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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 Music Reviews 2016

LIVE REVIEWS

The Smith Street Band @ Max Watts

In Dave Grohl style, Wagner sat upon a magnificent throne decked out with flashing lights, revealed to the sweeping sound of the Game of Thrones theme. Read more

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Karnivool @ The Croxton Bandroom

There’s something hypnotic about the way the singer moves on stage. His body smoothly melts into the rhythms and riffs with an understated elegance. He’s been doing Hotline Bling style dancing long before Drake ever thought to. Read more

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Heroes @ Melba Spiegeltent

As a part of Melbourne’s Leaps & Bounds festival, Heroes was a one night only show that saw five of Melbourne’s independent singers and songwriters take to the stage and sing two songs by kickarse women that have inspired them to create their own music. Read more

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Ladyhawke @ Howler

Ladyhawke’s music is undeniably poppy and bright, with her voice a moody contrast. Though the contrast, and her self proclaimed ‘happy sad’ style is at its best, absolutely brilliant, that same style can come across as lacking effort at times. The performance was missing the depth and dynamics that could have made this a more interesting show. Read more

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Cash Savage and the Last Drinks @ The Croxton Hotel

Savage may be the frontwoman and namesake of the musical outfit, but the Last Drinks – Kat Mear on violin, Rene Mancuso on drums, Chris Lichti on bass, Joe White on guitar, and Brett Marshall on guitar and banjo – were the real stars of the show. Read more

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Wil Wagner @ The Corner Hotel

The anecdotes flowed from his mouth like the whiskey down his throat, and the room soaked in his every word, relishing the intimate moment with the beloved Melbourne musician. His sister ran on stage for a hug after he completed the song he wrote for her, My Little Sinking Ship, in just one of the highly emotional moments of the show. Read more

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DMAs @ The Croxton Hotel

Although a few people could be spotted leaving the venue after Delete, when DMA’s came back out for their encore they put those punters to shame, nailing Laced, and finally Lay Down, ending with the best tunes of the night. Read more

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Heaps Gay Heaps Yummy @ The Melbourne State Library

“We’re lucky that people of our craft and our culture can be at home here,” stated one of the artists during the night, a reminder of what made this absolutely special. One of Melbourne’s most iconic venues was filled with a community of people who historically have experienced horrible treatment, and continue to face discrimination even in 2016. Yet every attendee made their way into the hall filled with palpable joy. Read more

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Slipknot @ Rod Laver Arena

“Halloween is our fucking Christmas,” declared Corey Taylor triumphantly before launching into Before I Forget on October 31, his voice dripping with the volatile energy that makes Slipknot so intoxicating. Read more

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The Smith Street Band @ The Corner Hotel

Perhaps you don’t give a shit, but I’ve sobbed to Smith Street in the discomfort of my own room and depression more times than I can count, but this was the first time it’s happened during one of their shows. It was there, clutching my tour jumper, with tears dripping down my cheeks, that the power of the band was in full force. Read more

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Julia Jacklin @ Howler

Her voice is dreamy and gentle, her harmonies are gorgeous, her folk swagger commands the attention of every person in the room: Julia Jacklin is a force to be reckoned with. Read more

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ALBUM AND EP REVIEWS

And Then Like Lions – Blind Pilot

Nebeker’s voice is sweet and earnest, floating around the textural melodies with a gentle strength and clarity. Sharply and beautifully produced, though many of the tracks have a similar feel, the album never comes across as formulaic or repetitive. Read more

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Raleigh Street – James Moloney and the Mad Dog Harrisons

James Moloney and the Mad Dog Harrisons’ latest offering, Raleigh St manages to pin down the sound of the Northern Suburbs in which you’d find the titular street, and conjure up the nostalgia that comes with it, all in spectacular fashion. Read more

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Christmas Party – She and Him

Sweet and moreish like a Christmas dessert, Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward have created a seasonal record that hits the right notes, and manages to distinguish itself from being just another Christmas album with their signature sound. Read more

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Beat Writers Wrap Up

Highlight of 2016: I met a dreamy man, who makes me happier than my own company, and got to share many wonderful musical adventures in this wrap up with him.
Lowlight of 2016: Losing a job with no warning. But it was okay, I found my way to Beat and better things.
A Wild Prediction for 2017: Surprise posthumous release of a festive David Bowie album:  The Freakiest ChristmasRead more

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Harts Beating Alone – Beat Magazine

Everywhere you look these days in the broad, ever-growing landscape of music, there are collaborations.

