is almost a (Stuart) little too much to bare.
C U LT U R E
BARKS AND BREWS
BARKS AND BREWS
ON REPEAT: BLINK-182 NIGHT
HOMEGROWN BATTLE OF THE BANDS: HEAT 4
THE JOSH WADE SHOW
BARKS AND BREWS
BARKS AND BREWS
JOHN GARCIA (USA)
HOMEGROWN BATTLE OF THE BANDS: HEAT 3
ANZAC DAY EVE: JUSTICE FOR THE DAMNED
SIR DAVID ATTENBOROUGH’S JUNGLE JAM
BARKS AND BREWS
EVERY THURSDAY FROM 7PM BRISBANE’S BEST BEER GARDEN OPEN FROM 6PM FREE ENTRY ALL NIGHT
EVERY THURSDAY FROM 9PM LAID BACK VIBES
AND CHILLED OUT TUNES
BARKS AND BREWS
EVERY SUNDAY FROM MIDDAY LUCKY EGG
FRIED CHICKEN AND BURGERS
Older and wiser. Maybe. They might party less than when they started out about a decade ago but William Keegan of LA’s Together Pangea tells Carley Hall the band’s first trip Down Under with an old friend is definitely worthy of a few beers.
orry, an ambulance is just driving by, we’re all good — that’s just what LA sounds like.”
Th at’s the verdict on William Keegan’s hometown, where he and his band Together Pangea have been kicking around for the better part of a decade. Sirens blazing in the background is seemingly a suitable soundtrack for the garage punk rock trio, two of which are in the studio recording some new material while Keegan is chatting, but the seasoned player says the hard and fast rock and roll lifestyle is one that the band have never attempted to maintain. “Th at has been kind of a change in the last few years — we definitely don’t party as much,” Keegan laughs. “We still do, but most of the time if it’s a weekday and we play a show we’ll have fun while we’re there but we’ll wind up going back and getting some sleep afterwards instead of being there all night. We’re not like, ‘It’s the after party, let’s stay up until 5 in the morning.’ I feel like those people are machines.
“I think there’s an expectation that we go nuts all the time. I drink beer and talk to my friends, just normal shit, but I think when we started out with the band, we’d go out and things were a little hectic and we were kind of jerks. But no, we’re a lot more tame these days. I remember playing shows where I was drunk and I’d just talk shit to the audience for some reason. And it was just because I was in a bad mood or something and I didn’t even think about how it was the first time these people had seen me play or anything, so I kinda regret that. I also played a show with only three songs then went, ‘Fuck it’ and walked off. So dumb.” With the promise of some new material in the second half of the year, has ‘maturing’ somewhat into the hardworking, party-lesshard band resulted in a tweaked sound or lyrics with a deeper perspective? “I think getting older, the songs are just a little different,” Keegan explains. “They’re a little bit more aware of themselves, you know. Like we know what we’re capable of and it’s fun trying to write outside of
that. I used to just know four chords or whatever, and play them and then yell some stuff over it. And I think now I know a little bit more about music I can try make something sound a certain way instead of it just happening. “Sometimes I actually feel like I haven’t matured all that much, like, maybe even just being in a band and performing and touring a lot keeps me the same age as when I started it or something. I do hang out with my friends who are married and stuff. But I just feel like I haven’t grown as much, but maybe I have, I don’t know.” Those past stints at being ‘jerks’ hasn’t put a stopper on the love that pours forth at their chaotic live shows. Since 2009, the threepiece have played blistering, memorable shows across their home country and abroad, and released four lauded albums. Their second, Living Dummy, was released via Burger Records and saw them unite with label mate and actual mate Alex Wall of Australia’s very own Bleeding Knees Club, who at the time was taking
a hiatus with his solo project Wax Witches. The old friends will team up for their coming national tour for Together Pangea’s first time Down Under. So, what are Keegan and his band looking forward to most? “I’m actually super afraid of going out and I’m not that much of a nature person, I don’t imagine going on a bunch of hikes or anything,” he laughs. “I just like new cities, so I’m stoked to see Sydney and Alex can show us around. I’ve been meaning to like look things up, I’ve just assumed that I’ll ask Alex and he’ll show me everything that’s cool. I’m just going to rely on him for that.”
Together Pangea tour from 28 Mar.
Round peg in a square hole
ach Carothers, the bassist in Alaska’s psychedelic/prog-
against — all the pop stars like Taylor Swift and Demi Lovato, all
rock/indie-poppers Portugal. The Man, says the band
these beautiful people. And I’m 36, I’m from Alaska, I’m a bit
first started touring mostly as a cheap way to travel. “We
overweight, you know? We’re not pop stars, we don’t look how
found out you didn’t need to make money to see the world,”
they look. Nobody has six-packs, nobody has white teeth. We
he says. “I always thought to be a touring band you needed
sleep too little, we drink too much. It’s pretty funny that we got
Learjets and tour buses, but you don’t. We had no idea you
put into this, but it’s also incredibly fun.”
could just make enough gas money to get to the next town
Alaskan outfit Portugal. The Man aren’t your average pop sensations. Bassist Zach Carothers laughs with Joel Lohman about aiming for gas money and hitting a Grammy.
The widespread popularity of this song has made it harder to recognise a Portugal. The Man fan in the wild. “You can’t
and make some friends and eat rice and see the world.” Over the past 14 years, as well as achieving their more
tell anymore,” Carothers says. “It used to be we’d be in an air-
modest, rice-related goals, the band have also released eight
port and I would see a kid walking towards us in a Tame Impa-
albums, won a Grammy and were included on Barack Obama’s
la shirt and I’d think, ‘This kid might come say hi, he probably
playlist of the best songs of 2017. The latter two achievements
knows our stuff’. But now it’s the pilot of the airplane or the
are thanks to their recent mega-hit, Feel It Still. The song rep-
stewardess or your aunt’s neighbour or little kids. But still a
resents a move toward a catchier, more radio-friendly sound,
lot of people don’t know who we are, so it’s not completely
but, as Carothers explains, that was always the band’s aim.
overwhelming. Everybody knows the song, but a lot of people
“We’ve always been pop kids,” he says. “It was just about
think it’s a Pharrell track or something.”
learning to write better songs. We’ve been trying since the
Carothers says the band is feeling some pressure to make
beginning. That’s what’s funny about prog-rock and people
hay while the sun shines, but they’re not trying to adapt the
saying our first album was so crazy and experimental, full of
band to better fit the mainstream (“None of us are tanning
time changes and dif-
or anything like that”). They just want to enjoy playing to big-
ferent tempos. That was
ger audiences. “Nobody in our band cares about money,” says
because it was easier to
Carothers. “It’s cool when you make it. But I was doing this
do. We had no idea how
when we were making zero dollars and, whether I make zero
to write a song. We’d
or a million, I’m still just going to want to play a show every
just transition from one
night. It’s just what we do.”
key into another. It was
Carothers and co will be doing what they do in Australia
all very jagged. Some
this April and May. He says it’s one of his favourite places to
people thought it was
tour, noting some similarities between Alaska and Australia
so smart and creative
(plus a couple of differences). “Y’all show us a really good time,”
and crazy. Honestly, it’s
says Carothers. “We get along. You guys are just a lot more
not. We just had no idea
handsome and pretty than us. But drinking beers, getting a
what we were doing.”
little punchy — we like that style. It’s rough, fun, funny. That’s
totally our jam. The first time we went out there I said, ‘Man,
wrote Feel It Still, Caroth-
I feel very at home here. I feel a little chubby and pale, but,
ers says they knew they
besides that, we blend right in’.”
had something special, but they had no idea how far it would take them.
went to pop radio it was pretty hilarious,” he says. “I didn’t think it would work at all. Just looking at who we were up
No title, no script Biffy Clyro have a new album and a soundtrack in the mix for 2018. Bassist James Johnston tells Anthony Carew they just need to decide which is which.
think it’d be sad to just be known for one song, and have to play that again and again,” says James Johnston. “We feel that, with our fans, that there’s a real connection that goes beyond some flash-in-the-pan moment.” The bassist for Biffy Clyro is right: over seven LPs and across two decades, the Scottish rock-trio has been known for epic, proggy albums and loud, pummelling live shows, but have never been defined by one album, let alone a single song. The closest
they came was with their fifth album, 2009’s Only Revolutions. Its first single, Mountains, reached Top 5 in the UK and its fourth single, Many Of Horror, belatedly jumped to #8 when fans started a campaign to buy the original after one of The X Factor’s contestants, Matt Cardle, covered the song under the name When We Collide. “Even when all that stuff was happening, it wasn’t that in-your-face,” Johnston says. “Certainly, around that time, there was a lot more attention on the band. And, having your song covered on X Factor, that could’ve been a moment that overshadowed the band. But by then we’d spent years playing shows in the UK, building up a genuine audience, [so] nothing like that was ever going to be some defining moment for the band.” Johnston is speaking from “damp and dark” Glasgow, where Biffy Clyro are back home. As well as living some normal life — “spend time with family, see friends, create some enemies, go do stuff; give yourself things to talk about when you’re far from home again” — the band are setting out work on two separate projects at once. They’re simultaneously setting out to make both their eighth album, the followup to 2016’s Ellipsis, and a soundtrack for a forthcoming feature film for Welsh director Jamie Adams.
Portugal. The Man tour from 27 Apr.
“I don’t know which comes first, how it’ll work,” Johnston admits. “At the moment, it’s kind of exciting having it up in the air. Working on new ideas, but not knowing which music will end up with which project; I think that’s bringing out the best in the band, it makes us kind of free.” The film project they’re working on has no title, no script, barely even a premise; Biffy Clyro being invited to collaborate at ground zero. “We’re going to be working with the director and writer very closely, so that the lyrics of the songs have a relationship to the dialogue of the movie, so that the themes of the story and the music are intertwined. The movie hasn’t been shot yet, that’ll come after we make the music. So, it’s inverting that traditional set-up of supplying music for a movie that’s already been shot and edited. There’s a different relationship at play.” That relationship will include having the lyrics up for collaboration and debate, something Biffy Clyro frontman Simon Neil has never before allowed. “It’s fraught with danger,” Johnston laughs, “woe betide the man that tries to correct one of Sim’s lyrics.” For their own imminent LP, the band are hoping to do “something completely different”, but know that ambitions and results can vary. “No matter what, you can’t change who you are,” Johnston says. “You always
end up closer to home than you think you’re going to. We’ll always end up being a threepiece rock band.” “There’s always the temptation to turn up the heavy guitars, and pull out loads of riffs, go down a wormhole and make seven-minute rock jams,” he continues. “We’ll never get away from wanting to do that, we’ll always have to try and temper that want. We’re trying to push ourselves forward. On [Ellipsis], that was about electronics, trying to get away from just starting out every song as a band in a room. Th is [new] album, it’s probably still too early to say. A pet hate of mine is when you read a band say something like, ‘Our next album is going to be the heaviest thing you’ve ever heard!’, but then by the time it comes out, they’re like, ‘Th is album is the poppiest thing you’ve ever heard!’ I always find it hard to describe music at the best of times, but to try and describe music that’s not yet even been written seems particularly foolish.”
Biffy Clyro tour from 27 Apr.
Check The Guide on theMusic.com.au for more details.
THE BIG PICTURE
Giulia McGauran The Melbourne-based photographer is known for her fierce individuality, her flare for the dramatic, and her irrepressible creativity, and it’s an aesthetic that’s turning the heads of artists across fashion, music and beyond. She tells The Music about finding the bright in the darkness. You have an incredibly diverse portfolio, working across fashion, journalism and music. What led you to such a versatile career? Because I love what I see. Th is might be because I had to wear an eyepatch in primary school (it was pink), and let me tell you, ever since seeing with both eyes, everything looks beautiful to me. But I also love surprising situations, and I love meeting lots of inspiring people.
You’re extremely bold with colour and styling in your images. Where do you look for inspiration? I love bright colours (refer back to eyepatch) and patterns. My favourite outfit at school was red crocs, red trackie pants and a red hoodie with red glasses. I think as time went on I started to love darker colours. I became super interested by the contrast of white and yellow lights on black, found in Baroque painting. I Glad Wrapped my family’s living room and all of its contents (including every single individually wrapped toothpick) so I could photograph it in super dim yellow lights to allow the silver of the candlesticks and cutlery to reflect off the plastic. Then one day my lecturer at art school, Mark Dustin, told me I could also explore darker themes in bright colours. Something really clicked and my idea of what ‘bright’ and ‘vibrant’ meant suddenly changed. All of a sudden, I felt free to explore everything in a much brighter light and pulled out those red crocs again.
The Muse (Nkechi Anele, 2017)
There’s a lot of whimsy and playfulness in your shots that often implies a story. Where does this aspect of storytelling come from? I have always loved theatre and in particular absurdist plays, which always felt right to me. There never seemed to be a reason for the stories, or for what the characters did, but the part that I loved the most was that there never had to be. Th is for me seems like the ultimate creative freedom. In terms of playfulness, the fact that I still feel like I’m 12 years old inside probably helps. I find approaching work with a sense of play allows me to be much more open to surprising opportunities or changes in a shoot. After many late nights and hours upon hours of preparation, I usually have to sit myself down with a choccy croissant and remind myself to play and reset.
