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The Amber Fresh Chronicles

Love of Synthetics

Andrew Ryan

rupert from erasers is five metres from me, behind a wooden desk where he's making coffees. a man is chewing his ear and the ear of his fellow barista off about the first time he heard of an iphone. the man is moving back and forth on his feet, he's got asics on, a thin face, a colonel sanders miniature upsidedown pyramid beard, fleecy coat. is he a crazy man, or an android doing stream of android consciousness, some cultural cypher sent to take up the time of a few baristas in the weird world for a moment?

rupert walked away from the guy. he came up and we started talking and got on to revelation film festival. he recommended a documentary about a woman called suzanne ciani, who apparently made sound effects for old coca cola adds, and then he went on to tell me about ten or twenty beautiful things to investigate, in his beautiful way of talking which is like a radio show you'd like to listen to, or a soft and full-of-true-content article in a non-lame journal, where you go away bigger and with ten names in your mind, like Revenge International, Freak Way, Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith, The Congos together with Sun Araw, Ariel Kalma,

the man is still speaking. i'm still thinking about synthesisers - that's what rupert plays amongst other things - and synthetics. there's an android on masterchef at the moment, with sprayed on skin and me and nick watch for glitches in her programming, watch for when her reactions don't fit the cooking that's happening, or don't fit with the emotional waves set up by the tv edits and musical backgrounds and what is actually happening around her. synthetics, hm.

last week i was running a camp for kids with parents in prison, or a sibling in prison. that was far far away from the world of synthetics. these little kids were real and their dysfunction from past life experiences, as in, this very life, just 8 or 9 or 10 years here on earth, was very very real. you could see it from a little way off, and then when you were close it hit you in the face, as some of them have been. what goes in must come out. that's not a physics concept perhaps, but it's a psychophysics one - i'm guessing.

tessa from akioka and matt saville from the photography world and abalonely came to do music with the kids again, keyboards, loop stations, and a certain knowledge that comes from both being parents. the little tiny broke lives weighed heavy on them as the two of them drove home after the workshop - i know because matt told me, with tears in his eyes, in the kitchen after the camp was all over. we were drinking wine and mulled wine and mulling over all of it and what it meant.

can you synthesise love? that is the question that will probably get looked at less fervently than the questions of nuclear energy and how to make it safe, but it could be a good secondary question to find the answer to. there are not enough loving human parents, even in australia, to take on the children of damage, but maybe if we make loving clones it would be possible. i'm still talking about synthesisers.

of course, like many things, the answer is love but the problem is systematic injustice, which is why more than a normal proportion of the children on the camp with parents in prison were indigenous.

well, after all that i went to see stella donnelly and cam avery play at the oddfellow. thank goodness the bar manager who was a criminal creep is gone, so i can be there without my heart beating fast with a desire to throw things at the man offering drinks to me, a whisky bottle over the head, a trial by jury that ends in actual justice etc.

stella's most powerful songs, according to my spirit, are these: the one about her friend being assaulted, that she always makes a disclaimer/warning about before singing, and which spins into the minds of all the men and women watching, recognition of the experiences, the feelings, perhaps a slap of recrimination for someone on the wrong side of the story, who knows?; and the 'mechanical bull' song which has a tiny bit of a grunge way of approaching guitar strings to make me love it more, and is a most powerful way to get across the feeling in - that one image - the mechanical bull - of wanting everyone to leave you the fuck alone, and using your small body's power to become big and actually achieve it.

i told cam and stella my theory about photo portraits, modelling shots, press shots the other night at dinner, which is this: you have to make the head and the hands BIGGER which is why people like to extend the hands of their subject via a cigarette, or their head by way (for example) of a stream of pasta flowing out of their mouth and a cap on the head to extend the head and face. you see?

cam's most powerful power was his voice. it was in the front of the show except for a few times when his braggadocio took the stage and then had to be dampened with self-deprecation, which happened in full plates which was good. john grader - we always call him 'john grader' instead of just john, told me from near the bar he'd never realised how good a singer cam was. i had realised; but yes, this was the time to know it for real, a concert where everyone listened and he put his meaty long fingers to the keys, which could stretch over five pianos at once probably, and to the guitar - fingers which could reach over the necks of at least three guitars at once. a long song in spoken word fell down the cracks of trying something but it not being the favourite of everyone, as in not working, you know what i mean, but apart from that it was about the sweet voice given from above, and stella's sweet voice from above too, reminding me of cosi from jaala, fluttering about with the force of a mountain.


ps watch out for the androids - they can cook, and understand justice, but they can't yet love - that's harder to teach.

Is Male Privilege Bullsh!t?

Andrew Ryan

Yes, it is. Sucks for the males, sucks for the females, it's total bullshit and it needs to be overturned.

Another great thing to overturn is tarte tatin. I think it's from Masterchef that this dish became popular - my old drummer Matt Maguire (great on the skippy hi-hat fills) - used to make it. You know, you put apples on the bottom, the pastry on the top, and then you flip it right at the end.

So, we need to overturn the privilege and everything will taste better.

This week my friend quit her second job this year because of finding out her boss sexually assaulted another person we know. The first job she had to quit was in a bar she loved, but this second job was a very special one where she was learning how to work with bands in the genres she loves, the only chance in our town to work in that space. 

This is the thing - the two men don't have any idea that while they're being bosses and managers, cheersing drinks with people who have no idea what evil they've done to others, us women are having breakdowns and trying our very very best, through hours of discussion and tears, personal and professional consequences, to work out how to deal with it. There's trauma and long-term repercussions for the people they've committed crimes against, trauma and long-term repercussions for the friends of the victims who try to support them and have to live through and decide on the fallout.  

Why not just go to the police you say? Sometimes it's hard to get the outcome you deserve through normal channels which in any case are the instrument of capitalism and male privilege. Sometimes victims are still too scared of the man. Always there are consequences when you try to bring people to justice in a world where things aren't set up fairly. Why not get a group of friends to make it public and hide the identity amongst the group? Consequences. Why not get together some people to take vigilante justice? Consequences. Why not just forget about it? Consequences. 

You see, Australia's actually a man's world, and there is a silent war against us, and right now, as things stand, and as they stand for other groups pushed down by the way things are - like traditional owners for example - there is no justice. If you're gay you can't get married, if you're a Chinese Australian like academic Dr Feng you get interrogated and threatened by the Chinese Communist Party for talking about democracy in your new country, if you're an aboriginal australian you get your land and culture taken off you and pushed to the outer by racism every day of your life, and if you're a woman, well you have to put up with sh!t every day too.

We have to work out how to live with it, to try and get some small bit of healing and some small bit of justice, but still, right now, my friend's quitting her second job of the year, and I've heard of the umpteenth actual assault of an actual friend by an actual person who I might bump into out and about, or get an email from for music work, or want to attend a show organised by. She, and I and any friends who know have to deal with the consequences of someone else's crimes against women, and those "someone else"s are oblivious and consequence free.

So, yeah, I feel angry lots of the time. And sad, and scared, and I'd like all my friends, esp. man friends, to help overturn the ugly tarte tatin that is male privilege, that is part of the reason for the silent violence and the everyday squeezing us out, putting us down, ignoring our voices, seeing us as lessers.


Peter Bibby and his Dog Act, Alzabo, Boat Show, Doctopus, Animal Husbandry and Cam Avery played a magnificent show at Mojos on June 20th 2017.

Boat Show are great, but better with earplugs in, because they sometimes get turned up in the wrong harshy ways by sound techs, and if you have earplugs in you can hear the harmonies and the actual guitar melodies and tones and you can still hear George's not over the top drumming. The main things about Boat Show are people yelling about annoying things like the tarte tatin above, and also the element of f ~ u ~ n. Ali rolled all over the floor, Stella and Jenny crossed guitar swords, it was delish. When the beauty of a song takes over from the fun though, that's my favourite part of their shows.

Doctopus are still one of my favourite bands here, make me grin ear to ear every time, and I just never get sick of it. Don't u agree?

Alzabo and Peter Bibby's Dog Act were the highlights though, Pete, Steve and Dave together forming an unbreakable wall of rock and good song cement, even better when Pete had to use Steve Summerlin from Alzabo's guitar which lead them down an even blacker rock path, the rock path at night, big fat loud moon overhead, big blackened trees in a thick wind overhead etc. etc. And then Alzabo, playing until the lights went on, one long piece from the opening moments to the end, that could have gone on all night long like the legendary Cease shows of old where Jules Western used to have to throw cans at Andrew (the pre-Steve man in front of Nick Odell) to make him stop and even the can throws wouldn't really work to stop the music.

Kirin Callinan played two incredible shows also, at Mojos and the Rosemount. The first three songs of the first show in North Perth sailed across the crowd, doing their job which was impressing, exciting, quickening all the people there, and then things turned downwards a little in energy, but Kirin, Rex and his special drummer Mahne kept that thing alive. Middle-aged women heckled, young people sang along to the words of 'Song About Drugs', and I melted, as always, for 'Landslide', the Kirin song to rule them all.


Please help.


JJJ's hack did a program with that title recently "Is Male Privilege Bullsh!t", but it was actually truly sh!t, do not restream!

Roofs, tacos, music, pals

Andrew Ryan

i got infected with three things last week: some virus that set my throat on fire and set me into immediate necessary hibernation; a new way of dreaming, where the dreams last several days without dis and optimism.

hibernation was good, mixed in with the optimism i think came from tumeric, i got to watch people die on the small screen, got to watch the pope smoke ciggies and put his hand on a lady's breast and hang up nuns' socks on a washing line in the sun (fyi i don't care about the pope, don't believe in that set of things, for the people who occasionally mock me behind my back about being 'religious' having never spoken to me - i forgive you)

the optimism was floating by along with all the plastic bags in the fremantle harbour. it was protecting me as i dic *nothing* for a week in bed. it was slinking around and all that. maybe strutting.

it was flying its little red and blue flag high when i bumped into patrick marlborough at a coffee place. he writes for vice, but now he's teaching refugees and rough kids english skills at a local place in freo. how long will it last though? for some of us even the meaningful 9-5 can't satisfy some thing in us and we have to get out. "most jobs are a crock of shit" i said, and he agreed. we talked about what 'people like us' can do in 2017 in australia, where so much is set up in a way that just can't go on. some of my straight friends, straight as in ex-churchy friends, as in spiritual friends, have found ways to do incredible things through normal 9-5 jobs, really changing the world through teaching or occupational therapy or becoming foster parents or getting married at 19 and being "intentional" with their money and how they set up their share house, or buying property that recently arrived refugee families can live in. patrick told me that the way things are tries to crush culture, and that's the thing we can do - make more culture.

right now, i think about andrew from taco leg - past perth band who played such shows as the infamous marron descent film festival - playing in the concrete box of the old spectrum gallery, singing into a hairbrush. is that culture? is what i'm doing?

i guess the thing that's coming home to roost more for me now is the spectre of myself or my own family or friends being blown up. i guess somehow you get through those things. new world orders come and go, it just takes a while, but typically for me to say, it takes less time than for a tingle tree in walpole to reach maturity. i know a shittonne of kind people. i think there's just one thing missing though for kind people who live on the top of the world: bravery.

we could wait til we're made brave, by real adversity, or we could become brave now, while we have roofs, food, music, pals.

100ks of Personal Growth

Andrew Ryan

One question quiz: as a ladyface, can you go hiking on the Bibbulmun without men making you feel uncomfortable with sexual advances/comments? Answer: Hahah, you wish!

That was the note inside the fake Valentine's Day card I got given in year six "Haha, you wish!!" That's what I saw when I opened the card right up. But the first opening revealed a beautiful message about running along Goode Beach with me (my home), and how it doesn't matter if I wear glasses etc etc. It was accompanied by a single red rose. But, it was just a joke. I did cry at the big interior reveal, as I wasn't a big girl.

Well, I went hiking with two big handfuls of private school boys along the incredible track that goes from Perth to Albany. One of the days we did 33ks with our big backpacks - that part I was with the footy boys. They were asked what would happen if all of a sudden their school became co-ed. "Everyone would be pregnant!" they replied. The other part of camp I was with the mixed bag of boys from budding DJs to boys who already know how to pilot a plane. I asked them at night in the hut about their female heroes in life. A lot of them said their grandmas, one of them said Helen Keller, one said his amazing aunty does whatever she wants all the time. We talked into the night. They asked me my greatest regret. They told me what girls or boys they liked.

