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The Amber Fresh Chronicles

RTRFM The Big 40 | An Interview with Tanaya Harper

Andrew Ryan

Tanaya Harper.jpg

Tanaya Harper, a belle of Bell's Rapids, beautiful-toned guitarist and clear as a bell singer, made a pick of artists to be part of RTR's Slightly Odway supergroups for The Big 40 RTRfm show.

Amber Fresh spoke with her, somehow not mentioning trees or birds, but covering all the other requisite bases.

Harper's piping hot musical skills are translated metaphysically into a deep sunburn, as a sign for all, in the pic we picked to accompany her reflections.

AF Ok, so I don't know anything about the Slightly Odway bizzo for The Big 40, can you tell me what it is?

TH It’s 4 super group bands - performing big local hits from the past year as the Slightly Odway Orchestra.

AF Fabulous. How did you choose who to ask?

TH Jackson Hawdon and myself were asked for a meeting with Chris Wheeldon at the Scotto, which was shocking and flattering for me, as I’ve never organised something to this scale with such an amazing organisation (not sure if that’s the word).

AF Community? Rather than organisation?

TH Yeah that’s it. They asked for more ‘contemporary’ artists to play this component of the event, as they’re kind of displaying the ‘future’ of RTR, where it’s heading.

I guess he picked us because he felt we had the connections and dug our personal music style and conduct? Not sure!

AF Is there a particular song you had the most fun learning?

TH Ubu - Methyl Ethel. It's so hard - I am playing the riff over singing the hook - I never play riffs generally, especially one this hard! So I’m glad to say that it isn’t just a breeze, I’m also learning a lot and gaining skills

AF Haha, I played guitar for the first few Methyl Ethel songs, it was definitely above my capabilities.

TH Haha crazy stuff, Jake is such a talented song writer. Having said that - singing 'The Heart is a Lonely Hunter' (Rag n' Bone) has given me even more respect for Kiera’s abilities, and I didn’t think they could actually go any higher.

AF That's beautiful.

Do you see any themes in the music that's being made around you in Perth at the moment? Like, if you had to describe "the future of local music for RTR"?

TH Hmmm well the local scene is definitely focusing a lot on politics which is fitting for the state of our current gov. and political climate, not just nationally but globally - everything effects everything else, that ripple effect is being acknowledged constantly, but I think there’s always also that focus on alienation - I feel like I’ve noticed a lot of lyricism discussing mental health and anxiety as of late + feminism also and gender equality - it’s a really interesting time and there’s such a variety in song style and mood too, it’s a beautiful time.

AF Yeah, I think its a good thing that even though most of us have easy lives in many ways - food, housing, friends who love us - it's good that people are speaking to things that could be better, and speaking on behalf of those who don't always have a voice.

TH Yeah exactly - it seems less self indulgent as of late and more a communal awareness of what effects everyone, not just themselves.

AF Are there other elements of the Big 40 show you're most looking forward to? I'm excited for Adam Said Galore, and also for the Tura/Difficult Listening stage.

TH I’m excited for those too, also Abbe May with WAJO, like omg what?? That will be the best rearrangements/interpretations ever. Odette Mercy and her Soul Atomics with the Tongan choir - I imagine that will be beautiful.

And of course Rok Riley

AF Tell me about your connection to RTR - what has it meant to you to have a true community radio station? And also, what was your radio heritage being from a regional place/Albany wonderland?

TH I actually am from Perth, my mum moved there (Albany) 7 years ago, haha! I love being able to go gain clarity and have a break from my scattered mind though whenever I want (as there’s a bed for me if I need it)

I discovered RTR almost ten years ago when I was at WAAPA, trying to find the alternative sound that wasn’t just my Radiohead CD collection haha, and then I discovered RTR and decided they were the coolest of cool and always hoped I would have something to do with them. It always made me feel warm and fuzzy hearing how supportive they are of local musicians, and everyone else outside of our WA community. Different presenters embrace music from all over the world - Lo fi recordings done in Ghana, West Africa, to the underground club scene in the UK. RTR inspires me every day, and reminds me there’s so much out there even though I can’t leave my house and go see those acts

AF YES, so true. Thanks Tanaya. Do you have any last recommendation/motivational advice for people who haven't decided whether they'll go to the Big 40 yet?

