November Issue | 2019
Sydney | Free
What you need to know ahead of Australia’s annual music awards When All Time Low and blink-182 collide: Alex Gaskarth talks Simple Creatures
The politics of street art
Why you’ll want Rex Orange County as your new best friend
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spotted Julie Andrews being interviewed by Stephen Colbert recently (she has a new memoir to spruik) and it got me in a mood. So this month I’m gonna skip through a few of my favourite things from the past month. I’ve mentioned my admiration for the music of Nico here previously. I’ve read the book, seen the movie, now I’ve experienced the play too. [Oh yeah, I also saw her gig in Melbourne back in the day.] The Nico Project was met with mixed reviews — most criticism aimed at the pretentious dialogue. However — the staging, the music and the lead performance made for a remarkable event. For starters, it starred UK actor Maxine Peake (you might know her from such things as the original Shameless series, the intense Metalhead episode of Black Mirror, epic TV drama The Village or Carol Morley’s woozy The Falling), so that’s never gonna be a bad thing. It also featured an all-female orchestra and chorus re-imagining Nico’s music as wild, polyphonic pieces matched with jarring movements. And, it didn’t shy away from confronting stories of Nico’s racist views (the orchestra costumed as Hitler Youth) and her drug addiction. Also confronting were US visitors comedian/author/activist Chelsea Handler and auteur/author/anti-establishment elder John Waters. Both figures, despite originating from completely different eras and scenes, have come to represent the American entertainment industry’s continuing opposition to the right-wing clown show that has dominated their homeland in recent years. Both their shows offered evenings of dark humour and refreshing honesty. As a bonus Waters threw in an audience Q&A that was a masterclass in dealing with attention-seeking fans. Recent weeks also saw the return of a favourite podcast, ABC’s Russia, If You’re Listening. Now in its third season, the Matt Bevan-hosted pod has developed from a sometimes-tongue-in-cheek investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 US election, into a deep dive of Russia’s influence around the globe. It’s now one of the most important political pods on the planet. And, no breakdown of favourite things is complete without a list of tunes that have dominated my listening of late. If you haven’t heard any of these yet, go add ‘em to your November (Ausmusic Month) playlists now:
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Australian music also gets honoured in the annual ARIA awards this month, and we set Lauren Baxter the task of weighing up the talent and making some professional calls on who will take out the pointy gongs this year. Also, Paul Kelly — not just one of this year’s ARIA nominees but also one of the most nominated artists of all time (along with John Farnham) — took some time out to sit down with Bryget Chrisfield about his latest best-of and upcoming Xmas shows. There’s lots more too, so hopefully you can find something about your favourite things (ah yeah… one of my other favourite things is a neat ending that brings us right back to where we started).
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T H E S TA R T
This month’s best binge watching
Shit we did: Pro wrestling
: Nathan Byrne
ARIA predictions Our fearless picks of who we think will end up with shiny pointy things this year
ARIA nominees speak
Guest editorial: Support Act CEO Clive Miller
Kazuki Komatsu – known as KAZKOM – is a Sydney-based freelance illustrator, 2D animator, comic artist and crayon enthusiast. tions of simple life experiences into colourful and nonsensical portrayals. Take a peek at her Instagram, @_kazkom_, or at kazkomatsu.com.
The Arts The best arts of the month
Film & TV reviews
40 The Beauty Queen Of Leenane Yael Stone returns to the Sydney stage
Clive Miller Clive is the CEO of Support Act. He started life as a broadcaster and band manager before moving into the not-for-profit world
The big picture: Jason Phu
She loves to illustrate exaggerated percep-
Pic: Rene Vaile
where he worked for the Fred Hollows Foundation and the Yothu Yindi Foundation, among others. He returned to the music industry as CEO of Support Act in 2018.
Street art The power, politics and players
t e n Mu l l
Newtown Festival Inner West represent
Rex Orange County
This month’s local highlights
Jason Phu Jason’s multi-disciplinary practice brings together a wide range of, sometimes contradictory, references from traditional ink paintings and calligraphy to mass-produced objects, everyday vernacular to official records, and personal narratives to historical events. Working across drawing, installation, painting and performance, the artist fre-
quently uses humour as a device to explore
experiences of cultural dislocation.
Pic: Jacquie Manning
Cole Bennett Pic:
Hermitude Trying not to doublethink themselves
Pic: Campbell Manderson
Your Town er
Dylan Moran “Everybody can go fuck themselves if they want to put pressure on me”
T H E S TA R T
It must be Lauv
Lauv. Pic: Stefan Kohli
Singer-songwriter, producer and pop sensation Lauv is coming to Australia ahead of the 2020 release of his debut album. The How I’m Feeling world tour lands in Qld this 22 Nov before stopping in NSW, Vic and WA.
Praise be! On Becoming A God In Central Florida
On Becoming A God In Central Florida immediately made waves when it dropped in the US earlier this year and now it’s coming to SBS and SBS On Demand. Watch the Kirsten Dunst-led dark comedy from 21 Nov.
Molto… Khalid what you will
Pop prodigy BENEE is visiting Australia for a tour and Spilt Milk appearances from 22 Nov. The New Zealand artist will play headline shows along the east coast on the back of her June-released debut EP, Fire On Marzz.
BENEE. Pic: Nikko LaMere
After releasing his second album, Free Spirit, earlier this year, US singer Khalid hits Australia this 23 Nov for two Spilt Milk appearances and a run of headline arena shows in Qld, Vic, SA and NSW.
T H E S TA R T
Horrorshow. Pic: Cole Bennetts
This month’s best binge watching
Aussie hip hop legends Horrorshow head out on a massive end-of-year tour this month in support of their recent LP, New Normal. Catch a mix of fresh material and old fan favourites from 7 Nov.
His Dark Materials
The TV adaptation of Philip Pullman’s beloved fantasy series lands this month. Staring Dafne Keen, James McAvoy, Ruth Wilson and LinManuel Miranda, the eight episodes of His
Zion and on and on
Dark Materials follow the plot of Northern Lights, the first book in the trilogy, and all the political intrigue, witchery and armoured
Ambient artist Vancouver Sleep Clinic is taking his new album Onwards To Zion on an east coast run staring in NSW this 5 Nov and stopping in Vic before finishing with a hometown show at The Triffid in Brisbane on 7 Nov.
polar bears therein. Streams from 5 Nov on Foxtel
The Mandalorian is the first live-action Star Wars series to be made and it looks amazing.
Vancouver Sleep Clinic
It’s a space western about a bounty hunter from Mandalore (no, not that one) with a cast list including Pedro Pascal, Gina Carano and Werner Herzog. It’ll be part of the seemingly limitless content coming when Disney+ launches in Australia. Streams from 19 Nov on Disney+
Joshua glee U2 return to Australia this 12 Nov for the first time since 2010’s 360 Tour. The legendary Irish rockers are performing their seminal fifth record The Joshua Tree in full, alongside fan favourites, with support from Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds.
Apple TV+ brings a stack of shows Down Under this month as well, including postapocalyptic Jason Momoa vehicle See and news drama Morning Wars, featuring Jennifer U2. Pic: Ross Stewart
Aniston, Reese Witherspoon, and Steve Carell.
T H E S TA R T
We’re especially keen on Dickinson, which sees poet Emily Dickinson stick it to the man in a period dramedy with a modern twist. Streams from 2 Nov on Apple TV+
Podcast of the month: Unravel: Snowball
In 2006 triple j content director Ollie Ward’s brother Greg, in London at the time, fell in love with and married an American, only to find out she was a con artist. The latest season of the ABC’s Unravel follows Ollie as he tries to track her down.
RVGee’d This month Melbourne post-punk outfit RVG are playing their first-ever national headline tour — which is wild considering they’ve already played Europe with Sleaford Mods and the US with Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever, and that’s just in 2019. The seven-date run starts on 21 Nov.
Catch ‘em all The eighth generation of Pokemon is here so surrender all of the money. It belongs to Game Freak now. Pokémon Sword and Shield drop 15 Nov with a heap of new Pocket Monsters to catch in a whole new region called Galar.
See Jane run
Spacey Jane. Pic: Charlie Hardy
WA outfit Spacey Jane sold out their September tour so they’re going around again, this time with US singer-songwriter Sasami and Vacations supporting. The Head Cold tour makes ten stops around the country from 22 Nov.
T H E S TA R T
Sh*t we did
New angle Elizabeth Banks wrote, directed and stars as a Bosley in Charlie’s Angels latest resurrection, which should be all you need to hear. See Kristen Stewart, Naomi Scott, and Ella Balinska take up the wings in cinemas nationwide from 14 Nov.
With Sam Wall
Pro wrestling Professional wrestling often cops a bum rap.
In its time, it’s been labelled as dumb, fake
Shelby Lorman’s viral instagram account, Awards For Good Boys, is a funny, uncomfortably accurate takedown of society’s willingness to pat men on the back for being barely decent. It’s coming out in print through Penguin Books Australia this 19 Nov.
between soap opera histrionics. Then again,
and violent, maligned as a bunch of sweaty meatheads banging each other around in calling someone who can do a double backflip off a ladder and pin another person without breaking both of their spines ‘dumb’ is a bit rich. Same goes for getting cranky at a perfectly executed double moonsault for being scripted. Add moody lighting and some ambient synth and you could sell that to any arts festival in town. As far as violent media goes, pro wrestling is hardly the worst out. Before his retirement from the UFC
Awards For Good Boys
last year, Vitor Belfort was America’s third leading cause of brain damage, coming in behind the NFL and Fox News. In a way, really, wrestling might be the ultimate artform. It combines theatre, acrobatics, feats of strength, choreography that can kill, and God-level trash talk. But then there’s no need for conjecture — turns out Australia’s own independent wrestling scene is booming. It’s time to rassle, oh yeaaah!
Cause for alarm
Absolutely nobody was letting me in a ring. For starters, I’m built like four pool noodles
Two Door Cinema Club will play a run of Aus shows this month in support of their latest album, False Alarm, as well as making three stops for Grapevine Gathering. The beloved indie-rock trio hit our shores from 21 Nov.
gaffer-taped to a birdcage. I’m a cardboard cutout of a man cursed with life by the same jerk fairy that caused Pinocchio so much grief. But that’s not the biggest hurdle between me and a future where I suplex my enemies while wearing spandex underwear with Captain In-Sam-o stitched on the ass. Heading down to Melbourne City Wrestling’s Ninth Anniversary Extravaganza at the Thornbury Theatre, it is immediately clear from the level of athleticism and quality of the choreography that this is not a hobby, but a lifestyle. Speaking to MCW’s head trainer Jay Andrews confirms my suspicions. Apart from doing a serious amount of cardio, smackdown hope-
Pokemon: Sword and Shield
Two Door Cinema Club. Pic: Aleksandra Kingo
fuls need to learn the performance and the
T H E S TA R T
industry side of things, as well as getting their heads around crowd psychology and building up their persona. It takes more than a month to leave the beginners level – let’s put it that way. But the main thing they’re looking for, Andrews tells me, isn’t biceps like Christmas hams, it’s people with determination, commitment and an ability to overcome their own shortcomings (ie my noodle bod). In the spirit of the thing, I gave 20 pushups a crack, stopped at 12 and put Captain In-Sam-o away with my drum kit and hiking shoes.
