Words by James McNeice // Photos by Sarah Chavdaroska
If there was one phrase that was the unprecedented focus of the weekend it was “Oh my gosh, its so cold!’
As a thrifty boutique festival that’s soon to put Bambra Bowl on the map, By the Meadow returned for its sixth year running. Despite the rogue temperamental weather, its few hundred-odd partygoers still ventured out with raincoats, scarves and beanies to battle a cocktail of rain, sun, rain, icy wind, rain, hail, and some more rain. I knew little else about what to expect besides a dedicated crowd of reoccurring punters and an emu that frequented the perimeter of the grounds, namely an entertaining opportunity for people watching.
As I rocked up after dark still munching on lukewarm maccas (the Friday evening road trip staple), everything was breezy – no lines (not even at the toilets!), easy to follow instructions and a straight forward camping area. But in the few short minutes it took for me to pitch my pop-up tent, Mother Nature unleashed a preview of the icy wind and continuous rain that would unfortunately plague By the Meadow for pretty much its entirety.
As the thought sunk in that the only choice was to go hard or go home, I thought “fuck it,” grabbed a beer and headed to the where the action was. As I shivered my way down to the festival’s one and only stage, I could thankfully feel a sense of community flourishing – we were all in this together.
My first encounter was Melbourne based urban music guru Thando, who was getting things heated with her finger clicking soulful bops. In the midst of her set it became instantly apparent that standing deep inside the crowd was going to be the best source of warmth for the night. Next up, murmurmur‘s dreamy psychedelia shone like a sonic daydream of light, playing a tight set of articulately produced tracks. Yet the party didn’t truly start until The Vasco Era’s cheery opening song, an ode to the Elvis Presley classic ‘Can’t Help Falling in Love‘. The cover spawned a wholesome and hearty sing-along frenzy before Vocalist Syd O’Neil abruptly shifted gears, morphing the set into their noisy post-hardcore brand of mosh pit ready punk that had people shaking their bums and banging their heads. For someone who was not familiar with this act, it was a golden shocker to see this incredibly fun and joyous transition at the beginning of their set. It was also huge to see half of the festival suddenly going nuts – whether this was in the name of rock’n’roll or an exciting excuse to stay warm.
Bringing the stage to a close at a sensible 12.20am was Zeitgeist Freedom Energy Exchange whose aesthetic of psychedelic visuals and deep-house-played-live was not only mesmerising but the most thought inducing set I have seen in a long while. There were many times I would fall into a deep hypnotic state, bopping my head and staring in a haze at the quartet – loving every moment of the music. It was the soundtrack for a million epiphanies at once, and just like that, night #1 had come to a close.
From that point forward, there were three options left – head back to your campsite to be rained on, the movie theatre showing back to back movies with sound, or join the renegade UE Boom party which emerged in a nearby shelter dome. Thanks to hearing a drunkenly sung version of Madonna’s ‘Like a Prayer’ wailing in the distance we politely opted for the latter. As we joined in on the sing-a-long, our mystery DJ’s role of selecting the next banger became one of immense pressure. The party’s population had just about tripled before the song had even finished. Thankfully they delivered, and after a few more tunes we decided to be sensible and hit the hay at the reasonable time of 2am.
Saturday morning kicked off with the inviting sound of light rain pattering on the tent top. Thank god, we had woken up dry. One coffee and a bowl of poorly executed Sultana Bran later, we found ourselves doing the morning admin by the car. As our Marie Kondo inspired campsite consisted of two fold-out chairs and nothing else, it quickly became our prime chill out zone, heater and all, where many front-seat tinnies were sunk in-between sets.
We got our shit together right in time to catch Hobson’s Bay Coast Guard in the early afternoon. Miraculously, the rain had fittingly cleared, and out came the most euphoric ray of sun that had ever hit my skin, perfect for the band’s progressive jam-sesh brand of indie surf rock. They kicked off the set with their ten-minute self titled track, which worked seamlessly alongside a unique harmonising blend of yell-y yet pop vocals that rode the sun-kissed twangy rhythms like a wave. If you haven’t had a chance to see these guys (whose debut album dropped literally a few days before the festival) then tack it on your to-do list. Hopefully next time we can see them as the Ronald McDonald quartet they intended to play as.
Brisbane’s Clea unluckily battled the relentless return of grim weather, particularly coming head to head with a seemingly never-ending gust of icy wind. Yet she still managed to lay down her lax chilled-out indie pop with a hint of mild psych. Her set was a haze of bliss, her vocals wistfully flowing through the nearby hills, like a solid glass of mulled wine by the indoor wood fire.
As the fierce rains reached their climax throughout the late arvo, watching the stage from the Marquee bar almost became a necessity, particularly for the people like myself who foolishly forgot to pack thermals. I sunk an espresso martini and kicked back to The Goon Sax, a band from Brisbane who could easily pretend to be from Brunswick and nobody would question them. Their fuzzy classically Brisbane indie rock was a perfect fit for that soon-to-be-dark evening piss-up vibe.
