When did you start Zombie Junk?
Zombie Junk kinda started a few years back... Or at least the idea of it did. It took me a while to actually turn it into something more than just a bunch of random concepts running around my head.Read More
60 Seconds With
When did you start Zombie Junk?
Zombie Junk kinda started a few years back... Or at least the idea of it did. It took me a while to actually turn it into something more than just a bunch of random concepts running around my head.Read More
Furniture made out of concrete? We had to know more so we stopped Cameron Clement of LOVJH mid-mix to give us the low-down dirty on his Concrete-Timber-Design business...Read More
Often when I'm writing one of these things, I'll jump to thesaurus.com and swap out some of my dumber words for smarter ones. Grungies for underwear, biscuit for bikkie, etc. This conversation turned to the subject of memes multiple times throughout, and every time I have to put in the word meme. It turns out there is no synonym for the word meme. Nothing else says it like meme. Are you sick of it yet? Meme. Harambe. Meme. I'm sorry Dad.
Suburban Haze are deeper than a meme. In fact, they've been around for ages. I met up with the meme-lords Paul Graham and Joe Andersons to talk music and memes. Memes.
I missed the Harambe meme.
Paul: I don't know how you did. I feel like it's done now, though.
So they killed that gorilla.
P: And then they killed the meme. It feels like he's really died twice.
Anyway, Suburban Haze has been around for a while. I went really deep on Facebook last night – all the way back to 2013. There's a photo of Paul playing a gig in a dress.
P: Yeah – that wasn't the start though. I was playing in my other band Tired Minds at that stage and wanted to do something a bit different. I had around 10 demos that I'd recorded with Joe and put a band around it. That was a different thing.
So has it always been you two guys?
Joe: Not always – I've only been playing in this band since that last release. I've recorded them in the past, and my old band has done split releases with them.
P: Joe has been the fifth or sixth member for the whole time.
So there's been a few different people through the band?
P: The constants have been Alex, Dyl and myself. We were originally called... Don't put this in. I don't want anybody looking it up... The Reflections. It was originally more of a punk-y type of thing. We lost and kicked out a few members [laughs] as well as changing the name. That was around 2012. From there we did The Lost EP.
That first one on the Bandcamp page?
P: Yeah. Around a year later we did the first album – New Coliseum. After that I decided to sing and play guitar for this new album.
I haven't listened to the earlier releases as much, but this newest one seems like it's... heavy, mixed with some more Morrisey-esque moments. I don't want to put that on you, though, if it wasn't what you were going for.
P: I don't really know how it all came about. The first EP I was really worried about singing low – I thought I sounded like Creed.
You do go very low now.
P: I really associated those low notes with Creed. I was so against it. I sang very high notes intensely.
I think it's a default thing for singers in bands sometimes.
P: I remember I was listening to Alt-J's last album – all the weird things he was doing with his voice. I didn't really want to yell anymore, so I started experimenting. The latest album is what came out.
There isn't a whole lot of the heavier style vocals on there – I know you got someone in to feature on one of the songs, but you don't do it. You don't want to sing like that anymore?
P: It's coming back now a little bit, to be honest. For a while I didn't want to yell at all.
And now you've got these guys in the band. How long has this lineup been together?
J: Nearly two years now.
P: It's probably working the best of any we've had.
J: We're all very opinionated about our memes. That's where we really shine.
What are some synonyms for the word meme?
J: Intelligent images [laughs].
P: We booked in a four-hour rehearsal once, played for around 20 minutes – all of a sudden I had finished an hour long YouTube video [laughs].
But you've really been working on some new music as well?
P: Since the album came out in April we've been holding back these ones.
You've been doing a few local shows, but it's not an every-weekend type thing. It's a special occasion when you play.
P: With our drummer living in Melbourne it's a bit hard to get out as much, but we're not dead. We've got a tour coming in November; we're playing in Melbourne twice. A total of eight dates so far.
P: The Lass on the 2nd of November. Then off to Taree.
J: Is that really booked? [laughs]
P: Yep. Then Coffs, Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne and Adelaide.
So it's a bit more of a heavy fit you're leaning towards now? What are the support bands?
P: Not really heavy, it's a pretty mixed bag.
Where does it fit?
P: I feel like we're slowly moving away from the heavier stuff. I love playing at the Lass.
J: The problem of coming up in hardcore and listening to hardcore for so long... All our friends play or book hardcore bands. I don't know many chillwave bands.
P: I think it's a natural thing for dudes that were in heavy bands to move toward a more relaxed style.
You guys are maturing.
P: Ahh... Yes.
J: Pretty much a dad band now.
They're very long songs.
P: I don't think they're written to be, it just kind of happened. I think it's because we play a bit slow. I feel like it's going to change now with this newer stuff in the pipeline.
Slow and short?
P: We'll see.
When are these new songs coming?
P: We'll have two originals coming out just before the tour kicks off, as well as a cover we're putting out next month as well.
Anything else to add?
P: Please send us your favorite meme.
Check out Suburban Haze at their website (suburbanhaze.com) or on Facebook (facebook.com/SuburbanHaze), where you can share your homemade Harambe memes with them.
The first time I saw Lachlan X. Morris play was at the Croatian Club in the back room with no idea what I was getting into. I was sitting on the floor. Safe to say I was crying into my Pavo by the third song. Now it's a year later and I'm sitting again (this time at a table) across from the songwriter. Once again I had no idea what I was getting into – no tears this time though.
Lachlan and his band, The Unholy Communion, are putting on a songwriting festival at the Commons called War On Happiness on the 20th of August. I met him once again to find out what it's all going to be like. I bet it's going to be nice and sad.
So you've been playing for a few years now? Were you always solo?
I started out in this little punk band called The Guppies. That was my first proper band.
I know the name... Did you guys go through Unearthed High one year?
Yeah. It kind of took off before we even knew what it was. We did a bunch of big stuff. It was bizarre. I don't even know how it happened – it was all so quick. Unearthed High doesn't have places that you get, but I remember Triple J got into contact with us after they announced the winner of whatever year it was. They said they really liked us – they said it was pretty much between us and Snakadaktal. The Living End was the featured act for the competition, and since we were the only group with guitars they pushed for us.