Up shirt creek Now in its fifth year, Ausmusic T-shirt Day looks to celebrate everything we love about Australian music. But the day is about more than just repping a cool tee from a cool band, partnering with charity organisation Support Act in 2016. Here CEO Clive Miller speaks about the not-for-profit organisation that’s helping musicians who are doing it tough.
e all understand the importance of merch when it comes to generating income for our favourite artists and bands. It’s also a fun and affordable way to rep the music that we love and flesh out our wardrobe at the same time. Triple j and ARIA captured the moment in 2014 when they created Ausmusic T-shirt Day as a massive nationwide celebration of our strong local music scene. They described it as the ultimate free dress day for fans, with the idea being to show support for artists by buying and wearing their merch, in turn helping them tour and continue to make the music we love. Realising that nothing is real unless it is documented on social media, they encouraged fans to post photos of themselves wearing their best T-shirt, or proudly displaying their full collection. If you want to see just how passionate lovers of Australian music are when it comes to their merch choices, check out hashtag #AusmusicTshirtDay. Music industry charity, Support Act, was also looking for ways to expand access to their services for artists, roadies and music workers who have fallen on hard times, and in 2016, we were invited to be a partner. We did this by encouraging people to make a donation to Support Act when they were posting their photos to social media. Last year, we thought it would be cool to reclaim the casual Friday concept, but this time with T-shirts rather than jeans. If you don’t work in an office, you might not be familiar with the idea, but it essentially means that staff get to rock their favourite T-shirt to work in return for making a donation to Support Act. And instead of posting an individual T-shirt to social media, we encouraged the whole office to get involved and post a group photo instead. Universal Music Australia were one of the many music industry companies that got behind our fundraising efforts last year, raising over $8,600 (including matching funds from the company) and claiming the number one spot on our leader board. Their staff put together an impressive program of activities in the lead-up to and on the day, making it a real celebration of music while repping a cause that is close to all their hearts. Midnight Oil fan club, Powderworkers, was another team that really got behind the day, mobilising support from their members in Australia and around the world. Their power and passion was fantastic to observe. In all we had close to a hundred team pages set up on our website — ausmusictshirtday.org.au — and we raised $110,000. This far exceeded the original $30,000 target that we had set ourselves for the day. We received great feedback as well. Not only in relation to the T-shirts that people were proudly wearing, but in support of the services that Support Act provides to people in the music industry who might be struggling with their physical or mental health. It’s no secret that many people in our industry are doing it tough. Many can survive on modest incomes (often from a variety of music and non-music related sources), but when something unexpected occurs — such as injury, illness, death of a partner or colleague — then things can tip into crisis mode very quickly.
Last year, Support Act provided more than $850,000 in programs to support music workers in crisis. This included crisis relief grants of more than $350,000 (a 21 percent increase on the previous year), and in the majority of cases, our support enabled our service users to return to some form of work in the music industry. Often, our grants keep people in their homes (avoiding possible eviction), allowing them the time to recover from their crisis in a less stressful environment. We also help with medical expenses and equipment, phone and utilities expenses and we provide funeral support when this is needed. The Support Act Wellbeing Helpline is also proving to be an essential resource for our community. Research shows that people in the music industry suffer from anxiety, depression and other mental health issues at far greater rates than other sectors. This can sometimes be the result of factors such as financial insecurity, irregular working patterns and environments, transience, and/or the lack of safety nets such as private health insurance and superannuation. The helpline, which is a free 24/7 phone counselling service available by calling 1800 959 500, provides support for people concerned about their mental health and wellbeing. To date, more than 200 artists, road crew and music workers from all genres have accessed the service, utilising more than 500 counselling hours. Career concerns head the list of reasons that people have been calling, followed by anxiety, depression and other personal issues. The helpline has also provided support in relation to financial and relationship issues, stress management, health issues and substance use. Support Act is invested in leading industry change toward good mental (and physical) health, but we can only do this if we have additional funding. Which is why we are so excited that our fundraising campaign in support of this year’s Ausmusic T-shirt Day is off to a good start with more than 70 individual and team pages created — and we hope many more to come. It’s not too late for you to get your company, school or network involved. We still have time, and creating a team and getting your networks involved is quick and simple to do. If you can’t get a team together, then please consider making a donation to one of the existing teams. They will be delighted to receive your support! You can also buy a T-shirt from the merch section on any artist website, or you can visit levis.com.au, General Pants, Sound Merch, Warner Music Australia, 24Hundred and Space Mirror, all of whom are donating a percentage of proceeds from T-shirt sales over the next few weeks. We can’t wait to see you all repping your favourite Australian T-shirt on Friday 15 November — and don’t forget to post your photos to social media with the tags; #ausmusictshirtday, @supportact, @triplej and @aria_official.
“Research shows that people in the music industry suffer from anxiety, depression and other mental health issues at far greater rates than other sectors.”
Ausmusic T-shirt Day is on 15 Nov.
COULD GO TO...
From breaking ARIA chart records to her expected clean sweep at this year’s ceremony, forget the Chinese zodiac, as far as we’re concerned, it’s the year of the dancing monkey thanks to Tones & I. To get you ready for the Australian music industry’s night of nights, notorious non-psychic Lauren Baxter has put together The Music’s annual ARIA predictions to help you prepare for the big night. Cover and feature pics by Nathan Byrne.
The 2019 ARIA Awards take place on 27 Nov.
Best Group 5 Seconds Of Summer — Easier; Birds Of Tokyo — Good Lord; Hilltop Hoods — The Great Expanse; RÜFÜS DU SOL — Solace; The Teskey Brothers — Run Home Slow Who will win? Hilltop Hoods Who we think should win? The Teskey Brothers Before we begin, can we have a moment for the women who were snubbed in this category? We didn’t realise a prerequisite for success as a group was being a man? Do better, Voting Academy. 2019 marks the fourth nomination in Best Group for 5SOS, Hilltop Hoods, RÜFÜS DU SOL (née RÜFÜS) and Birds Of Tokyo. 5SOS took it out last year and it’s unlikely they’ll back it up with a single that peaked at #12 on the charts — the last time a group took it out two years in a row was The Cruel Sea in 1994. A big year on home turf for Hilltop Hoods — filling in for Chance The Rapper at Splendour In The Grass, supporting Eminem’s huge stadium romp and their very own arena tour — could see them first across the line here, nipping The Teskey Brothers and RÜFÜS DU SOL’s chances in the bud. Especially considering it seems unlikely for any of the artists nominated here to pick up Album Of The Year. Despite the gravity of its lyrics, Birds Of Tokyo’s single Good Lord won’t be enough to secure this category against the Album Of The Year nomi-
Best Male Artist
nees. Oozing with grit and soul, Run Home Slow, sees a band
Dean Lewis — A Place We Knew; Guy Sebastian — Choir;
on form, making them our pick. Even with a voice that good,
Hayden James — Between Us; Matt Corby — Rainbow Valley;
The Teskey Brothers play off each other’s strengths to deliver an
Paul Kelly — Nature
even stronger album.
Who will win? Dean Lewis Who we think should win? Paul Kelly Dean Lewis lost all the categories he was up for at the 2018
G Flip — About Us; Stella Donnelly — Beware Of The Dogs; The
ceremony but it looks like he’ll Be Alright in 2019. Especially
Teskey Brothers — Run Home Slow; Thelma Plum — Better In
when you consider ARIA’s propensity to award Best Album
Blak; Tones & I — Dance Monkey
and Best Artist to the same person.
Who will win? Tones & I
As for the rest of the nominees, we can probably rule out
Album Of The Year
Paul Kelly considering he’s won the award previously (2017,
Who we think should win? Stella Donnelly
Dean Lewis — A Place We Knew; Hilltop Hoods — The Great
1998 and 1997). This year sees the seminal Australian musician
It’s probable Tones & I will clean up this year, with a single no
Expanse; RÜFÜS DU SOL — Solace; The Teskey Brothers —
pick up his 18th nomination in the category and if he were to
less, but the four full-length records nominated here are all
Run Home Slow; Thelma Plum — Better In Blak
add it to his collection, he’d overtake Diesel, John Farnham
worthy of the title. And none more so than Stella Donnelly’s
Who will win? Dean Lewis
and Alex Lloyd to hold the record for most wins here. It would
Beware Of The Dogs.
Who we think should win? Thelma Plum
be a deserving record for the beloved songwriter — whose
Her intelligent songwriting and important storytelling
bold work on Nature sees him putting poems from the likes
make Beware Of The Dogs one of this year’s best releases and
First awarded in 1987, the coveted Album Of The Year cat-
of Sylvia Plath and Dylan Thomas to music. He knows to cel-
Donnelly’s voice seems vital in the Australian music landscape.
egory looks to recognise excellence, innovation and achieve-
ebrate the little things. Triple J fave Matt Corby nabs his third
Album Of The Year nominees Thelma Plum, with her Paul
ment. Trailing behind Byron-based wunderkind Tones & I, this
nomination in the category and it’s the first we’ve seen for dark
McCartney-approved Better In Blak, and The Teskey Brothers,
year both Hilltop Hoods and The Teskey Brothers picked up
horse Hayden James. Although neither look likely for the win,
for Run Home Slow, will also come up empty-handed.
an impressive seven nominations each for their respective
between us, the future looks bright.
That’s not to say Dance Monkey isn’t deserving — none of
records. It puts them in good stead for the big one — it’s also
The only artist likely to give Lewis a race for the title is Guy
us can remember a time in which an Australian artist blew up
the first time either have been nominated in the category —
Sebastian — this year sees the former Australian Idol winner
as fast as Watson — and when it comes to breaking through,
but Dean Lewis’ ARIA #1, A Place We Knew, is the safe bet here.
pick up his seventh nomination in a category he’s never won.
she pretty much wrote the manual. If she is to win, Watson will
The Australian singer-songwriter has made waves across
What’s that saying again? Seventh time’s a charm? Might be
follow in Ruel’s footsteps — he too was the only artist nominat-
worth putting a combination bet down.
ed last year without an album out and took the title.
