Brotherly Love: Loon Lake

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Anyone with a brother or two might cringe at the idea of forming a family band. But for the boys in Loon Lake, music and brotherly love are a perfect match. Guitarist Sime Nolan shares with us the ups and downs of having three bros in one band ahead of their March 29 gig at the Republic bar.

Nic, Sam, and Sime are first and foremost a band of brothers. Joined by their good mates Tim Lowe and Dan Bull, the siblings share a unique bond that allows for free flowing musical ideas (and the occasional family tiff).

“It’s really good – most of the time,” Sime jokes.

“You can say what you want more, though I think the conflicts can blow up easier too. We’re pretty open with each other and we get things done quickly, and that’s how it is. In other situations, you mightn’t say what you really feel all the time, but we can.”

When asked about how he balances his family and professional relationships, Sime says “it can get tricky, but it’s always fine – we’re brothers forever.”

With a big age difference between the siblings, Sime says they grew up rarely in the same place at the same time. But once they all moved down to Melbourne, the brothers recruited Nic’s best mate Tim on bass, and guitarist Dan who had met Sam while travelling in Turkey.

Though last year’s hit single ‘Cherry Lips’ reached number 29 on the Triple J Hottest 100, the boys had just been taking life as it comes, with Sime admitting, “we really did not intend to start a band.”

“We were just playing for fun, having a couple of Thursday night get-togethers and jams. Then we started making a few of our own tracks, put them on the internet and realised they started to get a bit of interest, so we pushed a lot harder and that was four years ago, now.”

Although the band didn’t anticipate their current levels of success, they’re working as hard as they can to balance their commitments to music with their full time jobs.

“Music is a bit of a juggling act. Things have got a lot more intense with the band and we all have to fit in our day jobs around it.”

A full time school teacher himself, Sime doesn’t waste a minute and even snuck in some composition for their debut album Gloamer at his work.

“I wrote two of the songs on this album in my classroom in the lunch break – you don’t know when they’re going to strike.”

The album came about as all members of the band were experiencing big life changes as well as working – Sam and Dan each suffered from big break ups, and Sime was graced with a new baby boy, Lenny.

“I hope he plays an instrument – but I’m not going to make him. I hope he enjoys it because it’s a good past time. When I play guitar he seems to really like it.”

Hobart audiences can expect to enjoy it too when Loon Lake hits up the Republic – and Sime says he’s equally looking forward to making it down to the island.

“The only time we’ve been down to Tassie is for Falls, and we had a ball. We thought Tassie was really beautiful so we’re stoked to come down there again.”

Loon Lake will bring their Good Times Tour to the Republic Bar on March 29 and the gig will also feature special guests The Middle Names. Tickets are available via http://www.loonlake.com.au.

By Stephanie Eslake

This article featured in Warp Magazine, March 2014
http://www.warpmagazine.com.au
Image: Warp Magazine

 

Christopher Coleman Collective: Album Debut

Chris Coleman has just released his debut album. Image source: Warp Magazine

Chris Coleman has just released his debut album. Image source: Warp Magazine

One of Tasmania’s brightest rising stars Christopher Coleman this week hit up the Spiegeltent with the world premier of his debut album Christopher Coleman Collective. The Ten Days on the Island gig marked the album’s international launch and Chris shares his thoughts on the release

After scoring first place in the performance category of the 2013 Telstra Road to Discovery award for his hits Go Home and Little Trumpets, Chris is back on the scene louder than ever. Joined by his best mates and band members Michael Panton, Liam O’Leary, Sam Stansall, and his brother Jonathon, Chris will sang to us the intimate tracks off his new album – ensuring “Tassie hears it first.”

“I like to let the music tell those stories. I’m far better at communicating through lyrics than public speaking. I think you just need to listen to it.”

The album, which was 25 months in the making, also gave the chance for others to sing through their own experiences as Chris worked closely with the Choir of High Hopes on ‘Go Home’ – the first single and first track on the album. The choir unites those challenged with by poverty, disability, homelessness, and other disadvantages and encourages hope and friendship through song. After seeing the group perform at the Huonville Town Hall, Chris was inspired to include them in his recording and film clip.

“It was just a beautiful and uplifting performance that moved me enough to be really inspired to want to do things. I would recommend it for any human to go and watch a show like that. It was individuals telling their stories as well as songs written as a group, just about getting up and getting on with it all.”

“It was inspiring to keep living as much as to create anything around it. It was a great collaboration to make.”

