The following were written during an internship with the podcast department at Mushroom Group where I wrote a series of articles about each episode of Hit Different. Due to a website redesign none were published. These were left unedited.
“We’re Really Stuck Here” – How Aus Musicians Are Dealing With A Closed Border
Masked Wolf is one of the many Australian artists stuck in the country.
The Sydney rapper has one of the most popular songs in the US, and, according to his manager, they would be overseas right now if possible.
“The issue is this bungled vaccine rollout. Mask Wolf is killing it overseas. His track Astronaut In The Ocean is number one in six different countries. It’s so crazy. Right now he should be over In the US and in Europe”, said Mikey Cahill, co-host of Hit Different.
Unable to visit in person, many artists are appearing on US TV’s late night talk shows.
Australia’s Middle Kids recently performed for Jimmy Kimmel and James Corden, with a set recorded in Sydney.
They’re now available online where already almost 30,000 people have viewed each video.
Currently touring Australia, Middle Kids have also announced an international tour for later this year.
They are one of the few Australian bands to do so, with borders, vaccines, and restrictions potentially changing at the drop of a hat.
In the US, 50% of their population have received at least one jab of their vaccine, and concerts are already being organised, with Middle Kids set to appear with over 120 other bands at Firefly Festival in September.
More Australian acts are keen to join in, and Mikey Cahill is hopeful things may change for everyone who is keen to tour overseas again soon, and he has the following message for Prime Minister Scott Morrison:
“Artists, who are the first people to do bushfire relief and flood relief gigs and all these kinds of things, are the ones getting shafted. So we want to send a message to the federal government, that they need to get their shit together. Please.”
Live music is different in 2021: Bowls, pods, and the NT’s metal festival
Melbourne’s Live At The Bowl series brought nearly 100,000 people to the Sidney Myer Music Bowl, employed 3,250 people, and gave a $27 million boost to the Victorian economy.
It’s become an early blueprint for how to hold large events post-Covid.
“We had a whole range of shows go down, everything from The Avalanches to Tina Arena. There was just so much, and was a really sort of reenergizing and rejuvenating thing for the Melbourne industry especially”, said Hit Different co-host Sosefina Fuamoli.
Fans were happy to be out again too, but were slightly restricted as they sat inside private little pods, as co-host Mikey Cahill noticed.
“For the Skegs show they had to stop it seven times because kids kept getting out of their pods and running over to each other and getting so excited. The energy was lost a little bit, but it’s still amazing to see live music, you’re just dancing with the same six people”, he said.
Over in central Australia, Blacken Open Air is celebrating being one of the world’s most remote heavy metal music festivals, with things set to kick off in July this year.
Founded in 2013, Blacken is run by The Black Wreath, a heavy metal record label based in Alice Springs who decided to bring Australia’s metal scene to them.
This is three nights of camping, headbanging, and rocking out in the desert, you wouldn’t want to miss.
“What I love about that festival is that yes, it’s homegrown. Yes, they’ve cultivated this own energy, its own sense of sustainable community. But it’s also making sure that they’re bringing people into the community as well”, said Sosefina Fuamoli.
The festivals announcement coincided with discounted flights thanks to the Alice Springs government, allowing Australians a unique chance to explore the NT.
This promises to be one of the most exciting events in Australia this year, and even people who aren’t metal heads are curious, with South Auckland band Shepherds Reign a particular highlight.
The band features Māori and Chinese members, and perform their song Le Manu in Samoan, with Sosefina Fuamoli a fan of their hectic videos, saying “I’m not even metal adjacent, but these guys are fucking incredible!”
Meadow, The Little Festival That Could
Just as he was boarding a plane to a mates wedding, Meadow’s Festival Director Cameron Wade got a call telling him it was over.
In what he described as one of the most devastating days of his life, 2020s Meadow festival was cancelled.
“I’m in this wedding the whole weekend just destroyed because my festival’s just been torn in half. I’m trying to be really happy and smile for him and everything and then just inside I was just like, this is so bad!”
With such a downer during an otherwise happy event, Cameron was thankfully not in charge of speeches, “I was luckily just sitting solemnly at the table.”
But that was last year.
In April 2021 Meadow returned with a lineup featuring King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard, Angie McMahon, HTRK, Private Function, Prequel, King Stingray, and stacks more.
No moshing. No crowd surfing. No stage diving. Yes dancing.
Held down in Bambra, 90 minutes south-west of Melbourne, the festival was run as a Covid Safe event, with just under 1000 people in attendance.
“We got lucky this year and made our way through the various sets of requirements that have been put in place. We asked a lot of questions, got a lot of good answers, and some very vague answers, and finally got to the point where we thought ‘Yes, we can do this.’ January, we made an announcement saying we’ll put it on and went from there.”
Originally a plan had been developed to create a wall dividing the crowds.
But while an east and west Berlin Wall type of vibe might have sounded fun, restrictions continued to ease and the Meadow crew were able to tear down their wall before the crowds arrived.
One final hiccup had been the festivals water supply, which thanks to some wet weather found itself stuck in the mud.
“So we’re a couple of hours from everyone arriving and everybody’s water for the weekend is stuck down the bottom of the hill. He just got too close to the edge and started to head down, the whole 30 ton of water. We spent the next few hours with tractors and chains and finally pulled him back up.”
With the festival up and running, it wasn’t just music on the bill either, as set times were scheduled around the sun, so no bands would be outshone by a spectacular sunset, according to Cameron Wade.