Another cocktail later and the marquee bar became a hideout for what felt like half the festival, and then the Sunset act began. This makeshift busking-like set had the whole tent at its capacity– whether this was initially planned for the main stage or not is a question that has gone unanswered. The band played an ode to Irish folk with some woodwind thrown in, reminiscent of something in between a cheery Christmas Day party in the trenches during the war and your cool Uncle’s 40th birthday party. It was this particular set that encapsulated what By the Meadow seemed to be aiming for – a communal, no shits given festival where you come across the same faces again and again as one big festival family.
As the rain had settled in for the night, Western Sydney’s Lauren brought a pumped-up set full of electro hip-hop bangers, at one point announcing that “this one is for the people who wanna fuuuck!” As a stark correlation, The Seven Ups followed, playing a largely instrumental set of groovy funk that commanded festival goers to dance. Headline act The Murlocs hit the stage in the midst of the fog which brought people out from under the covers to get up close and personal for their lively thriving set, aided with enough energy to direct a workout routine and an abundance of harmonica solos. Frontman Ambrose Kenny-Smith ended each track with a signature yelp of ‘YOOO!’ to keep things amped up, and at one point indulge in a hands-in-the-air call and response of the Backstreet Boys classic ‘Everybody (Backstreet’s Back)‘.
The night ended with subsequent trips between the stage and the movie theatre, where a screening of Die Hard drew in a surprisingly large number of people, as DJ Harvey Sutherland and Roza Terenzi pumped out thumping beats until the icy depths of rural 4am.
If you’re looking to make the move from other big league festivals then By the Meadow should be atop your list. The weekend felt like a once in a lifetime party your mate decided to sneakily throw on their farm while their parents were out of town. Rather than creating an atmosphere of competitive cliques that can easily be picked up in bigger festivals, By the Meadow felt always welcoming and never pretentious. People were there to see music; people were there to drink and dance and have a blast with their mates, and how these musicians managed to play dope sets in the freezing cold without their hands frosting over was a feat in itself. You’ll be sure to find me at next year’s festival, sporting a heavy rain jacket and new gumboots.
We talked to Cameron Wade who runs the music festival By The Meadow and are joined by musician Merpire who is also playing this years festival. We discuss the process of booking an international artist, why moving from Sydney to Melbourne was so important for Merpire, the difficulties of juggling festival set times, why this year’s festival will be particularly fun and we choose 10 By The Meadow artists for Cameron to describe on the spot.
This week we breakdown Golden Plains 2019 with guest writers Alana Scully and James McNiece. We discuss everything from Totem poles, Kofta balls, early Flume, where not to camp, Alana meeting Josh Thomas, how to improve this almost perfect festival and much, much more!
If you want to be involved in our future podcasts or represent an artist, festival, venue, music platform that might be interested. Email MarcusRimondini@gmail.com
We caught up with Nick Sowersby AKA Sunbeam Sound Machine, ahead of the release of his second album Goodness Gracious via Remote Control Records. We discussed where he’s been hiding, his recording routine, the interesting DM’s he receives, working with Stu Mackenzie of King Gizzard and The Lizard Wizard and our theories on why Sunbeam Sound Machine is successful with music streaming algorithms.
Goodness Gracious is out Friday May 3rd.
Apologies for the delay on this list, it turns out finding power outlets in the remote parts of Himachal, India was harder than I expected. But, better late than never, and it gave me time to really disgust all these tracks. In previous years we would usually post closer to 100 artists for variety reasons, but this year we’ve gone back to having up to three songs per artist. This way, the artists who shined the most this year get the appreciation they deserve. After all, lists like these are created so people can find new music, and when you see three songs from the same artist, that’s typically a sign that you need to really check them out. These lists can also create interesting conversations, especially when people disagree, because unfortunately not many music websites in Australia exist anymore, so it’s important that we still create these discussions, and highlight artists who are underexposed. The order doesn’t necessarily means #1 is worlds better than #100, it’s just chosen as a tone setting entry point. It’s up to you as to how far you want to dive into this list.
So, as we say every year. Thank you to all the bands, artists, managers, random people, DJs, venues, festivals, PR workers who send in music all year and make it much easier for us to track it all. We’ll continue to try and post as much as we can, as we get older and busier in the real world. I still enjoy it as much I did on day one, so that’s a good sign. If you want to see previous lists, I’ll have the links below. Hopefully you find something you enjoy and if you do, please go support them!
Spotify & Soundcloud playlist links below:
100. Body Type – ‘Teeth’
99. Nylex- ‘Fascinate’
98. Julia Jacklin – ‘Body’
97. Wonderfuls – ‘Need You Here’
96. Good Morning – ‘Escalator’
95. Dog Futon – ‘l8 Bloomr’
94. Loure – ‘Needs’
93. Courtney Barnett – ‘Sunday Roast’
92. Roza Terenzi – ‘Out of My Mind (Jensen Interceptor Remix)’
91. Shit Bitch – ‘Royal Heady’
90. MOD CON – ‘Neighbourhood’
89. House Deposit – ‘Calder (demo)’
88. Karyme – ‘Angus’
87. Baby Blue – ‘Fire and Ice’
86. Arthur Miles – ‘Deep Bit (Demo)’
85. Greenwave Beth – ‘Love and Property’
84. Lisa Crawley – ‘You Got Me’
83. Kirkis – Dark Room’
82. School Damage – ‘Scump Damage 1’
81. Lehmann B. Smith – ‘Tropical’
Photos by Sarah Chavdaroska
Probably the first and only time Ripe will use a click-bait feature image, but something’s wrong. No wait, not something, the music industry economy is wrong. It’s been a false economy for years, and now we’re paying for it — or more literally, not paying.
