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TGTF Does ARIA Week 2012: Final Impressions

 
By on Wednesday, 19th December 2012 at 11:00 am
 

It’s kind of weird for me to talk about this year’s ARIA Week in past tense, as it happened only a couple weeks ago, and it seemed like the lead-up to me going to Australia for the first time – including one close friend of mine getting “…very excited about you going to the land of Kylie Minogue!” for me – went on forever. The more I look back at my week in Sydney during the Australian music industry’s most important time of year, the more unbelievable I feel that I got to witness and be part of that week of events.

On Monday, before all the gigs began, I attended the industry-geared ARIA Masterclass. The keynote address was given by Denis Handlin, the ARIA Chairman and CEO of Sony Music Entertainment Australia & New Zealand and President, Asia. He’s been with Sony since 1970, so he obviously has seen the music industry change in ways no-one could have possibly imagined. But one quote he gave stuck with me all week, and even until now: “The only place success comes before work is in the dictionary.” And it’s true.

Although ‘Gangnam Style’ artiste Psy is not Australian, he was brought up time and time again by speakers and delegates at I’ve only ever gotten one publicity-type email about Psy, so personally, I don’t think he will take on the world with the success of that one song. To be honest, I think he will ‘Gangnam Style’ will be ‘The Macarena’ for this current generation and will have a hard time consolidating real success beyond his home county of Korea. Several speakers credited Psy’s overnight worldwide success with ‘Gangnam Style’ with him not taking copyright fees from YouTube; it was explained that in allowing everyone and anyone to do whatever they wanted to with the song without restriction, ‘Gangnam Style’ reached a far wider audience than it would have if traditional copyright controls had been in place.

Cheryl and I have already had a discussion about this, and we’ve agreed that it can work for Psy because he’s already a multi-millionaire at home, but the artists we tend to write about here on TGTF, the indie bands who are barely scraping a living off ticket and merch sales, can’t afford such an ‘extravagant’ doing away with fees that could help their livelihood. While some delegates seem to think Psy has paved the way for a whole new business model in the 21st Century, I’m not holding my breath that any other artists from Asia or Australia will come through in the same fashion. If it does happen, good for them. But the reality for us here at TGTF is that we’re going to keep on going as we always have, which is to support bands on our own, pretty much grass roots method.

Another interesting topic that doesn’t really get broached in either Britain or America is how to make your artist or brand successful in another part of the world. Britain and America have the benefit of sharing a language, but for Australian bands, physically the next easiest place to tour is Asia, where English is not the primary language. Local Australian / Chinese singer and live music manager Deb Fung suggested that if Australian artists wanted to get into China, she would recommend them record a song entirely in Chinese. (The idea in my mind sounded next to impossible. I have enough trouble with speaking the Chinese that I know and I was brought up with it; how would an Australian band with no knowledge of Chinese cope?) One suggestion that I was really surprised it never was mentioned was cross pollination between artists in different countries. If it worked for Run DMC and Aerosmith to help bridge the gap between genres, why can’t it work across countries? The latest news that Kendrick Lamar’s vocals are appearing on a new Dido track proves that there is validity to introducing one set of fans to another artist they might not otherwise take the time to listen to.

So the most important things I gleaned from the ARIA Masterclass, as well as ARIA Week as a whole? The Australian music industry is a very special kind of animal. I think someone from the outside like me fully realises, easily, how the physical distance from other countries makes it hard for small bands to visit Australia and ‘make it’ there, and it’s just as hard for Australian bands trying to make it out of Australia. The industry is fiercely proud of its bands, as they should be: they’ve got amazing bands and artists with loads of potential. You might have it in your head that Australians go to the beach too much to surf and put shrimp on the barbie. I admit it, that’s exactly what I thought, especially after finding out my house mum for the week went to Bondi every morning. (And who could blame them, with all that brilliant sun and warmth?) But unless you actually visit and you witness the electricity at a gig, in Sydney or anywhere else, you have no true idea how important music is to this community. With their position as the 6th largest music market in the world, you’d be a fool not to keep your eye on Australia and what great artists they will bring to the world’s attention next.

Thank you Australia for giving me a sun-filled week on my usual gloomy wintertime birthday. And thank you ARIA Week for an exciting week I’ll never forget!

 

TGTF Does ARIA Week 2012: The 26th ARIAs’ Media Room (Part 2)

 
By on Wednesday, 12th December 2012 at 1:00 pm
 

Part 1 of my ARIAs media room coverage can be found here. Please note that this 2-part series doesn’t summarise every single artist who stopped by the media room: these are only ‘best of’ posts.

