Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Industry Interview: Dave Stevens of Pure Pop Records

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Mention to any Melburnian that you're going to a chilled out Sunday afternoon gig to watch a great music act, chances are they'll turn around and ask, "Pure Pop?"

Tucked away in the iconic suburb of St Kilda, Pure Pop has carved itself out a niche as being quite possibly the only combined record store, record label, cafe and live music venue in the world. And despite being in one of the city's trendiest, celebrity-filled areas, you will find no pretension here at all. You can pick out a quality vinyl at the front, or head to the back and enjoy a good toastie and beer while watching an intimate unplugged set on the venue's tiny stage (which we imagine is battling out with The Birmy for first place in the small-stage-stakes).

Paper-Deer had a beer with owner Dave Stevens about his pride and joy.

As one of the owners of Pure Pop, one of Melbourne's iconic record stores, what do you do?
It’s more of a question of what don’t I do.  Pure Pop is a pretty small operation and between myself and our three staff members we manage to get most things done.  We manage to run the record store, café, bar and venue pretty smoothly although it can have its moments of chaos.

It's been said that Pure Pop is the only record store/cafe/live music venue/record label in the world. How did the idea to combine four amazing concepts together?
I think it was when I realised that I had achieved my dream of owning my own record store about twenty years too late. Downloading, CD burning and other things had conspired to make my CD store as popular as a penny farthing shop. I was trying to sell something that was pretty much available free elsewhere, albeit illegally but with very little chance of prosecution. After a few months of no sales, banks and creditors screaming, debt collectors knocking my door I was sitting in the empty backyard of Pure Pop, head in hands wondering what I was going to do.

The idea of the bar and live venue came to me and with the help of a few tradie friends we transformed the place bit by bit over a few months to make the venue and start putting on bands. The liquor license took longer (two years) but somehow we survived, I really don’t know how, but now we have a place that we can truly be proud of. Alcohol sales allow us to keep our CD and vinyl stocks healthy and the increased traffic through the store has led to increased sales of music.

It is often mentioned to us that we should get rid of the music and open up the whole place as a bar and live venue. We would make more money but to be honest the soul of the place is that we are first and foremost a record store and always will be.

Does the cat in Pure Pop's logo belong to someone? (Weird question, but I've always wondered.)
The cat is a tattoo that I have. Pretty fierce, hey?

Paper-Deer has heard about the Pop  Goes the Curfew gig around the traps, and particularly that Swedish group The Men are flying down for the gig. What else can you tell us about the gig?
It started out as our fifth anniversary gig but unfortunately we opened our doors in July – not the best time to put things on in St Kilda. We spoke to the Prince and they were keen to do something in January.  From there it snowballed and now it’s become an all singing, all dancing entertainment one night only spectacular!
The Men were the first band we put out on the Pure Pop label way back in the deep dark days. They are a fantastic sixties style mod band from Lund in Sweden. We’ve stayed in touch over the years and in November I wrote to Sven Kohler (The Men’s frontman) to catch up, and mentioned the Pure Pop gig in passing and he said he’d ask the guys if they were keen to come down. The rest is history.

The other bands on the bill are all Pure Pop faves who have graced the courtyard stage over the years. Gun Street Girls and Pony Face will be able to turn up the volume a bit higher than our council restrictions allow so that will be great. Mates of ours like Tim Rogers, Charles Jenkins, Ryan Coffey, Jeff May, Heath & Alex (from Dirt River Radio) and Hugh Gurney (from The Skybombers) are dropping by to do a song or two each and the fantastic comedy duo Anyone For Tennis will be hosting the night.

Pure Pop is known for amazingly intimate gigs from prominent musical artists in your cosy venue. Why the decision to host Pop Goes the Curfew at the Prince of Wales Bandroom?
Our courtyard is very small and of course outside. Therefore all our shows are limited to 50 people and we have strict sound restrictions. We wanted to a have a party, we have more than 50 friends and we wanted to make a lot of noise. The Prince have been great friends of ours – as have all the St Kilda venues – and offered us their place to hold the party.

Pure Pop's incredibly unassuming stage has seen the likes of Charles Jenkins, Tim Rogers, Kate Miller-Heidke, The Swell Season, Barry Adamson and more. Which act was your absolute favourite and why?
It would be too easy to say The Swell Season because their performance was spine-tinglingly great as were the others you’ve mentioned but what really excited us was when a 17-year-old school kid named Alex Lashlie dropped in after school to ask if he could play. We gave him a Friday night spot and he absolutely blew the place away. He ended up doing Fridays for over 12 months and his sets became legendary. He’s now 20 and is touring Europe.

Owning your own indie record store always seems like the ultimate job. Any advice for budding music lovers who are desperate to get into the business?
Don’t open in St Kilda. This spot’s taken. Seriously it makes me sad to say but I wouldn’t recommend anyone opening a record store unless they are able to supplement the turnover with something else. We’ve gone down the route of bar, café, venue but there are other options.

  • January 1: Conway Savage at Pure Pop
  • Sunday January 2: The Adventure Spirit and Pure Pop Ha/Ha at Pure Pop
  • Saturday January 8: Brillig, Ben Revi, Chris Assaad, Conway Savage at Pure Pop
  • Sunday January 9: Cambodian Space Project, Coby Grant, The Scholars and The Skybombers at Pure Pop
  • Friday January 14: Large Number 12s at Pure Pop
  • Saturday January 15: Jules Sheldon, Dan Webb, Conway Savage at Pure Pop
  • January 16: Pop Goes the Curfew at the Prince Bandroom [with The Men, Gun Street Girls, Pony Face, Tim Rogers and others]
  • Sunday March 27: Paul Collins at Pure Pop
  • Friday January 21: Large Number 12s at Pure Pop
  • Saturday January 22: Cloudmouth, Lord Bishop Rocks, Conway Savage at Pure Pop
  • Sunday January 23: Citrus Jam [EP launch], Yeo, The Skybombers at Pure Pop
  • Friday January 28: Large Number 12s at Pure Pop
  • Saturday January 29: Delsinki Jane, Conway Savage at Pure Pop
  • Sunday January 30: Lisa Wood, Nick Batterham, The Skybombers at Pure Pop

By Paige X. Cho

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year!