Best Female Artist
Best Independent Release
the country since the release of his 2016 single of the same name but 2019 sees the rest of the world paying attention. In July this year, Lewis hit one billion streams for the lead single off A Place We Knew, Be Alright. Moreover, he went double Platinum in Australia and played everywhere from Splendour
Amy Shark — Mess Her Up; Jessica Mauboy — Little Things;
Angie McMahon — Salt; G Flip — About Us; Julia Jacklin —
Julia Jacklin — Crushing; Thelma Plum — Better In Blak;
Crushing; The Teskey Brothers — Run Home Slow; Tones &
Tones & I — Dance Monkey
I — The Kids Are Coming
a huge year and have the fanbase to back it up. If they don’t
Who will win? Tones & I
Who will win? Tones & I
nab Album Of The Year, the hip hop trio are well placed for
Who we think should win? Julia Jacklin
Who we think should win? Julia Jacklin
Teskey Brothers, it’ll be a case of ‘always a bridesmaid, never
If you’ve managed to escape the Dance Monkey frenzy you
So The Teskey Brothers don’t get suited and booted for no
a bride’. Their best chance on the night is to take out Blues
must be living under the proverbial rock. With the most nomi-
reason, they could very easily take home Best Independent
nations of any artist, Tones & I looks to take a clean sweep
Release for Run Home Slow but Best Blues & Roots Album
RÜFÜS DU SOL shouldn’t be a complete write-off, espe-
of her categories. Even considering Toni Watson’s record-
seems more likely for the four-piece. And while Tones & I’s inclu-
cially considering Solace peaked at #2 on the ARIA charts and
breaking run on the charts happened post nominations, this
sion had us raising our eyebrows and consulting the category’s
soared up the Dance/Electronic chart in the US, landing at
burgeoning artist’s unique voice burrowed its way into the
criteria sheet, you’d be daft to make any other call. Even if The
#6. However, first out the gate, we’re doubtful they can go the
nation’s collective consciousness long before votes were cast
Kids Are Coming just made it into the mix with a 30 August
full distance back on home soil. Solace’s release last October
to Ellen. It all bodes well. Close on his tail are Adelaide’s Hilltop Hoods. They’ve had
Best Group and Best Hip Hop Release. Unfortunately for The
might be a distant memory for the Voting Academy who cast
It means Jessica Mauboy, who won the award in 2013, will
Elsewhere it’s a strong category for women, Jacklin and
their votes in September this year and the group have had
find her eighth nomination in the category fruitless. She’s fast
Angie McMahon releasing two of the year’s best records. They
their focus overseas. Thelma Plum’s Better In Blak, our pick of
approaching the legendary Kylie Minogue who holds 14 nomi-
are the two that stand out with the most independent charm.
the category for its brutal, heart-on-its-sleeve honesty, seems
nations for Best Female Artist, only winning once.
Jacklin picked up six nominations for Crushing, her intimate
unlikely to make a dent in proceedings other than its win for
Amy Shark is in for a shot too. Picking up Best Female
and revealing follow-up to 2016’s Don’t Let The Kids Win, but her
Best Cover Art. Plum shines over added Paul power — both
Artist in 2018, the Academy might follow the category’s trend
best chance to capitalise is in the Adult Contemporary category.
McCartney and Kelly feature on the album — arriving with a
and go two for two. This means Plum and Julia Jacklin, who’s
Salt too is an impressive debut from McMahon worthy of the
debut that’s confident and assured, making her one of the
album is as crushing as its title suggests and gets our vote, will
title but she might have to make do with the prestigious Grulke
most exciting voices in the industry. Academy, take note.
have to look elsewhere for the shiny metal statue.
Prize for Developing Non-US Act she was awarded at SXSW.
ON POINT As an Aussie artist, what do the ARIAs mean to you?
What’s your favourite ARIAs moment and why?
Dean Lewis: The ARIAs are an incredible
The ARIA Awards are all about celebrating our amazing pool of musicians. And as Guy Sebastian puts it, they’re a chance to “celebrate how diverse and unique the talent is in Australia”. Here we quiz Sebastian and fellow nominees, Dean Lewis, Danzal Baker aka Baker Boy, and Thelma Plum, to find out about their ARIA experiences.
DL: For me it was performing Be Alright
Who are you hoping to rub shoulders with on the evening and why?
If you win, where will your very pointy, very heavy award live and why?
recognised for the work they have done! It’s
special moment to be able to play a song of
DL: It’s always great running into G Flip and Tones & I! I think it’s going to be a big night
DL: I would keep it at my parent’s place! As
a great time to come together and celebrate
mine in front of so many of my peers.
for both of them!
stuff just has been piling up at their house!
2003. My entry into the industry was not
years. Over that time I have built so many
they are downstairs in the main living area,
opportunity for Australian artists to be
the past year.
Guy Sebastian: To me, the ARIAs are about
live last year! Really enjoyed it. It was a super
GS: I still remember my very first ARIAs in
GS: I have been in the industry now for 16
I’m travelling and touring so much all my
GS: They used to live in my studio but now
community. I love that we all come together
how I ever imagined. It was so fast and I was
relationships with other artists, musos and
out of reach of the kids. Those things are
to celebrate how diverse and unique the
so naive, wide-eyed and green. I accidentally
industry peeps. To be honest, I just want to
talent is in Australia. I am all about break-
bumped into John Farnham and there I was,
be around musicians and mostly I want to
ing down the walls that divide us within
saying hi to one of my vocal heroes, in per-
see them perform live. The live element of
this community, and acknowledging that
son!! When I apologised for bumping into
the ARIAs is what inspires me the most. I
music is bigger than us; it is such a powerful
him he actually said, ‘No worries, Guy,’ and I
don’t get to see many live shows, so watch-
medium that moves us all.
walked away thinking, ‘I can die now, Farnsy
ing these artists showcase what they have
knows my name.’
done to make such a mass connection is
Danzal Baker: Getting recognition from
my peers in the industry at large (and the general public for the voted awards!) is a pretty cool thing.
Thelma Plum: I grew up watching the
ARIAs every year, so it means so much to be nominated for this many of them. It’s quite a surreal feeling.
DB: Dr G at the 2008 ARIAs was very special.
awards in my career so it will live next to the others. They all are very special to me.
TP: At my parent’s place. My mum has a semi shrine of me at their home, so she would probably want to add it to that.
DB: Looking forward to celebrating with
He was singing in language, and I use lan-
guage in all my songs, so he proved it could
my team. I’m also really keen to catch up
be done and also have commercial success.
with Thelma Plum, I did a few gigs she was
TP: Delta [Goodrem] in 2003. I was obsessed
at before her album dropped and I’m keen
with her music growing up (still am) and was
to show her some mad love and respect for
so inspired that she won so many. I could
Better In Blak.
TP: Lee Kernaghan. So excited.
only watch half that night ‘cause it went past my bedtime, but my mum taped it and I woke up so insanely early to finish it.
DB: I’ve been fortunate to already win a few
The 2019 ARIA Awards take place on 27 Nov.
Partners in rhyme
t’s all deeply upsetting,” jokes Simple Creatures’ Alex Gaskarth of the duo’s recent Thanks, I Hate It music video, a clip that uses deepfake technology to superimpose his face and that of his bandmate, blink-182’s Mark Hoppus, onto an array of cheesy infomercials to horrifying effect. The clip captures the duo’s essence and self-proclaimed “trashpop” brand perfectly, with humour smashing headfirst into organised chaos. Since announcing the project back in January, the All Time Low frontman and his partner-in-crime have dropped two EPs, Strange Love in March and Everything Opposite in early October, the latter of which features Thanks, I Hate It and dark synth-pop earworm One Little Lie, which also recently received the music video treatment. “We got to the [studio] and it wasn’t until we walked in that Mark went, ‘Hey, I’ve been here before,’” Gaskarth recalls. “And then he thought about it for two more minutes and went silent for a while and went, ‘I know what it is! We shot [blink-182’s What’s My Age Again?] here.’ So it’s kind of cool to be continuing the legacy.” At the time What’s My Age Again? was released, Gaskarth was a couple of years shy of discovering blink-182 with The Mark, Tom, And Travis Show (The Enema Strikes Back!). “I was already starting to dive into rock and punk rock and these genres that set me on a path of wanting to be in a band myself,” he explains. “It was that record and a couple of other live albums that really put me onto this idea of wanting to get up in front of people and actually do that. “At that point, it was not just about this music that I had been connecting with for a long time, it was also about the intangible energy that you suddenly discover only in live records and live shows, where it’s like, ‘There’s a real energy here and they’re connecting with people and they’re having fun.’ Suddenly, that was everything to me: ‘That’s what I want to do, that’s what I’ve got to do.’” It was those live recordings that put Gaskarth on a path that would see him not only befriend Hoppus, but later become his collaborator. “[All Time Low] had some lucky occurrences after lucky occurrences and worked our arses off and we sort of had enough good fortune to get in front of people like Mark and some of the people that we grew up idolising,” he says. “At the time, I think Mark saw some of himself in us. It’s always cool when you see new bands coming up and doing what you probably inspired — it’s a nice full-circle thing to see, as an artist, that you’ve made an impact in some way, because, really, when you make music, that’s all you want.” The first time Gaskarth and Hoppus found themselves in a room together working on music was for All Time Low, and while that tune “didn’t see the light of day”, it did set them on a “path to a friendship that has blossomed into what you see now”. The DIY, easygoing nature of Simple Creatures is really what defines the band. Having fronted All Time Low since 2003, Gaskarth had to adjust his songwriting style for Hoppus. “From the moment I have some inkling of what I want to write about, I’m already overthinking it, so I think [Hoppus] is a nice kind of balance for me,” he says. “I’ve learnt a lot about his writing sensibility, his ability to sort of craft lyrics out of the ether and not overthink what he’s saying right out of the gate. One of my biggest takeaways from working with him is to just go into every song without too much second-guessing. You can second guess it later.” It wasn’t only Gaskarth who had to break away from his comfort zone a little, with some fans of each member’s respective projects also taking time to adjust. “People want what they’re comfortable with and it becomes that conversation of band versus brand. “When you’ve been in a band for a long time, you have to get out of your own way, as far as, there’s a brand and a known thing and something that people expect from you and I think that it’s important to not obsess over that too much — you have to make the music that feels true to you at the time, whether or not that pisses some people off,” he says. “We want to be able to mould it to what we feel like doing at the time, because that’s the nature of this project — that’s exactly what this project is supposed to be: fluid and experimental.” Aussie fans attending Good Things can expect a show that’s “somewhere between an electronic show and a rock show”. “We aren’t shying away from the fact that it’s not a band, it’s Mark and I, and we create a lot of this music on computers and with synths and stuff like that, so we really learn into that live,” he explains. “I think, again, just like learning about Simple Creatures, people come into the shows not knowing exactly what to expect and then after the first song everybody is like, ‘Oh yeah, fuck, I’m in!’ “It’s a party and we have a good time and it’s fun to translate these songs live and do it in front of people, because I think that, with any kind of music, that’s when you really know that you’re onto something. The second we heard people singing these songs back, we were like, ‘Ok, great. The energy is there; we did something right — we’re good to go.’”
Simple Creatures, aka All Time Low’s Alex Gaskarth and blink-182’s Mark Hoppus, will be throwing the “trash-pop” party of the year at Good Things Festival 2019. Gaskarth tells Daniel Cribb they’re just going with the flow, even if it “pisses some people off”.
“At the time, I think Mark saw some of himself in us.”
Simple Creatures tours from 6 Dec. Check The Guide on theMusic.com.au for more details.
Pic: Ashley Osborn
THE BIG PICTURE
Pic: Jason Phu, when our tongues touch the juice comes out of the gourd, 2019
Jason Phu Ahead of Due West Festival 2019, we spoke to multidisciplinary artist Jason Phu about his mixed-media installations and the diasporic cultural identity of Footscray. Your body of work combines an ever-growing list of disciplines — woodcuts, drawing, painting, poetry, performance, sculpture, video. What will your Due West installation involve? Most of my shows are a combination of many of these mediums, but not as broken-up elements. For instance, a lot of my painting has poetry in it or my videos might be a performance of me drawing. This work will involve some community-based workshops, which I see as another medium in itself.
Pic: Jason Phu, the fur clouds your eyes, it causes an itch, it clogs the drains, and in the end everything is obscured, 2019
You’ve said you will be “sourcing materials from within the boundaries of the local area and in collaboration with the local community”. Is that something you’ve done before? How important is it for you to incorporate an installation’s environment into the work? It is more practical than anything — it’s just easier to get everything from nearby and working within the constraints of that to create. I suppose on some unconscious level it is a weird interpretation of my own Daoism, in living in harmony with my surroundings. This project had people on board who had ties with the local community so it was a natural avenue for me to pursue.