Aboriginal group Yothu Yindi were inducted in the ARIA Hall of Fame and also performed with rising r&b star Jessica Mauboy, singer/songwriter Dan Sultan, ex-INXS keyboardist Andrew Farriss and ex-Midnight Oil Peter Garrett, who now serves as Minister of Education. Recognition of the indigenous occupation of the land prior to modern settlement was the hottest button topic all week as the day before, by Premier Jay Weatherill to introduce a bill to Parliament to amend the South Australian Constitution to provide this recognition. All signs point to the government moving more swiftly the wishes of Yothu Yindi’s leader Mandawuy Yunupingu of this recognition to become law. Listen to the press conference below.

I was unfazed by the appearance of Taylor Swift but offered to look after the property of our new friends at ProjectU.tv, who ran off excitedly to see America’s latest sweetheart take the stage in their hometown. (Watch video of the performance below.) If I was unfazed by Taylor Swift, I was over Nicki Minaj’s surprise appearance even before it started. (But I’m sure you readers of TGTF already guessed that…)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k9t3ZdQMBPc[/youtube]

Russell Brand, who I wasn’t expecting at the ARIAs at all, appeared at the show to present two awards – the first one for Best Female Artist to Goyte’s protégé Kimbra (with him bringing his mum onstage for the occasion) and the second one for Album of the Year to Goyte himself. When it came time for him to be photographed, he entertained himself – and arguably, the photographers – by eating grapes and throwing some of them at the cameras. He had a quite funny exchange with the media when it was his turn for a press conference grilling, which was pretty tame I have to admit, but he made it hilarious. Listen in below.

The Temper Trap returned again when they won the Best Group gong, beating out heavy favourites The Jezebels. They made us all laugh when they recounted meeting Gotye in the loo earlier that night. Listen to their second press conference below.

Speaking of the man of the moment, I wasn’t even sure golden boy Goyte would even have time to stop by the media room; he didn’t stop on the red carpet for anyone. But I guess after four awards – Album of the Year, Best Male Artist (2 years running), Best Pop Release and Best Australian Live Act (the last voted by the public) – he felt a duty to talk briefly to the media, although his brain hadn’t fully adjusted back to Australian time yet. (Yeah, that’s what all that globetrotting does to you…) Listen to Wally’s thoughts below.

Kimbra also made an appearance in the media room, but I was preoccupied with her crazy-coloured ostrich feather skirt and tropical-inspired garb. She was exceptionally pleased with her and Gotye’s ARIA successes this year and said she never imagined they would go 2 for 2 in successive year for Best Male and Female Artists.

Chart-topping singer/songwriter Missy Higgins was one of the last stars to stop by the media room. I’ve really enjoyed her song ‘Set Me on Fire’, from her Best Adult Contemporary Album ARIA-winning album ‘The Ol’ Razzle Dazzle’ and was interested in what she had to say. When emcee Buck mentioned that she was all grown up, in my mind I drew a parallel to what has happened since TGTF humbly began in Phil Singer’s bedroom in 2006. We’ve grown up with all of you: our readers, the bands we write about, and all the behind the scenes people that make the success of those bands possible. If we could get ourselves to the ARIAs this year, what else in TGTF’s future? Much, much more. The sky’s the limit!

 

TGTF Does ARIA Week 2012: The 26th ARIAs’ Media Room (Part 1)

 
By on Tuesday, 11th December 2012 at 1:00 pm
 

So after getting thoroughly sunburnt on the right hand side of my body during the red (err, black) carpet proceedings of the 26th ARIA Awards, us media were then shepherded into a bunker for the rest of the evening: the media room. In a bit of a comical scene, people ran for the electrical outlets (we’d been in the sun without electricity for hours, remember?) and one photographer, who rather stupidly set up and opened his laptop on the table where one of only three tvs in the room were sat, stepped down hard on my sandaled foot that I nearly shouted in pain.

But who gets back here in the media room? Certainly during my first time with such a privilege, I was not going to make a scene. I was going to enjoy it for what it was worth. If you were wondering what the tvs were for, they were to remind us that there was a delay in when the show would be broadcast on national Australian television. While two of them showed the live action, one at the start was showing the local network and only when we saw the show playing on actual tv were we allowed to Tweet or other social media the heck out of anyone who had won, once the embargo was lifted.

Like the Oscars, the media room for the ARIAs was kitted out with a media wall and a fake award for each of the winners pose with while countless photographers’ flashbulbs went off. (Just so you know, by my estimation an ARIA award must weigh at least 5 kilos, as when I tried holding the sample after most everyone had left the media room, it felt like I was holding an anvil.) As I’m not a photography nut, what was more interesting to me was what the winners had to say during their press conferences. They were welcomed to the stage by former triple j and current Radio National presenter Robbie Buck as they were sat along a pretty non-descript oblong table with a white tablecloth on the stage. While countless journalists had their backs to the stage, typing out on deadline pieces for their outlets, I could sit and listen to everything that was said.