We have moved! Our blog is now at

Paper-Deer would like to wish all its readers, Twitter followers, Facebook fans, Google fans, featured musicians and interviewed industry folk a very merry Christmas, and a totally rad 2011! Paper-Deer started mid-2010, and has managed to pick up a very decent following for an underground music blog in a few months, and would like to thank every artist and industry professional that has been interviewed for sharing some words with us. We also appreciate every re-tweet, Facebook link post and every StumbleUpon recommendation that you have all been spreading out to the interwebz.

Next year will mean bigger and better things for Paper-Deer, including more writers (contact if you're interested in contributing), more content (including live gig photography), possibly a new-look website and hopefully more readers! So spread the word and tell your fellow music-loving friends about this 100% non-profit Melbourne music blog!

Happy holidays,
The Paper-Deer team

PS don't forget that you can now reach Paper-Deer just by punching in into your browser!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

INDUSTRY INTERVIEW: Tania Wilson of missmanagement & paranoidbydesign

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There sure are quite a lot of managers out there in the Melbourne music scene, but nothing quite says "awesome" like a veteran who's been in the industry since 1995 (when most of the musicians on this blog were probably infants or toddlers), has rubbed shoulders with some pretty illustrious shoulders and has two businesses to her name.

Melbourne artist manager Tania Wilson has seen everything and done it all - everything from large scale international tours, artist development, mentoring, events management, promotions, booking and publicity. She's set up paranoidbydesign, her successful events company, and missmanagement, a management firm set up to help young, budding female managers gets a leg up. 

Paper-Deer listened to Tania's wise words, because honestly if there's something that you want to know about the Melbourne music scene it's probably in her head.

What job title do you go by?
Slave to the grindstone.

Sounds violent. And what exactly do you do?
Solve problems, find answers and make sure I have an educated, well-rounded and informed opinion.

What are your plans for 2011 for paranoidbydesign and missmanagement?
missmanagement is working on releases and tours for its artists for 2011 and paranoidbydesign has a heap of events coming up that we’re working hard on.  We’re also establishing our record label so we’ll be sourcing good upcoming artists to release.  Plus we’re expanding the team and welcoming some great girls into the crew which is exciting.

What artists do you currently work with?
I currently manage Fare Evader (VIC)and i, said the sparrow (WA). 

What do you love about them?
I love both bands because they fulfill the checklist of everything you want in a band – they work hard, they’re creative and innovative, they’re young, fresh and unjaded by the industry, they write great songs that I love and will happily play over and over, they have huge potential ahead of them, they respect advice, and they are both a pleasure to work with.

Fare Evader I love because they just make me happy. Working with them is a joy plus it’s always great when the sound guy in every venue gets into your band and gives you his card at the end of the gig asking if you ever need him again. Sparrow is a new challenge and also has a lot of potential. I’m dying to see them live again as I’ve only seen them once (the difficulty of managing an interstate band).

Fare Evader’s new EP is out next year. Has it been exciting and rewarding watching this Melbourne three-piece go from strength to strength?
Fare Evader are always going to be a pride and joy because I’ve known them from the early stages of their career when they were a fledgling band. They are one of those bands that make the hard-yards-and-no-sleep part of management worthwhile. With them, being a manager became a positive experience again and I’m like a happy parent every time they achieve a new milestone. I can’t wait to see where they go from here.

You’ve travelled the world and worked with bands from other Australian cities and other countries. What do you think about the Melbourne music scene and our bands?
I’ve been working in the scene since 1995 and have always thought it was amazing and always appreciated its health and vitality.  No matter where I’ve been I always say hi to my baby again.  But over the years we’ve fallen afoul to things like errant ill-informed legislation and the residentalisation of entertainment precincts.  Venues have struggled against dwindling numbers and increasing costs. 

On the band side I think the scene had a tendency to take itself for granted and other cities have recently overtaken us in successful bands coming out of their towns.  Plus interstate there is greater organisational and government support for the industry in terms of export and education.  I think with things like SLAM and Music Victoria that will start to change hopefully but with the change in local government it will be interesting to see what pans out in the near future. 

I’d strongly disagree that violence was as prevalent as the media and government wanted to make out but I think there is an increasing lack of respect for your fellow patrons when people are out these days. I’d encourage young bands and people entering into the industry to work on not just their individual careers but the Melbourne music community as a whole. Join in with things like Music Victoria so you can work on supporting your industry on a day-to-day basis before it comes to a head like with The Tote. All that being said I think we’ve been lucky and haven’t had as low lows as other states had in the past. Melbourne will always be my favourite just because it’s where I came of age into the industry.

What advice would you give to bands looking for managers?
Just do the job yourself. Too many bands want a manager simply to do the jobs they don’t want to do. If you want to have a mate manage you then just grab a mate who’s good with numbers and on the phone. If you want a proper manager then you have to establish your band as a viable business that a good manager will be interested in.

A lot of bands say they have a manager when really what that person does is book the band gigs – that’s a booking agent and there’s a shortage of those too. A manager manages the business of the band and works on the long term career of the band. A band shouldn’t be too fast to hand over their management as they should be invested in their futures from the ground up and the better job the band does of that the more ready they are to have a proper manager who can take them to the next level. There are different kinds of managers too so you have to work out what kind of support you need and what direction you want to take the band in before you can decide appropriately what kind of manager you need.