I'm finding there's a lot more electronic music out there – especially with the younger writers.
It's seeming more and more like that's what people are flocking to – which is fine. A good song is a good song either way. It's interesting how the tides change though.
So what happened to The Guppies?
It was pretty wild. After that Triple J wanted to help us out as much as possible. They got us Groovin' The Moo, Fat as Butter. We went on tour with Birds of Tokyo and the Rubens [laughs]. We were just along for the ride.
How old were you then?
I was 18 when all that was happening. It was a sweet experience to have. We met a bunch of industry people, different types. People who were around for 10% and all that [laughs]. Good people, but yeah. I was pretty burnt out. I was writing not teenage scummy punk stuff anymore. The rest of the guys were keen to go to university. I decided to keep writing. It did its thing and then, yeah.
You started writing the type of stuff you're writing now from there?
Yeah. When the Guppies finished I tried to have a serious adult think about what it was I wanted to do. Music was definitely a priority. I'd never touched an acoustic guitar before then. One of my old bandmates keeps reminding me of the time I said how much I hated the acoustic guitar, how I didn't know how people could find it interesting. It's pretty much what I do now. It's simple; it's all I want now. It's a vessel for what I'm trying to convey in the lyrics.
Once I started working with that I was very happy with how it was going. The songs were flooding out. I decided to follow that. I'm pretty fortunate how I've got Geoff Mullard at RTN Studios; he's a sweet dude. I've been going there since I was 15. He's super passionate about anything I come in with. We did all the Guppies stuff there; he's always keen. I brought in some new songs last year and we recorded a mini-album, Resurrector.
Is there more music coming out soon?
I've been working on songs as they happen. When they're at a stage where I can record them, I'll head over to RTN and get them down. We're in the process of demoing a full length album right now, which will hopefully be in a good place to release soon. That'll be the next big thing.
So you have a band yourself?
The Unholy Communion.
Yeah [laughs]. I call them that because it always varies who is playing in the band. I've got two members for every position – they're all working musicians in other bands. It's really good. I know I have gigs coming up so I'm forever organising who is going to come on. That's why it's an unholy communion. There's nothing holy about it [laughs]. I'll have the band on and bring others in for a one-off show. I love collaborating that way.
I always wondered about James Thomson and the Strange Pilgrims, other dudes like that – it's a band, but it's under the one name. I've only ever been in bands where you're all together.
It's different. You're all bros, in there together.
Not very flexible sometimes.
But it has its upsides. There's a good camaraderie there.
You must have a lot of drive to pursue this all yourself.
It's a big responsibility, but I love the creative freedom. You can get your idea across so clearly. Then again, I do really enjoy being surprised by another musician I'm playing with. There's a lot you can get from bouncing off another player.
And you're on track to finish the album?
I'm trying as hard as I can to get it done. I'm still writing at the same time. There's 12 definite songs, but a few more in the wings. Everything is demoed, now I'm keen to lock myself away and bunker down.
Some of the material is pretty old, some is fresh. It's all old-sounding though. It's something I really enjoy. Listening to The Beach Boys and The Kinks... It's shown me that a good pop song is as good as it gets.
I didn't expect you to say that.
Not the way people see pop these days, more about the way pop was. Pop is popular music. It's popular because it's a good song. That's where my head's at at the moment, anyways. I used to think pop was a bit of a taboo word – I'd be selling out. That, or ‘there’s nothing interesting about that type of music’. But I think there's more to it than that.
I think it's equally as hard to write a really tight pop song against a lot of different kinds of music.
It's definitely a tough thing to do. Having a perfect melody that battles against the chords in a new way. When it's done well it's the best. Learning from those songwriters has been great.
I had a thought last year, after I finished Resurrector. I think the creative process really revolves around what you've been listening to. You've really got a nanosecond from every song you've ever loved bottled up in your head, and you can take any of it. You don't know where you're going to go. Then someone tells you it's Elliott Smith's ‘Waltz 2’ and you're like... Fuck.
When you take from another song as well, you can't replicate it perfectly. You end up doing it your way.
Definitely. It's all part of why I decided to go under my own name. I can make whatever I want. Metallica can't make a classical record. If I'm under my own name, it's me. Where I'm at where I'm writing. Right now I'm doing much more acoustic, folk-y based stuff. Just recently I was working on a song called ‘No Sky’ – it was more of a studio experiment; heaps of strings. It was the first song I did with drums under my own name. It was a six-minute song with no lyrics until right at the end. I wanted to make it as bombastic as possible.
Does Geoff work with you on that?
Absolutely. He's a very punk-orientated guy, so as it's my first time recording strings, it's also his first time recording strings. I can go to him and pitch a whole lot of different stuff. He'll always say yes to new stuff.
What's the War on Happiness festival about?
I wanted to try and create the perfect environment for people who aren't used to checking out local artists to come and see something new. There's a full day of music planned here. I get to play with some amazing musicians, doing gigs where nobody is watching. I want it to change. I wanted to bring people into it. I want to introduce people who aren't totally used to the idea of going out to watch live music that they haven't seen before.
I spoke to Dan [Southward] last year about this kind of thing. He felt like for some of the gigs he was doing, he was playing in a corner, people talking, nobody really watching.
I know if you go to somewhere like the Civic Theatre to watch someone play music, you don't talk all – you get shushed if you make the slightest noise. I suppose it's different with local music.
There are artists out there with millions of Twitter followers and YouTube hits... The audience is kind of force-fed that act. Everyone just assumes they must be good because of this. Whether they are or not... I don't know. What I do know is that I can name so many local artists off the top of my head that, if you watched them play one of their songs, you'd love them. That's what I want to try and encourage with the festival. We've got some really amazing songwriters performing.
Can you name names?
Definitely. James Thomson, De'May, Jason Lowe, Grace Turner... Some really amazing local artists. People I've either played with or stumbled upon in different ways. We've got the guys from The Press DJ-ing, performing under the name Dad Dick DJs. They're going to play some American rock ‘n roll between sets, as well as putting on a spread.