“It’s pretty crazy out there when you get the right amount of cloud and the right sunset and everyone just walks away from the stage and you’re like, Oh, I’m sorry whoever’s on there…You’re standing watching the band, and it’s right there and you just get drawn away, and they walk away.”
Punters spent three days camping, watching bands, sunsets, and even movies, thanks to the Glow Relaxo small screen cinema.
But Cameron Wade said not everyone was impressed with the cinema’s location.
“The one thing that I did hear that was problematic was that our cinema was too close to the first aid tent. So if people needed a bit of quiet time they had had a bit much, whatever they’d had. And then Con Air is playing beside you and this plane crashes going on. So that is on the ‘we need to fix this’ list.”
Alongside his small crew made up of friends and family, Cameron Wade was satisfied they pulled off another successful Meadow, and with festival number seven (and a half) completed, they can begin to plan the next one.
Episode 2 – Bonus Middle Kids
Hannah Joy Middle Kids
“For me, my songwriting is so informed by my life experience. So, you’ve got to live your life and be engaged.”
So says Hannah Joy, lead singer of Middle Kids, who sat down with Hit Different co-host Mikey Cahill to reminisce about some of her music memories.
Starting at the beginning, Hannah tries to recall the first piece of music that moved her, and recalls how her and her siblings had an interesting way of experiencing new music, thanks to their dad.
“He’d want to show us a piece of music and he’d turn all the lights off in the house and then we’d lie on the floor”, she said.
“There was just heaps of music really early on, but I think it was the classical music that grabbed me, and then I was really into pop.”
Growing up in Turramurra, NSW, Hannah would record her favourite songs off the radio, but recalls would get frustrated with radio announcers who insisted on talking over the top of music.
“I’d sit with my little cassette player on the radio trying to record songs, and you’re like, do I miss the first couple seconds because this dickhead won’t stop talking, or do I just get it.”
Moving on from taping music off the radio, Hannah began to save her chore money up to buy CD singles, which she says allowed her to appreciate the work which went into owning something special.
“I remember buying Nelly Furtado Fly Like A Bird with all my coins. That was so meaningful as a young kid being like, ‘how can I utilize my time and resources to get four songs?’ As opposed to just going ‘click’, you know.”
When she was 12, Hannah’s music tastes were changing and she had a life changing experience thanks to a recommendation from she listen to Radiohead’s Kid A.
“I remember taking my Diskman to school and sitting on the sandstone library steps. I felt like, everything has changed now. I didn’t have words for it, but something in my soul was being touched on and I just couldn’t stop listening to it.”
But it wasn’t just Discmans and radios growing up, as Hannah and her siblings also brought music into their home through regular singing sessions, which included everything from Radiohead to old hymns.
“There was always a rule in our house, whoever cooks doesn’t have to clean up. So we’ll be cleaning and we’d put on some music and sing and then eventually someone would pick up an instrument. It’s just always kind of been a way that we engage with each other.”
During winter the family would sit around a large fireplace while Hannah played piano, accompanied by one of her three brothers on guitar.
It’s a beautiful scene, which Hannah calls one of her most special and enduring memories, and the family still get together to sing when they meet up now.
“All my brothers have such nice voices, like actually better than me, but they work in finance and are athletes, so they don’t need to worry about that.”
Hannah didn’t think of herself as a singer at first, instead focusing on classical piano, until she was 14 and won a school composition competition.
At the time she had just started writing music, but winning the competition meant performing at the Sydney Opera House in front of an audience.
Still quite shy, she hid behind the grand piano’s open lid during her performance.
“I remember so clearly being like, ‘what am I doing?’ But there was an energy in the room and I knew something was happening. Then afterwards, people were like, ‘whoa, what was that?’, and I was like, ‘I dunno’.”
No longer hiding, she’s come a long way since, forming the band Middle Kids with Tim Fitz and Harry Day, and releasing three albums, with this year’s Today We’re The Greatest 12
Covid meant Middle Kids were forced to take a break from touring last year, and after touring while heavily pregnant in 2019,3 Hannah was able to take time out to focus on motherhood.
The time away also meant Hannah spent some time re-evaluating her music career, and what it meant to be an artist while the world was suffering.
“My son was really sick when he was born. I felt afraid, and I felt like music is so meaningless. Like, what the fuck? You’re spending all your time to write silly songs when you’ve got sick children in the world, what are you doing? I went through a time of intense grief, and then you start healing and you start kind of finding your way again, and then I kind of started coming back to it.”
Finding her way back to music, Hannah hopes she is able to translate some of those feelings into new songs, bringing recent life experiences into her music.
“The music that can come out of that place, I think is exciting and meaningful. I’m trying to be about life, and then the music comes out of that.”
Flash Forward – Melbourne’s Mystery Festival
While Melbourne’s Rising festival has been cancelled for the second year in a row thanks to Covid-19, another festival Flash Forward is set to launch on June 18.
Hit Different co-host Mikey Cahill has the scoop.
“Artists and musicians are getting paid a lot of money to do a record and put on a concert in a laneway. But nobody’s talking about it. Nobody knows about it. What the hell’s going on?” he said.
Nothing has been officially released yet, but Mikey’s sources confirmed artists will be paid $20,000 to take part, which is huge!
It’s not just the money either.
Each musician or band will get to cut an LP or EP on vinyl, pressed at Program Records.
The new kids on the block, Program set up a brand spanking new record pressing plant in Thornbury.
