After spending the Australian summer in the chill of the northern hemisphere, Sydney based multi-instrumentalist Matt James returned home with a vision to establish a musical collective entitled The Invincible Summer, inspired by French author Albert Camus’ quote which he saw scrawled on the side of his Darlinghurst hall upon his return to Australia.
Teaming up with good friend and producer extraordinaire Tim Carr (Matt Corby / Mark Ronson / The Herd / Jonathan Boulet / Ernest Ellis / INXS) and a host of Sydney’s finest musicians including guest appearances by Mat Gardner & Benjamin Morgan (Ernest Ellis & The Panamas), Zac Haider-Keene and more, Runaway and To the Sky were recorded at Sydney’s iconic Studios 301 over an eighteen month period.
Vicky Martin interviewed Matt James the other day…. check it out!
1. What made you first realise you wanted to pursue a career in music?
From the age of four years, I have been playing piano and ever since then I have wanted to create my own music.
2. Which artists/bands inspired you the most?
Greatest inspiration came from 80’s bands, particularly Tears for Fears and Bruce Springsteen. My favourite vocalist is the lead singer Thom Yorke, from the rock band Radiohead.
Interesting fact #1- First song I remember singing is ‘Heaven’ by Bryan Adams.
3. Where would you like to see yourself within the next 3-5 years as an artist? What are your long- term career goals?
My long-term career goals are to uphold a sustainable career, explore new ideas and be successful enough to maintain a support base throughout Australia. Within the next 3-5 years, it’s hard to know where exactly my career will take me, but I would be disappointed if we’re unsuccessful.
Right now, I know that we are trying to make the best music we can possible and if we persevere we will get there.
4. Where did you meet your group and how long have you been performing together?
I met Tim Carr through Studio 301 in Alexandria and it’s been really fun and great working together over a 3 year period.
5. How do you feel about your debut singles, ‘Runaway’ and ‘To the Sky’ for your planned album?
I am very proud of both tracks and like the sound of them because they remind me of my favourite season summer. I was motivated to compose the songs whilst in Santa Monica, LA. One of the first songs we produced, ‘To the Sky’, reflected the rolling-stones vibe we were seeking, using 1980 synthesisers and guitar riffs to bring a hangover from a rock song.
6. What else interests you?
I love travelling throughout Europe, USA and Australia, modernist architecture, photography and hanging with friends.
Interesting fact #2- Current location is Darlinghurst, Sydney
We caught up with Melbourne-based artist Jess Harlen at her ‘Park Yard Slang’ Album Launch at Notes Live in Newtown just before she headed over to Boston. She talks about her latest album ‘Park Yard Slang’, Plutonic Lab, RuCL, her musical influences, scoring an awesome review by Rollingstone Australia and her plans for the near future.
Filmed by Liza Moscatelli & Jackie Te Aroha
Interview by Jackie Te Aroha
Edited by: Marie Flanagan
Track: Let You Down’ by Jess Harlen (2012 Single from album “Park Yard Slang”)
Footage also taken from original video clip to ‘Let You Down’ with the permission of the artist.
(c) Marie Flanagan for Mosca Media Australia 2012
Jackie Te Aroha
Photographs of the night can be found by clicking here.
The NRL is more than just an entertainment sport. The rugby league culture in existence in Australia has provided glistening opportunities for young sportsmen from different ethnic backgrounds to achieve an elite athletic career that, in many cases, would not be a viable option in their home nation. Currently, 30% of the NRL’s player population is made up of Pacific Islanders and is ever more reflective of the growing community of islanders who have made Australia their permanent base.
The development of a nurtured island culture and society in Australia for the young players coming through the grades of the game is something which is only recently getting the attention it deserves, largely due to the work of people including former dual international league player Nigel Vagana. As an NRL Education and Welfare Officer, Vagana has been working since his retirement from the game in educating both the industry and its Pacific islander contingent in the importance of understanding and developing the vast islander culture within rugby league. In Darwin for Nesian Pride, a showcase event organised by Sunameke Pacific Island Performance, celebrating the vibrancy and harmony between the many pacific groups in the Top End, Vagana and South Sydney Rabbitohs captain Roy Asotasi (also involved in the Pacific leadership programme), sit down to chat about the pressing issues facing the islander contingent of the NRL.
“For a lot of people, for our coaches and trainers and staff, they haven’t really grown up around pacific people so they don’t understand the cultures and the mentality and everything that goes with it; for a lot of them, they’ve never had to deal with them before so they don’t understand.” Vagana explains, as we talk about the cultural challenges which face both islander rugby players, as well as the Australian staff they work with. “They might struggle a lot more and I know that for a lot of the young guys, if they don’t seem to be getting through to their coach or trainer, they just walk away. So we’ve been doing this [education] for the last couple of years and the clubs have been getting a lot better at it, they understand that with the pacific players, you’ve got to give them the same message but in different ways. I think that over the last couple of years, you’ve seen a lot more players coming through and the numbers have been coming through a lot more consistently than they have done in the past.”
