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April Issue

Melbourne | Free

CITY CALM DOWN Ready for the new new wave

Aus stars discuss the legacy of Gurrumul

How Confidence Man embraced the backlash

The Comedy Festival laughs keep on coming


P L AY THE REGRET TES

SOMETHING #HEREFORTHEMUSIC

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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

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Subscriptions store.themusic.com.au

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.

Contact Us Melbourne Head Office Ph: 03 9421 4499 459-461 Victoria Street Brunswick West Vic 3055 PO Box 231 Brunswick West Vic 3055

Andrew Mast Group Managing Editor

Editorial Assistant Sam Wall Gig Guide Henry Gibson gigs@themusic.com.au Senior Contributors Steve Bell, Ross Clelland, Cyclone, Jeff Jenkins Contributors Nic Addenbrooke, Annelise Ball, Sam Baran, Emily Blackburn, Melissa Borg, Anthony Carew, Uppy Chatterjee, Roshan Clerke, Shaun Colnan, Brendan Crabb, Guy Davis, Joe Dolan, Stephanie Eslkae, Chris Familton, Guido Farnell, Liz Giuffre, Carley Hall, Tobias Handke, Mark Hebblewhite, Kate Kingsmill, Tim Kroenert, Samuel Leighton Dore, Joel Lohman, Matt MacMaster, Amanda Maher, Taylor Marshall, MJ O’Neill, Carly Packer, Anne Marie Peard, Natasha Pinto, Michael Prebeg, Mick Radojkovic, Stephen A Russell, Jake Sun, Cassie Tongue, Rod Whitfield Senior Photographers Cole Bennetts, Kane Hibberd Photographers Rohan Anderson, Andrew Briscoe, Stephen Booth, Pete Dovgan, Simone Fisher, Lucinda Goodwin, Josh Groom, Clare Hawley, Bianca Holderness, Jay Hynes, Dave Kan, Yaseera Moosa, Hayden Nixon, Angela Padovan, Markus Ravik, Bobby Rein, Peter Sharp, Barry Shipplock, Terry Soo, John Stubbs, Bec Taylor

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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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Our contributors

This month 12

Editor’s Letter

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Garth Davis: Mary Magdalene

Brian Ritchie Th is month’s best binge watching Shit We Did: Intermittent Fasting Guest editorial: Brian Ritchie

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Best known as the bassist of the Violent

Amateur Hour We join a pub choir, a dance studio and do some live storytelling

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Femmes, Brian is a US-born Australia-based

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musician and curator with has toured to more than 40 countries, selling 5 million records worldwide. Since 2009 he has been an art curator at MONA in Hobart, and director of the annual MoFo Festival.

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The alt Latin pop phenomenon City Calm Down Chasing the dot on the horizon that keeps moving

Is fentanyl the new heroin?

Gurrumul Aussie artists open up on his legacy

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Alison Wonderland How the words on her album dictation her actions in real life

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Ryan Downey

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Album reviews

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Felicity Case-Mejia Felicity is a Melbourne-based graphic designer and illustrator. She is also a three-dimensional character with a love of all things

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Jacob Collier

pop culture. You can often find her scouring

The Arts

the internet for celeb goss, or watching an unrealistic amount of television.

The best of Melbourne International Comedy Festival

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Paul Chowdhry

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James Veitch, Neel Kolhatkar

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Becky Lucas

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Mullets The return of business at the front and party at the back

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Together Pangea

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Portgual. The Man, Biffy Clyro

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The Big Picture Giulia McGauran from the world of fashion and music. May contain traces of zebra.

Confidence Man Celebrating Prince Kit: Record players Kid Congo & The Pink Monkey Birds, John Garcia

Your Town 60

Record Store Day

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Joe Dolan Joe has been writing professionally since

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Howzat!

2014, and with The Music since 2015. A self confessed comedy nerd, he moved into comedy reviews in late 2016, and reviewed

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Your gigs

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Th is month’s local highlights

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Music Cities Convention

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The end

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more than 70 shows at last year’s Melbourne International Comedy Festival.


FROM THE DEEP SOUTH (SOUTH MELBOURNE)

ELBOURNEMOONSHINESHOP.COM THE MUSIC

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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.

Alex Lahey

Donny Benet

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

Jillionaire

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Stream dreams

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

Donny Benet

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-

Jungle boogie

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.

Aggretsuko

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

DeLightful

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.

The Lashes

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.

Jake Bugg

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.

Polaris

Sh*t we did With Maxim Boon

Lost In Space

Intermittent Fasting Halsey

Sey what!

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.

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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.”

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Working 9 to 5

City Calm Down frontman Jack Bourke and drummer Lee Armstrong are ready for “the Australian new new wave”, but don’t regard themselves as hip in any way, Joel Lohman discovers. Cover and feature pic by Mclean Stephenson

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n a warmer, sunnier morning than you’d typically associate with the band’s shadowy sound, Jack Bourke and Lee Armstrong of City Calm Down sit sipping coffee and juice and discussing the long-awaited release of their new album, Echoes In Blue. Six months have passed since the band finished work on their second album, recorded sporadically between February and September last year. “I feel so detached from it,” says Armstrong, the band’s drummer. “It’s so long ago that we finished it. I had to listen to it last week to make sure I knew what was going on.”

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So what did he think? “I liked it!” says Armstrong. “Which is a good result. I think it’s pretty different from the first [album] in some ways, but quite similar in others, which is what we set out to achieve.” Bourke, the band’s frontman, elaborates: “We didn’t want to take a complete left turn, but we wanted to highlight some new avenues.” Bourke says the band felt relatively free of expectation while recording the followup to their debut, 2015’s In A Restless House. “We didn’t really have enough time between records to get stuck in our own heads about what the next record should be,” Bourke


“Getting to a point where you can dedicate all your energy to making music full time is a dot on the horizon that keeps moving. It’s like a mirage.”

continues. “We just started writing again and everything moved quickly. It seems to me that the first record was successful enough that we’re able to build off it, but it wasn’t so successful that we spent two years touring, not writing songs and had to go back and think, ‘What are we doing as a band again? We’ve got to change because we’re sick of all our songs’.” The process of writing and recording Echoes In Blue was a lot more enjoyable than the band’s debut, Armstrong says, which was largely due to a renewed focus on songcraft rather than extraneous sonic details. Bourke says, “We’ve just got to write good

the things I’m singing about are just common experiences: working a job, going home, eating dinner. I’m just exploring the way I feel about my life.” The band members all work full-time and are acutely aware of the difficulties of juggling jobs, the demands of the band and other relationships. City Calm Down are more frank than most about the financial realities of playing in an independent rock band in 2018. “We’re managing ourselves at the moment,” Bourke says, “and we’ve just been looking at the budget for the upcoming tour. I think when you’re starting out as a band you think you’ll get to a certain level and be able to play music full time and it’ll be great. But when everything is said and done, there isn’t a whole lot left over, which is quite confronting sometimes. We’ve been doing this for ten years now, and getting to a point where you can dedicate all your energy to making music full time is a dot on the horizon that keeps moving. It’s like a mirage.” In those ten years, City Calm Down have seen a lot of different musical movements and genres enjoy their moment in the sun, but Bourke says he’s never felt his band has fit into any of those scenes. “I would not think of us as being hip in any way,” he says. “There are definitely sounds that pop up and are ‘in’ for four or five years. A few years ago when Tame Impala was blowing up, everyone was making psychedelic music. Now it’s that three-piece garage rock, which is great — I like a lot of the bands doing that. But there’s never really been the new new wave. When’s that coming? Because we’re ready [laughs]. We’ve been ready for years for the Australian new new wave.” City Calm Down are now ready to release Echoes In Blue. The album is a major statement, one that may inspire others to take up the cause and join the frontline of the Australian new new wave. The album’s striking black-and-white cover, depicting waves crashing into basalt columns at Bombo Quarry, an hour south of Sydney, was shot by photographer Mclean Stephenson. “It’s quite visceral,” says Bourke of the photograph. “The ocean is smashing against the rocks and then past that you’ve got this calm, because you can’t see the horizon meet the skyline. It has this really nice contrast where it’s just this grey, bland background with this intense imagery at the front. It just feels to me like there’s something grand about it.”