THE BIG PICTURE
You’ve also come up with some pretty wild use of props, include an octopus! What attracts you to an object to use on a shoot? The choice of props often comes from many different conversations, research and brainstorms. I love looking into, or formulating their branding and figuring out what fits them and their sound. For example with Eilish Gilligan and the octopus, her voice and sound really made us think of the theme ‘Deep Sea Visceral.’ Which, well, octopus!
Discover more of Giulia McGauran’s work at giuliamcgauran.com
“The truest version of me” From playing cello in Sydney Youth Orchestra to moving to LA and this year becoming Coachella’s highest-ever billed female DJ, Alison Wonderland is certainly going places. But Cyclone discovers that staying grounded is high on this DJ’s list of priorities.
“I feel like sometimes the words I wrote on this album dictated how I ended up dealing with things in real life.”
lison Wonderland (aka Alexandra Scholler) is making waves internationally as one of Australia’s biggest DJ/producers. Th is month, the Sydneysider will headline Coachella behind her new album Awake, becoming the festival’s highest-ever billed female DJ. But Scholler doesn’t trade in hype. Initially, the most striking aspect of Awake is its surreal, punk cover image of Scholler - very meme-able. In fact, it was an “outtake”: the photographer accidentally snapped the purple-haired DJ rolling her eyes. They joked about it being the sleeve. “I kept looking at that photo, thinking, ‘Th is is the photo that looks most like me,’” Scholler says. “I wanted to have a photo on the cover that represented honesty and who I really was, just like the album and the music. So I ended up choosing that one out of all the posed and styled photos!” Scholler went through phases of playing cello in Sydney Youth Orchestra and bass in an indie band, yet she fully embraced electronica on hearing The Knife’s Silent Shout in a club. Scholler DJed around Sydney while producing as Whyte Fang. She signed to EMI after impressing judges in 2011’s She Can DJ contest (which Minx trumped), although Scholler has since expressed ambivalence about the marketing of the ‘She-J’. She enjoyed her first ‘hit’ with I Want U, singing herself. In 2015, Scholler, now Los Angeles-based, delivered her debut, Run its official lead single U Don’t Know featuring The Flaming Lips’ Wayne Coyne. It reached #1 on Billboard’s Top Dance/Electronic Albums chart. Scholler has always described herself as an “eclectic” DJ. However, as a producer, she’s uniquely applied that airy ‘Australian sound’ to trap. On Awake, Scholler expands on Run’s cloudy aesthetic - cue 2017 teaser Happy Place. Favouring “organic” collabs, she reunited in the studio with Norway’s Lido, but also worked alongside Joel Little (Lorde) and The Weeknd associate Illangelo. And Scholler sought cred underground rapper guests, the buzziest being Chicago’s Chief Keef on the abstract Dreamy Dragon (facilitated by her pal Lee Spielman from Odd Future’s resident hardcore band Trash Talk). “We ended up meeting in the studio,” Scholler says of Keef. “I played him some songs and he resonated with one of the beats and ended up writing to it and stayed there the whole night. It was great. He’s actually a genius, honestly. I was really worried, ‘cause I wasn’t sure how I’d mesh with him. He was just so awesome to work with really, he’s awesome.” An intuitive songwriter, who wires into any “extreme sort of emotion”, Scholler ruminated on her experiences with toxic relationships and anxiety. “It was kind of weird, because I didn’t recognise I was feeling that way until I wrote it down. It was a subconscious thing. So it’s weird, because I feel like sometimes the words I wrote on this album dictated how I ended up dealing with things in real life. I feel like I found my self-worth again from writing this, which is a very strange thing. But it felt like therapy for me.” Scholler is chilled about her expanding influence. She sensationally remixed Dua Lipa’s New Rules. “Honestly, I hadn’t really heard of Dua Lipa before I did the song. I got played the song and I fell in love with it.” In 2017 she likewise entered the DJ Mag Top 100 DJs Poll at #89 (and won New Artist Of The Year over Marshmello at the inaugural Electronic Music Awards). “I don’t think a competition like that should really define how good or bad a DJ is, but it’s still nice to be acknowledged.” As for Coachella? “The Coachella thing’s crazy!” Scholler enthuses. “I’m super-excited about that.” Last touring Australia recently with her boutique festival, the Wonderland Scarehouse Project, she’ll return for club dates in May. Still, Scholler isn’t that super-DJ who flosses about their ‘brand’. “I think I come from that indie mentality. I’ve never really been one to plug a brand, to me it’s kind of naff... But, for me, it’s really important to stay being myself. Because I wanna look back on this time in my life and know I really was the truest version of me, and the only reason I was doing it was ‘cause I loved it.”
Awake (EMI) is out this month. Alison Wonderland tours from 2 May.
Relocation nation NERVO
hile there is much heat about gender imbalances in the Australian music industry, our female DJs,
Alison Wonderland included, are leading the way globally. Relocating from Melbourne to the UK, NERVO (twins Olivia and Miriam Nervo) emerged as songwriters. Their big break came in 2009 when they were credited for David Guetta’s Grammy-winning When Love Takes Over, featuring Kelly Rowland. Guetta encouraged them to DJ. It’s paid off: NERVO were the highest-ranked female DJs in 2017’s DJ Mag Top 100 DJs Poll at #42 and are rumoured to be the world’s highest paid. In 2016 NERVO announced their own label, Got Me Baby! Records, under Armin van Buuren’s Armada Music empire. Last year, NERVO collaborated with Chief Keef (before Alison Wonderland did) on Champagne. Lately, NERVO performed their hit Best Friend with New York electro duo Sofi Tukker on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. They’ve likewise graced the cover of the North American DJ Mag ahead of a NERVO Nation party during Miami Music Week (with DJ guest Paris Hilton!). “Back when we started music, the opportunities in Australia felt limited,” NERVO say. “We felt we needed to get overseas to reach the major people we wanted to be working with - like other artists, publishers, labels, agents, etcetera. These days, though, we see a lot of Australian artists doing very well overseas, so maybe things have changed? The world in many ways has become smaller!” Also active on the international circuit are Anna Lunoe, based in Los Angeles since 2012, Nina Las Vegas and the rising star Tigerlily (auspiciously billed at Road To Ultra Australia 2018). Lunoe became the first solo female DJ to play the main stage of the mega Electric Daisy Carnival (EDC) in Las Vegas in 2016. She’s developed a brand, HYPERHOUSE, with a show on Apple Radio’s Beats 1 and fledgeling label. After taking a maternity break, Lunoe returned in March with the single Blaze Of Glory - her nod to Women’s History Month. A new EP is due. Nina Las Vegas may have been less high-profile domestically since leaving triple j in 2015, but the DJ/producer has launched NLV Records and, like her pal Lunoe, played Coachella.
nyl al i V iv ist t t s r e st A from F e f s ue l ins B m f o -7 ge r n e a t R as w E e r N ve O n op I
02 6685 1005
In the vibrant village of Brunswick Heads opposite The Picture House
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Fuelled by personal moments of connection Cousin Tony’s Brand New Firebird frontman Lachlan Rose can’t wait to slot a vinyl copy of his band’s debut album within his record collection alongside records by his favourite musicians, Rod Whitfield learns.
eleasing a debut album is always a time of great excitement mixed with gnawing nerves and clawing selfdoubt for the album’s creators. Drawing their name from a line in the movie American Beauty, Melbourne-based psychedelic/alternative popsters Cousin Tony’s Brand New Firebird are set to release their first-ever long-player, and lead singer and main man Lachlan Rose is experiencing a whole gamut of disparate feelings. “There’s a definite degree of nervousness,” he admits. “You put everything into making a record, but it’s quite a private process. Only a couple of people hear it and you kinda think you’re doing a good job, but then you get to the end and there’s just that feeling of, ‘Oh, my god! There’s a good chance that this is the worst record that anyone’s ever made’. “Hopefully that’s not the case, but there’s always that voice. In general, we are so excited.” There is also often a pure self-indulgent element that goes along with releasing a debut, the fulfilment of childhood fantasies, and Rose is experiencing a fair chunk of that in the lead-up to the release as well. “I’ve been
imagining holding a piece of vinyl that I’ve made since I was eight years old,” he laughs. “So from a selfish standpoint that’s going to be a nice milestone and especially just slotting it into my record collection with all my other favourite records. “There’s always a feeling of gratitude towards our favourite musicians for producing what they do, and the feeling of contributing something to that pool of work, and this might be that record for someone else that’s a really profound feeling.” The band have released two previous EPs and anyone familiar with those works is going to be pleasantly surprised with the development and evolution of their sound when they experience Electric Brown. Rose is confident that people will hear a band that has established its identity and knows exactly what it is doing. “The EPs were really just my first take on recording at all,” he states. “The songs are always getting more expansive. This record was the first time we really had extended time in the studio to really work out a sound and make a lot of mistakes, and discard things and so on. “You can hear a lot of exploration in those first two EPs, what I’d like to think
people are getting from the record is a pretty realised kind of sound.” Something else listeners may notice is just how old-school the recording and instrumentation sounds while still, amazingly, managing to sound current. “Our producer and I are really obsessed with a lot of the instruments that were made in the ‘70s,” he says. “And while the songs are about all these various themes, we wanted to remain consistent in using all these instruments to create something new. “When people hear the record, I’d like to think that people will be able to identify that that’s the Cousin Tony... sound; that sonic palette is what really stands out about us.” By the time this feature is out in the world, the band will have announced a huge run of dates across the nation in support of the album. Longer term, Rose tells us that the band actually have a combination of major long-term goals for themselves and also smaller, more personal ones: goals and experiences that don’t actually involve playing huge shows, making big money and being a rock star. “One of our goals would be getting to tour and travel the world with [the album],”
he says. “But also, we’re lucky to occasionally have these moments where people reach out to us, whether it’s personally or otherwise. Just to keep having those personal moments of connection where someone will say - it might be just something really mundane like, ‘I brush my teeth to this song every morning,’ or, ‘This song helped me through a really hard time’. If we can just keep having those moments, that’s just like petrol for us; that’s really all we need. “We are already where we need to be, in that sense.”
Electric Brown (Double Drummer/Sony) is out now. Cousin Tony’s Brand New Firebird are currently on tour.
“Just to keep having those personal moments of connection where someone will say - it might be just something really mundane like, ‘I brush my teeth to this song every morning’... that’s really all we need.”
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Father first, frontman second Rocker John Garcia, the voice of Kyuss, is headed to Australia for an acoustic tour. He tells Brendan Crabb why his children aren’t impressed by his music.
his year marks 25 years since singer John Garcia first toured Australia while fronting desert generator party-starting stoner-rock progenitors Kyuss, who were here supporting Metallica. The vocalist has fond memories. “The environment, the people, the food — all of the above. It just was absolutely phenomenal. I’m an animal person; I have a full-time job running Palm Springs Animal Hospital. So it automatically resonated with me, because I’ve always loved being around animals. And Australia’s such a unique place that I automatically fell in love with it.” It’s among the highlights of a three-decade career, whereby Garcia, a founding member of Kyuss, as well as being involved in projects such as Vista Chino, Unida, Slo Burn and Hermano and his solo outings, has exuded a presence cooler than the other side of the pillow. A loyal army of rock fans may view the Californian vocalist in such a fashion, but evidently, his children don’t. The singer maintains that his 15-year-old daughter and eight-year-old son are less than enamoured with their father’s musical endeavours. “They know that Dad’s a singer, and all of his spare time is devoted to music and whatnot, but they don’t really care. And I don’t think that they’re very impressed at all. Nor should they be; I’m their dad, so I’ve got to be their dad, so it’s not always fun and games in the Garcia household. I run a very strict household, and I care immensely about their education. So it’s important for me to keep my eye on the ball... It’s not me touring; it’s me being a father, a husband. Making sure they’re healthy, have food on the table, that they have a college fund and a good education. That’s very important in my life, and takes priority over anything.” Striking that work-family-creative balance includes Garcia working alongside his wife at the animal hospital, which he says helps him maintain a sense of regularity. “I want my kids to go to college, go to good schools. So that takes bread, and unfortunately, music; it doesn’t bring that type of bread for me. Sometimes the music environment is not the healthiest for me to be in, just because of my personality... Being in that environment on a nightly basis can be dangerous, for me at least. Having some normality in my life, being in surgery on a daily basis and being around people and my clients
and all the little critters that come in — that’s a very healthy environment. I’m blessed. [Booking a tour] has to make sense in every single aspect; not only financially, but scheduling-wise, work-wise and family-wise. So the moons have to align just right for me to do this.” That was clearly the case for Garcia’s upcoming maiden acoustic tour of Australia, where he’ll be performing with guitarist Ehren Groban. The vocalist says they’ll be playing Kyuss songs (he name-checks El Rodeo, Green Machine and Gardenia), but also cuts from his electric and acoustic solo records, and a new Garcia electric record that’s nearing completion. “Some songs translated well acoustically, some of them didn’t work so much,” he offers. “So we cherry-picked throughout the Kyuss catalogue. After a hard day’s work, come on down, have yourself a cold beer, sit on the couch and listen to some acoustic jams.” He suggests a couple of Vista Chino songs may also be in the mix. The Kyuss off-shoot, initially formed by several former members as Kyuss Lives! before legal action facilitated a moniker change, released one album, Peace, in 2013. Does he envision there being another Vista Chino record at some point? “I don’t think it’s on the cards, to be quite honest. I think that ship has sailed. I love Brant Bjork, Nick [Oliveri], Mike Dean and Bruno Fevery, and I wish those guys nothing but the best. They’re all busy with their own projects right now, but that was a quick little one-off. I’m very happy with the path that I’m on right now. It’s very liberating and I’m just stoked to be doing it. “I like where I’m at in my life. A lot of my former bands, they’ve asked me to come back and do another record — Slo Burn and Hermano — and I’m just really happy with where I’m at right now. There’s an incredible amount of freedom in regard to doing a song the way I want, how I want, whenever I want. There’s not too many cooks in the kitchen if you get my drift.”