THE BIG PICTURE
You regularly examine identity politics and cultural dislocation. What’s important about those subjects for Footscray? Footscray is a particularly diverse area that’s similar in a lot of ways to where I grew up to in Sydney. It’s only natural that these ideas would present themselves. I don’t necessarily want to “expose” them, but understand where I could fit in in the natural order and respond to that. This installation will explore both your own family’s stories and the history of the Footscray area. How much overlap is there between the two? No matter the similarities, it is a different place to where I grew up. However, there are natural parallels to my own story and other Asian diaspora here and around the world. My mum is Chinese and my dad is Vietnamese, I think there will be plenty of overlap. Footscray was recently voted one of the world’s top 50 coolest neighbourhoods by Time Out. Do you have any thoughts? I think sometimes those things are the antithesis of community and living culture. They can freeze a place in time under a glass viewing platform. On the other hand, maybe the community is proud of the listing and happy with the benefits of exposure. I guess it’s something for someone who lives there to comment on.
Due West Festival runs from 15 Nov.
Bernard Black doing yoga? It’s been “20 fucking years” since Dylan Moran wrote a television show, and he’s now at work on a new one. He tells Daniel Cribb he’s happy marching to the beat of his own drum — and a little Kanye West, too.
hen Dylan Moran isn’t doing comedy, he spends a lot of time talking about it. “I think the simplest way to talk about [comedy] is to talk about it like music,” the Black Books legend says. “People say, ‘Well, how do you do this?’ or ‘How do you switch?’ but it’s all music, you’re just playing different notes and different tunes; one thing might be a ballad and one thing might be a rock song or a blues thing. There are genres within [comedy], you might see somebody do a rant, or you might see somebody do a dialogue, or you might see somebody do a reveal or reverse.” Artists like Weyes Blood, PJ Harvey, John Martin, Canned Heat and Little Dragon are just a few of the artists Moran is listening to at the moment, allowing him a little break from comedy every now and then. “Some of this is really poppy and I don’t give a shit,” he enthuses. “This is stuff I would have poo-pooed years ago, but I’ll give anything a go now. I’m interested in what they’re doing, rather than whether I’m supposed to like it or not. “I like finding stuff that I’m appalled that I like,” he laughs. “I didn’t think I was going to like anything by Kanye West because he’s such an annoying-faced fucker, but he’s very talented. “This is my main discovery though,” he adds, lowering his voice. “This guy is a genius and he’s unbelievable — this guy called Darondo. He’s this funk, soul guy.” While saying he tries to mix it up and “play everything” when it comes to his stand-up, he’s quick to admit that, much like a musician or band, there’s always going to be something definitively Dylan Moran about his work, no matter how far he ventures into new territory. “When you go and see a band, you’re going to see that band, so if you’re coming to see this dude, it will be like some things that you’ve seen before in that I’m the same dude and make some of the same sounds,” Moran says. “In fact, and in the broadest possible way, maybe it’s not different at all; maybe none of my shows are different, maybe they’re all the same, maybe it’s just me talking about stuff,” he laughs. His latest stand-up show, Dr Cosmos, which he’ll tour across Australia from October to December, borrows its name from a new series he’s been writing. “I wrote a pilot for a show called Dr Cosmos, and that has changed now into a new show where he is a charac-
ter,” Moran reveals. “It’s funny, because it’s quite dangerous when you’re writing something to talk about it. I’ve written four episodes, there’s going to be five. I don’t want to say too much, but it’s going to be a short format; I think that’s going to be happening a lot with television because there’s just so much being made. “This thing is 15 minutes, it’s incredibly tight and fast-paced. They’re short theories and short problems and I wanted to make five of them. I wanted to make the whole thing as zippy as possible. There’s no fat on the thing.
“I’m going to be trying to keep body and soul together; I’m going to be doing yoga and making sure that I’m having smoothies and stuff because I want to get to the end of it alive.”
“The name [Dr Cosmos] came from the emergence of all these populist politicians, which reminded me of the era of snake oil salesmen,” he explains. “You used to see them in westerns, they’d rock up to town in their wagon, selling some elixir that would restore your pubic hair and give you good eyesight, so that’s where the notion came from.” The last time Moran visited Australia was with his Off The Hook show in 2015. His schedule this time around is a little more hectic, or, in his words, “pretty fucking bang bang”. “I’m going to be trying to keep body and soul together; I’m going to be doing yoga and making sure that I’m having smoothies and stuff because I want to get to the end of it alive.” Drinking smoothies and doing yoga aren’t necessarily the activities you’d expect from Bernard Black, but as Moran points out, his character on Black Books would likely be dead at this stage, given his steady diet of alcohol and cigarettes. “You can smoke or you can breathe and I couldn’t breathe anymore,” Moran says. “You get older and your options change, and you adapt or die. Everybody has an Uncle Harry who lives on cigarettes and whisky and lives to be 102, but I ain’t him.” It’s hard to believe, but the iconic British comedy celebrates its 20th anniversary next year. “Why do I get the feeling you’re a young man? You don’t mind saying things like this; you don’t know what that does to me,” Moran jokes. “It’s nuts! You never think you’ll be in that position. I’ll tell you what’s really funny. that means it’s 20 fucking years since I wrote a television show,” he laughs. No pressure on his yet-to-be-titled new series, then. “No, there isn’t, because I don’t work like that. I’m not good with pressure, so everybody can go fuck themselves if they want to put pressure on me,” he stresses. “I’m just having a good time and if anyone says we need to do this fast, I’ll say, ‘You really can go fuck yourself — I’m not doing anything.’ I’ll go back on the road. I don’t work like that; I just do what I want to do.”
Dylan Moran is on tour now.
Check The Guide on theMusic.com.au for more details.
The writing’s on the wall Joel Burrows speaks to street artists Luke Cornish, aka ELK, Van Rudd, and Peter Drew about how political graffiti is changing hearts and minds.
olitical graffiti, and street art, has been around for literally centuries. It can be found on the walls of Pompeii and in the ruins of Ephesus. The first-ever picture of Jesus was carved into a wall, and he had the head of a donkey. Even in Sydney, the old North Head Quarantine Station has graffiti that could date back around to 1835. However, even though political graffiti has almost always been a thing, it’s really coming to the fore lately. A bunch of Australian street artists, including ELK, aka Luke Cornish, Van Rudd, mononymously known as Van, and Peter Drew, and their political artworks, have been getting a lot of media attention. Some political street art is popular partly because it looks dope. For instance, Van Rudd painted a mural of Scott Morrison and the Opera House succumbing to rising sea levels. The water is up to Morrison’s neck, and he’s Gollum-esque, clutching a piece of coal. It’s a captivating way of protesting the government’s climate policy. Rudd says these visual elements stemmed from a “gut feeling”. The idea of comparing ScoMo to Gollum “just came off pretty much that day when I was doing it. And there wasn’t much thought behind it. But you kind of know that people are going to get it”. Rudd’s spontaneity created an engaging piece of political art. “There’s something about the atmosphere of it being on the street that people don’t want to miss out [on],” he says. Luke Cornish’s stencil art is also visually compelling. One of his most recognisable works was at Bondi Beach. It featured 24 Australian Border Force officers, masked and holding automatic weapons. The text, “WELCOME TO BONDI” loomed over them and made the whole piece feel inescapable. Cornish says that this imagery, and its pro-asylum seeker message, upset some people in Bondi: “Some people genuinely, legitimately were confronted by seeing these dominating figures with automatic weapons.” However, despite this backlash, he believes that “the stars aligned with that piece”: “I needed an image that I could replicate multiple times, and soldiers was something
I’ve been painting since I started painting. The aesthetics of the textures translates so well in stencil.” Audiences really connecting with the messages of these works feeds into their popularity. Peter Drew’s AUSSIE posters are an example of a street artist’s politics resonating with the public. This series’ starting point was a man called Monga Khan. Monga Khan was originally from India and applied for an immigration exemption to the White Australia Policy in 1916. Each poster features a photo of Monga Khan with the word “AUSSIE” written beneath him. This combo of text and photography denounces the insidious racism in Australian society.
“Wars have been started with stencil art. But they’ve also been finished with it too.” In 2016, the general public crowdfunded this series to the tune of $19,426. And the works were so successful that Drew published a book about his work called Poster Boy. He also received a lot of support when he travelled around Oz and put his posters in different cities. “I always get messages of people offering to help,” Drew says, “whether that’s driving me around, or having me stay with them, and it’s often very helpful. Especially when it comes to driving around cities I’m not as familiar with. Yeah, it does require help once the project’s running.” These political artworks are sometimes, ironically, signal-boosted by their detractors. Cornish recalls Liberal councillor, Leon Goltsman, was offended by his Bondi mural: “He went on 2GB [with Steve Price].. If he had just kept his mouth shut, no one would have ever seen it. So, as annoying as it was, the guy, he gave it the spotlight that it deserved.”
C U LT U R E
When right-wing critics call for the works to be destroyed, they can sometimes generate publicity. Van Rudd’s mural of Egg Boy, Will Connolly, breaking an egg on Senator Fraser Anning, was painted over after that kind of backlash. It was “obviously attacked by the far-right”, Rudd says. But that brought more media attention to the piece. Sometimes, when you try to censor these artists, you’re just providing them a megaphone. The public nature of street art and just how accessible it is means there are no gate-keepers. The possible viewership is endless. “It’s an immediate audience,” notes Cornish, “opposed to making art and putting it in a gallery where a thousand people might see it. You put a stencil up in Martin Place, and you’ll have 5,000 people see it in one day.” Peter Drew adds, “In the gallery, you speak to the art world. Whereas on the street, you speak to everybody.” It’s no wonder that political street art has gained a lot of media attention and has risen in popularity — it’s visually engaging; the audience believes in its message; it generates more publicity with any backlash; and it has an instantaneous audience. These street artists have a powerful medium, and they’re using it to make their politics heard. And if our leaders continue to ignore and contribute to major issues in our society like the climate crisis and the plight of asylum seekers in offshore detention centres, this street art will only become more popular. All of these artists believe street art can change Australia’s political landscape. Rudd says, “There’s an unwritten feeling there, a vibe. You know when ELK did that one in Bondi Beach, that one? When I saw him post that, straight away I congratulated him... And I’d love it if there were way more street artists doing that.” “What attracted me to Australian identity and street political art?” Drew ponders. “It’s growing up — you’re eventually going to have to come into contact with politics, and the big decisions being made for us. And we need to get involved with that. It’s just a part of growing up.” Cornish also thinks that graffiti can improve Australia and our politics. “Wars have been started with stencil art,” he says. “But they’ve also been finished with it too.”