All the boys were various versions of darlings, but I got cornered by an older hiker telling me he'd watched me secretly getting changed after I had a private dip in the river. He said he liked what he saw, that he thought about looking away but decided not too, and told me "Thank you!", as in, for the unwilling display of my body. He was probably not a bad guy, just probably didn't realise I had to worry about being assaulted in the hut as I went to sleep, and replayed the things he said and how I should have reacted over again in the days afterwards. Another frenchman offered me to sleep next to him, and found me on the internet once I returned to the city. Just be chill, men! Our guards are up, and not because we're crazy, just because we're under attack.

The boys were all amazing. They're grown up to be leaders and so they take charge, and no-one calls them bossy, and that's a great thing.

On the way down to camp Iron Man 2 was playing on the video screen at the front of the bus. Literally the first scenes included Iron Man in his suit of armour, arms up and triumphant, and wheeling delicately and sexually around him were a mass of same-dressed womens in sparkly bikinis with the same hair styles, flinging their sparkly glistening asses around towards the crowd and Iron Man. "Gee," I thought, "Give me a break general culture! The boys are watching this and then I gotta lead them as a female stranger on a hike, try and get them to listen to me, respect me, while I keep them healthy and alive for 100ks of personal-growth time!"

A friend told me recently he doesn't buy the argument about the pay gap between men and women, because it's illegal to pay people differently, and besides, maybe it's just a question of personality with who rises in the ranks and gets listened to at meetings. In the kitchen in the conversation I cried, but now at the laptop I say "Go tell your theories to the opening scene of Iron Man and then try lead an all boys camp!" etc.

Well, I saw one of my favourite performances of the year on coming back from the zamia lands, and that was Ben Witt and Malcolm Clark doing something like a metal set at Mojos, for On The Side. I was trying to work out a lot of the time what was improvised and what was set in stone, and in the end I guessed it must be a set of riffs and then playing on those themes - and Ben confirmed that's indeed what it was. But really it also could have been that almost every note and beat was pre-planned. It was almost all completely precise, Ben just on bass for a change, Malcolm on a great kit set up to reinvent some skewed version of metal directions. Ben played as fast as he could, which is *very fast*. They wore masks and didn't talk except for a few dog barks from Mal. Masks are a beautiful thing - to Ben I said it's like a still and moving image in one vision, photo and video, and it draws your mind in in a different way. A frozen expression that's lived in for a half hour by one person, and the expression is one they've never made.

Where did masks begin? We have masks in our home at Goode Beach, Korean, Japanese, Chinese. I should have worn a mask to school to scare away the teasing boys, or learned sword play, or how to wield a culture.

Mai Barnes played next and I wondered if she was scared to play after the incredible skill and precision of Ben and Mal. But she didn't seem scared. She sung her story out and flailed her arms and legs around and created a captivating soundtrack to a defined purpose, as always.

:) TTY next week when the world's anew again.



iron man

Heaven Knows What Language Nature Speaks

Andrew Ryan

woh. i've just suddenly discovered the smiths again. somehow they got lost when i was at uni, blowing out and over my head. but today i was in a cafe and i heard the song and i listened to the words.

i've been doing that more again, that thing i used to do as a teenager. hear the song, then look at the lyrics properly on the vinyl cover, then listen to the song with the words right there. it's like remembering to eat again or something - seems ridiculously simple when i say it right here.

well, my friend who is a great writer and was uncharacteristically wearing a black cockatoo suit all around the roe 8 protests wrote to me and said he'd been listening to the smiths all week. i thought about him again when i saw that mr soundgarden died, because my writer friend's brother died too in the same way, by his own hands.

it's unthinkable, but when you're in that deep spot of true bother, it's thinkable, the taking of the own life.

i'm going hiking so i'm not writing this week, i'm writing now, with the smell of honey and coconut oil and toasted seeds that went into the muesli bars i made instead of getting more sleep. i did start a big article finally all about roe 8, but there's never time to finish what we start, except life of course, we always finish that.

don't die friends, keep talking to each other, and just trying to stay alive til you feel better. you probably will feel better, you definitely will feel better, but not if you're gone, you won't feel anymore.

and the other thing i was thinking today was this:

Small lives, we mainly have small lives. Drinking coffee, marketing coffee, choosing watches. Our lives could be epic. New lands, new species, saving species with our bodies on the line, making literature with our daily rituals. Nah, coffee, dumb jobs to buy dumb things. Printing pictures of stars on our clothing instead of trying to go there by seeking out a method of astral travel that causes no environmental harm.

so when i heard the smith's song, 'heaven knows i'm miserable now' all the lyrics seemed to be about straight forward anti-capitalism ideas, and some daily dose of what it means to be a lady and feel a feminist rising. i'll put the words again here, so you can see what i mean: "In my life / Why do I give valuable time / To people who don't care if I live or die?" people thought i was sad to post that song, but really i was feeling great and just agreeing that our current way is just a dumb way that makes us all miserable in intense ways amongst all the kfc.

and why not also look up the lyrics to the song "ask" so you can make more sense of the title of this writing?

so yeah, good bye one good guy, hello again the smiths, and see you when i'm back from the lands of the kaniyang people, whose name you might not have heard, but you might have heard the white name "Collie".

Gentle Worm, Float Thee Upward

Andrew Ryan

i'm sitting in a tiny entrance to an old large church in fremantle. there are musicians practicing - a cellist and an organist. it sounds like a record put on a faster speed. it's beautiful and light sound, imagine sometimes if our music shows were set at a smaller volume. nothing in your ears or mind has to push back against the noise, and there's more space for your mind to dwell on the melody. i think perhaps one time i saw that nice young moon puppy blues band the sound was down quite low, and so the nice crackle of the sparkly (literally) guitars came through, and that tall boy's deep voice singing about a worm.

well this is nice, i'm surrounded by wood. that reminds me, as does everything, of doing a wilderness first aid course for two days on the weekend, surrounded by buff teachers from a boys school. i would look at their arms, brown and veining out of their tshirts, and ask what they teach. "science" "politics" "maths", a sea of cut men, a sea of knowledge. it was an all boys school and next week i'll be out in the woods with their teenagers, helping them maybe see into the trees we're walking through, and up into the stars that will reveal themselves, and they can teach me all about fish tanks which apparently is the new craze for the boarders. they feed their fish their worries and the fish respond with puffed up cheeks and open and closing mouths.

i was in a floatation tank last night, as a present from a red head, floating there in a sea of salt, hovering in the water. floating is flying, suspension without effort. something my mind brought up to me, or the water imparted, was that the main great things about us, the things we are, we don't control. The best thing about a person - being - is not connected to doing. In sleep we have all the properties our loved ones want - mainly just the property of living, and we don't need to do anything to achieve this. We achieve being in dreams, our body moving everything around of its own accord, our stilled-from-action mind floating away while everything pumps and moves and chemically changes to do the "being" for us.

without thinking, when i was getting ready for first aid, i said out loud "Yes I can, I can wear a g-string to first aid." this is a symptom of my newfound happiness - talking to myself in the mornings in bed, out of bed, in positive ways but without effort, just a sweet new light being flowing through, decaffeinated.

well, in the float tank my grandparents were there. i spent time thinking about each one of them, and they took me into a forrest and served me tea. they're all dead in the earth sense, but they are somewhere. i got a nice smile from a man in a suit at the funeral director's today, and i thought "Yeah, death is ok. I'm either going into the ground or into the new great planes of existence, surrounded once more by The Big, in a new dimension with new elemental aspects of life to discover, and all the tears wiped away from everyone's eyes." or something along those lines. through those lanes of thinking.

anyway i also went to the bird on friday night. warsame (business partner) was playing and that was one of the main reasons i went there, some hint of mudlark. i'd been going over things in my mind the last few days "identity politics is the lowest form of politics, but it's still life or death." we all know, there's a new construction in syria for cremating masses of people - that's exactly the stories people around the place say "how could they have let this happen!" about germany etc, say if they were there they would not have stood for it, but we all stand for it. at the same time, friends here get raped, and that is life and death too. all of these things deserve our attention, and our leaving our normal forms of life to go out and change everything. how? if you want to know/if i want to know/ we will know.

well warsame was playing and i was out the back talking identity politics, and also life and death feminism with two friends. one was brendan jay, who looked me straight in the eyes with compassion and told me he was really sorry to hear about new assaults on friends, and said it must be really hard for me. that's what i'd been wanting the last few weeks, someone to say "sorry that must be really hard for you too". it's hard, we're hemmed in and if we say something people roll their eyes. someone even pulled on my own arm the other day, trying for something when i was in a vulnerable place - their house. another time i'll tell you.

well, warsame's drumming pulled me in. i knew from sitting out the back and hearing it over the speakers that it was him, because he is one of the great drummers who has his own way. he is captivating. he had a sample pad with all his songs and just drummed along to them, moving his body in a mechanical organic way that he does, sweating, concentrating, making an occasional - very occasional - noticeable error, and creating very simple in number of hits and complex in rhythm drum beats. he is very very good and people stood and watched - one man, drumming over a sample pad. in fact, this is one of my favourite ways of seeing music - the drums put where they should be, at the humble centre of all the action. why not care about every hit of a muted snare? i care, so did the crowd.

then girl played. their drummer was a guy who looked so familiar to me, sweating too, great straight drumming too - straight as in, on purpose, hits with a meaning. i gradually remembered i'd seen him at a barefaced stories night i'd performed at too, he told the story of a song he wrote for a love, played the song on the piano, maybe played it again. it was a beautiful piece and he was an instantly likeable guy. the last first aid course before this one a lady came up and told me she knew me, from when i'd performed 'stand up comedy' and that it had been moving, and i worked out then it was at barefaced stories too, these anecdotes are from the same night. one telling of one story can be memorable for a stranger in the crowd. i was a speaker in one case, and i was the stranger in the crowd in another.

i can't remember who else was in the band. a guy behind decks, so he was in the dark. um. but the singer was electric in a consistent way, like a toaster rather than a lightening bolt - i know what i'd prefer to have in my kitchen, the toaster of course, producing just enough pleasure with each down place of the level, a little anticipation for the pop up, the regularity of making bread into something better. so yes, this guy was great and i'll go see that again i hope, room to hear more of everything in the lyrics, room to spend more time watching what mr on the decks is doing. they got asked for an encore, and i'm glad they did it, some kind of freestyling that had the great element of risk and the great element of skillful execution. missed the main act. had to catch the train, isn't it. will have to see about a mystic fortunes next time they drop down to a stage.

hmm. yes. see you next week, i'll be in the trees and you'll get something i prepared earlier…




PS an older lady saw me and invited me to come and sit inside the church. the organ has a mirror on it, so you can see the person's face who is playing. dark hair, small chin, skill. the cellist was telling him how to play the next piece, her head tilts and facial expressions filling up the background to her words, massaging the practice to fit the mathematically "correct/incorrect" "off/on" "0/1" idea in her mind of what the right sound was. they were going over an over a little introduction, talking about the best volume, as well as the best tone for the organ. nice to watch this practice of two masters, massaging a melody, in a mathematical way (unintentional mms sorry). mmmm.



Andrew Ryan

If you're a person who gets anxious - really anxious like it's the afternoon and instead of keeping on thinking about death, you have to call up a friend - let's say Peter Bibby to keep it musical - and tell him "Help me! I'm thinking about death!" Well my advice to you, a silvery bullet heading straight for your soft parts, larynx, lips, liver is, just quit caffeine. All your problems will dissolve magically like International Roast, or like a coffee pod with that handsome old guy's face on it if you sent it six hundred and forty light years away, kind of southwards into the sky to Beetlejuice. Beetlejuice, Betelgeuze. And that's the other way to fix all your worries - just learn some astrophysics. In a way it can take a shimmer off the stars, knowing a bit more about them, but in another way thinking about lightyears instead of all them other things can help you.

And this is the next realisation: after feeling small, in the sense that Betelgeuze makes you feel small, and feeling the End is Nigh No Matter What in a scientific and geo-political and climatic sense, and going through "Does it even matter then if I put these batteries in the right recycling thingo?" I ended up at this: well, we all know our friends and family are eventually going to die. All of them, death is coming. But we still take great care of them along the way. We treat them with treats, we take them to the park, we heal all their wounds, we send them mixtapes - and that's how we live, being kind and wonderful to things which eventually, and in the blink of an eye, will pass away.

