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

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    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

    Friday, November 19, 2010

    WELCOME: Johanna Goldsmith

    We have moved! Our blog is now at

    It may be all about the music, and we may say it with words, but now we have the visuals to match. Paper-Deer would like to welcome our latest addition to the team with Johanna Goldsmith, a very talented graphics designer with some serious skills. Here's what our newest image wizard had to say about herself:

    I’m another creative to add to the mix, however, writing isn't my forte like the other pro’s on the team. Think art, design, handmade creations, photography, creative visuals - that's me! I’m a graphic designer/artist with a degree in Fine Arts, as well as a Certificate III & IV in Visual Communication.

    So after five years of study, you may wonder what I'm doing now. I’m a Freelance Designer for myself, my partner’s business ZOVA, Paper-Deer and anyone else who wants me on board. I’m also a Creative Design Consultant for music distributor Valleyarm (liaising with the lovely Paige) three days a week and the other three is spent in hospitality. I'm always looking to expand my creative folio and get more experience which I can never have enough of!

    I also enjoy the social scene, going to music festivals, gigs and concerts with a few bevvies in hand. I find it’s always good to balance out the computer nerd with the social butterfly in me. After all, I’m a Gemini so I have two minds to please.

    Wednesday, November 17, 2010

    INTERVIEW: Princess One Point Five

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    Splashed across glossy-paged tabloid magazines (with their legs wide open, of course), trashy socialites like Paris Hilton have lent the word “princess” a bit of a dirty reputation in the past decade by adopting the label in a wild attempt to explain their arrogant behaviour.

    But rewind back to your childhood, and think of the captivating tales of wizards and dragons, and knights rescuing princesses and all sorts of vivid tales of bravery. Though Melbourne duo Princess One Point Five’s name may come from the meaning of front woman SJ Wentzki’s moniker (Sarah means a woman of high rank, or “princess” in Hebrew), but their music is so magical that the shoe fits either way.

    Princess One Point Five – known on paper as P1.5 – is a delightful musical pairing between SJ and her partner-in-crime Richard Andrew (Underground Lovers, Crow, Registered Nurse), and the pair are often joined by equally talented musicians over various instruments like Ben Grounds (Bluebottle Kiss), Libby Chow (Clare Bowditch and the Feeding Set) and Jed Palmer (Hope Diamond). The result of all this talent on one stage at the same time is pop music that gives out with a feisty punch and a cabaret snarl, swirled together with some heavy rock influences.

    Paper-Deer had a date to chat to the lovely SJ Wentzki about collaborating, the irony of being featured on an anti-smoking campaign and choosing her musical family.

    Paper-Deer has seen P1.5 been described as your sole brain-child and a solo project, whereas others have called it a marriage between you and Richard Andrew’s talents. For the record, which is it?
    It started out solo, but when I started writing for a band, P1.5 just sort of expanded out. I’ve been working with Richard for some time, but he’s progressively taken over! Just kidding. For the record, he “produces” and I write. Somewhere in between, with a lot of stops along the way is the “band”.  With this album we were a lot more collaborative with song writing and production, but our roles have pretty much stayed the same. The thing is that it’s always evolving, and really hard to pin down to one definition. It’s reflective of how indecisive I am, and who knows what it’ll be next.

    How do the two of you choose who will join you for a particular recording or live show?
    The short version is that it’s always been fairly organic. We’ve worked with many different people between us (Rich and I) and so it was pretty natural to just get those people in to record, when, for example, we need someone to play strings…since neither of us can. On a lot of our tours we’ve randomly sort of found people on the road to play shows (not literally “on” the road, but you know what I mean), which is bit European of us, really.  Mostly that would be friends we’ve met or made along the way have some skill or other that we need (usually bass).

     It’s part and parcel of being an independent musician. Most of the people you meet are other musicians, usually willing to jump up on stage and lend you a patch of the carpet to sleep on.  It all depends on the show too – sometimes it’s a lot of fun to play as a two piece, and other times it’s much better to play as a “band”. P1.5 isn’t terribly prescriptive these days, and it’s more fun in a frightening kind of way to play it by ear and see what happens.

