Making music is awesome. But sometimes you need to do other things in life to stay sane and lock in a steady flow of income.
Emerging artists do it because they have to. The rich and famous do it because they can. Some hobbies and side hustles are pure crazy; some others are a clever investment in the future. The point is to keep yourself busy and entertained. Wanna see what some Aussie musicians do on the side? You’ve come to the right place.
PART 50 OF “AM I EVER GONNA SEE YOUR FACE AGAIN?” A RANDOM COLLECTION OF UNKNOWINGLY OBVIOUS FACTS ABOUT AUSTRALIAN MUSIC SCENE
“What do you do when you take your musician hat off?” is a question I often ask at interviews, especially with rising artists. And it’s not that I don’t believe they can maintain themselves as musos (which, actually, is also an interesting topic to discuss). It’s because I’m genuinely interested in who they are as people. Our hobbies and side occupations often reveal more about our personalities than what we consciously communicate to the world.
Most musos I have spoken to have regular jobs as well. They work as baristas, in construction, are still at uni or trying to figure out their life. On the other hand, music celebrities like lending a hand to charities, trying their luck at an acting gig, they become spokespeople for famous brands or invest their money when good returns are guaranteed.
Here are a few examples of Australian musicians’ hobbies and side hustles that have nothing or very little to do with music.
Kylie Minogue = as good as wine
The Australian pop star is not only a hitmaker. She’s now a winemaker, too.
Kylie Minogue’s newest professional venture is elegant and trendy. In 2020, the singer launched Kylie Minogue Wines, where she serves as the Creative Director. It’s a collaboration with a British distributor, Benchmark Drinks, but the produce itself is French.
So far you can choose four different types of wines. The classic range includes merlot (red), rosé and sauvignon blanc (white). There’s also a vintage rosé in the collection. This is because Kylie loves “pale pink rosés and all the associations of the Mediterranean that go with them”.
The wines are available at Tesco’s in the UK, for instance, and are coming to Aussie bottle-o’s this October. They have very accessible prices, too (below GBP 10 in the UK). I’m sure they’ll be a popular choice for those warm summer evenings with girlfriends.
On the music front, the singer’s also been busy. She’s releasing a new album Disco (her fifteenth!) on 6 November 2020. You can get a taste of it already (the album, not the wine) – “Say Something” is the first official single from the upcoming record.
PEKING DUK BREAK IT DOWN FOR KIDS
Peking Duk’s gigs are one of the best parties I’ve been to. They’re sweaty, sexy and rowdy. So when the Canberra duo announced releasing a book for kids, it was the last thing I expected from them.
And it’s actually not half bad (yes, I’ve read it). The story is simple, “DJ Duks have a dream to write a banger and make it big in Bling City.” As in every kids’ tale, they go on an epic adventure and are faced with some big life questions. In this case, they find out what it takes to make it in the music biz Down Under and why social media are not such a friendly thing any more.
The book’s concept called for appropriate imagery, and the illustrations by Alex Lehours are pretty awesome. Aside from their names (Adam and Reubs), I reckon there is a striking resemblance between the characters and their creators.
And if you thought the DJ Duks merch was limited to the book, think again. Stickers, headphones, keyrings and – yes, you guessed it – rubber ducks are also available in the online shop.
Whilst they haven’t flooded their fans with tons of new music in the pandemic, Peking Duk have lived up to their good times/good vibes reputation with this Aussie bangers mash-up.
I honestly don’t know how she manages to do it so well: Gordi is a recording musician and a practising doctor. Not necessarily at the same time, but she has quite some experience working at both professions.
Doctor Sophie Payten (aka musician Gordi) completed her medical studies in 2018 and worked in a hospital throughout 2019. She put that career on hold to promote her new record. But when the horrible bushfires were devastating Australia at the beginning of 2020, she quickly offered her help again.
Additionally, as a medical professional, she’s been vocal about the COVID-19 pandemic. When one of the Aussie musos (whose name I’ll keep to myself and you’ll understand why in a moment) claimed that wearing masks is a violation of personal freedoms, this is what she had to say:
When Melbourne entered the second lockdown just a few weeks ago and all muso ventures were out of the question in Victoria, the artist also decided to lend a hand. “It will be a real change of pace but I think it’s important that we all do the parts that we can to contribute”, she said. She penned a very personal guest article explaining her motivations behind that decision for the Nothing But Hope And Passion (NBHAP) mag that you can read here.
