Festival coverage, including that from SXSW 2017 and BIGSOUND 2017, can be read through here.

SXSW 2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | Live at Leeds 2016 | 2015 | 2014
Sound City 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | Great Escape 2015 | 2013 | 2012

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BIGSOUND 2017 Interview: Willaris. K

 
By on Wednesday, 18th October 2017 at 11:00 am
 

The popular saying “technology is great when it works” implies that when a computer has failed, it’s always a bad result. Not so for Aussie Jack McAllister. Such an error came through when he was searching for a name to perform and release his electronic music as. “Here in Australia, we’ve got RSLs, they’re a local club where there’s a bar and restaurant etc. You walk in, hand over your ID and they scan it [Queensland has an especially strict ID scanning protocol for nightclubs, enacted this year]. Around the time when I started Alchemy in early 2016, I went to the local RSL one day, they scanned my ID, as you can see my ID is fairly scratched, my full name is Jack William McAllister , the machine printed out a receipt that had my name printed as Willaris. K McAllister. At the time I had a few options in mind but as soon as I saw that, I knew that was it.”

It might sound like McAllister has come from out of nowhere, but it’s been years of hard graft in clubs, then working diligently on his own to hone his sound to have arrived at this point. He’ s from the town of Tweed Heads, on the New South Wales side of the border with Queensland but he found himself wanting more musically. “There’s not much of a music scene where I’m from. I started DJing in Coolangatta in 2013, but it wasn’t really the music I was into, so I eventually started driving up here [to the Fortitude Valley of Brisbane] and became a resident at the then Bowler Bar, now TBC Club.”

He spent 3 years as a resident DJ at The TBC Club, one of the BIGSOUND 2017 venues where, essentially, he cut his teeth on what made for successful dance sets. “I was a support DJ. I’d usually jump on straight after the headline act to a full room of people. I learnt so much from that time, from watching what the headline act did right and wrong to feeling comfortable on stage.”

But he had dreams of doing something bigger than just DJing in Brisbane. “Throughout that time I was slowly learning to write my own music, that was from 2013 to 2015. I was at the stage where I could make music, but none was at the level where I wanted it to be, at the level of the artists I looked up to.” He knew he needed to take a different tack. “That was when I completed discarded actually writing music and went back and basically started from scratch. I had a schedule for myself after work, music theory this afternoon, technical synthesiser stuff *this* afternoon, etc. I also started piano lessons then too. I worked really hard at it throughout 2015, then started ‘Alchemy’ in February 2016, and it all led on from there.” As a project, Willaris. K is still in its infancy, McAllister only having launched it in January of this year.

McAllister played several sets during this year’s BIGSOUND, all to incredible audience response. Why is that? It could be because his style of electronic music is unique and intriguing. When I ask him to use some terms to describe his sound to a non-electronic fan, he replies, “I think the easiest one would be a blanket term: emotional dance music. If I dive deeper, there’s definitely elements of techno, house, garage, classical and ambient. I can’t really pigeonhole it, all of the new stuff I’ve written for my album so far sounds different again.”

Being different was part of the plan, he explains. “That was the main goal. Having played in clubs and seeing the trends, I wanted to put in the time to make something completely unique and unheard. If people are hearing it on the radio or in clubs, and they’re aware of ‘Alchemy’, I want them to know it’s me straight away.” It’s impressive, too, that his eclectic style music has already reached beyond the traditional electronic audience: “I’ve had a lot of people tell me, people I wouldn’t ever expect to like my music, like my parents’ friends or people who don’t like electronic music, that they’re into it, usually because there’s an emotional aspect that’s relatable.”

