ISSUE 010 2017 SUMMER 2017/18 YEWTHMAG.COM FREE
Yewth acknowledges the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people of this nation and honours their continued cultural and spiritual connection to the land, waters and sea. We acknowledge and pay our respects to ancestors and Elders, past, present and emerging, as the traditional custodians of the lands on which we meet, create and publish.
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ISSUE 010 - SUMMER 2017/18 FEATURING:
F R O M THE EDITOR – 9
EMPLOYING ARTISTS – 23
GERRY WEDD – 25
A B B E Y F O R - SHARNI HOWL- TROSE H O N 43 OR – 53 ETT – 35 – C D W STUDIOS – 61
F A R E - NEXT GEN W E L L JOURNOS C R E AT E D 71 RANGE – 69 –
Caleb Sweeting email@example.com CREATIVE DIRECTOR
Dave Court firstname.lastname@example.org EDITOR / HEAD OF VIDEO
Lewis Brideson email@example.com PR / EVENTS
Courtney Duka firstname.lastname@example.org ASSISTANT EDITOR
Libby Parker ONLINE EDITORS
Freya Langley email@example.com Haneen Martin firstname.lastname@example.org Paul Maland email@example.com
Lewis Brideson @lewisbrideson Lucas Croall @lucascroall Caleb Sweeting @lobby_sweet_thing Matthew Hayward @prayersonfireadl Caitlin Tait @caitlintait Liam Bosecke @liamliamliam CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS
Dave Court @dave.court Ryan Cantwell @_cantwell Jack Fenby @fenj_ Matt Gully
Matthew Fortrose @_fortrose_ Gerry Wedd @gerrywedd
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55 Flinders Street, Adelaide, SA 5000 SUPPORT US
Front Cover artwork by Fortrose, photographed by Dave Court Back cover flag borrowed from Drew at Tooth and Nail. Yewth is for equality. Inside cover details by Gerry Wedd Design, layout and typography by Dave Court.
From The Editor... It was around National Mental Health Week 2017 when I was struggling to balance everything. I had accepted a full-time traineeship, separate to my position at Yewth, and soon stress started to take over. I couldn’t sleep properly at night; a mixture of constant work emails and calls, even messages from friends asking to catch up felt like a tsunami of things added to my to-do list. I find it difficult to say no to new opportunities; I’m a ‘yes man’. But with a full-time job and Yewth to do in my ‘spare’ time, it felt as though maybe I had bitten off more than I could chew. This is sadly a common story for creatives like myself, who earn little to nothing from the likes of writing, photography and art, because most of the time we’re doing it for the ‘love’, or for the ‘exposure’. Everyone involved in Yewth works additional jobs, because for the most part we aren’t paid for our time. We see a gap in Adelaide music and art media and we’re willing to sacrifice our time to keep it alive. However, I realised sacrificing my mental health was not worth the words printed on these pages.
I needed to do something to get back in control of the situation. I found that, for me, the issue wasn’t necessarily all the things I needed to do, it was finding better ways to approach my workload. I love paper and ink (hence this magazine), so I would always write things in a notebook. But what I found was I’d lose notes and couldn’t track my progress efficiently. My situation started to get better when I took a step back and put in place some systems to stay organised (such as this handy project management app called Asana). Suddenly the gazillions of things I needed to do appeared clearer in front of me. It sounds simple, but it’s easy for your to-do list to get out of control – it’s a bit like when your bedroom is a pigsty and you don’t know where to begin. If you have what you need to do mapped out, it can put your mind at ease. Find a system that works for you. Funnily enough this editor’s note was actually on my to-do list. I’m feeling relief now it’s ticked off. Being in control of what you need to do for school, TAFE, uni or work is incredibly liberating, so I encourage you to take charge of your own to-do list. You’ll thank yourself for it in the long run. - Caleb Sweeting
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UHURU THE LABEL Tell us about Uhuru the Label Uhuru the Label is a sustainable fashion and lifestyle brand based in South Australia, creating unique garments that combine both form and function. I aim to be as environmentally conscious as possible with everything I create. The fabric used at Uhuru is all second-hand, re-purposed or recycled and all cut-offs and scraps are saved and used for projects later on. Any fabric dyeing or printing at Uhuru is done using locally sourced plants, or rust. I do all my making and upcycling in my studio/store space located in the courtyard of the GU Film House on Hindley Street. What made you apply for Renew Adelaide’s ‘Own It’ program? I knew about the work that Renew Adelaide has done all over the city (and further!) throughout the years and the ‘Own It’ program was the perfect chance for young people like myself to have the extra support that makes pursuing your goals and starting your own business possible!
What advice would you give to another young entrepreneur who is second guessing if their business idea will work? Talk to people! Find others working in the field you’re looking to start your business and ask for their opinions, advice and criticisms – it’s all helpful! It’s important to know what you want for your business, but it’s more important to be flexible. How has Renew Adelaide helped your business idea grow? Renew Adelaide has helped my business idea grow by making it a reality! Having a space to run my business from within the city has allowed me to put my dreams into practice and to learn so much about running my business. The information and support that Renew Adelaide has provided has been invaluable and has allowed both my business and myself to grow immensely. @uhuruthelabel 10A 128 Hindley St
FLEUR AND BREW Tell us about Fleur and Brew. Fleur and Brew is a little tranquil space in the hustle and bustle of Adelaide city – a blended florist, coffee house and plant market. Our aim is to provide good quality coffee, the freshest of flowers and unique plants. What made you apply for Renew Adelaide’s ‘Own It’ program? The idea of owning our own business was so appealing, Renew’s Own It Program seemed like a once in a lifetime opportunity being that it was aimed for under 25s and was providing support in all areas around a business, including concept development, space provision, financial support and business and marketing. How could we not apply?!
What advice would you give other young entrepreneurs who are second guessing if their business idea will work? If it’s a good idea people will not only back you but help your idea grow, so don’t be afraid to get out there and start to share what you’ve got in mind. How has Renew Adelaide helped your business idea grow? Renew have been a massive support before and after we first opened our doors around five months ago. They’ve helped our business grow through continuous support in marketing, business aspects and simply being present, meaning we don’t feel so exposed running a business for the first time.