This is the reason to still care about some tiny bit of plastic that will end up in a numbat or a fish - because you love this earth, and you'll hold its hand like a grandma's during her last lovely days still breathing in the way you're used to.

What am I talking about? I'm talking about death, the end of the world, Betelgeuse - a red supergiant which is getting ready to explode to supanova, caffeine's effects on anxiety, and local music.

On the Side, Mojos, April 25th. Sam Maher, Axel Carrington, Fabian Rojas

Another music-that-I-liked night happened, and again it was by Kate Daniel making a show called On The Side. Again it was more like music used to happen in the hazier heyday of 2000s Perth, where people were trying things on stage and music got put together in strange mixes of genres, and someone was picking the bands thinking just about what they'd like to see rather than any other consideration.

The friendly stoner surfer video artist (vibe not reality) Nathan Thompson was there again making visuals, all analogue, his big set up now in Berlin to accompany Guy Ben-Ary who built a synthesiser controlled by his stem cells, perhaps regressed foreskin cells and who took my game Weenball to his little village in Israel. Well Nathan Thompson's presence is a calming force and seeing someone lightly closed in on by home built computer video parts makes for a cool feeling in the room. People were seated and really watching and listening to Sam Maher on the hang/hand pan - he's been getting flown round to play for the Prince of Malaysia and to the top of the London Eye to play duets with Bjork's percussionist… Internet dreams rolling themselves out, no longer being the surprise of Rodriguez (once known as Rod Riguez because a producer didn't think Americans could handle someone called 'Sixto' even in the sixties) turning up in South Africa to massive crowds who'd never followed him on instagram.

Well, Sam Maher was being beautiful and there's not much I know how to write about the sound. It's just someone who has entered the heart of an idiosyncratic instrument, unbounded by time. When I hear other people playing a hand pan I realise again that Sam is just the one for it, soul mates, a good sound among all the other sounds to introduce aliens to.

Real Homework: Make me a mixtape you think should be what aliens first hear - I'll review them, even if only Lyndon sends one in.

Well, Nathan said doing the visuals for Sam was his favourite one for the night, but my favourite one was for Axel Carrington. I know Axel has a big wide love of guitar music and I liked this one article he wrote about his favourite guitarists in Perth. I was sitting next to Ben Witt, our community's best guitarist though to watch Axel doing an experimental just-guitar set, so it was high standards stakes I had in my mind for listening - and some of it seemed just like finding his way, but some of it was transportative, melding in with Nathan's projections. There were long parts where I lost my sense of time and that's one of my favourite things for music - the most intense experience of that was watching Drowning Horse at 208s where a half hour set condensed itself into three or four minutes for me and when they started unplugging I genuinely didn't understand why.

And then Fabian played. I remember meeting him at The Bakery many years ago and he'd just moved here from Chile and he was talking about just getting into some of the local music and I told him "This is the place for you", and it was. He did a gentle series recording one song really nicely live of various local people playing solo, called Barefoot Movies. And his bands Lost/Tuneless and Last/Tuneless have a home punk way that's not already done a hundred times here. Anyway, he was on his own on the stage with a loop pedal and a drum machine that he hadn't yet mastered or was having technical difficulties with and he looked a bit bummed but it was beautiful. Kate translated the Spanish words into my ear, real lyrics strong and pregnant with ideas for self and world.

I'd convinced Ben Witt to come by explaining Nathan's video set-up, tiny fog machines over tiny pieces of mirror and coloured filters exchanged across home made visual flippers etc, and he wasn't disappointed.

So yeh, cool show, didn't even have to travel 640 light years or more to see it, and now I've got the secret to good mental health which is just take the red pills and a lil third of a cone once in a while and not the flat white.

Will climate change kill the Arctic Monkeys?

Andrew Ryan

Yes. It will kill all your favourite bands. But don't worry it will kill all the poor people who live by the water first. They might ask to come in, you'll say NO.

It's all over. Your daughter might listen to the monkeys up on Mars. She brought a canister up there, with "Sounds from Earth", genre "World Music" on it. African monkeys, Arctic monkeys - those entries come one after the other, because there wasn't time at the end, or monkeys, to get the full range of what Earth used to have to offer. 

This wasn't going to be lighthearted, but the truth is, I thought all day about the Great Barrier Reef, and a suddenly dead, disappeared huge river in Canada, but I still managed to laugh and smile tying bells to huge chopsticks for our other friends' wedding. Our friend told us a story about learning she was not Italian but Indonesian, and then learning she was not Indonesian but Chinese: slippery but good-hearted fathers.

All those places end up on the canister. Once you can't see Venice anymore you can still talk about it, like Atlantis. Venice, the second Atlantis of Earth, if you don't count Kiribati, the Solomons, Nuatambu, Choiseul, Taro, because they are poor and brown and fleeing. DON'T LET THEM IN. Do they even know how to DJ house music?

I wonder what they'll play over the speakers as the last Mars ship takes off. The launching pads have ocean water and a cyclone and desperate reindeer lapping at their feet. Will it be "The End of the World" 1962 semi-classic song by Skeeter Davis, made famous by the series "Mad Men", or will it be a song from the Murrum people of Norn Norn Nup (Walpole) sung for thousands of centuries and containing all the information we needed to live here forever until the sun dies.

That's the hope, another earth, another state of existance. "The End of the World" is country music, another dead genre. No houses, no countries, no gods, no masters, on Mars. Jks, just no houses.

I tend to think, everything is important. Every good action is worth doing, even if it's miniscule. But perhaps eschewing takeaway coffee cup lids is stopping me from starting or joining a true revolution. 

The 61,000 starved to death frozen reindeer are probably still there on the Russian peninsula. They will provide protein for the last rich people. Maybe Leonardo Di Caprio will remake "The Revenant" in real life, feasting on that last frozen flesh, afforded a plane ticket because everyone preferred coal and oil powered movie screens and plastic drink bottles and celebrity worship over taking care of Krill or Dragonflies or Balga Trees. 

My daughter is looking down from the rocket - this might seem like sci-fi but it's actually happening, I saw the vision on the land of the Murrum people looking up to Mars last week with 10 teenage boys, leading them through a wilderness we're ending, telling them over and over and they mocking me back with the words "Don't Step on the Moss!" as if it mattered. 

There you go. And what did we get for the end of the world? The cool aesthetic of the industrial revolution. BCF. Space travel. The concept of "work" (economics, not physics). White rice. A typewriter. Dying arctic monkeys. 

A new thing, homo ludens

Andrew Ryan

there's a whole theory about humans being more "players" than "thinkers". the guy's name escapes me, run run down the same track as all the memories of dreams, and the names of people who were special and it seemed i'd die if they didn't talk to me, look at me.

anyway the theory is called homo ludens. so i was thinking, why is it we "play" music? even in french, it's playing. what's it in your mother language? is it playing? doing? working? touching?

well, cause here it's play, it doesn't matter if anyone is watching or not. i'm 36 now so my body's just trying to get impregnated at any chance. but that's mixed in with me being a super private person who keeps their body to themselv. maybe part of the sublimation of those feelings is through music. the self that's trying to make a new thing plays alone or with another person and makes a new body. a body of a tiny baby, a body of a great piece of music that only you and nick in the music room have heard. we made a beautiful song, sprawling long organs, pt30 casio, guitar through all the wazzlers, voices through the 0s and 1s of digital crustacean, bit crushing, on and offing, pitch shaping, twisting, it was the perfect languid beast, ending up on a journey across the tasman strait, with leonie in the middle of it, her hair flapping wet across her face in the strait winds. "you caught a plane over/ but i put you on a ship/ your hair blowing/ you got a plate of weetbix". that's how it starts. but then alone nick took it over in a different direction, it's like the shape shifting musk duck in my dream, switching between immature teenager and duck - you might wish a body would keep its form… but that's the ultimate beauty , the change, which is also a euphemism for menopause.

we played a show on saturday and no-one was there, except ringham and pandora and all the people who played, and gentle lovely jim the sound man who i think likes my personality but not my music, with water from the band room above dripping onto his sound desk.

the rosemount was gutted out in a way that made it much, much, much cooler. the floor all concrete, wires hanging down from the roof, a big puddle of lake on the concrete floor which i dipped my boots into along with the rhythms of "reeks".

all the music was better for having no-one there. everyone was just playing not interacting with a crowd.

jordan shakespeare was first. he looks like a cool guy, he's got hair he's got glasses, a face, a tshirt, jeans, the coolest thing i know about him is that he used to really drink and now he doesn't, surrounded by cool kids in jeans also, getting high on cool things like liquid xanax, a kool look that writes both ways and takes you both ways, into a party zone and into temporary sleep - i'm just guessing.

i think my friend was on it when she had a big fight with her boyfriend which extended to all the extended friends, she's got the cool dark eyebrows with blonde hair combination and aside from teenage immaturity is one of the only true genius musicians i've met.

so from upstairs where kate with a big split in her dress to see her strong pale leg and i were talking to the Dirac Sea boys, kate explaining Safe Spaces and how no there wasn't going to be a panel after all because xanthea had got death threats for writing a mild article about sexism in band art and used maybe not the best examples, jordan's music was wafting strongly up to us. not pale, who did he have playing drums for him? someone great but when we went downstairs it was no-one, as in his own playing self from the computer. good work. big guitar, big drums, no voice to wash out the sense of it with too many overlaid words potentially in a non-self accent.

nathan too, no words. one time he was djing at the norfolk and leant me a jumper and that's the sense he gives off, good guy, always with a jumper to give and something humourous and intelligent to add to the playful conversation. what is this? am i reviewing these people as people? homohomo, manman. if i am, then he had tom on visuals, the only man i've been truly in love with since teenagehood, making everyone see his genius. he was holding a vhs camera, but with good reason, pointing it at the screen, with cut out dogs, poems about being on a plane to bali listening to bob marley, and legolas carrying his arrows in a coles bag. see? genius.

i forgot the cords for my main keyboard, so me and nick had to lay our balls out across the stage, skinned, with the scrotum open and the stringy bit stringing along. we made things up, in front of people, nick made things up with his mouth and wazzling guitar and me with the tiny casio and my stringy looped nuts. then i stood on one leg and sung an old song, then another old old song because nick MADE me do it with his eyes.

Reeks was next, no words again, phew. beautiful beats to which i whispered "footwork" to nick not knowing if that was right. he covered his head and face with his shirted cape so apparently you don't need a face to be cool. this all appeals to me, crushed chopped or screwed or worked beats and samples pinging over a concrete floor, dipping boots into water, never knowing if sincere worded songs, strongly pronounced production and true metallic metal exist in everyone's mind as the same thing, but they do in mine and they do in kate's who put the whole thing together. "it's better that no-one's here" i whisper in her ear, she kisses my cheek, and in my mind now telling her "it just means there's more room for us to make new beings to fill the space also, beings of our imagination, beings poured onto wet concrete, exchange of energy only, but still a new thing."

*this is about a show at the Rosemount Hotel, 25th March 2017, with Jordan Shakespeare, Henry Kissenger (Nathan Tempra w Tom Rogers), Rabbit Island, Reeks and Dirac Sea, by On The Side (Kate Daniel)



International Women's Day, You've Got Great Legs

Andrew Ryan

Steve Summerlin (Mink Mussel Creek, ALZABO) has beautiful legs, so I told him so. It was at a pale male gig - Reef Prince, GUM, Nicholas Allbrook, Lost Animal, and he was in short shorts as usual and the big padded workboots that Lost Animal was admiring. The boots are like what a dingo hunter would wear who has become a vegan.

I met a guy like that on the weekend - ex hunter vegan - we were spraypainting election banners out the back of a house of a mum who makes organic jams and used to be a biologist, and now lets people spraypaint banners and accidentally her driveway with thick black political slogans. She let us swim in the pool between painting, and her teenage daughter brought us fairy bread and watermelon - but that story belongs in the other article about Roe 8. So the ex-hunter got wrangled somehow into the fight against the Barnett shark culls and then crossed right over, to vegan, to anarchy, as one day my deep dream is we all will, even me. 