Willaris. K at BIGSOUND 2017
Willaris. K performing at a pop-up caravan venue on Brunswick Street Mall at BIGSOUND 2017

I was at McAllister’s BIGSOUND set at Heya Bar, where I saw him play to a packed room of appreciative dancers grooving to his tunes. Watch a clip of it here on his Facebook. We chat about his approach to his live show and the important he puts on his own performance in front of a crowd. “My main thing is how I format the set emotionally. Especially because for most of this year I only had ‘Alchemy’ out, so playing a set of 90% unreleased stuff was sometimes challenging. I usually start with pretty heavy, like in your face tracks, but then pull it back with a piano track, like ‘River Song’ for example. These extreme peaks and troughs are what I personally enjoy with live music, so that’s how I approach my own. With showcases, it can be hard, you have industry people just watching, you know? So having people dancing is really cool. I get so much more into it when everyone is ‘on my team’ kind of thing. I think that also takes down the barrier between artist and audience, just genuinely enjoying it myself.”

It becomes clear in talking to McAllister that in addition to bringing something new to the electronic music table, he’s keen on making sure his music comes from organic beginnings. This could be attributed to the unpretentious, blue-collar work he once did before turning to music full-time, where he was already thinking about his surroundings and how to make things sound more real. “I’m an electrician, well, an electrical and instrument technician. I worked in big high voltage substations that connect the New South Wales and Queensland power grids together. Each state has its own power grid, so there are six cables that connect them with a substation at each end. I would maintain them, part of that involved inspecting the trays that housed the cables out in the bush. One day I was inspecting the cables, walking along the tray, and I started recording on my iPhone. You can hear me walking, you can hear the birds, it gives you this kind of shitty recording which I like, and I ended up using that particular one in ‘Dour Nights’.”

In the studio, I jump between analogue and digital. I’ll usually just play around on my gear until something worth pursuing starts flowing, then I’ll go in and expand on it in the computer. It’s so much easier to start ideas when everything’s at your fingertips, opposed to looking at a screen with a trackpad. I love having to commit to audio with hardware also, you’ll always end up with happy accidents.”

Australian electronic music is going through a bit of Renaissance these days. Sounds Australia took advantage of the burgeoning scene, putting on a second afternoon Aussie BBQ showcase at SXSW 2017 this year to accommodate so many electronic artists coming out of the country. Gone are the days that an artist would have to leave Oz for Europe to have a chance at success. Being Australian might even be more of a positive. “There’s definitely been a post-Flume apocalypse. There’s been more of a spotlight on Australian electronic music since Flume came out. In a way, he also gave birth to a whole new genre. You hear it everywhere now, a lot of the electronic pop music now is influenced by what he started. The rest of the world is definitely aware (of Australian electronic), guys like Nick Murphy (aka Chet Faker) and (the ARIA-winning dance band) RÜFÜS are doing big shows overseas.” Beyond Oz, McAllister has already been discovered by none other than BBC Radio 1’s Pete Tong, which is quite promising.

So what’s next for Willaris. K? McAllister will be playing his first shows outside Australia, in New Zealand, at New Year’s time. With an ear for something beguiling different to offer the electronic music fans of this world, his time in the sun (or should I say night?) in Europe will come soon.

To catch up on all my past coverage on Willaris. K, use this link. All my BIGSOUND 2017 coverage is through here.

 

BIGSOUND 2017: Day 3 Roundup (Part 3)

 
By on Friday, 29th September 2017 at 2:00 pm
 

Tuesday at BIGSOUND 2017, I’d seen Evan Klar play at The Brightside outdoor stage in blinding sunshine. He told me to wait until the rest of his live band arrived in Brisbane for a better experience watching him. He wasn’t wrong. The addition of a string section to his nighttime appearances at BIGSOUND, including Thursday night at the Mane Stage of the Woolly Mammoth, made for a unique performance.

Evan Klar Thursday night at BIGSOUND 2017

Listening to Evan Klar live, you get the sense that when he’s writing songs, he really thinks about how his voice can be used as a rhythmic element and alongside whatever other sounds he’s going to put in. We’re in an era where doing that is becoming less unusual, as the lines between pop and r&b and soul get further blurred. While most music in this category tends to land on the r&b side in America, Evan Klar’s seems comfortably on the pop side, which suits my ears just fine.

