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459 Fitzgerald Street
North Perth, WA, 6006

The Amber Fresh Chronicles

Filtering by Category: localtalent

Akioka Tape Launch Pt 1

Andrew Ryan

it started with breathing, lots of breathing. that's how life started and that's how akioka started for her tape launch. well, first she began with her palms together and her eyes closed inside a placenta, in front of the screen, with a crowd of people waiting outside the opening in front of her, to see her as she emerged. well, she emerged from that meditative place, sitting in front of us, sitting in front of the screen, and opened her mouth and began to breathe.

before that i'd been talking to my old friend sage, who used to be thomas when we knew each other. she is studying something about the intersection between insight meditation and non-traditional, or super-traditional forms of singing, as in throat singing and all the rest. these were not all her words, these are my words to describe what she generously was describing to me, her eyes wide as when we knew each other in the past, my eyes wide as ever too. when she lived with my friend edd, edd used to wear raver pants and feed me frozen peas under the doona while we watched movies, but now i think he would find a show where someone's just breathing "pretty weird". what is weird though, breathing, or wearing raver pants?

well, akioka, who is tessa began, and it was all breathing. then she opened her mouth but what came out, and through the microphone, pedals, PA, didn't seem like it could be her voice. imagine someone talking with helium, except this time it's not funny it's primordial and cosmically interesting/confusing/real/intriguing. that's what it was like. and these were looped over one another and her bff aside from her son (i assume this relationship, based on photos) had set videos to go over and through the experience.

the videos are like this: you are seeing a galaxied sky, turning in front of your eyes. you don't know how she has made this galaxy, green planets, vision rods, the goo which makes up dark matter. in fact the french man called me on skype today and told me if i really want to know about physics, the only and most important thing is, in fact, dark matter. well, it seems like a galaxy, the video going behind akioka, in front of us, on to her face, through her music, but then very eventually you see it's the particles floating on a lake top or something similar, and you realise - well, the same thing really isn't it? lake, galaxy, planet, particle, gooey dark matter, gooey dark matter.

 glossalalia - akioka, is this part of what you're doing?

 Well, this is Part One, because this week I go on camp, to run the camp, with 13 lucky number of kids with a parent or both of them in prison. And Akioka, aka Tessa, is going to do music with the kids and Part 2 is going to be telling you all and every thing about that.


Swamp Clubb/Wilson Tanner at Success

Andrew Ryan

hey leonie, so you know how anything you whisper in the ear of matt turns out as a fully formed thing: radio shows, bands, late night talk shows, perth version of monopoly, deep fried kangaroo, gatorade poached pears to celebrate the return of basketball to collective interest in the state of WA, etc?*

anyway, now matt’s become indestructibly more powerful, linked up romantically with mei saraswati. swamp clubb was another one of their children.

nick and me drove in to the city, listening to classic fm, talking a bit but not much. as we walked to the urban orchard i saw a man i knew from shopfront (soup kitchen) and wanted to stop and talk to him. he is an indigenous man. i’d never seen him affected by drugs and alcohol before but this time he was – it was 7 in the morning and he was drinking white wine i think from a water bottle and sort of talking strangely. but he was happy to see us and we stayed there for a bit. his teeth were all broken. what we were going in to the city for was to be part of a tour of northbridge all about how it used to be before all his family and ancestors were thieved of their patrimony. leonie, what are we going to do? we’re on stolen ground and there’s still no treaty, and i know 15 year olds from this people who pee their pants still because they’ve suffered trauma all as the direct lineage of everything being taken and shaken off them, deep troubles for their parents, their grandparents, their ancestors and down through to their children.

well, while we were still there listening to this man on the bench go a bit round in circles with his talking, making a mixture of deep sense and no sense, him mainly directing his babbling at nick, peter bibby came up. so it was the four of us, me, nick, pete and this man on his bench. eventually we left to go get the early coffee. on our way in the morning – an early rise for us had it not been for all the recent paddle clubb days and nick’s general insomnia – nick had said “it better not just be hamish djing when we get there”, because he was only willing to go to the city early for some real information, some real new experience, but i knew in my head that when we got there it was “just going to be hamish djing”. i even did a little drawing of that scene in my diary – nick saying that out phrase loud, me thinking that but not daring to say it out loud because i wanted us both to go.

