Words from Sam Howard
In the spotlight of the work of Analogue Dawn, MESS, Clutching at Straws, DJ 101 and DJ Club.
Music in Australia is considered a religion by many – in fact, Melbourne has more live music venues per person than churches, with thriving communities for every genre, regardless of what music religion you fall into.
While it’s easy to find an event that you would grapple with as a music lover and punter, getting into these communities as an artist is a whole different story. The barriers to entry for aspiring artists can be challenging as events that focus on representing marginalized communities are often a rarity and newcomers are given the opportunity to learn to write music or access and understand music devices that are difficult are available.
Fortunately, that is changing – and there is a growing list of new areas in which newcomers can seek mentors to learn, practice, and play in safe and non judgmental environments. Let’s take a look at some of the notable initiatives.
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Analogue Dawn, an agency led by Azren Paul, realized during the COVID that an overwhelming sense of separation was limiting the creativity and growth of emerging artists at home and abroad. The agency is working to give artists the opportunity to focus on the collaborative process of community growth through a digital writing camp.
The digital camp provides producers, singers, songwriters and instrumentalists with a flexible environment to write, record, share and connect with other members of the wider creative community. The compositions are then jointly reviewed within the group of participants to help emerging artists learn the creative writing process with the assistance of industry experts.
But it’s not just limited to writing – the camp focuses on creating experimental mental health sessions and workshops that help artists test their creative limits.
“We wanted to create a fun and comfortable space for artists to confidently communicate creative and emotional insecurities they were feeling during the pandemic. The digital format has helped us connect with artists from here and around the world, and we would like to translate this concept into a physical camp one day, ”says Paul.
Check out the latest creation from Analogue Dawn below.
The Melbourne Electronic Sound Studio (MESS)
MESS, a non-profit studio focused on a unique collection of electronic instruments, aims to support the creation of music in all forms of electronic sounds. The studio was founded by Byron Scullin and Robin Fox, directors whose job it is to democratize access to the history of electronic music.
Their workshops take place on a one-off, monthly, and 12-week basis where people who may not have the time and money to access electronic music can come in one place and receive guidance and mentoring to develop their interest in the Promote industry and deepen music production.
Jonnine Nokes, one of the leaders of the MESS workshops, says they want to create a non judgmental atmosphere where everyone can learn about electronic music or some kind of electronic synthesis. Newbies can explore and ask any question without feeling intimidated.
“We give people an open space to discover new things and to ask as many questions as they want without being judged anyway. We’re trying to take away the gatekeeping aspect of knowledge about electronic music, ”says Nokes.
“We want to offer a space that is especially intended for those who feel largely excluded in the community. So, for example, we started a trans- and non-binary workshop that is outside of this gatekeeping area for electronic music. We love creating this space. “
Find out more about MESS here.
Hold on to the straw
Clutching at Straws is a new DJ workshop by Colette Ruiters that takes place every first Thursday of the month. Ruiters started the event after speaking with multidisciplinary artist Elle Shimada, who suggested that there were some people who were interested in learning to DJ but weren’t entirely sure how.
Learner DJs can come to the event, bring records or a USB stick, feel comfortable in the room, hang out, ask questions, make mistakes and experiment with different sounds. To give it a try, newcomers are advised to come first before booking a coaching session in advance.
Ruiters hopes these workshops will help alleviate the anxiety of participants wanting to share their music.
“I hope it can dust the spider’s web off your nerves and you can get used to being looked at and performing in a prominent place. I hope they can learn new things about the hardware or something technical that they have never known before. But overall, I hope it inspires them to keep going, keep collecting, keep learning, and most importantly keep listening and dancing, ”she says.
Stay tuned to Ferdydurke’s Facebook page to find out more about the next Clutching at Straws session.
DJ 101 and DJ Club
DJ 101 and DJ Club is a series of workshops held at MPavilion and The Gaso and led by DJ Sarah, one of the industry’s greatest proponents of inclusivity and diversity, with support from Georgia Farry, including the most talented artists on the scene Merve, Emelyne and Millú.
The workshops are aimed at aspiring, female, trans and non-binary aspiring artists who want to get into the dance music scene. The events aim to bring beginners to gig-ready DJs in a six-week workshop that covers the basics of DJing, music digging, working with music devices, and beat matching, and discusses the ins and outs of the industry.
“My initial thought of the main barrier to newcomers was as simple as lack of access to equipment, but over time I realized that there was a lack of community and colleagues to start too. After finding mentors myself, I became more confident and realized how important it was to have people to support you, ”says DJ Sarah.
She believes the industry is currently lacking more free initiatives like these that encourage and empower marginalized people to get into the industry – this is the only way we can truly see a safe and equal music scene in the years to come.
What is your favorite thing about the workshops?
“It’s kind of forgiving, but to see a DJ we teach, play an amazing set, or join a line-up – or the little things like seeing the newbies connect, run their own events, and encourage each other and support, “she continues.
“These workshops are just a catalyst and provide you with some simple tools that you need to be successful. It’s quite an inspiring process to watch! In the end, I think they teach me more than I teach them what is cliché but the truth. “
To learn more about future workshops, sign up for Sarah Morgan’s Other Baby’s mailing list, the WIP Project, a free online database of female, non-binary, and gender-affirming artists and industry professionals that she works with Florence Brown and Gabby Jarrell.
Would you like some more fun read? Check out our piece on Melbourne’s online radio stations providing a platform for underground artists.