TH This is a once off. Everyone playing represents those amongst the cream of the crop, performing completely original acts that will actually inspire, and you’ll leave so glad you did come.

AF Thanks for the hot tips. Good luck for the show

You're the Voice: Midnight Oil at Fremantle Arts Centre, Oct 2017

Andrew Ryan

Midnight Oil - EDM.jpg

I've got this voice. I was calling it by a certain name and the psych said "Let's just call it intuition. That's more socially acceptable." I said "Ok."

The voice tells me where to go and when, what side of the street to be on, how to manage the affairs of life, being my own being and how to love, in ways that predict the future - yeah, not that socially acceptable to say.

Alice Coltrane must have had the Voice when she was playing on Journey to Satchidananda, and Nina Simone must have had the Voice when she said "Ain't got no god, ain't got no money, but I've got my face," in a summary way of remembering the words of that song.

Well, I don't know if Peter Garrett has the Voice, but the Midnight Oils are some expression of the spirit of that voice, speaking loudly and with a true australian vernacular - spectacular.  

We climbed around fences and between bushes and "weeds" - no such thing - to get close without a ticket, with a few hundred of the other fremantle legends, not committing enough to re-swap their time for money, but committing enough to mix music and adventure.

We had a good salad made, things were grated and chopped finely because more surface area means more flavour. The Midnight Oil flavour was spreading out far beyond the fences they were behind, and as I looked up I felt this expression: "The moon approves". Cheesy, but it was true.

All the songs at the beginning were all psychedelic and bowie-ey, it was not the straight desert tones we were expecting. It was the tones of american mushrooms or many pedals, or music you could put a flute on top of if you really wanted. It was delux, and unaustralian, in the lovely way we all should be unaustralian, and then it turned to become AUSSIE, in the way we would all want to be AUSSIE. I didn't know all the words to all the hits, but the blonde woman in uggboots(™) sitting in the vacant lot dirt and rocks behind us, leaning into her man and charging ciggies, did.

Dead Heart. The Power and The Passion. Peter Garrett talking and moving like the only politician you would ever want to open their damn mouth. All this filled me with sadness for our world and some big feeling also of rightness and hope. And then sadness, the Oils burning through the atmosphere as they fly the globe trying against that hope to get people to wake up on the edge of a dying reef.

I looked up and all the trees were moving too. Animate, feeling, they loved the old stuff and the new stuff.

And the sense of pride grows when you're from Freo/Walyalup. The sixty year olds here probably only have one investment property, they're supple in yoga class, they greet each other on the dog beach and all vote for Brad Pettit for Mayor instead of the sister-in-law of Twiggy Forrest, and they rock up to the Oils at the Freo Arts Centre instead of at Perth Arena, for the show where all the money is going to help the campaign against mining in Exmouth, and they don't pay to go in.

"That was HUGE." The man in a doccers beanine and scarf said to the man in an eagles scarf, both with ratty grey hair "I'm never paying for a ticket again!" We were all on the outside of the fences by choice. Our compatriots on the inside of the fences by choice, Peter Garrett being just one only loud voice against pillage of the dying earth in our country - how can technology save us now - and amnesia of country, his words - aside from when they are mixed in the party political - being a stream of consciousness of that other Voice… It was an amazing show, even though we only glimpsed it through the moonlight and the trees.


These people won't listen to you, but call them anyway:

Call the Prime Minister‘s office at Parliament House on (02) 6277 7700.

Send written correspondence to the Prime Minister at Parliament House here.

Call Peter Dutton, the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, on (02) 6277 7860.

Call Julie Bishop, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, at Parliament House on (02) 6277 750o.