anyway, yes when we got there it was just hamish djing, BUT also, a lot more than that. there was already a crowd, maybe 20 or thirty people, a mixture of all music friends (all the links and friendships have been so developed by our shared experiences through things like camp doogs, as well as just shows and parties, but yes, these outside experiences where even in a half hour of conversation in nature can propel depth of friendship a year or many years in advance) and then some fifty or sixty year olds who looked like the lovely sort of people double our ages who would be interested in something called a “ Swamp Clubb Eco Ghost Tour of Northbridge”. so music people and local history people, all beginning to form around a little table of bagels and cafetières, and a wooden sign cut by benjamin konto that said SWAMP CLUBB.

matt aitken was wearing a liegionaires hat, a few people were wearing swamp clubb shirts, and hamish was djing. i said shy ‘hi’s’ to all the deep friendship music people and then went on a little tour of the urban orchard with lockie, showing him which plants he could eat even tho i wasn’t always sure myself. then matt and mei and mikaela called us all together and the tour was ready to begin.

matt explained we’d be going on a tour of this land that used to be – and still is if you dig a bit – swamp lands, with a series of 7, no 12, lakes, that used to make up the entertainment and food district of the city. then matt said “first we’re going to do a toilet stop.” we all followed him, people half giggling and quizzically-browed not knowing if he was actually leading us to a toilet stop or it was a real start of the tour. but it was the real start. we all crowded into the small toilets at the top of the art gallery carpark and there was a map up on the wall, covered in plastic, used to guide tourists and locals to wellington street or the central train station or their office job. matt started explaining and drawing onto the map where the lakes used to be. the biggest lake was known in invasion times by the name of the engineer who ended up draining it. we learned how the river used to flow down to a big reef at fremantle, blown up by my hitherto hero c.y. o’connor.

matt drew the lakes in and already the transformation had begun. we were now in a new version of northbridge, an old and ancient version of northbridge. when it came time to move on, matt tried to wipe off the texta from the city of perth map, but it just smeared, and the wonderful political nature that this tour was creating started showing through more. everyone’s giggling continued as we left the toilets, the lake smears still there with ctv footage now showing an inadvertently council-approved graffiti act taking place.

we walked past the gallery and onto a footbridge kind of blocking traffic and the information continued, and perhaps at this point nandi chinna, local writer who it turns out wrote an entire book of poetry called “swamp” about just these ancient and mainly unknown things read her first poem. we were all in there, in the old times, with her words. then we headed down into another stairwell, the stairwell of some car park, one by one. we were given pieces of purple material each as we descended and through the doorway we started to hear singing. it was mei and andy williams (aj wigwams) and tessa (akioka) acapella-ing mei’s song “swamp gospel”. i’d heard and connected to this song so many times before, but new words became apparent after getting this new insight, like “see that tennis court, those manicured lawns? that used to be a food bowl but now it’s gone.” (pls listen). as we descended the music became stronger. everyone was moved. tears started coming.

then we were all down the bottom of the carpark, but it was changed. we all stood there on the concrete, in the swamp, in a circle. we were given pieces of paperbark to touch, we were told to use the purple material to cover our eyes, and aj, mei and tessa created a soundscape of all that used to be there. them and surely the spirits of the land. tessa can make noises so much like magpies that i slitted open my eyes a few times just to see what recording device the magpie calls were coming from, but they were coming from a mouth. there was water noises, there were frogs, we were taken down.

then we went on, out into the day, walking on concrete, walking through the swamp. nandi told us more in her reading and in her stories of people digging up the ground to make car parks and finding the swamp flooding back in – it’s all waiting there leonie, for us to leave it alone to recover itself, for us to dig up and make space for all the plants and animals, the whole food bowl to live through again, supporting us and the thousands of species that were and are there.

in another outside carpark andy williams was sitting in the open boot of a station wagon. it began gently to rain through the sunshine and he sung about all that was not lost but still there, his smile and everyone’s eyes lighting up through time to be dewy and new.

it keep sprinkling on us and we moved on through the transformed landscape to all shelter at tables under a moreton bay fig and a young botanist told us more – all the species that were there, the species lost, explained that to be a biodiversity hot spot, as all our south west is, you need at least 6,000 endemic species but we have 12,000, but that the “hot spot” appelation comes if more than 70% of your native land is cleared and that in fact almost 90% of ours is. she passed around small species – nick, pete, me, lockie, will stoker, hamish, tristan, 30 other people touched and smelled the plants. she explained a few we could eat that live still down by the river.