One musician who has completely bucked this trend is Melbourne based singer/songwriter/producer/uber talent, Harts, real name Darren Hart, who unapologetically prefers the solitude of his spare bedroom and his own musicality to a recording studio.

“I have a very unique way of playing, and I’ve found that’s what makes my sound unique. I learnt early on that if I can do everything myself, maybe I should. I’m a control freak in a way, because I’ve found a way that works for me, and I’m not willing to give that up yet.”

I interviewed Harts for Beat Magazine. You can read the rest of the article, including his thoughts on his friendship with the late Prince and winning GQ Breakthrough Artist of the Year here.

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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.

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Seizing the throne: The rise of Kingswood

Considering they started out as an AC/DC cover band, Kingswood are a fitting supporting act for the Australian rock legends.

Currently opening for AC/DC alongside The Hives, Kingswood are continuing their steady ascent into the Australian music scene, and recently released a deluxe edition of their 2014 debut album, Microscopic Wars.

I caught up with them earlier this year.

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PHOTOGRAPHY by Kane Hibberd http://www.theartofcapture.com

I witnessed Kingswood’s electrifying performance for the first time back in May 2014 at the Hi-Fi in Melbourne.

When I tell frontman, Fergus Linacre, to my surprise he immediately responds “The pizza gig!” recalling that during the performance, he had brought a pizza out from backstage, claiming they had too much, and thrown the box into the audience to be shared.

The fact he remembers this small detail from that one gig in such clarity is impressive. I get the feeling he has just as much fun at shows, and makes just as many memories, as the cheering audience.

The pizza was just one of many memorable moments that made up the impressive gig. Their vibrant rock energy filled the room, firmly establishing themselves as one of Australia’s foremost, upcoming rock bands.

Hailing from Melbourne, the four-piece rock outfit, made up of Fergus Linacre, Alex Laska, Jeremy “Mango” Hunter and Justin Debrincrat, has been on a steady rise to fame since forming in 2009.

In August 2014, they released their wildly successful Aria nominated debut album, Microscopic Wars, and have since been touring and playing sold out shows across the country. I spoke to Linacre about their busy past year, current tour, and what’s next for Kingswood.

Microscopic Wars was produced by Vance Powell, who has notably worked with Jack White and the Arctic Monkeys, did you actively seek to work with him?

We actually put the feelers out before we really targeted anyone. Someone gave him our EP and he said that he was interested in working with us, so we had a few Skype chats and talked about how we wanted to record, and one of the things that attracted us to him was he records to tape, so you can’t just go over and over again to fix things, you have to get it right once you’re in the studio. So we liked that, and we really loved Blunderbuss, Jack White’s solo record that was recorded all on 8-track, which is just crazy, and it sounded so good. So we really wanted to work with Vance, and when he said yes, we knew we had to go to America. 

Did you find you worked differently being in a new environment?

Definitely, it was completely new experience. I mean we’ve recorded before, but never like that, never to tape and never with so much freedom. That’s what encouraged us to be more daring than we thought we should be. We’d write a song and think, that’s all okay, that’s all good, but a million songs have been done like that, let’s try and make it different. I think the result of that is a really diverse record that we’re really proud of, and I think a big part of that is from allowing and encouraging us to be as weird as we possibly could be.

Microscopic Wars was nominated for an Aria award, it didn’t win, but you were a part of the winning album via your collaboration with Dan Sultan on his Aria winning album, Blackbird. How did that come about?

I was sitting on the phone outside Blackbird Studio in Nashville, and he’d just recorded his record, his Aria winning record, in the same studio we were in at that time, and he was in another section of the studio doing some overdubs, and he came up and was like “Hey man, I need some backing vocals, can you guys sing?” So not only did we get to sing on Dan’s record, which is wonderful, but we got to work with Jacquire King, who was Dan’s producer, who’s done a lot of the Kings of Leon records, and stuff like that. So it was pretty crazy being in there, being in the little Nashville world, where there are people who recorded with Lennon who would just pop in to see Vance; it was great.