songs, which seems obvious, but you can get really caught up in having production ideas and putting the cart before the horse. So going through that process this time we were like, ‘Ok, let’s get the songs. We’ll work out how it should sound afterwards.’ You can tell from the really basic elements whether it’s a good song.” Th is emphasis on the bigger picture was aided by producer Malcolm Besley, who helped the band maintain perspective with some occasional tough love. “When we were in the studio arguing over the smallest things,” Armstrong remembers, “Malcolm would say, ‘Th is doesn’t matter — just shut up and get on with it’,” he laughs. Bourke reckons it was important, this time around, to not give the expectations of fans too much credence, or let those who latched onto their early work influence creative decisions as the band moves forward. “I think there’s an element of not being beholden to fans of your old stuff,” he says. “I’m making it for myself and if I don’t put that first I just won’t make music. I want to make songs that make me feel good. It’s not that I don’t appreciate the people who like our music. You just can’t let that dictate what the band does, because then you’ve lost the reason [why] you’re doing it to begin with.” “If you don’t put yourself first and satisfy what you need,” Armstrong adds, “are you going to want to do it? Why would you? Then you’re just working a nine-tofive job.” A common topic in Bourke’s lyrics, working a nine-to-five job is something the members of City Calm Down know all about. “The lyrics are my way of working out what’s going on in my life,” Bourke says, “which I think in some ways is what’s going on in a lot of people’s lives. A lot of

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Regarding the album’s equally grand and classic-feeling title, Echoes In Blue, Bourke says, “It just felt intentionally ambiguous. The ‘blue’, I guess, has an element of sadness to it and the ‘echoes’ is about having trouble discerning what that is. It’s trying to capture that ambiguity of sadness, the sense of feeling lost without knowing why. That was the idea behind the lyric and it rings true across the album in many respects.” Echoes In Blue is full of ideas, lyrics and grand musical moments that ring true for the listener. The band is proud of the new album and rightly so. “It’s the first time I’ve ever felt proud of anything in my life,” says Bourke. “Obviously I have criticisms of it and there are things I don’t like about it, but it’s the first time I feel like I’ve accomplished something that’s meaningful to me. It’s a good feeling.”

Echoes In Blue (I OH YOU) is out this month. City Calm Down tour from 8 Jun.

Check The Guide on theMusic.com.au for more details.


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.

I

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…” “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.”

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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.

I

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-

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Sarah Blasko

Stills from Gurrumul

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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

Briggs

“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

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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.


Marching to the beat of his own drum

Check The Guide on theMusic.com.au for more details.

Multi-instrumentalist and singersongwriter Jacob Collier may only be barely into his 20s, but he’s already making waves as one of the most talented musicians of his generation. He talks dropping out of Uni and having Quincy Jones as a manager, with Maxim Boon.

F

rom Elvis Presley’s Graceland mansion in the heart of Memphis, Tennessee, to the Abbey Road pelican crossing made famous by The Beatles, music lovers have long made pilgrimages to experience first-hand the places where their idols once stood. And given the scale of his accomplishments to date, it wouldn’t be a stretch to imagine the North London family home of 23-year-old singer-songwriter Jacob Collier one day being counted amongst those hallowed landmarks. The modest music room at the back of this seemingly unremarkable Finchley townhouse is where Collier developed his astonishingly fresh brand of contemporary jazzfunk; a unique musical identity that has since been declared by critics as “ingenious” and “mind-blowing.” From this room, he also taught himself to play a dizzying number of instruments to extraordinary levels of virtuosity. It’s also where, in a makeshift studio piled high with guitars, ukuleles, mandolins, exotic percussion, synthesisers and microphones, he honed a compositional craft that today seems capable of near boundless invention. And it’s in this room that Collier recalls his first memory. “I was in my mum’s lap. She was playing me Bach on the violin, and there’s a bunch of amazing unaccompanied partitas he wrote, and I just remember really clearly bouncing on my mum’s knee, like, ‘Yeah, this is the best thing ever,’” he shares. “I remember her being so thrilled because I was really vibing off this music. And that memory has always stayed with me, because it feels like the moment, before I understood anything about making music, that I began to understand the gestures of music and the way that it could make you feel.” Given the calibre of Collier’s technical understanding and the intense complexity of his tracks, not to mention the fact that his mother is a professor of violin at the prestigious Royal Academy of Music, you might assume his accomplishments are the product of intensive training. In reality, perhaps due to his undeniable natural aptitude, formal education has never held much importance for Collier. “I hated music theory when I was a kid. I couldn’t stand it,” he admits. “But I was always fascinated by sounds, you know. I’ve never read a single book about music theory or anything like that. So I started to coin my own terms for things and come up with my own way of talking about music and the kind of character it had. “When I was about 16, I went on this weekend jazz school thing, and I found out that there were proper names for the stuff I had come up with by myself. So I was like, dumped into the middle of this world of terminology. And certain things — certain scales and modes — I had been drawn to naturally, but other things I was doing, certain ways of approaching harmony, didn’t actually exist in the theory books. But it all kind of made sense to my ears because I saw those scales and progressions from a different angle.” He initially enrolled in the Royal Academy’s jazz piano program aged 18, but dropped out after just two years to

“I’ve never read a single book about music theory or anything like that. So I started to coin my own terms for things and come up with my own way of talking about music.”

pursue a more worldly mode of learning. “Nowadays you can gather ‘tools’ [for exploring music] from everywhere. You can gather tools from a degree, or from the internet, or from your friends, or from records, or just from living your life. And every person has a different way of gathering information,” Collier insists. “For me, absorbing those tools has always driven a push to create. Being at the Academy for two years sort of gave me this lovely bunch of stuff to do that, but I wanted to do more, creatively speaking. And I think it reached a point where I wanted to do that more than I wanted to sit in a classroom.” It’s a gamble that has paid off in spades. Since he began posting multi-tracked videos of jazz and soul standards to YouTube in 2011, in self-produced recordings performing every part, both vocal and instrumental, he has racked up millions of views. His 2016-released debut album, tellingly titled In My Room, picked up two Grammys and attracted A-list collaborators as diverse as legendary film composer Hans Zimmer and pop megastar Pharrell Williams. He’s even collaborated with engineers and acoustics experts at MIT to develop a “one-man, audiovisual live performance vehicle,” which in true Collier fashion, seems to defy conventional explanation. And of course, he’s also picked up a fair few fans along the way, including juggernaut talents like Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea, kd lang and the great Quincy Jones, who now

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acts as Collier’s manager. As one of the elder statesmen of popular music, 85-year-old Jones has often been outspoken about the industry, (including in that recent interview with Vulture.com). But Collier shares a touching, personal perspective on his mentor. “He’s such a character. He’s just one of these fearless human beings, and it’s beautiful in every way. I think, you know, that fearlessness can be taken to various degrees, but the thing with Quincy is that there’s such love and compassion for humankind behind it. And that’s just really a rare thing to see in someone at the very top of the tree, who can’t get higher. He’s at the leading edge of the music industry, so to see him be such a human being and have such beautiful core values at the centre of what he does, it’s freaking awesome.”

Jacob Collier tours from 30 Apr.


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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.

Y

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.

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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.

“S

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

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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

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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-

Z

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

band

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’.”

When

the

had something special, but they had no idea how far it would take them.

“When

it

first

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.

“I

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.

THE MUSIC

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

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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.


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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.

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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


Shut up and dance

I

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 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 with not looking like a side-project.” Planet says. 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 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.’”

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.

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. “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. While the band have been going from strength to strength, they had their first taste of a backlash following their Splendour In The Grass debut in 2017. 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 the members themselves. 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 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.

“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.”

Check The Guide on theMusic.com.au for more details.

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Celebrating Prince’s purple reign Nearing the second anniversary of his death, Cyclone reminisces with Prince’s sister Tyka Nelson and The Family member/Nothing Compares 2 Prince Musical Director St Paul Peterson about the late icon’s uncanny ability to recognise and develop talent, and continuing on as “ambassadors for his music”.