Understandably, when there are cultural barriers in place and the correct avenues of communication aren’t travelled down in the proper ways, there will be clashing and eventual disintegration. The NRL Pacific Studies Cultural Leadership Camp, which Vagana, Asotasi and Nesian Pride organiser Julia Gray each played a part in conducting, addressed these issues and focused on ways in which Pacific Islander players could strengthen the bonds between the player and the club, as well as the club and their respective communities. An eye-opener for the players taking part, the camp emphasised the ‘pasifika’ nature of the project, encompassing not only the Polynesian, but the Melanesian and Micronesian as well. Understanding and educating both staff and players is something Asotasi also supports.
“You’ve got to have an understanding of us as Polynesians, hey? We were saying at the camp that a lot of people, a lot of the trainers think that Polynesians are lazy because they’re not doing this or that, but you’ve got to treat them differently. A perfect example was Joe Galuvao; Donny [Singe] from Manly [Sea Eagles] just said ‘Let Joey do his own thing’ and it’s been showing in the way he’s been playing over the last few seasons; he’s won a premiership with Manly, there was a time where he was the top second rower in the game for Penrith and then he just disappeared for a while and then came back. I think for the trainer, he’s a Maori, he understands how Polynesians work and if you understand us and figure us out, you can unlock our potential.”
This trip to Darwin has seen Vagana, Asotasi and former Gold Coast Titans centre Clinton Toopi visit primary school kids and junior league clubs in delivering talks and having some meet and greets with young fans who may very well continue on to a professional career of their own. Education, according to Vagana, still remains a crucial part in the development of a professional sports career.
“I think a lot of the kids are starting to get the message now. For a lot of the kids, it used to just be, ‘We’ll play sport and I’ll be the hero of the team’, that would be it. They never used to think that education played a part in their success; it teaches you discipline, it teaches you communication, teamwork, respect and all of that stuff that actually helps you make it. We’re just trying to get out there and make sure that they understand that the stuff they learn at school actually helps them; when we have the league boys to come down and have a chat to them, there’s probably more of a chance that they’ll actually listen.”
With the leadership camp earning massive amounts of kudos and support from all corners of the industry, it’s clear that the development of a support network of cultural education and acceptance of and for Pacific Islanders in the NRL is a concept which is only going to continue to evolve.
“The commission has just taken over, so there’s a new governing body that runs the game over here.” Vagana explains. “They’re only just getting established, but one thing that we’ve been pushing for is a continuation of the leadership camps at the beginning of every year. We had ours in January and I think that’s a good time because you want an opportunity in the off-season to understand what’s coming up in the season and the year ahead and also to understand the values that the game wants them to represent and their communities want them to represent. We’re looking at not just another pacific leadership camp, but also one for the indigenous boys and one for the boys from the country; we get a lot of boys from the country who struggle with the changing dynamics of coming into the system. We’re going to help them as well.”
As we wind up the interview, Asotasi explains, quite simply, the only way forward in promoting the project.
“The thing with these leadership camps is that they won’t happen if we don’t do anything; if we all get on board, regardless of what the new independent commission thinks… The players are the voice and if we stand up and be counted, we’ll get more of these camps.”
Obie Trice chats with Nastasha Tupas from Mosca Media at Lopez Records + Studio B + Kimball’s Barbershops: 116 Queen Street, St Marys, Sydney, NSW Australia 2760 (January 23, 2012)
Video & editing by Nastasha Tupas (Mosca Media)
Song credit: Obie Trice – “Bottoms Up (Intro)”
Simplex is a well-known name on the Adelaide hip-hop circuit, having worked with the who’s who on the local and national scene. Having recently relocated to Brisbane this year, the Terra Firma man has been working on his sophomore album, the follow up to his successful debut release, Audio Biography. Simplex chats with me about the recent move, what he’s been focusing on for this record, and his upcoming show in Adelaide supporting Joelistics and Diafrix.
Thanks for chatting with me, how have you been?
Yeah it’s been good, I’ve just moved up to Brisbane from Adelaide. I’m just starting…I wouldn’t say a ‘new’ life, but in a new location which is pretty cool.
How has the move to Brisbane treated you; no doubt the hip-hop scene there is quite different to the one we have here…
Yeah it’s good! I haven’t really gotten out and amongst it fully yet, but yeah I’ve met up with a lot of dudes up here and everyone seems to be busy and on their grind and stuff. I think it’s a bit more disjointed than Adelaide, but I think that’s because it’s a little bit bigger and a bit more spread out than Adelaide.