    The P1.5 biography almost seems like it should be spread out over 20 years. Impressive prizes and nominations like the Australian Music Prize and the Noise/Qantas Spirit of Youth Award, plus impressive support slots and Triple J rotation. What’s your next big goal?
    Getting our asses the hell overseas to tour, writing a top 40 cheesy hit, retiring on the royalties. Not necessarily in that order… Some of that may or may not be true.

    Your most recent album, What Doesn’t Kill You, has received all sorts of praise and more thumbs up than we can count. Does the title stem from the phrase “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger?”
    Yes and no. It was an odd and sometimes difficult, time during the writing of this album – for so many reasons – but also liberating and quite inspiring. The title is really more along the lines of “what doesn’t kill you can fuck right off.”  Success is relative and I think that writing this album was my way of figuring that out so that I could avoid being a complete sociopath… at least most of the time.

    What’s your favourite track from What Doesn’t Kill You?
    What Do You Know. It says a lot about my fascination with perception versus reality. You can never really see inside someone’s heart and so often, the face they’re showing is not their real one.

    Reading reviews from the album, it seems that everyone has a different favourite song. How did you decide to give Today the honour of being a single?
    Without being egotistical about this, I actually really love every song on the album for different reasons, and I think it’s the strongest suite of songs we’ve ever done as Princess One Point Five. It’s also really diverse stylistically, which is why different people take different things from each song. I initially thought that Quote Me should be the first single. Mostly because I was being a bit of an angry shit head… but when we’d finished recording Today it was a no brainer, and said more about how nonsensical everything is, ya know? Today was the best song to represent the feel of the album: catchy but bittersweet, sad but hopeful.

    Define weird. The weirdest thing was that my boss at my day job told me about one of our songs being played at the Superbowl in America. The sync itself wasn’t weird. The antismoking campaign in America and Canada was ironic, but not really weird…  I think what would be really weird is if we had something on the footy show… nope, that’d just be funny.

    By Paige X. Cho

    Tuesday, November 16, 2010

    REVIEW: Georgia Fields @ Thornbury Theatre (12/11/10)

    We have moved! Our blog is now at

    Upon reading that the Thornbury Theatre’s art deco ballroom would be transformed into an “indoor picnic”, I could tell that Georgia Fields’ album launch was going to be a little different to most. The fact that Georgia’s backing band was actually more of a mini-orchestra kind of hinted towards that as well.

    The dance floor of the theatre was covered with numerous tartan rugs and picnic blankets, which were adorned by plastic flowers and lanterns to create a more authentic picnic environment. There were even picnic snacks such as meringues, slices and biscuits! Add candle-lit tables, mood-lighting provided by the glow of lamps, and a low stage edged with fairy-lights and the intimate setting was complete.

    As soon as Georgia bounced onto the stage, it was apparent that the setting suited her show perfectly; she exuded charm and greeted her audience as if we were old friends, telling us personal anecdotes in between songs. Her friendly, down-to-earth demeanour and amusing banter made her seem very approachable and the show even more enjoyable.

    And what a show it was. The ‘mini-orchestra’, used to replicate the arrangements on the album, did not disappoint; while Georgia herself switched between acoustic guitar, ukulele and synth, there were eight other instrumentalists on stage (and a few of them were multi-instrumentalists). We were treated to a wonderful combination of vibraphone, violins, viola, cello, drums, bass, xylophone, piano, trumpet, trombone, melodica, clarinet, flute, accordion, a cordless drill used as percussion and what sounded like a sample pad made up of animal sounds.

    The orchestra displayed the clever craft of Georgia’s songs, as instruments dropped in and out, seamlessly easing from a quiet lull into a tidal wave of sound washing over the entire room. Georgia’s voice, in turn, complemented the music; its timbre was smooth, soft, and slightly husky at times, while also being strong and more than capable of standing alone or accompanied only by a single instrument. 