On the other side of the coin, any advice for budding artist managers?
Reverse of the previous question – if a band can’t manage themselves you’re not going to be able to manage them and if they’re not prepared to work hard on their careers you’re going to be the only one doing any work and that is just well… stupid. Trust me. It’s okay to say no.

Avoid rockstars. If they’re acting like rockstars when they’re on the way up imagine how they will act when they get to the top, and then when they’re on the way down. The more experience you get in the industry the faster you will spot the fledgling rockstar and the quicker you will walk the other way.   

Aim to be the kind of manager that progresses a band’s career not one that fetches water. At the end of the day the band’s career rests in your hands and it’s a great responsibility. Management often doesn’t receive the overt credit it is due but without a great team that performance never gets onto the stage. 

Find good mentors and managers to network with. I am incredibly lucky in that I have a great set of people I can reach out to and ask advice from and who encourage me.  Find every avenue you can to expand your knowledge base and make new contacts – music conferences (Fuse, Big Sound, One Movement) and industry training (JB Seed Management Workshop, Austrade Masterclasses).  Diplomas and degrees in the industry can be great but make sure you are doing internships and work experience while you are studying. All of the best managers in the country learnt through actually doing it.

Work out what skill sets you have and which ones you’re missing. Make a list of what you have to learn and what you can get someone else to do. These days a manager has to be everything from business manager to personal manager to record label manager. Some things you can just oversee rather than micromanage if you have another person you can trust – like an amazing FOH guy or a great booking agent.

In the early days of a band’s career spend money wisely.  Don’t rush to outsource everything; do what you can yourself in terms of publicity, releasing, branding and marketing. There are great avenues like Amrap/AirIt for sending your songs to radio so save money on a publicist until all elements of the band are ready for the next stage and the money is worth spending. Plus the more you and the band do to develop your personal connections to press/radio, they will do to help you as the band grows the more.  It is always about the authenticity of your business and connection for long terms careers versus one hit wonders.

The most difficult advice is that if things just aren’t working out it’s okay to walk away. Even though you’ve invested your heart and soul and sleepless hours into something it just isn’t working right. You can’t trade your happiness for the “what if next week it breaks out into something big” because it really just isn’t worth it. It’s the hardest lesson to learn.

  • Thursday December 23: Melbourne Fresh Presents Xmas Gig, Revolver Upstairs
  • Friday December 24: Fare Evader supports Goldfields, Karova Lounge, Ballarat
  • Friday January 21: Summertime Goo, The Palace
  • February - March: Fare Evader east coast tour and EP release
  • March: i, said the sparrow east coast tour and single release
  • Saturday March 12: i, said the sparrow, Rock The Bay, The Espy
  • February 7 & 15: Melbourne Fresh Grand Finals 2011


Sunday, December 12, 2010

INTERVIEW: The Olivettes

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Being a solo artist certainly has its perks. Practice is whenever you roll out of bed. The set list is completely up to you. You don't have to frantically call up your band mates to check they're available when you get offered a last minute gig. And if you don't like a song, you can scrap it without having to diplomatically tell your band mate that what they've written is terrible.

But nothing beats the fun of having a travelling troupe of musicians to keep you company, and that's exactly why Melbourne muso Courtney Barnett has recently jumped on board the "band" wagon. While Courtney is no newbie when it comes to the live music scene in Melbourne, the singer songwriter recently curated a gang of musicians to give her own tunes an orchestrated sound and the gang was originally known as "Courtney Barnett and The Olivettes". The gang of six soon dropped the first part of the name as it was clear that these musicians have too much talent and ideas to add to simply be a backing band, so Melbourne should start to keep their eyes peeled for a collective simply known as The Olivettes.

Paper-Deer got together with Courtney to talk about the evolution of The Olivettes and how they came up with their moniker.

Describe your sound in one word.

Haha, I’m pretty sure that’s two words! Where does the name “The Olivettes” come from?
A drunken guy said to me once, “I’ve never heard your music but based on the band name I envision five housewife-type females dressed in 1950s flowery dresses singing folk songs.” The Olivettes are three guys and two girls. On the front porch, of a house in Thornbury, next to the door bell, at about shoulder level, is a nice plaque that has the house name, Olivette, on it. I saw it at the first band practice and thought it was pretty. Pete suggested it as the band name, and that was that.

 You’ve been on the music scene in Melbourne for a bit. What inspires you to start projects with others rather than just performing and writing solo?
I get stuck in a rut writing by myself. It gets boring and I catch myself using the same cheap phrases over and over again. Plus I’m neurotic and overly self-critical. When you’re writing with someone else they can say, “Hey, that’s shit. Let’s say ‘steady decline of hair’ instead of ‘bald’, and how about we go to this chord and then the leading note brings it up to the major and blah blah blah I know music theory.” It’s a clichéd thing to say, but I learn so much by writing and performing with other people. I’m pretty shy so it forces me to step outside my comfort zone and sometimes the best ideas happen when you’re just mucking around with band members.

I collaborated with a wonderful songwriter and friend Oliver Mestitz last year and we wrote a song called Things to Consider Before RSVPing to a Party. That was the first time I had sat down with someone else and said, “okay, let’s write a song.” And we literally sat around for a long, long time not doing much at all. Folding bits of paper and flicking them across the room. When we finally got on a roll I found it fascinating, it’s like peeking into someone else’s heart and brain seeing the process of how they carefully word lyrics, how they phrase melodies to suit the songs mood, what they share, what they omit.