So Steve Summerlin and his legs and my legs were out the back of Mojos. It was a night of beautiful men, all depositing kisses on my cheeks from their sweaty faces. 

The thing is, with pale male line-ups; with pictures of headless women; with the "bitch" calls out on the street; with the anger walking in to pay for your petrol and seeing porno mags; with your friends talking about beyonce's ass instead of her music; with the "bitches and hoes" in all the ironic and non-ironic rap; with the male friends as soon as its just them and maybe you cos you're 'like a guy' just talking about women like walking meat; with getting patronised most days even when you're just trying to order nachos; with the walking home at night if you dare, pretending to be on the phone; with avoiding certain bars because you know the manager's a rapist but it's not public knowledge yet; ad infinitum; you sometimes think "it's just me". I'm too sensitive; it's cos I grew up spiritual; it's cos I'm too focussed on these things.

But no, in fact, it's because I'm a woman, and other women suffer and seethe and internally cry and dream of retribution under these things too. 

One of the greatest australian artists in music atm is Sarah Chadwick. She wrote on the internet on IWD about walking along the street and a guy calling out "Hi". She says nothing, he calls out "Snob". She smiles, he calls out "Bitch!" Sometimes men say there's no bias in music, and tell women they're overreacting about posters or lineups or whatever, but, this is our reality.

Anyway, so Steve has great legs and I told him. He said how he used to look at band posters and music magazines, and no-one in there ever wore shorts, and so he never wore shorts. And then one day he tried some short ones on, and instead of suffering in black jeans he was free. Now he gets called a faggot sometimes and I said to him that's sad but also a good thing in a way because as a hetero white non-dirt poor, bodily-abled man, he would never be able to understand what it's like to face daily discrimination without those faggy shorts. He told me a woman who goes cycling with him explained that being a woman is like being a cyclist: you're constantly made to feel threatened, abused, and sometimes literally run off the road, for being somewhere and doing something you have every right to do. 


I asked my friend Kate what her dream is for women in 2017. She talked to me about women in Kurdistan teaching young women and children to be fighters and teachers, and about how she thinks endometriosis affects many more people than we think, and can bring women together as we go through some of these collective troubles. She asked me and I said protection of fresh water sources and safety and freedom. I was thinking of Roe 8 and of women far away and of women locked up by our government so their friends can make money on the security contracts. 

So, I'm just one woman, and some women want their lips artificially pumped up by a needle, and new shit from Officeworks, or a non-multicultural australia, but I think I've also given you a tiny slice of the cake that's made from "what women want". 

And it would be great to write a piece about some of my favourite musicians who are women, or women friends or women in history who inspire us, but the fact is I was beaming at 9pm last night walking up to my friend's place in the dark, because once, for a whole day and evening, I hadn't been made to feel like shit because of my gender. 

So yeah, like I sang to lil Nick in the kitchen, completely unsarcastically "Happy International Women's Day to uuuuuuuu, Happy International Women's Day to meeeeeeee", until the day when biologist mums don't have to lock themselves to bulldozers, all the refugee prisoners are free, everyone's an ex-hunter vegan, cyclists rule the roads, everyone's lips are pumped just from peace and permaculture activities, and my musical heroes walk the streets getting called not faggot or bitch but HERO and HEROINE>>>>>>>>>

Of Magpies, Colin Barnett, Ponds and Wasps

Andrew Ryan

Nick Allbrook v The Popo. Still from Tahlia Palmer video 'All Organs and Organisms Join in the Protecting of a Wetland'"

Nick Allbrook v The Popo. Still from Tahlia Palmer video 'All Organs and Organisms Join in the Protecting of a Wetland'"

what is a pond? that's the question i'm going to answer you today. next week i'll tell you how and why our state premier colin is a liar, just before the election, with a little bit of detail, but this week it's the pond.

new things happen when you get connected to a body of water. we made a pond in the backyard, me and matt the soft and reliable permaculturalist. as soon as we poured the water in a wasp came and never left. we'd made a new place for him, without thinking of it, and he moved right in. sometimes the best things happen without thinking of it. at the pond show on saturday there was a special moment where i looked out from the wooden perch i was on, hundreds of sweat heads before and behind me, and i saw all the guys with their heads pointing in opposite directions. jay, jamie, joe, james and nick. this is because they weren't thinking, they were just music. at these moments the crowd became music too, all except nick odell because he's not into kanye.

i've been going a lot to watch bulldozing. i cry at the sidelines, get angry and scrape my anger along the fences in the form of my knuckles or a fallen newspaper. one day as i cried til i was nearly puking in front of the arrogant cop beside me who'd asked me if i had a job, paper bark trees getting crunched before me, everything getting crunched before me, i realised the way you can do it. it becomes like shaving your head, or weeding a whole garden, or throwing away everything you own: once you get started it just feels good to keep going. the pleasure of deleting everything. i saw the destructive meditation this man in the dozer was making, on and on and on. like this, you could clear every forest in the whole world and at some point we will.

i imagine colin now in his room, casting out wishes for a last breath, and the trees - because they don't think, just give and take evenly of the energy before and through them - give him his last breath. lazarus* comes down too, dipping a mining contract in water and squeezing it out so the drips fall onto colin's feet instead of into his mouth. lazarus is a man, and so he's capable of evil and of good.

not the trees, they're just capable of giving and taking, growing and falling.

i was touching my friend's arms who in the daytime orders the destruction of forests and in the nighttime goes to the gym and thinks about taking me up in the fremantle ferriswheel. from the ferriswheel you can see everything: cops giving move on notices to all the brown people, tiny birds falling from their nests as their tree is toppled in 20 seconds, carrier ships going to and from the port, half-laden with highlighters and plastic folder books and mouse pads for shitbarn(officeworks).

anyway, i touched his arms and said "but what's the point of going to the gym if you don't do anything strong?" and "just do a strong thing and quit your job."

anyway on saturday this was the first pond show james was playing where i could hear his drum style coming through. that's probably why nick odell didn't like it as much and why i did.

nick terry and his lady were beside me at the show, down on the ground. a few days later i watched him in the courtroom, doing his job but for free, speaking in the language of the magistrate to call up all the material facts but also their meaning, to get light sentences for the middle-aged women who'd locked themselves to trees in thinking of the ponds below where all the water goes. you can't lock yourself to a pond, the water runs right through. you can't handcuff a pond for good or evil purposes, it just flows.

i see lazarus in colin's bedroom, a human image of yin and yang, the black and white of a magpie. the black and white are both necessary, and of course, black doesn't represent evil, just the blackness of a feather, or a pupil, the only way we call all see the truth. my meditation is like this: inwards and outward, the black pupil to the outward, the closed eye blackness to the inward, the give and take that makes things intuitive and right.

and a few days after that i was on the psych's couch, and she sent me into my recurring magpie dream through hypnosis, showing me the once frightening magpie was a part of me, and getting me to feed it some cloud, hypnotised smile across my face, which i knew she could see because her voice changed.

we see through our ears too, etc.

what is a pond? what is a magpie? what is a liar? all these questions are easy to answer, especially if you are a wasp.
            white, anglosaxon, protestant, not protestor. 



*lazarus, back from the dead, symbol of extinction, symbol of the rich man and the beggar, symbol of miracles that can only last a lifetime etc etc, look this up if u like to go deep

still from tahlia palmer video 'All Organs and Organisms Join in the Protecting of a Wetland'

still from tahlia palmer video 'All Organs and Organisms Join in the Protecting of a Wetland'

Up Close and Perthonal: Carus Thompson

Andrew Ryan

Carus Thompson is a compassionate babe and deeply loved songwriter. Amber Fresh spoke with him about… pretty much everything, and his new album, Island.   

A: Hello how you going? 

C: Good good, just driving in to do a songwriting workshop.

A: Oh, who are the workshops for? 

C: A company called the Australian Children's Music Foundation. They put music into marginalised schools, where kids are on the outskirts, and to juvenile justice centres. I'm on my way today to Moorditj Noongar College. It's good working with young kids, getting them into music and song. 

A: Are there any kids you're teaching at the moment who are already better than you at writing songs?

C: haha

A: Or are gonna be stars? 

C: Well these kids are up to year six so thankfully not, but - especially at the Noongar school - I've been really impressed with their ability to own their own story, tell their perspective. As soon as you start talking about politics and pride in culture they're just right onto it. We wrote some really cool rap songs about who they are, where they come from. Pride in themselves and their culture. 

Rap's a great vehicle for that cause it was originally a political genre, and as a storytelling style of music. And these kids have got a story to tell. 

I think everyone has a story to tell. With my songwriting workshops I just try to make people realise how easy that is to do in a song. If people feel they can express themselves and their story a bit easier then there's power in that. 

A: Do you feel pride at the moment in where you come from? In your culture? 

C: Our culture? 

A: Yeah.

C: What, Australian culture? 

A: Yeah. 

C: Ah, definitely not! [laughs] I think it could be great. I mean that's sort of what 'Island', the album, is about. I really wanted to write a record that said something about modern Australia and what I see around me. All the stories on 'Island' are quite small suburban stories that everyone can relate to, but I've tried to make the themes quite epic. 

I was really getting into a lot of Springsteen and that's what he does in an American way; I tried to do it in an Australian way. To use all these small suburban stories and make some comment on where we are.  

I see us being at a real crossroads you know: there's two paths - and you really saw it the Australia Day weekend in Perth. In Freo we had this inclusive, different Australia Day. We didn't really celebrate it, because obviously for indigenous people it's a really intense day, January 26th.

They did this wonderful day on the 28th where there was a smoking ceremony in the morning, and then in the evening there was a great concert with John Butler and Dan Sultan, and it was just packed with all different people. Heaps of Muslim people there, heaps of Noongar people everywhere, heaps of white people and it was sort of like "wow". I just had this vision of the sort of multicultural Australia that's a bit more in touch with our indigenous history and our indigenous identity, and I went "This would be a great future, this is a great path." 

And then the other way is you know, status quo, stick to as we are, have our massive Australia Day celebration on a day that is full of pain for indigenous people. Look at America - you've got Trump, like, that's the other way we can go. We can just keep cutting services to vulnerable people and we can just privatise everything, continue with this path we're on, our attitude towards refugees. It's a path of cruelty, is what I see. 

A: Yep. 

C: We can either go the kinder, inclusive way, or we can just be assholes. So that's what the record's about. 

I'm definitely proud of this record… it's not like I'm anti-Australian. I describe my music as "I'm an Australian singer-songwriter" because the way I write songs is very Australian. There's a particular approach I think Australian songwriters have. If you look at Paul Kelly and others, it's very emotive, very direct. We don't mess around, we just really pull people in. I'm proud of that. But in terms of the country at the moment I think we're at a real crossroads. Part of the role of being an artist is you comment on that, and you try with the songs to get a bit of debate. 

A: I watched the film clip for 'Beach Fires'. That song was very heavy...

C: [laughs]

A: It seemed like that was a story very close to you. Is that very much from personal experience or just what's going on at the moment here? 

C: It was inspired by a conversation after a gig with someone in a place called Phillip Island in Victoria and I just said to him, "How are things since the desalination plant?" And he told me this story which is really common, all around Australia at the moment in regional towns, you know, "Everything's changed since the crystal meth came to town." It's a common story in WA - as they say, even the sharks are on meth here. 

A: I haven't heard that one.

C: You haven't?

A: Nah. I can't laugh at it, I could only get a tear.

C: Yes, it's a big issue in Australia at the moment, I wanted to write about it. That's great that you… I think with a song if you're singing it directly and delivering it right, people shouldn't know whether it's you or not. I think a song's always more true if you can confuse it with some of your own life. Like we all do, I've known plenty of people who have gone down that path - and the first line is about myself, when I was whatever 25 or something - but yeah it's definitely more of a narrative. Telling a story. 

A: The line about people's dead eyes seemed to come from someone who had seen those dead eyes. Because I've seen them too!

C: Yeah. Well I definitely think if you wanted to write a song about drugs or crystal meth and you had no experience with drugs or crystal meth it just wouldn't ring true. 

I think the thing with that style of songwriting is that to make something real you have to have lived it a little bit. That's why as a songwriter if you just sit in a room and don't do anything, don't meet anyone, don't go out into the world, well you're not going to have much to write about. Every person you meet, every conversation you have with someone, every experience, that grows you as a person, but also it grows you as a writer. If you have no experience then it's pretty hard to find anything to write about. Yourself: that gets boring after a while.