W

hen Justin Timberlake honoured Minneapolis’ Prince Rogers Nelson at the 2018 Super Bowl, performing I Would Die 4 U to a video projection, devotees were divided. But The Family’s “St” Paul Peterson — whom Prince moulded into a star in the ‘80s — shares, “I shed a tear. I thought it was incredible. I thought it was beautifully, respectfully done. He couldn’t have come in there and not done that. Can you imagine the outrage if he didn’t tip his hat to Prince? He was in an absolute no-win situation. I thought, musically, he did a beautiful job.” Since Prince’s tragic passing at his beloved Paisley Park Studios in April 2016, there have been successive tributes — many by his proteges and associates who command their own cult fandom, even in Australia. The New Power Generation (The NPG), Prince’s backing band following The Revolution, are Bluesfest headliners and, this month, a supergroup of Prince “alumni” (including Jellybean Johnson and The New Power Generation stalwarts Cassandra O’Neal and Shelby J) will premiere Nothing Compares 2 Prince with Peterson as musical director. They’ll be joined by Tyka Nelson, Prince’s younger sister and a musician in her own right, direct from Paisley Park’s Celebration 2018 event. Nelson welcomes exchanges with Prince fans, stressing that she is “approachable”. The Minnesotan previously never discerned the depth of Prince’s reach. “I think it’s the stories,” she reflects, her velvet voice surprisingly familiar. “Because to me he’s always been just my brother, I didn’t realise the impact that he did have on people around the world until he passed. And then I live in his childhood home and so people would come by and they would tell me stories; or when I’d go and travel to the different shows, then people will come up to me and tell me stories. So I’ve got to see a different side of my brother because, again, he’s just my brother to me. But a lot of people have such great stories and inspiring stories. They make me cry, some of them make me laugh, but I’ve enjoyed each and every one of ‘em. I love meeting the fans.” Peterson speaks of a “common bond” that exists between Prince’s various cohorts, all now “ambassadors for his music”. Indeed, Prince was so copious that, from the outset, he fostered other acts so as to disseminate more of his work, introducing The Time, Vanity 6 and Sheila E.

“Prince had an uncanny ability to not only recognise talent, and develop talent, but he knew how to put people together.” Peterson scored his break when auditioning as keyboardist for The Time, the iconic Minneapolis funk outfit pivoting on Morris Day, groomed to replace Monte Moir. “I’ll tell you what — for me, being this little suburban kid and getting into this great R&B black band, I had a couple of things to learn,” Peterson laughs. “They kinda whipped me into shape.” The Time dissolved with Day’s departure. Prince, a crosscultural A&R, next conceived The Family: a Euro-funk group comprising The Time’s remaining members and fronted by Peterson and Susannah Melvoin, The Purple One’s girlfriend (and sister of Wendy, The Revolution’s guitarist). In 1985, the band issued their eponymous debut via Prince’s Paisley Park Records. In fact, Prince (ghost) wrote and played much of the music with Peterson instructed to study his guide vocals. “Prince had a vision. He had an idea. He had a persona in mind; he had a character he wanted me to step into — that was ‘St Paul’,” Peterson shares, “who was the guy who wore the smoking jacket, the guy who had Susannah on his side, and that’s who he wanted me to be. He didn’t want me to be Paul Peterson from Richfield, Minnesota.” Prince and Tyka both grew up messing around with music, but the industry proclaimed Prince the prodigy. Tyka Nelson debuted with 1988’s charming Royal Blue, Prince’s future ally Larry Graham assisting in the studio. Pointedly, she didn’t ever team up with Prince, determined to be independent. “I already knew that Prince made great music and I had seen him work with other artists,” she explains. “Then, when Janet Jackson came out with [former Time members Jimmy Jam &] Terry Lewis, I said, ‘Yeah, but can Janet hold it on her own and can I hold it on my own?’ It was a fear more than anything. I wanted people to like my music for just my music and not an influence of his. I wouldn’t go out to Paisley Park and he kept trying to get me to come. He wanted to go to [my] sessions. I’m like, ‘No, you gotta stay away’... it kinda, I think, ticked him off a bit ‘cause he wanted to help his little sister.”

“He wanted to go to [my] sessions. I’m like, ‘No, you gotta stay away’... it kinda, I think, ticked him off a bit ‘cause he wanted to help little sister.”

L-R: Prince, St Paul Peterson, Tyka Nelson

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Nothing Compares 2 Prince tours from 27 Apr.


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Entry-level ION Audio Max LP Th is is a cheap as chips, no frills model, and while it might not cut the mustard for true vinyl aficionados, this is a good place to start for any record collection noobs looking to dip a toe. It’s one of the most inexpensive turntables on the market, so don’t expect high fidelity, but with its real wood finish it does have good looks. It’s also got some tricks up its sleeve, including built-in speakers, mini-jack auxiliary output to record direct to devices, and a USB port. Retails from $76

Audio-Technica AT-LP120-USB As starter turntables go, this model has just about all the bells and whistles you’re going to need without rinsing your bank balance. It’s ready to go straight out of the box, without the need for further investment in costly preamps, and it’s able to play 33.3, 45 and 78 RPM, so there’s basically no purchase at the record store you can go wrong with. It also comes with a USB output, so you can safeguard your analogue collection with a digital back-up. Retails from $380

Mid-priced Rega Planar 2 (2016 re-release) First released in 1976, this hallowed icon of 20th-century hi-fi has had more than a few facelifts over the years. A little over four decades after its initial release, the only original components left are the drive belt and the plastic hinges for the dust cover lid! What has remained the same, however, is the trusted level of audio engineering, and with its sleek, glossy finish and minimal design, this is one handsome bit of kit to boot. Retails from $790

HYM Seed Th is is an ideal option for anyone with a penchant for ‘80s retro vibes. But behind the gimmicky design, there’s also plenty of on point engineering to make sure it sounds as good as it looks. Many new models on the market have builtin speakers, but few compare to the 80-watt amp-powered suite of drivers and tweeters the HYM boasts behind its Charlie’s Angels grill. Add to that a bunch of digital built-ins, including USB storage playback, Bluetooth and even Apple Airplay, and we’re sold. Retail from $769

Top of the range AMG Viella V12

If money is no object, firstly we’re well jeal. But that aside, we recommend you bust your wad on this utterly beautiful piece of turntable nirvana. There may be pricier models out there, but just about nothing compares to the level of fidelity the Viella achieves. Plus, its hardwood trim, aluminium platter and superb finish make it a work of art. It doesn’t have any digital add-ons, like the USB port common to new models, but for vinyl purists (who are filthy rich) that’s not going to be a problem. Retails from $17,000

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R E C O R D S T O R E D AY

You spin me right round Record Store Day is rolling ‘round for another year, so there’s never been a better time to go old school and invest in a brand spanking new turntable. We’ve cherry-picked a few of our favourites for your listening pleasure.


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Check The Guide on theMusic.com.au for more details.

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.

T

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.”

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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.


F

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.

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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

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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


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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

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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

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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

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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!

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The Moth

Words by Samuel Leighton-Dore

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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!


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m o r f s d n u o s : Pop to bottom can underground ri the Latin Ame

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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

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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

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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

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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.


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“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.

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Relocation nation NERVO

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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.


It must be love On his debut LP, alt-crooner Ryan Downey tells Sam Wall that he took some cues from Queen in terms of recognising that deeply human, emotional music still needs “a backbone of entertainment” to stay upright.

T

o date, two singles have dropped from Ryan Downey’s debut full-length, Running, and even less-than-attentive fans of his last record will have picked up on a major shift in direction. “Yeah, there’s instruments on there,” the singer laughs. For those who aren’t familiar with the baritone crooner’s history or his lush, alt-folk back-catalogue, Downey suffered a mild setback in 2015 when he broke his arm and had to down tools for six weeks. Rather than spending that time Googling one-handed hobbies, Downey conceived Me & Her, an a cappella mini-album comprised of two originals and five covers, all by female artists. People were curious at the “incredible insanity [Double J]” of covering Enya with nothing but body percussion, one-man harmonies and a can-do attitude, and then stunned at just how good the result was. The accident delayed Downey’s first official album, but, as Downey says, the chance to experiment “got the ball rolling in a good way” and, without this hold-up, we would likely never have heard Running. “I was ready to make an album that had maybe half the songs that are now on Running and a bunch of other songs that I’ve since let go,” shares Downey. “When I broke my arm that sort of got cancelled, which is a blessing because I wasn’t going to make this record the way that I have now made it. “It opened up this record to write more songs and finetune it, and I think it’s got a better outcome now than it was going to.” When considering how much the songs and album have morphed in the years following his side-project, Downey draws a blank on individual changes, stating the key differences are much larger scale. “Mostly, I think, some of the more important songs on the record came since then. I reshaped some of the others. The result of this album is probably not really what the last one would have sounded like. It’s a lot less folk. Even though, you know, some of the songs still have an indie-folk backbone to them, we took it in different directions - had some pop and rock moments on there.” Once Downey felt he had a full set of completed songs he eventually tapped Steve Hassett from alt-folk duo Luluc to produce, having met, supported and befriended the pair in 2014. “I guess I had a bunch of songs to make a record and I’d just been waiting and looking for the right producer,” says Downey. “In the past, I’d always selfrecorded then got a producer to mix. Th is time I wanted to work all the way [through] with a producer. I knew he’d had a huge hand in producing their records and just, whenever we spoke about music in general or my own music or the recording process, his ear, and his attention to detail, and his work ethic always felt similar to mine. And so, I knew that he’d be perfect for it.” The rich and varied sound of the record speaks for itself, but was it difficult to hand over the reins to begin with? “With Steve it wasn’t. He was just one of those great facilitators. It was a lot of fun. He, like me, doesn’t take moment to moment seriously but he takes the end result very seriously. So, we

