Cable Ties Ball | The Corner Award

“It’s a bloody bleak scene if you’re only in this for yourself,” says Jenny McKechnie of the Melbourne music scene. “The music community is everything to us. It fosters interesting music, meaningful friendships and creative relationships. The music community in Melbourne is our life. I’d be so empty without it.”

McKechnie is certainly a well-functioning part of Melbourne’s music community. When she’s not fronting punk outfit Cable Ties, she’s strumming guitar in Wet Lips, while also running things over at Hysterical Records – an inclusive label she founded with Wet Lips comrade Grace Kindellan, and Amanda Vitaris of boutique booking agency Future Popes.

But at least for today, the focus is Cable Ties. The three-piece punk outfit has experienced a quick ascent to acclaim and a cult following since their inception in 2015, something that McKechnie, drummer Shauna Boyle, and bassist Nick Brown didn’t anticipate, but rightly deserve.

“When we started, we had all been in bands or were already in bands in the Melbourne music community, so we were well supported from the start to play gigs and make music,” McKechnie says.

They played their first show at the inaugural Wetfest, which humbly began in the backyard of McKechnie and Kindellan’s share house, and the support of this DIY punk community is what the band attributes their successes to thus far.

“We got to play a heap of shows with our mates because Joel booked us at every Old Bar show possible. This set us up pretty well to record and go on to everything else.”

From Old Bar and beyond, the past year saw the band signed to Poison City Records, release their self-titled debut LP to critical acclaim, earn triple j rotation, a place on the Meredith festival lineup, and support the Kills on their Australian tour.

So hardworking is the trio, that pinning them down for the interview for this article proved a struggle. Their hard work is palpable and was suitably acknowledged by their Corner Award win.

The Corner Hotel’s Corner Awards began in 2016 as a way to acknowledge and support Melbourne’s musicians who work so hard year round and push the boundaries of the scene. Alongside $2000 cash, the pressing of 150 limited edition 7” vinyl singles and rehearsal time at Bakehouse Studios prior to the big show, the winner’s prize includes the opportunity to put on a show at the iconic Corner Hotel. For Cable Ties, their winning show all comes back to honouring and supporting their community alongside them.

This February will see the first ever Cable Ties Ball, a multi-stage event with a huge lineup featuring the titular winners themselves, Miss Blanks, Habits, The Dacios and more. “The lineup is made up of bands or artists that inspire us in our creative practice or political ethos,” McKechnie says.

“Being able to put on the show is very exciting for us. We got to ask all our heroes to play on the lineup and somehow they all said yes. We can’t believe it.”

The band’s vision for the ball took inspiration from an event Cable Ties put on alongside Wet Lips at Gasometer last year to mark the release of their split single. “We put in a lot of effort to ritz up the place and make it a special event and it felt like a big party for everyone involved rather than just another gig.

“We wanted to take that idea but make it an even bigger thing at The Corner. We hope everyone gets in their glad rags and makes a proper night of it,” McKechnie says.

Originally published in Beat Magazine. 

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Bianca Martin | Punk is an Attitude

“Giving femme, queer, POC, trans, and gender non-conforming artists an extra leg up is imperative to their growth and success,” says Bianca Martin. 

“There’s nothing more punk than doing something you love and being your truest self. To me, this means radical vulnerability in songwriting and complete dedication to your passions. It means standing up for yourself and your values, and placing an importance on your community.”

Through her love of punk, Martin has experienced firsthand the striking state of gender equality within the music industry, and beyond. Rather than let this be, the drummer for The Girl Fridas and Piss Factory has strived for change each day since her arrival in the scene.

As a musician, booker, and fan, Martin has experienced difficulty gaining recognition, representation and support in the industry, from not being taken seriously, to micro-aggressions, abuse, and outright physical harassment.

Since her move to Melbourne, Martin has taken a proactive approach in supporting non-cis-men in creating music, driven by her dissatisfaction with the treatment of non-cis-men in the industry.

“[I was] sick of regularly being the only women on lineups and sick of seeing my queer and trans friends constantly looked over in favour of ‘mates’. I felt less inclined to go to shows where my identity wasn’t represented, because I also knew there would be a likelihood of being one of few women in the audience. The more of my friends I spoke to, the more this became an obvious issue.

“I had friends who desperately wanted to go see live music regularly, but didn’t feel safe going to a show where they knew they would stand out.

“It’s so easy to approach venues to put on shows in Melbourne, I figured it only made sense to use the privilege I had to take action into my own hands. It gives them a space where they can focus on music rather than defending their identities and existence.”

Martin regularly puts on events promoting safer spaces, and gender inclusive lineups within the scene, working with Girls Rock Melbourne and Sticky Institute, to provide support and representation for artists.

It’s an impressive effort, to say the very least. But Martin’s clear passion for DIY culture, and encouraging self-expression is so very punk. The community she’s helping to foster is important, as there is certainly a need for support and encouragement of non-cis-males in the industry.

“I don’t hear cis-male artists saying they’re having difficulty getting offered shows, or having bookers and sound people take them seriously, or that they get hassled and heckled or that people go out for a smoke during their set.

“Because of the society we’re raised in, cis-men generally feel more confident and deserving of shows. Giving femme, queer, POC, trans, and gender non-conforming artists an extra leg up by offering them shows first in environments where they feel comfortable is imperative to their growth and success.”