On your website, you describe The Olivettes as “a group of musicians sourced by Courtney to mellifluously orchestrate and aesthetically beautify her songs.”  Are The Olivettes your “backing band” or does the rest of the band contribute to the songwriting and decision-making process?
It started off like that. Courtney Barnett & The Olivettes. I showed them my songs and we played them how I’d been playing them for the last three years. But it kind of felt like we were a high school band sight-reading out of a Best Of catalogue. Plus some of my slower girly songs don’t really fit with the summery upbeat pop-bop feel thing we’ve got going on.

We have fun together and they inspire me to write, so without them I don’t know where I’d be heading. We’ve only been playing together for a month or so and we’ve just started writing songs together and sharing ideas. I was walking home from the Tote a few weeks ago, and I came up with these profound lyrics quickly typing them into my phone. I took a disjointed story and one riff to rehearsal the next day, showed the band and they made it awesome. We had a new song. Easy as that. So I think it’s okay to say we are just The Olivettes now.

How do you pick fellow musicians to work with?

I would never “audition” people to play with. I didn’t really know any of the boys from the olivettes that well before we started playing together. We drank at the same places, I saw them play in their other bands, and we made lewd jokes together. Once I’d sussed them out to be really cool people that I enjoyed hanging out with I said, “Do you wanna be in a band with me?” As for Charlie Plumb, she dressed up as David Bowie at a party one night and I knew we were supposed to be together. I like the old-fashioned punk-rock notion of friends getting together to make a band. Come up with the name, make the t-shirts, organise the gigs, write the songs…and then learn the instruments. In that order.

The Olivettes have a residency at Edinburgh Castle this December. Why should Paper-Deer readers traipse along and watch you?
1. Our friends The Merri Creek Pickers and Rob from Immigrant Union are coming along to play support spots. 2. We’re playing prime-time afternoon in the sunny beer garden, so you can smoke, drink, eat, bring your kids, bring your dog, get a sun tan and watch music all at the same time.

Is there any magic mix for you when it comes to songwriting?
I find that the best songs are the ones I write in five minutes without thinking about them too much. I get really inspired by local bands a lot of the time. Yesterday I woke up and felt like something good was going to happen so I went and bought two Lucksmiths CDs for inspiration. There’s no magic mix for me. I normally struggle desperately with song writing and the only thing that works is patience and spontaneity.

  • Friday December 17: The Cornish Arms [Popboomerang Xmas Party, as solo aritst]
  • Sunday December 19: Edinburgh Castle residency, from 4pm to 6pm 
By Paige X.Cho

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

INTERVIEW: Scott Thurling of Popboomerang

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"I'm going to start a record label!" Sure, lots of people say that phrase and it's usually met with lots of eye-rolling. One man did that and succeeded massively, and now has big acts like Frente!, Skipping Girl Vinegar and Celadore under his roster. Meet Scott Thurling, the man who started, runs and makes all the decisions for Melbourne indie label Popboomerang. That may be a lot of hats to wear, but the Melbourne-based label manager must have a huge coat rack as the only brain behind the thriving label.

Paper-Deer picked at Scott's brain for his tips on how to get your act on an indie label, and all things record label.

What do you do at Popboomerang?

I am Label Manager at Popboomerang Records. Being a one man operation this obviously means I am sole decision maker in regard to the bands that are signed and the overall direction of the label. I do a level of artist management & development &  publicity as well as booking shows and all other admin involved in running the label.

How did Popboomerang come about?
Popboomerang was established in 2000 & released the first recordings in 2002. I’ve always been a MASSIVE music consumer, and perhaps because I don’t play music, was always interested in music business as well. Popboomerang started as a “swap shop” website around 1997 trading Australian Pop & Rock titles to overseas fans in return for CD’s unavailable in Oz. I would make CD samplers of the Aussie bands for the overseas fans and enjoyed this so much the idea started to form of legitimising things to form a proper label.

What do you think boutique, indie labels have going that major labels can’t touch?
Indie labels enjoy faster decision making, are more personal and timely communication wise and ideally, can carve out a niche in the music scene and to produce intense consumer loyalty as well as a real “community feel” and support amongst the bands. They can spot trends in the industry & react to them faster. Of course there are disadvantages in to working with a small label and bands need to weigh up their options if they are in a position of having some labels courting.

There are some really rad bands on Popboomerang’s roster, including Skipping Girl Vinegar, Frente, Georgia Fields and Young Werther. Is there a common thread among all the bands on your label?
The most common trend about the bands that have done well on the label is a high level of ambition and passion about their music and overall career. That intensity and hunger is something I look for when considering adding a band to the label. Not every band is in a position to tour as extensively as bands like Skipping Girl Vinegar, Celadore or The Bon Scotts but it is a dream if they can!

Which young band on the Popboomerang label are you most excited about for 2011?
I think Celadore qualify for this one as they are truly one of the youngest & most hard working bands on the label. The guys head into the studio this week to start recording the follow up to Distance Is A Gun .The Solomons made a splash with their debut EP this year and are about to record a bunch of songs for release in 2011.

If you could get us to listen to one album/release from a Popboomerang artist, which would it be and why?
That is tough, like asking a parent to name a favourite child!!! The releases which have made the biggest impact with fans and the media include Skipping Girl Vinegar’s Sift The Noise, The Aerial Maps’s In The Blinding Sunlight and Georgia Fields’ new self-titled album. Releases by Tim Reid, Tamas Wells, Underminers, Bon Scotts and Splendid are among others have also been very well received.

Is there a difference between a good band and an excellent band that will be successful?
If there was a secret I would not be telling. But seriously an “excellent band” has to have a point of difference in some way in their recorded music & hopefully also in their live performance. I have seen bands I thought were “excellent” waste their talent and implode & bands who I felt were “good” get every ounce of success possible by working really hard.