could have a lot of fun with what we were putting onto the record and remain relaxed - you know [laughs], most of the time - and come out with an outcome that we were proud of.” Hassett isn’t the only contributing Luluc member. Zoe Randell duets with Downey on 1+1, a gorgeous and steadily expanding ode to finding strength in love. “I wrote that song years ago actually,” tells Downey, “and never really knew what to do with it. I knew I’d need a really strong, powerful voice to carry the weight of that part, and then I met her and obviously she’s got a breathtaking voice... When I heard that she really liked that song I asked her and she did a great job.” Running is pretty romantically inclined all over and Downey admits his core motivation for the album was he “basically just wanted to make an album about love”. “Not just romantic love, love as sort of the force that gets things running in the world,” says Downey, “and about how that comes into play in modern-day life.” That sentiment creates an anchor for the LP, but it’s most strongly tethered to the title track, from which the album took its name in “a last-minute decision”. “I’d gone through other titles,” he continues. “I think that song - we’d chosen it to open the record and it sort of most potently carries that theme and opens up the doors to the album, thematically and sonically. It just became sort of a perfect overtone for the themes.” Like love, Downey knew Running couldn’t take itself too seriously, that it needed a certain level of humanity and humour to flourish, as well as attitude expressed in “moments of empowerment, instead of blatant bravado”. But most importantly, it needed to be entertaining. “When it came time to actually record, there was sort of a major influence that Steve and I looked at, and it’s one you probably can’t even hear on the record - in fact, I’m pretty sure you can’t hear it - but it was more in our approach to the recording, and that is of Queen and Freddie Mercury. In particular, just to always keep in mind the idea that we wanted to make, you know, highly emotional, artistic music, but always with a backbone of entertainment. So, no matter how human the moments got on ther,e lyrically or thematically, just to always remember in the back of our minds to have that treatment of, ‘This is entertainment’.” It’s a rule of thumb Downey has also observed through his love of film. When he moved to Melbourne from rural Victoria, Downey briefly left music, “dipping [a] toe into filmmaking”. “I would love to do soundtracks. I don’t know if people can hear it, it’s certainly an influence on this record, and all of my music really. Setting a real mood, playing with tension and dynamics the way that soundtracks can do, and sort of telling a story outside of the lyrics as well, you know. They’re really important to me. “It’s amazing how sound can have a place. And that some sounds have the same place for everyone.”

“When I broke my arm that sort of got cancelled, which is a blessing because I wasn’t going to make this record the way that I have now made it.”

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MUSIC

Running (Barely Dressed/Remote Control Records) is out this month. Ryan Downey tours from 17 May.


Album Reviews

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

★★★★½

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

Confidence Man

DMA’S

Eat The Elephant

Echoes In Blue

For Now

BMG

I OH YOU

Confident Music For Confident People

★★★½

★★★½

Independent

★★★½

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.

Brendan Crabb

Aneta Grulichova

★★★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

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ALBUM REVIEWS

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

GUM

Hinds

Jaala

Evelyn Ida Morris

The Underdog

I Don’t Run

Joonya Spirit

Milk Records/Remote Control

Spinning Top

Pod/Inertia

Bedroom Suck/Remote Control

★★★★

★★★

★★★★

★★★½

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.

Nic Addenbrooke

Guido Farnell

Steve Bell

Nic Addenbrooke

Kimbra

Ryan Downey

Space Invadas

Stonefield

Primal Heart

Running

Wild World

Far From Earth

Warner

Barely Dressed/Remote Control

Invada Records/Remote Control

Flightless

★★★½

★★★★½

★★★★

★★★★

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.

Liz Giuffre

Sam Wall

James d’Apice

Tobias Handke

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ALBUM REVIEWS


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THE MUSIC

APRIL


First Dog On The Moon Surviving the Apocalypse Time to face facts. The way the world is headed, it’s seeming increasingly likely that nuclear hellfire will be raining down any day now. So, you could just resign yourself to the fact you’re going to be imminently incinerated, or you could start figuring out how to survive the end of days. And there’s no better way to start your end-of-the-world game plan than by getting a few sage words from a wise ol’ mutt. The Guardian’s resident social commentator (who just happens to be a cartoon) has plenty of experience unriddling our crazy world, making sense of everything from North Korea to the Marriage Equality debate. Plus, The Simpsons creator Matt Groening “digs” him. Maybe the future isn’t so bleak after all?

From 6 Apr at Melbourne Town Hall, part of MICF 2018


The best of MICF in April

1.

2.

1.

Aunty Donna Glennridge Secondary College The enfants terribles of sketch comedy are ready to school their audience in this latest show. See them after class as they give the curriculum a crazy comic spin. Until 22 Apr at Max Watt’s

2.

Dilruk Jayasinha Bundle Of Joy Even if you’ve not seen him live, you’re likely familiar with Jayasinha from his turns on Have You Been Paying Attention? Here’s your chance to see the master storyteller in the flesh.

3.

Until 22 Apr at Melbourne Town Hall

3.

Helen Bidou Enter The Spinnaker Lounge Catch the fashion expert from Get Krack!n, who looks an awful lot like Anne Edmonds, as she trips the light fantastic between style visionary and certifiable risk to the public. Until 21 Apr at the Victoria Hotel

4.

5. 4.

Sam Simmons Radical Women of Latin American Art, 1960-1985 Simmons boasts one of the highest-flying careers in Australian comedy. He’s also one of the loosest units around. Come behold the sublime colliding with the ridiculous. Until 22 Apr at Arts Centre Melbourne

5.

Jordan Shanks A Life: MT

6. In this latest quick-witted hour of political satire, the silver-tongued YouTube firebrand known as Friendlyjordies takes aim at colonialism and the a little known politico named Malcolm Turnbull. From 6 Apr at The Lithuanian Club

6.

Fringe Wives Club Glittery Clittery: A ConSENSUAL Reboot! In this blink-and-you’ll-miss-it revival of the hit 2017 show, this sharp as a tack and twice as funny feminist spectacular is a gloriously bedazzled ‘fuck you’ to the patriarchy. From 6 Apr at the Melba Spiegeltent

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ON IN APRIL


It’s just isn’t it, innit After years of performing all over the world, Paul Chowdhry is finally heading Down Under. He talks to Joe Dolan about gracing the stage of one of the biggest venues in the UK and being chummy with the Mayor of London.

F

or his debut treks to Australia and New Zealand, UK comic Paul Chowdhry is going in with bold ambitions. “I’ve only heard stuff about New Zealand through Jemaine [Clement] from Flight Of The Conchords,” he explains. “He told me there’s like one comedy club there which is why he left. So I’m looking to double the market.” On what’s he most looking forward to about the trip, Chowdhry says, “It’s my first time in Australia and New Zealand, and I always like performing to new sets of locals and seeing what the local people are like. So if there’re any expats out there, don’t come.” While many will know him for his years of stand-up, Chowdhry has recently gained further acclaim as a contestant on the Foxtel comedy series Taskmaster. “It’s the most natural comedy show in the UK, I think,” Chowdhry says of the experience. “You’re set these tasks to complete, but you can’t hide behind any of your material or anything like that. It’s your true self out

cool. And to see someone you’ve idolised while starting up as a stand-up do that is pretty funny, too.” From a club comic to a star of the small screen, Chowdhry has gone on to sell out stadium shows with his show, Live Innit. Taking the title from his quintessential London patois, Chowdhry is well aware that this may not resonate so well overseas. “’Innit’ is a slang term that we use a lot in England as a shorthand for ‘isn’t it’, so the fact that the show has gone international now is sort of ironic because no one knows what it means,” he laughs. Live Innit skyrocketed the UK comic to international acclaim and has seen Chowdhry take his show all over the world. For Chowdhry, the highest point in the tour came a little closer to home when he performed at the iconic Wembley Area for 12,500 punters. “It’s quite a legendary venue,” the comedian humbly states. “You know, Chris Rock just did a tour show there, and Kevin Hart has done it as well, and I think it works well as a venue. Once you go over 10,000 people you have to have the screens and stuff, and people are watching them instead of the actual comic who is there, so that part can be difficult,” Chowdhry continues. “One of the biggest things about that sort of venue is you can’t play around with the audience in the same way — you have to change your mindset from the 200-seater clubrooms. You have to remember that the back rows are going to hear your punchline, like, a full second after the front row so you have to stagger a bit and give everyone time to catch up. Doing an hour and a half in places like that is a challenge, but it’s one that I really enjoyed doing.” Along with his ever-growing fanbase, Chowdhry has the modest claim of being

there, you know what I mean? It’s all as real as real can be. “I hadn’t really seen the show before I was on it, then even now a couple years after we filmed it people are still talking to me about it. One of the eps I was in even got nominated for a BAFTA, which was well exciting.” Although the show attracts a slew of comedic talent, Chowdhry says that it’s not something that all comics necessarily have a knack for. “With the format, I don’t think some comedians would be very good at it,” he ponders. “Some comics are really reliant on their material — one-liners and stuff like that — [so] that the performance can be lost with them. It’s all about how you react to these weird tasks, so you’ve got to be willing to put yourself out there.” On who surprised him the most as a contestant, Chowdhry says, “I was on with Al Murray, which was interesting. He has a character he does called The Pub Landlord, so seeing him handle all that out of character was

