Mandatory Opinion Sharing on Canberra's Music

Talking rubbish for tertiary qualification.

Post Op’s Void

Posted by aphelion. on 31 May, 2010

Monster Elephante - © re:pete photography - http://www.myspace.com/repetephotography

The effects of Post Op Production’s departure from Canberra’s independent live music scene have been felt by artists and patrons alike.

“They made music in this city great again,” says Jason, local music enthusiast, “without Post Op around to organise everything, the city’s really gone to the dogs.”

Pete Kell, director of Post Op is soon to relocate to a better life in sunny Queensland, meaning new faces are having to step in to pick up the huge void left in the Canberra music scene.

Many have described the situation with these new promoters as amateurs, but it is a sad fact of independent music that someone with the drive and selfless dedication to music such as Pete and everyone associated with Post Op is a rare occurrence, and that Canberra now is returning to the situation faced by other Australian regional centres.

While many vowed to continue the Post Op name in Pete’s absence, little has come of it. Musicians and gig-goers alike are now resigning themselves to the fact that the glory days of Canberra’s music are in the past. “Personally, I never thought what Pete did was anything special,” said one Canberra music fan, “but now that he’s stopped, it seems like everything’s just stopped. There’s nothing on anymore!”

Hope seems to rest on the shoulders of the other people associated with Post Op, to learn from Pete and keep the Canberra scene alive. Local acts Pleased To Jive You, Turbulence and Astrochem are all managed by Pete and were heavily involved with the gig promoting side of the business, and it would seem only logical that they could keep things going.

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Pete Kell: Proving not everyone from Queanbeyan is a backwards bogan-type

Posted by aphelion. on 31 May, 2010

Promoter, photographer, kazoo-enthusiast. Pete Kell has been the single greatest force behind Canberra’s music scene over the last 4 years. And he’s from bloody Queanbeyan…

When did you first develop a serious interest in music?

When N*sync released Backstreet’s Back. Fuck dude, that’s impossible to answer, since as long as i can remember

When did you get involved in the local music scene?

Back in 2006, there wasn’t any easy way to find out what gigs were on, so I started All Ages ACT, just an online all age gig guide.

When/how did Post Op Productions get started?

When Sound Underground closed I was worried there wasn’t going to be any AA (all ages) shows in Canberra anymore, so I thought fuck that, let’s put on some myself. The first show was a disaster, somehow we broke even, and we learnt from there

What sort of an impact do you think you have had individually and with Post Op on the Canberra music scene?

We got the south-side AA scene pumping again. It wasn’t until we started using Woden Youthie that capital city realised they could use youthies too, and they started bringing international artists to Tuggers. We also helped with the emergance of a non hardcore scene.

How many artists would you estimate you’ve worked with?

50-60 ish. I used to keep a list, but that was long ago

How important was breathing life into the all ages scene to you?

Very, while I was underage I couldn’t really get into any other gigs down here. Now I’m overage I don’t care as much. Or at all.

How did your long-running partnership with the Woden Youth Centre start out?

We put on one good gig there, and got invited back, and again and again and again.

What led you to decide to stop promoting gigs?

Since I’m moving out of Canberra and focusing on uni now, I decided that distraction wasn’t worth having. I’m still doing lighting/sound/photography/management.

Do you see yourself being involved in music for life?

Hopefully, if nothing else at least as a free lance photographer.

Do you have any aspirations of being a musician yourself?

None.

What instruments do you play?

Keys, yo. And the kazoo

How do you think the Canberra music scene is holding up in Post Op’s absence?

It’s amateur hour, I’ve been told that by countless people. The new guys coming through rely on online advertising, and don’t seem to learn from their mistakes.

Is the all ages scene a viable business in Canberra?

If you do it properly, yeah.

What do you think needs to be done to improve the music scene in Canberra?

More venues. The problem is, a decent venue like the Greenroom or The Basement is only viable with perfect management, and there just isn’t that will power here.