We want to really encourage people to support local stuff. We're doing a pop-up store, pretty much a huge merch table with stuff from every artist on the bill, plus a few extras. I'm making a compilation CD, which will be a song from each artist.
This event will be extra special.
Starts early, a real picnic.
Buy tickets early from The Commons for $10
or pay $15 on the night like a total dad dick.
Just to confirm, if that poem didn't make any sense: War on Happiness is on Saturday, August 20th. Music starts in the afternoon. $10 if you buy early from the Commons (Beaumont Street) or $15 on the night. I'll be there for sure.
Creator & Plank Enthusiast
By Kian West
WHEN YOUR EMAIL SIGNATURE INCLUDES THE PHRASE ‘PLANK ENTHUSIAST’, YOU DEFINITELY HAVE MY ATTENTION. AND SO BEGAN A PLAN TO CATCH UP WITH MELANIE FROM WOODWORKING OUTFIT HOUTENPLANK TO SEE WHERE THE ENTHUSIASM HAPPENS IN HER REDHEAD WORKSHOP.
MELANIE IS ONE OF A HAND-SELECTED TEAM ABOUT TO APPEAR AT ‘THE IMPOSSIBLE’ MARKET AT THE EDWARDS, SO WE GOT A FEW DETAILS ABOUT THAT, AS WELL AS WHAT IT MEANS TO BE A MAKER, WINNING THE FIRST HOME BEAUTIFUL UNEARTHED AWARD, AND ONE OF MEL’S FAVOURITE GETAWAY LOCATIONS…
So this is where it all happens? Yes. The workshop is pretty empty at the moment! I've had like, I don't know, 800 metres of timber come through and out the other side on pallets to deliver down for this particular project [winning Home Beautiful’s Design Unearthed competition], so that was full on. Mass-production – overrated, it turns out! [Laughs]
So awesome opportunity with the Home Beautiful thing that has happened to me – yeah, just reminded me to be true to who you are and what you do, and still being a local garage-based business is kind of really important.
Can you walk me through what winning has meant? So basically they [Home Beautiful] run a competition, and they’re looking for someone like myself who is just a small maker that has the potential to be pushed out across the national magazine. So you win $10K and the chance to do this collaborative project. They just placed an order of two different Planks that we specifically designed together. So now they’re managing all the logistics and the freight, all of that stuff. That was a relief. Now they basically sell it through all of their channels overall. Awesome for me as a small maker, awesome for them as a big mainstream, because they’re all trying to do what you [Mirage] do, which is connect with local [people] and be relevant.
I get the impression you didn't grow up in Newcastle? I grew up in Lemon Tree Passage, actually. My dad is an oyster farmer out there and I grew up there, went to uni – I'm a dietician. So I worked in that health field for a fair while, but dietetics wasn't my thing, very channelled and particular. But I have always lived in Newcastle – commuted to work when I worked in Sydney, on a regular basis.
So this seems like a much more creative position than some of your previous work? Yeah, well [I was] setting up businesses within Sanitarium, a whole setup of brand and everything that goes with that. I still had some creative kind of leverage in that, and I realised that actually I am someone that needs to be a little more creative in my day-to-day to feel fulfilled, and some of the reporting to boards was… not what I looked forward to. Working for yourself, as you'd know, is pretty liberating and also you can't blame anyone else [laughs].
So we just spoke about this award – can you elaborate on the details, like how many entries, the process...? They [Home Beautiful] ran a social media competition, where people had a limited amount of space [for] one photo of a product and a product synopsis. There were two sides to the award: the side where the magazine select a winner, and a people's choice award. So that runs through social media – all the people who enter trying to get their friends and family, community, voting for them.
I'm not 100% sure on the numbers, but it looked to be between 100 and 150 products that people put up. Huge range, from ‘Look what I found on the side of the road and made!’ to beautiful lighting and other amazing pieces. In the end I figured there were probably 15 businesses really in the running to win the big award. Of course, the big part was [the magazine] being able to produce something that was in the price range that people could afford to buy. Also looking for a brand that they would like to sit together with... Then they did a whole heap of photography for the project.
Was it a sense of validation? Oh, yeah! I questioned if my product was good enough to put into the competition, so... I'm not a woodworker, I'm just learning. There is a lot of self-doubt as a maker.
What's next? Definitely revealing some things... I might be able to get my stuff into prop shops and that kind of thing. I'd also like to pursue the whole food styling, food photographer kind of thing. [It’s] just made me realise that being a maker is awesome, but I don't want to get bogged down into being in the garage ‘making’ for hours.
You have a small family, a young family – is it like working on a complete cycle? There is possibly another blog on the horizon.
If someone came to visit you in Newcastle, where is a must-take-them spot or spots? Just Newcastle? Port Stephens. Because I have access, I'd probably take them out to our oyster farm, to the family oyster farm. Jump in one of the boats and shoot around the estuaries. Nothing quite like fresh oysters.
We have lots of relatives that come from the Netherlands, and they are just so keen to kind of experience what it is like. If I was honest, given I have a food background, there is a great organic blueberry farm, which we as a family visit on a regular basis. Great, seriously awesome blueberries, although they just canned under-fives picking – I think they just ruin the plants! There is also an orange grove. Learning where food comes from is a really big thing we enjoy doing as a family.
You already gave me this tip, but I'm guessing the audience is going to want to know where you can be found? I am regularly at the Olive Tree Markets – massive supporter of that market, I started there. Willows Home Traders... I have an online store... There is a COOL NEW MARKET that is going to hit The Edwards soon, called THE IMPOSSIBLE MARKET. [Note: Mel wasn't yelling here, but it deserves highlighting, right?]
Tell me more? Hmmm. Curated by Rebecca Stern from House of Bec, it's going to be a Sunday evening pop-up market event and it'll be hand-selected stallholders. The Edwards is planning some cool market-style food. All weather-friendly.
THE IMPOSSIBLE will kick off on Sunday, 13th September from 5pm–9pm at The Edwards, 148 Parry Street, Newcastle West.