    One of the standout songs of the night was This is Not a Drill, which exemplifies the descriptions in the previous paragraph perfectly: from a simple, bare beginning, the song eventually builds up and up to an almost overwhelming whirlwind of sounds, before everything ceases except for the lone piano. As the sweet tones of the vibraphone and xylophone joined in, Georgia sang softly through a megaphone, while the audience sat—some on seats, some cross-legged on the picnic blankets—silent, mainly still, some swaying gently. Maybe it was the magic of seeing it performed live, combined with the romantic atmosphere, but this rendition surpassed the album recording by a mile.

    Another special moment was when Georgia invited one of her support acts, Charles Jenkins, and special guest Angie Hart (of Frenté) onstage to perform a cover of The Beach Boys’ God Only Knows.
    “This is my favourite song of all time, so there’s not only that pressure, but there’s a lot of chords!” said Georgia. Angie interjects, “Hey, Georgia…” “Yeah?” “Don’t fuck it up!”

    With Angie on piano and Charles on guitar, the trio took it in turns to sing, coming together towards the song’s conclusion to sing harmonised rounds.

    Georgia’s gracious and warm personality, her infectious brand of indie pop (made unique through the use of such a vast collection of instruments, with some being quite unusual indeed), the talent of her mini-orchestra and the carefully-constructed picnic-at-twilight setting captivated and enchanted the audience. All the elements of the show fitted together perfectly to create a wonderful evening that Georgia and her orchestra ought to be proud of.


    By Stephanie-Bowie Liew

    Friday, November 12, 2010

    WELCOME: Stephanie-Bowie Liew

    We have moved! Our blog is now at

    Paper-Deer may have started out as a minuscule project of a single Melbourne music journalist who was drinking far much coffee, but it's become some little monster of a blog. Just half a year down the track, the blog has sent forth thousands of words to the world wide web, all of them completely dedicated to the glorious, marvellous and amazing Melbourne music scene, and something must've worked. This humble blog is getting crazy amounts of visitors not only from Melbourne, but from Seattle, London, Paris, San Jose, Nashville, Cairo, Stockholm, Athens, New York, Tokyo, Jakarta, Istanbul, Berlin and other exotic locations. 

    It seems like the world is hungry for updates about Australia's cultural hub, so we're proud to introduce our first addition to the Paper-Deer editorial team - Stephanie-Bowie Liew, one seriously talented young writer based in Melbourne. Here she is, in a virtual nutshell:

    Hey, Paper-Deers! My name is Stephanie-Bowie Liew, but that’s kind of a mouthful; mostly I just go by Bowie.  I’m currently studying a Bachelor of Journalism at Monash University. Next year is my final year! It’s too scary to think about. Ultimately, I’d love a career in music journalism. It combines two of the things I’m most passionate about into a convenient little package. I pretty much live and breathe music: playing it, listening to it, watching it being performed, writing about it and reading about it.

    Of course, I do have other interests, too. I like reading books, watching TV-on-DVD and films, lurking about on social networking sites, getting coffee or tea with friends, performing acoustic covers to audiences on YouTube, collecting teacups and teapots, and taking photos of my food before eating it (don’t judge me). I have a sneaking suspicion that I wear pyjamas more often than is considered socially acceptable.

    Keep your eyes peeled for this name - this wordsmith will be turning up in this blog many more times in the near future.

    Thursday, November 11, 2010

    INTERVIEW: Hammocks and Honey

    We have moved! Our blog is now at

    Ethereal, airy and bewilderingly good, there's something about dreamy two-piece Hammocks and Honey that makes you sink into a cloud of bliss. Classically trained cellist and synth addict Prudence Rees-Lee makes up one half of the duo, and is completed by the experimentally electronic inclined Alex Nosek of ii. This dazzling and unexpected equation results in music that's partly baroque-inspired (trying really hard to hold my tongue and not name a certain Yngwie Malmsteen song), orgasmically electronic and so dreamy that you'll be pinching yourself to check if you're awake.