Camp Doogs 2017

Andrew Ryan


i'm sitting at a chair where heaps of hits have been writ. sitting on a ground that was once cleared of all the big trees. c.y. o'connor used to bring his horse through here, tether it up in my bedroom.

when i go to the land that new doogs is on - cleared paddock, the trees kind of in the distance, the 'big tree' being just the one tree left - a meeting place - well, i think about what it was like before. most trees that are left in paddocks are just there because their insides are twisted. no good for making furniture or all the houses for the settlers to take over where people and sacred trees were.

camp doogs happens a few tens of ks away from where there was a big massacre in our past. captain stirling, who stirling highway is named after, ordered it, when the nyoongar people got upset at not getting rations, which they had thought was a kind of rent payment for the land all the ghostly white people were using. the rations stopped, they started getting annoyed, stirling found an excuse to send a party in to kill a whole lot of people - that was at pinjarra.

well, that's the land we're on. i missed the 'welcome to country' for camp doogs because i was sleeping off a camp run for kids with parents in prison. i was asleep while a representative of the nyoongar people sang over the land and actually welcomed the artists and audience members of doogs to the land. matt aitken told me later that the representative said he felt the spirit of the water while he was on that land, talking. and it had said that at that place, everyone is equal. what a thing for the water spirit to say, given the past, present and future.

well, doogs is no longer like it was before, just friends camping with friends and playing music to friends, amongst big trees with the big blackwood river going through, and "two 'n' glenn" doing wild shenanigans like lighting up a bonfire that threatens to rip the whole place apart, and everyone in it, by fire. instead it's in a big paddock, but it was a paddock blessed. and it does mean a whole lot more people can be there.

the first night started with the joy of being on a couch beside redheads, and really, redheads were one of the highlights of the festival. there seemed to be so many of them, setting my heart on fire, as it was. kate daniel, doing her job backstage so professionally some people might have blushed; dj jack dutrac aka lockie, doing cool physical comedy where you pretend to trip when you're walking along with people, or when you see them in a distance and are waving, and talking deep physics with me. A+. rose k.b., providing an incredibly moving few hours of talking and panels and a first-time androgynous "drag" style show that ended in a one-song joyous dance party; sam martin and kate representing 'safer venues wa', an organisation begun in xanthea's backyard, and now potentially changing a few things around here; amber bateup, making people perform their friendships in front of her camera, her pure heart swinging at the tips of her golden orange locks. yeah. redheads are my favourite.

as well as redhead representation the albany representation was high and righteous - drowning horse (kim and robin are from albany) drowning out albert pritchard (albany) singing solo in the red tent, rory glacken -tourist kid-(albany)'s deep greenhouse draining all his energy while being a place everyone kept talking about in hushed and reverent tones - i never made it there. i let the team down with my set, but someone has to be the one each time to just get pulled along by the strength of the others. this time it was me.

the best thing about doogs still remains, even though i long for the tiny times where all the existing friendships could wind further and further around each other, in the deepest possible way, as we floated down the blackwood holding onto one another's legs; the best thing being that around every corner there is some great thing happening if your eyes are open to see it.

i liked watching toddy's mushroomed face, flecked with powder, stumbling around his friends, in dirty white overalls on saturday morning. i liked seeing emlyn johnson and albert play a game i called 'thighing high' where they took their pants off and slapped each other in a strange coded sequence with their feet against the other's bare legs. i liked going on the river with a guy named after the festival and getting pulled off the boat into an upside-down piggy back where my face was at his legs and my legs at his face. i liked sitting beside stephen bellair, lyndon blue and other fantastical friends as a.a. matheson played and sung.

in fact, a.a. was one of the highlights of the whole camp. while my mate byron gave a talk in the red tent about the future of our land, via the prehistory of australia, via his knowledge of biospheres of small and large and mystical kinds, via knowledge of soils and leaf types and root types, aaron (a.a.)'s voice rang out. i couldn't resist it, and went and sat on the dirt while he poured his emotions out. he stopped in the middle of his set to talk about 'consent' and to remind all the men folk to not be terrible. it was a sad necessity, and also a relief that a guy would talk about it instead of always us having to.