A: One of my friends Pete (Bibby), has a song called 'I'm Not Your Material' and it's - 

C: hahahah!

A: .. it's him telling the story of a guy he met at the pub who tells Pete all about his life. Like, the song's about the guy, and in the end the guy says, you know "I'm not your material" but that becomes the chorus of the song. 

C: Haha! Yeah you've gotta be careful. With that kind of narrative songwriting there's a responsibility that comes with it. The 'Island' album ends with a song called 'Gone But Not Forgotten' which is about a rough sleeper in Melbourne who was murdered, quite a famous guy, Mouse. He was murdered a couple of years ago near Flinders Street and the song is about rough sleepers and the homeless. You gotta be careful if you're writing a song about a real person because obviously they've got family… But what I do is just only use the facts. You just present what really happened, and when the story's strong enough the facts are enough. 

A: Yeah I think it can be hard sometimes if you're a compassionate artist, knowing when you're using stories in a good way or going into that realm where it's like -

C: Exploitative

A: Yeah exploiting the saddest version of the saddest story. 

C: Yeah. I wrote a song on my last album called 'Fifteen' and it was written about a young man by the name of Tyler Cassidy who was murdered. He was shot by Victorian police. He was fifteen years old. I wrote a song about him and his mother actually ended up hearing it. Then I met her and spoke to her and she just said "Thank you for the song." And that was the same thing, all I did was just take the pure facts of what happened and presented them.

These days, especially in WA where you've got one newspaper, you know mainstream media is just not recording everything. Lots of these stories out on the edges just don't get out there. That's one thing about being a songwriter - you can document these stories. 

A: Yes

C: You write a song about them and that song's there forever and it doesn't matter how famous you are or how much you get out there, but it's there. It's a document of something that's important.

A: I wrote a song a few weeks ago about the Beeliar Wetlands.

C: Oh yeah, there you go, classic example. 

A: I've made good friends with one of the workmen so one day maybe I can play it to him. 

C: hahah

A: I've been going down there a lot and that's my way of doing things, just trying to talk to people. 

C: Yeah, you gotta find your role in everything. People have different ways of accomplishing things. For me at the moment my way of involving myself in this whole debate about who we are as a country and what's our identity is to write a record and to create these songs. 

The great thing about a song like that one you wrote about Beeliar is obviously with Beeliar you've got the people who are on-side - if they're on-side, you don't need to win them over. It's the same with politics, the people who are on-side with refugees and a lot of the things I'm singing about on 'Island', I don't need to win them over. But songs and music can be so great because everyone loves music; you know, hippies, to full bogans, right wingers, you know, fully conservative people. Music is a human thing, and what you can do with a song is reach more of the middle ground.

The undecided people that never think about refugees from a personal, human perspective, they just think of it as this big thing, "No, stop the boats!" "Close the borders!" bang bang bang, but if you write the right song - there's a song on my album called 'Reza Berati' about a young man who died in the Manus Island riots… - If you really drill down and make it a really personal, human story, everyone can relate to it.

Everyone's got a brother a sister a mother a lover. If you can make the big issue small, sometimes some of those people in the middle ground will empathise, then they might think about it slightly differently. 

A: Yep. You seem to be someone music-wise and what you look like who might be able to (haha) connect...

C: With bogans?

A: Yeah! with the bogans. 

C: Yeah I mean I'm a huge Chisel fan and Paul Kelly is obviously a big influence. The pub rock thing is really a big influence on me, and I'm a huge Springsteen fan. I can talk to blokes, I can talk about football and I've been a labourer and I can dig holes, all that sort of blokier less sort of musician-y kind of stuff. It's something I've always had with my music. Guys have always dug me, girls connect with music that's about feelings, but because there is that pub rock element to it it's always reached out to guys as well. And also the "middle ground". 

I've never been a fan of preaching at people, yelling at them, "You're wrong!" "You're an asshole, that's the wrong idea!" I think you gotta be much smarter than that. And the way to do it is with telling stories and involving them emotionally and intellectually. 

A: Yep. One more question. So obviously, leaving Bruce Springsteen as the overall boss...

C: Haha!

A: Who would you like to be the boss of Australia? Political boss. 

C: I was always a massive massive fan of Bob Brown. In terms of policies that I think are more inclusive and progressive, I'm a fan of the Greens in that sense. Richard Di Natali I think is a really good guy, so...

A: He seems like a good guy, but Bob's better. 

C: Bob's really cool, you can't (lol) beat that guy. I just want to see someone that's… ... You know at the moment we've got two major parties and they just keep swapping the power, but a lot doesn't really seem to change. I still was so disappointed in Labor with their refugee policy. 

I just want to see more debate, and more creative ideas, and just more empathy. What's happened in Australia is our national conscience has been thrown out the window. I just want to see more feeling, and the details, that can be worked out. I just want to see someone be more compassionate.

A: Me too.

C: The deficit and all that bullshit, I mean, whatever. You know, that's the idea of a budget, you spend it. Sometimes you spend more of it sometimes you spend less of it. How bout the fact that the rest of the world thinks you're a bunch of assholes? Can you do something about that please? Cause they do! 

A: Yep. Well, keep fighting the good fight.

C: You too. … 

You can catch Carus Thompson this Friday at Mojo's Bar, tickets are still available at the Mojo's website.

Tops, 2016

Andrew Ryan

Ok, so here we are, heading to catastrophy, via entropy, as Dr Seuss says, "unless". In my way of thinking there's only a few possibilities for how to live as someone who'd be reading this article in 2016, going on 17: either just be cool, nice to your friends and family, with a job that means something or you like for breezy reasons; or become a permaculturalist; or become a climate scientist; or make bricks out of mushrooms or bacteria; or dedicate your life to peace - not necessarily pacifism, as George Orwell convinced me yesterday morning as I lay with him, words only, in bed; or stay on the ground, moving by feet or bike only, even if tours come up; or cover your whole body in plastic, plastic gleaned from the drinks you and your friends consume, plastic gleaned from your favourite beach, putting it on your body exteriorly instead of it becoming interior destructo-art in the guts of your favourite bird type; or blow up a something when no-one's there - weapons factory? big w store?; or meditate and pray in a way that everyone else joins you. We'll eat black beans and salad and just let birds land on us, watch native plums swell day by day while our smiles stay the same, we radiate with the earth. The earth is made for us, and we are made for it. We could stay here in some great utopia, if only we waggled and wazzled things in a non-destructive way. As a famous perth clip says "It's just sooo eeeeasy!"

Highlights? Well, the other night Stephen Bellair played as Reef Prince - this is the dying spirit of Perth music, dying but still with fifteen years left in it, the spirit of "going for it" - something borrowed, something blue, something half-baked, something amazing and new. He sang "She want my crayfish/I don't need a girlfriend". Great for a pale male, one of my favourites, a great friend, a flawed man as us all, a deep heart, deep intractable friendship that's saved my life this year, and this is the second thought - I went with friends to the Ab Music 30th year anniversary show. It was poorly attended. There was great kangaroo stew. A few people's voices gave me spiritual shivers. And they all were singing about wanting respect - women wanting respect from men; they sung about trauma, getting off drugs, suicide, family in prison. This is our two-tiered world and we all know it: crayfish and suicide.

Second pale male highlight: Benjamin Witt doing an acknowledgement of country for the first time, in his set at El Grotto. I spoke with Mt Mountain man the other night at Mojos, before Stephen played, and one of his only Perth highlights for 2016 was Benjamin Witt. Musically, but more than that, morally, historically, trying, trying to find what his place as privvo pale-male is in this world. He'll use his voice now for others, he'll step aside when it's time. Ben's talked about his new musical projects, all tied in to finding out about the history and people of this land we're all on, and because he's boss, he'll do it.

Another highlight - watching the singer from Mung Dahl play solo at the Oddfellow, two guys behind me quietly but not quietly enough judging, heckling. "Play something entertaining! He's only playing A minor" etc. I walked up to them, boozed as I never am, alcohol just makes me more confident and more loving, and said to the guy "It might not be entertaining for you, but it's very entertaining for me." "Why?" "Because it's real. You should listen." We then kept talking at the end of the set. He and his friend were embarrassed into listening with their hearts and came to see something different in the great personal music. The guy told me he was from the navy, he drives submarines, and we went down together into the discussion of ships and who should be on them - the cruise liner in Freo port, capable of taking 5000 people and how instead of taking 5000 champagne soft-skinned relaxers it could be bringing 5000 war-torn desperate people here, children, women and men - yes men too, muslim men, and talked about our families and at the end he was hugging me and I was hugging him, telling one another how special we each were. "When I make a mistake, people die" he told me early on. "You're the reason I do what I do. You're the reason I know there's another way" he told me later on, which was kind of confusing but I knew what he meant. And I knew that when he said "You" he meant all of humanity, because we'd covered that too.

Lana is also the winner of 2016. Her unashamedly great, trained voice makes people look at each other with big eyes, her weird and unpredictable sets mean the rooms are less full but everyone there is init. Her textures are a taste palate many people aren't used to, but appreciate as soon as it touches their tongue.

Hearing is the big interstate winner of 2016 - the song with the line "two boys, two boys", is the top hit for the year, as is Evelyn as Pikelet's song with the line "it is open/ it is unwritten" which gave my right thigh shivers even as I typed it.

Akioka is the winner of 2016. The 60 or 120 seconds at Highgate Continental when she shifted the crust of the earth beneath us, the sky above us, where it was impossible to believe the sound coming from her mouth was sound coming from her mouth, will be remembered.

Kucka is the winner of 2016, singing in Paris to thousands in front of Flume's pretty good creations, work ethic, personal ethic brilliant as diamonds.

Emlyn Johnson is the winner of 2016, his shows with his band at Mojos were also the interstate winners of the year - the most captivating, invigorating, philosophical and sideways political works of the year. Undeniable in their greatness.

And Swamp Clubb (Mei Saraswati/Matt Aitken/Mikala Westall), Lisa Stinson and Lyndon Blue are the winners of 2016. Swamp Clubb, a powerful tour of Northbridge through its spiritual and ecological past changed the way many people in our music and art community see the place we're on and in. Swamp Clubb's ripple effects are unhindered by the forces of gravity and friction. Lisa Stinson's explanation of 'Cas 9' and 'Crispr' at one General Knowledge Club session attended by less than a dozen people has also rippled into our world, changing minds; and Lyndon's curation of the greatest recent art and music space we've had - Success - underground, expansive, quality; yes, he done good.

Best Perth show: Drowning Horse at 208s. If a band can alter time, that's special. 2nd place: The Wedding Band featuring pale male cast of Lyndon Blue, Alex Griffin, Alex Last, Brett Smith and Chris Last, at the Dog Wedding on the Derbarl Yerrigan (Swan River). Best international show: Tame Impala at Zenith in Paris. Best choir: Burundi Peace Band Choir, Camp Doogs, Harvey.

2017: time (again) to change the world. No more heartbreaks please. Completely altered political and power structure please. Plastic-free, petrol-free year please. Plants and animals and all other elements: keep up the good work.