They were recently in the news themselves after announcing they would recycle old vinyl records back into new ones. They’ll even pay you. Nice.
So with all the good vibes in the air, why is no one talking about Flash Forward?
Right now, the only one person approved to talk about the festival is Melbourne’s Lord Mayor, and they remain tight lipped.
Hit Different co-host Marcus Teague gave his 5 cents.
“It’s awesome that these artists are getting supported, and getting cash, and doing gigs. But it can be disappointing to know that they can’t talk about it.” he said
The festival will give exposure to many artists who aren’t household names.
The lineup features well known acts like HTRK next to groups like Screensaver and Vacuum who have yet to release albums.
Hit Different guest Dr. Jade O’Regan was particularly impressed by how unfamiliar many of the names on the lineup were.
“It’s kind of exciting that a bunch of up and coming and new artists are going to get a really great opportunity that I think will have a lot of flow on effects for them.
“To be able to make a record and press it on vinyl and do a cool gig, that’s a dream come true.”
While we wait for an official announcement, Flash Forward’s website promises “40 ACTS / 40 ARTISTS / 40 LANEWAYS / ALL NEW WORK / ALL FREE” and we just hope we’ll be able to get out and see it.
2 – Falling – Accepting rejected ideas and listening to the Beach Boys.
Is there value in a rejected idea?
That’s the question brought up by Falling, an evening which brought together artists who had their proposals rejected by Melbourne’s Rising festival.
Ironically Falling was held before Rising, and Rising has since been cancelled due to Melbourne’s lockdown. But that’s another whole thing.
Hit Different co-host Marcus Teague asked, is there value in reviving mistakes, owning failure, being wrong, and talking about it?
Dr. Jade O’Regan from the University of Sydney spoke to Hit Different and says yes!
“I actually really love this concept, because I don’t think we acknowledge the failures in life enough.
“This is a really beautiful opportunity to acknowledge the very human experience of just missing out on something that you really cared about or were looking forward to”, she said.
Likening it to a therapy session, Dr. O’Regan said it was great that artists were supporting each other and creating a positive outcome.
Musicians in particular have a funny relationship with their rejected ideas, as fans often fawn over demos, and alternative studio outtakes.
In 2019 Radiohead fans went wild after the band released 16 hours of their demos from 1997’s OK Computer album sessions.
Elsewhere Bob Dylan has been releasing his Bootleg Series of live shows and outtakes for years, and expanded editions of albums from Marvin Gaye to The Rolling Stones have always been top sellers.
One particular album that is famous for how it was embraced by fans years before it was officially released is the Beach Boys’ Smile.
Smile was abandoned in the 60s, with songs popping up both officially and as bootlegs until 2004 when the album was finally released as Brian Wilson Presents Smile.
“It’s such an interesting record because it was one of the great myths of pop music. There was a real history of fans piecing together their own versions.
“People would swap tapes of what Smile was supposed to be, so I feel like fans had a part in that history and trying to make that record, which is pretty cool”, said Dr. O’Regan.
But for every Smile there are albums which come out on time and take years to find their place.
Albums such as Weezer’s Pinkerton or Nine Inch Nails’ The Fragile have become fan favourites, even though at the time they weren’t embraced so warmly.
Art will always be subjective, so the value of an album will differ person to person.
But as long as ideas are brought out into the world then fans somewhere will find a way to champion them.
3 – Can You Copyright A Feeling?
Musicians have been borrowing from each other for years, whether it’s emulating their heroes, or directly sampling them, for every clever homage there’s a lawyer in waiting.
In 2003 Aussie rockers Jet released Are You Gonna Be My Girl, a smash hit around the world which drew comparisons to Iggy Pop’s 1977 song Lust For Life.
But Jet’s Chris Cester said they’d actually been inspired by 60s soul songs, telling Uptown Magazine in 2009, “we were ripping off Motown more than Lust for Life…if you listen to a song like You Can’t Hurry Love (The Supremes) I think you’ll find its closer to Are You Gonna Be My Girl than Lust for Life ever was.”
Across the pond, Robin Thicke was sued in 2015 when his song Blurred Lines was considered too similar to Marvin Gaye’s Got To Give It Up.
But Dr. Jade O’Regan from the University of Sydney said this wasn’t a simple case of a stolen melody or lyric, but something much vaguer which could have repercussions across the music industry.
“What was very different about the Blurred Lines situation is it was about the style. It was about the texture, the tambor, the sound of it. I mean, it does sound similar to the Marvin Gaye track, definitely. But it set this precedent of can you copyright a feeling? Can you copyright a vibe?”, she said.
“There are stylistic things that make it sound like retro r&b music from the 70s. But can that be something that’s copyrightable? Or is that just a genre of music?”
Over 200 artists wrote in support of Robin Thicke, not because they liked his song, but because they were worried of the cases implications.
The George Washington University noted an increase in the number of music copyright infringement cases in the last thirty years.
In the US, of the 243 cases settled since 1944, close to 100 occurred after 2015, when Robin Thicke was ordered to pay $7.3m to Marvin Gaye’s family.
The cases have continued, averaging 14 per year, but peaked in 2016 when 22 settlements occurred. One wonders what this could mean for the creativity of future musicians.
Record labels are already preparing, and have been hiring forensic musicologists to help, something Dr. O’Regan has taken part in herself.
“I’ve done this on a couple of situations, before records have been released, where I’ve had to listen and give an opinion on how close songs are before it’s been released.