THE MUSIC

endorsed by the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan. Khan is on record as a fan of the comic’s work and the two have even “supported” one another on stage. “I often do an event for a Muslim charity here in the UK and for a couple years in a row it was him and then me. A year before that, though, it was me then him, but he swapped it on me! He made he follow him instead, so he ribbed me a bit and then I went on and did the same to him. But, you know, he’s the Mayor of London now so I can’t really heckle him that way anymore. Although he recently put in a new tax on diesel cars and it was just after I bought a new diesel car! So next time I see him I’m going to tell him he owes me a lot of money.” Chowdhry adds of Khan’s monumental rise to Mayor, “It’s an interesting change in dynamics. He has been attacked online by Trump a lot, whereas Boris Johnson didn’t get that, for obvious reasons. It’s all changing out there and it’s exciting to see such a diverse range of people in power.” Chowdhry admits that he wasn’t always interested in the political side of things, but since hitting the age of 40 a few years ago, he’s grown up a bit. “I’d say that the older you get the more mature your comedy becomes, hopefully,” he laughs, before adding, “You can take on some more serious issues and try to analyse more stuff like that. I think comedy really reflects who you are as a person and that becomes more true as you get older, so it’ll be interesting to see where I go from here.”

“The fact that the show has gone international now is sort of ironic because no one knows what it means.”

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MICF

Paul Chowdhry presents Live Innit at Athenaeum Theatre from 21 Apr.


Toeing the line between shock and satire Wunderkind comedian Neel Kolhatkar is all grown up, and so is his comedy. Ahead of the premiere of his new show, Live, Velvet Winter caught up with the former stand up prodigy to talk YouTube fame, being controversial, and coping with trolls.

Get your game face on The scourge of scoundrels the world over, UK comedy visionary James Veitch is once again bringing his indestructible British resolve Down Under. Alannah Maher gets a few handy tips on how to scam a scammer.

J

ames Veitch has made a comedy career out of finding mischief in the otherwise mundane, inconsequential moments of life. His quest to reply to every spam email that landed in his inbox for two years (every alleged Nigerian prince and case of unclaimed insurance bonds) and beat the scammers at their own game landed him with an iconic TED Talk (reaching over two million views faster than any other video in the history of TED) and a best-selling book, Dot Con. He quickly became known as ‘the scam guy’. Taking his penchant for pranks analogue, he has also gained popularity for his adventures in filling his shared bathroom with rubber ducks in ever more excessive formations, driving his flatmate mad in the process. He then became ‘the duck guy’. Which begs the question, will he ever just be known as James Veitch? “I think I’ll be ok. I think whatever it is I’ll just be the ‘thing’ guy. And if I get enough of those ‘things’, I’ll just be ‘the guy’,” he said. “I don’t really mind what I’m known as or what I’m known for as long as I get a chance to experiment.” Evidently, James is no stranger to shtick. An unashamed nerd and self-professed “scamp”, the British comedian is scarcely seen on stage without a pair of thick-rimmed glasses on his face and a projector remote in hand (he’s made a highly entertaining fine art of the humble slideshow). But Veitch is more than just the

H

e may only be 23 years old, but Neel Kolhatkar

scourge of online scammers and unfortunate flatmates. He has also racked up credits as a musician, director and writer. It was in a past life as a theatre director that James learned the importance of having a ‘thing’ - you can put so much into creating a great show, but without a ‘hook’ there won’t be bums in seats. His time staging a play about poet John Keats in Keats’ own garden might not be such a far cry from his current hijinks. Beyond the silliness, Veitch’s keen selfawareness and appreciation for the cultures that surround him has allowed him to connect with a wide stretch of people as comedy has taken him around the world. For Veitch, variety is the spice of life. “I myself am very susceptible to fear of missing out and switching from one thing to another,” he shares. “So many people check out and become yoga instructors. I think soon in the world, we’re going to be at maximum yoga. There are more yoga instructors in the world then there are yoga learners and that’s a terrifying, harrowing place to be.” In his latest stand-up tour, James promises to lean into his desire to experiment while sticking to the formula that has gathered him a broad audience of fans. After sell-out shows at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival last year, he returns with Game Face, a show that sees him taking on life, love and the pointless bureaucracies of the modern world. “It’s about playing games. It’s about taking the things that annoy us like the mundanities that we all have to get through in life,” James explained. “Life is all about tedium, isn’t it? Ninety percent of life is tedium. How do you take those things and turn them into a game?” He may well boast record TED Talk views and international recognition, but Veitch admits it took him awhile to become a comedian because he spent so much of his youth and early adulthood scared to express himself: “I just spent so much time being frightened that I want people to walk out of [my show] feeling slightly more like an idiot, because I think that’s ok.”

has been a part of the Australian comedy scene for almost a decade.

When he was 15 he took out Class Clowns, the Melbourne International Comedy Festival’s annual national competition for teenaged stand-ups, and since then, he’s gone from strength to strength, racking up millions of followers online and touring the country with solo shows. Most recently, his TV sitcom, Virgin Bush, has been commissioned by ABC Comedy. Never one to shy away from a hot topic, Kolhatkar has built his brand on being brutally honest about topics that most comics wouldn’t dream

of

touching.

He

chalks up this fearlessness to his early start, when he quite literally had nothing to lose. “I think, funnily enough, starting so young actually gave me a license to really write without any boundaries. I felt like I had nothing to prove, at the time I wasn’t thinking about it as a career so I just really went for it and wrote about whatever I thought was funny and what I thought was relevant to me at the time,” Kolhatkar explains. “I didn’t hold back and I really think that helped me now. I think I’ve kept that as I’ve gone on over the last eight to ten years. It’s actually helped me quite a lot.” Satirising everything from feminists to “fuck bois”, all you have to do is take one look at Kolhatkar’s back catalogue of online content to see that he’s not afraid to ruffle some feathers. Or, as one anonymous YouTube user succinctly put it, “He triggers all.” When I mention this comment, Neel laughs. “I try to remain pretty unbiased, particularly now when we’re in a polarised political and cultural climate. I try to, I won’t say attack but, lampoon both sides on the spectrum as much as possible. That doesn’t just relate to politics, I try to take aim at everyone, including myself, especially myself. I suppose I trigger all; I do like to push the boundaries and the line. I like to see how far I can push that line and sometimes I do go over it but that’s the nature of what I do.” As Kolhatkar’s comedy has evolved so has his audience, but not always in the right ways. Scrolling down the same YouTube comments will reveal a tidal wave of “cuck”, “snowflake” and the ever-maddening “libtard”. This is not the intended impact of Kolhatkar’s many-layered satire but an unfortunate and frus-

James Veitch presents Game Face until 22 Apr at Melbourne Town Hall

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trating side-effect, as well as something that has long plagued the comedian.