well, can you imagine? this one 2 hour stretch on a friday morning 7-9am, changed us all. it’s happening again but you’re in melbourne, but maybe you’ll go down to a river near you then and just let it really sink in to you.

i also saw andy wilson (andras fox) and john tanner (eleventeen eston) play as wilson tanner in the enormous dark basement, now gallery, in fremantle under the Many building. behind them was a big screen showing a video filmed deep in the swan river/derbal yerrigan of a toy piano they’d sunk down there and all the fishes swimming by and exploring it.

we missed the start because of watching masterchef, but the last part was like this: you are in the early nineties. you’re in a loungeroom in the late/night early morning, the only light is coming from the telly, on which you’ve watched a whole stack of videos, from the video shop, and now it’s on to rage, and you’re in the friendship and video coma, on a floor covered with mattresses and doonas and pillows in the dark with a few friends around, you’ve all eaten lasagne, mandarins and dry cocopops and lots of cadbury chocolate and you let your eyes finally start dipping and staying dipped, so relaxed in an australian early nineties style of luxury. you would have liked that too.


*but really, it’s no-one whispering in the ear, it’s just matt, all this creativity pouring out of him. where does it even come from. i got an insight into it going to his dad’s 60th birthday. his mum invited me and a few of our friends and heaps of their family and friends and made costumes for everyone who came to the viking theme she’d decided on. we all got costumed up at the next door neighbours house and did a viking parade over to their house, ready for the viking feast, she got joni and the moon to play, this crazy emotional political deep set with her and tera’s shaved heads and feathers in front of all their negatively gearing friends. so weird and so transformative. in the speech his mum had such a potty mouth and when it was time to cut the cake – a silver herring – his dad poked out the eyeball first.

Leafy Suburbs on the Lawn, One Band of In the Pines, Race to Your Face

Andrew Ryan

sometimes i write a “three best things in music this week” – that’s what i’m going to do right now, almost.

but the best thing in australian political life this week is png saying it’s illegal to detain refugees on manus island. here is a quote from the judgement and from abc news:

‘“Both the Australian and Papua New Guinea governments shall forthwith take all steps necessary to cease and prevent the continued unconstitutional and illegal detention of the asylum seekers or transferees at the relocation centre on Manus Island and the continued breach of the asylum seekers or transferees constitutional and human rights,” the judges ordered.
In one of two lead judgments, Justice Terence Higgins said the detention also breached asylum seekers’ fundamental human rights guaranteed by various conventions on human rights at international law and under the PNG constitution.
“Treating those required to remain in the relocation centre as prisoners irrespective of their circumstances or status … is to offend against their rights and freedoms,” Judge Higgins said.’
some people might say this is irrelevant to perth music, but of course, as all the large political questions of our time are, this is completely relevant.

on friday i was to play on a grassy flat outside the new perth library, outside the big cathedral. lyndon was there to play too as leafy suburbs. while i played the sun beat down in the most white heat way it possibly could, i squinted through the tiniest slit of eyelids for the times i had my eyes “open”, except for a few moments to look up up at the blue and white sky. the clouds were going crazy. my spirit was going crazy as i played, but in the best possible way, all the songs being resung back to me by the spirit of the earth and sky, saying “this is how this song is about me, and this and this”. i sung for my friend who watched another friend become braindead by overdosing in the car next to him, he was visiting the hospital while i played. i sung into the few people watching who i knew, wondering if they could feel what i was feeling at the time. i sung into the bright white heat of the sun and up through into the clouds. but from the outside it might have just looked like a small person squinting and sweating in the heat with a guitar pressed to their arms and torso.