“I think that’s something that is going to be going on more and more, to get that advice before things are released, so that they feel covered. It’s pretty fun. It’s actually a really lovely job”, she said.
Splendour in the Grass is cancelled, long live Splendour XR.
Hit Different co-host Mikey Cahill has some breaking news.
“We can reveal that Splendour in the Grass in November ain’t going ahead.”
After last year’s festival was cancelled, it was moved to November 2021.
Headliners The Strokes, Gorillaz and Tyler, The Creator were locked in to celebrate Splendour’s 20th Anniversary.
Instead, Australia’s favourite festival is going digital this year as Splendour XR.
Across two days, artists like Khalid, Chvrches, Masked Wolf, Grimes, Charlie XCX, and The Avalanches will be coming to your screen starting July 24.
It’s exciting, but Mikey Cahill wonders how people will embrace a virtual festival?
“There’s a lot of Zoom fatigue at the moment and trying to get that festival experience, it’s different in your own home as opposed to with a bunch of strangers”, he said.
This past year, streamed concerts have become the norm, but the return of Meadow and Live At The Bowl have shown there is a thirst for being there in person.
Splendour XR’s lineup is incredibly stacked, with heaps to see across the two days.
Hit Different co-host Sosefina Fuamoli says she wasn’t blown away with the hype.
“It’s a solid lineup and it kind of reminds me of Big Day Out lineups of old, but at the end of the day, it’s still a virtual gig”, she said.
Splendour XR will allow people to interact in a virtual world.
It sounds more like a video game, just with bands providing the soundtrack.
You can even create your own avatar right now.
Of course, the real news is about Splendour in the Grass’ cancellation.
After breaking the sad news, Mikey Cahill has some kind words for the organisers.
“We wish Splendid well, we hope everything sorts itself out there, and we certainly hope this extended reality from Splendour XR goes off.”
Are there fewer bands now?
Right now ARIA’s Singles Chart is mostly made up of solo acts.
Alongside Olivia Rodrigo, Doja Cat, and Masked Wolf, are two bands, Glass Animals and Fleetwood Mac.
Yep, only two of the Top 50 singles are bands, and one came out in 1977.
In the Albums Chart, Twenty One Pilots, Spacey Jane and The Black Keys are the only new albums from bands.
So what’s going on? Why are there so many solo artists right now?
Hit Different guest Allday is a solo artist, and he has an idea.
“Kids don’t have access to a full recording studio. They have a laptop, and it just makes more sense to make it yourself. So I think that’s what affects the lack of bands”, he said.
Ten years earlier things were different, as ARIA’s Top Albums for 2001 show.
Back then, alongside Kylie, Craig David, and Eminem, were bands like Powderfinger, Coldplay, and The Strokes.
Bands were everywhere, and recently Maroon 5’s Adam Levine reflected on the good old days.
“There’s no bands anymore, and I feel like they’re a dying breed… they’re not in the limelight quite as much, or in the pop limelight, but I wish there could be more”, he told Vulture.
While bands obviously still exist, solo artists are getting a head start.
Hit Different co-host Sosefina Fuamoli says social media is playing a part.
“We’re seeing artists who were garnering audiences in the millions before they’ve even decided to touch music. Then major labels give them the avenue to explore what is already loved music and creativity there”, she said.
So, that’s it. If you want to be in the charts, quit the band and get on Instagram.
Or just rename your band to Fleetwood Mac.
Episode 4 – Bonus – Allday
Growing up in Blackwood, South Australia, Allday began his career at local rap battles.
“I never even would have recorded music if I didn’t win a rap battle”, he said.
“The prize for the rap battle was recording time at a studio in our community centre.”
Performing under the name Tomzilla, he wanted a new name for his recording debut.
Then a friend told him, “all you do is rap all day”, so he chose Allday.
Allday recorded nine songs and burnt them onto CDs for friends.
But without a studio of his own it took a few years before his next release arrived.
In 2011 he released his debut EP Noue Yesue, and earned some radio play from Triple J.
“After that I decided that music was going to be my job and I started going harder with it. I was working at a call centre and it made me work on music so much harder because I hated working there so much”, he said in 2014.
After topping ARIA charts with three albums, including collaborations with The Veronicas, Allday released Drinking with My Smoking Friends.
The album features a slew of guests, including ex-Gang of Youths guitarist Joji Malani and producer Japanese Wallpaper.
Hit Different co-host Sosefina Fuamoli loved the album, and can’t wait to see it live.
“When I first heard the first few singles I was just like, ‘Oh, this will be a lovely experience to vibe out with live crowds.’ It wraps you up, and it just made me feel comfortable and warm”, she said.
With the album climbing up the ARIA Chart, Allday isn’t planning on stopping yet.
Instead, he wants to build up enough music that in 30 years people can vibe to his Greatest Hits.
It’s a great plan, but one he is slightly embarrassed to share, as he told Hit Different.
“I feel sometimes weird about expressing dreams because it’s kind of embarrassing if you don’t make it. I mean, we are allowed to dream aren’t we?”
Three songs which hit different for Allday
Hit Different co-hosts Mikey Cahill and Sosefina Fuamoli asked Allday about the music which shaped him.
These are just three of the songs which he said hit different.
The Monkees – Daydream Believer
“I’m seven or eight years old and I get a CD player. Monkeys Greatest Hits, Daydream Believer. It’s just a good song. I don’t know what to tell you. I hadn’t heard much music at that stage, but that song really holds up, it’s still so good.”