You can point your finger at the bookers, the sponsors, the labels, the artists or the locations. But the main reason Australian Music Festivals are either selling out in 2018 or not selling well, is because of the generation that attended festivals for the first time during the ‘pay what you want’ era. The generation that sparked so much open minded interest in artists that don’t attract big bucks, the same generation to start niche festivals with no plan on making profits. This generation now needs money, this generation now have families, HECS debts, loans, and they don’t live at home anymore. That free loan era between 2007’s Radiohead – In Rainbows, where one of the biggest bands in the world gave away a classic album for free, and somewhere between 2013-2014 when Spotify doubled it’s subscriber numbers and hit 10 million. Marking an end to the era of ‘pay what you want’. The peak point coming in the middle of 2010 with the shutdown of Limewire and free easy downloads without the average-joe needing to know anything about Torrents or VPNs. Now in 2018 it’s all tight Facebook algorithms making you pay to post, Spotify algorithms limiting your music horizons not expanding them, and YouTube algorithms feeding you only the biggest of YouTube channels. But it’s not algorithms that make algorithms (not yet). It’s companies hiring smart code writers, who are paid to max funds and compete with the other big companies. It’s their job, it’s their livelihoods, so I can’t blame them either.
It’s the same with the bookers of Laneway Festival 2019. 2018 didn’t sell out, and they’re running an expensive and tough business. They had to put a lot of Triple J artists on the bill to sell tickets. I’d love to live in a world where the Laneway lineup had the most critically acclaimed artists of the year, like Laneway used to aim for each year. But a lineup of Idles, Low, Yves Tumor, Snail Mail, John Coltrane, Skee Mask and Amen Dunes ain’t selling tickets. Who are they, you may ask? They’re some of the most critically acclaimed artists of 2018, but this algorithm generation will likely never know. And for the bookers at Laneway, they’re also the more expensive options.
So how does a Festival like Meredith get away with featuring so many critically acclaimed artists, just a couple Triple J artists and manage to sell out every year? numerous reasons. The first is that the people pay for the festival experience, not just the lineup. There’s no experience left at Laneway, it’s just teens popping pills or as one commentator posted on the Laneway Facebook page, “could have been a better lineup but I’ll still go lmao chance to get fucked uppppp.” Secondly, Meredith owns the land, it owns a lot of the infrastructure, it doesn’t have to tour the lineup around a country that’s less invested in live music than Victoria. Meredith still have a lot of expenses that punters don’t think about, ever wondered how they get rid of hundreds of couches every year?
Speaking of those couches, that’s where the festival problem reaches beyond Laneway all the way to Meredith. The same culture that made Meredith so relaxing and welcoming, that freedom to bring a couch from your home to the front of the Amphitheater, has attracted the same crowd that think it’s cool to throw rubbish out of your vehicle. “Hey bro, at Meredith you can smash beers on a couch all day, piss on it, and then just leave it behind at the end. It’s sick!” said an attendee who would only venture down to the stage when they need to charge their selfie-taking phones. This isn’t Meredith’s fault, the festival itself has barely changed in its almost 30 year existence. I can never remember which Meredith year was which. What did change over that time was the death of festivals that drew crowds who just want to “get fucked uppppp” such as Stereosonic, Future Music or Soundwave (lesser extent). All three of which died in 2015 and that crowd’s been looking for new options ever since. Laneway targets those who just need half a day to black out. Meredith targets those who worked hard (I’d like to hope so) all year, and come December just want to escape the city and let off some steam. I get it, life can be really tough and messed up for a lot of people, you may not even really care much for music, and when else can you catch up with all your friends and get away together for a whole weekend. Meredith makes a lot of sense for those people. The calendar position makes a huge difference, because the crowd at Golden Plains (same location and team behind Meredith) held in March is vastly different. If you’re still spending money on festivals in March, when university or work or family life is full throttle, you must really like music, because there’s cheaper ways to “get fucked uppppp.”
If you’re ready to run away to even smaller niche festivals, you’re in the minority, because those festivals are struggling to sell 1,000 tickets with interesting line-ups, line-ups far more critically acclaimed than the 2019 Laneway lineup. However, many of them paid the price. Paradise Music Festival ran a loss for many years and became financially unsustainable. Many others are trying to stay afloat such as Inner Varnika (didn’t sell out this year), Hopkins Creek (didn’t sell out last year), By The Meadow (didn’t sell out this year), Freedom Time (didn’t sell out this year) and Shady Cottage (have had to take two years off to think hard about their model). Maybe too many niche festivals popped up at the same time and the market wasn’t ready for all of them, but even collectively the numbers just don’t add up. How can so many festivals in Melbourne, the live music attending city that makes more money from live music than the AFL does nationally, struggle to sell out 1,000 or less ticket festivals. There’s no simple answer. You could point your finger at the talent crops or those damn algorithms, but I think it’s something else. I think it’s the novelty, the location novelty.