John Garcia tours from 19 Apr.
“I don’t think that they’re very impressed at all. Nor should they be; I’m their dad, so I’ve got to be their dad, so it’s not always fun and games in the Garcia household.”
Vision quest Kid Congo Powers may refer to the trio of famous bands he’s been part of — The Gun Club, The Cramps and Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds — as “The Big Three”, but he tells Steve Bell about finding his own voice fronting his outfit The Pink Monkey Birds.
or years in these parts rock’n’roll survivor Kid Congo Powers was renowned for having played guitar in three of
the coolest bands on the planet, but after two recent Australian tours fronting The Pink Monkey Birds he’s quickly becoming a celebrated frontman in his own right. His current outfit revel in that undefinable rock’n’roll alchemy that, in the live realm, elevates their music to a transcendent place where dancing to guitars seems more decree than suggestion and the rapport he’s quickly built with Australian crowds has been both immediate and primal. “Sometimes in Europe I feel a bit like an alien from outer space, but in Australia I don’t feel that way at all, strangely enough,” Powers laughs. “We’re definitely a live band, a band to be best ingested live. I got really inspired by the very
The gospel according to Mary In the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal, and the subsequent release of Mary Magdalene and the death of collaborative composer Johann Johannsson, Garth Davis ponders divine intervention Anthony Carew.
last Cramps tour they did when I hadn’t seen them for maybe ten years — mainly because they never toured, but also because I was always out of town when they did. But I saw them and it was like the first time I saw them, my jaw dropped on the ground. It was, like, ‘What on earth is this?’ “It’s just three chords and a couple of people but it really sounded like heaven and outer space at the same time, and I thought, ‘Oh yeah, I know about this, I’ve been a part of this
“It’s just three chords and a couple of people but it really sounded like heaven and outer space at the same time.” even!’ It’s just a matter of unlocking a door — a little magic door — and you’ve really just got to go for it and let whatever it is happen and believe that it’s magical and believe that it’s transcendent and believe that something’s happening. All of the bands I’ve been in, they’re all like that and The Pink Monkey Birds kinda operate on that same intuitive level.” Powers admits that it’s a whole different kick fronting your own band rather than being a hired hand. “It took a long time for me to come into that role, it didn’t happen instantaneously, I had to work very hard at it,” he reflects. “I’ve worked with some great singers and when you come from that pedigree of The Cramps, Nick Cave and The Gun Club, and those singers — who were very strong singers, but unconventional — it was hard at first, because everyone expected me to sing as good as, or like, these people like Jeffrey [Lee Pierce] or Nick or Lux Interior. “And I was like, ‘Well, I’m not that kind of singer and I won’t be doing that,’ and I think it took a while for people to get used to that, but it also took me a while to find my own voice, because I had to learn in public over time what my strength was and what worked. I had to let it cook in the oven for a while so that it could mutate into its own thing. “Being in someone’s band you’re serving someone else’s vision, so say, ultimately, The Cramps were Lux and [Poison] Ivy’s vision, and obviously Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds was Nick’s vision. With The Gun Club, although it started out mine and Jeffrey’s vision, when I left to join The Cramps it became very much his vision, although it was much more of a collaborative vision than the other bands. “So that’s different, you have to think, ‘What’s my vision? Oh, god, I have to have a vision!’ and to an extent The Pink Monkey Birds is a culmination of everything I’ve done before. I think my vision is, ‘What have I learned from all of this?’ and, ‘What have I learned from what I call “The Big Three” and all of the other projects I’ve been in as well?’ That became, ‘Who am I and what is my vision?’ and we came up with The Pink Monkey Birds, with the help of the other guys in the band.”
Kid Congo & The Pink Monkey Birds tour from 9 May.
ometimes, I feel like it’s divine intervention,” says Garth Davis. “That Mary has moved Harvey aside.” The Australian filmmaker — raised in Brisbane, based in Melbourne — isn’t religious and he never has been. As a kid, Davis says, “[Religion] felt like a very alienating world to me, it didn’t make sense. Th is sense of order, and the strictness, and its process — it all seemed so male-driven, I didn’t relate to that at all.” And yet, in making his second feature film, Mary Magdalene — starring Rooney Mara, Joaquin Phoenix, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Tahar Rahim — Davis is starting to wonder if there are greater forces out there. The film was produced by The Weinstein Company and found its fate effectively buried with the scandal that erupted around its infamous founder Harvey Weinstein, which has now led to the company’s bankruptcy. So, Davis wonders if Mary — once painted as a prostitute by the Catholic Church, now sainted — has gotten rid of Weinstein; a man who now seems like an inappropriate figure to have produced a feminist take on one of The Bible’s most famous figures. “It’s ironic that he was involved in this movie,” says Davis. “We can’t pretend it hasn’t hurt us, that there hasn’t been real fallout from this. It’s hard to not be [released] in America yet and not know when we will. The main thing, for us, is to get Mary’s voice out there.” The release of Mary Magdalene marks the culmination of “four-years-straight” work for Davis, who came to the production directly from the much-acclaimed Lion. Deep into his 40s, Davis finds himself in demand, which is in contrast to his early career. After graduating from Swinburne University in Melbourne with a degree in graphic design, he started making commercials. In the ‘90s, he offers, being a “commercial director” wasn’t a way into filmmaking, but the opposite; it was considered a negative by local producers. So, he made his first film, 2000’s hour-long documentary PINS, about parking inspectors in Melbourne. Although it was a festival favourite (“audiences loved that movie”), 16 years would pass before the release of Lion. Davis would spend three years working on a feature film project, Nobody Nowhere, that ultimately fell apart due to dramas Davis declines to talk about. “I wasn’t experienced in dealing with producers,” he offers. “And, boy, did it all fall down like a deck of cards. I can’t go into it... but things fell apart, I lost control of that movie, and it was very sad. It coincided with my father getting diagnosed with a brain tumour, so it was like this ground zero. My father died, I lost this movie, I was at rock-bottom. And, then, Jane Campion called.” Campion offered him a co-director gig on the first season of Top Of The Lake, her New Zealand-set crime saga. Working on the show, Davis finally felt that he was getting to live his filmmaking dream. The runaway success of
Lion and the making of Mary Magdalene has taken him beyond. “I feel like I’ve gone farther than anything I could’ve imagined,” he offers. “I’m so lucky it’s ridiculous.” When Davis talks about Mary Magdalene, he issues earnest sentiments that the film is about “unconditional love” and “the beauty of humanity”. He suspects it’ll play better among people who aren’t religious than “the conservatives”, who’re sure to voice their displeasure at its feminist perspective on the ‘boy’s club’ of Jesus and his disciples. The screenplay was written by English playwrights Helen Edmundson and Philippa Goslett, who saw it as a longoverdue chance to tell this story from its protagonist’s perspective. “The fact that it hasn’t been told in 2,000 years is outrageous,” Davis says. “There is a feminist angle to the movie. First time, I think, that this has all been told from a woman’s perspective. I was fascinated by how women are not free to explore their spiritual calling; that it’s harder and there are more barriers from the patriarchy.” Davis cites films like John Cassavetes’ A Woman Under The Influence and Lars
von Trier’s Breaking The Waves — “movies where beautiful spirits are struggling to be free” — and acknowledges the recurring comparisons to Pier Paolo Pasolini’s The Gospel According To St Matthew. Like the latter, his film was shot in Italy; the Sicilian coast standing in for the Sea of Galilee. He sought a cast of “special, instinctual, mercurial actors”, with Rahim’s turn as Judas a particular standout. “Betrayal is much more complicated than commerce, the human condition is so much more complex than that,” Davis offers. The film also finds a score from Icelandic composer Johann Johannsson, who died in February, aged 48. After Lion, where he got Dustin O’Halloran and Hauschka to collaborate, Davis wanted something similar for Mary Magdalene, getting Johannsson to work with minimalist cellist Hildur Gudnadottir. Johansson’s death is another thing making Davis wonder about forces beyond our ken. “His passing was just brutal. It’s a huge loss, a huge hole. Ironically, the final piece that he was focusing on was about ascension, thematically. It really makes you wonder what this all means.”
Mary Magdalene is in cinemas now
Amateur hour An increasing number of keen amateurs are revealing their inner artist to the world. We dared three plucky writers to get creative in their free time, and all they got was this lousy sense of accomplishment.
The Brisbane Pub Choir
Words by Velvet Winter
t’s half an hour until doors open for Pub Choir’s first birthday celebration and the line of excited participants is already snaking around the street. The community collective has captured the city’s hearts and minds. It’s a unique concept that invites anyone and everyone into a pub for an evening to learn a popular song in three-part harmony. The idea was born when director Astrid Jorgenson was sent to a rural school to create a choir, a job that she maintains is one of the best she’s ever had. By the time the scheduled 7pm start rolls around, The Triffid is stuffed to its 770-person capacity with reports that hundreds more were turned away at the door. It’s an eclectic crowd. Scanning heads reveals every demographic from pinkhaired twenty-somethings holding $5 schooners to middle-aged couples tipping champagne into chilled flutes. A huge cheer erupts as Jorgenson, MC Meg Bartholomew and musical accompanist Waveney Yasso emerge on stage. They begin by revealing the song that this throng of strangers will be uniting to perform tonight. It’s My Happiness by Powderfinger, a Queensland treasure and even more apt considering the band’s former bassist John “JC” Collins owns the venue the choir currently resides in. As I look around, I can tell the people who have and haven’t attended pub choir before. The haves are jovial, making con-
Pub Choir @ The Triffid. Pic: Barry Schipplock
versation with anyone that crosses their eyeline. The have-nots, including myself, are a little more reserved, unsure of what they’ve gotten themselves into. The evening opens splendidly, with Yasso, a proud South Sea, Birri Gubba woman, guiding the audience through the most beautiful Welcome To Country song. As Yasso’s last glorious chord rings out through the space, everything becomes a little more formal as Jorgenson snaps into teacher mode. She sorts the overflowing audience into three sections: men and male-identifying people are regulated to one side of the room to provide the bottom harmonies, then the remaining women are split into low and high registers. Jorgenson wastes no time steamrolling into the song — after all, she only has an hour to get this done — and time ticks by dangerously fast. Thanks to Jorgenson’s masterful direction and infectious joy, people are singing without limits, belting out their best voices. Every single person in the venue is beaming. Th is could have something to do with the insurmountable number of beer and wine bottles that litter the walls and Yasso’s fierce encouragement to “DRINK!” every time the crowd nails a bar. Despite the jovial atmosphere, by the break, Jorgenson is confident her choir is ready for a full run-through. But first, cake. It is a birthday after all. A realistic keg, which hides the Mississippi mud cake underneath, is rolled onto the stage, cut enthusiastically by Bartholomew and handed out to the punters below. By this time, every single person in the venue is a have. Punters who were strangers an hour ago are sharing pieces of cake, returning from the bar with a full jug of beer only to find it empty seconds later as they’ve happily filled every cup on the way back to their place and those with tired feet slide down the curved wall of The Triffid, contently going over their parts with the person
next to them. We had forged a community and we didn’t even know it. After a short 20-minute break, Jorgenson is raring to go, but not before bringing out JC to sing with the crowd, who clearly couldn’t contain their excitement at the prospect. A couple of tweaks, some words of faith and the audience is ready for the big moment. It’s breathtaking. The crowd may have only been connected for a couple of hours, but at that moment everyone feels like family. Jorgenson conducts with feverish enthusiasm, guiding her choir through their moment in the sun. As the last note settles inside The Triffid, there is a split second of stunned reflection over what has been created. Quickly, a roar of cheers breaks out among the people. Louder than any rock concert or sporting event, this is a cheer of shared accomplishment, of a communal victory. The rest of the evening passes in a blur of ear-splitting chants of, “PUB CHOIR!”, confetti cannons and congratulations. In the shaky, smartphone-filmed videos that flood Instagram in the event’s aftermath, it’s easy to spot the imperfections in the song, but it’s impossible to miss the pure, unbridled happiness on every person’s face. I’ve been to hundreds of gigs and I’ve participated in dozens of group sing-a-longs but there was always something selfish about them; we were singing for the artist and not for us. Pub Choir is for the people, everything Jorgenson and her team does is completely selfless. They’re doing it for us, for our community, for our shared sense of worth. There’s so few opportunities in life where you try your best and even if it’s not spot on people will accept and congratulate you anyway. This is one of those opportunities. Because it’s not about perfection, it’s about Pub Choir.