What’s Up Doc? (Can We Rock) · Shaquille O’Neal
“I was really big into basketball, so I had a Shaquille O’Neal album, but Shaquille O’Neal wasn’t the best at music.”
Talib Kweli & DJ Hi Tek – Eternalists
“There was an album that Talib Kweli did with DJ Hi Tek called Reflection Eternal and there’s a song called Eternalists that was on a skate video. That song just hit me, that exploded my brain. At the same time, I was discovering skateboarding and other rap music and that wat was a pretty pivotal that moment.”
Spotify’s mysterious algorithm deal for fledgling artists
Spotify’s new Discovery Mode was announced in November last year but saw instant backlash.
The new feature asked artists and labels to accept less royalties in exchange for having their music pushed to more listeners.
The idea is, if more listeners hear the music, you’ll get more fans, and earn more overall.
But what if it doesn’t work out that way?
Hit Different co-host Marcus Teague said it resembled ‘pay to play’.
“Basically, it’s saying that you forfeit some of your profits, and you’ll be pushed through our algorithm to be more easily discovered. But there’s no roadmap. It’s just kind of trusting their word on it,” he said.
Discovery Mode is still being tested and hasn’t been rolled out everywhere yet.
But this hasn’t stopped artists and members of the US congress from getting worried.
Musician Ladyhawke dropped by Hit Different and said she’s annoyed by how artists and their music aren’t valued.
“It’s that classic thing of you’ll get the exposure, but we won’t give you any money. I just don’t understand why people expect to get music for free. It’s so important in society, and the people who create it get paid so little to begin with. It’s sad”, she said.
While they may be synonymous with music streaming, Spotify’s global market share is dropping while their competitors grow.
They are also paying out more royalties while losing profits.4 So their latest plan almost makes sense…for them.
Now Spotify has to answer to their shareholders and the US congress.
But hopefully they’ll listen to their customers and realise paying for exposure isn’t the way.
Dark Mofo returns! But is it the end?
Dark Mofo is on right now!
Like every year, Hit Different co-host Marcus Teague will be amongst the crowds, so say hi if you see him.
Back in January Marcus visited Mona Foma, Dark Mofo’s sister festival, and things weren’t quite back to normal.
“Everyone had to stay on these circle mats that were set out in front of the stage. At some point there was some people dancing on the side and security came over”, he said.
Since then festivals like Meadow and Blacken Open Air have shown Australia’s events can be a bit less restricted.
New Zealand have had their own taste of festivals returning, as Hit Different guest Ladyhawke explained.
She took part in Peachy Keen, a female-focused festival held in Wellington in April.
“The feeling to play a festival was wild, and I think the audience felt the same. Everyone was really amped and excited, and there was a real buzz in the air. I’m just really glad we can do stuff like that at the moment, between our two countries”, she said.
While a few international artists like Thurston Moore will be at Dark Mofo, most festivals are keeping things local.
Marcus called it “a golden era of celebrating local music”, but said there were still barriers in place.
“One of the festival promoters I was talking to was saying the barrier is that no state premier wants to be responsible for a super spreader event.”
While sporting events have had crowds of thousands, live music venues are still struggling with limited capacities.
These limitations and closed borders have also meant Dark Mofo faces an uncertain future.
The festival’s creative director Leigh Carmichael has hinted 2021 could be their final year.
“Festivals are hard in COVID times, so we’ll wait to make a decision after this year’s event”, he told the ABC.
Dark Mofo has been held each Winter since 2013 and would be sorely missed.
Right now though, let’s just enjoy Dark Mofo 2021.
Ladyhawke twitching through a lockdown delirium
Ladyhawke, aka Pip Brown, has announced her first album in five years, Time Flies.
It’ll be out in October, with an Aussie tour already selling out fast.
But while we wait, Ladyhawke has been entertaining fans by playing video games.
“I play so many different games. I’m a big old nerd. I stream my gaming on Twitch,” she told Hit Different.
Lately she’s been playing the sci-fi horror Returnal and classic role player Mass Effect 2.
While everyone had a rocky 2020, Ladyhawke said streaming kept her sane.
“I’ve been watching people stream on twitch for a long time, because I’ve always been an avid gamer, and I really enjoyed it. It definitely saved my sanity I think.”
On Twitch she found a community of close knit fans from around the world, amassing over 2,000 followers in 7 months.
“I’ll play games with fans and I’ve got a really cool little community that hangs out with me when I game so I love it.”
She’s not alone as a musician on Twitch either, with many others exploring the platform and putting their own spin on it.
Skrillex, Diplo, and Snoop Dogg have all streamed their gaming too.
While Grimes’ friend and frequent collaborator HANA streamed herself recording an album live.
That’s something Ladyhawke would like to explore in the future, as she explained.
“That’s what I’m building up to at the moment. My studio at home is tiny and can’t fit enough stuff in it to be able to do both, I have to do one or the other – music or Twitch – but I’m working towards being able to write and produce on stream and have people watching me do it and ask questions.”
Her songs Guilty Love and Mixed Emotions debuted on her Twitch channel, and Ladyhawke has continued to stream every Tuesday morning as we await her album drop in October.
At Capacity – The Restrictions Killing Music
Live music is having an on again, off again relationship with Melbourne.
Currently venues can only host a maximum of 75 patrons, which is causing gigs to get cancelled.