Show pony Alex O’Connor, aka Rex Orange County, makes music riddled with neurotic optimism. But, as he tells Carley Hall, he’s still trying to stay upbeat.
lex O’Connor is taking a well-deserved breather at home in London. The 21-year-old behind Rex Orange County has just returned from a run of festival slots around Europe, and even had time to swing by New York as a musical guest on The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon. In the past four years, O’Connor has released two albums, several standalone singles and an EP of postgenre neo-soul and indie-pop. Undoubtedly, the song that broadly announced the arrival of Rex Orange County — from Surrey, England — was Loving Is Easy. O’Connor thinks the song’s popularity comes from its simplicity. “If I’m honest, I think it’s probably because there’s really only two sections in it — it doesn’t stay for long, it’s two-and-a-half minutes long. I think it’s also because Benny Sings wrote it with me and he’s great at writing pop songs. Even though him and I made it together, it definitely wouldn’t be the same without him.” By the time O’Connor had notched up two albums — 2016’s Bcos U Will Never B Free and 2017’s Apricot Princess — he was known for his half-spoken vocals and buoyant melodies. It’s hard to chart how he ended up at his distinctive sound, given the steady diet of early ‘80s pop-rock and punk of his youth, and his interest in choral singing and musical theatre. “There was definitely a lot of theatrical music around me and I was kind of doing musical theatre, but my parents listened to a lot of ABBA and Queen and put me onto a lot of pop music. I eventually found out who Kanye West was, and I loved Green Day... I think some of the stuff that I write stems from what I truly loved from those songs and bands that I originally listened to; I think that’s still in what I do now.” From a young age, O’Connor was interested in performing, whether in a choir, an orchestra, or a band. Even now, O’Connor says the most thrilling part of music-making is touring, and being able to engage with a different bunch of listeners around the world, night after night.
“I do love it, I really do enjoy it the most out of each of the things that I do that are to do with my music. I don’t know what it is, but from the start, before I even wrote songs, I just enjoyed being on stage — even if I wasn’t at the front. Really, it could just be some strange need for affirmation or attention, but it is just the one thing I’ve always oved.” O’Connor has a mammoth touring schedule lined up around the release of his third album, Pony, which underlines just how accomplished he is at 21. At the same time, his success seems slightly at odds with his lyrics, which are riddled with neurotic optimism. O’Connor looks
“From the start, before I even wrote songs, I just enjoyed being on stage.”
young, sounds young, and is young, but his riffs on love, mental health, and life suggest he’s been at it for years and years. “I do my best to be honest and I know that some things I say will sound very negative and somewhat indulging in sadness, and some things will be for the sake of being therapeutic and positive. You know, saying something is good because it really is and making a great song out of it is something that I really love doing. There’s definitely a lot of trying to be optimistic but I can’t be.” On Pony, O’Connor indulges in more of these sharp truths and beguiling rays of idealism. Curtain-raiser single 10/10 picked up plenty of airplay upon its release earlier this year, the first of a new suite of tracks that careen between hope and heartache. O’Connor says he’s thankful for his life right now, but he has had some distinct downs and eye-opening experiences in the music industry. “It probably happens to everyone naturally with doing this sort of creating. After a while, you realise it’s very difficult to find people to work with who 100 percent understand and are on the same page as you... I think you have to go do things to realise what you don’t want. And I had a lot of that in terms of ‘the industry’; there’s no point in me directly going into it, but I would absolutely say that I have been and that’s what a lot of this album is about. “It’s great to finally have the album nearly out, I’ve worked on it for so long. I’ll be happy to see people react to certain songs and find out what people like and then have the chance to go out and play them live next year in Australia. I’m genuinely excited, and I’m not really nervous now because I’ve been listening to it for a while, so, yes, I’m ready for it.”
Pony (Sony) is out now. Rex Orange County tour from 28 May.
Check The Guide on theMusic.com.au for more details.
Pic: Alexandra Waespi
25 blue mountains th
music festival 2020
15 +16+17 march Katoomba
3 days 8 stages 100+ concerts YolanDa Brown photo by Agenda Lily & King
Rhiannon Giddens & Francesco Turrisi photo by Karen Cox
Tickets on sale now at bmff.org.au
John Butler ★ Kasey Chambers ★ ★ Rhiannon Giddens & Francesco Turrisi (USA/Italy) ★ ★ Backsliders ★ The East Pointers (Can) ★ Irish Mythen (Ire/Can) ★ ★ The Sandman & Flacco ★ YolanDa Brown (UK) ★ Startijenn (Fr) ★ ★
★ Eleanor McEvoy (Ire) ★ 19-Twenty ★ SON (Ire) ★ Turner Brown Band (Oz/USA) ★ ★ Mama Kin Spender ★ John Smith (UK) ★ Kieran Kane & Rayna Gellert (USA) ★ ★ Emily Wurramara ★ É.T.É. (Can) ★ Fara (Scot) ★ Flats & Sharps (UK) ★ Còig ( Can) ★ ★ Whitetop Mountaineers (USA) ★ Grace Petrie (UK) ★ Ian Sherwood (Can) ★ ★ Claude Hay ★ Lloyd Spiegel ★ The Jellymans Daughter (Scot) ★ ★ The Burning Hell (Can) ★ Will Kimbrough (USA) ★ The Langan Band (Scot) ★ ★ Tio (Vanuatu) ★ Lily and King ★ Saije ★ Montgomery Church ★ ★ Den Hanrahan & The Rum Runners ★ Jed Zarb ★ Nic Danta ★ ★ Isobel Knight ★ Jerrah Patson ★ Phil Davidson ★ ★ Big Merino ★ The Heartlands Conversations ★ ★ The Poets Breakfast and more ★
3 days ★ 8 stages ★ 100+ concerts! THE MUSIC
Whole new ‘tude Hermitude have released their most vocal record to date. Here Mick Radojkovic discovers how the duo of Angus Stuart and Luke Dubber try and push themselves into a different territory with each new release. that it sounds inspired and keeps us excited when we’re working together as opposed to repeating old formulas,” Dubber says. This new territory involved jetting to Los Angeles to take part in songwriting camps. “We were just bouncing in between rooms going through different ideas with people. It was a really hectic experience,” he says. This method of finding new and inspired toplines formed the basis of a number of tracks on the new album, but it was a return visit that saw them collaborate specifically with Vic Mensa, BJ The Chicago Kid and Bibi Bourelly for tracks that have forged their most vocal record to date. Along with the international names that appear on the album, the duo hand-picked local artists from the rich pool of Australian talent, with very different features coming from Haiku Hands, Hoodlem and Electric Fields. “With this record, we set out to make a more vocal record,” Stuart explains. “That was the aim from the get-go. There was a point when we got near the end that we realised we only had two instrumentals. At first, we were like, ‘Maybe we should have more instrumentals?’ And then were like, ‘No, this is what we set out to do! Don’t doublethink yourself!’” The irony of Hermitude resides in their musical progression. While old-school fans, the ones who vibe on the intricate and unique production from the duo, may prefer to keep the music pure, it’s the upbeat vocal tracks and collaborations that have helped to launch Hermitude worldwide. Even if, as proven by their return home, they have not and seemingly never will forget their roots.
Pic: Cole Bennetts
And death shall have no dominion When Bryget Chrisfield sits down with Paul Kelly he discusses how performing songs from his 350-strong catalog allows him to “carry [his] old friends around even though they’re not here anymore”.
Pollyanarchy (Elefent Traks) is out now. Hermitude tour from 2 Nov.
aul Kelly is wearing a smart navy suit and apologises for needing to send a text before we chat. It’s AFL Grand Final week and this Cremorne studio is not far from the MCG, where Kelly will perform as part of the pre-game entertainment. Leaps And Bounds was one of the songs Kelly performed at the 2012 AFL Grand Final and we’re tipping it’s gotta be good vibes singing about the MCG from the MCG’s hallowed turf. “Oh, that’s fun, yes,” the national treasure enthuses, a warm smile spreading across his face. “It’s a very old song and I wrote it with my friend Chris Langman when I first moved to Melbourne in ‘77. We were in a sharehouse together and we played in a band together for a very brief while, and we had started
Pic: Cole Bennetts
he first show of Hermitude’s world tour at the humble Blackheath Community Centre was a night to remember. Near the end of the intimate show, dozens of local kids invaded the stage, much to the surprise of everyone in the room. Their enthusiasm and excitement at watching two locals, once children of the mountains themselves, was a joy to behold. And while Angus Stuart and Luke Dubber may now be internationally regarded producers, the show held a special place in their heart. “We wanted to give back to the community that helped us come up and support us when we were still honing our craft,” Stuart shares. “It was such a special night. It exceeded all expectations. It really felt like coming home.” The gig, with tickets only available via a local record store, allowed for the first showing of the duo’s sixth and most ambitious album, Pollyanarchy. The story of the album’s unique title is intricate, but one that sits perfectly with the duo’s aesthetic. During the making of the album, Hermitude found themselves watching Velvet Buzzsaw after a busy day writing in Dunedin. A quote in the film made them pause and rewind; credited to Polly Anna, it piqued their interest and led them to discover the Pollyanna Principle. “Pollyanna always sees the positive in every situation and we were like, ‘That’s a really cool thing,’” Stuart explains. The character resonated strongly as the album came to a creative crescendo and the term ‘Pollyanarchy’ was coined: “We knew we were coming to end of the record and we had this deadline [but] we could see the positive coming.” An innate positivity flows through Hermitude’s music. From the explorative Alleys To Valleys to their more recent bangers, the duo always aim to raise the mood. “We try and push ourselves each time we do a record into a different territory so
Altogether different Singer Austin Getz tells Anthony Carew that Turnover is the centre of his life, and how thankful he is for that.
“We wanted to use different instrumen-
recounts. In eighth grade, he begged for a
tation, different types of arrangements of
Les Paul, and was shocked when his par-
the songs, different treatments of how we
ents got it for him (“I told everybody on my
recorded the songs,” Getz offers. “Without
AIM friends list”). The guitar initially gathered
any of us demanding that we do things dif-
dust, but when his family relocated from
ferently, a lot of different stuff just happened...
New Orleans to Virginia Beach, that changed.
The songs have a lot more dynamic than our
“I had no friends, so I started playing guitar
other records in the past; in terms of the writ-
every day,” Getz says.
ing, the techniques used to record, the fact
Turnover were formed with due DIY
we’ve kept it all stripped back, never just lay-
punk spirit, and ambitions beyond the musi-
ered on the guitars. We were listening to a
cal. “[We wanted] to use our music as a vessel
lot less rock stuff, so we never had that com-
to create, be able to see the world, make new
pulsion to make something that was this big
friends, have cool experiences, [and] get out
of the suburban life we were used to.”
ustin Getz founded Turnover just out of high school. Ten years and four albums later, they’re still together, this band having defined his life.