Heartbreak Hotel: Gizzfest with King Gizzard and the Wizard Lizard, POND, White Fence etc. at the Urban Orchard 4 December 2016

Andrew Ryan

so i've checked in to heartbreak hotel again. it's not my first time here: they know my name, they know what i like for breakfast. the first few days are always the worst. you just sit by the pool and see algae and mosquito larvae, and then stare at the telly alone at night, not able to tell which bits are ads and which bits are the story. the best thing is falling asleep, because at least while you're sleeping you can't cry.

but then a few days later you notice the roses they put on the breakfast tables. you realise slowly you've got a bit more time to read, and get absorbed in your book for minutes at a time. one day in the first week you see a friend who's checked in as well, and magically the conversation moves on from the names of the people who left you, or who you left.

well, enough of the metaphors. almost, because the main thing that sticks with me from the king gizzard and the wizard lizard show is how their two drummers are like the two legs of a man, running. and the main lyric that sticks with me from the whole show is this: "something something something something, open the door" (where the "somethings" are representations of spaces in my memory).

the other main thing that sticks is this: all men show. i've decided to start calling cricket "men's cricket" and AFL "men's AFL," if it's the games where only men are playing. we'll see how that goes. lots of my friends are excited that young thug's coming to laneway. all my friends are excited. but what's more helpful, less aggressive to my kind: wearing a dress, or not calling women hoes? "something" can stand in for words i forgot, but "bitches and hoes" should never be a stand in for "women and girls".

well, my feelings and the ongoing struggle of women for equality, safety and representation aside, it was a great show.

the murlocs were playing when i got there. it was either the hotel card in my pocket or their actual music making me nonplussed, or some combination, but for some reason i didn't buy it. the crowd did though and they were singing along, hoisting each other up and smiling in wide ways into the sun reflecting off the band they love. joe ryan was there, and he gave me a food ticket because i hadn't eaten that day. it started out as a feeling of "maybe i'll fast to ask The Big about my future" but turned into just not eating. i ate rice and chicken - where did it come from? where does it go? and walked across to the bird for a break. noël at the bar gave me a red wine for free - maybe he could see my feelings on my face too, and then out the back we talked about the predictable stages of getting over someone, and how they all come in waves. we talked in french and english, and it was after i'd sat alone for a while thinking "i'm just alone again now" and reading aldous huxley's forays into mesculin vision, which felt so much like my own normal vision. i get to see the world in a magic way, on the reg, but i still get heartbroken and have to go through the predictable stages of grief. i started thinking maybe the real mystics are just people who are happy. eating chicken at home and watching telly, going boating, camping, fishing, and all with a perpetual grin written on their deep psyche.

well, i left that place where mei saraswati and flower drums and leure were going to be playing - a beautiful alternate reality i was leaving for another beautiful place. i got an icecream, thinking "i'm on my own, buying myself an icecream", and walked back to the urban orchard, passing jeremy bunny the aspiring actor who told me he'd be going to late night valentine's later, as every night, to party and lose his mind on the dance floor.

when i got back kevin was there, and gum, and lucy and nick and nick and jasmine and ringham and rachael and pandora, names you'll mainly have to make up faces to. rachael looked down at my shoes and saw i still had the plastic loop of new shoes on them. for me the shoes represent "the first thing i bought without talking to the guy i love about it." i told rachael i like to leave the tags on because it reminds me i once bought something, like my guitar which still has its tag three years on. she bent down, scoffed, and later i realised she'd ripped off the tag - jasmine told me - and flung it on the ground. i like sassy women telling me what to do: we all know it's just a game.

white fence played and i loved it. everyone said the singer was like a doppelganger for our lloyd - the silent's main guy - and it was true, even just in image in front of me. he didn't sing too much, and when he did i felt like he meant it, even though i can't relay to you even one word. it was nice thick real considered sound. confident with a reason.

sam kuzich arrived. he'd come back from five months touring with taku and touring on his own, a month in cuba, everywhere else. he has no facebook, no instagram, no facetime, so the way he's going to tell me about it and the way i'm going to tell him about my glorious five months of non-solitude will be by soundwaves through the air, mouth to ear, probably over the waters of the derbarl yerrigan, ancient river that's been flowing since the body of the wagal made it.

a guy called 'dinner' played. he was loose but not loose enough for me. i wanted him to be using his hands for something. he made everyone sit down, and that was the best bit. the crowd adored it. i wanted more, or less, but i know that most things on earth are not meant for me, and if i even see one musical thing i like, that should be enough to be grateful.

pond played and nick was shining. i took lots of photos on a film camera. the whole thing whizzed by, except the moment in time when jay, gum, sung the song about climbing cranes. in that moment things stood still. and when nick acknowledged the traditional owners of the land. those things are worth a whole night's 'entertainment'.

jamil played as boulevards. he sang about the best smelling pussy etc. i'm calling him by his first name because as he walked by me and nick backstage from where the gizzards were playing he asked nick "who's this babe?" and nick said "amber." i don't know why he didn't ask me my own name, but that's what happens when people can sing onstage with their shirts off about all kinds of jizz: sometimes they still can't ask your name. i liked his show, liked watching him, liked trying to work out if the words were gonna upset me or not.

when the gizzards came on lots of people's conversation in the side bit started getting faltering. they have a power, a great power and it is a wall of men coming towards you, with fans blowing their hair back, streamers flying backwards from their hair and limbs, marching towards you, flying to you, as one. it's like a great dream that goes on and on. it's like a cool cartoon from when you were 6 or 8 and you feel part of it and talk to the characters as you watch from the carpet. it's like being in a desert where there's heaps of animals you've never seen before, and you're like "woh! cool!" every few seconds, with your eyebrows up and your eyes popping. king gizzard, saving me once again from heartbreak with your double drummers and great relentless medieval riffs.

lots of the boys stage dived - a shy guy in overalls from white fence, gum, jamil, joe. gum's description of it at the cafe the next day was of how he jumped in and six seconds later the song stopped. "i got dropped to the ground and there was this sea of long haired blonde guys looking down at me saying, 'woh, jay watson! where's kevin!' they all seemed like nice guys but that was all they could say, 'get kevin to come out!'

well, i'm going back to my room now to read some paul auster and get ready for dinner. see u at the pool.



Small and Leaning Forward, Why 4 Year Olds are The Best Drummers: a Review of Red Hot Go Improv Ensemble at the Fly By Musicians Club

Andrew Ryan

on the way home, i said to my friends "i want to get ziggy to drum for me". i'd already said it in the back room after we jammed. it was ziggy's fourth birthday and his brother's sixth. it was mainly adults at the party. they talked about children, drugs, music, science, maybe not sports this time. some friends rocked up late cooked on speed and alcohol. that doesn't sound too savoury and it kind of wasn't, but at least they could get in the vibe of the wild small and big people gangup game that was happening in the lounge room. i got bitten, i got thrown over someone's shoulder, and i beat up other people with a small soft toy turtle called "Mr Right". chie from the great band … was beating people with a soft shark.

it's a very strange thing how drugs wazzle their way into our lives and then stay there, grow, fade away, destroy everything, make for dumb food decisions and lots of left over dishes for someone else to clean up. usually it's the women that clean things up, whether you're nineteen or thirty five it's just the same. the boys party and make a mess, and you clean it up, while they go away on tour again or to make cooked songs at their own house. they don't notice, and you're not really meant to notice, but you do.

lyndon blue is one guy who probably never partied and then left the mess for someone else to clean up. that's how you know he's a true "really good guy". that and the million billion great things he organises around perth to truly fertilise our music and art community. the reason i told you about ziggy is this: ziggy is four and in the car i told them the reason i wanted him as a drummer: "no adult can play like that". it's a thing that happens as you get older to your creativity and confidence: skills increase but freedom decreases. even people who are true improvisers are bound by more sets of rules and conventions than they were when they were the age to whip their penis out in front of others and wee in the garden - not in an act of toxic performative masculinity, or lack of being kind to others while deep down knowing it's not that nice - but just without thought, only with the body's thought of "i need to wee/i will wee/i am weeing/let's drum again".

my male friends are talking about feminism more these days. i kind of wish they would do this thing, as well as talking: listen to their women friends for ages about some topic, watch them do something they're really into even if the man is bored, turn off rap if it's misogynistic even if they're just with their man friends, and clean up heaps for the women. what should women do? maybe not expect to be looked after…  

anyway, we had a great big and small people jam in the back room at nick odell's place, then an allstar jam of me, tom rogers, nick odell (CEASE), nick allbrook (Pond etc), mei saraswati (Mei Saraswati, Savoir etc). this was a most exciting free flowing jam - i was on the big organ, two stacks of notes, one big set of notes you play with your feet, certain frequencies only being bounced off the wall across the tiny room, other frequencies just coming from the normal place, once. mei was on the kit, characteristically good at that as everything - at some point tom played the broom as percussion, at some point he had a drumstick in one hand to play and a dumbell in the other to pump. anyway, this seven minutes of heaven produced an amazing piece, four on percussion, one on harmonic instrument, and at the end everyone was PUMPED, high fiving, sweating, grinning large.

but the best drumming had come from nick's 4 and 6 year olds, and like i said, it's because they're free. free from developed skill, but still with skill, free from constraints, but still with some idea of how a jam works. archer, the second smallest child, named the song he, nick and i made as "balls in the water" or "bulls in the water" depending on how you understood him, and he had a list of the four first albums we'd make.

but you see, the next night, lyndon blue proved to me in a very easy way, that "adults can play like that". we went down to watch this group, down at the new fly by night, that lyndon had put together. and he'd put it together like this: ten people all playing instruments they'd never played before, coming to do a show, following certain cues from a powerpoint presentation. eduardo cossio was on violin, hayden was on clarinet, sage - who can do meditative throat singing - on saxophone, richard ingham of mink mussel creek on trombone, tom on some percussive, melodic stringed instrument from vietnam that lay on the ground, some freo men whose names i forgot on keyboards, euphonium, violin (zane and… ), a girl on trumpet, robin woodward on piano accordion, jordan webber the handsome twitcher on violin too, and of course, lyndon on trumpet and powerpoint. anyway, i might have forgotten someone, but this beautiful line of people, with just two at the front, were on stage to just explore a new thing, try and play it, make a thing individually and together, in front of a small and leaning forward audience in the downstairs club.

i don't know if it was a "piece" that existed before: ten people improvise on instruments they've never played. this might be a new music theme. but lyndon's way was incredible and the whole piece they made was incredible. signs on the powerpoint, to guide the group ranged from "one note" to a diagram; a photo of a bear catching a salmon to a series of dots and dashes; "pause" to ~. the beautiful thing was watching the childish (pos word) discovery on the faces of the players, their will to explore and please, their surrendering to something they couldn't control, and also the music that was made itself. so much more interesting than hearing the same songs again where you know when the song's going to end and where it's going to go. this was EXCITING.

on the way home some guys were shredding in a loft section of the big barn that's the raw kitchen, shredding "rock" music and we peered in an up and that was kind of nice too. it showed skill, and it was cool, but the real magic was down in that club, ten beautiful strangers, strangers to their instruments and strangers to each other, making a new thing.


A Surfer You Could Trust. Some Breasts and Ants. A Slight Review of Success Show 5

Andrew Ryan

i was hanging my boobs down in the backyard, long and thin, and thinking about the boobs of the american first lady. i thought about them - the first lady boobs - because i'd seen them on the internet. not the whole boobs, but enough to get a feeling for them. i was in my gardening outfit: skirt, undies, hat and sandals, and one 925, made in italy, 92.5% silver chain that fell off some man's neck onto the street and was now hanging down from my neck with a jade pendant from my great aunty, in the shape of a heart on it. 

a jade heart hanging down from my real heart. real boobs hanging down, with the idea of 80% real boobs, newly political boobs, somewhere far away, in my mind. 

well, as i walked along the street today i thought about whether it matters if people just have fake flowers or real ones. you could just buy one set of fake plants and flowers for your baby when it's born and then those stay with it for its whole life. one plastic coffee cup to use over and over, one toothbrush with indestructible plastic bristles, as the baby will already only have one set of eyes to last its life time. 

(the thought of an eye! incredible! the thought of ants farming aphids, which they do, stroking their backs to suck out the honey dew, and keeping all those lady birds far far away, incredible!)

well, the other night there was an exhibition down down the exhibitions are down in the success gallery, underneath the myer building which is no longer myer. it's the last success show. everyone down there was crying tears of astro turf and all the turf tears landed as a series of mini-golf games. you could hire a putter but the queue was too long. once a tall american woman who's made a series of artworks about the death of the humanoid earthtime, via people humping dirt, inseminating flowers etc., handed me a putter and so i tried to be an artist by using the golf ball to putt the putter. my eyes (only ones i've had, given at birth, continuing likely til death) glanced up sideways at my bf to see if it impressed him. "i'm being an artist!" i said. 

we often see the curator lyndon on the street. he's always got nice hair, white teeth, a briefcase, and the respect of every person he comes into contact with. maybe he's born with it? 

so also at the show there were two guys about to play with a third man off to the side. they all had sets of electronics, and the two guys about to play music had a banner, lengthways from the microphone stand, with their name "bullet train for australia". the music men were sam and ben, classic names, but they didn't just play classic music. they were improvising the whole time, and this is what made it good. all electronic except a trombone, all beats based at the core, all repetitive but constantly moving, wah, like a train i guess. it was a conceptual performance and it was a great performance. 

a man off to the side looked like a surfer you could trust. not just to look after your laptop while you go to the cafe toilets, but for example to transform your whole house to solar power maybe, or in this case to make an incredible visual eyescape, constantly moving to go with the sounds. i walked up close to him during the show and there it was all laid out in front, like tim from basic mind's analogue synth set-up. all home made modules, small audio sensing shards of silver wood or plastic inside a tiny bed of water, moving with the music, tiny lasers going amongst them, a tiny smoke machine blowing over this toy train sized videographic wonderland.

because oh yes, there was a toy train set too, set on top of an indigenous map of australia, all the countries and people groups coloured in by someone, finally, to show a thing that gets ignored. 


my boobs hang down, projections happen through water and smoke, a little train keeps on going and going, ants farm aphids and stroke their backs for a specific purpose. hmm. 