Or you can find Melanie’s awesome boards here: houtenplank.com.au
Stuart McBratneywith Kian West
I HAVE TO ADMIT: I HAVEN’T HAD MANY OPPORTUNITIES TO SPEAK ABOUT OR WITH A FILM PRODUCER BEFORE – I JUST DON’T GET TO MOVE IN THOSE CIRCLES, I GUESS. SO WHEN THE OPPORTUNITY AROSE TO CHAT WITH LOCAL FILMMAKER STUART MCBRATNEY ABOUT HIS (NEARLY) FINISHED FILM, I JUMPED AT IT. WE SAT DOWN AT THE RAD LITTLE CAFÉ INU IN CARRINGTON ONE BITTERLY COLD AND WET MORNING TO CHAT ALL THINGS INSPIRATION AND FILM.
So, the obvious question – well, maybe not obvious, but I always enjoy this one. How would you describe yourself?
How do I describe myself? Hmmm, I don’t know… I guess I like to keep busy. Ever since I was a little kid – maybe not a movie like it is now – [but] even as a six-year-old, I was always trying to invent something. Maybe a gun that when you pulled the trigger it said ‘Bang’, all made out of cardboard, stuff like that. When I was 11 I made a pop-up book, which I guess ties in with the movie [I’m making], ‘cause it involves pop-up cards.
Yeah, for some reason I have always wanted to keep busy – maybe I should cut down on the coffee, but I can’t just sit there and watch TV, like [other] people can just sit there and veg out. I can’t seem to just sit there and do that. If there is a particular movie that I want to watch, I’ve heard it is really good, I might sit there – but in terms of spending my time, I like to just make stuff, [whether] it’s music or movies…
With filmmaking, there are so many elements – I make music and I do drawings and have stories, and film just seems to pull that all together. So, anyways, I’m not sure if that answers the question of ‘how do I describe myself’! I don’t know.
It always does! The interesting part is how people think about that question, because everyone has a different way of approaching it. Now, you sort of touched on it – is film just an element to your creativity?
Well, I started making films when I was 11; I made my first proper scripted, edited short film when I was 14. Those first three years were just mucking around – they were little mini-movies, but they were never like, ‘Here is my written script and here are my characters and here is my shoot schedule’, you know, ‘we’re shooting on Saturday to do scene 10’, that kind of stuff.
So, about the filmmaking… I started doing music when I was really little – I played the keyboard. Well, technically, it was the organ: the left foot doing the bass, left hand doing the bass keys, with the right hand and the right foot doing the volume. I looked like some sort of marionette puppet. Little kid with a big organ (that sounded bad)! [Laughs]
That was when I was really little. I didn’t really enjoy it, but my parents said it was really important, but I was the only child they said that to, anyways, so I gave up. I hated it, even though I’d spent like four years doing it [and] was at a level where I could play reasonably well. Then, at age 14, I discovered the guitar and no one had to force me to or coax me to do it at all. I just woke up and played the guitar all day and went to sleep.
[I] kept playing and playing and writing my own stuff, bits of music for my film. From that point onwards it was always a bit of a – not quite a competition, but I was always interested which one was going to pan out for me the best: music or the film, music or the film. So I just kept working on both.
I’m sure that if I’d only had one – committed to just music, put all my energy into music, or put all my energy into film without going off and doing albums in Berlin and stuff – maybe I’d be in a different place right now. But anyway, recently I made the decision I’m going to concentrate on film, because film involves music.
For anyone who hasn’t watched the intro about your film ‘Pop-up’, how would you describe it? ‘Pop-up’ is a comedy drama about three strangers whose lives intersect due to a random event. It’s structured like a triptych – that is, three separate stories. So you have story A and story B and story C, then there is one event that happens right smack-bam in the middle of each of those three stories, so it’s seen from three different perspectives.
The three stories are: [first], an unemployed man who’s raising a daughter by himself, and he finds a digital camera and it has one photo of a woman’s face; he is instantly smitten and decides he’s going to track her down. The second story is about a Romanian immigrant who decides she is going to make pop-up cards for everyone that she knows and hand-deliver them as a way of overcoming a heartbreak. The third story is about a theatre director who gets a scathing review from a critic, so he decides to hunt him down and kill him. So they are the three stories, and they intersect in an unexpected way.
[The film] was made here in Newcastle – well, 80% here in Newcastle. Some of the scenes were shot in the ocean baths, Newcastle Beach, the old Bacchus building, Fernleigh tunnel, Tuff-n Up Boxing, Newcastle Theatre Company, the CBD… All sorts of recognisable shots. The other 20% was shot in Transylvania, in Romania – the character from Romania, that’s where she is from.
And you’re having the premiere here?
We aren’t calling it a premiere. [But] yes, it’s about 99% confirmed to be at Tower Cinemas on August the 19th.
Our chat with Stuart was huge – way too long for this little print mag, so catch a full-length version on our website. – this is where we left it off in print but below is the rest…
Assuming that all goes ahead, yeah, what it is, is a chance for all the people that made the film to get together and watch it. Some people’s involvement was 2 years ago and it was just something they did one afternoon, where as other people it has just been their entire life. The only person for whom this is all consuming, is me, there is no one else that has been driving it on a full time basis. There are plenty of people that have been helping here and there. I couldn’t have done, couldn’t have made this movie without so many people, in the credits there will be something like 250 peoples names that have helped to make this movie work many hands make slightly less crushing work so yeah, basically From that it goes off. At the moment I’m looking into an event theatrical distribution model instead of palming it off to a distributor make it seen there is Netflix, people can watch whatever they want from the comfort of their home.
To get them out of the house, the only thing getting people out of their house is a big budget flick. I can’t compete against that.
What I can offer is a personal question and answer session, an introduction and so my plan is to do what a few other film makers have done successfully recently, with smaller films, which is to basically go on tour with it, [like] go to Gundawindy. I go and present the film maybe even present some little behind-the-scenes video as part of the package They all get a night out.