@fleurandbrew 53 Gilbert St
CAT AND FOX FILMS Tell us about Cat and Fox Films. Cat and Fox Films is a production company that makes affordable video content for small businesses. Our business model is to keep costs of production low, but still achieve high production results. We don’t just offer filmmaking services; we also provide other means of promotional material for clients. Be it photography for social media or the creation and maintenance of web design, we want to make sure a business is increasing its maximum exposure in the most economical way possible. With creativity and innovation, we hope to encapsulate a brand’s aesthetic and mantra through advertising material. What made you apply for Renew Adelaide’s ‘Own It’ program? Renew Adelaide were perfect for our business model as they were excited to take a chance on creative businesses with well thought out proposals. Not only had we seen other businesses that had gone through the program, but all had been successful in establishing themselves within the market through Renew’s help. We felt the program would be beneficial to start up our business idea within the budgetary means of our company. What advice would you give to other young entrepreneurs who are second guessing if their business idea will work? It’s as simple as going for it. Starting a business is quite a daunting and terrifying environment, you have no idea at all if it will succeed or what sort of future there will be. But if you genuinely feel passionate about the
work you do and what you want to bring to the world, then it’s worth every risk. It’s such a rewarding experience to work every day for something you love. And if it doesn’t work, it isn’t the end of your career. You learn from the mistakes you made and come back into the business world a more knowledgeable and passionate self. How has Renew Adelaide helped your business idea grow? Being young and fresh out of university, the worry of starting up a business can be quite daunting. The Own It program gave us the support and mentorship needed to strive in a completely unfamiliar environment. We had no previous experience at all running a business; Renew developed and supported our growth through various business programs, seminars and personal counsel. Without them, we wouldn’t have a foundation for our business or the motivation to keep working hard to achieve our goals.
@catandfoxfilms 33 Pirie St
MONOMYTH GAMES Tell us about Monomyth Games. We are Monomyth Games, indie game developers who are working on our first game, the Kickstarter-funded mass surveillance thriller Need to Know. We’re now deep into the process of development, and will release a beta version of the game in November. What made you apply for Renew Adelaide’s ‘Own It’ program? We felt that the team would benefit from having a common space to work and collaborate in, rather than out of our respective houses. Although we’d received funding from members of the public to develop our game, we’d already allocated that money directly for development of the game. Therefore, we couldn’t quite justify the cost of a commercial lease. Renew Adelaide’s ‘Own It’ program has given us a chance to trial our business in an office space, without taking on what – for now at least – would be a considerable financial risk. What advice would you give to other young entrepreneurs who are second guessing if their business idea will work?
Spend a bunch of time researching your options and try not to fixate on one path too early. If you think you’ve got a good idea, brainstorm plenty more, and compare them to see which comes out on top. Also, never be afraid to market test your idea early, even with friends or family – make mistakes as early as possible. Lastly, if you’re at all confident about it, try and make it happen – you can only succeed by trying! How has Renew Adelaide helped your business idea grow? Renew Adelaide has given us a great opportunity to try out a commercial lease, which we may otherwise have been far more cautious about. We’ve already experienced a bunch of benefits from our office space, including increased productivity and communication. It also helps us to feel like a more legitimate business, and as our company grows, the need for a central workspace will become even greater. Having this experience will put us in a great position for any future expansion.
monomyth-games.com 33 Pirie St
Words by Lewis Brideson Illustrations by Dave Court
Runaway Moon Netflix is overrated. Binge on neon-lit web series Runaway Moon, a dark misfit fairy tale cut to the sounds and streets of Adelaide and created by some of our cityâ€™s finest. Watch at runawaymoonseries.com and on YouTube
Bored Kids Who Draw Far from boring clothing label. Could definitely use some of these BKWD threads for summer. Their aesthetic is a mix of cultural, social and viral styles. boredkidswhodraw.com
Adobe Spark Post The app you didnâ€™t know existed to help you get a leg up on your social game. Available on iTunes
Slick Lobster Podcast This podcast utilises the public forum of a barbershop to further a conversation about Adelaide and the people and businesses driving its growth. Good for those long train rides. Available on iTunes
Ali Barter Tea Towel An Ali Barter x Gift Box Organic collab where femaleness is ammunition â€“ itâ€™s power on a tea towel. alibartermusic.com
Joint Ventures A few overly modest local producers soon to become your beat homies. These dudes regularly deliver quality lofi hip-hop cassette tapes. jointventures.bandcamp.com
Cult and Harper Port Adelaide’s new creative playground for arts, fashion and culture. Part studio space, part retail store and part cultural hub, it’s a loft worth sussin’ out. Level 1, 168 St Vincent St, Port Adelaide
The City Standard A local entrepreneurial answer to shit mainstream media, The City Standard is a new and active interface for local journalism run by our friends over at CityMag. Sign up at citystandard.com.au
Jameson Caskmates Young Henrys Edition whiskey What happens when brewery buddies exchange barrels? A super limited edition whiskey aged in Young Henrys’ red ale barrels with hints of caramel, malt and subtle hops. Only available at limited bars and outlets
Mr Chuck Dachsund The insta-famous doggo you need in your life right now. He likes snacks and naps just like you. @mr.chuck.dachshund
Linktree Attention artists and businesses, make your one and only link on Instagram count. See Yewth’s very own Instagram for Linktree in action. www.linktr.ee
Two Bit Villains Local specialists in preparing tucker for vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free and dairy-intolerant eaters, Two Bit Villains is that restaurant/soda bar perched on Adelaide Arcade’s balcony. 150 Rundle Mall, Adelaide
Sound Garage Hindley Street’s new home for creatives, craftsman and music fans alike. It’s where stringed instruments are born, restored and go for their first tattoo. Upstairs at 1/179 Hindley Street, Adelaide
Photo: Ryan Cantwell
re you a business owner looking to have your new venue decorated, but can’t bear to pay an architect, designer or builder to fabricate new furnishings, install new light fixtures, lay down new tiles, or put in some nice plants? Well, never fear, because you can always get the latest available artist to slap some hot paint around the room for next to nothing, if not for free! Small tip: if you downplay them hard enough, they might even provide the paint.
When meeting the artist, feel free to raise a suspicious eyebrow or scowl at any moment they try to suggest that they’ll require an amount of money that would justify the time, material costs, consideration and “labour” that would go into decorating your sixmetre-long wall.
This is classic con-man talk – it is almost certainly code for “please give me your money to fund my drug habit”. Always keep this simple thought in mind: it’s not your fault that this silly billy has spent the good part of their life developing a style so predictable that you could have put it together in a week if you actually took the time to sit down with a pencil and paper. So why should you pay for it? Isn’t it usually the case that creatives are just simpletons, anyway?