Last weekend was meant to see Melbourne’s Smarts launch their debut album at The Curtin.
An album which came out almost 9 months ago…
But capacity restrictions have pushed the gig to August, adding to a long list of postponed events across the city.
Hit Different co-host Mikey Cahill is pissed off.
“Why isn’t live music treated like live sport? It’s art for God’s sake!”
“Live music venues are still having a fucking hard time staying alive, and a lot of it’s to do with Sco Mo’s #vaccinestrollout”.
The slow rollout has led to frustration as venues remain closed, and composer Tamil Rogeon dropped by the studio to voice his concerns.
“The scene is never gonna fully come alive until everyone is vaccinated, and we can’t open up properly, we can’t see our favourite bands”, he said.
Musicians are also moving away from Victoria, due to the repeated and extended lockdowns.
But gigs are being cancelled elsewhere around the country too. So what’s the answer?
Some compensation wouldn’t go astray, and the government have announced RISE for that purpose.
These grants are intended to help the music industry, but have gone to larger groups such as the now cancelled Splendour In The Grass festival.
Once again the little guys get left behind, and are only eligible for smaller compensation packages.
Tamil doesn’t beat around the bush explaining why.
“I would hate to be too cynical, but I just think our government has an agenda against culture and critical thinking”, he said.
Theatre owners are also affected, with shows like Hamilton and Harry Potter and The Cursed Child waiting to resume.
Right now the entire arts community are just looking for clarity, and a little respect.
“The live music industry would love to be treated with the same respect as sport”, said Mikey.
Productivity in lockdowns, and being creative
While we await COVID Normal, musicians are using their time to record new music.
Broadway’s Jimmie ‘J.J.’ Jeter moved to Australia for the local production of Hamilton.
He’s been recording music in his apartment in Sydney, and joining local jam sessions.
“It felt like I have no choice now, but to do the thing.” he told Rolling Stone.
There has been a bit of pressure on artists to create during the past 12 months.
With so much free time thanks to lockdowns, some people hit the studio, while others felt overwhelmed.
Julia Jacklin told Pitchfork the free time felt unnatural to her usual busy schedule.
“I would go on social media and see some of my peers being like, back in the studio! making a record! And I’d be like, “Fuck, I’m gonna be left behind, everyone’s using this time productively and I’m just flailing.” But I’m feeling a bit better now”, she said.
Not everyone has been productive though, and they shouldn’t feel bad.
The lockdowns have had a negative effect on many people’s mental health, including artists.
Support Act, an Australian organisation who focus on crisis relief for artists and their crews, have set up resources and a helpline for those affected.
They have spoken with musicians like Brendon Love of The Teskey Brothers, Flume, and Jessica Mauboy.
Each of these artists opened up about their struggle, and Support Act is continually updating their resources.
Their free 24/7 support hotline is available to call on 1800 959 500
They’re not alone either, and others within the arts have shared their own resources.
During 2020, Artshub wrote about the need to rethink creative routines.
One of their tips is that “Connecting doesn’t mean you have to be constantly connected”.
They suggest turning off social media, and taking breaks from technology.
Which brings us back to how artists compare themselves to others on social media.
Hit Different co-host Mikey Cahill said two quotes came to mind when comparing yourself to others.
“Comparison is the thief of joy”, and “what other people think of you is none of your business”.
Tamil Rogeon on House Music, Hanson, and Spiritual Jazz
Tamil Rogeon is a violinist, composer, and producer who has conducted he Melbourne Symphony Orchestra.
His most recent album is Son Of Nyx, released in February.
The album features a mix of spiritual jazz, and latin percussion which sees Tamil switch the violin for viola.
But what is spiritual jazz? Tamil tried to explain to the Hit Different crew.
“I mean, spiritual jazz is just another way of saying modal jazz, and modal jazz is just a type of harmony, and the way that chords progress. So it’s just the way we deal with harmony and grooves”, he said.
Modal jazz was popular in the 1950s and 60s US jazz scene, especially for artists who improvised such as Miles Davis and John Coltrane.
While jazz can often feel intimidating, Tamil thinks that it can appeal to techno lovers too.
“With Harvey Sutherland, we did this big techno party and we came on after Pharoah Sanders, and Floating Points came on after us doing his hard techno stuff. All of this music sits under the same umbrella. People who like techno and house music, they also love modal jazz. It’s just called spiritual jazz.”
Next up for Tamil is Steady Weather, a group which has earned praise from Gilles Peterson.
“That’s my next one, which I’m endeavouring to get out and do some concerts. It’s just nice to do some house music again”
The project brings together Ben Grayson and Graeme Pogson from deep funk group The Bamboos, with Rita Satch and Allysha Joy adding vocals.
But outside of cool Gilles Peterson type of sounds, Tamil has a secret…
He once toured with US boy band Hanson.
“I just conducted orchestras for their Australian tour…” he admitted sheepishly.
Hanson are still best known for 90s hits like MMMBop and Where’s The Love.
A few years ago they reimagined them with orchestras, and brought the idea to Australia.
While most 90s fans might have moved on, Tamil said Hanson still bring in dedicated fans.
“Their fans are way hectic! I met one fan outside the Opera House and she was like, ‘great show in Melbourne’. I was like, ‘you went to Melbourne?’ and she was like, ‘yeah, I’m going I’m doing the whole tour’.”
After the tour, word got out about Tamil’s talents and The Dandy Warhols called.