Much different to what you’d get if you went to the movies normally, a connection with the film maker, and if some of the actors happen to be available near-by I have some of them in Brisbane, if they were around, do a bit of a tour around, treat it like Cinema used to be back in the really olden days, a travelling roadshow.
You’ve mentioned a few people you are basing this off other people, do you think this is the way the whole creative industry is having to re-evolve such as the current film making industry?
People are saying TV is the new film, it’s all about the big HBO shows and stuff like that and yeah, I guess the thing is I could evolve in that direction but then that means I have to make 5hrs of screen time instead of 1 and a half and it also means I have to make TV and I really just love movies some people just love movies, I don’t want to go and do something just because the market dictates that, maybe if I was passionate about making a TV show then I’d do it, but it’s not really what I really feel like doing, it doesn’t appeal to me as much as movies, I just love movies, I’ve loved movies since I was a kid and I, certain TV shows I’ve gotten into but I’ve never wanted their poster on my wall, I love movies and I love reading about directors and the film making process, that’s why I’m doing this PhD on film production as well because I love reading about it and studying as well, but in terms of the answer to your question, I think any artist has to adapt there will always be new technology or new trends that come about so perhaps the demand for their work is no longer there I mean, look at the airline industry it has adapted to the internet pretty well, I wouldn’t think of going in to a shop to talk to a human being to book a flight to Brisbane, in the same way the internet has changed film, people are consuming films in different ways and no longer does it need to just be on your laptop or your computer, you can connect it to your big screen at home and get your Netflix account happening and suddenly you can watch a massive amount of stuff from your own couch, you don’t need to move.
So to get people to physically get off their couch, without gigantic dinosaurs and exploding space ships you’ve got to offer them something different.
An opportunity to give people a new experience when I was in San Francisco a couple of years ago I was lucky enough to see Kevin Smith do this very thing, he decided to self release his own film ‘Red State’ and he did this exact thing, he would do these introductions and then these Q&A sessions after the film, it was great!
Obviously a very well known Director, especially in cult and film making circles, but he had a packed house. It would be more challenging for me to pack out the house, but that is fine, you know If I made a film and then I can use the same resourcefulness to get it seen. It’s just a way of adapting I guess.
You talked just before about enjoying reading about what people are doing, are there particular people, especially where you draw inspiration from?
I’m doing a PhD in Ultra Low Budget film production.
So the film that I am making is now part of my, considered my creative work, you can do a PhD just by writing a thesis, or you can do a creative work and then do a thesis on top of that slightly shorter thesis So that means on top of making the film I’m also researching the how, in America an Ultra Low Budget, even $5 million could be considered low budget, but here obviously that would be a pretty big budget for an Aussie film, and pretty much anywhere else in the world really, if you had $5 million for a movie that is considered pretty big, but so Ultra Low Budget are the ones that are made basically on the smell of an old rag, like famously, ‘Clerks’ by Kevin Smith, ‘High’ by Darren Oranovski, ‘El Mariarchi’, ‘Slacker’ these are the sorts of films, ultra low budget, there are obviously thousands of films that have been made.
Better yet, attend the big red carpet cast, crew and supporter screening of ‘Pop-up’ on August 19th [UPDATE: Now OCTOBER 4th] at King Street’s Tower Cinemas. Grab tickets by visiting eventbrite.com.au and searching for ‘Pop-up’.
Let me ask you a question, reader. Do you like Bob Dylan’s voice? Compared to, say, Barry White’s? Peter O’Toole’s? Tom Waits’? Morgan Freeman’s? Would you sit down and be a friend to him? Just to hear him speak?
I’m asking you this because, as an artist, Bob Dylan is surely one of the most famous soloists of our times: an artist who would typically turn up at a show armed only with an acoustic guitar and that sawdust voice. So what’s more important about Dylan – what he was saying, or how he said it?
Local folk musician Dan Southward is all about what he is saying, as I quickly found out during our discussion at Moor Newcastle East. I can’t help but feel like there are good things on the horizon for Dan’s understated talents, and I’m sure you’ll feel the same once you find out more about him.
How is working at The Lass? Good, good. I get to see so many bands come through.
I can't think of any other places to play for that variety of music. I've spoken to a lot of the artists coming through, and they all don't necessarily want to play where the best sound gear is – it's more important to play where the audience is, where the people are.
Definitely. The difference is in [The Lass’s gig organiser] Milli's work I think. She's so good.
I had a coffee with [local musician] Adam Miller recently. I was pretty downhearted about the whole situation, playing for nothing, getting nowhere. He looked at me and said it's taken him over 10 years to get signed. Success isn't what you get or how many people want to listen to you, or any of those things; success is when you're happy and set with your craft. When you're happy with what you're producing, and it's the best you can possibly do, that's when you've become successful. Connecting your head to what you put out.
I sat back and soaked that in for a few moments and thought how I'm nowhere near any of that. A lot of artists these days are all focusing on the return. Going off how many plays they get, whether they were the feature album of the week, how many people are at their gigs or whatever. Those things do indicate some scale of success, but I feel the stop work once they've 'made it'. Running with the trend until people stop coming to their shows.
It's more business. Exactly. Any of the great artists that I listen to never stop working. They're never working on just a project, they're always scribbling, writing down bits and pieces. They might go through and completely write 15 songs, just to get to one that they're happy with the direction of.
It's not uncommon for painters to have studios full of work. Some half-done, some not. That's one of the traps I fell into when I was younger; I thought once you started a song you had to finish it. It's not always the case. If all getting halfway through a draft does is inspire you to finish another song, or start a brand new idea, then it's served its purpose. I think a lot of songs are manipulated by the fact that the writer thinks they need to finish it in the one sitting. It's hard to have that control, the foresight to say that something isn't working right now, but it may one day. It's a never-ending battle.
I personally write the best when I'm sad, only because I don't feel like doing anything else. I end up spending a lot of my time sitting in my room.
Different mindset. Definitely. I find there's more conviction there. Whereas if things are going well, you're out having dinner, doing other stuff – living. I sometimes feel like I'm not pursuing anything because I'm enjoying myself. I feel like I'm elsewhere if I'm doing well. I'd rather socialise, go and see other bands and stuff like that. It's really when I'm in a lower spot, when I'm lonely and I've got time on my hands, that's when I write the best.