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“I’ve thought about that a lot and I know that’s an issue I do have to deal with. There’s really not a lot I can do because I do like to create satire and heavy-handed irony,” he sighs. “I can’t really force my content to be a bit more simplistic to suit some people that might not be able to understand. I strive to create comedy that’s multifaceted and layered to some degree. If they can’t see the irony or satire in some of the things I do, they take it at face value. Hopefully they’re still enjoying it but they’re getting the wrong message out of it. But I like to think they’re the minority and for the most part, people get there’s more to what I do.” Despite what the minority of online trolls latch onto as theirs, Kolhatkar is optimistic about how his audience is growing alongside him. “I was very one-dimensional when I started YouTube. Even though I don’t regret it and I’m not ashamed of it, I know I put out content that would have a hard time going viral today in today’s online media space. I really wanted to get that monkey off my back of being a one-trick pony. At first there was a little bit of backlash from my fans, I think

A Comic Connection Becky Lucas isn’t looking for fame, but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t want to connect with just about anyone and everyone. She tells Alannah Maher about her love of self-depreciation and stand-up’s workingclass roots.

they were a little bit confused. But eventually, they came to understand that I do a lot of different comedy. Those are the fans I really appreciate. I might do some of those videos as a throwback because I enjoy them and they’re fun but doing shows is what I’m concentrating on now.” Despite the devil’s advocate position he sometimes takes with his comedy, Kolhatkar maintains that he’s

L

ast year Becky Lucas happened upon a new standard of what is really funny when she saw a man on crutches trying to walk a particularly big dog. She’s been trying to come up with stand-up as funny as that ever since. “Words are ok, but they’re not that great,” she admits. “Nothing’s funnier than your best friend falling off a chair.” Of course, Lucas is totally under-selling how far her use of words has taken her. She hits the comedy festival circuit with her much anticipated new stand-up show this year off the back of a sell-out 2017 season. She also has a bevy of television credits to her name including writing for Please Like Me and co-writing The Other Guy with Matt Okine. In the lead-up to festival season, Lucas has been relentlessly gigging on just about any stage she can find. She is certainly carving a place for herself in the Australian comedy landscape, but you won’t find her only safely playing to audiences who are already fans of her unique, self-deprecating style. “I think the really cool thing about comedy is you can connect with people who you wouldn’t normally,” says Lucas. “To me, comedy is something that came from the working class, it brought people together and they could share ideas together and feel less alone.” Lucas can be found just as enthusiastically performing to a random hall or RSL in a country town (where some audience members might not take as well to a swearing woman) as she would to crowds in the top comedy venues in Sydney or Melbourne. “I think society is making us all a bit more insular and we just like talking to the people we want to talk to. That’s fine, but there’s something nice about connecting to other people [outside our circles],” she insists. Amidst a “higgledy-piggledy” mix of “filthy sex stuff” and “silly things about umbrellas”, Lucas’ new show will see her tackling outrage culture. A self-identified “fervent tweeter”, Lucas has had enough of the stress and in-fighting propagated online. As someone incrementally gaining more recognition in the public sphere while maintaining one of the most downto-earth attitudes out there, Lucas has some insights of her own into being up for discussion. “I would hate to be famous, I think it’s an unfortunate side-effect of stand-up. That was never the goal for me,” she confesses. “I always just wanted to sell enough tickets so that I could live and write shows that people enjoyed. I wanted my work to be respected.” “I keep having this recurring nightmare that I’ve been taken, like I’m abducted like in the movie Taken. Then they put me in one of those big birthday cakes and they wheel me out into a party and they force me to jump out of it; and then everyone’s just like, ‘Oh, you’re not that hot.’ I think that’s how I feel about my career... people say, ‘She’s not even that hot.’ I’m like, ‘I know! I’m a writer!’” Lucas’ undeniable status as a certified looker aside, her unceremonious punch lines and refreshingly real takes make her an absolute delight on the stage. On screen, her unconventional and flat-out funny characters challenge the set mould of what we expect from female characters in Aussie TV. “I’ve always been drawn to people who are more self-deprecating,” she says. “I like stuff that’s a little more silly and comes from a place of, ‘I’m a piece of shit, aren’t we all? Let’s talk about it!’” Catch her live before her new mockumentary series Be Your Own Boss with fellow comic Cameron James drops later this year.

never in it for the shock value. “I wouldn’t explore a controversial topic just for the sake of being controversial, only if I had something unique and interesting to say. That’s something I’d like to reiterate because I think there are a few comedians out there are on the brand of, “Oh, he’s controversial.” I really try to say something. There might be some parts that are shocking to the audience but it wouldn’t be controversial for the sake of it. I think that’s the beauty of stand up: you can explore the topics and people don’t immediately switch off because it’s humour.”

Becky Lucas presents Cute Funny Smart Sexy Beautiful until 22 Apr at Melbourne Town Hall

Neel Kolhatkar’s Live plays 21 Apr at Comic’s Lounge.

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24Hundred

Richmond son of run

Family Videoland Alley Tunes

Hawthorn

Real Music Vinyl & Cd’s Gifts For The Geek

Audiophile Reference Recordings

Geelong Goldmine Records

Basement Discs

Carlton North & Fitzroy North

Ballarat

Ocean Grove

Ferntree Gully

Preston

Fitzroy & Blackburn

Geelong

Fitzroy Polyester Records

Stereophonic

Carlton North

Prahran

Prehistoric Sounds Geelong

Newcomb Brunswick East

Warrnambool Ferntree Gully

North Melbourne

Malvern Fitzroy

Thornbury

Dandenong

The Searchers

Fitzroy Thornbury Records

Thornbury

Reload Records

Rosebud

Union Heights

Windsor

Ricks Records

Collingwood

Urban World Australia

Dandenong South

Rocksteady Records

Melbourne

Radical Records

Vinyl Revival

Fitzroy

Round again

Coburg North

Vinyl Space

Oh Jean! Records

Round & Round Records

Wax Museum Records

Fitzroy

Brunswick

Melbourne

Skydiver

White Rabbit Record Bar

Collingwood

Kensington

Off The Hip

Fitzroy

Northcote

Quality Records Plus

Northside Records

Abbotsford

Fitzroy

Records Etcetera

Profile Music

Prahran Thornbury

Brunswick

Prehistoric Sounds

Multisonics

Dutch Vinyl Record Store

Strangeworld records

Record Paradise

Collingwood

Houndstooth Bar & Kitchen

Castlemaine

Fitzroy

Market Fair

High On Vinyl Dixons Records

Frankston

Brunswick

Heartland Records Discography Records

Poison City Records

Lost & Found Market

Happy Valley Captain Stomp Records

Katzenjammer Records

Prahran Gutterhype Records

bookgrove

Stawell

Licorice Pie Records Greville Records

Black Swan Records

JT’s Hifi

Record Low

Burwood

Melbourne

Belgrave

Castlemaine & Kyneton

Melbourne

Rathdowne Records

Northcote

Essendon CDs Records & Books

JJ’S Vinyl & Vinylrules Music

Plug Seven Records

Moonee Ponds

Mordialloc

Fitzroy

Readings Books Music Film

Carlton, Hawthorn & St Kilda

Collingwood


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...)

O

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

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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.


SENSIBLE ANTIXX PRESENTS

ANY RHYTHM

SUNDAY

THE SENEGAMBIAN JAZZ BAND STEPHANIE GRACE FREE ENTRY FROM 3PM

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DJ CLEGS

HOWLER BEER GARDEN APRIL 15 •

APRIL


For the record

Record Store Day isn’t just a chance to stock up on hot wax. It’s also a chance to show your support for indie record stores that support your passion. Here’s a look at a few valued members of Melbourne’s vibrant vinyl community.

Thornbury Records

Record Paradise

A bit of an anomaly in the wax store scene, Thornbury Records focus exclusively on first-hand vinyl. They’re getting in around 200 individual releases for this year’s RSD. They keep updates on what’s in and how much of it on their website, but it’s a lot to keep track of — if you’re a real diehard we recommend you get on their newsletter. They also have a first in best dressed policy — expect door prizes for those who line up early.

If you’re looking for the music from local and indie labels Record Paradise come packing — there’s always the latest from Chapter, Milk!, Mistletone, Poison City, Aatght, Bedroom Suck, et al to be found in the crates. In previous years Record Paradise have thrown solid RSD parties, with limited releases. lucky 7” dip, DJs and generally good vibes. We’ll see you there.

591 High St, Thornbury 15 Union St, Brunswick

Melbourne Record Club

The Basement Discs

Rathdowne Records

Melbourne Record Club are less a record store than a public service. They’ve been running BYO Vinyl Nights at venues around Melbourne since 2014 and are launching full-day record store bus tours in May. Th is RSD they’re running the Ortofon Record Store Day free shuttle bus between various stores so you can celebrate in safety and style, citywide. Plus they have a major Yamaha prize giveaway — a pair of limited edition HPH-W300 wireless headphones — and beer from Sample Brew. www.recordstoretours.com

Th is is Basement Discs’ 11th RSD, so you can bet your first pressings they know how to get it done. As well as the usual personalised, informed service and carefully curated selection of records, music related books and vintage threads, this year they’re putting on live in-stores, give-aways and discounts. There’s even going to be “light refreshments” to raise funds for the RSPCA.