Any tips for bands interested in getting signed by Popboomerang? Any hints or anything they should definitely avoid doing (e.g. stalking you)?
Do your research on the roster! Don’t send in recordings for consideration that are devoid of melody! Don’t waste my time with styles of music Popboomerang does not release don’t work with (rap, hard rock, dance or reggae etc.) Be polite in following up for feedback, persistence is fine up to a point (over email is best). Be imaginative and eye catching with your promo packs but don’t go over the top. Don’t sulk or burn your bridges if you don’t get a release as labels often “talk” and recommend bands to each other (or not).

Do you do anything else in the music industry?
I have done some mentoring for Freezer/The Push. But the sad news is I head off to the dreaded day job each day. Rock n’ roll has not made me rich yet! Ever hopeful.

Any tips for young industry kids who are keen on starting labels or working for record labels?
I would hope they have rich generous parents or partners!! But seriously, they need to be aware that the industry is changing and the old models of recouping your investment from CD sales alone are gone. I would encourage them to do some work experience in established labels or seek out some mentoring before starting out alone. I would say learn from your mistakes and don’t repeat them (in saying that successful decisions you make along the way are not always replicated).

  • Friday December 17: Popboomeranng Xmas Party at The Cornish Arms, free entry, featuring The Bon Scotts, D.Rogers Band, Georgia Fields (duo), Underminers (duo), Courtney Barnett (solo), Greg Williams (solo) and Remake DJs. Free event sampler here.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

INDUSTRY INTERVIEW: Quincy McLean of Bakehouse Studios and SLAM Rally

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If the Melbourne music industry was a town, Quincy McLean would surely be mayor. As the founder, owner and head honcho of Bakehouse Studios, the industry veteran has helped everyone from the world's biggest rock stars to Melbourne's youngest bands within his rehearsal and recording complex's walls. More recently, Quincy's moniker may be one to make politicians quake in their boots, as one of the primary organisers behind Melbourne's groundbreaking SLAM Rally to protect the Victorian music scene from downright ridiculous claims from the government and over-the-top liquor licensing practices.

Paper-Deer managed to have a chat to the busy man about how his Bakehouse, his tips for young industry kids and his work with SLAM.

What do you do at Bakehouse Studios?
I set up Bakehouse as a small, single-room rehearsal studio in 1991 and it gradually evolved into a recording/rehearsal complex. The staff call me Quincy but you can call me the boss. 

How did Bakehouse become to be?
I started it when I was in a band that needed somewhere to rehearse and record. Then we had a son, Angus. I had to feed a family so I had to find a way to make a buck and it had to grow. The birth of our daughter Lola seven years later ramped up the pressure so I've had to keep improving the place and expanding it to keep the bands coming and happy.

Weirdest shit to go down at Bakehouse?
This is the entertainment business, you could write a about the stupid stuff that happens here but I don't know whether you have the space for the character development to do it justice. Names would have to be changed to protect the innocent, ignorant or down right thick headed. You'll have to wait for my biography.

Bakehouse has seen some pretty awesome musicians within its walls, like Nick Cave, The Drones, Beasts of Bourbon and Beth Orton. Do you ever get star struck, and by who?
I'm Stranded was the first Australian album I ever bought. It was punk. Its genesis was independent and totally self-funded although the album ended up coming out on EMI. It was the major turning point for my preferred styles and mind sets in music and it changed my life. So when the original Saints were gearing up for their first gigs outside of Brisbane in over 30 years, it was a massive few days for me. Q: Star struck? A: With not a hint of shame.

What else have you done in the music industry? You were  obviously a musician, but have you filled the roles of band manager, venue booker and other assorted titles?
Yes, have dabbled in all of the above. 95% of my staff are very creative people on their own missions. All of them are passionate, connected and very much involved in Melbourne’s musical soup with many of them taking breaks to tour the world with their bands or to undertake  solo expeditions.

Another aspect of the “music industry” that we have tackled was the SLAM Rally, which my wife Helen and I organized in February this year. It blew out to require lobbying of liquor licensing and the government for the last 8 months and a resulted in some very positive changes to the LLC's procedures. Most importantly, live music will never be deemed to be a contributing factor in violent behavior in Victoria again.

In your opinion, what’s the single most irritating thing a band can do while recording?
Whatever it takes to get the result they require is their prerogative but "it's your dime". If bands don't respect the process, that's pretty dumb. You can have a healthy or anarchistic handle on it and great art can come from apparent chaos, but even the Pistols and Edgard Varez respected their process.

Any advice for bands on how to get the most out of their recording time?
In the words of Chris Bailey of the Saints, “know your product”. Study the classics, learn how to edit yourself and cut the shit, practice heaps and make sure you do as much of this as you can before
The tape starts rolling (so to speak), the clock starts ticking and the debtometre starts to explode.

Any tips on starry-eyed kids interested in getting into sound engineering, production and recording?
Immerse yourself in your area of passion thick locally. The bands you are likely to get your first gig with are more likely to be playing at the Tote than Etihad Stadium so frequent the Tote, Old Bar, and other small venues. More truly great inspired music happens in little venues than the over-polished tired old crap made by hacks going through the motions to sheep with binoculars in stadiums.


    Tuesday, November 30, 2010

    REVIEW: The Madness Method @ The Toff in Town (25/11/2010)

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    It’s not very common nowadays to hear of bands fusing the genre of ska into their styles. Freak-folk-experimental-pop-trip-hop? Sure, why not. But ska? Now, in 2010? Well, bands like The Madness Method prove that apparently it still happens.