Chris is no stranger to life’s challenges, and has had it tough himself as a sufferer of bipolar disorder. Braving his condition, Chris has turned his emotions into tools of musical expression which can be heard in the “real mix of highs and lows” in his new release.

“The album was a very arduous project. Not out of being a perfectionist about it, more just falling in and out of love with the idea of doing a full length album and believing in it and not believing in it. I guess anyone has the doubts about the worth of doing anything.”

Despite his challenges, and despite being the recipient of a national award which will send him to Nashville, and despite having toured around the world (all under the age of 25), Chris is satisfied that this album is the best thing he’s ever done.

“I think my biggest achievement is finishing this album. The Telstra program was certainly the biggest amount of exposure I’ve received for anything I’ve ever done, but in terms of personal satisfaction or being proud about it, the album’s first.”

STEPHANIE ESLAKE

This article featured in Warp Magazine, March 2014
http://www.warpmagazine.com.au

Dave Graney: a Humble ’90s Rocker

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A humble ’90s rocker. Image source: Warp Magazine.

Hardcore guitarist, songwriter and performer Dave Graney has been hailed as a ‘cryptic rock voyager’, a ‘tooled up clown’, and a ‘freewheeling champ’ during his 25 year album career. The ‘90s rocker shares the ups and downs of his career in the Aussie music industry.

STEPH: You’ve said your music is loaded with ideas and emotions- what really gets you going as a musician?

DAVE: I love guitars and guitar sounds. New music I guess. I don’t listen to music for nostalgic reasons. I like the Melbourne music scene – there’s always so much going on. So many of the musicians are also from Tasmania, actually. I like grooves and voices, so I really tuned into country music, hip hop and reggae: all places for great voices.

S: When does a new idea come to you, and how do you keep ideas fresh after so long?

D: Time is irrelevant in music. It never gets boring. I wish it did, but it’s a chaotic and unpredictable world.

S: Based on what you’ve observed in the industry, do you think today’s bands will live on for decades? Is it possible or has the nature of ‘fame’ changed so that we don’t tend to put musicians up on pedestals as we once did?

D: Jeez, fame is for that TV talent show world. It’s embarrassing to talk about that sort of thing. I liked music because it was a secret underworld. That’s the best part of it, the underworld, not the mainstream. Though, it’s great when something weird crashes into the straight world and smashes everything. That’s the best.

S: You like to play on “cheap guitars” – do you think with today’s modern technology and high quality recording standards, it’s more about that highly produced effect and less about the music itself? How do you fit in?

D: I haven’t really been any good at fitting in. Would be nice to feel at one with my contemporaries or peers. I went down roads that interested me. Digital recording is great. Old school studio skills are amazing too, and it’s great to be able to know people who have them – people who know about things from before the digital era. People who use their ears and know about mic placement. I would disagree that today’s standards are high. Certainly not as high as Frank Sinatra in the ‘50s or ‘60s. Today’s world is coarse and crude in many ways, with a thin veneer of sophistication, and this very much applies to recording.

S: What are some of the important attitudes and life lessons from your long standing career that you have chosen to hold with you today?

Enjoy yourself? There is no industry. Social media is a hoax. Sorry, I haven’t learned much. I like to play music live. That’s about it.

BY STEPHANIE ESLAKE

This article featured in Warp Magazine, February 2014
http://www.warpmagazine.com.au

“The Future of Music”: Lolo Lovina

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Lolo Lovina. Image sourced Warp Magazine.

When you live in a multicultural society, world music is right at your doorstep. Aussie band Lolo Lovina have brought together musicians from all corners of Europe to create a melting pot of gypsy madness, and are bringin’ their thang to the Homestead on February 7. Lead singing gypsy Sarah Bedak tell us why Lolo Lovina is, according to Brian Eno himself, “the future of music.”

Lolo Lovina has Ukrainian, Romanian, Hungarian and Brazilian band members – but despite their differing backgrounds, they’re able to achieve the perfect balance of tastes and traditions.

“We have matching skill, passion, drive, dedication and desire to play and celebrate our peoples’ music as well as we possibly can,” Sarah says.

“We are blessed to have found each other and to have this amazing opportunity to work with one another.”

After meeting in Serbia three years ago, the musicians “clicked perfectly, musically” and got straight into recording and performing styles ranging from tango, British pop, flamenco, and gypsy swing.

“A lot of people replicate gypsy music, but what we are doing right now is the total real deal and we’re very excited about it!”

Though Sarah herself was brought up in Sydney, her Budapest-Romani gypsy background is the essence of her music.

“I am in love with gypsy music,” Sarah says.

“It is the sound of who I am. It is in my blood.”