Heading downstairs to the Alehouse stage and after a brief set change, it was time for Mammals. Guy Brown is living the dream: formerly worked in doing music for advertising and film, one day he decided he was going to make music for himself. Like fellow BIGSOUND showcasing artist Willaris K., he’s impossible to class in a single genre. Electronic would be simplifying it way too much. There’s a sunny, summery feel to his and his live band’s performance, whether he’s wailing on his guitar or hitting drum pads.


Mammals Thursday night

You’d have to be a rock to not get swept up in Mammals’ bouncy beats and catchy melodies. ‘Chase Your Bliss’ sums up Mammals, as well as the BIGSOUND experience, perfectly: wrap your brain and ears around good music and moments are short-lived, so savour this moment.

@mammalsmusic's beautiful 'Chase Your Bliss' 😍 #mammals #BIGSOUND17

A post shared by Mary TGTF (@theprintedword) on

I contemplated leaving the Mammoth. Maybe I should have braved the claustrophobia of sleepmakeswaves at The Brightside outdoor stage to end my night. But having already landed at synthesiser cloud nine after Mammals’ set, my ears wanted to continue the electronic party in my head. Yoste and Mansionair appeared for a second night in a row, this time upstairs on the Mane stage. As I’d already photographed them in the night before, I took advantage of videotaping both acts, plus Mammals as seen above for good measure.

Sydney's @mansionair sounding huge on the final night of #BIGSOUND17. Jack's voice, OMG! #mansionair

A post shared by Mary TGTF (@theprintedword) on

I will leave you with this photo of Jack Froggatt of Mansionair, as it encapsulates my experience at BIGSOUND 2017 and how music discovery makes me feel. It’s an emotional thing, to feel a connection to music someone else has made that meant something to *them*. We’re living in an age where bad people seek to divide us for their purposes. Let’s keep music as a language and medium for love and understanding, and support musicians and bands so they can keep on making music. Open minds, open hearts. Over and out.

Mansionair Thursday night at BIGSOUND 2017

 

BIGSOUND 2017: Day 3 Roundup (Part 2)

 
By on Thursday, 28th September 2017 at 2:00 pm
 

My schedule for my last night at BIGSOUND 2017 ended up being mostly changed last minute. Deciding that I wanted to mix things up a bit, I started at the venue that was farthest north, The New Globe Theatre. The name of the place sounds more highbrow than the band from Melbourne I was there to see. Post-hardcore group Deadlights opened the venue for the night with ferocity. While electronic might be getting more attention on radio in these parts, it’s clear with fellow Melburnians Belle Haven who I saw Tuesday night and Sydneysiders Polaris that Australia that the hard rock scene is alive and well and worthy of attention too.

Deadlights Thursday night at BIGSOUND 2017

I got the sense that Brisbane girl duo OKBADLANDS had been riding on a wave of hype and wanted to see if the hype was deserved. Kate Gurren and Sally Latter and their live band were playing the upstairs Mane Stage at the Woolly Mammoth. Their combination of percussion with pop and r&b sensibility were a much easier listen than the onslaught on show at the Deadlights set just before. I like the fact that the sound of OKBADLANDS isn’t obvious for a two-girl act. That is, they don’t play the cloyingly too precious pop that seems to always show up on mainstream radio, yet it’s all too easy to get pulled in to their rhythmically engaging tunes.

https://flic.kr/p/YZFxti]OKBADLANDS Thursday night at BIGSOUND 2017

Having some time before my next act, I decided to duck into The Zoo and see who was playing. Do you remember a band called Kins? I sure do. I remember seeing their name on The Great Escape grid for a few years in a row, and now it all makes sense. Turns out they were originally from Australia. Their drummer, Alex Knight, now has his own solo career as singer/songwriter Brightness. He released his debut album in June. His gentle brand of indie rock reminiscent of Sweet Baboo seemed too small for a venue as big as this. Then again, if someone like Conor Oberst can play bigger venues, maybe Knight’s day for that just hasn’t come yet.