What would be your dream collaboration?

We’d love to work with Jack White. Vance records almost all of Jack’s stuff, so we heard all the stories and learnt about his process, which was great. I love his process; it’s really honest. His band is so good that they record straight to tape. We did overdubs, he doesn’t do overdubs, its just 12 people playing in a room and eight mics recording them, and what they play in that room is what you hear on the record. So I’d love to work with him and do something crazy like that.

You’ve said in a few interviews that anything can affect song writing, not just other musicians, so what’s been an influence on your process that we may not expect?

Definitely your environment can influence you. We all moved into our Kew house, which is where we got together and wrote the album, and created these shells of songs, which we left open to be moulded once we got to Nashville. We set up this house and we had drinks and parties in there, where we would jam all through the night cause we had no noise restrictions. That whole environment, I can’t say how directly, I can’t put it into a specific song, but that environment definitely shaped how we all recorded and played together.

You have a classic rock and roll stage presence, is that something that’s come naturally or have you had to work to really hone your craft?

I would say the latter; I think it just comes with time. You can’t psyche yourself up and say, “I’m going to go on stage tonight and be Steve Tyler,” it doesn’t work like that. If I look back at how I used to be, I don’t think I’m some kind of crazy frontman or anything, but I was a lot more nervous, and I didn’t have confidence and stuff like that. But rather than faking it, I think as you keep going, and as you play more shows, you don’t get nervous anymore and you enjoy it more. We don’t just say, “lets go out there and just go crazy.” I think our presence has just come from the fact that we just love playing and we’ve been doing it for a long time, and we enjoy being out there.

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PHOTOGRAPHY by Kane Hibberd http://www.theartofcapture.com

What’s your favourite song to play live?

Mine is I Can Feel That You Don’t Love Me (ICFTYDLM), I love it. Alex sings lead on that, so I just get to sit back and play tambourine, and look around the audience. I like to look around and take it in, I mean I still get to do that when I sing, but I guess I’m focusing a bit more on my role. Whereas in that song, I sit back and do harmonies, and take in the room or the festival or wherever we are.

Despite your songs being on a grand scale and having a big sound, there is definitely a raw, emotional vulnerability to a lot of your lyrics. Do you find it cathartic to play these songs?

You do think about it when you’re singing, and if it’s a song I’ve written, I think it’s easier to feel that emotion when you’re singing it. But I will always embrace that; I’ll never hide away from it. The more you’re in touch with the song on stage, the better. With songs that Al’s written – or anyone else, but Al writes most of our stuff – whatever he was going through at the time that made him write those lyrics, I was there next to him and talking about it. Because we’ve been with each other forever as a band, all of us, all those things in our songs, we were all around each other when it happened, so [I] do feel like I understand it. It’s not like I’m singing random lyrics, I know how he felt, I was there, so it’s easy to get in touch with those emotions, definitely.

Your cover of Wolf by First Aid Kit is one of my favourite covers of all time. What is the process of putting together a killer cover like that?

We wanted to do Alt-J, but then we found out someone who did Like A Version before us had done Alt-J, so we couldn’t do that. So we really loved that song Wolf, and I don’t know if we thought we could do a good cover, but we thought we’d just do a song we really liked. I think we did it in a night, and made it our own as much as we could, and drew from different aspects of their song, and took different backing vocals and made them more prominent. It was very fun, I’d like to do it again actually.

You’ve had a huge 2014, and 2015 is already filling up fast with tours, what can we expect from Kingswood next?

We haven’t got together and started writing as a group yet, but I’m sure everyone is making terrible recordings into their phones, it’s always funny looking back at voice recordings, they’re always terrible, but we’re definitely going to think about recording another album. We’re going to try to do that this year, but I guess our main thing is we’re going to go over to America and tour the album, and then Europe as well. So if all goes well, and we’re busy doing that, then we’ll do the album next year, but if no one wants to see us play, then we’ll record another album.

Linacre told Veronica and Lewis on Triple J this week that they’re planning to record a new album after they’ve finished their tour with AC/DC.

You can also catch Kingswood at the Beyond the Valley festival over the New Year.

This article was originally published in Rabelais Magazine.