We sat down with Jess Ribeiro to breakdown her new album LOVE HATE on Barely Dress Records. Jess tries to remember the first time we met in Brooklyn late 2015. She tells us the story of what happened the next morning when she met Leonardo DiCaprio. Breaks down the difference between the previous album Kill It Yourself and LOVE HATE. Dissect all 12 tracks on LOVE HATE. Why a friendship in Berlin inspired LOVE HATE and why the album then took so long to be released.
July 12 – Bearded Lady, Brisbane
July 13 – 14 – Bello Winter Festival
July 18 – OAF Gallery, Sydney
July 19 – Franks Wild Years, Thirroul
July 26 – Northcote Social Club, Melbourne
July 27 – Grace Emily, Adelaide
August 2 – Rye Hotel, Rye
August 3 – Bridge Hotel, Castlemaine
Held on the first Friday of every month, Melbourne Museum’s Nocturnal has established itself as a highlight of Melbourne’s live music and cultural scenes. On Friday 4th May, guests were treated to a special offering hosted by the Museum in collaboration with the independent record label and management collective Our Golden Friend. The artists on display included Jade Imagine, RVG, Jess Ribeiro and Totally Mild, each of which is managed by Our Golden Friend. The ensemble recently concluded a tour across the United States in March, giving Nocturnal the feel of a happy family reunion which happened to feature some of the most unique and promising talents in Australian music.
Before recapping the performances, it’s worth reflecting on how extraordinary Nocturnal is as an interactive venue and immersive experience. Located in the Edenic Carlton Gardens, the postmodern Melbourne Museum is transformed into an otherworldly “adult playground” with an impressive array of bars and other dining options. The exhibits are open to the public for exploration between sets, including the stunning Vikings: Beyond the Legend, Te Vainui O Pasifika, and Dinosaur Walk. We are encouraged to re-experience the childlike sense of wonderment, awe and discovery that children have when they step into a museum.
With summer in the rear-view mirror and Melburnians now bracing for a bitter winter, cultural offerings such as these have never been more important. They represent little oases of colour, pleasure, and abundance that sustain us through the desert of the working week. Melbourne Museum and Our Golden Friend should be congratulated for this outstanding event.
Keeping the themes of discovery and contemplation of the sublime in mind, patrons flocked to the main stage to see Melbourne indie staples Jade Imagine take the stage. Resplendent in her pink power suit, black RM Williams boots, and orange polka-dot socks, lead singer Jade McInally (Teeth & Tongue) created an ethereal aesthetic and atmosphere which suited Nocturnal perfectly. She was brilliantly supported by guitarist Tim Harvey, his brother James Harvey on drums, and bassist Liam ‘Snowy’ Halliwell.
With their dream-pop, low-fi and folksy sound evoking The Shins, Simon & Garfunkel, and Sibylle Baier, Jade Imagine were spellbinding to watch live. As an ensemble, they have gone through many incarnations, but this line up of performers feels just right. Each band member also performs as a vocalist, which Jade Imagine used to great effect on stage through harmonization to create a dreamy wall of sound, which feels like they’re wrapping you up in a big hug. Their musical style supports the band’s deeply evocative and poetic lyrics, which sometimes border on magical realism.
One of the most anticipated acts of Nocturnal was RVG, led by the sensational frontwoman Romy Vager. Despite Romy battling through sickness, RVG put on an electric and rollicking performance which had the crowd in raptures. Having released their debut album A Quality of Mercy (Our Golden Friend/Island Records) in August 2017, the band has already picked up a suite of awards including four nominations each for The Age Music Victoria Awards and the AIR Music Awards.
One is struck by the sense that RVG is on the brink of a very special career, spearheaded by Romy’s unforgettable and deeply moving voice, which transcends genres and eludes definition. Punters revelled in the power, goth and glam of the performance, which recalled the brooding and melancholic stylings of Joy Division’s Ian Smith. Romy’s lyrics are pared-down, hardboiled and often monosyllabic, which lets the profundity of the words hit you in the chest like a hammer: “I used to love you / but now I don’t / and I don’t feel bad / we’re just not the same any more / we’re just not the same”. *dies*.
When enigmatic Jess Ribeiro took the stage patrons were enveloped by the smoky texture of lead-singer Jess’s voice, which is informed by the diverse hinterland of her travels and musical background. It’s been a remarkable personal and creative journey for the talented frontwoman, ranging from the outback and tropics of the Northern Territory to the urban wintriness of Melbourne. Along the way, Jess has found critical acclaim with My Little River (2012), which won the ABC Radio National Album of the Year and Best Country Album (AIR). This dusky country feel came through at the Museum, where the band performed tracks such as ‘Hurry Back to Love‘, ‘Slip The Leash‘ and ‘Strange Game‘.
Jess Ribeiro is getting ready to release their next record in 2018. Jess has worked with some impressive producers in her career, most notably Mick Harvey (The Bad Seeds) who helped Jess rediscover her muse after a three-year hiatus to produce the critically-acclaimed Kill It Yourself (Barely Dressed Records, 2015). She’s recently spent a lot of time in New Zealand collaborating with producer Ben Edwards, who has worked with other emerging Antipodean sensations such as Marlon Williams, Julia Jacklin, and Aldous Harding. One has the feeling that big things are on the horizon for Jess Ribeiro as a collective, and I also suspect that lead-singer Jess will one day make a brilliant producer herself.