Brightness Thursday night at BIGSOUND 2017

I had somehow avoided Oh Hello! and the triple j showcases there all week. I wasn’t doing it on purpose, it just so happened the acts I wanted to see weren’t playing there. As I had hoped to hit every BIGSOUND venue, I stopped in to get a feel for the place and to snap some photos of the talent. Or at least that was the idea. Young singer/songwriter Ruby Fields, whose popularity has blown up just this year, no doubt on the back of triple j’s support, was on stage and in front of a packed club. See the photo below, that was the closest I could get to the front. Don’t doubt the power of triple j’s reach: the Australian radio station most popular with the young’uns, equivalent to BBC Radio 1, brought in hordes simply because they curated this showcase. Here’s to hoping that she’ll appear at SXSW 2018 and I can see her in a venue where I’m not gasping for air and having a panic attack. We shared this adorable exchange on Twitter; I appreciate her appreciation for me trying to get in there and do my job.


Ruby Fields crowd shot at BIGSOUND 2017

Time for a much more relaxed environment, The Empire Hotel. Thomas Calder, who I had seen in Sydney 5 years ago previous as the frontman of The Trouble with Templeton, a band we’ve written a fair bit on. He now performs under the moniker Daggy Man. As one might expect from a singer/songwriter performing alone, his songs are stories from his life or observations on life. While he didn’t have anywhere near the same size of audience as Ruby Fields, he’s got very vocal, devoted fans, some of whom sat cross-legged on the floor to listen to their god dexterously play his guitar and emote through his softly sung vocals. Maybe the Conor Oberst comparison I used earlier applies better here?

Daggy Man Thursday night at BIGSOUND 2017

 

BIGSOUND 2017: Day 3 Roundup (Part 1)

 
By on Wednesday, 27th September 2017 at 2:00 pm
 

The conference portion of BIGSOUND 2017 had an admirable, multiprong approach to addressing the gender divide in the global music business. On a general level, they made a concerted effort to include plenty of female panelists in their sessions. Specifically, they offered a session on Thursday (repeated on Friday) called No More Manels! Public Speaking for Women in the Music Industry, led by Alison Wenham, CEO of Worldwide Independent Network (WIN) and advocate for women to be confident in this male-dominated business. (On Tuesday, to open BIGSOUND, a Women in Music mixer at Eleven rooftop bar as a nice networking event. Another session I attended on Wednesday, Hook-Ups: Gender and Music, had less focus than Wenham’s session and I found it less useful.)

Wenham gave a kind of toolkit to provide encouragement to women asked to speak on their expertise, whether as standalone speakers or as part of a panel, and underscored the difference between men and women when asked to speak in these capacities. While I didn’t agree with all the negative generalisations she made about men in the business and those overwhelming positive towards women given my own experiences, I could see her talk as being a good starting point, as if a therapy session, for women who have felt particularly downtrodden and marginalised in this industry and simply for the fact of being a woman.

I also attended the What Brexit Means for Your Band session. I think it suffered from lack of attendance due to the concurrent sessions on syncs, the technology of live music and the role of labels. I was attending because I was curious whether Northern Irish duo exmagician’s threat of not touring in America if Trump was elected would occur, not because of what has happened in America but because of the prohibitive cost of British artists touring Europe once hard Brexit takes hold. Of the three panelists, two were from England (one a gig booker and another booking festivals) and the third was Clémence Bizien from Paris, a representative of a promoter from the Continent. Clémence pointed a positive of Brexit that I couldn’t have predicted, because I wouldn’t have thought about it this way: the Brits have been lording over those on the Continent for years, looking down on them, that Brexit might mean the Brits will have to swallow their pride, be nice and not demand as much from their Continental cousins. If you think about this on a wider scale, especially given that BIGSOUND takes place in Australia, a former British colony traditionally looked upon as subordinate to Britain, maybe it would do the British music industry some good to be humbled.