Why else would they find themselves in their mid-tolate twenties, still trying to paint triangles for a living? You may be correct, but the truth of the matter is, it doesn’t matter why. All that matters is that you are a legitimate business owner with hard earned money. They are best thought of as strange, bohemian mongrels that never had the foresight to learn how to do anything worthwhile This myth that the presence of fine art can invoke excitement in the lives of your customers and employees, and contribute to helping them feel comfortable enough to want to stick around, is, you guessed it; a trap. Art doesn’t actually DO anything. In fact, even the finest work of art is so disposable, that the act of creating it is only barely comparable to folding up and throwing a paper aeroplane. Or, better yet, urinating into a gutter. Aren’t we just talking about a paint job here? If anything, this helot should be on their ungrateful (probably tattooed) knees as we speak, working diligently to extract the venerated semen from your powerful cash-loaded hard-on with their trifling, uneducated mouth holes as thanks for having offered
them the exposure that your new groundbreaking venture will no doubt grant their non-existent careers. And most importantly, remember this; YOU may deserve to partake in cocaine-fueled sex parties, but these scummy pieces of human garbage certainly do not. They are much better suited to carting around their collection of clapped-out paint brushes in the back of their dinged-up Barina, which – by the way – is almost certainly missing all but one flogged-out hub cap (suckers). If this rings true for you, call me sometime. I’m your guy.
to invest any money into its transformation will somehow pay off for you in some other way. After all, if your customers have a sticky corner to slam back a few G’n’Ts, they won’t care whether it’s Buckingham Palace or a polluted gutter in the slums of an abandoned land-fill site. Never forget that they are even more disposable and insignificant than these artists in question, and that you are going straight to the top. Success! lucas.croall.com.au @lucascroall
Oh, and I will leave you with one final thought, on behalf of all artists everywhere. I double-dare you to utter the word ‘exposure’ one more time. It may just be the one that compels someone to slash your tyres, or maybe even tag up your fence, completely undeterred by the defensive barks of your disgruntled Pomeranian. No one devalues our triangles like that and gets away with it. Because they are hot as f*ck. We wish you all the best with your new venture. I’m sure your reluctance
Gerry Wedd has bounced between surfing and pottery for most of his life. He’s a South Australian legend who was a surfing champion in the ‘70s and is locally known for regular hitchhikes to the beach. He’s also an acclaimed ceramicist who is represented in national and international collections. Yewth had an opportunity to catch up with Gerry to chat about life, surfing, art and his inability to play sport. “I probably wanted to be good at footy, but couldn’t catch a ball,” Gerry laughs. “Because I was so bad at the other sports, I seemed to have a natural inclination to surf.” One of six kids, Gerry grew up in Port Noarlunga, not far from where he lives now at Port Elliot. It was a different era during his youth: open paddocks, kids not coming home till teatime, freedom and surfing. It was only natural Gerry would gravitate towards the surf. “There was a really strong beach culture,” Gerry says. “I’m pretty sure I stole my brother’s board from the lifesaving club at Port Noarlunga and that’s the first time I went surfing.” From the get-go, he was a competitive surfer who formed a deep relationship with the sea. “I think I got good at – and this just sounds kind of wanky – but really good at reading the ocean,” he says. “So when I competed, I think I always felt like I had an advantage.” 27
“I was observant about all kinds of things to do with how often waves were coming, all that kind of thing. So I wasn’t better at the act, I don’t think. I think I just approached it in a different way.” Gerry is incredibly modest about his accomplishments as a surfer, artist and host. The Yewth team were set up in his backyard studio on the main street of Port Elliot where he makes pots, plates, cups and more. He brewed some coffee for us and apologised that it’s not the best, that it’s just “okay”. The coffee is good and tastes even better out of one of the cups Gerry has made by hand. His studio looks more like a makeshift shed compared to his wife’s out-house studio (she also is an artist). However, the lighting is perfect and it’s all he needs. It’s fair to say Gerry’s perception of pottery has changed immensely from his youth to now. Surfing and ceramics may seem like opposites, but the two are directly connected in his life. “I’d surf with friends who were kind of hippy-potters when I was about 12 - 13 and my mum had already been making pots, but I just thought what she was making wasn’t very good,” he says. Like most teenagers, Gerry thought his friends were making things that were relevant to his life and his mother was just making things she needed for the home. As Gerry put it: “‘Cause it was my mother. Of course your mother isn’t gonna be making cool shit, you know?” After Gerry’s mother took a pottery course with his older sister, she turned a hobby into a way to bring money into the household by making and selling ceramics. Gerry was soon asked to be part of the creative process.
“She would make a plate, like a pie dish or something, and she didn’t like anything that was unadorned. She would say ‘can you draw a fish on this, can you draw a whatever on that’ – and
I was just a kid, but I had drawn a lot, so I was quite happy to just do it.” This family collaboration continued when Gerry dropped out of school in Year 11; he became somewhat of an apprentice potter with the guidance of his mother – not exactly by choice. “I think I was kind of paying board by making work, so she taught me to make pots on the wheel and make the things that were too big. She was kind of frail and I just… I was really embarrassed,” he laughs. However, as Gerry grew, so did his fondness for ceramics and what his mother was doing. “My mother was a great model of someone doing what they loved, initially just doing it for fun and then people really liking it… people buying it,” he says.
“I was admiring all these people who were involved in the counter-culture, but she was a model of it, you know, in the kitchen making pots. The other great thing about making ceramics is that you can work at night, so if there was surf you could wrap things up in plastic and go. So I didn’t ever really have to get a ‘job’,” he laughs. To put it simply, Gerry was searching for the counter-culture; going against the grain and the social norm, when his mother was part of it all along, in her own way: in the lounge room making pots. While Gerry was a natural artist, drawing on clay is a bit like playing tennis on clay; it presents a new challenge. Luckily, he had plenty of his mother’s creations to practice on. “I just drew willy-nilly and so I got really proficient at drawing on clay, you know, inadvertently,” he says.
Gerry understands now, that drawing on pots is considered sacrilege by some ceramicists. The way some see it, the pot, plate or cup is an artwork in itself. “Lots of people don’t like decorating pots because they’ve invested so much time in making the object, they don’t want to kind of wreck it. It was all form follows function,” he says. “There’s all these kind of Japanese ideas about ceramics and I wasn’t invested in any of that.” What Gerry was invested in was becoming an artist. He applied for art school, but was unsuccessful. “Because I was a really bad student at school, I nearly failed Year 11 – I was spending most of my time at the beach,” he admits. “So I applied for art school and didn’t get in straight from high school, which I was pretty annoyed about. I ended up doing a TAFE course in jewellery making.” 30
After TAFE, Gerry became a self-described hippy for about ten years, making pots and jewellery to earn his keep. Then in his late 20s living in Somerton, he met, in his words, some “more sophisticated” friends who admired his work, but said he could develop more if he gave art school another crack. “I ignored them for a couple of years,” Gerry says. “But then I gave in and did a degree at Underdale, which is UniSA basically.” Very soon the surfing artist was making the most of the facilities available to him. “I just loved it, there were giant studios open basically 24 hours, and all the equipment I had ever dreamed of. I think I was lucky because I’d spent so many years with not much money – very slender means – and so all of sudden there was all this new equipment and materials,” he enthuses.
“It’s school, you know, it’s a very important part that people forget. You’ve got to throw out a whole lot of preconceptions to learn. Rather than just [saying] ‘I’ve arrived and this is me’; ‘It’s first year; I’m having a show; I’m an artist’.”