Rathdowne Records are devoted to having deep crates, with more than 10,000 records covering everything from jazz to J-pop. There will be a few thousand collectable records from Japan on the shelves by RSD and all-day DJs to soundtrack your digging, including PBS’ DJ Coco Brown and Joshua Hodson-Smith. They’ve even spread to 303, where Lake Minnetonka have even put together a Rathdowne Wrecka Stow Day Show from 4pm.

Record Store Day, 21 Apr

24 Block Pl, CBD

230 High St, Northcote

Dixons Recycled Records

Wax Museum Records

A constant influx of new music means Dixons is always worth a drop-in, whatever the day. They’ve ordered a few nice surprises for RSD that they’ll be announcing on Facebook as they arrive — if you like wax and they’re not in your feed you might want to fix that. They’re also planning to knock 20% off everything in store on RSD proper, so if you’ve been itching for something just out of financial reach, now’s the time to scratch.

There’s always something to thumb through at Wax Museum Records before you hop the train. Their used vinyl collection is the best you’ll find under the city and they’re always across new local and imported releases. Exclusive to RSD they’ve got DJ Soup’s classic ’97 LP Souperloops, reissued on vinyl for the first time, and a 7” by Zeitgeist Freedom Energy Exchange. They’re also putting on Lab Co Collective, Plutonic Lab and a bunch of live acts.

414 Brunswick St, Fitzroy & 100 Railway Rd, Blackburn

Shop 2, Campbell Arc, Degraves St, CBD

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IT'S GOING TO BE A BLAST...SO COME ON DOWN & JOIN IN THE FUN!!

e h t n i t s a l B a ...

LIVE MUSGIEC! ONATSUTRAING…

[Basement” FE

DAN SULTAN, HARRY JAMES ANGUS (vocal & trumpet, CAT EMPIRE) & his band, JORDIE LANE & CLARE REYNOLDS MORE TBA WITH 3RRRs MCs NEIL ROGERS & IAN BLAND WITH BRIAN NANKERVIS (ROCKWIZ) MAKING A CAMEO APPEARANCE TO ADD TO THE FUN! RECORD STORE DAY, since it's inception back in 2007 has become a day of celebration worldwide–a celebration of both music & independent Record Store culture. Basement Discs has been participating since day one... and it truly is our favourite day of the year!! On SATURDAY APRIL 21st, Basement Discs will host the biggest event on our calendar with special RSD releases, our music trivia quiz dotted through the day, lot's of prizes & give-aways, discounts, light refreshments (raising funds for RSPCA), and some seriously GREAT LIVE MUSIC performances! It's going to be a blast...so come on down & join in the fun!!

The MELBOURNE’S HOME OF ALL GOOD THINGS IN MUSIC... [

BASEMENTDISCS

OPEN 7 DAYS 24 Block Place Melbourne 3000 PHONE 9654 1110 EMAIL info@basementdiscs.com.au WEB www.basementdiscs.com.au

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APRIL


HOWZAT! Local Music By Jeff Jenkins

Is Don. Is Good

I

n the recently revised edition of Michael Lawrence’s definitive book, Cold Chisel: Wild Colonial Boys, Don Walker says: “I don’t think too much about the music after it gets out there, in terms of how it impacts people. Apart from the fact that over some decades of my life it’s meant that I didn’t have to get a real job. Which, you know, I’m enormously grateful for.” Paul Kelly calls Walker “the Clint Eastwood of Australian rock” and says he’s been making “peerless solo records” since Cold Chisel split in the ‘80s. Those records have now been gathered in a vinyl box set, Blacktop, featuring six albums. Explaining the title, Walker wryly notes: “It was a choice between Blacktop and ‘Hits’. I was advised that Don Walker Blacktop was more appropriate.” Indeed, Blacktop doesn’t contain any radio or chart hits. “This is unsurprising,” says Chisel biographer Anthony O’Grady, “given that radio considers that Don Walker solo is an alien life form.” The box set coincides with the release of Ian Moss’ fine new self-titled album, his first solo record in nine years. When we spoke, Walker was yet to hear it. “I don’t know why it is, but we tend to look down our noses at each other’s solo work,” he laughs. “We’ve always been incredibly competitive in Cold Chisel.” Flashback to 1978: Bee Gees are dominating the US charts, John Paul Young releases Love Is In The Air. Nick Cave’s The Boys Next Door issue their debut single and The Triffids form in Perth. LRB’s Reminiscing reaches number three in the US, Grease hits cinemas, Johnny O’Keefe dies and Aussie pub rock is in full flight. And Cold Chisel release their self-titled debut album. Legend has it that Michael Gudinski had the choice of signing two Adelaide bands to Mushroom Records: Chisel or Stars. He signed Stars and passed on Chisel. Triple R’s Neil Rogers, the host of The Australian Mood for more than 30 years, says it’s easy to be a genius in hindsight. He ignited a debate on his show recently when he said that, based purely on the debut records, Gudinski made the right call. “The Cold Chisel album, if you take out Khe Sanh, is an ok record, but it didn’t give you any indication of where that band was going to go and how big they were going to be,” Rogers argued. “Whereas the first Stars album [Paradise] is a pretty damn fine debut, and stands up to this day. If you looked at who achieved what with their first albums then you’d go Stars every time, I think.” Of course, it’s hard to separate Khe Sanh from Chisel’s debut. It’s become an iconic Australian song. “When we started, we didn’t want to release singles,” Jimmy Barnes reveals. “We wanted to be an album band like Led Zeppelin. We got talked into releasing Khe Sanh by all the radio stations, who said, ‘Th is song’s a hit.’ “We released it — and two weeks later it was banned.” Radio objected to the mention of “Novocaine” and “speed”, as well as the line: “Their legs were often open.” Countdown also requested the band change the lyrics, but they refused — walking out on what would have been their first appearance on the top-rating ABC show. “It [the ban] was probably the best thing that ever happened to us,” Barnesy says. “If you

Milestones And Memories Peter Garrett turns 65 (16 Apr). 60 Years Ago Col Joye and the Joy Boys release their debut EP, Joyride. 40 Years Ago Nick Cave’s The Boys Next Door release their debut single, These Boots Are Made For Walkin’, produced by Skyhooks’ Greg Macainsh. Cold Chisel release their self-titled debut album. 10 Years Ago Kasey Chambers and Shane Nicholson release their first collaborative album, Rattlin’

tell people they can’t have something, they immediately want it.” But Khe Sanh didn’t crack the Top 40 until 33 years after it was released, when Chisel released their catalogue digitally in 2011. “It was a wonderful time for me,” Walker says, recalling the recording and release of Chisel’s debut. “We’d been going for a long, long time before we got a recording contract. We’d seen several contemporaries get deals, release records and break up, while we were going round and round, seemingly going nowhere.” Forty years later, Walker is still writing. Some of the songs will turn up on future Chisel records, others he will keep for himself. Who knows why his solo work hasn’t captured the public’s imagination. “I would very much like a larger audience,” he admits. “But I doubt that it’s going to happen. I think the audience that you have found by your mid-30s is the audience you’re going to end up with. It’s very hard to reach new people beyond that. I don’t know why that is.” Howzat! has facetiously wondered whether it’s because Walker’s surname can’t be easily transformed into a classic Aussie nickname like ‘Barnesy’ and ‘Mossy’. Perhaps it’s because he doesn’t possess a radio-friendly voice. But spend any time with Walker’s work and you’ll realise that this is a masterful storyteller’s voice. “Some people might call Don’s voice lugubrious,” Paul Kelly wrote in his book How To Make Gravy, “perhaps comparing it to Leo Kottke’s description of his own singing — ‘geese farts on a muggy day’ — but I like it. Sort of a tuneful, deeper Bryan Brown.”

Bones. It debuts at number one. Gabriella Cilmi, 16, becomes the youngest Australian artist to have a number one single, with Sweet About Me. 5 Years Ago A Herald Sun poll of artists places John Farnham at number one on the list of Australia’s greatest singers. Russell Morris scores his first Top 10 album with Sharkmouth. Chrissy Amphlett dies of breast cancer. The Angels’ founding bass player, Chris Bailey, who was also a member of GANGgajang, dies of cancer.

Hot album

Jethro Pickett — France Take a trip to France for an intoxicating and unpredictable adventure that is Jethro Pickett’s second album. Produced by Shane O’Mara, this is a record of glorious subtleties and emotional depth. France is released on Behind the Beat Records, the label owned by Phill Calvert, former drummer in The Birthday Party and Blue Ruin.