At the Data and the Independent Artist session, I was eager to pick up tips and nuggets of advice that I could pass along to artists we champion here on TGTF. It was interesting to hear that the reach of Facebook Messenger is predicted to be bigger and to replace email as the medium of choice to reach punters before and during festivals and other events. The take home message I got from the session was that there’s plenty of data being collected by labels, streaming services and loads of other entities, but many of these collectors don’t really know what they have or how to use it. The same can be said about artists themselves, and like most things in this business, there is no ‘one size fits all’ formula of collecting and then using data as part of an implemented promotional campaign. Sobering, but the truth.

Braille Face Thursday afternoon at BIGSOUND 2017

I have to admit that I was losing steam by this point and the thought of returning to my flat to take a nap was very enticing. I somehow soldiered on to see Braille Face for a second time, at an unofficial showcase at Bloodhound Bar. I was rewarded for showing up by getting to see Jordan White perform not only with a violinist as at his Tuesday performance in the basement of The Judith Wright Centre with his drummer and horn-playing friends. For sure, the Bloodhound Bar receives my top marks for best unconventional indoor venue during BIGSOUND where alcohol was also available, ha.

Willaris K. Thursday afternoon at BIGSOUND 2017

I was next on to the best unconventional outdoor venue of the festival, the pop-up stage on Brunswick Street Mall. Well, maybe pop-up stage is the wrong terminology to use. Electronic producer Willaris K., who wowed a crowd of sweaty bodies Wednesday night at Heya Bar, held court from within a tiki-themed caravan. Never in a million years would I imagine I’d see a DJ spinning from such a vehicle, and I probably will never see one like it again. It may sound strange, but the fact that you could sit down, rest your legs and enjoy his detailed soundscapes after 2 days of running after bands was pure bliss. You’re going to have to trust me on this.

 

BIGSOUND 2017: Day 2 Roundup (Part 3)

 
By on Tuesday, 26th September 2017 at 2:00 pm
 

From The Empire Hotel where Mama Kin Spender brought the house down and finished to raucous applause, my Wednesday night BIGSOUND 2017 rolled on to the TBC Club. I get it that it’s designed to be a space for DJs and their dance-inclined fans (more on that in a future BIGSOUND 2017-related feature), but I felt the next artist on the bill there didn’t quite fit right for the venue. Maybe I had already become jaded by the festival, but the smooth, honeyed vocals of Adelaide’s Lonelyspeck (real name Sione Teumohenga) made me wonder why, like they do for conventional singer/songwriters, they hadn’t given him a stool to sit on.

Lonelyspeck Wednesday night at BIGSOUND 2017

Given the melding of pop, r&b and electronic we’re seeing in the States and the UK and in ways we wouldn’t have imagined a generation ago, it shouldn’t have come as much of a surprise to me how much r&b inflection there is Teumohenga’s vocals and the overall vibe of his music. I guess if you’re reading this and you don’t fancy electronic but you love smooth r&b, then you should definitely embrace Lonelyspeck.

From r&b and Lonelyspeck, the rest of my evening was populated with dance and electronic acts from Sydney, Brisbane, and even a place found between them. Like all good electronic producer acts appearing at a music festival, Polographia were at BIGSOUND not to risk pretension but with one single goal, to throw a dance party to end all dance parties. Upstairs at the Mane Stage of The Woolly Mammoth, which had quickly become my favourite festival venue on par with Latitude 30 at SXSW, Sydney producers Moktar Youngblood and Daniel Finn were achieving that goal.

I arrived mid-set to squeeze myself between and past sweaty, dancing punters who were getting a workout to their take on chill wave and dance. To make things more lively in the live setting, Youngblood and Finn played guitars and drums live to previously recorded parts, much to the delight of the crowd who whupped it up every time there was an obvious instrumental flourish they’d thrown in as an ad lib. I think I would have been quite happy staying there, had they played a full gig at the Mammoth. Alas, I had a date with another artist…

What a difference 2 hours make. Earlier, Resin Moon’s set at Heya Bar was dreamily sleepy, and I didn’t mind it, as it’s nice to be able to sway to your fave electronic music without having the umpteenth person invade your personal space. No such luck upon my return to the club. I guess if you’re an extremely extroverted person who enjoys being squished up in a crowd while you’re dancing, this would have been your idea of heaven? Yes, I am a funny one when it comes to dance parties.

