I’m going to risk a controversial statement here: Australian music scene is hugely underestimated. Calling it unknown or ignored might be taking it a bit too far but underestimated reflects exactly what I mean to say: everyone knows it exists but nobody actually gives a damn about it.
INTRO TO “AM I EVER GONNA SEE YOUR FACE AGAIN?” A RANDOM COLLECTION OF UNKNOWINGLY OBVIOUS FACTS ABOUT THE AUSTRALIAN MUSIC SCENE
At this time I’d like to apologise to all my Aussie Fam but that’s the actual truth. And I am entitled to make this claim being a foreigner and having lived and researched the local music scene Down Under for over 2 years now. And you know what they say: you have to live it to believe it. So just to be clear: I’m writing this from a non-Aussie perspective for a non-Aussie audience. However, any- and everybody is welcome to read and comment on it.
When I first came to Melbourne, I knew close to nothing about Aussie music. Moreover, I thought my (music) life would be very boring here. In Europe, where I’m from, there’s a festival virtually every weekend in the summer. Any act aspiring to be somebody in the industry will end up playing somewhere on the old continent at some stage in their career at least once (but more likely numerous times). I don’t think any of the big names can afford not to tour Europe on a regular basis if they want to stay relevant these days. The collective European fan base is a very powerful and promising market, despite the cultural (and thus, musical) differences between the many countries that compose it. Having the EU as framework for cooperation between the states (Brexit aside) also helps the music business – travelling to a neighbouring country to see your favourite band is sort of a weekend pastime (no borders, hey). Oh, and the distances are doable. You can easily (and at a reasonable cost – shout-out to the low-cost airlines) make it from, say, Madrid to Berlin to see a gig and be back in 24 hours. Lastly, we are kind of located in the middle of it all (at least we like to think so and so does our cartography). All the above points are NOT the case for Australia. That is exactly why I didn’t expect much from this remote continent, musically speaking. Thank God, I was very, very, very wrong.
Today I can say with a 100% certainty that it turned out to be the complete opposite. Very often I’m torn having to choose between 4/5 worthwhile shows and/or other music events that are on at the same time in one city. Music festivals here are pretty awesome, too, and international acts do play Melbourne or Sydney quite frequently. Music venues are far more respected as cultural institutions in Oz than they are in Europe. But there’s something else to it: I have experienced music here on a totally different level from what I was used to (and further in the blog you’ll find out why). Living in Australia has changed me – it’s a fact. But it has also added a different flavour to my music taste and how I approach music nowadays.
And that’s how I realised that most of us – average music fans in the world (including me from 2 years ago) – know very little about what’s going on in the music biz Down Under. Let’s face it: apart from global acts, like Kylie Minogue, INXS, AC/DC, can you list any other Aussie bands without googling them? And I bet you don’t have a clue (nor do you really care) what the name of the Australian music industry award is. Let alone mentioning any venues (Sydney Opera House doesn’t count). How about any Aussie record labels? Or do you at least get the title of this blog? If the answer to at least one of those questions is no, you’re in the right place.
2 years ago I was exactly the same. Living in Melbourne has certainly helped me become more knowledgeable. Being a dedicated and curious music fan has played its role as well. So, I’ve decided to share my observations about Australian music that will, hopefully, shed some light on what the world is missing. And I’ll say it loud and clear: YOU (and many others) ARE MISSING OUT on many bands with the funniest names, playing super varied types of music for millions of happy people hungry for the experience. You’ll be seriously surprised about quite a few things. Not all of them are positive and optimistic, though. Also, sometimes, I’ll have to touch on other (mundane) aspects of Aussie life (like politics or climate, for instance).
But before we dive into this interesting mix called Aussie music scene, here are some things I need to clarify in advance:
- I DON’T KNOW EVERYTHING ABOUT AUSSIE MUSIC. Sorry, correction, I probably have only figured out a very small percentage of their industry. I obviously haven’t seen or heard all the bands (and trust me: there are heaps!) because it would take me a lifetime to go through their music. I didn’t grow up listening to Aussie classics, either. So, for me, pretty much everything was new (like it is for you now). But I believe I’ve seen/heard/experienced enough to be able to draw some general conclusions. And if I haven’t mentioned a band/event or anything related to this topic that you know and consider important for whatever reason, let me know. I’m always happy to broaden my (musical) horizons.
- I DON’T HAVE A DEGREE IN AUSSIE STUDIES. Nor am I trying to claim I’m an expert in the field. Firstly, because this blog is not a scientific paper. Secondly, there are not too many academic institutions offering such degrees. And thirdly, because discovering it for yourself is so much more fun than learning it from the books. And I’m saying this because, occasionally, I might make a mistake, an untrue statement or wrong assumption (unintentionally, obviously). Again, feel free to correct me. Otherwise, I’ll have to take this lie to the grave with me.
- Most of what I’ll be talking about here (like 90%, really) are MY OWN PERSONAL OBSERVATIONS, CONCLUSIONS AND REFLECTIONS. They are not right or wrong – they’re just mine. Please don’t expect to find academic literature, Wikipedia or other references on every single topic I’ll cover here. Naturally, my thoughts are doomed to be partially biased and influenced by the way I see the (music) world and by my life experiences. Frequently, they are a fruit of my (endless!) talks with Aussie musos, reading local showbiz mags, following various existing blogs of similar nature, listening to heaps of radio stations and participating (sometimes even from the organisers’ point of view) in industry events. You might see things differently from me. And if that’s the case – great. Get in touch and let’s compare experiences.
- My intentions are NOT TO MAKE YOU INSTANTLY LIKE AUSSIE MUSIC. It’s not always black and white, or love and hate, either. After all, we have different (music) tastes for a reason and that’s what makes it interesting. But knowing about something certainly helps you criticise, evaluate or judge it more objectively. And who knows, maybe you’ll discover your next favourite artist on this continent (like it happened to me with quite a few acts).
- I welcome your comments, remarks and thoughts on the content of this blog. Let’s make it INTERACTIVE. Feel free to give me (constructive!) feedback. All you Aussies out there, be gentle 🙂
Having said all that, stay tuned for the first episode on busking in Melbourne, coming here next week.
Till next week, Fam!
Get social with Silly McWiggles here:
Wanna see how far I’ve got with my blogging about Aussie music?
Here are the latest posts:
This post is for all emerging acts out there. This week, I have decided to lend this space to an up-and-coming muso. Because I could never tell the story of what it means to be an independent artist better than that artist himself. Especially that he wrote a song about it, in which he talks […]
Let me pose a few questions to start. When you hear a new song, what do you listen to first, the melody or the lyrics? How often do you check out instrumental music? Can a shallow message throw you off a track, even if it’s got an awesome beat? Do the lyrics matter to you […]
Six reasons to watch ‘Viva The Underdogs’ – a music documentary about Australian heavy metal band, Parkway Drive
In 2019 (or what we now know as “the last normal year for live music before the Rona”), I accidentally ended up at the Pol’and’Rock festival. It’s a huge, completely free (not a joke) European music event with a pretty diverse line-up of both local and international artists. Two Aussie acts were scheduled to perform […]