that wasn’t one of the best things i was going to write about. the best thing was lyndon playing next. lyndon started to play at the end of the big grassy flatlands. to his left and to all our rights was the cathedral towering up, but in a perth way, so not outrageously impressive, into the sky, and to the other side the new glassy perth library, slitted windows all the way, mirrored glass impenetrable unlike every book in there waiting to be opened. it’s at the same time welcoming and dont-come-in ish. we are meant to be impressed, we are mildly interested, we are put off, but we are allowed to move freely at least. so, lyndon started playing and from the first beats i turned to rupert on the grass and said “i like this already”. then the special thing happened. an old man, in long rumpled pants, a wide akubra with the aboriginal flag colours twined around the head piece, emerged from the side of the stage area. he looked like someone playing his role in a play – even though we were spread a long distance across the grass rectangle, everyone could see his facial expressions and were all responding too them. he staggered a slight bit. he theatrically cocked his ears towards the stage, while still facing all of us. and then he pipped a harmonica straight into his mouth and pipped out one single blow which was exactly at a good timing and exactly in tune.

everyone’s bodies, eyes and ears became more focussed. we looked at the man, we looked at lyndon, this was classic theatre and we wanted to know what was next. the man edged closer to lyndon, still faced us and pipped again – again on time, again in the right key – magically as every harmonica is in a different key. and then he headed to the microphone. the next moments were tense… lyndon was creating loops of a song, beats and synth melodies, and this new staggery man was at the mic. he pipped the harmonica again and lyndon nodded and everybody took out their phones. then came bird noises – you know, you don’t want to turn the scene into a ‘mystical elder character’ scene, but that’s actually what it was like. the bird noises and then the man’s talking turned lyndon’s music into something bigger and yes, more like ancient sounds than the references might already have been.

and then the man started touching the synth. what would lyndon do? roll with it, be put off? did this piece of land belong only a few generations ago to this man’s family and now a bunch of foreigners were all seated on the fakely placed grass, between the monoliths of european invasion – church and library? hmm. well, the scene played out as it does in our country. the sound man felt obliged to step in, taking a long time to convince the man it wasn’t his place to play on lyndon’s equipment, but clearly not convinced himself, every other person on the grass watching with their own private thoughts about just the music, the coffee they were drinking, the history of their country, etc. etc. who knows. and after a while the man ambled away, lyndon kept playing, and everything went back to beigely normal.

second ‘best thing’ – benjamin witt’s last song at in the pines. his whole set was fine, good, great songs, but the last song i believe many people in the crowd were transported up and outwards and something special was happening. i actually thought “i never want this song to end” as the music took me elsewhere entirely, and after ben and his band finished playing dimity who had been next to me said “i never wanted that last song to end, i was in a different place!” so at least for two of us the same thing happened.

third ‘best thing’ – race to your face at mojos on sunday. they were playing for shit narnia’s end of tour launch show, and they were beautiful. the drummer, lee, covering his shirt from the inside with the sweat of true performance, majestically locking in to the loops created by the f-off good guitarist chris – drumming to loops is so so so so so hard, getting loops tight enough for someone to drum to them is so so so so hard. i wanted to see them paired song for song in a battle (but where both are on the same side) with mudlark. intricacies, effort, all of it. it reminded me of michelangleo painting the sistine chapel, im not being ridiculous, but just that thing of watching people who are putting in true effort and making something you couldn’t even dream of appear before your eyes. i was embarrassed to play after them, and didn’t do a great job, but then got cheered up by foam who i have loved from afar since the first time i watched them…

imagine one day if we could all make music in a country where there’s just the necessary injustices – like a few health problems and a bit of romantic heartbreak to deal with – instead of the big time fucked things like incarceration of refugees and people from poorer areas of the country, and insidious corporate and military power, and human created climate change, and an unrecognised and unredressed invasion history. that would be sick.

HOLDING HANDS WITH EVERYTHING: Tame Impala at Zenith, Paris.

Andrew Ryan

I’m jumping out of bed with one cat slipper on to bring you this little review of Tame Impala playing at Zenith in Paris. Yes, white boys from private schools* (fact check) playing successful music. This is a reference to Triple J’s hottest 100 – if you’re not from Australia, don’t look it up, look up the photographer Jean Gaumy instead – but really, that particular night – Sunday – if world justice wasn’t possible, then music from white boys was just what I and thousands of Parisians were in the mood for.

I nearly made Cam late for the show by spending too long drying my hair but when I got to dinner he and Ash told me I looked beautiful. That’s pretty nice if you’re someone who doesn’t feel like they look good most of the time – is that everyone? What does it mean to look beautiful? Where do hairdryers go when we die? Fuck. Anyway, Cam put bits of steak in my mouth with the fork, jiggled his leg and talked about projects, Ash be-d lovely and a small dream of soft-heartedness, I tried to think tough to not be on the heart-break mind train and just soak up some pleasure.

