Stepping into ease: the labour of musical love with AVA & Robert Baxter
A hot & balmy night in Melbourne’s inner northern suburbs. The air is thick and unfamiliar. After months of huddling inside to escape the cold, people are spilling out into the street. I am too, sitting outside setting up my recording equipment chatting to fellow musicians, lovers of music and SYNners. I’m about to speak with two emerging Naarm based artists who played SYN’s second event in collaboration with Brunswick Artists’ Bar; AVA and Robert Baxter.
Sitting down with these two felt like meeting with familiar acquaintances, the ones you see circulating your internet orbit. I wanted to chat to these two about the essence of their sound. For AVA, the feminine experience is at the core of her music. As for Baxter there is a melancholy brightness in their coming of age anthems.
Sitting down with AVA I was reminded of my own power as a woman. We spoke of the divine feminine, how utilising TikTok and drawing inspiration from the matriarchal figures before her have become woven within her sound.
“There is a big shift in the way people are working, living their lives, it’s not about fast achievement or what you can get from people. It’s about stepping into ease, finding the deepest joy in life.
Ava reminds us that “We can live life to enjoy it, we no longer need to suffer anymore”. Her 2021 single ‘Orange’ holds this message true as AVA speaks it to be about “allowing yourself to be soft and easing yourself into gentleness”.
Adorned in red and divinity, her version of Florida Kilos by Lana Del Rey captivated the hearts of her audience, something I’ve not been able to stop listening to since I heard it. As a lover of Del Rey, I asked AVA how we as listeners and punters can help support fem voices in the music industry. Ava reminds us that there is a lot of depth to be found in beauty and typically feminine things. If we could ‘cultivate more awareness of others perspectives’ perhaps the industry would be better off.
I asked Baxter the same question, of their own experience as a queer, POC musician. “You shouldn’t assume what’s been fed to you. Be aware there are other stories out there.” This is exactly what inspired their most recent release ‘Twenty Something’, a ballad filled to the brim with contagious, youthful energy.
“Young people coming into their being deserve to see versions of themselves in the media”, a theme at the forefront of the early 2000’s rom com inspired music video ‘Twenty Something’. Baxter says it best in the description of the video; “The early 2000’s romcoms I watched growing up never made me feel represented, if there was a queer character they were probably a stereotype and if there was a POC they were probably the best friend. So I hope in this rewritten storyline you can feel seen.”
Writing and forming the concept for the video 6 months prior to its release, it is Baxters’ labour of love. What was meant to be a day of filming turned into three, waiting for the right videographer to collaborate with and many sleepless nights editing the music video themselves. Even their collaborator, Lawrence Bernt stepped aside for Baxter to curate the moving emotional masterpiece, letting them capture the emotion so tied to their heart.
For both of these artists, their success has been surrounded by dedication to their darling passion but waiting patiently for the right time, people and opportunities to appear. Their music has intention, a memoir attached to each song they performed that night.
When I began the interview, I asked them to tell me what performing live feels like. AVA spoke of ‘how unlike the energy of performing is to anything else. Thoughtless, in a way, where your brain goes quiet and it’s all about creating and experimentation. Baxter said similarly, being “a point where you let go. It doesn’t matter when, 30 seconds in or the last but it’s about allowing yourself to stop thinking and just do”.
Brunswick Artists’ Bar X SYN is an attempt to bring radio to an audience, to give them a glimpse at the joy we get from listening to emerging artists everyday and highlighting the dedication that goes into 3 minutes of music. We at SYN are pollinators. Little bumble bees’ passionate about music, bringing those musical flowers into bloom, and we do it with so much gratitude and pleasure.
If you would like to to be apart of the magic that is SYN Sessions, the third and final for the year will be held December 21st at Brunswick Artists’ Bar.