“I’ve definitely had relationships end, friendships fade
away, and a tonne of new ones begin, all because of the band,” he says, contemplatively. “In [every facet] of my life, every decision that I’ve made, the first thing I’ve thought about is the band... It’s kind of like someone who’s a workaholic, where their job is the centre of their life, and any experience they have they’re relating it back to that, making it fit around this thing that is so central to [their] life. “There have been times when I’ve hated it, and felt trapped, because I’ve spent so much time giving to it, and sacrificing for it. Times of forgetting why I love it. But, then, things have changed, and I’ve gotten back to remembering why I appreciate it, why I’m so thankful for it [and how] Turnover [has] caused me to grow so much by its very nature.” The germinating seed for all of this was a fortuitous, formative, pop-punk encounter. “In first grade, I heard All The Small Things by blink-182 on the radio on the way to
Of course, by this point, change may be
The core of Turnover — Getz, his brother
the band’s definitive quality. “The narrative
Casey on drums and bassist Danny Dempsey
about Turnover is starting to be that you can’t
— has been there from the start, their lives
ever expect anything, because we’re always
changing alongside the band; and the band,
moving along, doing something different,”
in turn, changing. “I feel like it’s an entirely dif-
Getz says. “Putting out these new songs, you
ferent animal at this point [compared to the
see a lot of love, but you definitely see some
beginning], and not the same in any way,”
hate. But, now our fans will go in to bat for
Getz offers. “That underlying arc to our rela-
us, say, ‘Yo, if you still want to go and listen
tionship, how it’s grown and how it’s changed,
to [2015’s] Peripheral Vision, you can still do
reflects the way the band has changed.”
that, it still exists.’ I’m like, ‘Yeah!’ That’s when
And change they have. “We started out as a punk, pop-punk, emo-punk band,”
you know we’ve got [fans] willing to grow with us.”
Getz admits — a sound that seems a long way from where they’ve ended up. It was on their third album, 2017’s Good Nature, that they first transcended their punk roots; stripping away the noise and distortion for a clean, indie-pop sound. On their sunny, synthy new album, Altogether, they take this idea further, the album full of keyboards, melody, harmony.
Altogether (Run For Cover/ Cooking Vinyl) is out this month. Check The Guide on theMusic.com.au for more details.
songs that I still play: To Her Door, Leaps And Bounds and Dumb Things. Steve Connolly’s always with me.” All of these classics are among the 43 songs on Songs From The South 1985-2019: Paul Kelly’s Greatest Hits, which drops this month. Exactly how many songs has the great man written to date? “Oh, it’d be 350 or something like that and I probably have about 100, 150 that I could recall, pretty much.” The cover art features young Kelly holding a trumpet and looking pretty chuffed with himself. When asked what would’ve been happening in his life around that time, he offers, “I think I was 12 or 13. I learnt trumpet for five years in high school and I decided to play the trumpet ‘cause my older sister was going out with this guy who played trumpet. I sorta looked up to this guy and then he brought around some Louis Armstrong records and I heard Dixieland — you know, Louis Armstrong’s Hot Five — for the first time. And, to me, that was just incredible sort of wild music where everyone seemed to be just playing off on their own, but somehow they were all playing together — that was my first experience of jazz, with Louis Armstrong playing the trumpet. So that was a big discovery for me: the power of music. And then my parents bought Herb Alpert’s Greatest Hits and I fell in love with that. And I used to lie down in the dark listening to that record and imagining myself playing the trumpet. So that was probably the first time I sort of had an idea that, ‘Oh, maybe I could do this, maybe I could make a living or, you know, go and play music to people.’”
Songs From The South 1985-2019: Paul Kelly’s Greatest Hits (EMI) is out this month. Paul Kelly tours from 7 Dec.
Pic: Cybele Malinowski
that song. For us, it was kind of a song about nothing, really. It was just a song about a feeling; it was an autumn song. And we didn’t actually finish it when we first wrote it — we just had a chorus and a melody — and I finished it later on when I actually moved from Hoddle Street up to Punt Road. I was living in a first-floor flat and out my window I could see the Nylex Clock and the MCG, so that’s where that lyric came from. It was never really written as a football song, but it’s sorta been picked up.” During last year’s Making Gravy show at Sidney Myer Music Bowl (the one that narrowly avoided cancellation after heavy rainfall caused the venue to flood), the audience clearly got a kick out of singing along with the opening lyrics (“I’m high on the hill/Looking over the bridge/ To the MCG...”) with these local references (almost) in eyeshot. While introducing From St Kilda To Kings Cross that night, Kelly mentioned that he always feels the late guitarist Steve Connolly’s presence whenever he performs the song. “That happens a lot and I guess that feeling’s getting stronger as I keep playing,” Kelly considers. “I mean, Spencer P Jones is another one that played on How To Make Gravy — that slide part — and he left us last year so, you know, it’s quite precious to be able to, in some way, carry your old friends around even though they’re not here anymore. So that’s something I’ve noticed as I’ve got older. And Steve Connolly, he’s in so many
school, and I became obsessed with it,” Getz
Colours In The Sun is another massive leap forward for longrunning Perth band Voyager. It sees them following the newfound stylistic path they began on album number five, V, back in 2014 and on follow-up Ghost Mile in 2017. This time they’ve added some wondrous new pieces to the puzzle to boot. Voyager have managed to change, evolve and modernise their sound in the last five years, all while retaining the bulk of their fanbase, and indeed adding many new devotees in the process. The recent, stratospheric trajectory of their career is testament to this. How they have achieved this, when other bands have had mixed results, is actually pretty simple: they retained their core elements — soaring melodies, exuberant delivery and a sense of fun amid the heaviness — and continued to write fabulously catchy tunes, but injected new and different elements into their music. And this album carries that forward with a skill and savviness that is breathtaking to behold. Every song on this record is killer. Every track imbues a brand new energy to proceedings. Every tune brings rich new colours and textures to the table, to what is a beautiful and cohesive patchwork of melodic and progressive heavy music. Virtually every track features sounds and styles that are glorious throwbacks to bygone eras, mostly the ‘80s, while maintaining a modern edge that is so 2010s going on 2020s. All within a compact ten-track, 40-odd-minute framework that gives bang for your buck but never outstays its welcome.
Voyager Colours In The Sun Season Of Mist
Highlights include towering and cathartic closer Runaway, the mid-album show-stopper Entropy, which features a highly auspicious contribution from none other than Einar Solberg of Norway’s awesome Leprous, and Water Over The Bridge, which may be the album’s heaviest and most memorable moment. It is this placement of old-school influences in such a modern setting that is arguably the most joyous part of this record, and indeed their change in direction overall. It is also what will find them continuing to appeal strongly to people who love ‘80s pop and rock, and contemporary heavy music. But cherry-picking songs is a little unfair to the rest of the tracks, as this record is wall-to-wall quality. Special mention must be given to frontman Daniel Estrin, whose voice soars to the very heavens, whose keytar work just puts a big fat smile on your face and whose songwriting nous just gets better with age. Backed of course by a band whose individual skill on their instruments is second to none and whose performances slot seamlessly into the whole. While other bands have stumbled trying to navigate a major change of sound, two decades and seven albums into their journey, Voyager are absolutely nailing it and somehow just keep improving. And we the fans are reaping the rewards.
Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy
I Made A Place
Our Pathetic Age
Drag City / Spunk
Stones Throw / Inertia
Mass Appeal Records / Caroline
The Wonderful World Of Nature
Our Golden Friend
A new album of original material from Bonnie “Prince” Billy, aka William Oldham? Great, it’s time to get the tissue box out and spend the week in bed to mull over all the horrible mistakes of your adult life. Psych! This one is actually marginally brighter than the rest of his catalogue. It’s still introspective and sensitive, but it’s certainly not the iceberg of sadness that something like I See A Darkness is. Is it as good? Nah, but even if you aren’t already a fan of ol’ Billy Bummer, I Made A Place is definitely worth the time of anyone who likes good folk and country music.
Brittney “Sudan Archives” Parks is slipstreaming into the limelight, having hooked up with the LA beat-maker big wigs that run Stones Throw. Her first two EPs for the label were simple in-house affairs — written and performed by Parks, and self-produced. Armed with little more than her fiddle and homemade beats, they had a fresh energy that’s somewhat lacking here. With the addition of a whole lot of new contributors of guest producers, the character of Parks’ early work has been crowded out and fades into the scenery. In the final wash-up, Athena is slick, self-assured and just a little bit too safe for its own good.
Seeing as we already know how stellar Endtroducing..... was and how dry everything afterwards turned out to be, let’s just cut to the chase. DJ Shadow’s latest album, Our Pathetic Age, is a fucking chore to sit through. Side one opens with a lengthy run of tracks that are just confusingly awful. The beats from the CD Key Generator that came with your illegal copy of Photoshop are better than this stock drum machine crap. It’s a shame too, because side two really has a nice handful of tracks with some inspired production and verses. Are those diamonds in the rough worth the hour-and-a-half price of admission though? Absolutely not.
Christopher H James
HHH½ On her solo debut, Elizabeth’s sharp, intimate vocals are the perfect balance for the hazy backdrop of distant melodies. Her voice acts like a beacon which focuses all your attention on her. In songs like Take Me Back, it’s almost haunting. Beautifully tragic and unapologetically sad, the album entices you in to indulge in her pain, but instead you’re confronted by love’s ugly truths. Throughout, Elizabeth paints herself as the villain in a series of unhealthy relationships, but instead of wallowing in it, she empowers herself through her indiscretions. Katie Livingston
For more album reviews, go to www.theMusic.com.au
These New South Whales
The Juice: Vol. II
Amidst The Clutter & Mess
Avant Garden / Universal
I OH YOU
I Just Do What God Tells Me To Do
Emotional Oranges made quite a splash with the release of The Juice: Vol I earlier this year. Building on that success, they front up with another album bursting with a juicy selection of eight tracks. Vol II deals in a svelte groove which dreamily shimmers out of our speakers. A male/female duo, the contrast of their voices and perspectives seemingly chase after each other across this record and as they squeeze R&B, hip hop and funk into a kind of chilled pop, the chemistry between these two is undeniable. Emotional Oranges herald the coming of antipodean summer with a feelgood soundtrack for good times.
It’s been two years since Green Buzzard became a solo project, disbanding shortly after the release of their second EP, and Paddy Harrowsmith hasn’t given up. While the album does follow a similar style to Green Buzzard’s previous work, it is pared back - less rugged synth-rock, more smooth indie. Drawing inspiration from his own experiences, Harrowsmith tackles breakups and surrender. Combined with the bare, dreamlike quality of the music, it’s almost mournful. But the loneliness is balanced by more upbeat songs, that carry a hopeful aspect and the promise of healing.
With a killer stage presence and unique sound, These New South Whales trample over any other artist playing punk music. It’s Its Own Heart begins with a repetitive kick, with fast chords, extended guitar wails and barking dogs. In The Light Of Day tones things down. Rather than focusing on familiar and heavily distorted notes, the track shows that the Whales can change tack without compromising their artistic integrity. Full of strong, catchy, punk anthems, overall this is a brilliant progression from a band who are branching out.
British favourite Michael Kiwanuka is back bigger and better with third album Kiwanuka, a wonderful showcase of the singersongwriter’s worldly brand of soulful, rockinspired indie music. There’s a strong feeling of love and joy running throughout Kiwanuka, with album opener and first single You Ain’t The Problem setting the scene with its brassy celebration of acceptance. Kiwanuka makes old school soul music for modern audiences and has once again crafted a personal album oozing with ‘60s rock and soul.
It’s Alright, Look At Me I’m Young
Don’t Leave Me This Way
Fiction / Caroline
Gippsland’s Ocean Sleeper risk fading into a saturated scene with their debut release. Kicking off with Sleep Life Away, its haunting guitar riff and thumping basslines are energetic and fun. When the gravelly tone of heavy vocalist Karl Spiessl lights a fire during Killing Me, there’s no question that Ocean Sleeper do melodic hardcore well. Catchy hooks and gritty breakdowns take you from moshing to dancing and back again in an Amity-like formula. Better Days’ haunting mix of strings and a light piano melody provides an emotive ending to what is a tight and enjoyable album, yet disappointingly unoriginal.
