Sarah Chav' -

22 Feb Reflections & Round Two – An Interview with Shady Cottage Music and Leisure Festival

Words by Marcus Rimondini // Photos by Sarah Chav’

Last year, just outside of Melbourne, was the debut of a new music event for Victoria called Shady Cottage Music and Leisure Festival. The line-up and execution were such a success that the team is excitedly back for round two this year.

Sitting down with the Shady team last week – Nick, Marc and Will – we chatted about last year’s event, and what’s in store for this year’s festivities – as well as the free entry, pre-event party they’re throwing at Nevermind Bar this Sunday from 2pm until 11pm. The day will feature artists from the festival’s upcoming line-up, merchandise, ticket sales and a giveaway you may not want to miss if you are hoping to head to Shady Cottage this year…

Marcus Rimondini: Who and what is shady cottage?

Will: It started at a 21st. After that, I chatted to the guy who had the 21st and owned the farm we were on last year. I spoke to his family and they had no intention of doing it all, they were not that keen, but then some how at the end of the conversation they allowed us to do it. I left the house a bit confused, but we were all good to do it, so i started planning with the guy who had the 21st. Then the rest of the five of us jumped on board for last year. This year we have Ted on board as well. There’s also Rob who owns the farm.

Nick: The best way to describe it is, when we were running that 21st, it was all these bands we were friends with or we were in, and we set up and did all the sound, and we were like “this is great, we can do this on a huge scale”.

Marc: Music for your mates, by your mates.

Will: Yeah, exactly.

Nick: Like, the headliners from last year were people we had come across personally. It felt good to have a tangible connection between all the bands and the organisers, and I feel like that will reflect to the audience as well.

Will: I think the leisure aspect is important, is so it’s not just music.

Nick: Lot of room for activities.

Will: Like the bathrobe thing kind of came up the week before. The singer of Diet made that happen.


When and where was the first one?

Will: Last year in Trentham East, on the back paddock of a farm. It was slightly different to the 21st, which was in another paddock. We went there a few times and tried to figure out where we could put it. Then we thought ‘how about just in front of those big trees,’ and knew that was it.

Nick: That almost became our thing, having that illuminated tree backdrop thing. Our site’s a bit different this year, but we are going to do some funky tree lighting stuff.


What were some of the particular challenges that you faced?

Nick: I thought it went really well.

Will: Yeah for a first year festival, I thought it went really well, too. A few minor hiccups, but nothing we couldn’t fix.

Marc: Main challenge was managing 500 people. A lot different to a bar, it was something I hadn’t experienced before. Just making sure everyone is safe and in the right areas.

Will: The biggest challenge for me was all the lead up stuff. Dealing with the council can be a big headache. We did have some problems leading up, it got to the point where we were like ‘are we even going to go ahead with this?’ But it all turned out alright in the end. Thank god.

Nick: During the festival there was nothing that couldn’t be fixed with just a radio call. Like ‘theres somebody at the gate asking if they need two wristbands?’, and you’d just reply on the radio ‘No, you don’t.’

Will: Generators turned off, but they were fixed in five minutes. There were a couple of complaints from neighbours, but we knew those were going to happen. The amount of support far outweighed the complaints.


What were your favourite moments from last year?

Will: Ara Koufax. When they played ‘Brenda’.

Marc: The tail end of the festival, hearing that one song you’ve been listening to during the whole lead up… Then realising hey, we’ve done it – we’ve pulled off our first festival. It’s a great feeling.

Will: There was a moment on the Saturday night when I was standing up on the hill looking at the stage for five minutes doing nothing, it was pretty cool to look around and to be like ‘we actually did it.’

Nick: That one was funny because ‘Brenda’ by Ara Koufax was a sign post of when we get to relax and say everything is done.

Will: At 2 am. I didn’t shut up about that.

Nick: Playing was awesome. At the start of the set (Flamingo Jones) there was a huge kick, everyone had been sitting down until that point until the Conga-line started.

Will: One person had a watermelon on their head. Also, the weather had cleared up by that point too.


How has the planning been this year compared to last year?

Nick: Pretty good.

Will: I feel like we got onto it pretty early.

Marc: The most difficult part was just finding a new location. That was a little bit stressful.