The Adelaide live circuit is rather cosy to say the least, how would you describe the state of local hip-hop right now? To me, it seems like you have to look for a good hip-hop joint these days.
Yeah… Adelaide’s always been real productive, you know? It’s good to see the younger dudes like Prime and Purpose and K21 and Dialect…everyone’s making moves, you know what I mean? Everyone’s doing their thing and it’s good to see. They’re the next generation after us, or a couple of generations after us and they’re all on the right path and they’re making DJ clips…
Do you think it’s becoming easier for the younger MCs and producers to get in a foot in the door?
I don’t know if it’s easier, it might be a bit harder nowadays because there are so many more dudes doing stuff. It’s hard to jump on Facebook for a minute and then get hit up by 20 people wanting for you to hear their tracks, you know? A lot of the time you just go, “Oh nah…” unless you’ve heard something or seen another show or something like that; most people don’t check for it, you know? I’ll check some links but you could spend your whole night going through people’s music; there’s still a lot of shit out there, but there’s probably a lot of good shit out there as well. There’s only limited space too, you know; the punters can’t go out to a show every weekend, when there are shows every weekend, it won’t work. They’ve got to be spaced out.
It’s probably a little bit easier at the moment with the internet to get heard nowadays, to get your stuff out, and it’s a little bit easier recording-wise, you know? Everyone can buy a sound card now and record in their bedroom, whereas before, you’d have to hire out a studio or some dude that’s been buying gear for ages, you’d go around to his house. That’s what I used to do, go around Debris’ [Hilltop Hoods] house and record until I started saving up and getting a sound card and then started building my own sort of studio, you know?
Can you tell me about what you’re working on at the moment?
In Brisbane, just a bit of production stuff so far. I’ve started writing the new album, so I’ve pretty much got 80% of the beats there, but they’ll probably change from time to time, which happened last time when I was doing various other albums. I always change beats, I’ll go, “I can make a better one or a better sound” and go with that one instead.
Are you finding that you’re travelling along similar paths with this record, as the follow up to Audio Biography, or different directions?
I think different directions, because it’s been sitting there for a while, you know? Like, some of those tracks had been there for seven years or so, ages. Now, I was able to get those tracks I’ve been working on, that have been sitting there out of my life and now I can start with a fresh head and fresh ideas; because I recorded and mixed everything myself, I learned a bunch of lessons on mixing and recording myself. Hopefully the new album continues on from there or evolves on from there. I’ve been going back to the boom bap stuff as well again, I can’t get myself out of that! So far, all the beats I’m pretty happy with… there’ll be some different stuff in there…
You’re up to play with Joelistics and Diafrix this week – looking forward to coming back home?
Yeah for sure, I’ve only been away since the start of the year, so it’s pretty fresh in my mind, Adelaide and everything. Still, it’s good to get back and catch up with mates and play to the Adelaide crowd. Pretty much, out of Australia, Adelaide’s got the best crowd.
It’s at The Gov as well, which is a great venue to be at when it’s packed out for a gig.
Exactly, I love playing The Gov. I like the outside bit, you know, for the smokers…not like HQ, where they’re outside and around the corner so they can’t see anything. So the smokers can still see there and yeah, it’s a wicked venue.
The press information I was sent implies that you had no intention of performing live this year at all; why was that and what made you change your mind?
Um, not really. Moving up to Brisbane…I’m sitting in the studio all the time, you know, and you drive yourself a little bit crazy! So it’s good to get out there and see real people again, not just on emails or Facebook or Twitter, you know?
What can the hometown crowd expect from you then, because this is going to be quite a special one off show?
It’ll be a mix of everything, I think. It’s been a bit hard to practice…because Madcap DJs for me, he’s in Adelaide still, so it’s a bit hard to practice over Skype and stuff. We’ve got to figure something out for the new material, but yeah, hopefully we’ve got some new material to bring out there.
Catch Simplex at The Gov, Thursday 5 April with Joelistics and Diafrix. Details up at www.thegov.com.au.
This is an interview that Mosca Media did for Signacion Music on emerging Sydney based artist David Alan.
The charming boys of Fourtunate share their last performance of 2011 live at The Basement December 4. Includes an exclusive interview by Barbara Dubi for Mosca Media.
Mosca Media presents Clara C’s beautiful live performance at the Basement on December 4 2011. Supported by Fourtunate. Includes an exclusive interview by Barbara Dubi.