Arriving four years on from its predecessor, this record does what it says on the tin, the band attacking these often anthemic tracks with the gusto of a kid tearing into the wrapping paper at Christmas. Songs rarely outstay their welcome, or surpass the three-and-a-half minute mark. Alexander Hagman’s distinctive shout leads the charge, bellowing socio-political banter, motivational messages and self-referential fare — their modus operandi. He’s aided by riffs both bruising and hook-laden, and curious yet engaging touches, such as pseudo hip hop flourishes and occasional clean singing, or In Flames-infused melodic overtones.
On their second album, London’s Pumarosa channel ‘90s British electronica — Massive Attack, Faithless — and even contemporary bands like Purity Ring, while still retaining a live instrument sound and feel. The result? A very accessible, indie-friendly record. Arrangements here and there nod to lo-fi Detroit techno, while Adam’s Song could have been a Sneaker Pimps track. It’s these influences that underpin, but don’t saturate, a sound that the band continue to prove is their own. A more experimental, focussed and tighter affair, when compared with their critically well-received debut, in a lot of ways Devastation is more satisfying.
HHH½ Boydos’ debut album It’s Alright, Look At Me I’m Young is a bold and catchy example of some of NSW’s finest indie-rock. It’s the perfect blend of emotional turmoil and black humour. Boydos’ lyrics tackle some heavy stuff, from career anxiety to internet sex, but a sprinkling of deadpan humour gives character to his lyrics and adds layers to his songwriting. There’s a real atmosphere to his music and it’s hard not to be drawn in by Boydos’ rich vocals and heavy rhythms. Rambling, reckless, and utterly addictive. Katie Livingston
Interscope Records / Universal
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Dita Von Teese: Glamonatrix Burlesque superstar Dita Von Teese returns to Australia this month for a national tour of comedy and sophisticated striptease, Glamonatrix. It’s her anticipated follow-up to The Art Of The Teese, which was dubbed the most successful burlesque tour of all time. Von Teese leads an all-new variety show in four acts, set to feature martinisipping, a bejewelled surprise cake routine, Von Teese’s twist on lion taming, and, of course, a titillating “Lipteese”, set to the music of French electronic artist Sebastien Tellier and Monarchy’s Andrew Armstrong. She’ll be joined by beloved burlesque performers like Dirty Martini and Australian Zelia Rose, dressed in dazzling costumes by people like corset maker Mister Pearl, designer Jenny Packham, couturier Alexis Mabille, burlesque star Catherine D’Lish and more. Expect Swarovski crystals, sparkling lipstick, body positivity, and a whole lot of glam.
Dita Von Teese is on tour from 19 Nov.
The best of The Arts in November
Gin Palooza Thirty-nine gin distillers from Australia and New Zealand take over Sydney’s Paddington Town Hall for a celebration of all things juniper this month. The event is set to feature over 200 gins, masterclasses, bottomless tastings, meet-the-makers sessions and gourmet tapas. From 21 Nov at Paddington Town Hall
HMS Pinafore Kate Gaul directs his gender-bending production of a Gilbert and Sullivan classic about the love between a captain’s daughter and a sailor, featuring songs like I Am The Monarch Of The Sea and I’m Called Little Buttercup.
From 8 Nov at Hayes Theatre
School Of Rock The Musical Helpmann winner Brent Hill takes a hearty crack at Jack Black’s iconic role from the 2003 film, faking it as a substitute music teacher at a private school who teaches his new students about the power of dirty rock’n’roll. From 8 Nov at Capitol Theatre
The Nutcracker The Australian Ballet bring Birmingham Royal Ballet Artistic Director Peter Wright’s production of The Nutcracker to Sydney audiences this month. The classic Tchaikovsky score will have you dreaming of Christmas a little too early this year. Pic by Jeff Busby.
From 30 Nov at Joan Sutherland Theatre, Sydney Opera House
Keanu Reeves-a-thon This month, Randwick’s Ritz celebrates the oeuvre of Keanu Reeves – from early roles in Bill And Ted’s Excellent Adventure and My Own Private Idaho, to his action movies Speed and John Wick, to the romantic The Lake House, and, of course, The Matrix.
From 1 Nov at The Ritz Cinema Randwick
New Breed Sydney Dance Company’s annual showcase of the best emerging contemporary choreographers returns to Carriageworks this month for its sixth year. The 2019 line-up includes new work from Josh Mu, Lauren Langlois, Ariella Casu and Davide Di Giovanni. Pic by Pedro Greig. From 28 Nov at Carriageworks
ON IN NOVEMBER
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Drink Responsibly. THE MUSIC
Film & TV Years And Years
HHHH Airs from 6 Nov on SBS
Reviewed by Guy Davis
he six-episode drama Years And Years, penned by Russell T Davies of Queer As Folk and Doctor Who fame, jumps ahead a few years with each episode, following a British family as they wrestle with seemingly every dilemma the 2020s has to offer. But the populism, inequality, fearmongering, radicalisation and general sense of total fucking precariousness depicted in this show is very much rooted in the here and now. Such conspicuous relevance can be a blessing and a curse. Watching Years And Years, one can easily empathise with the members of the Lyons family — it helps that the clan is so very diverse in how the four siblings each represent a different economic strata and socio-political leaning — as they contend with everything from a topsyturvy economy to turbo-charged identity politics. But at the same time, anyone who’s paid even the slightest attention to current affairs may feel an overwhelming sense of familiarity.
Giving hot-button topics a (barely) fictional framework provides room for different perspectives and interpretations, and Davies and his excellent cast, including Rory Kinnear, Russell Tovey and Jessica Hynes, imbue their characters with genuine heart and soul. Even when Years And Years threatens to edge into a highlight reel of worst-case scenarios (Donald Trump set off a nuke! All the butterflies are dead!), its human element serves as a vivid reminder of the toll that is taken. Oh, but there’s also Emma Thompson, terribly impressive as a wealthy political outlier who gains power by playing on voters’ fear and anger. Years And Years is overwhelmingly a superior piece of mainstream drama, one that serves as a strong reminder of the hazards that are prevalent now, and the possible solutions that we have within our grasp.
Judy & Punch
HHH½ In cinemas 21 Nov
Reviewed by Anthony Carew
irrah Foulkes’ directorial debut, a riff on the most famous names in domestic violence-themed puppetry, is one of the most distinctive — and ridiculous — Australian films in years. At once grim fairy tale, social satire, absurdist parable, and magic-realist tragicomedy, it’s a mixture of horror and hilarity that seems unexpectedly indebted to The Simpsons’ Treehouse Of Horror tale that riffed on the Salem witch trials and small town moral hypocrisy. In a storybook Ye Olde village, local yokels have two forms of entertainment: puppet shows and public executions. Mr Punch (Damon Herriman, local cinema’s number one villain after his The Nightingale turn) and his wife, Judy (Mia Wasikowska), have arrived in town to perform their puppet show in front of the braying drunkards at the grimy pub, McDrinky’s. Mr Punch himself proves to be a nasty, vituperative drunk, and a traditional trope of the Punch & Judy show — Punch hitting his wife with a big black stick — is repurposed here as an act
of horrifying violence. Judy is left for dead in the woods, where she discovers a community of outcasts, hatches a plot for revenge, and foments a feminist uprising. In her revisionist Punch & Judy spin, Foulkes is undertaking a study of violence, in both cultural and pop-cultural forms. Here, violence is a form of domestic oppression and tool of righteous rebellion. But it’s also entertainment, both in the puppet show within, and in cinema itself. At its beginning, the film’s title banner is laid over a shot — a frontal tableau — of the crowd gathered to see Punch and Judy perform; at its end, as the credits roll, we see vintage newsreels of real-life children watching the puppets, often in horror. Though it’s set in storybook yore, Judy & Punch is very much about the contemporary (and extremely online) climate, interrogating violent entertainment, morality policing, and angry mob justice. The film does this all while remaining funny, fun, and genuinely silly — this anything but the standard Australian arthouse fare.
artin McDonagh’s The Beauty Queen Of Leenane explores the extremely dysfunctional relationship between Mag and her daughter, and full-time carer, Maureen, played respectively by Australian acting legend Noni Hazlehurst and Orange Is The New Black’s Yael Stone. Director Paige Rattray describes the play as a “wicked, very, very, very, very, very, very, very dark comedy”: “I would say that it is the darkest comedy about a mother-daughter relationship that I have ever read, and will probably ever see on stage.” It was the playwright, Martin McDonagh, perhaps best known for his film career, including writing and directing In Bruges and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, that drew Yael Stone to the project. “The play itself is really tight, really dynamic, and I felt like I could trust it,” Stone says. It’s her first theatre role since performing in The Blind Giant Is Dancing for Belvoir back in 2016, opposite her then-partner, Dan Spielman. But it feels like a much longer period of time between walks on the theatre boards - “That feels like a lifetime ago,” she says. In her years away from the Australian creative community, since moving to New York in late 2011, Stone emphasises, “A lot has happened for me, and I’ve done more growing up than I’ve ever done in my life.” Before breaking out as fan favourite Lorna Morello on Orange Is The New Black, Stone says “theatre was very much [her] world”. “I felt nervous and intimidated by being back in a theatre, because it’s quite a rigorous medium,” she admits. But the sheer quality of McDonagh’s script helped Stone to overcome that discomfort. “[The play] has a really undeniable internal engine. I felt like, if I just do what McDonagh tells me to do, I’ll be 60 percent there, you know? And then, of course, the reality of that is like, wow, it’s still really fucking hard.” Stone is also excited to again be starring in a show in Sydney, her hometown, and to reengage with the Australian theatre community she’s been absent from for a long time. “I’m bringing a whole new self to an artform that used to be very familiar to me,” she says. That whole new self includes her new role as a mother - her daughter was born in May last year. That new way of being in the world, as a carer herself, has changed the way she approaches her acting practice. “I think in some ways being an actor requires a lot of time and I just have a lot less time available in my life. I’m just negotiating, and look, sometimes totally failing,
or feeling like I’m failing often, at striking the balance. “But I can’t help but think the richness of your life experiences is only helpful in terms of understanding other people and portraying a human experience, which really is the goal of the act of theatre - at least for me. So the more I understand about being a person hopefully the better a performer I am, and I just trust that that will infuse my work.” For Rattray, who grew up in regional Tasmania, one of the most interesting elements of the play comes from its setting: a village in the Irish hills of Connemara. “I also come from an isolated place, so I kind of identified with it in one way,” Rattray says. She actually first read the play when her mum was caring for her grandmother in a small, isolated town - an uncomfortable parallel. “[The play] was wickedly funny and then obviously it took a turn, and I was like, ‘Oh my God.’. It made me think a lot about people living in isolated places who don’t necessarily have access to care, or help, at home, and then what that does psychologically to [someone], particularly to women. “I think quite often when big events happen that we don’t understand, that you could call tragic or violent, particularly in small communities, there’s a lot of, ‘Oh, how could that have happened?’ But people aren’t actually really asking that question,” Rattray explains. “I’m really interested in, well, actually how do things like this happen and why do they happen? And what happens when there isn’t any support there for people? The worst version of this play would be that people brush Maureen aside as, you know, a crazy 40-year-old spinster living in the hills of Connemara.” There’s a lot of beauty to those hills of Connemara, but Rattray says that the isolation of the space can almost be a “trap”. “The landscape becomes something that [people] are kind of battling with - like the rocks and the mud - and they have to live in it day-to-day.” Maureen, Rattray observes, is driven by an urge to find a way out of that claustrophobic setting of a small, unkept cottage in an overwhelmingly expansive place. While the play sees the 40-year-old Maureen attempting to pursue her firstever romantic relationship, to any ends, that effort underlies her real motivation: to escape. “I don’t know whether she necessarily wants to fall in love as much as she wants to get out of that house,” Rattray says. “And she sees that as an avenue or a way to get out of there, which is very problematic in
Pic: Rene Vaile
Actor Yael Stone and director Paige Rattray talk to Hannah Story about the urge to break free and the festering grudges that underpin Martin McDonagh’s The Beauty Queen Of Leenane.