Willaris K., who described at an interview on Friday that he was from a tiny town on the border between Queensland and New South Wales, was up on the decks. When I finally was able to squeeze my body into the main room, I could barely make him out from his pedestal in the corner of the club. This didn’t matter much since I could hear everything he was doing. It was obvious from the gyrating clubgoers around me that were simultaneously in ecstasy over the beats, while simultaneously trying to secure their patch of real estate on the floor.

Unlike the big names in EDM that tend to make electronic music cold to a lot of people, Willaris K. is one of several rising stars coming up keen in doing something different, making interesting and unexpected sounds and turning what used to be pretty predictable electro on its head. In my interview with Willaris K. coming soon to TGTF, he’ll explain more on his songcraft and how important it was to him to hone this craft. At this point, all you really need to know – and what I hope will encourage you to investigate his music further – is that he’s intelligent about how to write and put an electronic song together, taking ambient music to another level with mood and texture. It’s impossible to put his music into words further, so check out his debut track ‘Alchemy’ below.

Back to the Woolly Mammoth’s downstairs Alehouse stage, this time for local young wonder Yoste, which supposedly rhymes with ‘lost’ according to his Twitter. Unlike Dave Bayley of Glass Animals who never managed to complete his medical degree, Kurt Sines just completed his law degree 2 months before this BIGSOUND, and I guess he can actually practise law once he passes the bar. However, just like Bayley, he’d much rather do music and hopes his current musical project will lead to a sustainable career.

Yoste Wednesday night at BIGSOUND 2017

And who’s to stop him, when he can put out some truly stunning pieces of electronic with emotion, cool as a spare finger snap, and at such a young age? The guy’s got serious talent on guitar and synth, as he proves through the rework below of a beloved Vera Blue track that the Yoste touch is golden. As a general rule, I don’t like falsetto, though I suspect Sines will be up there with Hayden Thorpe (Wild Beasts) and Jonathan Higgs (Everything Everything) soon enough if he keeps the quality of his tunes up. Despite an issue with a laptop acting up (who knew that laptops had to be fixed at a certain height to work properly onstage? Is this an Aussie thing?) and some difficulty with some annoying feedback crunches that shouldn’t be there, Sines got through it like a seasoned performer.

If you’ve done any research over the last few years for indie synthpop bands from Australia, Mansionair were sure to have come up at the top of your search. I know they did for me when they first came out to SXSW in 2015, the year after they released their ‘Hold Me Down’ EP. Earlier this year, they guested on Seattle duo and fellow synthpop act ODESZA, and there’s an air of anticipation hearing that they’ve finished an album and we won’t have long to wait to hear it. Well, that’s me being hopeful!


Mansionair Wednesday night at BIGSOUND 2017

While I was heartbroken I wasn’t able to fit them in on their return visit to Austin this year, I felt like I had a lucky star shining down on me so I could see them at BIGSOUND instead. It’s very special to cover a band in their home country, and so was seeing Mansionair in front of their local and very devoted fans. Many acts performing at this year’s festival were still in their early days of being an artist or group, only now just starting to find their feet. With all their gigging experience up to this point under their belts, Mansionair showed everyone how it’s done.

Their single ‘Easier’, released last year, is a prime example of this. Lead singer Jack Froggatt’s heart-wrenching lyrics on the sense of frustration that you’re going nowhere fast, with nowhere to go, is such a universal feeling, one of isolation and failure. They wrote it to be inspirational, to give hope that things do get better. Having been through some pretty dark days myself, a song like this is like an anchor for those days when you feel afloat with no mooring. The fact that Mansionair can convey such feelings, using such a beguiling combination of beats, synths and guitars to heighten the emotion, it’s like magic.