You’d think that being positioned in one of the country’s most colourful and multicultural locations, material and inspiration would be plentiful for a dance choreographer. It hasn’t always been so easy for Darwin-based pacific island artist Julia Gray, as she tells me via Skype. The director of pacific island group Sunameke sits down to chat about how vibes around the sharing of cultures has changed on her turf over the past few years, as well as how the performance group has developed as a result.
Formed in Adelaide in 1997, Sunameke has undergone various changes, in both style and dancer line up. Having performed internationally and nationally in different show capacities, the group has always maintained the same mission statement: to create work reflective of their cultural diversity within a contemporary and modern environment.
These days, Gray has been undertaking trips to Tahiti to study under the best at the Conservatoire Artistique de la Polynénise Française and bringing both material and the mentality for performance that accompanies it, back to Darwin.
“I can’t create any of my work unless I have a strong traditional grounding of whatever I’m using from that dance style. The PNG stuff, we were brought up with it. But I’ve always been attracted to ‘Ori Tahiti’ or Tahitian dancing and, you know, it’s the same with Samoa and all of those things, you have to go to the places, find out what the people are like. That will tell you why they move the way they move.”
For Gray, observing the way in which the Tahitians have thrown open their doors in an unprecedented move, to let foreigners in to learn their movement, has only encouraged her to do the same with Sunameke and the way the group operates.
“Going to Tahiti and encouraging other people from other cultures to join us, that’s a direct result of that because, at the Conservatoire, they’re opened it up to foreigners and the Conservatoire has never opened up to foreigners, it’s always been for Tahitians and that’s it. But the fact that the Tahitians were able to open their stuff up, their most prestigious school, to Japanese, Chinese, whatever…made me think “Why do we have to keep it to ourselves?” But they [Sunameke] want to do it, they have respect for it, so let’s do it.”
In terms of performing in Darwin’s multicultural setting, Gray hasn’t been a stranger to the inescapable level of politics which arise as a result of being involved in a relatively small bunch of community groups, as there is up north. Where there are mentalities of being fiercely loyal to your own group, Gray has gone in the opposite direction and opened her classes up to the public, regardless of what nationality the students are from.
“It’s really interesting because it’s done two things. One is that we’ve got a mixture of people that I never thought would come to class. We’ve got full blown ockers, you know! But they work so hard and they’re committed and they’re in there. What it’s done is it’s actually weeded out the pacific islanders who are like “I’m a pacific islander, I can dance, I don’t need to do class. I don’t have to train”. The level of our dancing has just rocketed, compared to where we were. Six, seven years ago, we would’ve looked the right way, we would’ve looked right for being a pacific group but now, our dancing is right but our look is multicultural. That’s more important to me.”
So where before Gray and the Sunameke collective were focused on creating productions to be featured in the annual Darwin Festival and other tours, it seems that they’ve become more class-driven, with an emphasis on education and development. This isn’t to say that the creative director is completely off the production train, rather has found the financial support aspect to be more challenging.
“I want to, but we live in Australia and it’s just so hard to find funding. It’s even harder than it was before. You’ve got your own festival in Darwin and they still won’t return calls, acknowledge or meet. It’s just too difficult. We’ve moved into a more business side of thing, hence the calendar. I mean, we need to get money to get our kids over to Tahiti, because this school has decided to give our kids a workshop, which is unheard of. Australians don’t understand what that means because they don’t have something so prestigious that you can’t get in, and to actually get your foot in the door, they don’t understand.”
The calendar Gray refers to is Sunameke’s latest fundraising project, a 2012 calendar showcasing Darwin’s ‘Pasifika’. Pulling in their contacts from different cultural groups including the Chung Wah Society, the calendar displays what the group is all about.
“It is a bit of a culmination. When we started Sunameke, it was only for pacific islanders, as in pacific island heritage. So last year, I opened our classes to the general public and you know how Darwin is so multicultural, we got lots of people from different cultural backgrounds. So the calendar is about the fact that you don’t have to be a pacific islander to be able to connect with the pacific.”
Along with the sale of this calendar and the continuation of classes and shows in 2012, Gray will be returning to the Conservatoire to partake in more classes. An arduous journey, both mentally and physically, Gray assures me that it can be one of the best experiences a dancer in her field can have.
“It’s such a personal, confrontational thing that you could possibly do. One week in front of the best of Tahiti, the teachers, and then you get judged at the end in your exam by the best. I’ll be Level Five when I go back in April and it gets harder because they expect you to bring it every time, you can’t go backwards. They become more judgemental and they’re harder on you and they push you and prod you! It’s totally worth it.”
For more information about Sunameke, visit www.sunameke.com.
To check out the “Darwin’s Pasifika” calendar, visit www.darwinspasifika.com.