Gordi released her new album, Our Two Skins, at the end of June 2020. A month later she live-streamed a beaut performance of it from the Sydney Opera House that you can watch below.
Nick Cave – a badass writer
I have to confess something first – I haven’t read any of Nick Cave’s’ books yet. But if the artist’s lyric writing skills are any indication of his literary abilities, then I’m placing his novels on top of my reading list.
Like their ambiguous titles, the singer’s publications always cover weird yet alluring topics. But don’t expect easy stories – they’re mostly full of twisted, disturbed characters whose life circumstances are far from ideal.
Originally published in 1989 And The Ass Saw The Angel talks about a pretty miserable life of Euchrid Eucrow. To make the long story short, the character takes it out on the people that raised him and places where he grew up. So, in a way, it’s a fable about how our environment shapes us, which can backfire many times.
On the other hand, The Death of Bunny Munro: A Novel is “a tender portrait of the relationship between a boy and his father”. Maybe because it was published 20 years after Cave’s literary debut (in 2009) and he had all this time to experience life himself. Fans of “on the road” reads will dig this one for sure.
Nick Cave is using his time in isolation and lockdown productively as well. If you haven’t seen his one-off global music live-stream called Idiot Prayer, at least have a look at what you’ve missed.
BRIAN JOHNSON LIKES FAST CARS
I’m sure you’ll agree that AC/DC’s music is heavy, loud and fast. That’s most likely why Brian Johnson likes things the same way.
The vocalist’s hobby is car racing, and he’s been into it for quite a while now. To the point that he has a whole website dedicated to his wild automotive ventures. And it turns out Johnson not only collects and cherishes different types of cars, but he also drives them like crazy at the races.
If you’re keen to find out which are the “cars that rock”, Johnson is here to help. Find out from his book where he talks about the advantages and disadvantages (as if there were any) of driving a Porsche, Bentley or Lamborghini.
As per his page, “Cars and rock ’n’ roll, they were made for each other.” So there’s a connection between his day hobby and the night job as well, called A Life On The Road. It’s a series of catch-ups with other rock celebs, amongst them Dolly Parton (!), Sting or Lars Ulrich (of Metallica). You can watch the show on Sky here.
Speaking of AC/DC, if you’d like a speedy, 10-minute lesson on the Aussie legends’ nearly 50-year music career, this video is a good start.
THE VERONICAS’ GOT STYLE
The Veronicas are something of fashion icons in the music biz Down Under. In fact, they had their ups and downs in their fashion choices, too, and they’re not afraid to acknowledge them.
From hair products to cosmetics, shoes and fragrances, the sisters have repped different brands over the years. And we’re talking major endorsements, like Calvin Klein and Estée Lauder. For the latter one, they also “judged a beauty contest where young women were asked to submit photos of their >ultimate rock star style<.”
In 2007, the artists released their own fashion line for Target Miranda as well. Described as “pop princess attire”, the collection was designed for the duo’s youngest fans (girls aged 7-14). The cute look was meant to be in opposition to “provocatively sexy looks promoted by other celebrity lines”, as per Daily Telegraph.
I’m still waiting for a proper women’s collection. But if it doesn’t happen anytime soon, you can always count on the “steal her style” posts, like this one.
The duo are preparing to release their first album in six years, Human. Watch the new single from the record here:
Tex Perkins is in the zone
Does a sport called zoneball ring a bell? No? Up until a few days ago, I didn’t even know it existed, either. And, frankly, I still don’t quite get its rules.
Apparently, there are a few versions of it, and the Aussie musician Tex Perkins was one of the first to invent the sport. In the Australian version, zoneball is derived from footy – the Australian rules football – and tennis. This is an unthinkable combination for me already. Yet, zoneball manages to step up the complexity of each of those sports anyway.
For instance, your opponent attempts to catch the ball that you kicked towards his court, but only with one hand (I wonder if it matters which one). Additionally, ethics are important. Bowing to kick off and wrap up the game is mandatory, “demonstrating the ceremony of battle and the respect between warriors.”
My favourite bit, though, is the game’s terminology. A “shocker” is when your kick sucks and the balls stays in your zone. And when the opponent marks in your court, it’s a “big, bad shocker”. It seems like a shocking match, indeed. I wish I could show you some actual footage, but there’s nothing available on the web.
If you’d rather Tex Perkins played music and not this weird sport, here’s a video from one of his recent performances.
There are heaps of other Aussie musos with interesting side jobs and hobbies. So if you come across one that really stands out, give me a shout.