    When it comes to talent, these kids have the Midas touch, and it appears that have it when it comes to manufacturing as well with their debut EP Spellbinder also available amazingly as a solid gold "vinyl".

    Paper-Deer daydreamed about clouds, synths and classical music while talking to Prudence, the female half of Hammocks and Honey.

    We have to say that Hammocks and Honey is a lovely band name. Is there a story or meaning behind it?
    It was a phrase in a book, Ada or Ardour by Nabokov, which is a story about two young cousins discovering their sexuality together, among other things. It doesn’t really have much of a baring on how the band sounds though, just a coincidence that I was reading that book when I started writing music.

    So how did the pair of you end up where you are now?
    Alex and I met quite a few years ago playing in another band, but only started playing together in Hammocks at the end of last year. Special Award Records got involved in February and since then we’ve just been really lucky. Blogs and community radio picked up the demos we’d made we’re releasing on EP which is available digitally already, and on vinyl which is coming out on the 22nd of November.

    As a classically trained cellist, is it sometimes hard to loosen up and turn to dreamy, electronic pop?
    Yes, it was initially hard initially to loosen up. Writing and playing something like this is very far from what I’d imagined I would be doing while I was studying. I value the classical education I’ve had very much, and it’s given me a great base knowledge about music theory and music history, but in a way I had to forget most of that when I was writing these songs. It’s such a different approach to making music. I think lots of electronic musicians have classical backgrounds though. Programming beats and samples on a computer is very similar to working on an orchestral score.

    Many writers use words like “dreamy”, “surreal” and “otherworldly” to describe Hammocks and Honey’s sound. What would you call it?
    I’d agree with those descriptions, I think they suit Spellbinder well, although they probably make us sound a bit wishy-washy or aimless, when the music definitely isn’t and the stuff we’re working on now is a bit darker.

    Tell us all about Spellbinder. What was it like working with Morgan McWaters (The Emergency) and Casey Rice (Tortoise, Pikelet, Dirty Three)?
    They were both really amazing to work with. We spent a lot of time with Morgan, first recording everything and then mixing together as well. It was really fun, but he was great because he’s so skilled at what he does and could quickly translate the kind of sounds we had in our heads into the tracks.

    Casey was great too! I didn’t know much about mastering and what’s involved, but he explained everything he was doing and did it really well, he seems to really care about artists and music, and is actually very affordable! Everyone should ask him to master them!

    Spellbinder is really… spellbinding, for lack of a better word. How do you create such a timeless piece of work?
    Thank you! I take timelessness as a huge compliment. I guess we’re not interested in doing what’s particularly fashionable at a given time. I want to write good songs with interesting arrangements regardless of trends, although it is hard not to be influenced by them in some ways. I guess that makes it timeless, we have a very wide range of influences from all the classical stuff I grew up with to more experimental things, and also lots of pretty mega pop.

    Was recording at a beach house just an excuse to get sandy?
    We couldn’t afford to hire a proper studio, and none of us lived anywhere that would make a good home one. The beach house was a good place to go where we wouldn’t be disturbed and it would be quiet, it was kind of a last resort but it worked out to be the perfect place.

    We’ve heard that Spellbinder will also be available in solid gold vinyl. Where did this idea come from?
    It seems kind of crazy to me that people still make CDs, as a format it’s really unreliable and commercially not solid either. I think digital, vinyl and cassette releases are going to be much more relevant in the future of music distribution, so the decision to release on vinyl was kind of an obvious one. As for the gold… the option was there, why wouldn’t you?

    How much will the solid gold vinyls cost, and where can one pick them up? Will postage be a bitch since it is solid gold?
    They’ll be in independent record stores and available via mail order (probably the best way) from In shops the price will vary slightly depending on where you go, but they should be retailing for around $19. We’ll be selling them at the launch for $15.