The taxi driver was real nice, Ash and Cam were going song for song on their phones, us three in the backseat – I checked if he minded us playing music but what I really meant was “Is it annoying to have three rich white people in the backseat just having fun as every single day and night and seeming to not know what real work is, what long shifts are, what putting up with shit from strangers is?” It’s not exactly like that, but it’s just that here it’s in your face, every bar you go to it’s all white people having a “good time” inside and the only not-white person is working on the door, sorting through who can get in and who can’t. Pewk. Everyone has their troubles and hardships, but the general sorting of who gets in and who can’t is the layer of weird injustice over everything, all the time.

Well, we made it, those two went through the backdoor, Cam with ten minutes til he was meant to be on stage, and I collected my friend from the front, who put his hand in the middle of my back making me dream of true affection and inside all the boys had already started playing “Let it Happen”. This song is magical, so many of the songs are magical. I didn’t come by to this music via music, but by personal familiarity, but all the songs have been working on me day by day since the first time I really had to listen when I was interviewing Kevin for Oyster magazine. Sometimes “everybody” is wrong about what they like – coffee in takeaway cups, Australia Day, formalised religion/atheistic agnosticism, Rubens/Hoops – but sometimes they’re right, and this is the time.

They played a million great songs, ‘Let it Happen’, ‘Apocalypse Dreams’, ‘Cause I’m a Man’, ‘The Less I Know the Better’, ‘Elephant’, ‘Feels Like We Only Go Backwards’ – not in that order, and not only those, and usually I’m not the kind of person to care song for song, but I dunno this was something different, they are all hits and they were all hitting into that right spot for being in heart-break but moving you into uplifting abandon to the possibility of a happy ending despite all the signs to the contrary. And right in the middle of all of it was ‘Eventually’, the most perfect song for me personally right then and there, but also like I said before for several thousand Parisians. Everyone seemed to believe the words. I hear those words for my own heart and for the whole heart of the whole world – eventually, eventually, eventually. And maybe music by white boys from private schools is a wonderful part of that eventually. I believe it is.

Anyway, the whole crowd seemed to rise up in this song, and I didn’t know if it was just me but afterwards my friends said too, in his French accent “Eventually!!” Yes, the big spirit flowing through that song.

And yeah, the sound, nearly perfect, a little on the mud side, a little on the bassy side, the drums always take over but so they should, always simultaneous homage to Julien in the present and Kevin in the creation past, the most ‘Perth’ moment for me being when Kevin stood for a few moments longer than maybe even he expected just playing notes on the guitar to the oscilloscope, letting the notes and the shapes created ring out – like really ring out – creating stars and Lord of the Rings and splitting time and joining light and sound back together in green lasers on the big screen behind him.

Well, so it was a great show. Afterwards up in the room where the boys were there was Nicolas Godin from Air (I didn’t know who he was till they told me), with his gentle lovely teenage son fanboying on Kevin, Kevin and Gum fanboying on Nicolas, me fanboying in friendship on Dom who I only get to see every six months. Ringham who looks after gear talked to me about matters of the heart and possibly mathematics, Noemie who looks after tour managing gave me a true hug, everyone just moved along in their own worlds but at the same time taking care of one another, me included, even though truly they’d all already healed me a little bit in the show.

I could tell you about the rest of the night, but that will happen another time, when I’ve got both slippers on.

(Nice Day for a) ROMANTIC DOG WEDDING, 4th March 2016

Andrew Ryan

Just got my period. It’s pretty exciting really, the way it all works, “it” being our bodies and the whole entire thing. I’m living with another female person in the house so yeah, it all synchs up, and it’s really like magic. You know it’s coming – everyone starts looking more attractive, this time I got wildly angry at my friend for saying he was going to ditch his bass player, even though the sun was shining and we were riding home after a delux swim in the ocean listening to AC/DC – some smooth low-key number I had never heard before – in his beat up van that smells like Australia.