another best musical thing was reef prince, everyone so excited in deep doogs and stephen in the element he has created with a team of legends, playing the show in the tent in the festival that he's made with his and others' own bare hands.

after reef prince i played a terrible set and then fell asleep listening to erasers play a great set at 11pm on saturday night, and woke up again and fell asleep again and woke up again to walk into a teepee full of wall-to-wall friends plus strangers all of whom just wanted to say that they looooooove perth, they love wa, and everyone here is so lovely and amazing and they want to stay forever. that's what you want to hear. that the strangers like your house.

richard ingham brought out a packet of marshmallows and the night descended further into cosmic rightness. - well, sometimes i have low expectations and can be lit by simple pleasures, as we all can.

umm, doogs was wonderful, rain, rain and shine. hearing the voices of your friends, and feeling their voices pull your heart strings, and pull you over to where your friends are speaking - whether to one another or through a microphone, or through their art: this is the pleasure of camp doogs.

Astrophysics Made Me Streak

Andrew Ryan

Tesla Amber.jpg

Nicola Tesla was celibate but he had heaps of pigeons. He had one pigeon in particular and fell in love with her. There's only one photo of them together, Tesla the celibate hunk, the pigeon, a white pigeon whose mind can't be known by a human, even a physicist.

It was watching a program on ABC's Catalyst about the most current and most exciting and most close to alien research that's happening, dishes pointing up into the air, up into the sky, up into the big deep unknowable cosmos, that made me stand by the edge of a football field, stands of friends and strangers up behind glass in the drinking stands, players on either side, one team, two teams - in a coat and boots, with nothing on underneath, and drop it at one moment, drop that coat and run across that field, the sound of the crowd lifting in a huge moment at nakedness and joy as I skipped across there, all my body exposed, high fiving one of the boys who works at Mojos along the way, and Stephen Bellair on the the other side waiting. We'd never seen each other in that way before, me naked, him seeing a friend naked on a field, and he held out clothes for me, laughing and supporting and with his own thoughts that I'll never know even if he tries to say them. [this football game was the Reclink Community Cup, band members against music journalists for one moderately epic match]

The pigeons are always naked, and it's a very special and illimitably extreme thing to be ALIVE here in this world, in this moment, all the planets we can see just covered in dust and left over streams with no water left, and we are here. So, I thought, if I am free, I will be free. I nearly got too nervous to do it. It was like playing the first shows, where you get a nervous poop before, and where your heart goes skipping and all that, and you gotta work yourself up to it.

Well, it's not really a thing, just a one minute naked run, but it felt like a new dream, and, you know, YOLO.

Well we have a new pigeon in our yard. The nextdoors called her Jefferson, not an appropriate name, but I call her Djilba - that is the season we're in at the moment. She comes over and each day we make some new progress - though it's not like perpetual motion, it's like something that goes in little stages back and forth. One day she will try fly up on my shoulder and I won't be ready. One day she'll let me pat her neck, one day she won't, and then she will again. I wonder if Jack Kerouac would let me pat his neck after the fourth day I met him. He looks like Daniel Craig and the man I loved in Paris. It's a certain look. He's like Tesla's little pigeon, nodding, moving his head from side to side. Deciding what to reveal and what not to, but mainly being naked in a way, in his own nature, in front of people whose moral code seems solid but is in fact just like ink in a bowl of milk.

Hm. The Floors played after the big football match. They were excellent. The drummer's beard floating in the wind, him whipping it round like a wizard, but more a rock or metal wizard, and the Dux boys, mysterious and dark and funny and shy and watchable. They could be a big famous band on all the stages if it all had a tiny bit more poetry. But here they are, strong and wonderful by the side of a football field. Strength in front of hundreds, but maybe just maybe one day strength in front of 10,000 all wearing their tshirts. Who knows what will happen. Poetry goes in and out of fashion, but people always like a strong guitar held low and dark eyes that play with you in speaking or in listening. Hm.