    The Madness Method describe their music as “spock”; that is, ska with hints of pop and rock. Two of the band’s most popular tracks, You Were Right and Better Without You, seemed to represent the “spock” genre well. Both had signature ska elements such as walking bass lines (provided by absolutely spot-on bassist Jon Meller), guitar rhythms that accented the upstrokes, drummer Paul Frangos’ driving beats, and bright, harmonising brass lines courtesy of Shelly Ryan on saxophone and Matt Story on trumpet (trombonist Tom McKenzie was absent). The fast-paced tempos and catchy melodies of both songs, the distinctly pop-tinged chorus in You Were Right and the rockier chorus in Better Without You fit in nicely with these ska elements to create a fresh sound; a “spocky” sound. Both of these songs also had videos made for them, which were launched at The Toff during this particular show.

    While many of The Madness Method’s songs sounded quite similar to each other, the repetitiveness was broken up by a few songs that had quite a different feel to most of the others. For example, Concrete Heart was slower and more sensual. It still had its standard block-upstroke strumming on guitar and a catchy bass line that walks up and down the frets, but things such as guitarist Luke Forward’s commanding solo using a wah pedal, a sultry saxophone line and long, held notes on brass set it apart and made it a clear stand-out from the set. Vocalist and front-woman Mandy Meadows was allowed more freedom — compared to the somewhat restrictive melodies of other songs — to really show off her vocal control, and she sang the lyrics with a punchy attitude that made you believe she really meant what she was singing. Towards the end of the song, the band dropped out and Mandy held a note for what seemed like minutes, and then followed it up with an impressive display of almost-jazzy vocal gymnastics before the band came back in for the final two choruses.

    An honourable mention also goes out to Wikipedia, which was a lot more funk-inspired than most other songs in the set and also featured a very rock-n-roll breakdown that got the audience raising their fists and whipping their hair.

    The members of The Madness Method are no doubt talented and work extremely well as a single entity. The enthusiasm of the drummer, the lightning-fast fingers of the laidback bassist, the choreographed head-tilts of the brass players, the tasteful solos by the guitarist and Mandy’s sass and pipes made for an entertaining show. This band does not make easy-listening music; it’s not for everyone. As the band themselves state, their music is “not grungy, earthy, wailing or hauntingly beautiful”. It’s not deep, it won’t move you to tears, and it probably won’t cause any epiphanies or arouse profound emotions within you. But that’s not really what The Madness Method were aiming for anyway. They’re all about upbeat, fun, in-your-face songs; light-hearted lyrics that mock and tease; energetic performance and the raucousness that is the fusion-genre of “spock.”


    Wednesday, November 24, 2010

    INTERVIEW: Rosie Burgess

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    If there's one thing that is noticeable about the blues and roots crowd, it's that tight-knit sense of community and those oddly stronger-than-blood ties between musicians. Maybe it's something in the music, maybe it's something about the lifestyle, but there's no denying it.

    Australian roots and blues musician Rosie Burgess is no different. Rising in the Australian music scene, Rosie's close bond between her and her backing band have led to the common misconception that they're actually biologically related. Even with the band's latest addition in bass player Tim Bennett, you can probably hedge your bets that these musical comrades are already more like an adopted family that just a few talented musicians on tour.

    Paper-Deer had a chat to the woman herself, Rosie, about her adopted family, her latest release Leap and the music scene.

    The trio are often mistaken for sisters. Do you feel the bond between the three of you is stronger than blood?
    I have really felt like that. I’m not really the kind of musician that wants to change band members every week, and having found these girls, my aim has been to hang on to them for as long as possible! That said, our violinist Sophie is actually about to embark on a European travel adventure, and we’re going to be joined by a new member, Tim Bennett, on electric and upright bass. I think the really important thing for me is that the people I play with feel like family. We can razz around together and have lots of fun and we also know when to give each other some space. We get each other.

    Is the Rosie Burgess Trio more a showcase for you as a songwriter with two backing musicians, or more like a collaborative band?
    Yeah it’s definitely more like a collaborative band. I do write all the songs, but the others pretty much design their own parts, as well as giving me feedback on my parts and arrangements, which is great.

    From an outsider’s perspective, it seems that there is a lot of bonding and a strong community in the blues/roots/folk scene in Australia. Is it really like that?
    I think so, and not just in Australia, but across the U.S. and Canada too. I think these kind of scenes lend themselves to a community vibe – there’s lots of grassroots music going on, from jams to gigs to festivals, and most of the performers I’ve met seem really open and keen to share their experience. We regularly team up with other bands and share our resources and help each other out with stuff – where’s the best place to play here, can you help me find a PA over there, etc etc. I guess in every area of life you’ll find people who’d like to remain apart, but mostly I’ve just met really excellent people, writing totally excellent, honest music and it’s been so great.

    Paper-Deer read somewhere that you run an independent record label…  What is that like?
    Well, I don’t wear suits n ties but I do get to say “present” when we have meetings... Nah, it’s really low key. It’s been a little avenue for me to release my own music and help out a few other artists along the way – again, that sharing resources thing. Sometimes I’ve had a little extra cash (not very often!) and I’ve used it to invest in some other music that I love that I wish the world was hearing. It’s been really fun but it’s not something I focus on a lot.

    You’ve played at some impressive festivals and have shared stages with some great musicians. Any particular artists that you’re dying to play with?
    I cross my fingers I’ll get to play with Melissa Ferrick (USA) one day, and I’d love to play with Mia Dyson again – she’s so awesome. I love playing with other musicians who you feel like you could watch every night for months, cos sometimes that’s exactly what happens when you tour together!