“It came pretty thick and fast after that – I think my graphic style suited the 90s – I’d be watching Rage and some English dance band would come on and they were all wearing [my] print, so it was kind of exciting.”
“I feel very lucky because it was the next very obvious step [art school] and it was great… I’m probably looking back with rose coloured glasses, slightly, because it’s always a bit tough and I know it’s tough for people now. You’ve got all these great opportunities, but there’s quite a lot of pressure to come up with a product or the goods quite quickly, and it’s a tough thing to do particularly if you’re trying to develop your own kind of signature.”
It’s evident that Gerry applied his competitiveness in surfing to art school, but having been there and crafted that, he has some valuable advice for art students.
Near the end of Underdale in the mid 80s Gerry gravitated towards an Australian surf counter-culture brand by the name of Mambo. “I used to draw in this thing called sgraffito, which means to scrape away. It’s like using scraper board and I used to make birthday cards for people and this friend in Sydney said, ‘The things that you’re putting on these things look like this company called Mambo’.”
Gerry first noticed the brand in 1987 after seeing a clip of Mental As Anything at a concert series called Australian Made. On the bill were other iconic Aussie acts including INXS, Jimmy Barnes, Divinyls, Models, The Saints, The Triffids and I’m Talking, but it was Mental As Anything and their outfits that caught the artist’s attention. “They were wearing these suits with these wild images on them,” he says. “I found out that this company were making board shorts.”
While Mambo wasn’t popular yet, Gerry needed to get his hands on a pair. “I went and bought the board shorts. They were selling them in this shop in Port Noarlunga. It used to be called Wind & Wave, now it’s called Preece’s Surf Shop. Anyway the guy running the shop, once I expressed interest, said ‘look you can have two pairs, because there is no way anyone’s going to buy this stuff’.” At this time the designs didn’t fit the aesthetics of other big surf companies. Quicksilver, Rip Curl and Billabong were all about the large logos and were based on other sportswear. “Immediately the Mambo stuff appealed to me, I knew a surfer from Port Lincoln was working at Mambo. He was the ‘garment constructor’ – basically they would pull apart Quicksilver clothes, recut them slightly, and then put them back together. Anyway so I contacted him about it and he said ‘ah look, I don’t know… you can try’.” Gerry found an address for Mambo and sent two drawings to the art director. He didn’t hear anything for two months and then out of nowhere, he received a response. “I was sitting at the art school and I got a phone call there from the office of the technician. They said ‘oh both drawings are in print. When can you come to Sydney?’ So it was one of those weird fairy-tale things. I worked with them on and off for about 15 years.” After so many years, the artist is still surprised and humbled by his success. “Basically the drawings landed on the desk the day before they had to go to print and they were short, you know, like honestly – that’s what happened and they went ‘oh well, these’ll do; you know, these kind of fit’,” he laughs. “I got to meet artists that I would never have met before and so the way it worked was, I would get a phone call from the art director, Wayne Golding, and he’d say ‘oh this summer we’ve got this theme, knock up a few ideas and send them.”
“After the Jam, I helped set up a communal studio at Welland called Jamboree, which was there for about 12 years and we basically took everything we learnt from the Jam Factory to this other studio and so you share all costs, you share lunches, you share music, you share grant applications – that whole idea of strength in union.” Nowadays Gerry prefers working solo in his backyard studio at Port Elliot and has reprioritised what is most important in life: going for a surf. All the while Gerry was designing for Mambo from Adelaide with the odd trip to Sydney where he’d work on things like swing tags and patches in the studio. Gerry had pulled off what some designers can only dream of; resonating with a brand, sending them your stuff and getting the call up to join the design team. “It came pretty thick and fast after that [working for Mambo] – I think my graphic style suited the 90s – it was wild because I’d be watching Rage and some English dance band would come on and they were all wearing [my] print, so it was kind of exciting.” In-between the Mambo golden years and with an art degree under his belt, Gerry started working out of Jam Factory at St Peters (now located on Morphett Street) – a craft and design initiative launched by the Dunstan government in 1973. “The thing about ceramics is there is so much failure involved in it, it’s good to have people there that understand that. The Jam Factory set up a great model for communal spaces,” he says.
“I reached a point where I was living in the city and realised that my surfing was going more downhill than ever. It seemed a bit silly to spend your life in the suburbs when all you want to do, really, was have the opportunity to go surfing.”
If you’ve enjoyed reading this and want to hear more, you can! We recorded our hour-long conversation with Gerry Wedd at his studio. Cop a listen at yewthmag.com.
Abbey Howlett has been a ubiquitous presence in the local music scene for the past five years, slowly building her jazz influenced neo-soul sound through use of loop based vocal percussion and a strange brew of unconventional beats and melodies. Inspired by future soul pioneers Hiatus Kaiyote and elemental soul collective 30/70, Howlett has been busy the past year, moving interstate to work closely under the mentorship of talented singer-songwriter Mojo Juju, as well as recording her upcoming single ‘Colour Me Gold’.
Songs written about home and a sense of place make up some of Australian music’s most iconic back catalogue, with parallels being drawn most recently with fellow local Naomi Keyte’s arresting debut album Melaleuca.
An independent spirit who grew up supported by musical parents in the Adelaide Hills, Abbey often finds solace in returning to the family property.
Abbey’s earliest memories were based around her parents’ love of music.
“I was really lucky to grow up on a tenacre block of bush in the Adelaide Hills that my dad slaved over restoring back to its endemic state. I guess a lot of material I’ve written up there in that space I’ve found most inspiring. It’s honest and real and unforgiving and you get to see the reality of life a bit more when you’re exposed to it.”
“Singing for me was the first musical thing where it just came naturally, and I wanted to do it a lot. I injected that into quite a lot of theatre in school, which was pretty funny,” she laughs, “I was such a drama nerd – bit of a drama queen.”
“As a wee little bub, I’d be in the studio with mum and dad or dragged to their gigs,” she admits. “Drums was the first instrument at school that I got lessons for from a pretty young age… I guess sitting around as a teen listening to my dad play guitar and the way he would learn solos were all by ear, so he would just be repeating these amazing little Charlie solos and all this jungle blues. I think a lot of that sunk in and I absorbed that subconsciously.”
The importance of family and making closer connections with other people has been a central theme of her recorded work with the Golden Realm. With a creative and encouraging support network, Abbey felt comfortable exploring these ideas on her debut EP, Collectively.
want to live in this space and what effect they want to have on the planet. My parents are conservationists so they drummed that into us from a pretty early age.” Abbey was recently nominated in the People’s Choice, South Australian Music Awards for Best Electronic Artist. She is always open to how audiences decode her music. “[What] I’ve always been excited about are people interpreting it from how they feel and how it connects to them. But especially with this release I’ve really been thinking about my responsibility as an artist to deliver what I’m trying to say. In more of a plain way that’s kind of relatable… understandable and provocative.” A rejection of the trappings of an everintrusive world, her most recent single ‘The Mother’ is a dream-like rumination on the pitfalls of modern society.