Last year Tamil should have been in the US touring with The Dandy Warhols…but he’s stuck in Australia.
“I jumped on a plane to Portland, presented the scores to the Dandies, and it was all good, all systems go, and then I came back to Melbourne and we’re in lockdown.”
The event was cancelled, but The Dandy Warhols are scheduled to touch down in Australia later this year.
Here’s hoping they bring Tamil onstage with his viola.
Episode 6 – Bonus – Tamil Rogeon
Violinist, composer, and producer Tamil Rogeon recently sat down with Hit Different.
He discussed some of the music which has inspired him, starting when he was eight years old.
“When I was a little kid I saw Amadeus. It was Mozart some Requiem. I saw the film, and I was just captivated.”
“I still love Mozart’s Requiem. He was known as quite a subtle light composer, stylistically his music is meant to be played quite lightly, and it’s quite joyous and sort of bouncy. But his Requiem is dark!”
At the time, Tamil was learning violin so the influence hit hard.
“I was just really attracted to the darkness of it, and it’s just so rich and beautiful at the same time. So that just sort of got me on that trip and of loving classical music, which I slowly lost over the next few years in my teens.”
Moving away from the violin, Tamil picked up drumming and discovered grunge.
“I remember being in the back of a car smoking bongs somewhere in the hills and hearing Gish for the first time. Mind blowing.”
“That music was really, really big for me. But it all ended really abruptly, which was kind of a bit of a shame. I went and saw the Pumpkins at Prince of Wales and Billy was just being a dick.”
Tamil found solace back on the violin, and was listening to jazz violinists like Don
“Sugarcane” Harris and Jean-Luc Ponty.
“So I went to this concert and Billy Corgan was such a twat. The next night, I went and saw a jazz gig, the Allan Browne Quintet, and everyone’s just playing their ass off and the music was warm, and it was beautiful, and it was complicated. After that point, I kid you not, I didn’t listen to any music that wasn’t jazz for 10 years.”
The effect was long lasting, and Tamil is still listening to jazz now.
“Recently, I’ve been really vibing on a Brazilian music called choro music, which is this weird kind of Brazilian jazz that’s sort of half from Portugal and a bit German, but it’s all sort of swings in a Brazilian way. Like Brazilian bebop, but for violins.”
“I’m also sort of just digging back into really classic stuff, like John Coltrane’s Sun Ship record, and getting back into that deep modal sort of jazz.”
After working across genres like house and hip hop, Tamil keeps returning to jazz.
His new album Son Of Nyx is out now, and sees him explore modal jazz.
Swapping the violin for viola, it’ one of the few viola-jazz albums recorded.
Here’s hoping it isn’t his last.
Oh Lorde – Here She Comes!
Lorde is back with Solar Power, the first single from her next album.
It’s a stripped back affair, which has drawn comparison to Primal Scream and George Michael.
So many people pointed it out that The George Michael Estate even put out a statement.
“We are aware that many people are making a connection between Freedom ’90 by George Michael and Solar Power by Lorde which George would have been flattered to hear, so on behalf of one great artist to a fellow artist, we wish her every success with the single”, they wrote.
Lorde also said she reached out to Primal Scream after someone pointed out the similarities.
“I wrote the song on the piano and then we realized, it sounds a lot like ‘Loaded.’ It’s just one of those crazy things that like, they just were the spiritual forebears of the song. I reached out to Bobby and he was so lovely about it…he gave us his blessing”, she said.
But is it any good?
Hit Different co-host Mikey Cahill isn’t so sure.
“I am trying to convince myself that I like this song, never a good sign”, he said.
“I want to listen to this song in only one context, and that’s in a huge field with a bunch of other people who are vibing so fucking hard on this song. That’s when I’ll get it. That’s when I’ll really, really enjoy it.”
Lorde has announced an Australian tour for early 2022, with tickets on sale now.
The new song has a more acoustic sound than Lorde’s previous work.
Just like Lorde’s debut defined pop in 2013, the acoustic stripped back sound has taken over.
Taylor Swift dropped Folklore in 2020, and then Billy Eilish released Your Power.
Now Lorde has come out with Solar Power.
Hit Different co-host Marcus Teague has some thoughts.
“Has Taylor Swift rested back the mantle of leading the charge for the sound of pop music in 2021?”, he asked.
Or after two successful albums, maybe Lorde is happy to do whatever she wants.
The Pain of being T-Pain
T-Pain aka Faheem Rasheed Najm is most famous for popularising Auto-Tune.
The vocal effect had been previously heard on Cher’s Believe in 1998.
But T-Pain said he heard it on a Jennifer Lopez song in 1999.
Hoping to set himself apart from other rappers, T-Pain used Auto-Tune all over his voice.
Love it or hate it, it worked and he got people’s attention.
47 of his songs charted in Billboards Hot 100 in the US, and everyone from Kanye to Snoop Dogg got inspired.
But T-Pain recently revealed one person wasn’t a fan, Usher.
As he tells it, Usher pulled T-Pain aside one day to tell him he’d ruined music for real singers.
“I couldn’t listen. Is he right? Did I fuck this up? Did I fuck up music? That is the very moment — I don’t think I even realized this for a long time — that’s the very moment that started a four-year depression for me”, he told Netflix.
Hit Different co-host Marcus Teague weighed in, pointing out some hypocrisy.
“I thought it was really interesting because you can be a bit of a bit of a maverick, or someone who pioneers using what is a bit of a gimmick in the music, that goes on to become pretty much essential in pop music. But then be the whipping boy for that same decision,” he said.
