Australian music in the times of coronavirus. Good things that self-isolation has produced so far

Australian music industry never stops to amaze me.

Like in many other countries around the world, public gatherings (like gigs) and mass-scale events (like festivals) were restricted in Australia almost instantly after the corona virus situation had been declared a pandemic. It’s been roughly 2/3 weeks without live music at this stage. Since then artists, event promoters, venues, music managers, roadies and other industry creatives alike have collectively lost so much money that they’re now “calling for a $750M crisis relief package to save Australia’s live performance industry”.

But even in the times of a global pandemic, when the whole entertainment world has been brought to its knees within just a few weeks, the Aussie music community is not giving up. And because I am sick (no pun intended) of “The Rona” and all the bad news as well, this post is going to be only about the proactive, creative and positive things happening in the Australian music lately.

PART 32 OF “AM I EVER GONNA SEE YOUR FACE AGAIN?” A RANDOM COLLECTION OF UNKNOWINGLY OBVIOUS FACTS ABOUT AUSTRALIAN MUSIC SCENE

Without effing around, here goes the list.

NEW RELEASES

Times are shit but life goes on in a way. So a few Aussie acts decided to stick to their plans and released new music in spite of the odds. Cub Sport dropped a new single, Drive. San Cisco have an EP called “Flaws” out. And Didirri shared another melancholic tune, Don’t fight with what you’re fighting for. Those releases are exactly what we need right now because it doesn’t look like we’ll be allowed celebrating out and about anytime soon. My personal favourite, though, is Baker Boy‘s new tune. Because it’s called Move and, surprisingly, this is what I miss most in these quarantine days.

AUSTRALIAN RADIO STATIONS PUT TO THE TEST

You’d think that Aussie radio stations play mostly local music. Wrong. They play whatever people want to hear and that could be a completely different vibe, geographically speaking. Think Billie Eilish, Kanye West, Taylor Swift etc. (I wrote about this topic here.) Okay, but surely in the times of a massive crisis, they’d make Australian music their priority. Wrong again. But it doesn’t really cost them anything, you might add. That’s right. So someone from the industry just needed to call them out. As it turns out, Kira Puru had the balls to do it. Loud and clear, on Twitter. And it looks like they’re slowly starting to receive that message.


MUSOS ARE GETTING CREATIVE

Internet and wi-fi give us oh-so-many possibilities and we sometimes don’t seem to take full advantage of it. Well, if not now, when? It looks like many Aussie acts have quickly figured out cool ways of staying virtually connected with their fans. Northeast Party House rehearse remotely through a hang-out digital platform. And Kyle Lionhart invites his peers to chat/jam together on his Instagram. I’m most impressed by how Birds of Tokyo approached self-isolation creatively, though. With 5 band members, in 5 different locations, they manage to record a decent version of one of their songs combining all the 5 recordings TOGETHER. They’ve done three songs so far. As far from perfect as it can be under these circumstances, I truly applaud their effort and the initiative’s sincerity.

SUPPORT ACT… WELL, SUPPORTS

Aussie musos are lucky to have Support Act. The organisation has proven its worth countless times in “regular” circumstances because mental health continues to be a real problem within the music community. Let alone now when people literally have no money to pay rent. So Support Act didn’t waste their time and added even more “crisis relief” initiatives to the already existing ones. “Sound Check” is one of them – it helps artists deal with this additional strain on their mental health and encourages them to focus on wellbeing in the times of lockdown. “Sound of Silence” is also worth mentioning. It gives practical examples of how fans can still support the Australian music industry with just their laptop or mobile phone.

“SATURDAY NIGHTS IN” ARE A THING NOW

Bridget Hustwaite is the host of triple j’s “Good Nights” segment. Right at the beginning of this madness she had a rad idea of making it a “Saturday Night In” thing on IG. Simple yet effective. Like she would on the radio, she gets to chat with different Aussie acts with the addition of a phone camera. She’s spoken to a bunch of cool artists already (like Tkay Maidza, both Lime Cordiale‘s brothers, Meg Mac or Kian). Cub Sport premiered their new single Drive during the live-stream before it was commercially released. Bridge takes her new job on IG very seriously – she even installed party lights in her bedroom to fit the purpose. Most importantly, however, she genuinely cares about the musos she talks to, inquiring about how they’re coping in self-isolation.