“I think as I’ve matured more as a songwriter a lot of my content and what I’m talking about is the overwhelming feelings you get about the impact humans are having on the planet and overpopulation, consumerism and the world we live in… what’s actually important when you’re thinking about survival and true meaning in your life and it’s your loved ones, whoever is important to you. “It plays a big role and what they’ve taught me musically about the world. How they
“I guess it’s so easy for humans to be distracted now in the Western world, the majority of us don’t have to focus on survival anymore – like feeding yourself, keeping yourself warm, because we’ve got all these other things to think about,” she contemplates earnestly. “We’ve got money to think about, jobs to think about and possessions and material belongings to worry about – I think we’re hugely distracted from what actually brings us a huge amount of joy.” Most recently Abbey has been a musical pilgrim, commuting between Melbourne and Adelaide whilst developing her song writing and production skills through a Carclew funded mentorship with sultry blues singer Mojo Juju.
“I think as I’ve matured more as a songwriter a lot of my content and what I’m talking about is the overwhelming feelings you get about the impact humans are having on the planet and overpopulation, consumerism and the world we live in.”
“Working with Mojo, I’ve learnt so much about how she crafts her songs, but also to let go and not fuss and worry about making my songs too technical,” she reflects. “I think I get pretty caught up in trying to make something that’s challenging for me to play and to push my boundaries.” Abbey has also contributed vocals to the upcoming release from punk party animals God God Dammit Dammit for their new concept album, Frankie’s Revenge. “It’s just unreal, the energy you get from playing with that many people is so electric – so much fun. I remember meeting these guys when I was sixteen and thinking these guys are real musicians. They’re broke as fuck, they’re recording in their bedrooms, playing gigs, touring in a van with their dog, sinking tinnies. I was like ‘I want that life!’” she laughs. Sharing a studio space with Narayana Johnson of Willow Beats and working with talented up-and-coming producer, Daniel Curtis (aka SABICU – “just one of those dungeon wizards that you know is sitting on a gold mine”) – Abbey’s recent single ‘Colour Me Gold’ continues to explore the consequences humanity’s overconsumption is having on the planet’s finite resources. “I had this really amazing snorkelling experience in these fresh water limestone sinkholes in Mount Gambier called Ewens Ponds,” Abbey reflects. “The profound effect it had on me was like I’d just been washed over and enlightened or something”, she smiles. “The idea of [‘Colour Me Gold’] is actually finding beauty in that and using it to fuel
yourself. I know I’ve been trying to educate myself a lot more – I guess I’m starting to realise that my political and social consciousness is in my music and that people recognise that in me.” The film clip for the single is also the brainchild of a new collaborative team called Video International, with Liam Somerville (Capital Waste Films), Aaron Schuppan (Runway Moon) and Luc Hansen working together to bring to life her creative vision of the song’s narrative. “The concept got injected with steroids once I talked to Liam about it and he just got so excited and went next level with it. I went through big supermarket bins and got a bunch of consumer waste and we’re kind of highlighting the issue of plastic in the oceans.” Shot on the mid coast of South Australia at Port Noarlunga and at commercial studio Tenth & Gibson, Abbey Howlett is excited to get the finished product out to the world. “‘Colour Me Gold’ is the idea that if we let ourselves see and indulge in the beautiful pockets of wilderness that are left, the effect that can have can really make you want to step out or change the system we live in. “I guess it comes back full circle to kind of what we were talking about. We’re so distracted as humans and we’ve forgotten that those things are us, that we’re killing ourselves and we’re really going to see it in our lifetime – our species will deal with the repercussions.”
Matthew Fortrose is a multi-disciplinary artist who has been painting walls around the globe for the last 10 years, with his recent work taking a turn towards more sculptural installation and intervention in the city environment. His current practice spans studio paintings and sculptures, outdoor paintings, installation and photography. Working with highly synthetic materials, Fortroseâ€™s work explores and creates tensions between natural and manufactured, intentional and incidental, digital representation and physical artefact. You can listen to a long form chat with Fortrose as a part of our Yewth podcast series at yewthmag.com
Sharni Honor rounds the corner to the car park in her van. I didn’t know what she drove, but this doesn’t surprise me one bit. Patterned scarves are hanging from the windows, and what I think is a dream catcher is hanging from the rearview mirror. Does she have Persian rugs in there right now? It wouldn’t surprise me. She leaps out of the car and walks my way, arms open to hug me with an enthused, “Hi mate! How are you?” We walk into Karma & Crow and a man behind the coffee machine throws his hands up with excitement when he sees Sharni. She’s contagious. The 24-year-old woman sitting in front of me – blonde curls bleached from time spent in the sun, patterned flowing dress, with the biggest smile – is the force behind The Porch Sessions, Porchland festival, and a recent recipient of the Robert Stigwood Fellowship Program for music industry entrepreneurs. Sharni’s Porch Sessions were originally born
when the need to organise an event came around for her final assessment at Music SA. Enter the start of one hell of a good time. Once our coffees are slid in front of us, Sharni tells me how she would explain The Porch Sessions to someone new to the concept. “It would be based around the idea of a travelling backyard music festival… Over the last couple of years it’s broadened to being creators of nice times. You know? Because it’s a year-round calendar of fruity events in weird spaces.” Over the last four years spent running Porch events Sharni has become hugely influential in the South Australian arts scene. But the ties have always been there through organising gigs of her own. At 18 she also started contributing to former Adelaide music magazine, Rip It Up.
“Rip It Up was the best way to be immersed in the music scene straight off the bat. Every week I would get delivered 10/15 albums of folk, blues, roots, soul… It was an entry-level knowledge of what the scene was doing at that present time. It was second-to-none in terms of getting a feel for who’s doing what.” It’s clear that being surrounded by young people in the arts for many years has made Sharni deeply invested, passionate and loyal to those she’s surrounded by. “[Youth] bring this fresh burst of passion, investment and energy, which is what any scene needs to remain present and healthy. There are a lot of glamorous sides to any music or arts scene, but the amount of hard work that it actually takes to get something off the ground… There’s this low-lying current that a lot of people don’t recognise. And is Adelaide’s music scene dying out? “No way. It’s such an amazing thing at the moment. And I think the cool thing about it is how cross-genre supportive it is. In a lot of scenes, a lot of people stick to their niche and that’s how they exist. For the music scene at the moment, everyone is dipping their toes into everything. So people that go to rock shows go to folk shows, people that play in
rock bands go to folk shows as well, and vice versa. It’s really healthy and supportive in that sense. And everyone knows everyone, and I just love that.” When asked what the best bit of the Adelaide arts scene is, there isn’t a single beat before Sharni answers with “the community”. The commitment to building one comes through in everything she does. Almost everyone working at the café knows Sharni, and they all introduce themselves to me. As though, if you’re with Sharni, you must be nice – because she is. “Have you seen the film Into The Wild?” she asks. “There’s this amazing realisation near the end of his journey where he says this one line, ‘Happiness only exists when shared’.” “And I’m the most passionate person about solitude… but then I think realising where you’re at and how stoked you are day-to-day – that’s the kind of realisation you have around other people. I think that’s the cornerstone of community for me. People can change your life. And they do so everyday.” The group of people Sharni has brought together, not only in real life but online with everything Porch-related, is something worth celebrating.