The first exciting moment was when The Temper Trap won Best Rock Album for their second and self-titled album. It was news to me when our AU Review friends told they’re actually a much bigger deal outside Australia than they are *in* Australia. (Well, maybe this explains why they’ve all moved to London and in this interview in October, Toby and Jonny actually like being in London.) You can listen to most of the press conference below; the audio is slightly cut off at the beginning, but they were responding to Buck’s question of how it felt to receive an ARIA via video conferencing 2 years ago; for obvious reasons, they much preferred being in Sydney to accept their awards this time around.

As we’ve supported The Temper Trap ever since the first utterances of ‘Sweet Disposition’ began to make the rounds and had the pleasure of hosting them on our very own stage at this year’s Liverpool Sound City, it was a proud moment that TGTF could share in. This proud moment was made all the sweeter when it came time for the band to leave the stage and return to their seats in the Sydney Entertainment Centre. The eyes of guitarist Lorenzo Sillitto, who I first met in Boston 2 years ago, scanned the front row of journalists.

He stopped in front of me and gave me a puzzled look. “Mary, what are you doing here?” Having seen them play 8 times, 6 times outside of DC, I didn’t think it was any weirder to be seeing them in Sydney, so my reply was, “what do you think I’m doing here? I’m covering the ARIAs!” His initial shock wore off quickly, he grinned and then waved down the other guys. Suddenly I found myself in the middle of a massive Temper Trap band hug. I am one of those people that believe that things happen for a reason. What I have had trouble believing in lately: how life has a funny way of turning out just fine, even if it’s completely different from what your heart had hoped would happen and wanted. I went to Boston with a different intention; I had no idea 2 years later I would find myself in Australia, covering the famous ARIAs and toasting my prize-winning friends on their amazing awards. You can’t make this stuff up.

I hope I keep having opportunities to see the Temper Trap gig. They are genuinely nice chaps who have been appreciative of everything we’ve done for them. As I watched on one of the tvs just as they were playing ‘Trembling Hands’ for the thousands at the Sydney Entertainment Centre and the millions watching at home, I almost felt overwhelmed at what was enfolding right in front of me. I was so proud of them – and also proud for the role us here at TGTF have had in their path to stardom.

Stay tuned for part 2, to post tomorrow.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JktHbMT0aoU[/youtube]

 

TGTF Does ARIA Week 2012: The Red Carpet at the 26th ARIAs

 
By on Friday, 7th December 2012 at 4:00 pm
 

I suppose it’s quite possible to do the same in London for a similar awards show. But for an American, it felt very surreal having Indian food (and really good Indian food!) at a food court for lunch right before reporting to the Sydney Entertainment Centre to cover the red carpet at this year’s ARIA Awards, the 26th year for the Australian music industry’s highest honours. While it may seem like quite a hike from Washington DC to Sydney, I had booked my flight – a birthday present to myself – to the Land Down Under before I found out the inaugural ARIA Week and the famous awards show was taking place the exact same week. When in Rome…

Covered in a high SPF suncream, I thought I was covered when it came to standing for a couple hours outside with the late spring sun blazing down. (Ehh, not so much: I saw later after everything was over, when I went to the ladies’, that I had an unattractive unilateral sunburn on the right half of my body, with tan lines around a ring and a bracelet I was wearing. The battle scars are now unattractively peeling…) As noted through photographic evidence at a Filter Magazine showcase at SXSW, I always wear a hat when it’s sunny, and this was no different: I brought two hats for the occasion, thinking that I better have a fetching looking one while on the red carpet, chatting effortlessly with the celebs, and one for when I was off duty, getting boiled by the Australian rays.

Well, the first half of that plan didn’t really come together. Maybe I had made the wrong fairytale assumptions of “working the red carpet” from all the years watching local girl Giuliana DePandi of e! News on the red carpet at the Oscars. First off, the red carpet wasn’t even red, it was black. (Eh?) Second, we were corralled behind metal barriers for the duration of the red carpet portion of the event. I never wear high heels – with my clumsiness, I always worry I’ll fall – but I had to laugh internally in my sandals thinking about all the precarious, multi-inch footwear I’d seen coming in with all the other members of the media. From behind the metal barrier, I could have been wearing jeans, sweatpants…no-one would ever have known. Ah well. (For the record, I tried to glam it up with a gold skirt.)

