SYN at the Face the Music summit

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Last week SYN’s Music Manager, Zara Kravchenko and Talks Manager, Matilda Elgood with camera in tow headed to Face The Music in Melbourne’s CBD. Below are some of the SYN duo’s highlights, lowlights and absolutely could not miss moments.

Words by Matilda & Zara.

Photography by Matilda.

Intertwined with panels and music performances, Face the Music is the industry festival situated within Melbourne music week. Face The Music kicked off the summit with an incredible in depth conversation with American artist Ariel Pink held by the community radio DJs Simon and Lauren from RRR. Conference goers were delighted to gauge an insight into the inspirations of Pink and his music.

One of the most important panels for the modern age of the music industry was “White Wash: #OZmusicwhysowhite”, whereby a diverse panels spoke about the power of gatekeepers in the industry and the disconnect many artists feel as being used for their ‘cultural capital’. An alarming statistic was raised by musician Yeo who stated only 6 POC acts have been featured in Triple J’s Hottest 100 since 1993. Amrita Hepi (choreographer) was able to make her points with passion and astute rationality. Overall the discussion was very insightful and at times humorous discussion that did not take away from the importance of the topic. The panel was in agreement that until we see diversity in the people who hold power, diversity can’t just be achieved only with quotas. Festival booker Richard Moffat later that day stated publicly on his Facebook that he would be retiring from music industry panels. A decision we can only hope stemmed from the eye opening discussion critiquing the industry’s approach to people of colour.

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Meeting Your Future Bosses showcased many of our local rising stars in the industry, including Georgia Cooke from Remote Control Record Label, Brisbane legend Mallrat, and moderated by Gloria Brancatisano, the former SYN Music Manager and current Music Editor of Beat. The question of age was discussed with a number of members of the panel confessing to withholding their age on resumes to avoid potential discrimination in job and intern applications. Things to take away included the importance of mentoring and the importance of one’s mental health as it can rapidly deteriorate when entering the industry.

The Face the Music panel ‘Why Punk’ looked into the feminist roots of punk today and in the past. Audiences were lucky enough to hear from Lindy Morrison, the drummer of Go-Betweens. It was such an amazing opportunity to hear her speak of her struggles, specifically, being one of only three female drummers in the Australian punk scene in the late 70s. The richness of the panel was bolstered by Cable Ties member Jenny McKechnie and Billie Stimple from Idylls. The theme of toxic masculinity in music was raised amongst the panel. McKechnie shared Cable Ties’ zero tolerance for violence at their shows, a simple step in stamping out the seemingly everlasting effects of “toxic masculinity” in the punk scene.

A music conference wouldn’t be complete without some live music. Lunch time saw Slowly Slowly emerge to the Carpark Stage to perform a mini-set. Although rain clouds temporarily showed themselves, the energy of the crowd did not dwindle. Melbourne rockers performed hit “Alien”, a tasty treat for the mid-day hump between panels.

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The Beyond the Valley founders gathered in St Paul’s Cathedral for a special “Behind-The-Scenes Peek” presentation. The Beyond the Valley team discussed the variety of issues in grooming a young new year’s’ festival specifically going up against legendary competitors, Falls Arts & Music Festival. Attendees were given the inside scoop of some of the changes being put in place for the upcoming festival, including an after hours party, answering the problem of late night crowds in the camp sites. The panel explored the growth of the Beyond the Valley brand, branching out to other festivals and artist representation. Wrapping up the key notes, the BTV team included an in insight to how they have and will continue to handle criticisms and complaints that naturally come with a junior aged event.

Tailing off day one of the conference was “Stan, I’m Your Biggest Fan”, a panel exploring the idea of super fans of music. Moderated by writer Giselle Au-Nhien Nguyen, the panel discussed the positive and negative effects behind the “fan-girl” culture. Writer, Brodie Lancaster, highlighted the positives best with the inclusive nature of One Directions’ queer fan base known as “Rainbow Connection”, which provided a home like atmosphere for fans alike. On the flip side, the negative craze of super fans were considered as radio star, Ash London offered some anecdotes of fans threatening suicide if they did not win certain celebrity competitions. It was safe to say that not a member of the audience came away from the panel continuing to undermine the influence a super-fan has on the music industry.

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Situated in St Paul’s Cathedral audiences saw an educational experience into the history of rock in Melbourne. Guest presenters included Sarah Thompson from Camp Cope and Blake Scott from The Peep Tempel. In a panel discussing the importance of radio across the globe, the audience was treated by Cheryl Waters the legendary DJ on Seattle radio station KEXP, who has interviewed great acts including Angel Olsen and King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard.

Perhaps the greatest highlight was the tutorial and panel on DJing in Melbourne held specifically for women, LGBTIQ+ and POC. Not only was the discussion insightful, the audience were then encouraged to learn DJing (many for the first time). It was such an open and safe space to try something new. It’s important that the DJing skills are taught to the queer and the POC community that is where techno itself originated.

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