I feel like that's what other people connect to as well. I find there's two sides of conviction – you can have the lyrical side, as well as the melodic side. The tone in which you sing or play can really draw out feelings. That shiver when you go and see a big band and you've got a personal connection to their music. They play in the same voice the whole set, but that one song completely rocks you. That's where the conviction comes into it for me.
When I'm writing lyrically, I don't try and write anything too directly. If people aren't in that exact same situation, they can enjoy the music, but it won't hit them as hard. If you can create music in a vague way, however, that conveys a general message; losing someone, whether physical, in death, or in a relationship – it's that much more powerful to the listener.
I get so many people saying to me that they'd wish I would write happy songs, that I only write sad songs. But for me, I can only write what I feel strongly about when I'm melancholy, from a position of reflection.
It saddens me that the acoustic guitar and vocals isn't enough anymore though. Folk music, not necessarily these massive bands with five banjos and whatever. A genuine solo artist with space to move around in is as far as it goes for conviction for me. One mic, one guitar, telling stories, love songs, travelling songs and all these people sitting around drinking wine... That's the true artistry. My father introduced me to his taste in music, CSNY, The Band, it's all so raw.
And that's what you're chasing - the way you treat the music. Yeah definitely. Taking inspiration from something so small, and turning it into a work. I'm finding inspiration pretty consistently. As far as guitar goes, a lot of things sound like something that's been done before. There isn't a lot of room to move. So all the creativity is built on that, and that's difficult. Normally, the melodies and the words will come in around an idea on a guitar, for me anyway. To run in and belt out a vocal line and discover the guitar around that is tricky.
Would you say it's more about the melody or the lyrics? What comes first? For me personally, it's about melody. The notes that you sing and the notes that you play.
Does it come from a theme like heartbreak or loss? It's split down the middle. I'd either do a story song, where the melody doesn't necessarily change too much, four or five verses, and it walks you through something. It gives you a message. The other type is [one where] there's a melody that I play around with. Most of the time for me it's about love. It always seems to come out. A personal relationship, friends relationship, whatever.
I've been working with this new process recently that Justin Vernon would do. He would walk in to a studio with any instrument and just start something and start adding layers. He wouldn't know what it was going to sound like. They put everything together and whatever it sounds like, he'll sing over the top of. If you read the lyrics to any of his songs, none of them make any sense at all. His way is all about creating an atmosphere. It's so easy to identify his voice and sound because of the emotion he's putting into those instruments.
I've tried to write moving music, just on an acoustic guitar like that. It works, sometimes, depending on the audience and the venue. From what I see, people just aren't interested in that type of music anymore. The trend has shifted again.
So how are your gigs going? I'm finding a lot of the time it's the older generation that's the most interested in what I'm doing. I'll play in front of a whole crowd at The Lass, everyone is talking. But if I'm doing a dinner, covers, in the corner somewhere, I'll get cards and money thrown at me. They want me to come and play at their 50th. I'm wishing younger people would value it in the same way. There are guys running around town now that are amazing, so much better than me. You look at them and you have to ask – why are we all still here, playing to nobody? I feel like I've worked on something, and I'd like to share it with people.
What is on for the future? Currently Milli is putting together a tour for me, which is good. That'll probably happen around October. Looking to put a few of us local acoustic guys on the bill, [like] Nick Connors. Trying to get Jason Lowe, who I have to say is by far the best local musician going. He plays the most beautiful slide guitar you will hear. He sounds a lot like Ben Howard. The first time I ever saw him I was on the same bill at The Lass; we went down early and had a few drinks before. It was the first time in a long time that I've actually thought about pulling the pin on something. He had 40 people glued to him. He said he had five minutes left to play, and I was freaking out. I came up to him straight after and introduced myself. He played it down. Then I had to get up there. I was rocked.
So how did you get started? I knew you from around school, but you were playing drums back then. I started out as any kid does I guess, getting lessons on piano at the age of five. Mum was a piano teacher, so myself and my two brothers were roped into learning it, which I'm really grateful for. From there I grew up in the youth church, and I remember sitting there each week watching the drums. I remember I wasn't really there for God, because I was only six or seven at the time [laughs]. So I started getting drum lessons from there.
My grandfather was heavily involved in the Jazz scene back then. He was in Harry Tabernackle's big band. I can still go to The Dungeon or The Underground and Paul Isaacs or any other big jazz players will come through and ask about Mum. From there, Ben, my brother, was playing sax, Christian was playing bass, I was playing drums, Mum was playing piano and my grandfather would play everything – clarinet, flute, all kinds of things. I learnt how to sit in with a band from a very young age. I think that’s one of the most musical things I have to offer.
I do see you around filling in for different groups. Well, church was amazing for that. Every Sunday you'd be playing with a group of different people. Quite often they were train wrecks, and you've got to try to pull yourself out of that for the sake of the congregation. From there you meet other musicians around – they're playing in their own things. It's good because you meet them in church, but then you've got outside life too. I've kept a lot of friendships from there, but I got to a stage with the church... I had to move. There's a real narrow-mindedness that comes with it. Not with faith, but with religion. I struggled with that. I still have a great respect for what it is, but I moved out.
So around this time I was heading to TAFE, and then uni at the conservatorium, studying music and music business.
So where are you looking at going? I still feel like I'm underprepared. I feel like I should have 12 new songs with my new sound in it before I can get really started. My voice has changed a lot in the last few years. I've gone from singing these little folky love songs to a much bigger-sounding voice. My voice has dropped – I can actually grab people's attention with it. There's one song that I use as a curveball just to get people's attention: John the Revelator. It's an old, old biblical song. You play that, and anyone who wasn't listening to you before is now. It's all in your voice – it's not the guitar at all. It's that conviction, that declaring.
You can manipulate gigs however you want. You need to be able to read the crowd. You need to tailor the sound and lights to where you're playing, who you're playing to. You can throw out tester songs. If someone really good was on before you, you can pretty much walk right in and drive a truck straight through the gap that they've left. You can play something completely raw and emotive, and people will pay attention, because the silence was already there. Otherwise you have to hit them and grab their attention from them. It's a skill in itself.