You see, most of my music loving friends with deep historical musical knowledge and really varied tastes in music, never seemed to know 80% of the Paradise Music Festival lineups. They went because the location on Lake Mountain was unique, the location was the experience, there just happened to also be interesting music, too. These interesting artists may be fantastic, but they’re also local, we can watch them anytime in Melbourne, often for free. So are niche festivals meant to change location every year? They would if they could, but locations are extremely hard to find. Permits are even harder to get. The always popular and respected party throwers Animals Dancing recently tried to host a festival on the upcoming Grand Final weekend at the Tallarook location that’s hosted Boogie Festival since 2008 (and more recently New Year’s EVIE Festival). But even Animals Dancing couldn’t fight extreme opposition from local residents. Apparently electronic music is a no go in Tallarook, despite the fact that Boogie has a stage called Clubhouse. It’s all just a big misunderstanding, the people of Tallarook probably lumped Animals Dancing in with the same crowd who once went to Stereosonic, and you can’t be mad at them, how are they meant to know the difference.
Which brings it all full circle. Everyone is misinformed, or simply doesn’t have enough time to be informed. Music Festivals in Australia are dying, and that’s just not a message that’s getting spread publicly. Who is meant to spear this information? Triple J promote their festivals, you know all about those. Triple R promote their festival associations, you hear about those. Everyone else, they don’t have a voice, a media outside of online algorithms. If numbers continue to drop at small festivals, they’ll die. If the loyal crowd move away from the bigger festivals, they’ll die. If Music Festivals die, then you’ll struggle to get an international artist to fly all the way to Australia. Local artists will have to move overseas to make real money in order to fund their profession and find financial value in their already niche market, because it’s now very hard to do that online in 2018. Australia will be right back to where it was before 2007, dictated by Triple J and playing catch up to the rest of the world.
Photos by Sarah Chavdaroska
Life is getting busier and busier every year, it’s becoming harder and harder to follow all the great stuff coming out of the Australian music scene that’s continuing to grow into its own unique ecosystem. We really enjoyed pulling together a half time 2017 top 50 post last year, so we knew we had do it again this year. Hopefully it helps get yourself and your friends up to speed on what’s been happening in Australian music throughout 2018.
We’ve listed the variety of tracks in alphabetical order to save some of the list fun for the end of year top 100 post, plus it can take all year to truly disgust the most memorable tracks. We’ve created the playlist on both Spotify and SoundCloud.
As always, we want to take this opportunity to send out a huge thank you to everyone who has sent us music this year, contacted us, shared, liked, commented or re-tweeted Ripe.
1. Amaya Laucirica – ‘Could This Be’
2. Arthur Miles – ‘Deep Bit (Demo)’
3. Baby Blue – ‘I Like You’
4. Big White – Right Before Everything Dies’
5. Body Type – ‘Arrow’
6. Cable Ties – ‘Choking To Choose’
7. Camp Cope – ‘How To Socialise & Make Friends’
8. Caroline No – ‘Alex’
9. Chiara Kickdrum – ‘Moebius’
10. Courtney Barnett – ‘City Looks Pretty’
02 Jul INTRODUCING: Luboku
Photos by Sarah Chavdaroska
Since 2014 Melbourne producer, singer and songwriter Luboku has been steadily releasing music online. Collaborative work with NZ-based Hosaia and last year’s solo release ‘The Surface‘ has seen his name popping up more frequently and with growing praise.
This year, after already releasing two singles ‘Without You‘ and ‘None Of You‘, Luboku’s burgeoning career has started to take off – with a Triple J ‘Feature Artist’ select, support-spot on What So Not‘s national tour and his recent signing to Niche Talent Agency‘s growing roster of amazing artists.
After the busy start to the year, we managed to squeeze in some time with Luis Kennett (aka Luboku) to have a chat and get to know him. We wanted to understand from his perspective how he has found this year so far, how he discovered his visual-aesthetic and what he has planned in the near future for shows and releases.
Tell us about Luboku. Who is he? Where did his passion for electronic production come from?
Luis Kennett: Luboku is many things, sometimes a musical vampire, sometimes a balladeer, always making songs though, that’s the important part. Luboku came about because I needed something to focus my creativity toward. I can focus inspiration more clearly when I have something specific to work on so it came out of necessity, to be honest.
‘Without You’ which was released earlier this year is a stellar track! How did that track come to be?
Luis: Why thank you, I guess people are really digging it! I had a lot of fun making that song and I think that comes through. ‘Without You’ was also one of the quickest songs to come together so far, it always felt a bit edgy. Simon Lam (Kllo, Nearly Oratorio) helped me mix this one actually, he managed to pull in some of that edginess but keep a really great vibe which was just ace.
Your John Fish video collaboration and music artwork is all very visually appealing, carrying a very strong aesthetic. Trying to balance music and visual expression is a particularly important thing at the moment for a lot of artists. Who designed your cover art? Tell us a bit about that process.