“Why does the consumption of music have to be in traditional regimented spaces? I think there’s so much to be said for the kind of atmosphere you can create before the music even starts that alludes to how much of a good time people are going to have.”
“For everyone to feel part of this massive Adelaide tribe is kind of what we try to do with our social stuff. It doesn’t need to be the ‘hard sell’ all the time. If people want to buy a ticket, they’ll work it out. For people to feel a part of something is the whole point of social media, so that’s what we try to do with that.” “I’m very passionate about social media,’ Sharni continues. “I love it. I love making up words and shit. It makes me so happy.” Later, she describes the woman behind Tram Sessions as a “lord sword”. You can find sprinklings of Sharni’s personality and incredible vocabulary throughout Facebook events and Instagram posts, as well as when she’s describing her best friends. It’s a treat. Tram Sessions has been based in Melbourne for a number of years, and when Sharni was approached to start it in Adelaide for Umbrella Winter City Sounds, she jumped at the idea. “If there’s a session of some description, I’m on board.” “Being 20 minute sessions, people get on, people get off, people don’t know where to look, people clap. It’s the greatest experience.” With the Melbourne Tram Sessions people can find upcoming shows online. Adelaide has been a little different. “Middle of the day, no one knows, we all just meet at a different tram stop. It’s like Anchorman with the conch shell. It’s like, ‘News team! Assemble!’ and we all come from different corners of the city running in and get on a tram together and off we go.”
Sharni seemingly thrives on creating special moments in unexpected places. She notes some standout moments as a punter at Bon Iver’s For Emma concert at Thebarton Theatre, as well as Nelly’s concert last year (dancing with a Cruiser in hand). This woman goes all out to have a good time, and dedicates her life to making magic for everyone else.“I guess all our concepts started like, ‘Hey, how would I like to experience my favourite bands?’ Like, why does the consumption of music have to be in traditional regimented spaces? I think there’s so much to be said for the kind of atmosphere you can create before the music even starts that alludes to how much of a good time people are going to have.” Around us, the people of Karma & Crow are sweeping and packing up for the day. We’ve been sitting together for an hour, but to postpone leaving I ask what the dream is.
“Can I put out a few?” Absolutely. “In terms of a concept I’m wanting to put together, it would be a drive-in session. Setting up a little sexy stage, everyone drives in, cracks the bonnet, has a couple of beers, choc tops. Go bananas.” “In terms of a life dream, I’ve always been kind of keen to run a tiny little venue by the sea somewhere. Maybe when I have little people and a few greys. That would be a great way to lock into a space.” Before we get up and leave, Sharni says, “I just want to sit here and chat for the rest of the afternoon! Mate, I think we should be friends.” It’s still winter when we meet, but it’s the first day the sun has come out in months. It’s warm. And I have no doubt this is all due to Sharni. This woman could talk the clouds into disappearing forever. @sharnijadehonor theporchsessions.com
WORDS BY LIAM BOSECKE PHOTOS BY DAV E COURT Becoming a digital artist in the entertainment industry isn’t something many people would consider, and for those who do, it can be hard to know where to begin.
Yewth was fortunate enough to catch up with the founder of CDW Studios, Simon Scales. These days Simon rarely finds any spare time to run the school.
Adelaide is a city that can feel stagnant at the best of times. Ambition to create special effects for a Hollywood blockbuster, or modelling characters for AAA games can feel like a pipedream; casually brushed off as a career path for “someone else”, or solely available to those who are “exceptionally gifted”.
“I have four kids,” he says. “It’s mental at home and mental here, I’m super busy.”
However, breaking into the entertainment industry isn’t such an unrealistic notion – although it could easily be discarded under personal insecurities and misconceptions. CDW Studios (Concept Design Workshop Studios) is nestled comfortably on the third floor of the Myer Centre, in Rundle Mall. Amid the bustling shoppers and screaming children, it has remained a quiet achiever teaching Visual Effects and Entertainment Design since 2011.
Establishing CDW as a permanent school wasn’t something Simon originally intended to do, but having studied at the Concept Design Academy in the United States he envisioned bringing those same learning experiences over to Australia. Having worked within the industry himself, Simon understands the difference a world-class learning environment can have on nurturing a student’s abilities. “I’ve worked on De Blob and De Blob 2 through THQ in Melbourne. After that finished, I came back to Adelaide and started working for Lego,” he says. “I was starting to develop CDW stuff when I moved back to a studio in 2011. We ran a workshop for sixty people and it sold out. It was a crazy two-week event, 9am till 9pm every day. It was intense, but everyone thought it was amazing.
“Because I went to CDA, I did the workshops to give people an opportunity in Australia to experience a similar kind of thing. You’d have industry professional teaching classes and demos, which has never happened before in Australia. When I went over to the States, that’s how they were teaching it, and I thought: ‘This is crazy, to actually see someone drawing or modelling in front of you’.” Simon also firmly believes in giving back to the community and creating passion for the arts. For this reason, CDW have started to host weekly events and Twitch Streams, regularly streaming art shows for critiquing, and the occasional class here and there. In addition, they host life drawing sessions every Friday night.
“We’re just trying to build a bit more of a community,” Simon explains. “Getting people from overseas to be able to see stuff we’re doing, perhaps they might want to come at some point. Even if they don’t, it’s still giving back to that art community. Trying to get some involvement, not just in Adelaide, but globally. “Currently 30% of our students are from interstate or overseas. So, there’s a lot of people travelling to come live here and study. Probably a lot of people wouldn’t think that of Adelaide.”