I'm nowhere near where I want to be right now. Obviously victory loves preparation, so the more time I spend here doing what I want to do, the further I can get along that path.
For a taste of what Dan’s music is all about, follow his Facebook page (facebook.com/DanSouthward) or, better yet, get down to The Winter Warmer for one of our gigs. Your ears will thank you for it – promise.
KEO HAS BEEN A BUSY BOY THIS MONTH. WHEN HE'S NOT SLAPPING PAINT ON THE CONCRETE WALLS OF NEWCASTLE, THE CENTRAL COAST & SYDNEY, HE'S GETTING HASSLED BY KIAN AND I TO DO ARTWORK FOR OUR AUTUMN RUN OF TEES. I'VE NEVER MET ANYBODY LIKE KEO BEFORE. COMMITTED, BRAVE AND HANDSOME TO BOOT, HE ISN'T AFRAID TO SAY YES TO SOMETHING HE HASN'T DONE BEFORE - ESPECIALLY NEWCASTLE MIRAGE INTERVIEWS. ENJOY!
By Ryan Williams
So you're not raking in the millions yet?
Never will. I think most of us creatives need to resign ourselves to that fact and do it for the love. But there are worse things we could be doing with our time.
Are you still working at Meal Ticket?
You're actually grabbing me at a really interesting time. I feel like I'm finally doing stuff for me, which is super scary and super exciting all at the same time.
Still trying to figure out ways to keep contributing to the community. I'd love to get involved with the Roost again. I feel like at the moment the space has kind of slowed down doing a lot of those exhibitions we used to do. Using the creatives on hand to submit artworks, to brand and organize the event. The work ended up being for themselves, not for a client. They were amazing opportunities for students and graduates alike to develop their practice.
On top of that everybody got something to put in their folio, and got their stuff hung on the wall. Always be working. When somebody asks you what you're doing creatively, you say you're flat out. Work on a personal project, anything. Boost yourself up. Make yourself sound like big shit.
We should talk about you now, because this interview is about you.
What brought you into this creative frame of mind?
Back in 2004 was year 12 for me, I was discovering stencils and spraypainting.
I'm not sure if Banksy was a thing yet. I feel like it was still building up toward the peak. I remember year 12 art in 2008 was all about Melbourne, street art, Banksy, Shepherd Fairey etc. Yeah it still hadn't hit yet when I was studying. I remember looking at an Australian website called stencil revolution. I think it's gone by the wayside now, but back then it was mind blowing. There was a particular guy I remember, Logan Hicks, his work blew me away. There were that many layers to these stencils, they're basically a photo! A lot of political statement stuff, John Howard, George Bush etc.
From there, I forgot all about that painting/stenciling stuff. When I first started out thinking about what I should do, I was told I shouldn't even think about design or the industry at all because I'm colour blind. That was by an advisor from a TAFE in Gosford. So following that, and spending a year doing engineering, trying to find myself, being diagnosed with bipolar, blah blah blah, I spent the following year saving and traveling overseas. I met up with some family in Germany on the trip, most notably my cousin who is an illustrator over there. She had just published her first book. So during this time I was introduced to some of the creative world in Berlin.
When I got home I immediately went about trying to get into TAFE and the graphic design scene. I actually remember now using some of the techniques I learnt making the stencils as a way to separate layers in Photoshop and InDesign. It gave me a starting point for my design process. Where I grew up there wasn't any graffiti. Maybe some tags occasionally, but no street art.
So how did you get back into painting?
I remember becoming interested in graffiti again around 2011, but I didn't want to be a writer, I didn't want to be a vandal. I don't like grey walls, but I understand that property belongs to somebody else. That being said, I feel like public property, the world of billboards and stuff like that, forces you to be exposed to a certain message. It's in your face. Makes you feel things, makes you react a certain way that somebody wants you to.
Grey walls do the same thing. The message is that it's ok for this space to be without expression. People do it unknowingly. But to me, if you've got a wall, and you're paying somebody a huge about of money to paint that wall a single colour, you could pay an artist the same, probably less, to go something much more elaborate and much more interesting.
So these things were going through my brain. Seeing that the art and design scene were heading in terms of the new handmade culture. Getting a bit sick of computers. I liked texture, I liked...
Getting your hands dirty?
I hadn't gotten my hands dirty in such a long time. I was really lucky in having this be almost a year before things like Hit The Bricks came along. During this time I was freelancing as an illustrator, so I was putting myself out there as much as I could. I wanted to have as many arrows in my quiver as possible, so researching other guys doing this stuff exposed me to Mike Watt and Travis Price. I would get in touch and ask them questions, what they thought of what was happening around the scene. I did a few murals for events at The Roost. The one for the Versus exhibition showed me I liked doing things on a large scale.
Before I really started slapping stuff up I did as much research as I could. Having the Design background, I wanted to minimize the amount of waste I created. Having a finite amount of money, I didn't want to go and buy a bunch of paint that isn't any good. The techniques involved in painting, like anything you want to be good at, takes time. Every paint can feels different in your hand, every time you start painting you feel a bit scrappy, but you learn how to work through it. I wasn't going to start painting until I knew what I was doing.
So I went to YouTube, friends, tracking down pieces and looking super close at the flares and speckles of the paint. Looking only at photos of paintings doesn't really convey the whole package. Discovering that these bigger pieces that look sharp from a distance, then close up it looks quite rounded out.
Around mid 2012 I started to go out at night and find dilapidated spaces to and have a play in. I remember one particular spot I went out to on an Australia Day, when nobody would be around, and I figured the police would be pretty busy. It was tough. Painting at night in particular, being a colourblind person, I was choosing colours that I couldn't even see.
I became involved with the Facebook group LA'Division (local artist division) set up by Luke Okay of Mambo, and Trait Cross, a painter from Wollongong. It was these guys collecting interesting painters and artists together and trying to create a little hub for them online to chat, collaborate, share work, techniques and concepts. Still running 'til this day. It's expanded quite significantly nowadays. So I got involved with them, guys like Mike Watt, Sydney Sin and Grizzle.