“I felt nervous and intimidated by being back in a theatre” – Yael Stone
its own way. But when you see the situation that she’s in, you would understand that any option that she had to get out of there, she’d take it.” Stone agrees, using that impulse to get away to help her empathise and inhabit her character: “Maureen has a restlessness and a keen desire to break what she’s in,” she says. “I think we all know that feeling in some form or another, so it’s about like honing in on that sense of confinement, frustration, that you may or may not have felt in your life and expanding it.” The play also depicts people, not just Mag and Maureen, holding onto resentments for literal decades. Is there a lesson we can take away from the way the play examines people’s personal histories? “There is a cautionary tale about being stuck, about being fixed, about festering
T H E AT R E
grudges,” Stone concludes. “There is some lesson in there for us.” Rattray adds that there’s something to be learned from The Beauty Queen Of Leenane about “kindness and patience and reaching out to people who are unable to ask for help”. “I think there are a lot of people who can be forgotten, particularly in isolated places within the world. And who aren’t often given a voice - I really love about this play that we’re seeing people who we don’t usually see on our stages.”
The Beauty Queen Of Leenane plays from 18 Nov at Roslyn Packer Theatre.
Newtown Festival Back for its 41st (!) year, Newtown Festival returns to Camperdown Memorial Rest Park on 10 Nov. Not only is it a day of music, art, talks, workshops, food, a kids zone and perennial fave, the dog show, it is a key fundraiser for the Newtown Neighbourhood Centre, enabling it to provide frontline services for those doing it tough in the Inner West. So drop your fiver at the entry gates to support them, then enjoy a massive day and tunes from the likes of The Soul Movers, The Buoys, The Goods, The Delta Riggs and more (we promise they’re not all acts with a “The” in their name, but we can promise you they are all locals in a nice programming touch).
Pic: (L-R) Murray Cook (The Soul Movers), Black Tree (The Goods), Zoe Catterall (The Buoys), Lizzie Mack (The Soul Movers). Photo by Josh Groom.
Toast of the town
The Delta Riggs
It’s that time of year again. This month Newtown Festival will celebrate the best of the Inner West with tunes, food and general good vibes. In fact, the event inspires a community spirit you don’t often see these days. We asked the artists playing why that might be.
Lots of suburbs put on festivals, but Newtown Festival is always particularly huge — why do you think that is?
I think because most people who live in or around Sydney have some sort of connection to Newtown, like seeing their first band at a pub, or fave band at the Enmore.
Newtown as a whole has such an amazing arts scene so it makes sense that everyone is stoked to come together to celebrate that! It’s also just such an inclusive space.
Newtown is home to the artists, musicians, dancers, ‘weirdos’, the creatives and foodies. Its culture has been carved by those people, naturally any time there is a communitywide event, the community gets down.
The Soul Movers
All the music scene in Sydney is Inner West predominately, home to the best venues and culturally significant musicians and creatives for that matter.
It’s because Newtown is known for its artists, musicians and food so people know they will get something special. Newtown is known for being very inclusive and the festival reflects that.
Good location, willing neighbours, much community spirit.
The Delta Riggs Michael Tramonte
I think the Inner West really gets behind the local community, especially Newtown, Enmore, etc. The locals love their neighbourhood and support local festivals and events. It’s fantastic and should be applauded.
This year’s musical line-up is entirely from the Inner West — what is it about the area that inspires so much creativity?
The Delta Riggs
I mean it helps that every weirdo from NSW moves here and actively tries to get weirder. There’s so many separate little scenes, especially for young people, to latch onto and explore.
It’s such a privilege to live in the Inner West. Every night of the week you can see an amazing band, you’re surrounded by great food and a culture that prioritises inclusivity and diversity. Mush that all together and you have arts influences galore.
Young people with not much money and a whole lot of passion. But then again, all ages, and a diversity that makes the inner west gritty, fun, inclusive and open!
I think it’s the way the community celebrates the area. Things are a little different there and that’s a good thing. It’s diverse and being different and creative expression is welcomed. It really helps liberate the area in a way.
The Soul Movers
A lot of artists and musicians were attracted to Newtown when I moved here in the ‘80s as it was cheap. It had a grungy vibe and wasn’t as fashion conscious as Surry Hills or Darlinghurst. It developed a reputation as an arts centre which continues today.
Not sure, but Westside 4 lyfe.
SCABZ Siobhan Poynton
The Soul Movers
I still think of Newtown as this enchanting, fairytale community that values its residents for their ability to be bold, express who they are, create things, wear whatever, love whoever. Newtown is iconic, if you’re like me and stumble into Newtown as a teenager it’ll put a spell on you.
Newtown Festival is on 10 Nov at Camperdown Memorial Rest Park.
For the latest live reviews go to theMusic.com.au
Yours & Owls @ Stuart Park. Photos by Peter Dovgan.
Back for its sixth year at Wollongong’s Stuart Park, a now staple of the festi-
val calendar returned with a massive
line-up of over 70 acts over two days. It featured the likes of Courtney Barnett,
“Every year these guys work tirelessly to ensure there’s something for everyone to enjoy, and every year they deliver.” - Ben Nicol
Amy Shark, Golden Features, Kira
Puru, Genesis Owusu, Angie McMa-
hon, Kwame and many, many more.
This month’s highlights A little bit of this, a little bit of that
This year’s This That has three stages, each featuring a specially curated line-up. Head to Newcastle’s Wickham Park on 9 Nov for sets from Alex Lahey, San Mei, Golden Features and more.
Chakra Efendi. Pic: Jess McDonald
Spunk Records and Dinosaur City Records are bringing together their rosters and taking them for a tour of their NSW hometowns to inspire and educate the state’s next generation of musos. It all kicks off this 9 Nov with Chakra Efendi, FLOWERTRUCK and more at Marrickville Golf Club.
Honky-plonk Boutique touring festival Grapevine Gathering are back with another bill as impressive as their wine list. Two Door Cinema Club, Flight Facilities, Jack River and more perform at Roche Estate in the Hunter Valley this 30 Nov.
Mojo Juju is stopping at City Recital Hall this 26 Nov to perform her award-winning album, Native Tongue. The show is also an intimate look at the stories behind the record, revealing how her family history and relationships with First Nations Elders inform her identity and her music. Mojo Juju
Having returned from a string of European and UK dates, Winterbourne are taking their debut album Echo Of Youth around Australia. You can catch heartfelt indie jams like Too Many on 16 Nov at Metro Theatre, with Patrick James supporting.
What’s your scene?
If you love the classics, Scene & Heard festival has you covered this 10 Nov. Head to Wickham Park in Newcastle and catch tried-and-true industry veterans like Wolfmother, Sneaky Sound System and Eskimo Joe tear up the stage.
Dear Seattle, Eagle Eye Jones, Stumps and more take over Rat Park this 16 Nov for alcohol-free, all ages community event, A Day For The Beaches, curated and headlined by Ocean Alley. The show will also raise money and awareness for One Eighty and Cerebral Palsy Alliance.
Winterbourne. Pic: Daniel Boud
SUMMER CONCERT SERIES
the best and the worst of the month’s zeitgeist
The lashes Front
Pic via Fire Drill Friday’s Instagram
Pic via ABC
Praise the Sun
The mercury has finally
Uluru has officially closed to
October was another big
A platoon of hooligans
It shouldn’t need to be said,
The planet has spoken, after
tipped past the point where
the public at the behest of
month for climate protest.
but please don’t kill animals
years of mistreatment and
we can take a dip without
its Traditional Custodians,
Non-violent activist move-
chants on public trans-
for kicks. If you feel the
wanton kookaburra slaugh-
fear of frostbite. The sun is
the Anangu. After one last
ment Extinction Rebellion
port isn’t a bit of fun, it’s
need to tear the head off of
ter, humanity is to be swept
shining! The birds are sing-
rush of clueless tourists
took to the streets around
terrifying. The footage of
kookaburras, or mow down
away in a wash of venom-
ing! The pollen is every-
(looking at you, Hanson),
the world, including here in
St Kevin’s College students
swathes of kangaroos with
ous sea snakes - which last
where and doing awful
the sacred site is no longer
Aus, while OG activist Jane
shows a brazen disregard
your car, or stone wombats
month starting mysterious-
things to our sinuses! That’s
accessible to climbers.
Fonda got cuffed three
for women that doesn’t
to death, take a deep breath
ly washing up on Australian
times protesting in Wash-
bode well for anybody.
and remember that you’re
beaches en masse. Nope.
not the shining centre of
Not a fan.
still a win!
ington DC. Legend.
What shaped trophy do they give out at the Teen Choice Awards?
2. Which Australian artist won a Grammy for Dance/Electronic Album in 2017? 3. What three iconic words became a meme after the 2015 VMAs? Cartoon by Kazuki Komatsu. Curated by Chris Neill.
4. Which artist has won a Grammy, Brit, VMA, ARIA... plus a Gold Logie (better than an EGOT)? 5. Which Aus comedian won a 2019 Emmy in a field that included Beyonce, Adam Sandler and Amy Schumer? 6. What red carpet moment inspired the creation of Google Images?
7. In what year did Kanye interrupt Taylor Swift at the VMAs? 8. Whose ARIA Award impaled their bedroom floor earlier this year? 9. Who currently holds the record for most ARIA Awards won? 10. Which short film won Walt Disney a posthumous Oscar?
Test your award knowledge.
1. Surfboard 2. Flume 3. “Miley, what’s good?” 4. Kylie Minogue 5. Hannah Gadsby 6. J Lo, Green Dress, 2000 Grammys 7. 2009 8. Montaigne 9. Silverchair, 21 10. Winnie the Pooh And The Blustery Day
ONE SHOW ONLY
SUNDAY 17 NOVEMBER FIRST STATE SUPER THEATRE
JOINED ON STAGE BY GRAMMY AWARD-WINNING BLUEGRASS BAND THE STEEP CANYON RANGERS
FINAL SHOWS ADDED!
26 & 30 NOVEMBER STATE THEATRE
SATURDAY 7 DECEMBER FIRST STATE SUPER THEATRE
Y A D S E WEDN UARY 15 JANORE ENM RE T A E H T
SUNDAY 8 DECEMBER FACTORY THEATRE
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The Music is a free, monthly magazine distributed throughout Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane. From local insights and insider knowledge to in...
Published on Nov 1, 2019
The Music is a free, monthly magazine distributed throughout Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane. From local insights and insider knowledge to in...