    • Saturday November 27: Bouverie Studios, 1/81 Bouverie Street, Carlton [EP launch with AOI and Isle Adore]

    Sunday, November 7, 2010

    INTERVIEW: Saskia Sansom

    We have moved! Our blog is now at

    Intoducing Saskia Sansom: one of Melbourne’s most hidden musical gems. Tim Burton is apparently a fan of this beautiful songstress, and Jim White of Dirty Three collaborated with her and it isn’t hard to imagine why, with her haunting voice, heart breaking songs and intense personality that exudes loneliness and loveliness all at once. Saskia is not a diva or celebrity – there’s no clever persona created by a marketing team or any bratty pop star behaviour. Everything about this songbird is sincere, genuine yet otherworldly.

    Paper-Deer discussed muses, growing up in a creative household and being lonely onstage with Saskia.

    You have a beautiful voice. When did you realise you could sing?
    I’m really shy about my voice. Up until recently, I found it nearly impossible to sing in front of people. I don’t have a big voice, and, it can be really nerve-racking playing after people who are naturally gifted singers. I guess the closest I’ve come to realizing I can sing, is realizing that I don’t have to have a big voice, that it doesn’t matter if I can’t sing like anyone else. That I can be different. 

    In Melbourne especially,  I’ve felt as if a lot of musicians have been trying to revive a particular time or channel somebody else. I’d see five Bob Dylan’s one night, three Gillian Welch’s the next, maybe a young Nick Cave, The Rolling Stones and a few Willy Nelsons around the corner. I’d get excited by some of these acts when I first saw them, sometimes I’d think I had to sound like that too, but soon enough the charm would wear off, and I’d be left yearning for something sincere.

    Do you think having creative parents (painters) opened your eyes to the possibility of music? Did they encourage you to pursue music?
    Not really, not to be a musician. I grew up with my mum, who had amazing taste in music that definitely influenced me.  She encouraged me to learn piano when I was a child, though I don’t think she ever saw me as becoming a musician. I was playing the piano the other day, and it hit me that I’ve been writing these weird little instrumental pieces since I was a kid. So perhaps my mum did open my eyes to the possibility of music, in her way, by introducing me to the piano. I never saw it as a career though, and I don’t think mum did either. But it wasn’t like she didn’t encourage me, it was just that it was something that I did, that I’d always done, that I never saw as anything other than a place to escape to, when I needed to disappear from the world.

    On your MySpace, you list Jim White (Dirty Three) under band members “on the recordings”. Do you write all the music yourself or was it collaborative with Jim?
    I write all my songs, though the record I made with Jim was nearly all written on the spot. I had some songs that I’d been working on, but when he asked me if I wanted to record something I got rid of most of those songs and made up thirteen new songs over a few days. I worked out the lyrics as we were recording. I had some basic ideas in my head, but they were really just ideas. The whole thing was recorded and arranged in less than two days unrehearsed. So I guess it is a collaboration of sorts.

    I have mostly played solo, though I prefer to play with other musicians. I have a theremin player who plays with me when he’s not playing in his own band, and a violin player.

    When you perform solo, does it get lonely onstage?
    It depends. Yes, if I’m playing somewhere foreign to me where I don’t know a soul and I don’t have any friends in the audience. It can be incredibly lonely walking into a venue alone, setting up my instruments, playing to a crowd of strangers, then packing up, and still being on my own. It still scares the shit out of me. I have a lot of respect for anyone who does it. It’s a completely different experience having even one other person playing with you.  Or someone just there in the crowd that you know.

    What is it like working with a legendary musician like Jim White? Intimidating? Eye opening?
    Jim is my friend and he was my friend before we worked together so he wasn’t intimidating.  Though it was my first ever recording experience so I found the whole process intimidating. Jim was really inspiring though.  I didn’t know what I wanted or what to expect, and everything was really new to me. Playing in front of someone was new to me, but he would ask, “How do you want the drums to sound?”, and I would try to explain, usually with some obscure metaphor that didn’t even make sense to me, and he would do something, and say “how’s this?” and it would be exactly what I’d been trying to describe.