I had painted a few things around the place by this stage. I painted a piece down at the Sourdough Baker, which is horrible. Eventually I decided that I would go and paint for free. I didn't want to get arrested, and I wasn't any good. I said yes to everything. Signs, murals, all that stuff. I realized pretty quickly that because businesses and people weren't being approached by the artists themselves, there was a gap in the market, but also giving me the confidence to say that I could do this, and I can learn. People will barter for it even, for food and coffees as opposed to paying me, so I ended up with a bit of regular work that way. Graphic Design work was drizzling through at the same time.
I decided I wanted to do the hard yards. I started to go down to Sydney, collaborate, run into other painters in the world. I always considered myself a really terrible painter. Even to this day I see a lot of the stuff I've done and it makes me cringe. Ultimately though, for the period of time I've been painting, I've increased my profile quite quickly because I haven't been afraid to say that I'm a painter. Expressing interest and putting out a positive helping hand, in opposition to saying I want this work and I want you to pay me. I feel like that's where a lot of artists fall down. Knowing where there's a budget and where there's not. I took on a lot of free work for a lot of the time. Now I've got a little bit of a name, not much.
Being able to do the tee with you guys to me is epic. Going and painting somebody's living room is great, but this type of thing, contributing to the hometown, helping you guys out it's great.
I don't know how many people I've spoken to and said "we're doing a new shirt, I'm not going to tell you who's on the back" and they've all said Keo Match. You're the Newcastle Illustrator guy.
I feel like there's a big difference between the people who call themselves illustrators between 15 and 30 and the ones between 30 and 60. Guys like Trevor [Dickinson] are deemed to be the older generation, and tailor to a different market, their peers. They've also been through enough to know that they shouldn't be cheap. They've got families and all that to provide for now. I feel like that's what your 20s is all about.
In the art scene in general I feel like everyone is trying to find their 'style'. Or voice. What they want to execute, and whether they want to put it out there. There are a lot of artists out there that hold on to their work for years, and then finally let it out. Maybe that's the difference with your practice in general, you show up in the morning, you do it, it's done. The whole thing is in front of everybody.
For me, street art is the most adventurous form going. On a wall, out in public, doing it in front of people, sometimes it's legal, sometimes it's illegal and it's always going to be judged. You are making a decision to insert your art into a space forever, or until somebody is so pissed off that they have to take it off the wall. That to me is the most attractive thing about it. You've got to have a huge amount of confidence to be able to say "I did that". I can drive through Newcastle and see some of my pieces that I haven't finished from 3 years ago.
Where is that?
It's the one next to Civic Station. I wrote 'Back soon, too hot' and I still haven't been back.
It's a tough surface to paint on, it's actually got an anti graffiti coating on it, it’s terrible.
So you've been in this painting game for about two years now, but you seem like you've been doing it a lot longer by the amount of stuff you've done.
I just love making stuff. Not much of my stuff ends up getting to a product spot, unless it's a commission, like a mural gig, where I'm getting paid for it, most of the stuff you see out of me is just for fun. That's what I do it for ultimately.
I feel like there is so much value in personal projects. If you take an idea and make it exist, get it through to it's final stage, or even halfway, you've gotten that concept out and you've started to experiment. Couple that with social media, you can show people (and potential clients or collaborators) you're a genuine human being, and you're figuring stuff out. People love figuring stuff out with you.
So what are you working on at the moment?
I've got a job painting a living room out at The Junction. As well as that I was approached by somebody recently to do some calligraphy in his Japanese tearoom. It's from my perspective of that location. Very interesting work. Some other little jobs around the sides, proposals for councils.
Finally, is it true you've been working on a tee design for Newcastle Mirage?
The rumors are true.
SIDEBAR - SEE KEO'S PAINTINGS
Block By Block, Belmont (behind Cafe Macquarie)
The Boom Box - Beside the railway tracks in Hamilton. Down from Sam Egan surfboards.
Honey Espresso - Interior Mural, Hexagons on the outside.
With Malcolm Grieve
By Kian West
We were fortunate enough to grab Malcolm for a quick chat ahead of his exhibition in 'The Unorthodox Church of Groove' here in Newcastle later this month to find out a tiny teaser of information about "Shot From a Suitcase" before it captures all of Newcastle's attention April 24-29. Don't miss out!
Launch Party is April 24th from 6pm with a special speech from Matthew Tome, head teacher at the Hunter Street TAFE Arts campus.
Hey Malcolm, How would you describe yourself in three words?
Zippity Doo Da
Not to give to-much away about “Shot from a Suitcase” but you have obviously done a fair bit of travelling ahead of this exhibition, do you have a scary travelling story for us?
There was a time just last year when I was in the Dominican Republic and we were heading down a mountain in the back of a ute/taxi that literally had 17 people in the back. Half of them were Dominican soldiers, and to make it worse it was raining. We were all chatting, laughing, and trying not to fall off the back of the ute when we were surprised by a very loud BANG! The mood changed in an instant as they grabbed for their guns and prepared to fire; my head was as far down as I could manage. Then everyone realized a split second later that it was just a car back-firing and the casual chat resumed. I was holding my camera at the time and got a shot of a soldier’s intense look. It is featured in “Shot from a Suitcase” and is one of my favourites.
Where is the favourite spot you have visited?
I don’t want to get too specific about the location, but there is a spot up in the Snowy Mountains that is my favourite spot on the planet. My favourite place overseas would be Trinidad, Cuba. It’s hard to explain, but Cuba is really special. It’s in the people, the live music in the street, the culture of an untouched country. I just love it.
I INITIALLY ASKED HIM THIS QUESTION BEFORE THE BOTTLE OF WINE. I’M GLAD I DID, HIS RESPONSE WAS ‘AAAH, WHO ASKS SOMEONE THAT QUESTION? HOW DO YOU EVEN ANSWER THAT? WHAT IF I DON’T EVEN KNOW YET?’ LATER WE RETURNED TO IT…Read More