Anyway, nice reminder that one’s an animal. Sex-appeal, anger, tears, all linked up to tiny juices flowing round us, the moon, pheromonal molecules entering our skin. So, yeah, our friends put on a wedding for dogs – “Romantic Dog Wedding” – this week, and it’s good to suddenly remember once in a while that you’re pretty much covered in fur and at the mercy of mysterious forces and not just the workings of your big grey brain too.

The dogs were “Ben” and “Pony”. A Border Collie and a rescued Greyhound. Our country doesn’t recognise unions between two males at the moment, but countries are not as old as love and unions between two dogs or two men so the joke’s on us. (Fact check please). I put on lipstick and high heels, a dress with no bras – my female companion similarly dolled, as in, attired a little less animally that we might otherwise be, and headed to the river.

Big, pale, skin coloured gum trees towered upwards around us, all their crooked arms swaying languidly over the scene. There was a small crowd, writer Matt Giles passed us with his dog Abbey who had to leave early, maybe to finish their respective PhDs. There were tall women in dresses, Alex Last was djing with the dj set up laid out on top of a boogie board, a pathway of vines and flowers showing where the aisle would be, rugs on each side, and Chloe – human Mother of the Groom – came towards us to offer mimosas from a table laid with champagne, beverages and a beautiful coconut wedding cake.

Why a dog wedding? Because we are free, I guess, and because there was no better place to be, or event to conjure than a dog wedding by the river on a Monday afternoon in a city built on stolen land and stolen minerals and a decimated ancient culture. What else are we meant to do? Buy jet skis?

So everyone mingled, the Border Collie groom was a little late but arrived, then the celebrant, Paddle Clubb mastermind Matt Aitken, arrived, then Lyndon Blue, wedding band-member, arrived in a powder blue suit, and the ceremony could begin. The boogie board played “Kiss from a Rose” by Seal as the grooms and a dishevelled Border Collie bridesmaid were walked up the aisle, everyone took their places, and Matt fumbled through a wonderful and brief ceremony, starting somewhat irreverently with the words “Dearly Beloved, Who Let the Dogs Out?” There were salmon-coloured ribbons to tie the rings on to the grooms, they were pronounced husband and husband, kissed, and after much cheering the coconut wedding cake was served, musician Rachael Dease encouraging young kids to not be shy and take some first.

It was definitely the best dog wedding any of us had been to, and the band hadn’t even started. Stephen Bellair was there with Evie, a white teenage miniature falcor labrador. Tristan Fidler was there, resplendent repository of a million beautiful, and tragic, and inspired thoughts I’m yet to be privvy to, Julia Suddenly was there, ray of sun and moonlight showering gold and myrrh on us from her glowing face etc, etc, etc.

Me and my hot date were nearly ready to leave, deciding between going for a paddle on the kayaks or heading back to the coast by the flip of a coin. Luckily the coin said stay because then came the band. This will remain one of my musical highlights of 2016 even if a thousand more great musical things happen. The band was called both “His Master’s Voice” and “The Bark Simpsons”, two names picked from a communal facebook list of suggestions, and they were incredible. Lyndon Blue on guitar, Chris Last on bass, Brett Smith on saxophone, Alex Last on boogie board laptop, and, the pinnacle of the sinuous body of fluff, the unleashable Alex Griffin.

At first it was obvious they had all never played together, they didn’t know at all what they were going to do, and took a long time to set up in which Alex just danced at the front of the group, in front of the boogie board, in his fez and yellow jacket, with his big faux-sad eyes drawing up to the sky then glancing over the crowd, then eyeballing people one by one for effect. Eva next to me, French artist, was instantly obsessed and kept saying “He is Magic!” and it was entirely true.

Then the band began playing: Alex dropped a beat, Chris and Lyndon somehow locked in, Brett breathed panpipe sax over the top and through the just-birthed theme, and Alex started the first of three 100% improvised and 100% classic dog-wedding songs, with each band member having their moment to shine, and all the wedding guests laughing or swaying or iphoning in responsive pleasure.

Yeah, the whole thing was genius, actually filled with love, life-giving, under trees, by the water, honouring to another species, and only possible in a free land of this kind, with all the trouble and lack of trouble resting underneath our feet and in the air around us and up in the gum branches and way up into the spheres. Definitely the nicest day in the history of the world for a dog wedding.