Will: Like what I said about with the council earlier; we knew we had to move. I sat down with the owner of the farm again and did the same process as before. He said the only way it could happen again is if we have 100% no neighbours complaints. Like they go up there every weekend, they were losing faith with their friends and stuff. They live in Melbourne, but they’ve had that farm for 25 years. We spent 3 or 4 months looking for a new place.

Marc: Once we got the new place, everyone just went straight into gear and it started happening. We knew what had to be done by each individual person.


Is it easier or harder to set up this year?

Nick: It’s kind of exactly the same. It’s a new council and a new site, there are some unique aspects to it, the typography is a bit different, but it’s really just doing everything again. Like you have to do the permit applications and emergency plans again. The best part is that it’s the same, the worst part is that you have to do it all again.

Will: We have a huge emphasis on site management this year because they’ve extended the bush-fire season to that weekend this time. So we had to do our site management with an external company who are going to be there. The plus side is we might be able to do something about how cold it was, maybe have a fire going. It will add costs, but it’s necessary. That’s the only way the CFA will let us do it, and they’ve been really supportive.


Is there anything new added to this year?

Will: Well our leisure activities, that we haven’t released yet, are going to be interesting.

Nick: There’s more of a program this year in the leisure aspect. Last year the main activity was the Yoga on Saturday. We will have the gallery again and it will be bigger with better architecture and stuff. Almost its own space, separate from the main area.

Will: We are providing a bar this year as well as still having BYO. This will give people a place to also buy a drink, we will have our signature cocktail, and have a few market stores coming along.

Nick: Basically trying to beef up the programming from last year. The Friday’s going to be bigger.

Will: Huge emphasis on stage design again. Make it look less like a marquee.

Nick: A lot more vines.


More hay bales?

Will: Yeah the guy cuts up all the grass into hay bales, so there are 40 bales sitting there for us to use.

Nick: We got a legendary photo when Albert Salt was playing just as the sun was going down. It was taken from the side of stage, where Albert is leaning out from the marquee over the moshpit, and there’s this silhouette of this person dancing on top of the hay bales, completely out of bounds — but it’s the best photo.


When do you start setting everything up?

Will: We will do runs Monday and Tuesday, set up stages and marquees Wednesday, lights and audio on Thursday and tweak it Friday if needed. I’ve already change a few things, made the stage bigger to 9m x 9m. Makes it bigger out the back with the green room.

Nick: We try to keep the roles to what we’ve written on paper, but at the end of the day, if something needs to be done, we’ve all got hands and legs.

Will: The advantage is Rob, who owned last year’s farm, helped find the farm this year. It’s owned by a guy named Jeff, who was at Shady Cottage last year.

Nick: Shout outs to Jeff!

Will: Rob’s good relationship allows us to use tractors and help us move stuff around.


What’s the max attendees capacity at Shady Cottage and what would be your ideal amount in the future?

Nick: Our max this year is 500.

Will: That’s just punters. When you includes artists and stuff, it gets up to 650-700.

Nick: We want it to feel precious and intimate, with the right amount of space – but space is valuable. 500 is good, we want to keep it there for a few years, and then as we start to feel comfortable with the scope of what we’re doing, we might pump it up a couple hundred.

Will: The max I’d want to go would be 1,500. The whole idea is to keep it cheap and affordable for everyone. The business behind Shady Cottage is to do stuff outside of just a festival.

Marc: We want to get this down pat and go from there.

Will: There’s always little things you need to improve, like lights in the toilets.


Who are you most looking forward to seeing play live?

Will: Sunbeam Sound Machine.

Marc: Wesley Fuller.

Nick: I never have a bad time when Wax’o Paradiso are selecting. I’m really keen on that Sex On Toast song ‘Takin’ Over’, soon as that hook comes in!

Will: They are just 10 intense guys having the most fun.


Do you think Sex On Toast will keep their clothes on?

Nick: *laughs* I hope not.

Will: I don’t know, but I don’t think Diet will. Their next single is called ‘Clothes Off’ *laughs*.

Nick: If they take their clothes off, we will have some bathrobes for them.

Will: I’m open to nudity.

Nick: I mean, there has to be a moment between taking your clothes off and getting your bathrobe on!


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