    The whole experience was eye opening, scary, challenging, intimidating, and fun.  I just wish we’d had more time. We only had a few days to try and make something before Jim had to go back to NY. So what we made was really spontaneous. But it would have been great to have more time, more time to really get a feel for something, and more time to arrange things more carefully. Though at the same time, it was a really fun time because there was no pressure. It was like we were just trying something on for size, mucking around, there was no pressure for it to turn out a particular way, because we were making it up as we went along.

    Your muses include Nana, Debussy, Billie Holiday, Rowland S Howard and Sonic Youth – these are very diverse. Is there a common thread among these artists that inspires you?
    I’m not sure why Nana is there. Nana is a very sad character from a Jean Luc-Godard film called Vivre Sa Vie, which translates as ‘My Life To Live’. Everything about that film – aesthetically, poetically –  is inspiring. If you’ve ever been completely lost, and alone in the dark, it resonates. I think that’s why she’s there. I’m drawn to sad female heroines. I have so many muses, but as for the artists you’ve mentioned, they’re all completely different but at the same time sincere, brave enough to make and say what they want to make and say, and they own it. That’s inspiring. That moves me. If something is sincere, it will move you. And lyrically, they’re mind blowing. Rowland’s lyrics blow my mind. Billie Holiday’s voice… Debussy, Satie, Sakamoto…sigh… I could go on and on.

    What about non-musical muses and inspirations?
    There are so many. And they change. Though if I named them all, I guess in one way or another they would all relate back to one simple, though incredibly complicated entity: love. Love and madness, though they’re almost one and the same aren’t they? Love and madness, the fleeting moments in life when you feel completely free, completely present. Awake, alive.  I had one of those moments earlier this year, it only lasted half an hour, in Tasmania. Time stopped. And I don’t know if it was love, or if it was the place, or the air. But that half an hour stayed with me, and inspired me for months. That influences me. I wonder how many times that happens to us? How many of those moments we get in a life time. How many forks in the road, and forks in the heart. That all influences me. And again, we arrive back at that complex word, that word that gives weight to everything. Everything. Love.

    What can you tell us about your upcoming album?
    Well, it was engineered by Matt Voigt, in Andrew & Kerry’s living room in Nagambie, Victoria.  Andrew is the charismatic man behind Greville Records & Shock. I don’t know what genres it would fit into? I guess there are hints of classical, gothic, experimental, and folk if that helps.  It’s currently being mixed by Casey Rice, and is due for release late December, with shows in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Tasmania.

    Apparently Tim Burton is quite a fan of you. How does it make you feel that one of the world’s most influential gothic visionaries was taking photos of you at a gig?
    I just hope he enjoyed what I played, because I am a huge admirer of his work. I found it pretty hard to believe that he was really there. I feel really lucky to have met him, not because he’s Tim Burton, but because he was so nice.  I felt like there was a kind of kindred exchange of “I get you,” and “I get you too.” 

    • Sunday November 7: The Empress Hotel [Residency with Brendan Welch]
    • Sunday November 14: The Empress Hotel [Residency with Emma Russack]
    • Sunday November 21: The Empress Hotel [Residency Ruben Montane & Cuba Is Japan]
    • Sunday November 28: The Empress Hotel [Residency with Miles Brown (The Night Terrors) & Mystic Eyes]
    By Paige X. Cho

        Tuesday, November 2, 2010

        NEWS: Music Victoria Annual General Meeting

        We have moved! Our blog is now at

        So, we bitched and moaned about the state of the music industry for some time. Melbourne's music scene is undoubtedly (in this journalist's very biased opinion) the most vibrant in Australia's but without a governing body to watch out for local musicians, venues, managers and other industry professionals. The state recently got its answer with Music Victoria with journalist Patrick Donovan at the helm, and Music Victoria is having its Annual General Meeting on Tuesday November 16 at 6.30pm.

        The night will be especially important, with three members being elected to the Management Committee, dedicated to shaping Victoria's music scene for the better.

        Check out the info page about the Annual General Meeting for more details because, let's face it, being a struggling musician is only romantic for about five minutes.