In 2010 Usher had a #1 hit with OMG, a song which is drenched in Auto-Tune.
Kanye West also used it on his 2008 album 808s & Heartbreak, but made fun of T-Pain too.
This isn’t the first time T-Pain has spoken out about his critics.
In 2014 he told The New Yorker about how all the jokes made him depressed.
“When people say I suck and I should kill myself, I don’t really feel good about that!” he said at the time.
That same year he wowed audiences on NPR’s Tiny Desk where he sung without Auto-Tune.
The video has been watched over 21 million times, and changed how he was perceived by many.
Whatever you think of Auto-Tune, we’ll be talking about T-Pain for years to come.
Kevin 11 it’s Bob Evens
Bob Evans is the pseudonym of Kevin Mitchell, guitarist of Jebediah.
He has a new album Tomorrowland out now, and will be touring soon.
Hit Different co-host Mikey Cahil compared the album to American rock.
“We’re maybe getting some Jon Bon Jovi feels. Nothing wrong with that”, he said.
After the Nashville sound of his last album Kevin said he wanted to make something rockier.
“I was listening to a lot of kind of 80s classic rock, Springsteen, Tom Petty and also getting into the late 80s kind of jangle guitar like the Smiths and The Cure”, he said.
“I’ve been into that stuff for ages, I’ve just never expressed it musically before.”
The album also saw Kevin bring his touring band into the studio for the first time.
Previous Bob Evans albums had been carefully crafted in the studio.
But on Tomorrowland he wanted to let other people bring in ideas.
“I wrote parts, but not everything. So when you bring a whole bunch of people into a room to record a song, everybody’s bringing in their own stuff.”
The album had been completed early 2020, before COVID.
With such a delay, Kevin said having the band on the album kept it feeling new.
“I guess it just makes it fresher, and it means that when I listen to it after all this time, I’m still hearing things that I didn’t do, hearing this stuff that other people did. I think that’s what gives it longevity.”
Speaking of longevity, Kevin will be touring with Jebediah again soon.
Fans of the 90s unite, because Jebediah will be touring alongside Grinspoon, Regugitator, and Custard, with ex-Recovery host Dylan Lewis hosting.
The Spring Loaded Festival is travelling around Australia starting from July.
The exact lineups differ city to city, so make sure to take a close look.
Episode 7 – Bonus – Bob Evans
Kevin Mitchell is one of the founding members of Jebidiah.
He also releases music under the name Bob Evans.
Hit Different asked Kevin what music hit different for him, starting when he was a kid.
“The KISS Dynasty album, my older brother had it on cassette tape. We all had KISS masks, I had the Peter Criss mask and we used to put on Dynasty and grab these plastic toy tennis rackets and put on Kiss concerts.”
The albums’ opening track I Was Made for Lovin’ You left a particular impact on Kevin.
“Whenever I hear that song. It just transports me back to that time straightaway. of just loving the theatre of KISS. No wonder they were so popular amongst kids. The characters and the face paint, I absolutely loved it.”
Like most Australians, during his teens Kevin discovered Triple J.
It was thanks to the radio that he first heard Nirvana when he was 13.
Part of their appeal was the mystery of trying to find out who they were pre-internet.
“They might as well have been aliens from outer space, for a 13 year old kid in Perth, Western Australia, the most isolated city in the world, this band came along and I got swept up in it.”
When Jebediah started in 1994, they performed covers of Nirvana songs and other grunge bands.
But aside from the music, Kevin said Curt Cobain influenced him in other ways too.
“One of the many tragedies of Kurt Cobain ending his life was that Cobain was such an important and progressive rockstar role model, especially for teenage boys.”
“His politics were really progressive, he railed against sexism, he was really outspoken about homophobia, and as a teenage boy, he had a profound influence on, not just my musical tastes, but also the way I viewed the world and the kind of human being that I thought that I wanted to be as well.”
At high school Kevin dressed like Kurt as the fashion was accessible.
“You didn’t need to come from wealth to look like that. You just needed a pair of Converse shoes, and then just any shit that you could find at an Op Shop, and there you go, you have the grunge look.”
As he reached his 20s, Kevin began to look back and move past 90s rock.
“I found that there was this fucking massive world of music, going back decades before the 1990s that I knew nothing about.”
As Kevin bought his first Beatles record, Rubber Soul, he realised he already knew the songs.
“It was just stuff that I’d heard in passing on the radio as a kid.”
“I remember going to bed at night, putting on headphones, and having this incredible epiphany. It was like, holy shit. I’ve loved this band my whole life and I didn’t even know it.”
The Beatles and their solo careers had a massive impression on him.
Once it came to start his solo career, Kevin leaned into their influence.
Alongside 60s rock and grunge, in his late 20s he discovered bossa nova, and Brazilian jazz.
But now he’s found something new. Minimalist piano pieces, like Philip Glass.
“It’s not part of my upbringing so I don’t necessarily understand the references, I don’t know what it’s gonna do. it’s all very foreign and mysterious to me, but I found that it has this really profound effect on my mood.”
Thanks to music streaming, Kevin said he’s been able to discover much more music.
But a playlist of minimalist piano pieces has become his go to at the end of the day.
“I find it incredibly refreshing on a mental and emotional level. I listen to it for about 15 minutes to half an hour, and then I feel like I can pick up an instrument and start creating and doing something with a really open mind.”