For more information visit: http://www.post-op.net

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The Rise and Rise of Nicholas Astbury

Posted by aphelion. on 30 May, 2010

Nick Astbury is in many ways, an extraordinary man. Multi-instrumentalist, philanthropist, heart-felt lyricist. In a world where musical integrity has given way to women of loose morals talking about old men looking at them, and Justin Bieber is allowed to live- he gives those of us who pine for a brighter musical future hope.

Growing up in the quiet Canberran suburb of Chapman, Nick was always an eccentric and fun-loving youth. Although Nick argues the high point of his life was dressing up as a door for a primary school charity promotion, most would agree that it was the second he discovered his passion for music.

Throughout his youth Nick played music with his friends in a number of bands and collaborations, some more noteworthy than others. The 5th Ace was one of these groups, which featured local DJ star DJ Bricksta on guitar. This was a collaboration that would go on to achieve great things, with Nick featuring heavily on Bricksta’s sophomore release ‘Death of Luke EP’ and on many other tracks that have yet to be released.

Forming an alliance with local promotional juggernauts Post Op in 2008, Nick’s PA speakers and mixing desk were the ticket to Nick’s greatest musical achievement to date, Turbulence. From the tentative MySpace release of ‘Exposure’ to the release of their stellar debut EP ‘Elements,’ Turbulence have been the vehicle that has demonstrated to the wider public the true extent of Nick’s musical prowess.

Mastering the guitar, piano, drums and human voice, Nick’s musical ability is almost second to none. His lyrical ability is something that came as a shock to many friends “I never knew before Turbulence what a poetic soul Nick was,” said one of his friends.

In addition to his musical triumphs, Nick has recently left to teach English in impoverished South East Asia to improve the quality of people’s lives. Showing that beneath all the talent, there is a truly remarkable side to Nick Astbury that can’t even be expressed in his music.

So keep your eyes and ears peeled for Nick, who is destined to become one of the biggest, cardboard-door wearing stars Canberra’s ever produced.

Turbulence’s EP ‘Elements’ is out now on iTunes. Visit www.myspace.com/turbulence747 for prettyful music and more information.

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This may seem superfluous, but it’s necessary.

Posted by aphelion. on 30 May, 2010

For those of you who don’t know, Canberra is the capital city of Australia located in it’s own little territory surrounded by New South Wales on every side.

Although Canberra is the capital, it has a relatively small population of just over 300,000 people, which has always had a negative impact when it comes to major events stopping in the city.

Both sport and musical events have an amazing tendency to miss Canberra altogether when touring Australia, these decisions are defended by promotional companies due to consistently poor attendance records at local events.

There aren’t many of us, and most of us are lazy. Hell of a city.

The local music scene in Canberra is one of, if not the best for a city of it’s size in the country. There is a dedicated group of promoters, musicians, venue owners and youth centre staff that all commit to helping original music in Canberra survive.

As there is almost no market for a profitable business to be made out of local Canberra music, these people can only be in it for an authentic love of music, and none of that awful capitalistic money-hungry stuff that goes on elsewhere.

Local government will randomly and sporadically decide there needs to be some kind of small-scale poorly promoted community festival, and throw money at some form of community organisation to put on an event.

This leads to local bands getting at least some small form of exposure to an audience outside of the Canberra gig-going faithful.

In the last few years, a number of legitimate music festivals have started springing up all over the place in an attempt to attract higher profile musicians to the area, with differing levels of success. Australia Day Live is put on annually and attracts many awful minor popstars to the area. Groovin’ the Moo, Stonefest, Foreshore and Trackside have all been fairly successful in attracting big name musicians to the city, as well as larger crowds from surrounding regional areas.

While music in Canberra still isn’t perfect, things here are pretty top notch. And with continuing population growth, and continuing investment, things are only going to get better.

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Music mate, what’s the point?