My favourite players on the field were Kristie, undies heading up into her middle, middle meaning the middle of her hidden self, stripes on her cheeks, oh, the power and the passion, in her look, the kind of woman you wish would like you but doesn't suffer fools lightly. I think she would be a loyal friend, a great mum, a great sports person if she'd been grown up in that kind of family - that's what I could see from the sidelines; and Emlyn Johnson, who didn't do as much as he could have on the field, he's been paid to play footy in country towns, but he just ran at a quarter of his real speed, effortlessly doing a few handballs, and his new physics-beating mullet lifting the whole game further into the day, the sky, the air above everyone.

All that sound, all those feelings, flying around the field, naked ladies, the man in a wheelchair doing a strip by lifting his shirt up and over his head, The Floors, hot dogs, rtr people milling. It was kind of exciting, and kind of just an easy way to be Sunday, when you're free.

Visual Giggo 13/8/17 | Babushka's Shadow Biosphere, Get the Picture?"

Andrew Ryan


i'm getting back to basics, putting on two things at the same time. jeans and a tshirt; jack kerouac reading from on the road and alice coltrane turiya and ramakrishna, on just at once, at the same time. it's a good thing, you can turn your mind off, you can turn your mind to many things at the same time, don't be mistaken!

so on the radio last night a woman was talking about a shadow world. it wasn't the shadow world of winona ryder and dark synth music coming back into fashion, but the great "idea" that beneath, within, and around our own world are the other beings we're looking for far far away. as in, not so much aliens, but beings we just don't have the tools to see or measure yet. that phrase "shadow biosphere" brings great synthetic lights into my brain. there's pretty new research into the biosphere in our own bodies, just sitting there in our bellies, (organisms with) their own cities, their own music and own purposes existing despite, along with, through and in our own. at lunch yesterday another woman told me our heart's electromagnetics reach quite a way in front, behind and around us. she had nice little teeth, they were a little bit grey, and everyone else at the table left but we were still there muddling about straight as arrows, into the new worlds for us, of what quantum physics is bringing to cosmology for breakfast.


i saw a great show this week, well, i played in a great show too, wearing dockers tracksuit pants and a singlet and sitting up on my haunches with one hand in the air and one hand on the mic and the wind from outside babushkas bowling my long hair across my face, across the microphone, and into the music. it was a great relief after a show a few nights earlier after which i had to hide in the bathroom in shame, for doing a shitty job of the thing called music, live.

emma, daisy's net, put the great show on at babushkas - "get the picture, visual giggo". again i got to hear her and sam rocchi together, her cello slightly out of tune again, sam's voice on display again, and again the only thing i could fault with it all is his slight accent that's not from here, perth, these covered over lands of the derbarl yerrigan. sing with your own accent everyone, nothing to be ashamed of, nothing to hide. [update: turns out sam is actually american, ha! so, nothing to fault at all anymore]. yes, a voice like a little bit of thom yorke or the lilac wine guy, reminding me of seeing jake webb play before methyl ethel hit the 'big time', at the bird and any other venue, these beautiful man voices that can soar around and take with them honest words, where who knows what they're about but you get the picture still.

yeah, and also, jack gaby did something i've never seen him do, with arpeggiators and a great wazzling video display up behind him going all the time, and i spent the whole half hour trying to work out if it was connected to the music or if the connections were just being made by own own brains, sound to motion. (look up or nathan john thompson if u will). that's what our brains are really into, connection. i can connect between kerouac, coltrane, this keyboard and also into recent world and local events, and even breathe at the same time, even though i'm a woman etc.

well, the rest of the week i went to a rally to say "JUSTICE FOR ELIJAH", winding sad and strong up along the streets of the city to parliament house, cruel joke that that's still where people have to go for justice. where is justice for the traditional owners? where are the traditional owners teaching us how to live in this place, what accent to have, what adventures to go on and how to understand them magically, culturally, interpersonally. i don't know, they're going to funerals, they're crying with their grandchildren having lost another teenager to self or other rage.