Perth Music and Arts Community responds to the election of Donald Trump

Andrew Ryan

Some very unexpected and very disturbing things are happening around us right now. Ice is melting, we have far right people in our senate, we're all still driving petrol and diesel cars, our country is locking up people fleeing war, there's still no justice for indigenous people. To bring all this and more to the fore, a man who speaks without respect to and about women, people from other countries, many others, has become leader of a big nation that our country is mixed in with culturally, economically, environmentally. 

I asked some Perth's music and arts people to respond to the election of Donald Trump, and asked to publish some of their online reactions. Here are their responses to this event. Amber Fresh.


T.S Eliot, Heart of Darkness, Samuel Beckett... All these powerful stories I was exposed to by some wonderful high school English lit teachers as a teenager in a school in this lizard daemons federal seat. Little did I know the horrors of these stories would manifest so close to home. Hosting award nights for muslim students one night then out blindly supporting team trump the next day. DISGUSTING. If 'doing their job' means endorsing a sex predator white supremacist then QUIT your fucking job. 

Anyone who supports or tolerates this lizard please unfollow me.

PS To the Hyde Park Hotel that have had a Trump themed burger night all year. I guess telling them to absolutely get farked too…: "Dear Hyde Park Hotel and any other establishments with casual Trump-humour themed menus and promotion. If this was the 70s I'd throw a brick through your window."  

Facebook post, Matt Aitken, Camp Doogs, Magnolias, Swamp Clubb, Paddle Clubb, The Gulls, Gilbert Fawn.

My response to the US election is that this result, along with the Brexit result, is deeply concerning. We have to look at it objectively and ask why people are voting this way in response to fear campaigns. It's easy to jump on the bandwagon and label people racist and I, as well as others I know, are guilty of making that mistake. However this doesn't solve anything. Why are people scared of immigrants? Why are people scared to lose mining investors? Why are people so quick to drop any ounce of empathy they may have the second they feel someone is taking something from them....

My one hope for this result is that it sparks a discussion that everyone can be involved in to help unscramble this egg and figure out why so many people are so angry and unhappy. 

I am still shocked at this outcome, but we have to use this as a driver to ask 'why did this happen?'.

Steve Knoth, Scalphunter.


My response has been to try and listen to the people who have been rocked to their core by the decision. I have never experienced sexual assault or racism. I am as privileged as a person can get. I have seen domestic abuse in my own childhood home, but it wasn't directed at me. It took a day but now I am crying my eyes out for all the people I love that are tired and sick from the bigotry in the world. I just want them to feel safe and loved like everyone deserves to.

I am thinking more and more every day, how to use my privilege to add hope and love and happiness into a world that needs it. I am sad but hopeful. 

Matt Sav, Music photographer, Designer, Director, Abalonely, Perth, Apricot Rail.


I don't think we have any right to be condescending to Americans because of the ass clown they have elected to be their president. After all, 'we' elected that mad monk, Abbott. 'We' begged for the Asylum Seeker torturing Turnbull. The world is full of horrors, and increasingly more so, it seems. For now, I have chosen to focus on love. I've been staring at my infant nephew's little feet since the news broke. It keeps my heart full. I highly recommend focusing on love during this time. 

Abbe May, Abbe May.


Whilst the world is distracted by Trump's victory, Colin Barnett sneaks off to stab a few sharks and build a new casino whilst eating the flesh of an infant refugee.

Peter Bibby, Peter Bibby, Chief Richards, Frozen Ocean.


Music is the language of community: prediction, vision, warning, hope. I wasn't really raised to think life is meant to be fun - I think fun is likely the problem. Coincidentally I also do not think there is an excuse for wah-wah anymore. Our progressive art must be critical, emotionally resonant, engaged and intersectional, or it's not at all. To be able to make art in a free country is a privilege which has to defend itself, since it's always under attack, and it has to defend others. It is, as ever, a good time for teeth, for stomping, mourning, dreaming: keep singing with everyone else at the front of your mind, and hopefully they'll sing with you.

Alex Griffin, Mining Tax, Ermine Coat


I feel like I need to put my head in a beehive, or be eaten by a snake.  I feel like burying myself in a geothermal vent for a little while.  I feel like running to a telescope and looking out across the universe into a deep timescale past the speed of light. I feel like getting in a uber and going to Naomi Klein's house, where Margaret Atwood will run me a bath and and Donna Haraway will sing me a lullaby.  I don't feel like .gifs, memes, sarcasm, or south park. I feel like the world is collectively being traumatized beyond belief.

Loren Kronemyer, Pony Express, Ecosexual Bathhouse, American citizen. 


Watching this disaster happen live on NBC I noticed many hosts coming to the conclusion that the media and inner city dwellers/elites had not been listening to rural America enough which lead to the shocking result. Given that this was mostly the white man demographic, it is no surprise that they expect to be listened to and when they weren't listened to (by the democrats) the last 8 years, they had a tantrum. I am ashamed to share gender and color with this shit.

Aden Senycia, Soft Machine Studio, Flower Drums.


On a gut level, I feel nauseous that so many people would cheer for a man that would look at me as something to rape or something to ridicule. That’s a core hurt that I imagine is felt by many others on a daily basis. 

The result of the US election has concreted the set of emotions I felt after the last Australian Federal Election. Constructive conversation and discourse is seriously lacking in both countries and in many others. Why are people scared? Why are people angry? As left, liberal thinkers we need to listen to people whose opinions we disagree with most. Mockery and ridicule is an easy fall back, but it’s only serving to dumb down a culture already hurtling towards irreparable ignorance. 

When I’ve patiently listened to those who hold differing opinions I’ve gained insight into another’s struggle and in turn been able to explain my thoughts, fears and hopes. 

It’s not always easy, however mostly that person will leave the conservation thinking more broadly than when they entered it, as do I. On a community level, I’d like more forums where people can openly discuss their thoughts without the worry of insult or degradation. A form of “Belief Amnesty” needs to take place, before both sides dig their heels into their well trodden ground.  The left are my people, but we can be just as close minded and cruel as those we rail against.  We need to be smart, and we need to find common ground with kindness and respect.

Rachael Dease, Rachael Dease, Schvendes. 


"The only positive thing to come from the election is Martin Shkreli live streaming unreleased wu tang."

Lana Rothnie, Lana


Hey world what if:

Gylany > Hierarchy 

Mutuality > Mastery

Performance > Production

Gift, Offering > Commodity, Money

Earth > Machine

Active rest > Passive Speed

Womb > Tomb

Depths > Surfaces, heights

Smell, taste, touch > Sight, hearing

Wetland > Dryland

Fire stick farming > Mining

Commons > Enclosure

Sacrality > Sanctuarism

- ideas by Rod Giblett

Facebook post, Mei Saraswati, Mei Saraswati, Sibling Music.


I can’t feel the tips of my fingers or my toes. In times of stress the body redirects blood flow to where it’s most needed. My heart needs it. And my head.

It’s unfathomable that a man so worldly, so privileged, could be so immune to the superficiality of difference in humans.  

I won’t despair or invest in worry. I’ll do what I can do now.  Share stories that break down misconceptions and prejudice.  Call out as many ‘isms’ as I see.  Hug you.  See your worth.

Meri Fatin, RTRfm.


This result has really shocked me. I feel like a fool for not taking the threat of this man and his followers more seriously, but most of all I feel sad and scared that bigotry and hate have been normalised. My main hope now is that kind, decent people will get stronger and shout louder to call out the kind of behaviour this man stands for.    

Caitlin Nienaber, RTRfm. 


A truly worrying aspect is the knock-on effect of Trump's successful movement giving power to Australian right-wing conservative forces seeking further expansion and legitimacy here. Cory Bernadi wearing a red cap, Julie Bishop wearing a red dress, Pauline Hanson filming her congratulations. FUCK OFF. #LickspittleFever

And I know, re: Naomi Klein quote that shit is already incredibly fucked here - but the feeling today is that there is no bottom and it can always get worse, which is as true here as it is in the States, so save me the hot takes already unless you've got something productive for me to do.

Facebook post, Tristan Fidler, RTRfm, Magnolias.








Write here...

If They Even Exist

Andrew Ryan

so i went to put on a record just now. in my mind it went like this "i'd like to listen to some music by a woman." i ruffle through the records. there were some ladies in there - but mainly just as pictures on the cover.

i looked and looked. it's not like trying to find a needle in the hay stack, but it's like trying to find a four-leafed clover. it's 2016, man.

anyway, thursday night we played at el grotto. me and evelyn had been eating mint slices in the back yard and ev talking about a musicians' union. we started it - the union - the next night at the bird. it went like this, me: "i'll join it", matt saville, photographer, musician, videographer :"me too". there we go: begun.

well we drove to scabs, pulled up in front of this loud, dim lit, fully-scabs taco and tequila eat and drinkery place. women in high heels, men with hair gel and long tshirts. and that was it, el grotto. ev and i burst out laughing when we saw it. "ahh, do they know what music we play?!"

it seemed crazy, but we were ready, a gang of two. the gang became three when we realised luke rinaldi from the bakery was doing sound, and then five when we saw rupert and rebecca, there to be Erasers, and six when one of the owners, kane, came out and told us we could have food, drink, our tab was at the bar, and then started in straight up with the music talk and compliments to ev, who he'd seen do their pikelet set at camp doogs a month before. i thought he was keen on ev but it turned out he was just truly keen on music and on bringing strange good things into his taco and tequila bar, taking the scarborough bra boys up on their exposed v neck chests and saying "here you go fella, you've exposed your heart to the night, here's something real and true to pour into it."

and then eight - beth from Pool Boy and jordan the handsome bird watcher and private piano player joined us too.

well, i set up and started, began with some loops to quiet the crowd, but instead just gave myself a taste test of why it would actually be good to start practicing. it was so loud - people devouring their delux tacos and cocktails and thinking about their branding. i'm not trying to be a snob, just be humourous, and then ev got up on the drums, buddying up behind me to send something out into all that ocean swell. people were sitting at the front, smiling at us. i can see them through my closed eyes, for the last song i called out over the mic; /"this is a VERY SPECIAL SONG, LISTEN TO ME". but really i meant listen to the song, and then sung to them about human rights and every other thing that truly just consumes us every day.

i read an article the other day where the woman's thesis was that everyone's into special foods and clean living because we are going mad and perishing under the evil weight of this current kind of capitalism and the climate change it brings, but we're too lazy or uninspired or beaten down to attack the real problem so instead we give up sugar once in a while and complain about identity politics. i concur, kind of.

even though i'm reducing her argument somewhat.

team rupert and rebecca are ready now for you. they are flawless these days, it's just the walls and the ceiling surrounding you, and your legs get taken on a trip elswhere. not really, it's really grounded, in the sounds, in their solid compositions set something up and stay there. it's repetitive and never boring, like the first two weeks an alien comes to earth, marvelling daily at the rising and setting of the sun, and viewing human life as a … film, all vivid patterns, repetition, unity, grand design. i was eating a taco but got in there quick smart - but actually the sounds were even better outside - somehow louder, more unified. but we can't help wanting to be close to our friends. even if they all had the plague we'd go right up next to the stage to look them in the eyes.

some guys from a "brand" came to talk to me. they were enthusiastic. they offered me other drummers when they found out ev was from the other side. they talked of new year. brand is a strange word, but people think it now even when they don't use it. but comeon, let's fight against the commodification, the brandification of everything.