Luis: A Melbourne designer named Darren Oorloff, in collaboration with Nick Keays, created these first few pieces. I’ve felt really lucky that they’ve been on board with all my ideas and have executed an aesthetic that I am 100% behind. I feel very strongly that visuals and music work hand-in-hand, carrying a desired look and feel through any art form I’m creating.
A John Fish video also makes me *crosses fingers* expectant of a big light or visual show on the horizon?
Luis: Big light show? Of course! Working with John Fish on the video for ‘Without You’ has definitely given me some ideas on what a BIG headline or festival slot could look like.
Only the other weekend you were a support act for the Melbourne leg of What So Not’s Australian National Tour at The Forum Theatre. Tell us about how that came about! How did you find the support act spot on such a large, electronic tour?
Luis: The show was wild, one of my favorites so far. As for the opportunity, that’s something I did not see coming. All of a sudden I’m on the phone to Triple J Unearthed, being asked to play the Forum Theatre with What So Not, it was all pretty crazy. The hardest parts of playing live, I find, are always the moments just before the show – you feel like you’re waiting in live music limbo. The best thing was getting out there and playing the new live set, it was so much fun.
Last week you released your new single ‘None Of You’ and already it’s taking off – congratulations on such a solid release! Tell us about ‘None Of You’ and (if I’m not mistaken) if there is a theme connecting your two new singles?
Luis: Thank you, I’m glad you vibe it! I guess ‘None Of You’ is a pretty personal track for me. It’s about a time when I was struggling to connect with someone who was going through some stuff, sometimes that person doesn’t have any space for you and I think this song captures how I felt about that whole situation. I have always felt ‘None Of You’ and ‘Without You’ to be Ying/Yang (hence the piano at the end of Without You) – they are definitely connected. But that needs more context… There is an EP coming!
If you could play one stage or one event in the next year, what would it be and why is that your pick?
Luis: This is a bit left of field but I think the Boiler Room live stream gigs are pretty iconic, tonnes of people moshing around you as you’re performing to an endless amount of people online, that would be so sick.
Do you have any future collaborations in the works? (Dreams collaborations welcome.)
Luis: Nothing I can talk about yet… I’ve got a secret passion for really heavy hip hop though, I think a dream collaborator would be
As a producer and song-writer in Australia, do you think that the music industry is helping young, emerging artists make a break? Or is it a tough job and difficult to navigate with the sheer amount of new artists?
Luis: I couldn’t think of a better place to start a career in music. Australia, and Melbourne in particular, have such vibrant communities, I feel like creativity flourishes here. There are also many opportunities for up and comers in the live arena and with platforms like Triple J Unearthed the ease of discovery makes things pretty accessible (they listen to everything! That’s intense). Shoutout to my manager Brandon who’s been a literal lifesaver (haha).
Plans for the rest of the year?
Luis: More tunes! And lot’s more shows.
By The Meadow is a Music Festival set 90 minutes south-west of Melbourne in Bambra. They started in 2014 and they have slowly and carefully built up a respected fan base. This year marks their 5th festival and it’s their biggest lineup to date. In fact, I don’t believe there’s a better snapshot of 2018 Melbourne (plus a few imports) via a festival lineup. Without Paradise Music Festival or Shady Cottage this year, the spotlight is brighter on By The Meadow than ever and it sounds like they’re more than ready.
A few weeks ago we caught up Cameron and Ruby, two of the festival organisers. We discussed all the usual questions about running a small festival, but it was really their emphasis on the concept of local that made me believe this festival truly does care more about people than trying to make money or become the next big hot festival. By The Meadow wants to bring what they love about Melbourne to a region of Victoria that’s going through changes and deserves to be a part of the excitement, hoping to inspire the next generation to take part.
I was originally keen on attending based on the fantastic lineup alone, but now I just want to support the great cause that is By The Meadow. Tickets are still available if you not only feel like a good time, but want to also support our locals doing great things.
Marcus Rimondini: What’s the story behind how the festival started?
Ruby: Well, Cameron, for his 21st, had a festival party at his parents’ property.
Cameron: We had two 21sts in a row, mine and then my brother’s the year after and then the next year there was no birthday.
Ruby: So we were like, we just want to have a party, and my parents had a property, and so we started it there. It was really good for us to do it there, and the local community was really good.
How many people were there?
Ruby: The first year was 200…
Cameron: I think we capped it at 200, but we were pushing so many boundaries, we ended up saying “let’s just stop at 150 and it’ll be good.” Sold it in two weeks, didn’t have any permits, and just said if you want to make a donation at the gate to cover the generator *laughs*, that would be great.
Ruby: And we did cover it. The next year I thought, I don’t want my parents to lose their property because something happens, so we started getting permits, and then it started getting bigger, so we had it at my parents’ farm again. The year after (the third year), some of my very good friends’ parents’ were nice enough to let us expand on to their property, which is about 100m away over the hill.
Are they your closest neighbours?
Ruby: They’re not the closest neighbours, but it’s a lot bigger space for us, they loved the festival, and they were just like “yeah come have it at our house, we’ve got more room, more spaces for camping.