    Was Leap about jumping? Or something more clever than that?
    Leap is really about a personal leap for me. It’s a collection of songs that cross the boundaries between folk and roots and blues and I guess, even pop, but the primary focus is on the songs themselves, those little glimpses of truth that required me to leap. It’s a really personal album. It sounds funny to say that, because you’d think that all albums are really personal, and I’m sure they are, but this particular album saw me through some really big times and I tried really hard not to make it too cryptic or to edit too much – I didn’t want the real feeling behind the songs to be hidden, I wanted to really say it as it was.

    How can we pick up a copy for ourselves?
    Well, gosh. Picking one up is easy – they’re just light little packages you can slip in your pocket... You order it online at or pick it up at one of our shows, or ask for it at your favourite local record shop. I think they’re about $25.

    • Friday December 3: Folk Rhythm and Life Festival, El Dorado
    • Sunday December 19: The Bendigo Hotel


    Monday, November 22, 2010

    INDUSTRY INTERVIEW: Lisa Ariganello of Trail of Ink

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     It's true that we leave footprints wherever we go, whether they be the outlines of your feet in the sand, your digital footprint or a trail of broken hearts and memories. Band-manager-and-everything-else Lisa Ariganello may have started out in America, but she's weaved in exotic locations across Asia and Australia into her life story and has ended up in the Melbourne live music scene, writing her way across continents. And just as she has left a trail of music reviews and blog posts as she's travelled, Lisa has cleverly named her business Trail of Ink, and now works with some of Melbourne's best know roots, gypsy and folk acts like Rapskallion, Rosie Burgess and Jungal, as well as many others.

    Paper-Deer had a chat to the world traveller about being a manager and how the Melbourne music scene compares to the rest of the world.

    What job title do you go by?
    Like most people in this industry, I tend to wear many hats. Job titles I use most often are artist manager, publicist, booking agent, tour planner, friend, roadie, therapist and sometimes merch bitch.

    If you have to explain what exactly it is you do in the music industry in a nutshell, what would you say?
    Well, those job titles listed above pretty much sum it up. But the gist of it is: I manage bands, organise gigs, tours, and publicity campaigns, review gigs occasionally, and work for festivals, too!

    You’re originally from California and have travelled all about the world. What do you think of the Melbourne music scene compared to other scenes in the world?
    Yeah that’s right, I’m Canadian slash Californian. A mixed breed. I moved to Melbourne mainly for the music scene. To me, Melbourne has always been known as a cultural hub – a melting pot of musicians and artists. I think the music scene in Melbourne is very supportive in its own way. Musicians, managers, publicists, agents come together (for the most part) and support each other’s musical paths. It’s less competitive than trying to “make it big” in Canada or the US, where there’s so much competition and a fraction of the bands out there actually have their music heard. From my experience, independent musicians in Melbourne have a lot more opportunities, support and resources to get their music out there because the community is smaller and less competitive.

    How did you fall into management, publicity and journalism?
    I pretty much just started off as a fanatical lover of music from a young age, which led to me running off as a teen following bands and festivals around the US much to my parents’ dismay! After studying journalism, I started reviewing gigs and interviewing artists for local music magazines – mostly to score free tickets and CDs – and that led into helping musician friends get gigs and planning tours in places like Taiwan, Australia and New Zealand.

    I find a common problem that faces people who work on the business side of the industry is this inability to just do one thing – we all seem to have a dozen business ventures and projects. Why do you think we all fall into this trap?
    Tell me about it! Multi-tasking has become my middle name. I think that there are so many different areas of the non-artist side of the music industry and they are all closely linked. Managing bands leads to booking gigs, which leads to publicity, and so on. It just seems natural to pick up other projects that are closely related. I don’t mind it, actually. I’ve learned so much by working with different musicians, bands, venues and festivals. It’s all about expanding your skill set now because it can be tough to “make a living” in this industry.

    Where did the name Trail of Ink for your business come about?
    Trail of Ink was actually the original name for my blog when I was living in Asia. I wanted to have a place to publish my random little thoughts and titbits on life.  The meaning of the name just came to me. I wanted to use the concept of travelling and writing, and leaving a little meaningful path of words and thoughts behind me as I pass through countries and encounter different cultures and people. The ink trail seemed appropriate, and that became Trail of Ink.

    Name some of the bands that you work with for Trail of Ink?
    I am so grateful to work with some fabulous musicians, including: Rapskallion, Rosie Burgess, Jungal and El Moth & The Turbo Rads. Occasionally I work with Saritah, CC The Cat, Dub Dub Goose, and others.

    What is the most rewarding thing about being a band manager, and what’s the most shit?
    The most rewarding thing is definitely being able to be a part of something that I really love. I am really passionate about all of the bands that I work with, and am a huge fan of their music. It’s great knowing that I can somewhat help these artists along their path and can be supportive of their musical dream. The most shit? Would most likely be the fact that I don’t even play a damn instrument so I’m forced to remain offstage.

    Any advice for budding music industry kids who are interested in starting their own businesses?
    I say just go for it. There are so many musicians in Melbourne who are looking for help from managers, publicists and booking agents. We could build an army of industry kids in this town. The first step is to find a band that you really care about and genuinely love their music, and then think of how your skills could be used to support their art. Music business networking meetings and industry-supported workshops are often good places to learn more about the business and offer great opportunities to schmooze with local musos and industry peeps. Networking is key!

    Funniest thing to have happened to you while working in the music industry?
    Some of my most hilarious moments were when I travelled around Australia and New Zealand managing Canadian singer-songwriter, Faye Blais. We lived in little a red van called Ruby and slept in the back amongst all of her guitars and amps, and our clothes. During our trip to New Zealand with Melbourne band The April Maze, we rocked up to a venue, only to find out that the venue had been shut down in some sort of sketchy mafia scandal and there were mysterious spray painted messages on the front of the building. The owner apparently had a reputation for spontaneously shutting the doors and not telling anyone, and unfortunately our gig was supposed to start in an hour. So we wandered outside the venue trying to figure out what was going on because no one would let us in, yet we could see the staff members through the window. No explanation. We decided to go drink wine in a park instead and make up rap songs in various English dialects about the mysteries of the venue owner. It’s these random moments where you can only laugh at the fact that even though we had flown across the ocean to do an international tour, it wasn’t always going to be peachy and perfect. Weird shit exists everywhere in this industry!