CDW’s recent partnership with Flinders University has solidified its institutional legitimacy and accessibility, now offering accredited training through Flinders, under the Bachelor of Creative Arts (Digital Media). Despite this still being uncharted territory for both Flinders and CDW, course coordinator Katie Cavanagh says the partnership is intuitive and the relationship has matured organically. Having started her teaching career lecturing in English, by way of fortune, Katie transitioned into Screen and Media where she began to teach Digital Media topics. Then, as time went on, perhaps through sheer luck, she met Simon through a competition CDW was hosting. “I always wondered if it was rigged, but Simon swears it wasn’t,” Katie jokes. “About four years ago, I noticed a lot of students were talking about doing CDW topics. So, I entered a competition on Facebook to win a workshop there, and I won. It was a weekend workshop with the compositor who worked on The Silver Surfer. “That gave Simon and I a chance to talk, and the more we talked, the more we realised it would take a lot of work for CDW and
Flinders to get into a formal partnership. But it just seemed like the right thing.” Establishing fresh opportunities for her students is what Katie strives for, and she is excited about the CDW partnership covering new ground and creating learning opportunities. “That’s how I like to form degrees, that’s why digital media is so weird. I like to see where the students want to go, and then if it makes sense, pave it,” Katie says. Digital art’s continual tangibility has made it difficult to define, as technology has taken on newer and more accessible roles in our lives. While most of the art we interact with daily has been, at the very least, touched upon by a computer at some point in the creation process, Katie’s own passion for the arts is palpable; she describes digital art as “electricity”, running through everything we interact with. “You can’t open up anything today without seeing art that’s been printed digitally, or created digitally. Pure print that has no digital process is rare in the public realm. There’s often digital art involved somewhere, even in non-digital artefacts,” she says.
When people think of the digital arts in terms of representation, it becomes even hazier. At first glance, its legitimacy as an art form can come into question, which may be due to its accessibility and flawless integration into society. People may use it every day, but that doesn’t make it understandable to everyone. “I think that digital art is one of those things where we see it, but don’t know where it’s made,” Katie says. “People know the work, but I think they tend not to know who makes it and they tend not to know where it comes from. It’s a really invisible art form.” Invisibility hasn’t put a stop on digital artists earning a decent living. With certain industries in danger of disappearing, Katie says it has to be one of the more useful skillsets you can have: learning to be an adaptable creator in an ever-changing world. “There are certain industries in danger of disappearing,” she says. “We have a lot of leisure and we have an insatiable desire for stories. I think visual story tellers and people who make us question ourselves by the art they make have a huge marketplace; not always a paid one, but there’s a huge audience out there.”
Learning from industry professionals isn’t an opportunity most people are fortunate enough to have, or may even be aware of. Alex Colvin, with over a decade of experience behind him, is one of many industry professionals currently lecturing at CDW. “The first place I got a job at was Team Bondi,” Alex says. “That was straight out of TAFE, and then I just moved right over to Sydney. About three other mates from the game art course and I all got a job there at the same time, and that was pretty cool.” Alex, who is also working as a senior artist at Mighty Kingdom, describes the intensity of the workload, and the difficulties of working on a AAA game coming straight out of TAFE. “The work I was doing itself wasn’t hard, but the volume that I had to do was pretty intensive, it was quite a lot to do,” he says. “In ‘L.A. Noire’ there were just heaps of pedestrians around, so there were just tonnes of outfits to make, that was the main thing I was doing for a while.” Alex eventually moved back to Adelaide and is working on production design for television and games.
“Pure print that has no digital process is rare in the public realm. There’s often digital art involved somewhere, even in non-digital artefacts.” - Katie Cavanagh
Digital painting by Anthony Robinson
“I think it’s an exciting time for students right now that are coming out of study in the next two or three years. There’s a lot of stuff going on, there’s heaps of opportunities. Maybe not all in Adelaide, but certainly in Australia.” - Alex Colvin
3D sculpt by Liam Bosecke
Finding work in such a tight-knit community can require exceptional networking skills and having a natural flare for people. Alex explains that building a reputation in the community is fundamental in finding local work. “You just have to know who to talk to. There’s obviously the big companies, but I find that most of the work I get is through word of mouth.” Finding work locally isn’t always as daunting or unrealistic as recent graduates might think. A big part of it is learning to be adaptable and being open to learning new skills. “I think it’s an exciting time for students right now that are coming out of study in the next two or three years,” Alex says. There’s a lot of stuff going on, there’s heaps of opportunities. Maybe not all in Adelaide, but certainly in Australia.” Carving out your place in this unpredictable and technologically driven world really boils down to your passion for the work, but with schools like CDW Studios supporting local artists, a career in the creative world is closer than you think.
In June of 2014 I opened the doors of Created Range to the public for the first time. It was a very different store to to what it is now, and a great many things have changed since that date. I started the store with basically no experience in clothing retail, about two months of planning and two weeks setup time after receiving the green light from Renew Adelaide. I made or borrowed everything used in the original store fit out, and stocked the racks with clothing made by friends as well as a couple small local brands I found online and had reached out to. Skip forward to now and the store is carrying around 15 brands, some of the most innovative and interesting independent labels from around Australia. The store has played host to clothing releases, art exhibitions, film screenings, beer launches and a heap of other events, as well as my day to-day life and work.
I also offered to have the very first opening party be a joint launch with this Year 12 kid Caleb that Iâ€™d met a couple of times, and was looking for a place to put out his new magazine. This turned out to be a fortuitous move, and that mag evolved into the Yewth that you hold in your hands. As you might know, this December I will be closing the doors at Shop 13 Regent Arcade for the last time. This has been a heavy decision made over a long time with a lot of contributing factors, and will be a sad thing, but also exciting for myself personally, to have the time to work on a range of different projects. Iâ€™ve met so many incredible people and learned an incredible amount over the course of the last three and a half years, about clothing, money, business, people, Adelaide and how the world works through the lens of operating all aspects of a small business.
Photo: Danny Howe
While most of my time for the last few years has been devoted to operating the store, I have by no means done it on my own, so will indulge in a public list of thanks here to everyone involved with all the brands, my friends and family, other stores, Renew Adelaide and Regent Arcade: Thanks to: Chiara, Patrick, Danny, Haris, Sam P, Jarrad, Nick C, Caleb, Lewis B, Courtney, Jock, Abbey, Cam, Wade, Henry S, Jack F, Ben H, Lewis P, Katie, Jack C, Anthea, Deidre, Sam B, Austin, Lucas, Gab, Nick P, Hugo, Kaspar, Lauren, Declan, Elena, Dobre, Nico, Dillon, Musch, Miles, Matt, Lily, Julie, Kate, Zoe, Josh, Farrin, Katie S, Sammy E, Raph, Caz, Ryan, Jodia, Bryan, Jack T, Felix, Blake, Oli, Elijah, Brody, Luke, Chris, Mikey, Matt, Adrian, Drew, Mathias, Jimmy, Nick L, Kurt, Patricia, Pat, Tess, Sanja, Josh, Jake, Kerri, Jay, Jake, Tom, Jayson, Bohie, Dom, Dan, Husam, Joel V, Tyler, Scott, Tom B, Andrei, Kirra, Kieren, Luke, Mel, Sam L, Kyle, Brandos, Chelsie, Juach, Deb, Cass, Daria, Sarah, Phoebe, Isaac, Quinn, Carolyn, Saul, Nick Y, Alex D, Henry S, Van, Peter, Micaela, Dan, Eli, Henry J, Joe, Loki, Phil, Jordan B, Liam, Daniel + heaps more... I am also deeply and eternally grateful to anyone who ever bought any sort of product at the store, came to a party, followed the shop online, or talked about it to anyone. For the immediate future, we will be having one last Christmas party, so keep an eye on CR socials for details on that, plus putting on some sales and fun things to reward those who have been loyal customers. As for myself, I will continue to stick around Adelaide, working on Yewth, a heap of different projects, art things, maybe more clothing, freelance design, and who knows what. xoxo Dave
With media taking on a range of different guises in a more global and electronic era, thereâ€™s a real need for a new generation of savvy young journalists. As a journalist, copywriter and former secondary school teacher, I have met many amazing, aspiring writers who want to get into media but they donâ€™t know where to start. With countless online, on air and print publications out there compared with very few actual media jobs, the competition in this biz can be tough. It got me thinking about opportunities for young people to learn skills in journalism so they could start contributing to local
publications and get the edge on the competition. And who better to collaborate with than Yewth magazine; a publication for youth made by youth with a focus on the great things about our city? My company, Expressions Media and the Yewth team put our heads together and came up with the concept of a Next Gen Journo workshop, where I would facilitate and some of the Yewth creatives would come in and impart their knowledge. We put out the word to all the schools in the state and within about three weeks every place in the Next Gen Journo workshop was filled.