Cameron: We’ve gone from this tiny little spot. It was originally ‘by the meadow’ because it was going to be on the deck of a house, which would look out into the meadow. But we were like “ we cannot put this here,” so we put it in the meadow *laughs*. So we went from down in the bottom of this valley, where her parents house is. And now we have this site that’s right up on top of Bambra, and the view is mental. You just get this whole sweeping view of the flat plains out the back of Geelong.
Ruby: And this will be our third year (fifth overall) doing it there.
Was the first one in the back of a truck?
Cameron: Yeah, the first three were in the back of the same truck.
Ruby: And we had to wait until after business hours on Friday to set it up.
Cameron: It was stressful as. We had music starting at 10 am on the Saturday morning, after the trucks only shows up at 6 pm the night before… AND we had to deck the whole thing out like a professional stage.
Ruby: And then when we started doing the Friday night as well, we couldn’t get the truck in time, so now we have a proper stage.
Cameron: We now have the luxury of delivering a better package for the punters too, we can it in on a Wednesday, and then have all of Thursday and a good chunk of Friday to build something that looks really nice against the background.
Ruby: It started very DIY — and we’re trying, we’re slowly building it up *laughs*. We still like to keep it very local and what we really love, too, and lots of everyone being very involved. So hopefully we’re making it a bit cleaner, a bit more professional too.
What are some of the main things that have changed over the five years, aside from the stage?
Ruby: I think we have learnt that sometimes you need to outsource more and spend a bit more money to make it easier in the long run.
Cameron: Yeah, we’ve kind of ended up focusing on the core part that people enjoy, and then handing off a lot of the other stuff. So we’re involved in making sure that the lineup is amazing, and the sound that delivers the lineup to the punters is as good as we can get. We’ve been so lucky, the sound guys we started with have been phenomenal, they’re audio nerds, they’re amazing. We work pretty close with the food, we think that’s a pretty core part as to why people dig festivals. We try to keep it local as well.
Ruby: Really local, so it has been one of our very good friends for the first couple of years.
Cameron: So we’ve had a chef from back home in Colac, we get him to pick a pop-up menu for the weekend. The food’s important, making sure all that stuff is consistent.
Ruby: We want to make sure it’s good food, but not super expensive. We’re really lucky, Cameron has a motorbike shop, so he has access to a lot of things that we need. My dad and my brothers are builders, without them — at the start especially — we wouldn’t have been able to do it.
So you get the whole family to help out?
Ruby: We get my brother’s friends, and Cameron’s brother’s friends come down.
Cameron: They’ll be there for like six or so days. They’ll work hard a couple days before, then enjoy the festival, and then on a Sunday morning when they’re feeling like dirtbags, they’ll be the ones working the hardest.
Ruby: They’re very good, they put up with a lot, but they have a very good time at it as well.
Cameron: That stuff all around the outside has changed, but what we deliver in the middle is identical. We just try to take a really tidy snapshot of what’s up and coming in music around here (northside Melbourne).
Was there anything in particular you were looking to mix up this year with the lineup?
Cameron: I guess we need to talk about gender equality on the bill. We’re super conscious of it now. We always tried to cater towards gender equality, and I think we managed to do so pretty well from the outset like we had Ali Barter headlining four years ago. Now that there are people specifically going out and pointing out the percentage of females in your lineup, it really makes a good point. And when you see a lot of festivals that don’t, you think, you’ve got to do something about it. There’s no reason why you shouldn’t be able to, given where we are and what we have access to. So we’re extremely conscious of trying to book an equal lineup and I think this year we have over 50% bands with female members in them, we’re pretty happy with that. But it is difficult to do so still; it takes way more work, and it would be far easier to ignore, but that’s a big part of what we set out to do this year.
Do you feel the genres are a little more varied?
Ruby: Yeah, I guess we like to put bands on that we’re going to have fun listening to, mostly.
Cameron: We’ll spend a lot of time going out and seeing these bands.
Ruby: We’re there working, but we want to hear it and be having a good time, and see people having a good time.
Cameron: So if it’s varied, it’s just an indication of what we’ve been listening to in the last 12 to 18 months. But it doesn’t feel that much more varied, I think there’s less hip-hop than we’ve had in the past.
Ruby: This is off the record, but I love hip-hop! So that’s a real disappointment to me.
Cameron: We normally tried to get two or three, but this year we’ve just got HTMLFlowers, 30/70 is I guess a little bit swinging towards hip-hop, but we definitely don’t have as much clear cut hip-hop on the bill this year as normal. There really is no picture, we’ll go out targeting some big acts to head the bill, and then fill in below, as to where we need to find the diversity. If we have heaps of rock bands, we’ll find pop bands and electronic music..”
Ruby: It’s nearly a bit selfish because it’s all just bands we love to listen to, but we think other people will enjoy it as well.
Cameron: It also has to represent either somebody who has put out a debut album that’s doing really well, or somebody that’s emerging and showing such clear talent that they’re going to go somewhere. There are not many bands on our bill that have been just punching around in the middle of the music scene for a long time.
Ruby: What I really like about Meadow is that a lot of it’s done by word-of-mouth, by people who have been before and then their friends come and they’re like, “this is amazing!” Or you go out to a bar and someone’s wearing a By The Meadow t-shirt and they’re talking about how good it was. It’s really nice to hear that, we don’t do that much advertising.