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Body Electric Dance Studio
Words by Maxim Boon
error. I am standing in a dance studio, with 25 strangers looking at me. I’m wearing hastily purchased but not previously worn activewear (it’s at least a size too tight and leaves nothing up to the imagination, at least not in the way I’d like). I’m about to do something called a “stepball-change” across the room. One wall of the studio is covered with mirrors, and I suddenly realise there’re actually 50 pairs of eyes locked on me. The lighting is mercilessly florescent. Self-consciousness levels are peaking at maximum WTF and I fleetingly wonder if I should fake a seizure. The music pumping out expectantly over the sound system is You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real) by Sylvester, tearing along at a white-knuckle 132 bpm. Th is means I’m expected to step and ball and change in less than a second. And I literally have no fucking clue what a step-ball-change is. What fresh hell is this? As it turns out, a fresh hell that will eventually become one of my favourite places to be. I moved to Melbourne from Sydney a little under three years ago, and arrived on the mean streets of Collingwood not knowing a soul within a 700km radius. Now, it’s a tricky thing making new mates in a new city, especially if you’re a cynical xennial who trusts no one, such as myself. It got me to thinking, how the hell do people even make friends? A quick google told me: “forced proximity coupled with important life experiences.” Not a combo I was likely to find by tapping a stranger on the shoulder in Coles. Shit. But, as I settled into my new life as Nigel Nomates, I was gifted a lifeline in the form of a recommendation from a mate back in
Body Electric Dance Studio
Sydney. A dance class, for total beginners. ‘I’d rather dry-hump a beehive,’ thinks I. But in an uncharacteristic move out of my usual comfort zone, I threw caution to the wind, signed up to the Body Electric Dance Studio, hastily bought some too-small activewear, and wound up preparing to execute a truly simple dance step that nonetheless was likely to result in me shattering my femurs. I take a deep breath. I close my eyes. I let the rhythm of music move through me, I feel the beat of the music calling to me, ‘Dance, Maxim. DANCE!’ And then I lollop across the room like a drugged toddler, balling when I should be stepping, changing when I should be balling, and generally butchering the art form of dance in every way possible. I prepare for the humiliation to wipe me out like a tsunami, but then, something wonderful. I see, one by one, 25 people shuffle, trip, stumble, and yes, occasionally step-ballchange, across the room. Failure is a relative concept in this dance studio. Here there’s no such thing as a bad dancer. Set up by local dance teacher Jade Duffy ten years ago, Body Electric began as something beautifully humble and has since grown into a legendary Melbourne institution. What was originally conceived as a bit of fun for a handful of people who dance like nobody’s watching, has snowballed over the years so that a decade on, hundreds of Melburnians now cross the threshold of the Body Electric Dance Studio each week, to learn a few bars of choreography to an iconic pop banger (my first was Poison by Alice Cooper. My second, Babooshka by Kate Bush). Over the course of a 12-week semester, each class — of which there are usually 8 to 10 — prepare a routine for a grand spectacular showcase, which is usually attended by more than 1000 revellers. Yes, that’s right. 1000 people choosing to watch amateur dance, and loving every minute. But beyond the opportunity to acquire hordes of adoring fans, Body Electric also provides a space for community, inclusivity
and acceptance. There’s no fitness expectations or any previous experience required. There’re no auditions or tryouts to see if you make the cut. The only real necessity — and it’s an unspoken rule — is that you be a show-off, of either the “closet” or “dreadful” varieties. This quality is most evidently displayed in the costuming of each Body Electric troupe, which channels a range of aesthetics from Haute Couture to Tuesday night at Hooters. With guidance by Jade Duffy, who not only choreographs but also devises a fully realised theatrical concept for each routine, Body Electricians are expected to produce their own costumes, and by god, do people step up to the plate. With glue guns and staple guns and sequins and tinsel and trips to op shops and dollar stores and garage sales and multiple haberdashers, the creative efforts of Body Electric dancers are jaw-dropping. Making my first Body Electric costume was also how I discovered that glitter is non-toxic, and that if your dog consumes four full tubes of it, toilet time becomes a disco fantasia for at least three days. So, from abject terror, Body Electric has brought me nothing but joy. And most importantly, forced proximity coupled with important life experiences. Goodbye drinking alone, hello brunch with many a wonderful dance buddy. Jazz hands!
Words by Samuel Leighton-Dore
s someone living with occasionally debilitating anxiety and panic disorders, public speaking comes with a number of risks. Vomiting, for starters — or breaking out in hives. Or good old-fashioned fainting. Public speaking is therefor the kind of thing I’d normally agonise over for a solid month; memorising each word, line and punctuation offby-heart. Th at’s one of the reasons I initially felt drawn to participating in The Moth — just how deeply uncomfortable the very prospect of it made me feel. I was already familiar with the popular storytelling podcast when I saw that it was coming to Sydney and — on a drunken late-night impulse — bought tickets to attend. Starting in the US State of Georgia back in 1997, The Moth has grown into an international phenomenon, hosting ongoing live storytelling programs in more than 29 cities. Names are drawn from a hat to decide which audience members speak. Speakers then have five minutes, with no notes or prompters allowed. Each event is themed and each story is judged — with a winner announced at the night’s end. It’s personal, engaging and thoughtprovoking stuff — and would make for a truly wonderful night if you weren’t quietly freaking out in the back row of the theatre, terrified that your name might be called at any given moment. The problem was that I hadn’t mentally committed to volunteering my name as a possible storyteller until the day before. As a result, I hadn’t been through the obligatory cycle of panic, doubt and acceptance. I didn’t know my story wordfor-word and the thought of potentially
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humiliating myself in front of hundreds of independent-beer-drinking theatre hipsters made me want to puke. Then my name was called and suddenly I was walking on stage, staring into a spotlight that felt blindingly bright, hot and entirely unnecessary. I stepped towards the microphone, leaned in and spoke the honest truth: “Sorry, I took a valium when my name was called and I just need to wait for it to kick in.” And then the audience laughed — my very own Sally Field “You like me!” moment. My shoulders relaxed. For better or worse, the band-aid had been torn off. I can barely recall the five minutes that followed. It felt like from the moment I opened my mouth, my conscious mind tapped-out and mental muscle-memory kicked in. I hit my beats, delivered my lines, improvised a few moments, and was greeted at the end of my story with laughter and applause. Then the scores were read — and I somehow managed to win (albeit narrowly). As a painfully insecure gay guy in his mid-twenties with a boxful of silver and bronze medals from a short-lived career in high school athletics, the symbolism of winning an audience-judged storytelling competition wasn’t lost on me. Storytelling, in its many incarnations, has always been what I valued most. I think I found the experience so empowering because it forced me to do something that, on some level, I’d always wanted to do — but was firmly outside of my comfort zone. It allowed me to confront my deep-seated fears of failure and rejection in an environment that championed those brave enough to stand up and give something new a try. The only problem with winning was that it meant I have to do it all over again — in front of an even bigger crowd. And this time my family is going to be there!
m o r f s d n u o s : Pop to bottom can underground ri the Latin Ame
an atin Americ L f o ld r o w p the vibrant w does dee o e t r e a r C o y m n t o h There’s a lo avana. Ant obsession. H t s d e n t a la o ’s it c y a r esp centu pop than D on the 21st A rc a
ith Despacito officially enshrined as the Biggest Song of 2017 — by way of streams, sales, and its billions of YouTube plays — and Camila Cabello’s Havana an early contender for the Biggest Song of 2018 (so far), the new year has found all manner of magazines, websites, and content-generation algorithms proclaiming Latin Pop as a Hot New Th ing. These lists invariably are filled with pre-fab pop that the music-biz thinks they can get on commercial radio; but they also completely ignore the vibrant Spanish-language underground that has already been flourishing in the 21st century. Plenty of album of the year lists at 2017’s end included Arca’s surreal self-titled set, in which the Venezuelan producer, inspired by his collaborations with Bjork, authored shape-shifting productions at once operatic, hallucinatory, vulnerable. Almost as acclaimed was Juana Molina’s astonishing album Halo, where the singular Argentine artist continued her obsession with unorthodox rhythms and slippery sonics. And Lido Pimienta’s brilliant 2016 LP, La Papessa, won Canada’s prestigious (and actually credible) Polaris Prize in September, beating albums by Feist, Leonard Cohen, and Badbadnotgood; Pimienta using the acceptance speech opportunity to rail against racism and outsiderdom as a Colombian immigrant raised in Canada. A favourite 2017 LP of mine was by Spanish future-pop producer BFlecha, whose second record, Kwalia, found her fashioning sparkling songs, and collaborating with hyper-pop trailblazer El Guincho and Delorean’s Igor Escudero.
Delorean themselves put out an album at the end of the year, though it found the Barcelona-based quartet moving away from their sleek synth-pop, getting in touch with their roots by covering a host of songs by Basque legend Mikel Laboa. Santiago trio MKRNI issued a riff on El Guincho’s futurist ideals with their ultra-glossy, blindingly gleaming Hiperrealidad album; as well as guesting on Isla Disco, the fourth album for the duo Los Walters, whose Caribbean-synth-pop sound echoes the fact their members are split between San Juan and Miami. And while El Guincho didn’t issue any new jams (or viral video clips) in 2017, for local audiences he did one better: bringing his live band to Australia for a series of shows that, duly, turned into wild dance parties. Another killer local tour came from political-punk co-op Downtown Boys, whose brassblasting bilingual racket is steeped in both X-Ray Spex and on-the-ground activism. Their music (as on their recent third LP Cost Of Living) is a stirring example of second-generation Latinxs examining their place in American society; something echoed in recent records by Helado Negro, Buscabulla, and Maria Usbeck, a trio of NYCbased electro-ish acts who’ve intersected with Blood Orange and Caroline Polachek. Usbeck’s sweet debut solo LP, 2016’s Amparo, was released on the great Cascine label, which also recently unearthed the debut EP for NOIA, a Catalonian bedroom-act of sweet voice and odd production choices, whose choice jam Nostalgia Del Futuro is reminiscent of the early works of Empress Of. EVHA are a crew from Ecuador — Quitoscene peers of percussion-thumping dancefloor-filler Nicola Cruz and Amazonian-R&B
smooth-talker Mateo Kingman — whose music mixes electronic rhythms with Andean folk motifs (their name stands for El Viejo Hombre de los Andes). Colombian crew El Leopardo fuse almost Basic Channel-esque dub techno with cumbia rhythms and Amazonian percussion. Meridian Brothers, veritable Colombian legends, have spent seven albums fashioning their joyous jams, which fuse baroque-pop with the anarchic whimsy of tropicalia. Another Colombian outfit, Ondatropica, draw from the rhythms of the Caribbean ‘buccaneer’ past, the big-band beginning years ago as a collaboration with wandering English producer Quantic. In 2017, Quantic staged a stirring hook-up with Afro-Colombian singer Nidia Gongora on the great Curao LP, an artful attempt at juggling tradition with futurism, its dancefloor-friendly jams full of traditional percussion, trilling woodwinds, highlife guitars, and layers of Gongora’s gorgeous voice. For those who like their music more raucous, there’s Costa Rican garage-toughs Ava Negra, hard-partying Puerto Rican AJ Davila, Spanish fuzz-pop partners-in-crime Hinds and Los Nastys, and the appropriately named Chilean janglers Las Olas (Noispop). One of 2017’s most slept-on albums came from Spanish post-punks Tumefactum, whose glowering, doom-etched, shadowy sound is reminiscent of cult ‘00s outfit Lovelife. Another overlooked gem was the debut LP, Abducida Por Formar Una Pareja, by brothersister Barcelona duo Tronco, whose rattling twee-pop owes an obvious debt to the Moldy Peaches. Mexican one-man band Un Verano En Portugal’s recently pressed debut EP, La Magia Que Nunca Existio, also comes rich in those sweet
twee vibes; his Soundcloud claiming he hails from “Anorak City”. Dream-pop combo Trementina found plenty of love last year for their 810 LP, which, despite its English vocals, summons shimmering shoegaze vistas to evoke the wilds of Southern Chile. The iconic 21st-century staples of the fertile Chilean indie-pop scene remain productive, and outstanding. Synth-pop strutter Alex Anwandter delivered not only his latest LP, Amiga, in 2016 but also his debut feature film, You’ll Never Be Alone; each works of bold, unabashed queerness. His old collaborateur Gepe issued his sixth LP, Ciencia Exacta, last year, taking a folkier turn as he did. And the eternal queen of that Santiago set, Javiera Mena, will finally release her loooongawaited fourth LP in 2018. While an overdue Javiera Mena crossover in 2018 would be delightful, it’s doubtful, at this point, that she’s likely to find new fame. Those who could find for-real crossover, though, include Chile’s Tomasa del Real, whose hyperglossy, hyper-sexualised reggaeton is rich in chaotic internet aesthetic. Dominican trio MULA — born out of the indie sister act Las Acevedo — took a level-up step with their recent second record, Aguas, its blend of sweet synth-pop with cumbia and reggaeton rhythms sounding like an album begging for a bigger audience. And Colombian ‘psychedelic cumbia’ party-starters Bomba Estereo evidently have, with their back-to-back banger-filled LPs Amanecer and Ayo, found a bigger audience; or, at least, a more famous one. They began 2017 collaborating with Will Smith(!) and ended it by hooking up with Arcade Fire, suggesting that their crossover moment is now.