this rally was a powerful moment. i could feel the power in between my outstretched hands actually, as people spoke and as they had specific plants burning for a purpose and as they sung in language that not very long ago they would have been beaten for uttering. all the way up to parliament house, with cops along the edges, telling people where they could and could not walk on their own lands.

and then the day became predictable. i went to a casting for a beer ad and it was pretty much all white people there, which is what is is but is also such a mini-testament to all of it and the music is disintegrating and so-so am i. i'd never done this, a casting for an ad, but it was more predictable than the rally, if you get the picture etc.

me and ben mcdonald from human bouy were at the casting, and then a bevvy of models of all 2 shapes and sizes, as in tall and thin, or a little bit shorter and thin. the photographer was definitely not into me and i made a choking fool of myself in front of the camera, frozen like eight mile, when i'd egotistically, proudly watched the models all choking before me and thought "ha! i know how to do this better than the pros!" but ben was the best, he let his hair fluff and droop over his head, he charaded looking for coffee at an imaginary share house and embodied the hair and spirit of all kinds of beer, wheat, effort, struggle against the land, excitement, music and hot lights on a stage etc etc etc.

now i'll go over to cool perth bites and make some more structured and controlled comments there.

No Vote Needed - What's Good Is Obvious

Andrew Ryan

so i fell in love with our uber driver last night. he pulled up outside the bird, i jumped in to wait while jules and kevin were getting organised, and i told him we wanted to go to fremantle. "fremantle?" he said. "yeah fremantle…" "fremantle??" "yeah, you know, fremantle…" so it turned out he was punking me hard, pretending not to know where freo was. as soon as i realised, we both started giggling so much, and that continued the whole ride home, jules and kevin in the back, me and yogi in the front, cracking jokes, punking the other two, and singing along to his djing which mainly consisted of mixing enrique englasias with snoop dogg, with a little bit of shakira added in for good measure, although not even to the second chorus. at one point jules asked him if he'd prefer to marry shakira or beyonce. "it's obvious!" he told her. "shakira!" jules was like, "really, why??" and he said to her "because the hips don't lie". hahaha.

later in the trip i asked him about the tattoos on his neck. "it's just a design", he said "it's my name in chinese symbols." he said it like he knew it was a dirty thing to say, but who knows if that was part of a joke as well.

it's very special that thing that occasionally happens, when you become friends with someone in 2 seconds flat. but that's what happens, and i miss that uber driver.

i've been thinking about friendship this week in terms of the damn plebiscite. the main thing i don't understand is, don't these liberal politicians have gay friends? how can they show up to a dinner party and be there with everyone knowing they're not willing to make their party make the change that everyone wants. yes, everyone. the few people who disagree are just wrong and old this time. some old things are good, this old thing isn't. how could you deny such normal human rights to your friends, and then eat stuffed chicken breasts in their house?

i think about the people on manus and nauru - they aren't friends with members of the labor and liberal parties, so it's easier for the politicians to just deny their human rights. it's so far away, there's water between us, they have different accents, brown skin, different outlooks on the world. it's easier to understand the callousness in that situation, but what if your gay friends are before you at the dinner table?

the handmaid's tale that everyone is watching is a reminder of these things. it's reminding me to take things seriously. i remember the roe 8 time, when i was walking by the clearing area, outside the fence, holding a couple of banksia heads. two police crossed the road. they started questioning me, asking for my name. "are you seriously asking for my name?" i asked, shocked and incredulous, because i know that if police ask you for your name you have to give it. "yes" they said. "but i'm just walking here, i'm not touching the fence, i'm not doing anything except walking along the road" i told them. "well, that's ok, just tell us your name", they said. "are you serious?" "yes" i had to give it to them. "what's in your hand?" they asked "banksia heads" i showed them. neither one knew what a banksia was. "it looked like you were carrying something suspicious" they said. still makes me angry thinking about it.