Posted by aphelion. on 30 May, 2010

Lack of public interest and disappearing venues make starting a career as a musician in Canberra an increasingly difficult task, but young people in the capital aren’t discouraged.

“You put all the effort in writing songs and stuff, you know, practice heaps ’til everything’s really tight and all that and then you find out no one will even give you a gig!” Dan, 18, has played in bands with his friends for years, and not through lack of trying, has been unable to find a gig to play.

Another source, that refused to be named or quoted said that there were a number of bands that control the music scene in the city, booking the cheap all-ages venues for months at a time and only their friends would ever be invited, or be put on the bill.

While some would like to shift the blame on to other people, others prefer to take a proactive approach to their music. “You […] have to [take] control of [your music] and [make] it big.” Says Martin, a Canberra RnB artist just starting out making his own music and trying to get it heard. Lachlan, a regular gig-goer thinks “websites like MySpace and Facebook definitely help to get people to listen to you, the whole way I got into local gigs was because a band added me on MySpace and I saw they had a gig on.”

Through the use of social networking platforms, bands in the capital struggling to find gigs could come together and combine resources to promote themselves and their music. With this, booking gigs would be cheaper and easier, and help Canberra on it’s way to becoming a more musically diverse city.

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Playing a gig? Not ’round here…

Posted by aphelion. on 25 May, 2010

Astrochem @ Woden Youth Centre - © re:pete photography - http://www.myspace.com/repetephotography

Canberra musicians are being forced into smaller and ill-equipped venues, as decreasing patronage has seen the closure of major performance spaces in the capital.

In recent years, The Venue, Greenroom, Jamison Inn and Weston Creek Community Centre have all either shut down or closed their doors to musical events. This has left artists performing original music in the capital floundering, especially those not fitting the pub-band archetype.

Local artists are now resorting primarily to youth centres or smaller 18+ venues. “In 2009, Woden Youth Centre was booked out for most of the year,” said a musician, preferring to remain anonymous “and short of resorting to Lanyon [Youth Centre], the little guys not on good terms with the local musical royalty can’t get a look in.”

Youth centres don’t have the same quality of equipment or production quality as specialist venues, and have at most 2 event nights per week.

This limited capacity means many artists and events have to miss out, or book shows at bars and clubs, which isolates the under 18 community which makes up “at least 80% of the crowd at most shows,” said one local music promoter.

Woden Youth Centre has been the beacon of hope throughout this dark period in the history of Canberra’s music, providing an all-ages, alcohol free environment with cheap food. Across the road from one of the city’s major bus interchanges, the venue has been in operation for many years and hosts all kinds of musical events.

Recently the centre received a grant from the federal government to purchase new P.A. equipment and lighting, making quality performances possible for up-and-coming bands.

Tuggeranong Youth Centre has recently risen to become the new stomping ground for all the heavier bands, recently playing host to American melodic hardcore giants Evergreen Terrace as well as every Canberra hardcore band that needs a gig.

Together, these centres are helping to pick up the slack left by specialist venues, and over the coming years will quite possibly demonstrate that the music industry is viable in the nation’s capital, enticing some specialist investment back to the city.

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What this is, who I am, and why you should be bothered or not.

Posted by aphelion. on 22 May, 2010

My name’s Clancy, I’m a long-time Canberra resident recently relocated to Wollongong with dreams of grandeur or something similar. My first year journalism course requires I maintain a blog on one aspect of culture from my local area (Canberra), and I’ve selected music as my assessable whipping boy.

“The blog should include the following minimum requirements:

  • Three original current news stories (300 words each)
  • Two short profiles of local people (400 words each)
  • A set of links to local resources (400 words)
  • A description of the local area that includes a brief history and description of local attractions and/or problems (400 words)
  • Photographic elements that enhance entries”

The three original current news stories have to be written in a more traditional news-story style, while the other things I’ll add in free of charge will be as ill-formed and borderline retarded as the rest of the internet.

Now you know what you’re in for. It’s not as ominous or good as that statement may suggest.

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