Cameron: We shut it down (during the year).
Ruby: We want to maintain the vibe of people being friendly to each other, we don’t want to cater to a completely different audience. The people who come are amazing people. You want their friends, and the people they would be with to come as well.
Did you have any issues leading up to this festival?
Cameron: This one’s been as smooth as anything. Early on we had some sound pollution issues with neighbours, but you work through those, and you try and build some relationships with those neighbours.
Ruby: It was funny because some of the biggest issues were with neighbours who actually came from Melbourne and had a holiday home.
Cameron: We’ve had nothing this year.
Ruby: Or last year.
Cameron: The hardest things would’ve been in just the band booking. Last year I was away through October, November and start of December in Detroit. That was difficult trying to book a bill from the other side of the world, because it would be like one email a day, if they came back with a bad answer, I’d be like “shit I’ve wasted another day.” I underestimated how hard it would be to converse back and forth. So the bill came out a bit later than we hoped, but that was it, we got there in the end.
What are some of the highlights of the previous years?
Cameron: One of the best ones for me was when I was at the urinal, and this bloke pulled up next to me and he’s like “you run this thing don’t you, you’re one of the ones who runs it, this is great, it’s like a house, but outside and not at a house.” It was like the best thing to hear. This guy was clearly wrecked, but I was like “oh my god, he’s so wise.”
So why the weekend after Easter?
Ruby: It’s a weird time of the year, because you’ve probably just gone to Golden Plains and then pay three weeks later to go to another festival. It’s necessary for us, because of the area we’re in, it has to be out of total fire ban season. We couldn’t do it any earlier than when we do it.
Cameron: Yeah, I don’t how Easter works, but it moves a lot *laughs*. It like follows a full moon or something. We pushed last year forward, because Easter was late April. We just get guided by the first weekend of April, otherwise we try to go the weekend after Easter. Because we’re all working, so we all need that time off over Easter to go and set it up. Last year was hard, because we were all trying to get time off work the week before to go and do it. The idea at first was to go the opposite time of the year to Paradise Music Festival.
Does the timing of the festival worry you financially?
Ruby: We’re really careful with what we spend money on.
Cameron: It would be so easy to go out and spend so much money on a bill, and make an amazing bill and still not get that audience down there. This year was the biggest step we’ve ever taken. But we’ll end in the same position again, net zero, everyone’s had a good time, and we’ll be like “thank god we didn’t lose any money!” You learn so much, and you just make so many connections and meet so many people, you won’t get that from going to gigs or being in a band or whatever, you just don’t learn the same stuff.
How’s the weather in April?
Ruby: Well ours was a little bit colder than usual last year; it wasn’t super cold, but it was colder. I actually noticed a drop in the visits to the first aid tent for people who got thorns in their feet and stuff — everyone was wearing shoes, which is alright!
Where do you source your artists from?
Cameron: We start booking kind of around BIGSOUND time, which is a good indicator of what’s going to go well, but you have to be careful, too. There’s also Melbourne Music Week. We source from everywhere, if you went to one source only, you wouldn’t get a very good picture of what’s happening right now.
Have you tried to reach a crowd that’s outside of the Melbourne bubble?
Cameron: We advertised for the first time, because I truly believe there’s got to be a bunch of kids in that Torquay area, there’s got to be a massive audience down there of this young population, even young families. But maybe we’re too early, and they’re going to have kids, and their kids are going to be ready for festivals. There’s just this massive population boom in and around Torquay and that side of Geelong.
Ruby: I think it’s getting them there in the first place. This isn’t meaning to speak bad of the country people, because I’m from there, but a lot of the bands we’re having are well-known in Melbourne, but not so well-known in country areas. Once people come though, they tend to come back, again and again, it’s a lot to do with them loving the music.
Cameron: I think there will be more people from that area eventually engaging with it. I think Geelong is coming up again, there are a few music venues popping up there now. Better bands are touring out there. Ten years ago they had really good music culture coming out of Geelong, it’s where like King Gizzard and The Murlocs started out. Then it died and all the cool pubs that bands played at, closed. It’s coming back, Workers Club is helping. So here’s hoping there will be more of an audience, because that’s 20 minutes from us, half an hour from Bambra.
What are some of the things about running a festival that are much harder than you expected?
Cameron: We didn’t have any experience. We went to the council and were like “how do you run an event?” like “what do we legally have to do to run this?” Then she started calling in police officers and CFA people to talk to us. We were like 21, and the police officer was like “what are you going to do when somebody dies of a drug overdose?” It was just frustrating being talked down to, we were trying to do the right thing.
Ruby: It’s a weird situation especially with drug talk, a lot of people said “what are you going to do to prevent this?” Well we’re trying to promote a culture where it’s not encouraged, and at the same time we’re going to have everything available in the event that something does happen. Originally they wanted us to put security cameras on every tree. This is when we had 400 people coming to the festival, we couldn’t even afford lights for the campground.