Kaosphere E.P Release Friday the 13th April Single : “Choke Hold” out now. Snooker World, 2506 Gold Coast Highway, Queensland.
The untimely passing of Gurrumul late last year was perhaps one of the saddest moments in Australian music in 2017. Th is album represents a four-year labour of love that was completed just prior to his passing. Gurrumul stakes his legacy in an album that feels instantly classic and destined to become an iconic Aussie album. Drawing from his traditional Yolngu heritage, Gurrumul presents a series of traditional songs and chants around which huge orchestral arrangements have been woven. It would be easy to accuse Gurrumul of watering down traditional music to make it more palatable for western audiences, but for a man whose music has travelled around the world, this album feels more like a thoughtful reconciliation of divergent traditions and musical styles. In the nicest way imaginable, Gurrumul symbolically brings together Indigenous and western music such that they harmoniously co-exist on this album. Th is is an important message itself, even though at times they furiously chase each other’s tails like yin and yang. It seems this album was conceived as an extension of Gurrumul’s 2013 Vivid performance with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, which celebrated his music. Gurrumul’s vocals have often been described as angelic but on this album they are dreamy and haunting. Singing in his native language, some fans will need to do their research to understand his literal meaning, but while immediate understanding of Gurrumul’s lyrics will elude non-Indigenous speakers, he works to immerse all listeners in a wondrous environment that suggests his homeland. Like Liz Fraser and Jonsi Birgisson, who left language behind to focus on texture and emotion, Gurrumul goes beyond speech. The emotions embedded in this album speak for themselves.
Gurrumul Djarimirri (Child Of The Rainbow) Skinnyfish Music
Moving from the celebratory Galiku (Flag) to more tender Wulminda (Dark Clouds) this album wears its heart on its sleeve and packs plenty of emotional punches. The title track brings together a majestic wash of sound and Gurrumul’s thrilling vocals. Gapu (Freshwater) wears an arrangement that comes across as a hybrid of Glass and Nyman’s styles of minimalism. The tune teems with life and feels like a refreshing splash of water across the face while swimming in a waterhole at a remote location in Arnhem Land. Many of these tracks seemingly celebrate the animals of the land, and like much of this album Gapu (Freshwater) creates an imaginary environment in the mind’s eye that listeners are left to explore. The fluid Gopuru (Tuna Swimming) takes a plunge into the aquatic to discover swarms of fish in the water. Djapana (Sunset) comes with more of a neo-classical vibe than the rest of the album. It’s a sound clash of sorts as the pomp of the orchestra is confronted with the more tribal style of Gurrumul’s vocals. Saving the best for last, the poignant the brooding Wulminda (Dark Clouds) drops deep, melancholy vibes upon our ears. Such a fully formed and joyous album released posthumously makes for truly bittersweet listening. Guido Farnell
A Perfect Circle
City Calm Down
Eat The Elephant
Echoes In Blue
I OH YOU
Confident Music For Confident People
The three songs issued prior to the LP’s release — Disillusioned’s melancholy piano melody, The Doomed’s hefty guitars and melodic-but-desolate hooks, and vocalist Maynard James Keenan’s vicious indictment of modern Christianity on TalkTalk — offered a fair indication of the scope of Eat The Elephant. However, after 14 years between drinks, hearing these songs in the context of the entire record — a moody, slow-burning affair — feels more appropriate. The songwriting nucleus of Keenan and guitarist Billy Howerdel evidently had a clear vision when they walked through the studio doors.
Melbourne’s City Calm Down are back with their second album and it doesn’t disappoint. Opener Joan, I’m Disappearing features soft synths and deep lyrics about neglecting a relationship to the point where it breaks down. Jack Bourke’s baritone is so dreamy! The drum bursts in Distraction/Losing Sleep are killer while Pride brings out the ‘80s pop beats before the hypnotic synths in Echoes In Blue take over with Bourke’s vocals once again steeped in emotion and taking each song to another level. Some of these songs start to sound the same, however, incorporating very similar beats.
★★★½ Too loose, too supposedly inauthentic for some, Confidence Man have, to date, proved ingeniously resourceful in their fight against conventionality. The singles lead the way, from the ecstatic whoops of Boyfriend (Repeat) to the turbo-charged Better Sit Down Boy. But the album reveals a few surprises, too: Sail Boat Vacation is a quixotic, dreamy instrumental while the likes of Fascination power along on cannoning Italo-house piano chords. There’s absolutely no reason why you shouldn’t fall head over heels for Confident Music For Confident People. Christopher H James
I OH YOU
For Now kicks off strong with its title track, the driving, energetic rock song immediately setting the tone. DMA’S are often compared to bands like Oasis and The Stone Roses, and tracks like Dawning, Lazy Love and Time & Money do have that classic Britpop/rock sound. However the band provides moments of contrast, like the bright synths and disco beat of the otherwise angsty The End. With three songwriters, each track benefits from strong lyrics and melodies that are given warmth with lush vocals. For Now is perhaps slightly more polished and than previous releases, but the group haven’t departed too far from their established sound. Madelyn Tait
For more album reviews, go to www.theMusic.com.au
Evelyn Ida Morris
Evelyn Ida Morris
I Don’t Run
Milk Records/Remote Control
Bedroom Suck/Remote Control
Evelyn Ida Morris’ debut step away from Pikelet fame invokes an incalculable amount of things: Amanda Palmer’s piano, Nick Cave’s film scores, a score of Guillermo del Toro films, classical parlour performances, performance art — punctiliously avant-garde and profound,It’s welcoming yet obtuse and certainly not for everyone. Every piece carries something cascading and desperate. A haunted timbre like an infectious susurrus blowing through the eaves. Everything is tuned to a maddening key. Evelyn Ida Morris has made something starkly, unexpectedly special.
Jay Watson (Tame Impala, Pond) has quietly been releasing music under his GUM moniker and his fourth album comprises synth-heavy, dreamy, psychedelic pop. The title track bursts forth with a slinky groove that situates itself somewhere between the synth wonkiness of Air and regal flourishes that feel a little Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Eventually Watson starts to chill, dropping tunes like Serotonin and Rehearsed In A Dream, which work chilled, psychedelic lounge vibes for maximum feel-good effect. If ever there was a time to jump on board GUM’s groovy jams, then that time is now.
Where Hinds’ debut was the sound of a raucous party, this follow-up feels more like the next morning even though jangly guitars — and the coquettish-accented vocals — still mingle thrillingly and their ramshackle edge remains. Tunes like the cruisy New For You and the playfully dismissive Tester hint at a new emotional depth and co-producer Gordon Raphael (The Strokes) revives that band’s relaxed swagger. But even as lo-fi acoustic lament Ma Nuit brings things home, it’s still the band’s unabashed camaraderie and chemistry that carry the real connection.
There’s a prickish quality to Jaala’s Joonya Spirit that’s intriguing rather than alarming, even if you know getting close might hurt a little. Tempos flare between slam dance, soul and social dissonance. Tracks are quickly irreverent and seditiously relevant, bounced along by Cosima Jaala’s quirky delivery. It seems sort of grubby and immediate, but wipe away some of that oddly glamorous grime and there’s a thousand facets to be seen. More Mangelwurzel than Jaala’s 2015 debut Hard Hold, Joonya Spirit manages to straddle both scenes, splicing the saccharine with the incisive.
Far From Earth
Barely Dressed/Remote Control
Invada Records/Remote Control
Kimbra’s new LP Primal Heart is strong and bold, led by driving percussion and distinctive vocals. Opener The Good War wakes the listener up with swagger, while next drop Top Of The World is already a contender for ‘Most Commanding Performance Of The Year’: part rap, part chant, part anthem — all parts excellent. From here there are departures into more conventional contemporary pop with hints of synthy goodness, props especially go to the catchy Like They Do On The TV. Slower-paced Past Love and Right Direction draw on older styles and don’t forget to dig to the end for gems like Version Of Me — a quiet-but-masterful little wonder.
On Running, the centrepiece is Ryan Downey’s voice. Downey’s seductive baritone can melt steel beams so it will turn your knees to butter, guaranteed. But now, instead of claps and looped harmonies like his last record, it’s couched in lush instrumentation and diaphanous synths. His altfolk core has been augmented with pop and rock, the trusty nylon strings from his Venice Music days backed up by dirtier jabs of electric guitar and skittering 808s. In the opening line of the title track, Downey claims, “I could write a song to you so sweet, it’d raise you to your feet and you’d come running”. Testify.
It’s so much fun when a record comes out swinging! Welcome is one such opener: a shining, searing, soaring gem about the joys of domesticity. Absent an algorithm, a sense of curation pervades Wild World. Guest Guilty Simpson’s appearance on Late Night is a good example since here he is challenged and stretched beyond what we’ve previously heard from him. Remi’s performance on Wild World is stunning, at once relaxed and full of purpose. With this album, Space Invadas have created a (wild) world in which their guests are free to explore the mood laid out for them. Well worth a listen.
Th ird album Far From Earth should see Stonefield hit the heights many predicted. Stonefield deliver an inspiring dose of classic rock that hits harder than a shot of whiskey. Still inspired by the sounds of the ‘70s, Far From Earth is less psychedelic than Stonefield’s previous efforts, rooted in the traditional heavy-rock and prog world of that decade. It’s an album of crunching guitars, pummeling percussion and the Findlay sisters’ soaring harmonies. The album comes to a fitting close with Celestial Spaces, a sludgy, uplifting instrumental demonstrating Stonefield’s excellent musicianship and leaving you wanting more.
CHIC KE N
GREEN DAY lyrics by BILLIE JOE ARMSTRONG BILLIE JOE ARMSTRONG and MICHAEL MAYER
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Ballet Revolución Direct from Havana, prepare to feel some Cuban heat from this high-octane fusion of hip hop, contemporary dance and ballet. This show has wowed audiences all over the world, including in London’s West End, and now it’s Brisbane’s turn to see what all the hype is about. Expect breathtaking moves, flawlessly executed to a soundtrack of bangers including hits by Justin Timberlake, George Michael and Prince.
From 27 Apr at QPAC
The best of The Arts in April
One Mind & Southbank Centre London WOW At Festival 2018 Th is three-day celebration of what it means to be a girl or a woman in the world today features international and First Nations speakers sharing incredible experiences. From 6 Apr at Brisbane Powerhouse
Em Rusciano Evil Queen In her latest show, Rusciano is honouring the dispossessed but fabulously dressed heroines and villainesses of fairy tales, who apparently have some good pointers on divorce.
From 20 Apr at QPAC
Briefs Factory Hot Brown Honey Surrender yourself to the awesome power of the Honeys, as the say “fuck you” to the patriarchy and smash down the whitesplaining status quo while dropping some phat beats. From 4 Apr at Brisbane Powerhouse
QPAC American Idiot The new Australian production of the Green Day jukebox musical based on the “rock opera” album of the same title returns to Brisbane on the victory lap of a national tour. From 13 Apr at QPAC
Ross Noble El Hablador One of the world’s great unscripted comics, the British funny man brings his latest show to Brisbane as part of a nationwide tour. Prepare for your sides to be well and truly split.
From 4 Apr at QPAC
Queensland Theatre Twelfth Night Th is brand-new production of Shakespeare’s exotic rom-com, directed by QT Artistic Director Sam Strong, features all new score by Kiwi legend, Split Enz’s Tim Finn. From 28 Apr at QPAC Playhouse
ON IN APRIL
Just the ticket American comedian Doug Stanhope tells Joe Dolan he hopes to go to Coober Pedy during his upcoming tour while also admitting he wanted to play a show in Darwin, but no one bought tickets.