see, sometimes i think the police and state powers don't really matter. if you're not doing anything wrong, you don't need to worry. but it's not like that at all. my brown friends get stopped by police all the time. walking, driving, breathing. and if a little thing changed in who was in power or how, even if at first it happened 'democratically', it could soon be a time of that again, that i can be stopped in the street, even as a rich white lady, and be questioned, and have my freedom encroached upon with the threat of violence and state force or maybe eventually be sent off to an island to be sexually assaulted and have no way of knowing when i can ever get out or if i'll die in there. it happens slowly, quickly, in the present, in the past, the future, and we have to be on guard even in the good times. but of course, the good times are only good for some. i mainly don't have to worry about people using their power against me ~mainly~ because of my skin colour and being born into the family and place i was born. but, that tv show, even though it's just a tv show, is a big reminder of what has happened, is happening, will happen. no pasaran.

anyway, with freedom i went to a gig at 208s. what a happy night to take a friend there who'd never been there. i saw cocaine for the first time on the way there (i've been under a rock with banksia heads instead of the world of coca), i ate a great kebab in the golden triangle on the way home, and in the middle of the night i got to see one of my 3 favourite heavy bands in perth: self harm. self harm are undeniably soooo good. amongst a night of various versions of metal, grindcore, death metal etc etc (dunno genres) self harm stood tall, proud, fast, tight and as always just eminently watchable. there is something captivating about that singer, don't know his name either, and every band that michael is in (maybe it's just self harm and drowning horse, but i swear i've heard him sing as well.) i kind of wish when softer bands like king gizzard come over they'd get supported by metal bands like self harm, instead of the same sameness, but yeah, i'm not picking line-ups, i'm just saying my opinion out into the wilderness of the 40 people who'll read this article. it seems at the moment that the metal is separate from other perth music, and maybe that's the way people like it, but if you don't usually go dark, go test the waters with self harm and i wager you'll never regret that decision, unlike the australian parliamentarians who'll be passing away eventually wondering why they denied human rights to their fellow people.   

The Grandest Final

Andrew Ryan

emlyn took us for footy training last night. when i messaged him about it he said "footy training in the dark? sounds like a stupid idea." but he came down loping through the darkness to where me and jamie and nick and kate were starting some kick to kicks.

when i was home in the southlands last weekend i cooked up a kangaroo pie, under my father's instruction, with herbs from the garden and puff pastry and pieces of marinated roo. he started watching footy from a joke, saying to us one time, maybe with a john donne quote mixed in, that he was going to "have a pie and watch the footy", but then almost from the moment he sat down on the couch into the joke he became instantly hooked, and now there is no other option when the game is on than to be there in front of it, with a pie and with a redback beer and to huff at the umpires and believe.

anyway emlyn came down. i think he played for northam for money one time, or some other town closer to 'the middle' where it's dusty and there's not much to do, and apparently not enough men with tall thick legs to kick it from 50.

so yeah, emlyn loped in through the darkness, with his hair thick and cut like a strange curly black chip, short on the top like a box of music boxes and long down the back like a seaweed heaven.

it became apparent he was the only one who knew how to train and so he took us through drills and finally to the "funny kicks", which ended up being Bananas and Snaps and the ones that roll end to end and bounce frontwards to jump up into the arms of your teammate like a little mustard terrier.

see, emlyn played a show this week but i wasn't there to see it, a show at mojos with ali from boatshow and stella from boatshow and peter bibby and emlyn. what a great line up but instead i made mexican beans and thought about putting on all the candles, home alone.

that's how we were going to light the footy field if we couldn't get the oval lights turned on: candles.

i did see special music this week: a girl called Daisies Net who played delicate but purposeful minimal experimental songs and compositions with cello and keyboard and prerecorded samples and a voice that reminded me of 2010 perth musicians, namely jessyca hutchens aka jane harris and leonie brialey aka lil leonie lionheart, neither of whom this daisy is likely to have ever seen. she seemed delicate but not really, she knew what she was doing but then apologised afterwards which some of us are wont to do - but don't do it, friend, just be amazing and look it straight in the eye - your talent, and accept the gift.

also lucy peach, her voice as a gift from above to us all, in the darkened room of bar 459, singing about periods and about her perfect love which she deserves. her beautiful gappy face, her loveheart hairline, her four stringed guitar that bill sitting next to me said he'd tried to learn but it was just too tricky.