Sarah continues a long history of performing gypsy music, with family relations to violinist Roby Lakatos, folk composer and violinist Danko Pista, and trapeze catcher father who travelled around Europe in a gypsy circus. It’d be safe to assume some incredible stories are told over the family dinner table.

“My family played jazz illegally during the Communist occupation of Hungary, in dug out hidden basements. Can imagine how cool that would have sounded?”

Lolo Lovina may not perform for us in a hidden basement, but the band will be sure to bring their vibrant, traditional, and overwhelmingly sultry music to our Tassie ears.

“Our music is impassioned and alive. Sexuality is, of course, a part of this. I feel most myself when I’m singing and I focus on giving love and gratitude to the audience for being with us. I hope the audience is inspired to celebrate life when they hear our music.”

Join Sarah in Lolo Lovina at the Homestead at 9.30pm on February 7. Tickets available at the door.

BY STEPHANIE ESLAKE

This featured in Warp Magazine February 2014

http://www.warpmagazine.com.au

2014 Australia Day Honours

Many Australians were acknowledged for their contributions to the community in this year’s Australia Day honours. Professor Kate Warner and Peter Campbell were two of the Tasmanians who received an Order of Australia award for years of dedication to the state and country.

Professor Warner, who was made a Member of the Order (AM), has been responsible for significant law reform in the areas of sexual offenses, including changing the definition of rape. Peter, who received a Medal of the Order (OAM), has witnessed and reported some of the most memorable moments in yachting history through his work as a sports journalist.

More on Professor Warner and Peter can be found through the links to my articles for The Mercury’s Sunday Tasmanian below:

Professor Warner: http://www.themercury.com.au/news/tasmania/professor-kate-warner-made-a-member-of-the-order-am-in-2014-australia-day-honours/story-fnj4f7k1-1226810427590

Peter Campbell: http://www.themercury.com.au/news/tasmania/peter-mceachern-campbell-awarded-medal-of-the-order-oam-in-australia-day-honours-2014/story-fnj4f7k1-1226810431553

Zombies, Lesbians, and Tasmanian Film: Rebecca Thomson

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Rebecca Thomson. Image supplied.

Rebecca Thomson is modest when it comes to her knowledge of the silver screen.

“I definitely cannot describe myself as a film buff,” Rebecca admits.

“I hang out with people who quote from feature films and they just pull references here or there. I’ve seen the same films and I can’t remember anything – I’m left with feelings and impressions.”

Despite her inability to quote from movies word for word, Rebecca plays an active role in the state’s film industry as one of its finest directors. The Tasmanian born mother of three has achieved global recognition for her locally produced short films. Her productions have won her a number of awards and have exported contemporary Tasmanian culture around the globe through more than 60 festivals.

Although she started out in musical theatre acting during her Ogilvie High School days, Rebecca soon became interested in what goes on behind the camera and looked to filmmaking – a move influenced by her fascination with otherworldly tales.

“I’ve always been attracted to stories that have a fantasy nature. In my teen years, I definitely went through a horror period. I like things which take me out of real life.”

Tied to Tasmania by her family and love for the state, Rebecca decided to follow her dream of becoming a top Tassie filmmaker.

“I thought if I’m going to stay in Tasmania, then I’ve got to make things happen for myself. I just loved the idea that film was a way that you could tell stories from Tasmania that could reach the world.”

After having her first child Spike, now 6, Rebecca entered her first film into Tropfest and confesses it “wasn’t well done, but it was a start.”

Now nurturing two more children, Coco, 6 and Sunny, 1, Rebecca has directed six short films and is planning her first feature after winning the 2012 Holding Redlich Pitch Competition.

Rebecca stood before hundreds of Australia’s top producers to present her idea for a feature length version of her hilarious 2010 short comedy Cupcake: A Zombie Lesbian Musical. Receiving first prize and a trip to this year’s Cannes Film Festival, she secured Screen Tasmania funding for script development and attracted producer Martin Brown, who worked with Baz Luhrmann on Romeo and Juliet and Moulin Rouge.

“Winning the pitch was really important. It was probably a good thing for lots of people in Tasmania because they probably thought, ‘if Rebecca can do it, I can do it!’.”

Rebecca is conscious of the difficulties faced in shooting a film with three young children, but is no stranger to having her family behind the scenes.

“Making a film is not a family friendly activity. They’re going to have to be zombies in it – they’re going to have to be all involved.”

Rebecca’s husband, Paul, and their children joined her in Cannes, exploring the film festival and even starting a film among themselves, set in the magnificent castles and ruins of France.