S comic superstar Doug Stanhope doesn’t mind getting a few things off his chest. In fact, he’s more than happy to chat to the press while on vacation if it means having a bit of a grumble. “I’m standing on a balcony in Hawaii,” Stanhope relays, “enjoying my holiday by doing a twoand-a-half-hour press junket that I wasn’t warned about. I love to complain, though, so it works out.” A seasoned traveller after nearly three decades of performing comedy around the world, Stanhope has learned to take comfort into his own hands. Even if that means stocking a suitcase full of sauce, the comedian is prepared to do it. “I’ll take quite a bit of A1 sauce with me,” he happily declares. “I always pack my own condiments but I’ve never had A1 in the little packets, but I found a way to buy them online. Do they have it in Australia? Fuck, the UK has that shitty HP sauce so I assume that’s what you guys have, but it’s fucking vulgar. But I won’t have to bring toilet paper like this Asia tour that I’m doing. I’m packing condiments and toilet paper, because I watch too many of those shows where they say you have to shit in a hole and that’s not for me.” Stanhope may come off as a curmudgeon of a voyager, but he does express some excitement about coming Down Under. “I’ll tell you where I’d love to go,” he says, “that Coober Pedy - is that what it’s called? In the outback where half of the city is underground - that’s the kind of thing I’m in to. A hotel underground when it’s 125 degrees out? Fuck, yeah! I like that kind of heat and I like a story that repeats well. ‘I saw a fucking painting at a museum,’ is boring as shit. So I’d rather...” It’s as if by total magic, but suddenly, in a moment of serendipity, Stanhope has a story in the making: “Hang on, there’s a fucking pigeon in our room! Honey, find something to feed it, give it some crackers or something. Sorry, you were saying?” Getting back on topic, Stanhope waxes lyrical on the nature of his devout following and their less-than-pious comedic tastes. “At this point, I have a pretty ingrained fanbase, so they’re sick fucks whether they’re from the Deep South or the Pacific Northwest, it’s pretty much the same attitude. It’s not like if I play in Alabama somewhere I’m going to have just a bunch of random yokels coming along. People usually know what they’re getting into with me and if they don’t, fuck ‘em. “There’s no polite company showing up to my shows anymore - those days are over! I kind of miss those days, where you have a bunch of bachelorettes or a hen’s party or whatever and they leave crying because they didn’t bother to do any research about what they were going to see.” Strangely enough, Stanhope admits he sometimes finds the lasting nature of some of his material irritating. “I wouldn’t say it’s a pet peeve,” he begins, “but it’s a constant in my career. It’s like, ‘Fuck! I did 11 minutes on this on a special six years ago!’ When I do that stuff I’m doing it because it feels, at the time, like it’s not going to be relevant anymore really soon. Then it gets more relevant! It irks the shit out of me.” Stanhope even has a suspicion that the leader of his country is stealing his bits, saying, “Trump - down to the country where he said it - said some stupid thing about immigration. And on a 2004 album I was talking about how no one complains that the Norwegians come over here and steal all our neurosurgeon’s jobs, and then Trump said all this stuff about the ‘shithole countries’ versus Norway? That was my fucking bit! I mean, I said it in a very different tone, but it was almost the exact same words. It’s not funny when he does it, that’s the difference. “That’s the time when I wish I was more well known, you know? Like if someone went, ‘Sounds like so-and-so ripped you off!’ That’d be nice. It’s just a meme at this point, but some credit would be nice.” Laughing it all off, Stanhope is just excited to get out of the US for a little while. But when he’s asked if there’s anything else he’d like to add, the comic can’t help himself: “You know what? Add in, ‘Fuck Darwin!’ I really wanted to play Darwin and no one bought tickets. I really wanted to go there and no one bought any fucking tickets!”
“I kind of miss those days where you have a bunch of bachelorettes or a hen’s party or whatever and they leave crying.”
Doug Stanhope tours from 7 Apr.
The city streets are getting a fresh lick of paint this month, as the annual Brisbane Street Art Festival once again transforms the urban sprawl into a vast and vibrant canvas.
The writing’s on the wall
eturning for a third year, 2018’s BSAF program will be its biggest yet. In total 50 new, large-scale murals will be popping up in the heart of Brisbane, including in Fish Lane, on the walls of Telstra Exchange building, at Ric’s Bar and around Brisbane Powerhouse. We take a look at some of the exciting local and international talents headed to Queensland.
Bao Ho Hailing from Hong Kong, Bao Ho is largely self-taught but fiercely accomplished. In a relatively short time – she began her street art career in 2015 – she has established herself as a formidable talent, taking the top gong in the third season of Secret Walls Hong Kong. You can find her work all over the world, including Taiwan, China, Japan, Indonesia, Italy and the Czech Republic.
For full details of the 2018 Brisbane Street Art Festival program visit bsafest.com.au
Where to catch her work: 105 Melbourne Street, South Brisbane
Sofles Brisbane’s own Sofles began painting graffiti in 2000 and in the 18 years since he’s become one of the country’s most skilled exponents of traditional 3Ds. But he’s more than just another tagger. With a careful draughtsman’s eye and a hell of a lot of talent, Sofles has cemented a reputation for elevating any style he takes on.
Where to catch his work: 75 Fish Lane, South Brisbane
Rosie Woods Th is London-based artist is self-described as an “abstract-realist” painter. Her aesthetic might sound like something of an oxymoron, but in fact it’s the most apt summation of her particular interest in conjuring strange, otherworldly objects, rendered with exquisite precision and microscopic detail.
Tuyuloveme Th is will be the first time Australians will be seeing this Indonesian artist’s work on our shores, but anyone who’s been to his native Yogyakarta will be familiar with Tuyuloveme’s unique, wild and utterly uplifting style. His paintings represent an alter ego and he considers these eye-popping compositions a type of self-portraiture.
Where to catch her work: 251 Wickham Street, Fortitude Valley
Where to catch his work: 89 – 101 Gipps Street, Fortitude Valley
15-inch wish fulfilment John Barrowman takes a break from playing with himself to discuss how the rise of geek culture means “you don’t need to hide anymore” with Stephen A Russell.
hen John Barrowman, the charismatic star of Doctor Who and Torchwood, says that he is, in fact, a Time Lord, there’s a certain plausibility to it. After all, mischievous tinkering with his timeline may go some way to explaining his apparent wish-fulfilment powers. Eight years old when his family relocated to Illinois from Glasgow, Scotland, that’s when he first fell for the foppish charms of Jon Pertwee, who brought a certain caped insouciance to the Doctor’s third incarnation. Wedged on the sofa between his brother Andrew and sister Carole on a Saturday night, Pertwee’s debut story, Spearhead From Space, introduced the plastic-manipulating nemesis known as the Autons. Barrowman was terrified. “After that first episode, my mum had to hide me in her coat walking past shop windows because I thought the dummies were going to come alive and kill me,” he chuckles over the phone from the US ahead of his appearance at Australian comic convention Supanova. The fact that he would one day join the Doctor in the TARDIS as the omni-flirtatious Captain Jack Harkness isn’t really enough to prove this temporal disturbance theory. Eight-year-old’s dreams do come true, occasionally. But when you then consider that, around the same age, his new friend Ross introduced Barrowman to superhero comics, and that then his adult self also would go on to star as the villainous Malcolm Merlyn in DC’s Arrow and Legends Of Tomorrow, and that he’d co-write the character’s backstory into an actual comic book alongside his sister Carole, his lucky streak begins to look, in his easily adopted original Scottish accent, a wee bit fishy. “I’m not one of those people who talk about karma, but I’ve always just known that things would be ok,” he muses. “As my mother says to me, ‘You’ve got a wee bit of the gift, son.’ Whether that’s true or not, I don’t know, but there are these feelings I get. For instance, when I get deja vu — some people, it freaks them out. For me, that means I’m on the right path and I get it all the time.” As we speak, Barrowman is standing in front of a cabinet festooned, much to the chagrin of his husband Scott Gill, with an expensive collection of vintage Star Wars figurines, a TARDIS and ‘70s lunchboxes adorned with Superman and the like. It also features a 15-inch version of himself as Captain Jack. “I’m a six, 12 and a 15-inch and I prefer playing with the 15-inch,” he cackles sauc-
Back in the day, Barrowman and his best mate would hide in Ross’s basement to play with their action figures in peace, “because other boys would bully us if they saw us playing with, quote-unquote, dolls. But now you don’t have to hide anymore, because it’s so out there.” It may amuse Chris Hemsworth to hear that the only action figure Barrowman didn’t want to touch was Thor, “because Thor was actually the same head mould and hair that they used for the Cheryl Ladd doll for
ily. “People say to me, ‘What are you doing?’ and I say, ‘I’m playing with myself’.” You see, Barrowman doesn’t show up to Australian comic convention Supanova as a savvy businessman cashing in on obsessive fans; he is an obsessive fan. “I lost my mind when I met George Lucas and Carrie Fisher at conventions, and I love to share that insanity with my fans,” he says. “So when I do the cons, I’m a geek coming to celebrate geekdom with everybody, walking around, seeing what’s available to buy.”
“I lost my mind when I met George Lucas and Carrie Fisher at conventions, and I love to share that insanity with my fans.”
Charlie’s Angels, and I didn’t want to be her.” Whether that was Ladd-specific or about being a girl, this scribe didn’t ascertain, but, if the latter, Barrowman isn’t fazed these days. Renowned for attending convention panels in cosplay, he hints he’ll be in a dress for Supanova when he returns to Australia three months after his sell-out showtunes concert at Melbourne’s Hamer
Barrowman particularly loves encountering young kids dressed as their dream roles, with a particularly cute YouTube video showing a four-year-old Darth Vader taking him down with the dark side of the force. “There’s a great joy that fills a convention centre with all the like-minded people celebrating their quirkiness. They are thrilled to be accepted and to talk about their favourites.”
Hall during Midsumma Festival. It was his first musical gig in Australia and the nerves were high, but he needn’t have worried. The 2,400-plus-seater venue sold out quick smart and there’s already talk of a bigger return season. For those that caught the show, and Barrowman’s glittering suit changes, it was a gloriously fun night, with the crowd one of the most boisterous this writer has ever seen outside of a rock gig. “Spaaarkles,” Barrowman squeals in razzle-dazzle form when the show’s standard-setting glitter fart opening monologue is recalled. “That, right away, sets the tone. It meant that people could let their hair down. The kind of stuff I hate is when you go see a show and someone says, ‘The next song I’m going to sing...’ Who gives a shit, really? Put something behind it that connects the song to you and to the audience.” Performing in musicals for a good 15 years or so before shooting to international stardom in Doctor Who, Barrowman says he recognises a similar fervour in showtune fans as he does in superhero geeks, observing that both of these popular art forms share common DNA with one of the highest in the Western literary canon. “The theory of a musical is that when someone can’t express themselves through speaking anymore, they start to sing. And in superhero movies, when they want to help, their powers are analogies for life, basically, just like the singing in musicals. They are both heightened reality, taking you to another level, and if you go way, way back that’s exactly what Shakespeare was doing.” He’s well aware some will find this a long bow to draw. “Some people will disagree with me and be angry at me [for] saying this, but I don’t give shit. Doing a musical and doing this type of genre television is exactly like doing Shakespeare, and I will defy anybody to prove me wrong.”
John Barrowman appears at Supanova Comic Con and Gaming from 28 Apr at Gold Coast Convention & Exhibition Centre
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I Don’t Run
Australia’s most cantankerous hard rock ARIA winners return for another shot at the title, nothing neutral about it.
Young Spanish quartet take a break from living the rock’n’roll dream to insert some vulnerability into their enticing garage mix.
Tenth solo outing from muchloved Portland native acts as a soundtrack for troubled times, full of allusions to protectors.
LAURA VEIRS The Lookout
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North Carolina’s favourite old time string band celebrate their 20th anniversary by incorporating some electric guitar, worlds colliding.
Patterns Form Beloved Brisbane indie rock institution gather the cream of their recorded output into one stunning 2-LP collection, so much to love.
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This year we’re extending our RSD celebrations by taking the party outside into the car park so you search for treasures inside and then head outdoors for live music and refreshments. Acts conﬁrmed so far are Screamfeeder (launching their new 2-LP ‘best of’ Patterns Form) and Sydney singer-songwriter Jamie Hutchings (Bluebottle Kiss, Inﬁnity Broke), with more TBC.
(07) 3397 0180 sonicsherpa.com.au THE MUSIC
Festival 2018 After years of counting down, the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games are finally here! And with them comes the outrageously awesome music and arts program of Festival 2018. Catch the likes of Yothu Yindi & The Treaty Project, The Preachers, Confidence Man, Mau Power and a stack more on the Gold Coast and in Brisbane and throughout the 12 day festival.