DJS KEEP BEING DJS

Correct me if I’m wrong but a DJ’s job is ultimately choosing, playing and mixing pre-recorded music for everyone’s entertainment. Nowadays they normally have some complicated, big-ass decks with flashy lights to do just that. But if shit hits the fan (which it has, undeniably), they can reduce their gear to the basics and still make everyone happy. So, in my humble opinion, every single DJ on Earth should just keep doing their job right now. And one of the first ones to realise that was my man, Hayden James. Every quarantine Saturday he virtually invites all party animals to his backyard in Sydney for a live DJ session. Time well spent, I’d say.

LET THE FESTIVAL COME TO YOU

Interesting times we live in. 2 weeks ago nobody really used the live feature on IG all that often. Hell, I bet that 2 weeks ago many people didn’t even know it existed. And whilst I’m personally slowly getting a li’l overwhelmed by it, some event organisers came up with some pretty innovative ways to use it. Take the Isol-Aid Festival. Yeah, you read that right – it works and feels like a real festival. The only difference is that you get to experience it from the comforts of your couch. Isol-Aid is 24 (!!!) hours of music, split into two days, Saturday and Sunday. Bands play 20-minute sets live on their IG accounts, so you need to be quick switching between them (exactly like running from one stage to another). Let me do simple maths for you: that’s 72 bands to watch. FOR FREE. In one weekend. Not even Splendour In The Grass can top that. Some of the acts that have played so far: Eilish Gilligan, Stella Donnelly, Moaning Lisa, Julia Jacklin, Montaigne, The Vanns, Josh Pyke, Courtney Barnett, Towns or Kingswood. And if ordinary music playing is not enough for you, know that Jen Cloher read Tarot cards and Alex Lahey serenaded her cat during their live-streams.

NEVER LOSE YOUR SENSE OF HUMOUR

Cub Sport are always busy. Like, I reckon they get more hours in a day than me. If they’re not currently releasing a single, they’re probably working on their image, writing the next album already, making a secret appearance on the radio, planning a US/Canada tour or being interviewed by Rolling Stone. So it didn’t really come as a surprise to me that they managed to convince a bunch of other Aussie musician friends (like Vance Joy, G Flip, Rule, Cosmo’s Midnight or Allday) to put together a parody of Gal Gadot’s (failed) celebrity-packed rendition of John Lennon’s Imagine. They, obviously, chose a closer-to-home track, Untouched by The Veronicas, and released the clip within 5 days of Gadot’s Instagram post. And what can I say… it’s funny and uplifting. And that’s exactly what it was meant to be.

TRIPLE J IS BEING AWESOME AGAIN

For the first time in forever, triple j is currently not inviting guests to its iconic breakfast show “Like A Version”. For obvious reasons. And we know that it’s one of the few local broadcasters truly having Aussie music’s back. There are heaps of bat-shit crazy yet inventive people working for the station, so they had no problems coming up with another way to make it easier on the industry. They simply decided to do a special, early year edition of the annual #AusMusicTshirtDay which will be happening soon, on 17 April. So if you missed the opportunity to take a selfie in your fave music band’s outfit last year in November (read about it in this post), here’s your chance to make up for it. And help save that band’s life, most likely.

Last but not least:

GEORGIA MAQ STOLE THE SHOW

If you’ve never seen Camp Cope perform, you’ve never really seen an entertaining live show. There’s heaps of footage all over the internet, so you’ll know what I mean once you’ve Googled it. Georgia Maq (the band’s lead singer) has another music alter ego (as herself) and she released a very good electronic pop LP last year (that I reviewed here). Apart from performing live with her original band, she played a few songs from her solo album album during last weekend’s Isol-Aid as well. And, frankly, I reckon she stole the show. Not because of her singing abilities, though, but mostly due to not having any pants on. Oh, and I loved it when she brushed her hair on camera, too.

After witnessing the last 2 weeks of unusual stunts and musos losing it a bit already, I’m really curious to see what the next quarantine weeks Down Under are going to bring…

By the way, #washyourhands & #staythefhome!

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