lucy peach is going to come play footy too. i think the men might be distracted by her model features, which will be handy if she and i are on the same team. and what does the self-picture have to do with all this? well, it's a suggestion for you for a thursday, to just comb your hair in the mirror, pretending to make filmclips for beach house songs, after you've been a good friend to your friends, called for justice in your mind, done a little physics study just for fun, and successfully worn a dress all day long over official AFL merchandise tracksuit pants, thinking of spring and all it will bring, including the grandest of finals.

fabian being great again, mojos july 25th, on the side.

Andrew Ryan

a very special man died yesterday, g.yunupingu. we don't write his whole name for cultural and spiritual reasons. look up his albums, his singing made people cry and feel different things than usual. he played for royal people and presidents and lived in darwin.

on tuesday night there was a great show at mojos. it was another episode of 'on the side' where a lovely redhead called kate choses music and musicians she is interested in, puts them all together. sometimes people heed that call to try something different than what they usually do.

i tried to start a few fights in the backroom just for fun. a guy called jordan with glasses made fun of nick and i for being in the same outfit, so me and nick worked out a way to seem tough - it was like this: i pretend to go after someone, and nick holds me back telling them not to mess with me cos i'm c~r~a~z~y. i'm already over it, pretending to be into fighting. that's boring and not part of real life.

real life's about beautiful music and cooking fish over a fire. real life's about the great set that fabian rojas did, where it was based on a chilean musician and artist called violeta parra. i didn't know that at the time he was playing, but now i know, and you and i can go look her up.

fabian was playing after some guys called 'bolt gun' for the night. bolt gun started in a way that was v appealing - ambient, dark loops and samples, a particular gong sound that kept going on and on into the darkness. then two guys apart from the sampler were playing guitar and bass, the guitar had a beautiful tone, the bass too, and then it started getting heavier. as it got heavier though, as in darker, i wanted it to go further, because there was something missing. some depth of flavour and too much straight-up sincerity. it was exciting as a breath of new air, dark black air across us, but by the end it was too sincere and not masterful enough for me to go away fully satisfied. this is harsh - they were very good. i just hardly ever go to shows where the singing and sound is from the dark gut place, like black puke coming up, and the vibe is h~e~a~v~y, so when i do i want to get blown all the way away.

when fabian began it was like a guy trying to learn bass guitar. i was looking at the bolt gun guys, i wanted to ask them about their music but was feeling shy, and i was also wondering whether they thought 'what is this guy doing who can't even play bass'. or maybe like me, they could tell that something good was happening, that something special was coming. well, fabian kept going, kept trying to learn bass in front of us, but with a secret that said 'i do know, i'm just doing something, ok'. he started wangling his bass sounds, and then he brought in the lady, violeta parra, by tape recordings - so now it was like a guy learning to play with violeta, and some of the time just letting her play, and letting us all tap into the radio that goes all the time, the radio called 'the big', as in the sound energy that travels across time and space to us.

that's the reason i loved the gong sounds of bolt gun too. where and what was this sound? they were drawing it out of recordings, making it big and dark, playing over and through it. this appeals to me, and appealed to the other people in the mojos room, who were watching the whole time. 

while fabian played the best way to listen was with your eyes closed - no surprise. i looked at nick's angel face with soft skin - his eyes were closed. i turned to george next to me with his choppy blonde hair and black eye and soft angel skin, and motioned to him to put his eyelids down too. with your eyelids down all the people and past and present mix together, what was fabian playing? what was violeta playing? who are you/who am i? etc.

well, i can recommend g.yunupingu. i can recommend rewatching episodes of the mighty boosh. i can recommend going whenever fabian plays to see whatever he'll do from his chilean perspective on things, and i can recommend closing your eyes to help people get their music across to you, whether they're puking up the dark earth, or drawing down light with mastery of everything.

i did watch the last band but i have to go do tattooing and play football. ttyl.

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.