Brandom… a new company that use plant-generated algorithms to design your next campaign - colours, copy, even the product. aie! this is my instant idea.

when evelyn played, my body and spirit set to tingling. it began two songs in. the first songs i was talking to jordan, the twitcher, about what it's like to play shows, what it all means, what i want people to feel, how you never can know how it's going to turn out. well, then evelyn got into it, and i, as one of her audience got into it. i could hear she was singing for the woman whose dad had introudced her to ev as "my son, i mean, my daughter, i mean my son". wrong crowd for that hesitation.

this song she was singing "it is open, it is open, it is unwritten", well, i'm getting goosebumps on my skin from the mind of the Big Infinite just thinking about it. like, right now at the typewriter, listening to Buzy and telling you about a song. that's what you want, music blessed by the Big Spirit that can change people, hold them up in their distress, fill them with power to change self, world, move the spiritual realms if they even exist. 

Tell Your Friends: Dungen's Gustav Ejstes Up Close and Perthonal with Amber Fresh

Andrew Ryan

Influential, beloved Swedes Dungen make their wonderful way to Perth in December. Amber Fresh chatted with Gustav Ejstes, main Dungen man, and put her psych music theory to him: "is psych any music you can put flute over and it sounds right…?" Ejstes provides his first youtube memories and generously dedicates Dungen's music to all our Australian friends "Tell your friends: it's all their music."

GE hello!

AF hello! is that gustav?

GE hej!

AF hello

GE hey yeah it is

AF this is amber, from perth

GE heejj!

AF i think you know a few of my friends, melody prochet and nick allbrook

GE oh right! yeah yeah! they are part of the extended family, (both laugh) - the international family

AF well, can i just go straight into it?

GE yes, yes go ahead, dig in to the 'interview'

AF do you have any particularly happy memories from last time you were here in australia?

GE (laughs) particular… good memories…! the thing is, the memory is kinda that i have a BAD memory. no bad memories like that bad stuff happened, but i just don't remember.

i remember one amazing thing, because this was like in the summer of 2006, yes… we were doing support tour for wolfmother and we were sitting backstage at a huge venue somewhere, i dunno [where], cos when i think of that journey it was like big venues, a lot of heat, and a lot of flying. no bus riding at all, just plane, epic venues, and warm air, and no water. there was signs every where to keep in mind to shut water off, save the water, blah blah blah.  

so we were sitting backstage and i was watching youtube for the first time!

AF mmmm! how exciting

GE yeah and i was like 'oh like, EVERYTHING is out there?' i was starting to search for like rare [+muffled word+] videos

AF rare breast videos?!

GE like, rap…

AF oh rap, i thought you said breast

GE haha! because i think like youtube, it was probably old already, 2006, it had been around a long time but that was the first time i watched it so, that was kind of cool

AF sometimes people are surprised that our friends here who play rock music and psych music are really into rap, but have you always been as well?

GE that was my first own music that i went out to buy myself, as an 11 year old kid with my hard earned money. i bought public enemy records so that's something religious for me forever. but i guess it's my generation also, like i'm born 79 and i grew up with the 80s and 90s music and that was so much based on loops and breaks and samples before it was too illegal to sample.

so that also made me find out about so much other music, and the openness in most of the music back then was amazing - you could learn so much like "what song is this?" "yeah, the original comes from whatever" and so… 

so, we're totally… i'm totally a record nerd, a music nerd, so i try to find new stuff.  so that maybe could be, i dunno about the others, but that's my story.

AF do you ever limit yourself to what you can find in record stores rather than looking up information about groups on the internet, or do you go straight there [record stores] when you have a mystery?

GE yeah i mean i think, if i make music myself i also learn through the ears. i remember when i met reiner, the guitarist in dungen, he is like a pretty heavy collector, he's ten years older than me. when i met him the first time he had all the records and i was like "oh i want to copy it all!". i had a music recorder i wanted to take copies of all his rare stuff, and he was like "yeah but you know it's good you haven't heard everything because the more you hear it's gonna be harder to create your own thing."

and i was like… yeah, maybe. [laughs} but he really has a point because for me i'm not satisfied with just consuming, i want to make my own music, and as long as i have that strong will of feeling "create my own stuff", i, not on purpose but during periods, it's very like - shut down - to let stuff in. but i always go into record stores, i love record stores more than buying stuff online.

i mean people get crazy on discounts and ebay and shit but i'm like, if i go into a fine record store and am talking to people and giving recommends and shit, that's more that's it's like i said when i'm trying to make my own music i try to… in these periods i really shut down the window and see what's, see myself -  this is so bad english, sorry! [pretty bloody great english! ed]

AF do you mean metaphorically you shut the window, do you mean just not listening to other music, or do you limit other things?

GE yeah, yeah, exactly exactly.

yeah. i mean that's how i grew up because we because we didn't have any internet and we were like longing for stuff, and we were waiting, we were dreaming about "i wonder how that music would sound" and "that record i would never get a copy of it and i would probably never hear it but i wonder how it sounds, maybe it sounds like this," and then i would try to make my own music. do something good with it. i don't know, that's just my way.

AF i was born in 1980 so i understand what you mean.

GE yeah there was not that many impressions, today's very fast. there is a very lot of stuff going on at the same time.

AF in terms of what comes into you apart from music that affects what goes out of you musically, what do you think is kind of the biggest thing, that is affecting you.

GE ahh. i guess everything from environment to relationships, the classic - i mean i'm just a regular guy.

 [both laugh]

living a regular life. and it's quite boring [laughs]… i try escape and try to create something beautiful. i don't really know anything that really influences me of making stuff my own. i mean, i have this strong feeling of like not [being] satisfied with listening and consuming music and art so i want to do it myself. i have that feeling since i was a kid. i don't really know what it comes from.

AF but it is special for people. people have emotional, spiritual, all kinds of reactions to your music.

GE oh that's amazing. [both laugh]. it's ah… i don't know what to say that is. it's honouring and flattering to be that. [laughs]

AF when nick was in sweden he talked about it as a bit of a wonderland at the moment, like everybody is taken care of, there's total equality between the sexes, he was so excited that your recycling is set out well. do you feel as optimistic about your country as maybe visitors do?

GE what do you mean?

AF like, when friends have gone to sweden they talk about it as a complete wonderland. you know?

GE ah ok ok. yeah, i mean i'm totally. i'm blessed. living here, born here, it's a beautiful country and we have a great system that works. i mean compared to other places it's actually really working, but when you're living it, living here we have personally our issues, and things here that are not that good. i don't know that it's a wonderland but compared to places where it's definitely not a wonderland it's nice. but also, speaking of things that effects you and your creative, we have two months every year that's supposed to be summer. the rest of the year could be like, nine months of darkness, and it's a very high suicide rate. like today it's not that wonderlandish, now that the fall has really taken its grip around us. it's dark and cold and chilly and stuff.

AF well it will be good that you can escape it in a few months and come here.

GE yeah, it's perfect.

AF this time we'll make sure you have enough water.

GE haha yeah totally.

AF i think that's probably enough of your time to take for an interview. 

GE yeah, i'm here if you want to ask something more, i would love…

AF well, i'm just going to ask you one more thing. well, i've had this theory, i asked different friends, for a while i was trying to work out what actually psych music is, and my theory is it's just any music you can play a flute on top of and it fits… even if there's no flute….

GE sorry, i didn't really get it. i didn't hear every word. one more time [laughs] sorry!

AF for a while i was trying to understand what psych music actually is, and the theory that i arrived at is that it's any music that you can play a flute over, and it seems like the right thing to do. do you think that's true.

GE ahh, that is probably true, if it's… i mean, that expression and that musical genre is… we, dungen music, has been labelled "psych" music.. when i go into a record store i go to the stacks - there's a label like psych, prog, indie music, and i go through the records and i find out the similarities between the different records but i can't really tell what exactly it is.

but at the same time i mean, this year we did touring a lot, and we met bands playing music and they're saying that they are influenced by us and they're influenced by tame impala and it's like, i don't know. i mean, they're saying they're playing some kind of psych, like, alright… so it's just the combination of these bands, long answer. i don't really know, but the thing about the flute is it's such a beautiful… um… yeah, i agree, it's one of the truths actually. yes totally. [laughs]

AF but yeah, maybe flute belongs everywhere.

GE yeah

AF well, i'll leave you to your day now. i'm going to go swimming.

GE ahhh you going to go SWIMMING, because it's warm and nice :(!

AF but you can do that when you're here!

GE and i'm going to go see my accountant and i'm going to go, with the umbrella, to my studio, put on all lights and lamps that i have in there, and just let the light shine, because it's going to be dark around four or five in the afternoon. it's gonna be darkness.

i'm feeling amazing, exciting to come there. and i'm so glad australia wants to have us there.

AF well, yeah all of the people around me have been talking about your music for a long time. people are very happy you're coming.

GE i'm so honoured, it's amazing. tell your friends: it's all their music, it's all yours.

AF alright, have a good day, i might see you when you're here.

GE yeah maybe, thank you very much

AF seeya gustav, bye.

Hearing Big Moths By Coal Lamps

Andrew Ryan


photo by anna cunningham


there was a very big moth in my dream. i watched it hatch from out of its chrysallis, and then watched it take its first faltering wing beats. i wondered whether it'd fly straight up, or whether it would have to learn, even if the learning only took a few minutes. but the flying was in its nature. ben witt was there. i showed him the moth was as big as my hand span, which reaches an octave and one note easy, and sometimes an octave and two on the piano. my mum popped her head up. she knew what the moth was - of course she did. rtr were looking for only women to host new music shows. i dreamed of a show just about plants and insects and thought a lot about a particular elephant i'd fallen in love with, but i knew the shows should really be just about music. and what do i even know about music? 

ben witt was there, and in his nature was the ability to play guitar, but then he practiced, for more than a few minutes. that's how it seems with the people from melbourne. but they are more like dolphins that have learned to unlock a lock on a cave down in the river, where there's an endless supply of fishes just waiting for them, they don't even have to chase. 

melbourne people came here for camp doogs - this is not in a dream. Hearing were one of my favourites at the festival, and then they played again at the bird. liv's voice was incredible. i had made the rookie error months ago of thinking she might not know what she was doing with music, because someone was helping her plug in the keyboard at a show, but that's some patriarchal jizz clouding my abilities to think. well, she and her band made a magical thing at doogs. they made the air, the water and the ground and all the people glow and vibrate faster while they played. and even though the euphoria like that didn't hit at the bird, all their songs after the first few seemed like hits. 

all the connections in my brain are turning into plastic ciggie filters so i can't remember which bands reuben from melbourne was playing bass in, but i remember his lines as he played. very very interesting lines that i feel people from here do not do, same as when liv played bass for Real Love, some more intricate melodious way that we're all too busy brushing sand off our feet getting back in the cars at the beach to have made. there's so little competition here, so only the very very committed and single-minded ones get good at their instruments. 

the song with the words "two boys, two boys" in it by Hearing keeps coming into my head. like all hits of a particular kind i feel it and most of their other songs belong in movies, good, dark, driving movies lit by american lights or australian lights all pumping out light from coal dug up from not that deep into the earth. we can't even go that deep. 

the other best thing was yes, Real Love. the boy sang like ween when dean or gene ween is singing "push the little daisies" and even though that song was ridiculous it seemed sincere, and i have a strong memory of being at the bad girl's place in albany, our family was at her family's for dinner and she rocked up drunk from a party and fell in the shower, and then out the back in the dark explained to me everything about parties and what they would be like and what happens with guys etc and somehow "push the little daisies" is playing in my head at the same time. 

well, Real Love's singer had that same voice, and it cut through everything, being sincere. i asked matt aitken about that whole show and he said the same: that was his favourite. it's fine for us to pick favourites, they change all the time, i've already written about the others. the drummer was kind of sloppy, the bass sound was completely wack, but all these things just added to make it perfect somehow. not in the same way that sometimes you don't want bands to practice because part of why it's good is that they're just taking a risk with every note, but in some other way, where the not-on-purpose loosey gooseyness made it easier to attend to the feeling of the music. 

is there a band called Feeling? if so, i hope they're good. 

um, that's all i'm going to say. a small thing about a show at the bird, a small thing about my moth dream, inspired by the birds who've just given egg birth in the wall at our place, and a small thing about the all-melbourne show at the oddfellow. much more happened. but much more always happens.