THE MOLLUSC AND THE ENCYCLOPEDIA - Lyndon Blue and Amber Fresh Wrap 2016 and Toss It Into Your Lap

Andrew Ryan

Lyndon: Amber says I’m an encyclopedia and she’s a mollusc, which is very modest and kind, although at best I think I’m a pamphlet ready to blow away in the breeze – and (more realistically) maybe we’re all molluscs, trying to make the best trail of slime we can. Anyway, it’s nice to be able to look back on the year in music with Amber, who is both a musician and a music writer. With Amber those two things don’t feel like two separate sides of a mirror, but instead are both mixed together (with all sorts of other life endeavours) in the same rock pool, a place called poetry.  

Usually the two of us approach writing-about-music fairly differently, but I think one thing we have in common is a belief that music – the best music - is a singularly meaningful way to connect, a window into souls, food for the imagination and the heart. Speaking broadly, 2015 has been full of awful, trying things – on the global stage and close to home. I feel like music has responded gracefully, with thoughtfulness and energy and ingenuity and compassion. Even when we are reflecting on the rough stuff, music can reveal our best selves. L

in response to :

When I think about it, it seems like Lyndon has an encylopedic knowledge of music; me, a molluscic knowledge. As in, if you looked at Lyndon with your eyes closed, and got him to think about bands and sounds, you’d see his chest exploding outwards with a thousand pages, some coloured, some drawn, pencil notes, pen notes, a little typed text. If you closed your eyes and did the same thing on me, you’d see me advancing very very slowly along one line, leaving a trail of glistening slime. 

So, anyway, Lyndon Le Bleu and I both make music and write about music. Here’s our combined wrap up of the year. A

Lyndon, who do you feel blossomed outwards music-wise this year?

First up, can I express my appreciation for the word “molluscic,” and your trail of glistening slime. Snails are underrated. Who blossomed outwards? I think a lot of people – 2015 in Perth music (to my mind) was a lot of people trying new things, going hard, being uncynical, and a lot of these people were one the periphery of my awareness but nevertheless hard to miss. I’ve felt privileged to hear the likes of Sam Atkin and Mining Tax and Lana Rothnie come into their own, fusing electronic hooliganism with a profound thoughtfulness and sensitivity. It’s also felt like a big year for garage rock, interesting punk, weird pop: Pool Boy, Helta Skelta, the Kitchen People/Hideous Sun Demon/Regular Boys sorta collective, the new Perth-based version of Rat Columns. Koi Child have, famously, kicked massive goals. Erasers finally released an album and it was a corker. Phil Stroud and Ben Witt’s solo releases – phwoooaarr! Lots of blossoming in good directions, I think 2016 will be a champagne year.  

Lyndon, what do you wish was different in Perth music? 

I kind of wish line-ups were less determined by friendship groups, and more varied and outrageous, but I guess things play out how they do for a good reason, that’s how scenes exist. 

Lyndon, if you were standing in a small group of Chilean teenagers at a party, everyone with beers and optimism in their hands, what would you recommend they listen to, from this year, from your city and from far far away? 

I like this question, and I wonder if I will ever stand in a small group of Chilean teenagers. from my city? Maybe Mei Saraswati’s Hyperdiversity, or the Ben Witt record, or… maybe I’d just get overwhelmed as usual and make them a mixtape for later. From far far away? Possibly Holly Herndon’s Platform, ‘coz it’d blow their minds into a million chunks and make their beer taste like starlight. I’d recommend the Tame Impala album, which feels like it’s from both my home town and far far away, but I’m sure they’ve already heard it.

Lyndon, what is your favourite music thing of this year? Show or album or experience? 

This is really tough. So many goodies. Listening to an old guy play jazz standards on a banjo in a bush hut near Launceston, Tasmania. Camp Doogs – the whole thing. Going around Australia with a band called the Burnt Sausages who dress up like a human-sized BBQ party and play BBQ punk. Watching Nick Allbrook play at NPBC with David Wirrapunda. The Outlordz mixtape. But ok, ok lists like this are a copout. I’m gonna say the Mining Tax EP. The only record that made me cry proper tears and dance in one go. There ya go. 

Who are your five favourites for music at the moment and why? 