Pic: Mau Power
“We thought, ‘Let’s not do the normal things, let’s try to expand and extend.’ Even opening the festival with Yothu Yindi’s Treaty Project and then closing that night with The Cat Empire. You could see one, no problem, but to see those two things next to each other on the same night is telling you something about the world in which we believe,” he says. “This program has a very strong Indigenous and Torres Strait Island thread. It’s very strong international component, a very strong Australian component, a very strong Gold Coast component. All our projects stand for something.” It was almost two years ago that work began on the impressive line-up, with Lifschitz and his team’s vision front and centre. After so long in the pipeline, Lifschitz is exhilarated to see it all come to life. “It is incredible. This is what they would call in sport, ‘the pointy end’. The decisions being made are about what stages are actually going to look like and that’s always exciting and challenging. The main thing is that at the core of any festival is the program and I think the program for Festival 2018 is very strong.” Lifschitz believes that the sheer enormity and potential success of Festival 18 could act as the catalyst for a cultural renaissance that the Gold Coast has been waiting for. “The Gold Coast is primed and ready to be one of the really great cities in Australia. The most important, forward-thinking regional city in Australia, possibly the world,” Lifschitz says. It’s not only the Gold Coast that will see the benefits of Festival 2018. The state’s capital is also set to receive an outstanding run
Festival 18 is going for gold at this year’s Commonwealth Games The 2018 Commonwealth Games is reaching far and wide across Queensland with this year’s Festival 18 program. Velvet Winter chats with program organisers Yaron Lifschitz and Leanne De Souza to find out what the Sunshine State can expect.
through the river of possibility and deciding what kind of things we wanted to do,” Festival 2018 Creative Director Yaron Lifschitz says of her curatorial process. “We both came into this as artists and artist workers, so we have a sort of vision of the world that’s lovely, but the Comm Games is a very different beast. “It’s a very complex and huge undertaking, so what we did is figure out all the things that we had to deliver; the spaces, the restrictions, the opportunities, to kind of have a really creative dialogue in what we can say about the world. Which, I guess, is what any artist kind of really does,” Lifschitz says. When it came time to put together the program, Lifschitz and his team made the decision to do things differently, merging the history of Australia with the modernism of the Gold Coast.
he clock to the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games has been ticking down on Surfers Paradise Beach for five years, and at last it’s almost time. As the stadiums are being prepped to host some of the world’s top athletes, stages are being set for the biggest celebration of the arts the Sunshine State has ever seen: Festival 2018. It’s a colossal 12-day program, mirroring the dates of the games, that stretches across four cities, Gold Coast, Brisbane, Townsville and Cairns. It’s set to feature hundreds of music, theatre, circus, dance, ideas, visual art and film events, most of which can be enjoyed by locals and tourists alike, as “99%” of the program, according to organisers, is free to attend. “Basically, it started with my co-director [Kate Fell] and me stepping on the stones
Leanne De Souza
of events that will take over the city’s picturesque Southbank promenade. This is where Brisbane Musical Curator, Leanne De Souza, started — with a vision of that riverside spot. “A big thing for me was listening to music and thinking if you were walking from the train to the wheel at Southbank and heard this band playing would you think, “That sounds pretty cool,” or are you going to be jarred and offended and run away. So, it was kind of like I was soundtracking Southbank for the Games.” When it came to constructing her program, De Souza built it around a simple three-word mission statement; encounter, change and inspire. “’Encounter’ was about encountering music from Brisbane’s past, music from other First Nations’ cultures and great Australian storytellers and that’s been realised in performances from the likes of Archie Roach and Don Walker,” De Souza says.
Making it to the finish line
Pic:: Barry Schipplock
There are hundred 18, here is a handful st
Yothu Yindi & The Treaty Project
The iconic Australian act will open the festi-
Curated by Aussie muso Holly Rankin (oth-
After slaying their 1st birthday party with 770
Catch the Sydney fly-ins closing out the Bris-
val, serving up their classic hits as well as new
erwise known as Jack River), this fierce event
of their closest friends, Pub Choir is growing
bane leg’s massive Guitar Hero program. If
material with an electronic twist. The ensem-
celebrates Australia’s most exciting female
again, this time to Brisbane Parklands. Grab a
you’re in the mood for a music festival vibe,
ble are celebrating the 25th anniversary of
artists including Meg Mac, Nina Las Vegas,
mate and take part in Australia’s biggest pop-
rock up early to see Brisso locals The Creases,
seminal tune Treaty.
Wafia and Karadajala Kirridarra. This one is a
up community choir, no singing or music
Perth singer Stella Donnelly and fellow Syd-
reading experience required.
ney gal Alex The Astronaut slay the South Bank stage.
4 Apr, Surfers Paradise Beach Main Stage
10 Apr, Surfers Paradise Beach Main Stage
5 Apr, South Bank Cultural Forecourt
14 Apr, South Bank Cultural Forecourt
Paces Yaron Lifschitz
“’Change’ was that I really wanted three days of guitar music — classical guitar right through to guitar hero moments. We’re featuring Abbe May, who is one of my favourite Australian guitarists, and Sabrina Lawrie who’s local, so that vision is still in there. And then ‘inspire’ was about youthful energy and looking forward so we’ve got people like Airling, The Preatures, Bob Evans. The vision is alive.” When pushed for the aspect of the program she is most proud of, De Souza answers without haste. “The diversity, hands down the diversity. We’ve got queer artists, we’ve got young people, we’ve got elder statesmen, we’ve got local people. I’m really proud of that.”
Festival 18 starts from 4 Apr.
Pic:: Stephen Booth
ds of events to see during Festival that will make you feel like you’re tanding on that winner’s podium.
Amy Shark It’s hard to believe that only 18 months ago Amy Shark was playing to tiny crowds on the Gold Coast. The now double ARIA Awardwinner is returning to her home town to play a very special set on the opening night of the Fest.
4 Apr, Queensland Music Stage, Broadbeach
What the music scene needs is more Bleach* As Bleach* Festival combines forces with the Commonwealth Games and Festival 18 to create a program of free, all-ages shows, locals Paces and Michelle Xen talk supporting Gold Coast artists with Velvet Winter.
ive music isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when thinking of the Gold Coast. Festival 18 is set to change that, with hundreds of live music performances set to take place over 12 days. Bleach* Festival has carried the baton for trailblazing Gold Coast music festivals since 2012 and has, this year, teamed up with Festival 18 to create something momentous and new to the city - a program of free, all-ages shows. As the Commonwealth Games attracts a legion of tourists from across the world, we caught up with two Bleach* performers that have, at one point in their lives, called the Gold Coast home in order to get the local’s perspective. Paces, aka Mikey Perry, is a producer that burst out of the Gold Coast with his 2016 debut album Vacation and has since gone on to support the likes of Illy and US producer Marshmello. The GC-raised musician is now set to headline a show with fellow locals Lastlings as a part of Bleach*. “I loved growing up around the beach more than anything,” Perry recalls. “Starting every day by surfing with my friends, then spending the weekends doing road trips and camping, looking for waves. So many great memories attached to that part of my life and I’m so grateful to have grown up here,” Perry says. However, as much as Perry praises the natural beauty that the Gold Coast has to offer, he acknowledges that there’s still work to be done on the music scene. “It’s different to any of the capital cities, because it’s such a tourist market,” he says. “So, most of the clubs play music that caters to the tourists rather than building scenes based around niche genres and locals. “In Sydney or Melbourne, for example, there are club nights that only play a certain genre and cool little scenes evolve from those nights. Whereas Surfers Paradise leans more toward the Top 40/R&B nights because it’s largely tourists and backpackers going out.” But while the most well-known areas might seem devoid of culture, Perry maintains that, thanks to a close-knit community, the scene is steadily growing. “There are two clubs here that do an AMAZING job of providing quality acts for the locals: Elsewhere and Rattlesnake Motel. Both of these venues have always pushed forward-thinking acts and are so important for the music
community here. Biggest love to them.” An even rarer sight in the Gold Michelle Xen Coast is the elusive all-ages gig. Upon hearing that most of Festival 18’s shows are open to everyone, Perry recognises how important these events are. “There aren’t many opportunities like this when you’re under 18, so it’s hugely appreciated when they pop up,” Perry says. “A lot of the time I find that underage audiences are the best, because they’re just so happy to be at an event - they really appreciate it on another level. I’ve been there, so I’m going to do my best to make it super-special for them.” Perry is right behind the growing Gold Coast music scene and is hopeful as to what opportunities a large-scale event such as Festival 18 promises for the future. “I really hope it opens the door to more events like this. We don’t really have many music festivals here at the moment. It would be great to have something like this annually. Especially for all the upcoming local acts, it’s important for them to be able to play good slots on a festival stage to gain that experience and help climb the ladder.” Michelle Xen is another one of the Gold Coast’s hidden gems. The electronic musician is a highlight on Bleach*’s Electrified program and has quite the show planned. “The vision is to create a fully saturated audiovisual bomb,” she reveals. “To push past what we have done before, to create an entire evening of insane moments. My band, Michelle Xen + The Neon Wild, have been recording new songs especially for the show. I have also been collaborating with the animator Helena Papageorgiou on a suite of animation and visual experiments.” Xen echoes Perry’s experience, saying that while the local scene might seem neglected if you look hard enough you strike gold. “The creative scene is interesting as it is a small scene and driven by dedicated creatives that embrace the contradictions and opportunities of the city,” Xen says. “I often create music within a visual-arts context. For instance, my keyboard player and I recorded a number of songs inside an art gallery as opposed to a music studio; it generates new ways of making sound.” As hundreds of artists gather and mix in South East Queensland for Festival 18, Xen is optimistic about what will bloom from the event. “I am very curious to see what unfolds beyond the Festival, as lots of the creative community are,” Xen says. “With so many resources and creatives invested in the Festival, there will be new collaborations, new ideas and hopefully many new works that spring from it!”
Bleach* Festival runs until 15 Apr.
For the latest live raeviews go to themusic.com.au
Car Seat Headrest @ The Triffid. Pic: Bobby Rein
“The future of rock’n’roll is among us and he’s wearing daggy tracksuit pants. There’s hope for us all yet.” — Steve Bell
While Washington’s Car Seat Headrest were in the country for Sydney City Limits, they dropped into Brisbane for a sideshow.
Ed Sheeran @ Suncorp Stadium. Pic: Markus Ravik
Ed Sheeran continued his mammoth Australian stadium tour by wowing 104,000 adoring Brisbanites over two evenings
“The band’s stage presence is palpable, with drummer Paris Jeffree the beating heart and a muchappreciated addition to their live performance.”
“Armed with his guitar, and an array of foot peddles, Sheeran wowed fans by building his songs from the ground up, layer upon layer, until they became recognisable.”
— Bianca Holderness
The Avalanches @ The Tivoli. Pics: Bianca Holderness
The elusive Aussie act
— Aimee Bonfield
played Brisbane for the first time since releasing their 2016 comeback album Wildflower.
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Best Record Store Day exclusive Courtney Barnett — City Looks Pretty/Sunday Roast 12” Courtney Barnett is dropping a sneak peak 12”. City Looks Pretty and the B-side, Sunday Roast, are from Barnett’s upcoming second album, Tell Me How You Really Feel, which isn’t released until 18 May. So the only way to cop an earful of these ones
Amber Lawrence, Anthony Albanese and Michael Chugg. Pic: Ros Ogorman
Our Record Store Day picks
waaaaay before everyone else is to snag the record (or suck up to someone who does). We’re lucky enough to have already heard Sunday Roast and it’s — gotcha! You’ll just have to wait like everyone else, but we can reveal it’s delicious.
Best novelty vinyl Shaggy — Oh Carolina 7” This party fave gets a 25th anniversary release on green vinyl! These are the lyrics, right? “Oh Carolina/Banana/Jump on top!” What!? That’s incorrect? But, “Prowl off/ Jump an prance,” makes zero sense! Just imagine: if you buy this absolute classic on vinyl you’ll even be able to play it backwards to see whether Shaggy’s snuck in a subconscious message.
Best sex life enhancer Various artists: Pornosonic — Unreleased 70s Porn Music ft Ron Jeremy Worth a special trek into a record store just to a giggle at the track titles alone. Ok, ok, we’ll reveal a couple to whet your appetite: Dick Dagger’s Theme (ft Ron Jeremy), Nice N
Spinning the black circle for another year of Record Store Day Record Store Day is back for its 11th year. Jessica Dale caught up with last year’s ambassador Minister Anthony Albanese and new representatives Michael Chugg and Amber Lawrence to find out why the day means so much for the local music industry.
Sleazy Does It and Laying Pipe (from Plumber’s DeLight). Yes, we are acutely aware that our maturity levels mirror our shoe sizes. And, no, a CD just won’t do ‘cause obviously the font’s larger on a vinyl sleeve and, as such, the LOLs are maximised.
Best debut vinyl release Tumbleweed — Tumbleweed Whaddayamean Tumbleweed’s 1992 debut, self-titled album has never been released on vinyl before? We can’t wait to hear these Tarrawanna rockers blaring through our speakers accentuated by the odd vinyl crackle and pop, but we’ll probably get something in our eye in remembrance of bassist/sludge master Jason Curley (RIP) while doing so. You’re gonna have to be quick to snap up one of these beautiful, blue vinyl babies as well, ‘cause there’s a limited run of just 300 copies.