Don Walker tours from 5 Apr.

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For the latest live reviews go to themusic.com.au

Queen + Adam Lambert @ Rod Laver Arena. Pic: Kane Hibberd

Punters who missed out on the Kamasi Washington

opportunity to catch two members of Queen – Brian May and Roger Taylor – performing live with Adam Lambert at the helm, celebrating the late Freddie Mercury (who was also magically present thanks to optical illusion) should be kicking themselves after these rapturously received shows swept across the nation.

“’It’s Lambert himself who addresses ‘the elephant in the room’ early on in the show, saying he knows what we’re all thinking: ‘He’s no Freddie!’ After a pause, he quips, ‘No SHIT!’ The crowd roars with laughter and applauds loudly, showing our support.”

“‘One thing I’ve learned is that diversity is not something to be tolerated, it’s something to be celebrated,’ Washington says before Truth, telling us we’re about to hear ‘five different melodies at the same time and it’s a metaphor for how beautiful this world can be if we all come together’.” — Natasha Pinto

— Bryget Chrisfield Probably more boots were raised skyward in Supernatural Amphitheatre in appreciation of Golden

Lanks @ Howler. Pics: Monique Pizzica

Plains artists this year than we’ve ever witnessed before and with a line-up including Perfume Genius, Jen Cloher, King Krule, Lee Fields & The Expressions, Kaiit, Ata Kak, Baker Boy, Big Boi and Barbara Tucker who could blame us?

Topping off a huge week that saw him getting married, releasing a new

Golden Plains @ Supernatural Amphitheatre. Pics: Craig Johnstone

song and details about his debut album twentysevLanks

en, Lanks played a sold-out show at Howler supported by Samsaruh

“He busts out the flute for a solo on Sometimes and then performs a sublime cover of Billie Eilish’s Watch.” Samsaruh

— Michael Prebeg

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Lee Fields & The Expressions

and Eliott.


The intelligent choice

Poppondown

Two of Australia’s most celebrated African outfits, Lamine Sonko & The African Intelligence and Ajak Kwai, combined forces back in February and it’s Melbourne’s turn to catch their two-hour Afro Frequency show at Evelyn Hotel on 7 Apr.

Every Sunday in April Sophie Treloar, aka Melbourne’s own Poppongene, is performing her lush, dreamy pop with a cavalcade of mates and musos at The Tote front bar. Head down and get your ears around Tram Cops, No Local, Girlatones and more.

Mr Chillipps

G’day for it

Guy Montgomery

The absolute cream of Melbourne’s crop are heading to Woody’s Bar to see out summer for Day For It. There’s nine bands all told playing on 7 Apr, including Body Parts, Pistol Peaches, Tony Dork and Public High.

Mod Con

Harmony

Martin Phillipps

New Zealand singer-songwriter Martin Phillipps is performing a matinee solo performance at Northcote Social Club on 21 Apr. It’s a rare chance to get up close and personal with leader of legendary band The Chills.

Body Parts

Lamine Sonko and The African Intelligence

Poppongene

This month’s highlights

They’ll flaw you

We are the Mods

This Guy

Harmony are playing their first headline show in two years down at Howler on 13 Apr to launch new single Fatal Flaw and they’ve assembled a dream team of supports. Head down early and catch The Blinds, Bitumen and Cable Ties.

Mod Con are launching their debut record Modern Convenience. Catch them at The Tote on 20 Apr with The Stroppies, Parsnip and Sweet Whirl Band supporting.

Award-winning New Zealand comedian Guy Montgomery has a brand new hour of comedy in which he Doesn’t Check His Phone For An Hour. If that’s your bag you can get it at Melbourne Town Hall throughout MICF .

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APRIL

UK 04/05

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We built this city Melbourne is a city where you can hit the streets on any given day and find music to suit any taste. So much so, in fact, that it’s become the first destination outside of Europe and the US to snag the Music Cities Convention. It’s a mammoth gathering of politicians, musicians, industry figures and academics, each meeting to find new ways ensuring music thrives as a part of a city’s core structure to the benefit of all.

How we make noisy cities work for everyone Melbourne is constantly expanding, and occasionally housing crushes culture in the process. Th is event is about finding the balance, with presenter Nick Tweedie SC spending more than 20 years as an advocate for live music. He assisted SLAM in their efforts to reform Victorian liquor and planning laws, which went a long way towards keeping Melbourne loud. In particular, he was one of the architects of the Agent of Change principle, which aims to protect live music venues from new residential developments by placing responsibility for noise attenuation measures on the developer, and has since been adopted in the US and UK.

Testify Some words of wisdom from speakers at previous Music Cities Conventions.

Brighton 2015

Dominique Greco

The new night mayors, lessons from Orlando

Archie Roach keynote Indigenous icon and venerated musician Archie Roach’s keynote at BIGSOUND was an unmissable event, exploring everything from the Stolen Generations to finding a way to channel his anger and frustrations through music to find a place of peace for himself and others. There are few people as qualified to talk about using music not only as a way to tell your story but also as a powerful political lever and Roach’s insights are always invaluable. His MCC appearance will also be capped by a live performance, which is worth the price of admission in its self.

SLAM (Save Live Music), the history One of the most important stands for Melbourne’s vibrant cultural identity was the Save Live Music initiative. When iconic local pub The Tote was dubbed a high risk venue and forced to shut up shop in 2010, Melbourne risked losing more than just a watering hole. SLAM arose to protect the cultural hub, and others like it, and Bakehouse Studios co-owner Helen Marcou was a key figure in the ramparts. For this MMC presentation Marcou will share the story behind the 20,000-person-strong rally that marched on Melbourne’s Parliament House in support of live music and why the precedent set that day remains so important to the city’s culture.

“Nothing brings a city alive like citizens losing themselves with complete strangers to soulful music. It’s the glue that ties a community together.” — Patrick Donovan, Music Victoria

Despite the fact that most people understand that there are 24 hours in a day, 24-hour planning systems that offer policy support for night culture have until recently been remarkably scarce. Around the world, however, attempts to legitimise and direct the compliance, policing, safety and development of ‘after hours’ economies is increasing, along with the rising appointments of ‘Night Mayors’. The first ever Nighttime Economy Projects Manager for the City of Orlando, Dominique Greco Ryan, will appear at MCC to present a fascinating explanation of just what the role entails, why it was necessary in Orlando, and how it has impacted the city since.

Washington 2015 “I found it heartwarming to learn about the many exciting models and paradigm shifts beginning to take shape across the globe and meeting some of the people behind that.” — Martin Perna, Antibalas

Brighton 2016 “Music can raise awareness, build hope, and

My Music Cities series In a MCC debut, Melbourne is set to play host to the My Music Cities series: six presentations by cultural representatives of six continents. The first is Farai Monro, CEO of Magamba Network in Harare, talking about Zimbabwe’s incubating national and international music policy. Next, the Director of Fort Collins’ Music District, Jesse Elliott, will discuss how the city wove the sprawling cultural space into existing systems and infrastructure. Maria Claudia Lopez Sorzano, the Secretary Of Culture for Bogota, Colombia will explain from the ground up how South American is developing globally trendsetting support structures for live music. Each promises to be a unique and edifying look at international approaches to education, industry and economic development.

generate trust between communities and authorities.” — Carlos Chirinos, Associate Professor NYU Steinhardt & Director, NYU Music and Social Change Lab

Berlin 2017 “If people go where the party is, then let your city be the party.” — Maria Vassilakou, Vice Mayor And Executive City Council, Vienna

Memphis 2017 “The thing that I’ve loved is being able to connect to so many cities who are doing

Music Cities Convention runs 19 & 20 Apr at Arts Centre Melbourne

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the same work.” — Tonya Dyson, Marketing & Programs Director, Memphis Slim House Collaboratory & Founder, Neosoulsville


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the best and the worst of the month’s zeitgeist

The lashes Front

Back

The ace of space

Sweat Shop

Back of the bus

Face-plant

Bad Trip

Buzz off

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

Presidential campaign.

Sacre bleu!

damn fine.

The final thought

Words by Maxim Boon

Should reality TV really be a reality check?

I

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.

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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

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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.


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The Music (Melbourne) April  

The Music is a free, weekly magazine of newsstand quality. It features a diverse range of content including arts, culture, fashion, lifestyl...

The Music (Melbourne) April  

The Music is a free, weekly magazine of newsstand quality. It features a diverse range of content including arts, culture, fashion, lifestyl...