    By Paige X. Cho

      Sunday, November 21, 2010

      INTERVIEW: Sans Gras

      We have moved! Our blog is now at

      Sans Gras describe their music as "schizophrenic". It's quite fitting, really, considering the band itself is formed from disparate identities (that is, a one-time sax prodigy, an ethnomusicologist and a film student) who all come together to create music that could potentially cause listeners to withdraw from reality and go into a trance. By the sounds of it, that’s what they’re hoping to do at their upcoming launch for their debut EP, Retrograde Motion. These guys have definitely progressed since their humble DIY beginnings when they left home-recordings of original songs in cafés for people to find, and it seems like they have plenty of cool ideas for what to do next.

      Paper-Deer spoke to two-thirds of Sans Gras, Tyler and Cayn, about song-writing methods, creative playlist suggestions for the songs from their upcoming EP, and what to expect at their EP launch party.
      Sans Gras, in a nutshell?

      "Sans Gras" means "fat free" in French. Why did you decide to use it as a band name? Are any of you health freaks?
      Band names are tough. Ours stemmed from people yelling out “sans pants!” at our shows. We like its ambiguity, and how no-one can pronounce it, and when they do, it’s more like “sounds grouse,” or "sun and grass". There's also very little fat between the three of us, but that has nothing to do with health.

      According to your bio on MySpace, Sans Gras consists of a “sax prodigy”, an ethnomusicologist and a film-student. How did the three of you cross paths?
      Cayn and Tyler lived together, and became steadfast friends. Cayn then went on to live with Kent, and they jammed constantly. After that, Cayn convinced Tyler to pick up a bass to free up his own playing, and now we’re family.

      Do you think your interesting backgrounds is reflected in your music?
      Definitely. Although our tastes can be reasonably similar, our backgrounds heavily influence the way we approach making music. Kent is about the music and getting it perfect, Tyler is about raw energy and Cayn is somewhere in the middle. This led to some ideology clashes in the beginning, but over time everyone has begun to see the light in all ways of playing, and taking these things on board has improved each of us individually and as a band.

      Who are some of your biggest influences? What is one band or artist you are influenced by that most people wouldn’t expect you to list as an influence?
      Nina Simone is less obvious, until you witness Cayn’s tendency to diva. We’re also influenced by Dandy Warhols, Dan Auerbach/The Black Keys, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Battles,  My Disco, Health, TV on the Radio, and White Denim. Cayn likes film music. Kent likes Bata beats and weird African frenzy music. Tyler likes tastefully minimal outfits such as Spoon and The Kills.

      A few of your songs sound like they could easily turn into pretty awesome jam sessions when playing them live. When writing songs, do you just jam on ideas and see what happens, or is your song-writing method more particular than that?
      The method to date has been like this: Cayn gets idea at odd or inappropriate moments, fleshes the song out at more appropriate moments and records an impossible version at home, and then passes this to the band who all attempt to interpret it as a three piece at the next jam. We're pretty keen to shake this up, though. We’re constantly carrying around recording devices and treating everything as a potential song.

      Congratulations on the release of your first EP Retrograde Motion! Does the title have a story behind it?
      "Retrograde Motion" is a celestian term that describes the movement of one body (usually a planet or even a star) that moves opposite to everything else in the vicinity. It's also a line in the EPs' third track, Counterfeit Tokens, that has always stuck out to me: "the turning of the moon, the swaying of the ocean, beat time to our dance of retrograde motion". The lyrics were written by Matthew Runk. It's more of a poem, really.

      Tell us more about Retrograde Motion. What playlist would we file it under on our iPods?
      Retrograde Motion consists of four songs we feel have that indefinable thing that is our sound. They’re wonderfully idiosyncratic and on the surface seem unrelated, but feel whole. You could find each on different playlists: File Wild Wind under ‘rumbling, jangly bar-room odes to time’; Love Coat under "bouncy party jam, equal parts wobbly dance and steady rock"; Counterfeit Tokens would sit with "dubby ballads" and "intense sonic journeys"; and Drone in 5 under “dreamy indie”. 

      What can people expect from you if they attend your EP launch at Grace Darling Hotel on November 25?
      We’ve got funk/jam band Sex Face opening; three guys who now how to make you dance and have the best “O” faces this side of the equator. Cuba Is Japan need no introduction and defy my ability to describe well. Let’s just say they’re three guys with violins, drums, piano, guitar, vocals and a bucket-load of intensity. We’ve got Ben Ferns doing live projection editing all evening.We’ve spent a lot of time this year refining our set. It’s a real journey with few stops and ample opportunities for dancing and getting lost for an hour. We’ll also be selling Retrograde Motion for $5 on the night. We aim to make punters lose themselves to both the jaw-dropping intensity of our music and senseless dance.
      Do you have any exciting plans for next year?
      We’re collecting sounds and ideas for an album, finishing the Wild Wind clip, and starting the Drone In 5 animation. We’ll also be doing a live on-site clip of one of our songs, involving as many bands as we can rope in, and working towards anything that’s inclusive of the people around us.

      • Thursday November 25: Grace Darling Hotel [EP launch with Cuba is Japan and Sex Face]
      • Friday December 17: Karova Lounge, Ballarat
       By Stephanie-Bowie Liew