Best chin-stroking rarity Warsaw — Warsaw What the WHAT!? If you got your hands on a slightly tweaked version of pre-Joy Division incarnation Warsaw’s self-titled debut, you’d never need to leave the house again. Actually, we made that one up. Find another licorice pie to stalk. (Or did we...)
ver the past ten years, Record Store Day has gone from a promotional tool to a cult following. Now in its 11th year, the day will see record stores across the world full of shoppers, looking for something new and exciting in this year’s special releases, while at the same time celebrating and supporting what makes their local music economy so great. Th is year’s Record Store Day launch took place at the iconic Red Eye Records in Sydney, presenting the opportunity for last year’s lead ambassador, former Deputy Prime Minister and Shadow Minister for Transport & Infrastructure, Shadow Minister for Cities, Shadow Minister for Tourism, Anthony Albanese, to hand over the reins to new ambassadors. During the event, Albanese shared anecdotes on what his Record Store Day tenure looked like, including how he gave Sydney duo Polish Club some national airtime by spinning their record, Alright Already, on Channel 10’s breakfast show, Studio 10. “It was great fun, so that’s the first thing to say, but it also, I think, was quite fulfilling because it felt as though Record Store Day is a part of making a difference, promoting independent record stores, promoting, particularly, Australian music, Australian artists, and I think connecting with people,” says Albanese of his time in the role. “When you talk to people about Record Store Day, they go, ‘Yeah, it is sort of different from having a song on Spotify.’ Spotify has, ‘Th is is the Pixies, this is Midnight Oil, put together their own compilations if you like.’ But that’s different from actually listening to an album from beginning to
end, in the order in which it was meant to be played and one of the things that’s happened recently as well is the increasing number of artists who will play an album like Spiderbait played Ivy & The Big Apples at the Enmore [Theatre] from go to whoa. “That, I think, to me is a recognition that people do want that. Patti Smith did Horses at the State Theatre, that was just fantastic, and so I think there is something to be said for touching, feeling, walking into a record store.” When asked about the economic impact of Record Store Day, Albanese is clear that the event’s importance goes further than just one day. “It’s great for [business owners] because it’s not just about the day, where hopefully they’ll have a big spike, but that people will come back and it’s a reminder of how many record stores there are now. The growth in suburbs, there’s now a record store in Marrickville Road where I have my electorate office, RPM, and that’s a really good thing. “So it’s an opportunity for them to promote their wares as well. One of the things about local record stores is that they employ local people and they tend to be run by people who aren’t in it to make their fortune. They’re run by people who are passionate about music and are quite happy to give recommendations or have a chat about particular artists.” Albanese is impressed with the stature of this year’s ambassadors, promoter Michael Chugg and musicians Dan Sultan and Amber Lawrence, and given their importance to the Australian music industry he’s, jokingly, hesitant to give any advice to his successors. “I think given the quality of the ambassadors, I’m quite embarrassed I got to be the ambassador,” he laughs. “But I’m sure that Michael, Amber and Dan will do a fantastic job. It’s good that you’ve got a promoter and two artists of different musical genres out there and that’s a good thing.” With over 50 years in the business, Michael Chugg is certainly a man qualified for the role of ambassador of Record Store Day. “I think it’s important. Anything that gets people into record bars and browsing through records and discovering new music, rediscovering old music and feeling what it feels like, not just downloading or streaming, I think it’s a very big part of it. We are noticing that the physical stock growth of some of our bands’ sales are actually growing because people want to see it and want to feel it.” “Every time we do a vinyl edition for any of our acts, it sells out. And more and more people are getting turntables. I mean the quality of the vinyl production and sound is very special and I think a lot of people are discovering that. I also think a lot of people want to actually know more about the band and that’s got a lot to do with it as well.” Golden Guitar-winning country singer Amber Lawrence hopes to offer the “perspective of a person creating music and wanting people to hear it” during her time as ambassador. “We are indebted in some ways to record stores too; Obviously we provide product for them to sell but they provide recommendations to their customers,” she explains. “There are times, many times, when a person would go into a store and say, ‘I want to hear a female singer-songwriter that I’ve never heard of before,’ and it might be me that the record store suggests and they become lifelong fans.”
Record Store Day takes place nationally on 21 Apr.
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Sarah Aarons (songwriter for Zedd & Alessia Cara, Jessie Ware, Demi Lovato and more): “Coffee and a charged iPhone.” Gretta Ray: “For me, it is as simple as just being out in the world and being inspired. I get ideas for songs all throughout the day and try to note them down and/or record them into my phone as often as possible, so I can return to working on and developing the idea later on. I guess something that tends to assist getting the process started is reading, or listening to other music. Certain words and phrases will jump off the page and motivate me to ponder on particular concepts a little longer, which encourages me to commit to working on a song and staying within a creative mindset.” Alex Lahey: “I find that my song ideas tend to spark from conversations or experiences I have with other people, so I guess spending time with others is where I get my inspiration from. It’s fairly ironic given that my writing practice for this project is a very personal experience that I rarely share with others, but the content and stories that go into the songs are drawn from my social, romantic and family life.” Celia Pavey (aka Vera Blue): “Songwriters can be inspired by so many things! For me it’s a lot of things too, depending on what’s going on in my life or my surroundings. I need to reflect and recognise the things that are happening that have had an impact on me, like, relationships. I also get really inspired by listening to loads of different styles of music, watching films, talking to people and taking in experiences.” Ben Abraham (solo artist and songwriter for Kesha, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Sara Bareilles and more): “For me it depends on what kind of song I’m writing. If it’s a song for me then I typically start with an emotion I want to capture, or specific story I am trying to tell – the more resonant it is with my life, the more inspired I am to write. If I’m in a session or if I’m co-writing with a specific artist, then the inspiration is more external; usually it comes from the chemistry in the room.”
Do you have a set routine for songwriting or does it vary as to how each song comes together? Aarons: “Just whatever falls out of my face on the day.” Ray: “The process definitely varies. The only aspect of it that I repeat each time is setting aside a day at the piano or with my guitar to get the bones of the song entirely finished, so I have a full body of work to work with. You can get dozens of great moments of inspiration or instantaneous lightingbolt ideas, but at the end of the day the songs aren’t going to write themselves; you need to make the time to commit to evolving them into the best versions of themselves that they can be.” Lahey: “I think to have routines is an important thing, but you also have to be willing to put them aside when moments of inspiration come. You don’t want to limit yourself. I find that by pushing myself to write and create for the sake of routine, I have more of those aforementioned random moments of inspiration which is when the really good stuff comes.” Pavey: “It definitely varies depending on whether I’m collaborating or writing on my own. A lot of the songs I write with my team, we start acoustically with a guitar or piano then once the song is written we build on it with whatever fun production is necessary for what the song is about or how it makes us feel. Although sometimes we will write from a cool synth or even a vocal sample or hook. I love the writing process because it’s fun, we surprise ourselves and just enjoy the moment and the feeling of creating and being in each other’s company.” Abraham: “It’s different every time. I’ve written songs to a brief, started with a chorus hook, started with a title, or chords, or beats etc. I wish I could say there was a routine, but my brain doesn’t work that way. Sometimes it takes 15 minutes, sometimes it takes four years – it’s a terrible business model.”
What elements do you need to get the songwriting juices flowing best?
Sarah Aarons. Pic: Peter Hill
Gretta Ray. Pic: Emma McEvoy
With the APRA Music Awards taking place this month, The Music grabbed the Breakthrough Songwriter Of The Year nominees to get some insight into their songwriting processes.
Break on through
What Aussie songs got you buzzing in the last year? Aarons: “G Flip – About You.” Ray: “All of Angie McMahon’s songs. Just Angie and her vision in general. However she does have this one unreleased song called And I Am A Woman and every single time I have heard it, without fail, I’ve bawled my eyes out. No song has ever moved me in the way that that song does — it is one of those rare songs wherein the lyrics, melody and just overall build of the song resonate exactly with the emotion that she intends on portraying through the narrative. It is unbelievably powerful.” Lahey: “Exactly How You Are – Ball Park Music, Thank You And Sorry – Maddy Jane, Aeon – Gordi, Dumb Days – Tired Lion, Never Start – Middle Kids.” Pavey: “Wafia – Bodies is a very powerful song! Uplifting and real.” Abraham: “Fear And Trembling by Gang Of Youths – what a way to open an album! Beside the killer production, the songwriting is like Tom Waits meets Don McLean, which is a huge yes from me. I loved Jess Mauboy’s Fallin’. I think she’s a world class talent and it’s so nice to hear her wrap her voice around classy pop writing. Can we claim Lorde ‘cause she’s an APRA member? Green Light and Liability make you realise what a formidable writer she is.”
The APRA Music Awards take place 10 Apr in Sydney.
Kings of Kao
If you like your tunes heavy Kaosphere have you sorted on 13 Apr. They’re launching their self-titled debut EP at Snooker World with some help from Decryptus, Strategies, Visions Of Chaos and Psychosemantics.
Stella Donnelly and Alex The Astronaut’s massive coheadline tour rolls around the country pretty much the whole of April. Brisbane fans of the pair can catch them at Cultural Forecourt on 14 Apr.
Amyl & The Sniffers
Alex The Astronaut & Stella Donnelly
This month’s highlights
After he represents the UK at the Commonwealth Games Great Australian Songbook concert, extraordinary multiinstrumentalist Patrick Wolf will perform an intimate solo concert, An Evening With Patrick Wolf, at The Tivoli on 7 Apr.
Melbourne sharpie punks Amyl & The Sniffers are coming back to Brisbane after their recent signing to the Flightless roster and the release of new single Cup Of Destiny. Catch them at The Foundry on 27 Apr.
Mojo rising In its fifth year, Mojo Burning will bring together 30 of the country’s best blues, rock, roots and stoner-rock outfits, including Wolfmother, Jeff Martin and Smoking Martha. Head to Hamilton Hotel on 14 Apr to cop the lot.
Palm Springs the band now have a new name, a new sound and a new record, Mod Con , and visit The Sunshine State to launch their debut record Modern Convenience on 27 Apr, dealing out top-notch fuzzy rock at The Bearded Lady.
We are the Mods
the best and the worst of the month’s zeitgeist
The lashes Front
The ace of space
Back of the bus
A teaser has dropped of
Anyone wanting to spruce
The iconic VW Bus has been
Facebook has received a
TripAdvisor released its list
Yet another accident has hit
Game Of Thrones creator
up their activewear should
the home away from home
costly kick in the nuts with
of the ten best cities in the
Dreamworld theme park in
George RR Martin’s new
immediately invest in the
for many a backpacker in
$5billion was wiped off its
world (Paris took the top
QLD. Riders were trapped
sci-fi horror film, Nightfly-
seasons hottest sports
Australia. And now there’s
share prices after revelations
spot), and Australia did not
for more than half an hour
ers, and we’re already fully
accessory: the Sweat
a fresh new look for the
it allowed Cambridge Ana-
make the cut. Sydney man-
upside down on The Buzz-
obsessed. In the words of
Beret. No longer will your
trusted campervan. Better
lytica access to millions of
aged to scrape into 25th
saw ride when a tripped
the G-dawg himself, “It’s
perspiration solutions defy
yet, the new model is elec-
users data to aid the Trump
place (in a list of 25 cities).
safety sensor automatically
Psycho, in space!”
your love of French fashion.
tric, as well as looking pretty
The final thought
Words by Maxim Boon
Should reality TV really be a reality check?
n the 18th century, it wasn’t uncommon of a Saturday night for punters to take a trip to the local madhouse so they could gawk at the wretched souls within. Bedlam was run like an abominable thrill-ride for well-to-do adrenaline seekers. Wealthy patrons could drop a few shillings to roam the shit-smeared hallways, hoping to come face to face with the dangerously deranged, shackled to the walls.
The thought of taking pleasure from such abject misery is all but unthinkable in our modern, enlightened age, right? I mean, who would ever condone exploiting vulnerable, damaged minds for the purposes of entertainment? Or could it be that reality TV has taken a page out of Bedlam’s book? In the ratings arms race, that has seen an escalating one-upmanship of ever more outrageous formats - such as Naked And Afraid (which has run for 9 seasons), Naked Attraction, and Married At First Sight, one of Australia’s most watched shows - we’re seeing the revival of a long-forgotten appetite for delighting in atypical behaviour. The big difference, of course, is consent: we’re not quite ready for the Hunger Games just yet. But nonetheless, the popularity of shows like MAFS is powered by the voyeuristic titillation of getting to see people acting cray-cray. And I must hold my hand up and be counted amongst this number: like millions of others, I gasped in horrified delight at Troy Delmege’s bizarre teeth brushing technique. But there’s a cause and effect of televising these GIF-worthy moments: the expectation of bigger, badder, bat-shittier antics in the future. It’s for this reason that TV producers are constantly on the lookout for ways to keep formats fresh and their audience’s
shut the ride down.
hooked, by upping the stakes and with them the emotional costs. But is good TV a good enough justification for putting people through traumatic experiences for our viewing pleasure? Into evidence, I submit the global TV phenomena of RuPaul’s Drag Race, a show that has one of the most intense fandoms of any reality TV series. For the drag queens who appear on the show, celebrity is guaranteed and with it a lucrative means of employment. But the relentless demands of a public who feel an implicit ownership of these talent show contestants can also create a perfect storm for destabilising mental health. One of the show’s most popular alum, Katya, aka Brian McCook, recently announced an leave of absence from public life following a catastrophic relapse of meth addiction while on tour for the TV show in Australia. Th is eventually led to a near-fatal heart attack and a lengthy spell in rehab (although Katya has since hinted that sheh hopes to return to drag once recovered). Th is is, of course, a drastic example. But the destructive pressures faced by reality TV personalities, subjected to a fandom that demands they be a person-turned-commodity, should also serve as a reality check. Beyond the screen, infront of the camera, these are real people, as flawed, vulnerable, and entitled to respect as you or I.
P L AY THE REGRET TES
DIFFERENT THE CALIFORNIA SERIES ™
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