Rounding out the evening was Melbourne lush quartet Totally Mild. Frontwoman Elizabeth Mitchell was sublime and at her charming and magnetic best. Her angelic and versatile voice enchanted the crowd, and one could feel the influence of her choral background coursing through her. She was brilliantly supported by the intricate sounds of guitarist Zachary Schneider, the subtle indie drumming of Dylan Young, and rolling bass of Lehmann Smith. Totally Mild make for disorienting performers. You’re so beguiled by the heady, atmospheric sweetness of their musical stylings and by the band’s extroverted stage presence that you miss the dark and brooding nature of their lyrics, best exemplified by their biggest hit ‘Christa. I think this makes their music more impactful and compelling, as it enables Mitchell to speak about highly-sensitive topics such as depression and loneliness in subtle, disarming ways.
It was fitting that the night closed with Totally Mild, who released their second record Her in February. It’s a thoughtful and complex meditation on the experience of being a woman in the 21st century, which was a powerful acknowledgement of the fact that Nocturnal was headlined by four bands which each featured creatively confident, highly-intelligent, and empathic frontwomen at a time when the Australian music industry is being criticised for inadequate representation of female artists at music festivals. Speaking with Elizabeth over the phone, she informed me that Her “speaks to the tension between independence and the sense of having unlimited potential as a young woman, but also still being bound by structural oppression and other personal limitations, such as mental health and other social roles”.
It was an exciting time to be in Footscray a couple of weeks ago, and it wasn’t just to see the Bulldogs win the flag in this year’s grand final. Taking over The Reverence Hotel was Sad Grrrls Fest, a festival to celebrate and create a safe space for local female and LGBTIQA+ artists. The kickass lineup displayed the talents from some of the most exciting Melbourne acts from our thriving local music scene. Taking place across two clash-free main stages, and an acoustic stage in the beer garden, the long overdue warm Spring weather made for a successful day with everybody in high spirits.
The daytime sets saw many emerging local acts, such as The Girl Fridas and Beloved Elk, display their gripping indie rock cuts to the beer and cider-sipping crowd. Slowing down the pace was the enchanting Denim Owl, whose dreamy guitar and folky sensibility was perfect for the sunny afternoon.
As daylight came to an end, the afternoon was polished off with three piece band Claws & Organs, whose drowning, wallowing brand of psychedelic infused grunge was nineties alt rock heaven. Fronted by vocalist and bassist Heather Thomas, the bands back and forth, apathetic chanting vocals embodied a slowed down cover of the Swingers‘ famous hit ‘Counting the Beat’ which they made entirely their own.
Electronic artist KT Spit took the front bar stage as evening approached, her punk influenced brand of electronica with playful, ethereal vocals meeting somewhere between Kathleen Hanna and Grimes. Playing to a mostly seated crowd allowed for an intimate performance, with her isolated dancer expanding the vulnerability of her music. The set also featured an a capalla sung with a vocoder reminiscent of the likes of Imogen Heap‘s ‘Hide and Seek‘.
Packing out the back room stage was Alex Lahey, who has had a big year, securing substantial airplay on Triple J with her track ‘You Don’t Think You Like People Like Me‘. Between her energetic bouncy guitar playing and relaxed vocals, Lahey charmed the crowd with little anecdotes of her experiences, recalling conversations she has had with her mother in times of need.
Simona Castricum took to the front bar stage with her dark eighties/early nineties inspired club tunes. A prolific member of the Melbourne queer music scene as a producer, vocalist and drummer, Simona’s performance was an essential reminder as to why events like Sad Grrrls Fest are still so important. Playing a dance-ready collection of tracks, you could really feel the emotional intensity of her set, with Simona herself brought to tears during her single ‘Still‘, a triumphant nod to the darker reverbed style of eighties synth pop.
Bringing it back to all things rock on the back room stage, punk rock act Miss Destiny’s dynamic tunes laid out a mix of political anecdotes and their signature energetic punk rock sound. Absent from the band was Harriet Stewart, who was out partying for her birthday. Yet the band remained unaffected, with their enormous stage persona and Harriet Hudson’s plentiful shredding guitar solos a highlight of the day.
Camp Cope played the back room stage with their emotional, relatable brand of indie rock. 2016 has been a big year for the band, solidifying their place in the Australian music scene and touring with sold out shows across the country. Vocalist Georgia Maq’s powerhouse vocals and charging guitar complimented the vulnerability and angst embedded in her lyrics. A highlight was their cover of the classic Yeah Yeah Yeahs song ‘Maps‘, which led the whole room erupting into a sing-along, truly encapsulating the communal spirit of the day.
As the night came to a close, the tunes become mellower, with Jess Ribeiro playing the last slot on the front bar stage. Her beautiful harmonies with her bass player made for a more indie-pop sound compared to heavier acts earlier in the day. She mirrored the soulful vocal style of the likes of Cat Power, which saw for an enjoyable and captivating watch. Polishing off the great tunes was Ribeiro and her band’s stage presence, effortlessly communicating with one another as if they were family.
Last on the bill was the always-idiosyncratic presence of Jaala, who have enjoyed widespread attention following the release of their debut record Hard Hold late last year. Coming off the relaxed vibes of Jess Ribero, Jaala fittingly brought the night to a close with their stuttering grooves and pulsating riffs, creating an emotional, disjointed performance like no other. Vocalist and guitarist Cosima Jaala’s anecdotes between songs were always enlightening and relevant, and felt like you were watching an authentic expression of her inner thoughts and feelings alongside the music.
Sad Grrrl Fest showcased some of the best talent from the ever expanding scene of female fronted and queer artists in Australia. An essential celebration and space for performers to express themselves without any limitations or fears is something truly special to watch and be a part of. In the past year, there has been a pivotal and important uprising within this music scene and it makes me truly excited to see which acts will feature next year, and for the acts who featured to continue thriving.