Wisely, Rebecca used the once in a lifetime opportunity to build relationships for further down the track in her filmmaking career.

“Everywhere you go in that town – beach, restaurant – the person next to you will always be in the film industry so there’s networking opportunities everywhere. It can be quite overwhelming because there’s things going on every hour of the day. I hardly saw any films, sadly – I was too busy trying to meet people.”

Rebecca’s experience taught her that coming from a small community like Tasmania isn’t an inhibiting factor in pursuing even the biggest of dreams.

“You can become very small minded being here about what’s possible, what standard you should be aiming for and who is accessible. Going to Cannes made me think beyond and think bigger. Everybody I talked to was very interested in the idea of Tasmania. I think the idea of setting my film in Tasmania is good – it does have this exotic appeal.”

While Rebecca’s films often feature cultural references exclusive to Tassie, many of her productions delve into the issues of gender equality and themes of femininity.

Along with Cupcake: A Zombie Lesbian Musical, her 2010 LGBT erotic sci-fi Slashed and this years’ black comedy The Jelly Wrestler also explore her interest in female sexuality. Her collection has been screened and won awards at LGBT and women’s film festivals around the world.

“I’m always naturally drawn to female protagonists and wanting to share that experience. Maybe it’s growing up as a middle class white female in Australia. I don’t think we have gender equality yet, and maybe we never will in certain respects. I won’t pretend that I can do it with my films alone, but it’s something I definitely believe in for people with different sexualities to have equality.”

Rebecca’s feminist themes are comically presented in her films through sci-fi and horror. She recently teamed up with filmmaker Briony Kidd to create Tasmania’s Stranger With My Face Horror Film Festival, which has been given a place in the Top Five Coolest Women’s Film Festivals in the world by MovieMaker Magazine.

“Stranger With My Face certainly found an audience, and I think the fact that it is so niche is really attractive to a certain group of people.”

While Rebecca anticipates big things to come for Tassie, her own productions undoubtedly help put the state on the map.

“There’s a sense that the Tassie film industry is really building. There’s a lot of exciting things happening. I would love to be able to make films and survive in Tasmania, from Tasmania, but for me the focus is more to make films from Tasmania that people want to watch. The most satisfying thing is taking an idea and seeing it up on screen and have other people enjoying it as well.”

BY STEPHANIE ESLAKE

This featured in Aphra Magazine, January 2014
http://www.aphramag.com/rebecca-thomson/

Review: Francesca De Valence

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Francesca De Valence’s new EP Things That We Had Said can’t be defined by a single genre. It’s pop, it’s smooth jazz, and it even features classical instrumentation. Replacing ambition with honesty, the release allows for an emotional experience that’s rare to find in an era of electronic and dance music. Francesca demonstrates confidence in her wide vocal range, but her true strength lies in her lower tones. Her voice is raw, charmingly imperfect, and impossible to tune out.

‘You Know What You Did’ is a lively opener and features an unpredictable section of improvised scat, hinting at Francesca’s background in jazz. The actual composition of the vocal lines and chord progressions is not unlike Amanda Palmer’s in the Dresden Dolls – but without the hyperactivity and darkness of punk cabaret and instead heralding a far smoother jazz vibe. This may only be obvious to the avid Dresden Dolls listener (like yours truly).

‘Beautiful Night’ is both pleasant and raw, showcasing Francesca’s subtle vibrato through honest vocals. The use of marching snare drum effectively builds momentum in the song, and its style may be considered more typically pop than the surrounding tracks. Title track ‘Things That We Had Said’ is bold, resolute and enjoyably repetitive.

‘Desire’ marks the pinnacle of the singer’s smooth vocals, which glide over the melody line without break, as though every word is combined into one. Gorgeously romantic, it’s unarguably the most emotional track and may be a little confronting to anyone who has experienced a recent heartache. Francesca herself has admitted that it’s one of her favourites on the album and along with its emotional impact, it also opens with a harpsichord passage which pays homage to her classical training.

‘Desire’ makes the following song ‘The Fighter’ feel uplifting through its highly contrasting beat. This track is catchy and tense despite its major feel. While it starts simply, it has great scope for emotional build and provides evidence of the amount of thought behind the ordering of songs on the EP to ensure a perfect balance of moods for the listener’s journey.

Things That We Had Said is an understated release, and through its simplicity and creative concoction of styles it achieves a timelessness that will see it thrive through generations to come.

BY STEPHANIE ESLAKE

This review featured in Aphra Magazine: http://www.aphramag.com/francesca-de-valence-things-that-we-had-said/