Representation is crucial in creating a shift in challenging what is considered punk, and the misconceptions, and dangerous gender norms and inequalities that exist within the industry, and beyond.

“There’s a saying, ‘You can’t be what you can’t see,’ which is something I keep going back to. Unsurprisingly the riot grrrl movement was a huge inspiration for starting the Girl Fridas. It really wasn’t until fully exploring that movement that we began to understand that what we wanted to do was realistic and achievable,” Martin says.

In early 2017, Bianca proposed a punk event for Melbourne Music Week, gathering her dream lineup, and fuelled by the fact she’d be able to pay them well, a rarity in local shows. However, the powers that be at MMW asked her to join the Live Music Safari, as her desire to represent the diversity within Melbourne’s punk scene fit the theme for the year, celebrating 40 years of punk.

This application of Martin’s original proposal to a large-scale event has allowed her to bring the punk acts she’s so passionate about to a wider audience, something she’s excited to do. “I’d like to broaden people’s perceptions about what punk can be,” Martin says. That’s pretty much as punk as it gets.

Originally published in Beat Magazine.

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Victorian Music Crawl | A journey to discover rural Victoria’s hidden treasures

What do you get when you fill a bus with the finest faces of Melbourne’s music media scene and send them on the road for three days? Well, besides hungover. You get the Victorian Music Crawl, a musical adventure like no other.

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The Second Sex at Korova Lounge. Photo: Andrew Watson

It’s no secret we are spoiled when it comes to both quality and quantity of music and arts in Melbourne. Walk down Bourke Street at 2pm on a weekday and you’re bound to hear professional quality music. From the NGV to The Tote, even the smallest of venues that line our streets are bustling, and every night there’s artists to see.

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The bus crew on a paddle boat ride along the Murray, housing a gig for Riverboats Festival. Photo: Andrew Watson

 

It’s easy, with this plethora of entertainment, to lock oneself in a Melburnian bubble, blind to the quality that exists beyond our sphere. This first-of-its-kind tour, a government initiative headed by the affable CEO of Music Victoria, Patrick Donovan, burst that bubble, by demonstrating the untapped potential of rural Victoria’s live music scene to the people on the bus, everyone from booking agents and journalists, to musicians, and allowing the artists in these towns to connect with them.

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Demi Louise serenades Sutton’s House of Music. Photo: Andrew Watson

Ballarat, Castlemaine, Bendigo, Echuca.  These four towns were the pillars on which the trip rested, and have just as much to say and give as our Victorian city centre. Read more

 

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My Beat Magazine Features 2016

Over 2016 I had the absolute privilege of talking to many incredible figures in the music industry. From MØ to Camille O’Sullivan, Dave from Gang of Youths to the brains behind Bjorn Again, here are all the links to my 2016 feature articles for Beat Magazine.

Thom Powers talks his break up with fellow lead of The Naked and Famous.

 talks about beating the pressure that followed on from her mega-hit with Major Lazer, Lean On.

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Mick Newton, promoter and founder of A Day on the Green, talks about his new project A Weekend in the Gardens.

Love and creativity with Nothinge. Intrigued? Confused? Hungry? So was I.

Julia Jacklin, the queen of my quarter life crisis, on her critically acclaimed debut Don’t Let The Kids Win.

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Napier’s Nelson Dore on his effortless rock’n’roll swagger.

Tim Hulsman analyses addiction in all it’s forms.

HEAPS GAY. ‘Nuff said?

Natalie Rize of Blue King Brown on using music as a pathway to higher consciousness.

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Hope you’re hungry, for music, ’cause Darebin Music Feast serves it up a plenty.

You know that song you were hearing everywhere? Kylie Auldist sings that.

Alone in her room with a computer and the sound of silence, Julianna Barwick comes to
life.

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Ben Wright Smith is really fucking pretty. He also makes awesome music. We talked about it here, and I was cursing the fact it was a phone interview. Really guys. So pretty.

Camille O’Sullivan and Paul Kelly
. Guyz.

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Pierce Brothers used to be Bourke St buskers, now they play at Coachella. Fuck yeah.

Go Back to Black with an Amy Winehouse tribute for the ages.

Crying Sirens was a labour of love for Jesse Delaney.

Bjorn Again? Spicey Girls? Claire singing American Pie for impromptu drunk as fuck karaoke at Falls Festival with her boyfriend? No, go back to the real tributes for Tribute Mania, a festival for the rest of ya’ll. See what I did there?

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Deborah Conway told me homeless people are that way because they made bad choices. yeah. Probs don’t read this one.

Dave from Gang of Youths provided me with my favourite (and potentially objectively the best) interview of my career thus far. Fucking thank you, you magnificent son-of-a-gun.

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Ella Hooper talked all things Melbourne Music Bank aka, the way that awesomely talented individuals actually start a career for themselves rather than just ‘star’ in a ‘television’ ‘show’.

It’s LIVE. It’s LOCAL. It’s LIVE N LOCAL. #plsread

Stonefield, a band of fuckin’ awesome chikadees from Woopwoop, made me feel bad about myself cause they’re so much cooler than me. Also my first mag cover.

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Writing about Cool Sounds was cool. It’s also near the end of this list and I’m growing tired.

I learnt about the culture of my ancestors (Indigenous lady in the house) and was left totally in awe of Scott Darlow after this chat.

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I love wrestling. Especially Melbourne’s indie wrestling league. I wrote about it here.