Fits of screaming would erupt at one end of the carpet or the other, making us wonder if someone famous had arrived. There were of course loads of false alarms, but also there were some ‘canned’ moments when the official tv crew asked the young fans, who had been standing there for hours for their favourite artists and were therefore severely dehydrated and also sunburnt, to scream wildly for the cameras. We watched as presenters from various shows were shepherded through to the carpet to make their introductory appearances for their corresponding programmes and then later, snagging some artists for impromptu interviews as they headed down the carpet.

Probably the most exciting moment at the beginning was when a table was set out on the carpet and someone with a ball cap (not sure who) on did a one-handed stand and other physical tricks. The weirdest moments? Bananas in Pajamas came by and wanted to take pictures with or pose for everyone, as did Dorothy the Dinosaur.

As explained by our AU Review friends in their report here, some other members of the media were less than, shall we say, thoughtful. We were on opposite sides of the aisle of carpet, so we had different challenges for the afternoon. I was a little weirded out by other people taping my interviews with their recording equipment (aren’t there journalistic rules against this?), so if you hear my voice on an Australian Web site, they’re one of the offenders. When event staff determined a disabled section was to suddenly encroach our side of the carpet, I totally understood and was ok with this decision, since the area would be to my left.

However, with the media to my left forced to decamp when the area was widened, what ended up happening? We were practically on top of each other, having to fight for real estate at the barrier. Being a single person, without large camera equipment, I probably should have kicked up a bigger fight and not gotten pushed out by other media, but I wasn’t too pleased having earlier being talked down to by someone who I think was from a fashion blog. I wasn’t pleased when a video crew were practically on top of me when our friends the Temper Trap passed by and I couldn’t get a word with any of them, I was able to see them later in the media room (stay tuned for that report).

All things considered, getting a brief interview with Example, who was attending with his new fiancé, Australian model and presenter Erin McNaught (the woman in the green dress with her back to us; a better photo of her is after the Soundcloud widget below), was a coup. I had hoped he would speak more about his new album ‘The Evolution of Man’ but I think he was more interested in having a night off, basking in the celeb glow of his woman being photographed by a million flashbulbs. I also would like to point out that the man must not sweat, as he was wearing a leather jacket and looked cool as a cucumber as he made his way down the carpet. Thanks, Example, for being my first interviewee at the ARIAs!

As a bit of a joke, I nabbed two loudmouths, waiting for their wives (whose famous identities are still unknown), for some off-kilter comedy.

I also nabbed an interview with the chaps in sleepmakeswaves, an instrumental, post-rock band that I guess could best be compared to Mogwai and Sigur Ros. Really nice guys and although one of them was really, really excited to see Taylor Swift perform (the most anticipated performer of the night, judging from the screams when Ms. Swift went quickly past us), they seemed just really pleased to have been nominated for Best Hard Rock / Heavy Metal album. (Unfortunately, they lost to popular Brisbane thrash band DZ Deathrays.)

Matt Corby, who I caught at St. David’s Historic Sanctuary at SXSW and I had hoped to talk with, was a no-show. So that was a bit of a disappointment. All in all, while it would have been great to have I think it was a good introduction to the madness of the ‘red’ carpet and I think we’re in much better position, just with my own experience from the ARIAs, to cover the BRITs in the future. Fingers crossed!

 

The 2012 ARIA Awards – The Nominees

 
By on Tuesday, 20th November 2012 at 11:00 am
 

Are you taking the break-up of INXS a little too hard? It is time to let go, man…first, they haven’t really been INXS since the passing of Michael Hutchence 15 years ago, and second, it is really time you should be embracing the wealth of talent coming out of Australia right now. If you stop to think about it, all your favourite bands tour down in Oz because, well, it’s worth their while: Oz has the 6th largest music market in the world.

This year Australia is celebrating a major milestone related to their industry music awards show, the ARIAs (equivalent to the BRITs in the UK and the Grammys in the States). In the lead-up to the event taking place on Thursday the 29th of November in Sydney, the city is hosting Aria Week, filled with loads of industry-sponsored gigs, as well as the inaugural Electronic Music Conference (EMC 2012), the first of its kind in the Asian-Pacific music realm. It’s going to be a week to remember. So whether the Temper Trap, who graced the TGTF stage at Liverpool Sound City this year and who are also performing at this year’s ARIAs, or even ‘Somebody I Used to Know’ Goyte are your only knowledge of the current Australian music scene, we’re going to bring you more from the land down under in the coming weeks.

The 2012 26th ARIA Awards will take place Thursday 29 November at Sydney Entertainment Centre. The show will feature performances by The Temper Trap, The Jezebels, Jessica Mauboy, Hilltop Hoods, 360, Guy Sebastian, Kimbra, Missy Higgins and special guest from America, Taylor Swift.

Full list of nominees after the jump.
Continue reading The 2012 ARIA Awards – The Nominees

 
 
 

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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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