Cam: They were the biggest hurdles, and now that they know we’ve got the ability to run it, we’ve kept people safe for five years in a row down there. That hurdle kind of disappeared.
If you had more money, what would you do to the festival?
Cameron: I wouldn’t change much to be honest.
Ruby: We would probably hire people to do all the work that our dads do, so they wouldn’t have to do it.
Cameron: That’s actually a good one *laughs*. But it wouldn’t matter, they would find something else. If I get somebody else to do the things dad will do, dad will find something else that needs doing, it doesn’t matter if there’s nothing left to do. He will find something.
Ruby: They do love it, though.
Cameron: We’re nearly where we need to be for it to run successfully, and to give us the opportunity to do it again next year. We’re pretty happy. We love the way that it’s forced upon anyone, it’s not on giant billboards or anything. I don’t know if you got the press release, but we get our beers from the guys down the road, our wines from a local winery, our food from our friends in now Lorne, one from Aireys Inlet, and one from Colac. We’re pretty passionate about keeping that stuff strictly local, and deliberately steering clear of food trucks. So there will not be a food truck at our festival.
Ruby: Our stage comes from Winchelsea primary school, which is a primary school about ten minutes away, we have a guy from Colac who brings us a truck full of ice, our sound guys come from Geelong, and the coffee comes from Apollo Bay. Everything we can do, we try and keep really local!
NTS Radio host, founder of On Loop record label and parties, and general music enthusiast Moxie has been on tour throughout Australia, bringing her taste and energy to such cities as Sydney and Brisbane. Tonight she is set to play at Hugs and Kisses, for an intimate evening of dance. We had a chat to the London based DJ about her city, her experience of radio and university.
You have spent all your life in London, how has music contributed to a sense of belonging in the city?
Community is a big part of London and if you open yourself up to meeting people you can come across some truly exceptional characters. Especially at events such as Notting Hill Carnival & the rave scene. I’ve made so many friends from being at those types of events, some I only ever see in those spaces but when you’re all experiencing that same magical moment at the same time it brings you together. I love London and all the different people that live here, especially walking through certain areas, mostly markets and hearing people blast music from their stalls. For me that’s what makes London so special, all the different people who make it what it is.
You have mentioned that you studied at London College Of Communication (a fair while ago now), what was a project at uni you worked on that you would like to revisit today?
Ahh yes, my uni years. Feels so long ago now and I really miss it. I studied my foundation course at Central St Martins and then went on to do my Bachelors degree in print design at LCC. It was a pretty open course and I went onto design wall paper, ceramics, fabrics and screen prints. I especially loved painting with Gouache and my final degree was all about Tropical parrots. I’d like to start incorporating it back into my music stuff, especially with the label side of things. I’ve actually set some time aside to get back on it in April which I’m really excited about!
You have your finger on the pulse when it comes to up and coming artists/producers/dj’s, how important is it to you to bring into light new music?
It’s super important to know what the next generation are up to. I’ve always tried to be as open as possible. I remember when I was younger, the older crew would have a condescending attitude and say things such as “it wasn’t how it used to be” and all of that stuff, which I found really undermining. Everyone has their own journey and things change, we need to embrace that.
What is some advice you would give to such aspiring artists/producers/dj’s trying to get their music heard?
I’d say try to educate yourself as much as possible on what labels you like and where you think your music would sit best. Don’t send every single track you’ve ever made, tailor it to who you’re emailing and send the best of the best. Maybe no more than 4 tracks. The more time you take to write an email, the more someone will take to read it. Especially if you show you genuinely like or know what that person is about.
London’s radio culture is thriving, with the likes of Balamii, Netil and 199 radio further contributing to an already established scene, what could these stations (including NTS) do to further London’s and the Worlds music scene?
I can’t speak for the others but watching how NTS programme events all around the world and making sure to reflect the scenes they broadcast from is inspiring. They’re all music heads and are about discovering the most interesting and diverse music as possible. Back home they push the new and local talent which I also think is super important. You can have the big names, but if you’re not helping out the next generation then there’s only so far you can go. Radio is such a great starting platform and it’s definitely helped me loads in becoming who I am.
Over the years, what are some personal values you have taken from radio, clubbing and music in general?
Push yourself out of your comfort zone and don’t worry about failing. Everyone has to start somewhere and you can surprise yourself. I never thought I’d get into radio, but it just happened and here I am 7 years later.
What is the sort of vibe you are expecting at your Melbourne show?
I’ve always heard great things about Melbourne, especially the club I’m playing at tonight called Hugs & Kisses. The whole tour’s been great, but I’ve been most excited about here. There seems to be a real strong sense of community and everyone knows each other which i love.
Are you familiar with many Australian artists? If so who and how did you find them, meet them?
On my travels I’ve been trying to educate myself on the scene as much as possible and for my next NTS show I’m planning an Australian take over. Names that I’m especially excited about are Roza Terenzi, Prequel, Tambo’s House, Turner Street Sound, Ken Oath & a bunch more. Also Michael from Noise In My Head is always repping loads of great stuff and Butter Sessions are putting out some quality music. I feel like there’s still loads for me to discover which is always exciting!
Moxie plays Hugs & Kisses tonight. Tickets here via Resident Advisor.