throughout the day from myself and the Yewth team (read more about the press conference over the page).
Fifteen eager young writers came to Yewth HQ on Flinders Street, from as far as Mt Gambier, Barossa, Gawler, Tailem Bend and as close as Glenunga and Blackwood. I had pretty solid expectations that everyone would want to be an arts writer, like me, but alas I was wrong. This incredibly bright and diverse bunch of young men and women were keen on politics, science, sports, travel, hard news, and also arts. The youngest was 13 years old while the oldest had just finished Year 12, but despite the age difference, the entire group found common ground and got along famously. The highlight of the day for the aspiring writers, came in the form of a press conference with local band Zen Panda where the group asked some excellent questions showing off the skills theyâ€™d learned
After a massive day of media, the participants went home with skills to start writing, contributing, and becoming the next generation of journalists. Stay tuned for more workshops by Expressions Media and Yewth coming up in school holidays, and get in touch with Libby for more info: email@example.com
Next Gen Journos interview:
By Kahlia Gilbert (14), Ruby Lehmann (17), Danica Richards (18) and Sallee Shepherd (15) Adelaide band Zen Panda has been busy this year, juggling gigs, writing music, working, studying and releasing a new self-titled EP. Two members of the six-piece band came into the Yewth office for a chat with the Next Gen Journos during a media workshop run by Expressions Media. Ailish Ling and Sam Lavers stood comfortably chatting with the group waiting for the conference to begin. It was clear from the moment these two walked into the office they were humble and gracious, and eager to chat with a bunch of future journalists. The band with an impressively large line-up consists of Aidan, the lead guitarist, who also does backup vocals to support Sam the lead vocalist; bass man is Luke, while Johnathan (Johnno) does guitar and is brother to Ailish who plays keyboard. Lastly, Aidan’s brother Ollie is the youngest of the group and the drummer. While the band has not ventured out of SA as yet, they have confirmed hopes to do so in the near future. “We really want to take it out of SA; to take it further,” Ailish says. “Yeah,” Sam adds. “Hopefully next year, along the east coast.”
But tour plans must coordinate around study; with five of the six members working on working on university degrees, while drummer, Ollie – being the youngest – is still completing Year 12. The list of vast and diverse degrees being pursued includes: an engineer, a physiotherapist, an environmental scientist and a teacher. Zen Panda have produced music that has been described as “ethereal” and “infectious” by The Music but the band is not entirely set on a label for their unique and infectious sound. “I find it difficult to describe what genre we are, because we are a bit of everything,” Ailish says. “Yeah, you could probably say we’re a bit psychedelic pop, though. Ailish is the Synth Lord,” Sam laughs. Zen Panda has been pulled apart and put back together a couple of times now, but they have all known each other a long time, which keeps them close. “Originally, core members Luke, Johnno and Aidan all went through school together down in McLaren Vale,” Sam says. “They started off as a bit of high school jam band. They had a different drummer and another singer and eventually, it kind of dissipated, as things do, through Year 12 studies.”
As graduation neared, a reunion was inevitable and the band got back together, picking up new band members along the way. “In the year afterwards, it was a Sunday jam project that started becoming something a bit more serious when we realised it was more fun,” Sam says.
Zen Panda has had support spots like The Belligerents, The Jungle Giants and Moses Gunn Collective and, while all these are very impressive, the pair says their favourite gig was supporting Brisbane indie rockers, Last Dinosaurs. “Last Dinosaurs are probably the highlight for the band as a whole, because before we joined – when the guys were playing in school – they were bit of a Last Dinosaurs cover band. It’s pretty great to be able to play with them,” Ailish says. For any band, a complex practice can be songwriting, however, for Zen Panda, writing a song has no official process. “All of the stuff that’s been released stems back from 2013 till probably half a year ago,” Sam says. “Each song has come together pretty differently. We’re still figuring out how to write a song! One can be lyrics from the start, and that’s how quite a few of them grew. As of late, all our music has come straight from Aidan.”
“We work really well together,” Ailish adds. “We all kinda get along. There’s a bit of banter here and there and we are all pretty open to each other’s ideas.” And that banter and sense of humour have always played a part in the band’s identity – even from the group’s inception. “Aidan and Jonathan went to New Zealand on a school ski trip and when they got to the top of the ski lift and jumped into the snow, the man who had been raking it yelled out at them, ‘You ruined my Zen panda!’ and that’s how the name came about,” Ailish laughs.
Zen Panda has a very big future ahead of them, but for now, they are happy to be in Adelaide, a city they all love. “The Adelaide music scene is a pretty cool place to be at the moment,” Sam says. “We’ve made many friends from playing gigs and hopefully we will have a few more songs released in the coming months.” So look out for them on the gig circuit in Adelaide and check out their self-titled EP released this year.
Gerry Wedd x Yewth Design by Gerry, embroidered iron on patch, made in a limited run of 150 pieces. Available at yewthmag.com
Yewth x Fortrose Tee ad
Fortrose x Yewth Design by Fortrose. 100% cotton t-shirt, printed by hand in Adelaide using water based inks. Limted edition run of 50 tees. Available at yewthmag.com
Published on Nov 15, 2017
Published on Nov 15, 2017
Yewth Magazine Issue 010, Summer 2017/18. Featuring Gerry Wedd, Abbey Howlett, Matthew Fortrose, Sharni Honor, CDW Studios + more. Print is...