 

BIGSOUND 2017: Day 2 Roundup (Part 2)

 
By on Monday, 25th September 2017 at 2:00 pm
 

Following the first day of official conference sessions at BIGSOUND 2017 plus a visit to the Cattleyard Promotions’ sausage and beer party with music at Ric’s Backyard Bar, I was excited for the second evening of showcases. My first band of the night was a Brisbane group who had actually spent some time living and writing music in Manchester. As mentioned in my best bets preview back in August, Osaka Punch (it’s a pun, say it slowly with me) winningly meld funk, metal and prog and do so in a way unlike any other act you’ve ever heard. To be honest, how they sounded on the internet seemed to be too good to be true for real life. After seeing them live, I’m happy to report that they are exactly as advertised.

Osaka Punch Wednesday night at BIGSOUND 2017

The shape of 256 Wickham, the venue Osaka Punch opened Wednesday evening, seemed to be perfect for them. The stage itself had enough real estate to let frontman Jack pogo and roam around the stage like the crazy cat he is, the band tearing through energetic number after number. Local fans (or those from further afield who love their 2016 album ‘Death Monster Super Squad’?) filled the cavernous club, all more than willing to headbang along to the group’s brash tunes. They are unique with a capital U, and you should check them out.

From Wickham Street in the north, I headed south on the Valley’s main drag Brunswick Street to Heya Bar for a bit of a change of pace. From nearly 3,000 kilometers away from Brisbane in isolated Alice Springs smack dab in the middle of Australia, you could almost believe that Resin Moon (electronic producer Dave Crowe) travelled to BIGSOUND in his own spaceship. Indeed, his baggy white jumpsuit outfit for the evening seemed to suggest this and wasn’t lost on this child of a NASA scientist.

Resin Moon Wednesday night at BIGSOUND 2017

The futuristic feel of his brand of electronic fits into the image, too, and if you think about it, the Northern Territory’s desert must be as lonesome to make music in as the moon. Moving between boppy pop to tap your feet to and more chill, dreamy soundscapes effortlessly proved Crowe’s chops as a talented producer.

ELKI Wednesday night at BIGSOUND 2017

ELKI was my biggest surprise of BIGSOUND. As someone who has never felt any sort of affinity to Kate Bush (I know, I know, it’s like hating Radiohead, complete heresy!), I was expecting to react to a set by a woman who makes “subversive, melodic pop” by running away and screaming. Instead, I found ELKI playing the downstairs Alehouse stage at The Woolly Mammoth to be magically mesmerising, her performance theatrical and wholly engaging, with songs oddball, yet also smartly written and most of all, fun. I ran into the lovely lady the next day while waiting at the crosswalk on Ann Street and gushed over this performance of hers. She just grinned back in appreciation.

Seavera Wednesday night at BIGSOUND 2017

Then it was a quick stop up the stairs to the Mane Stage to catch a brief bit of Seavera. The male/female duo from Melbourne excel at sweeping vocal harmonies placed on top of electronica. But don’t worry, they’ve got both electric and acoustic guitars in the mix, so it’s not just synths, okay, guys? Unfortunately, I couldn’t stay long, as I headed over for my first visit to The Empire Hotel, where Mama Kin Spender had already begun their set.

Mama Kin Spender Wednesday night at BIGSOUND 2017

I’m not sure when or why soul singer Mama Kin (from Fremantle near Perth) and producer Spender (Melbourne) decided to put their individual careers aside to join forces. But you’ll find the point is moot when you experience them live. The combination of gospel/roots with pop in an excellent one, and joined by a chorus who, according to Mama Kin, only had a few short weeks to learn and practise before coming along with the two of them to BIGSOUND, it was an ambitious, soulful, foot stomper of a performance that worked. Mama Kin worked hard to win the audience’s approval, and she got it through their repeating back lyrics to her. To get an idea of what this sounds like live, watch the music video for ‘Air Between Us’ below.

 
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About Us

There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest music, gigs, and tours we love and think you should too.

We love music that has its heart on its sleeve, tells a story, swims around our head all day or makes us dance like no-one's watching.

TGTF is edited by Mary Chang, who is based in Washington, DC. She is joined by writers in England, America and Ireland. It began as a UK music blog by Phil Singer in 2005.

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