1. Julia Holter – “Feel You” was my favourite song that came out in 2015

2. Tourist kid. Ooh la la. I should’ve mentioned Rory in my “blossomed” answer. This local upstart can do no wrong

3. The band/Joni Mitchell/Kate Bush on endless rotation… i.e. listening to lots of my dad’s favourite music

4. Lois Olney, I came across her in the documentary “The Coolbaroo Club” and am now obsessed with her voice

5. The Metronomes, they feel like the Australian band I always wanted to exist, and they do!

the ol switcheroo~

Amber, if you could make music with anyone in perth (who you haven’t yet), who would it be – and why?

mei saraswati – we were ‘married’ on new year’s eve last year, but have never made music together. i feel like she’s above me musically (that’s a fact in many ways) but still that would be a dream.

craig mcelhinney and i have talked at times in the past about making songs. could be fun but maybe it’s like realising you’re never ever going to work in a pizza shop or video store (i just realised that a few months ago).

maybe gum. because he’s a pop king. nick wants to do hiphop with me him and stephen bellair (my mc name is mc lavender) but dunno. we’ve played together but not written new music together so maybe either of them actually.

also, you, actually. because you’re special and pure.

i really really miss tho playing with dave egan – one time we just recorded us touching various grasses in the garden at his planet street house. true freedom.

Amber, what’s your favourite perth music to listen to while submerged in water, and your favourite for in the car?

for the car i listen most regularly at the moment to a methyl ethel ep called ‘teeth’ from jake webb, and a mix from nick allbrook with his last solo ep on it. all time favourites though include a selection of cds from emlyn johnson, particularly Armageddon Gomorrah Haemerrhoid. pond, hobo rocket + back catalogue. alex griffin – the album with him in a party hat on the front.

submerged in water i’d take erasers or mei saraswati or benjamin witt as my first thought.

*I’m gonna still your question – “what do you wish was different in perth music?” – cause I think your answer will be more interesting than mine. *

only that no-one would sing with an american accent and that no-one would ever diss another band. the second is ridiculous high schoolery. especially in public. also, i think a few things have changed after a few bands have been successful/semi successful – it would be cool if no-one thought about progressing too much unless they’re specifically making pop music for money, and just let it (the music and any success) happon.

Amber, what show did you see this year that made you laugh the hardest?

i more see visions than laugh… joni and tera playing at a friend’s father’s 60’s surprise viking birthday was one of the most moving musical things i’ve ever seen. also nick allbrook at the astor before unknown mortal orchestra, benjamin witt solo. doctopus’s recent album launch. peter bibby recently at the newport – watching with nick and also a bunch of strangers watch in awe – i love seeing strangers see pete for the first time – and one man who seemed off his nut did the most beautiful mix of drunken stumbling and honest interpretive dance (using that term non-ironically) to pete’s song “rich” which i get flows of spiritual energy through me when i listen to. oh, and for non-perth, no-zu at doogs. joy overflowing joy.

Any clairvoyant predictions for perth music in 2016? what do the tea leaves say?

every tea leaf’s a lucky charm lyndon. i predict half way through the year everyone will join together to change the world, with music as an important side-project/spiritual fuel propelling everyone to create a future with peace, care of the earth and all others.

Amber: hey lyndon ps

two cool things – last night i was eating an oyster out the back of my friend pete’s house and a possum was there with a baby actually clinging to its back (reminded me of a line from one of emlyn’s songs which is something like ‘clings with possum hands to timber tiger man’). 

second thing, i met a new friend in paris – a kindred spirit – who talked lots about wanting to play music but everyone would always say they were too busy washing their hair and that it all gets taken too seriously on the other hand, so i told her, move to perth, everyone will play with you, you’ll be able to play shows, you’ll find a drummer in the click of a hand, and that’s exactly what happened. pretty cool hey. the rumours are tru.

Lyndon: hehehe this is so good!!! jealous of your possum-spotting. one time in melbourne last year I had missed the last tram and was walking home at sunrise, I walked through a park near pete’s house and saw a shape on the trunk of a tree. when I got closer I discovered it was a huge possum – the biggest I had ever seen, like the size of a dog - just clinging to the trunk at about my chest height. we just stared into each others eyes for ages, it didn’t seem to want to run away, but I thought I might be making it anxious so eventually I just kept walking.

that is marvellous about your new paris friend! so theyre in perth now, playing music?? who are they?

we leave you into 2016 with a mystery…

Proximity Festival Opening Party

Andrew Ryan


we were standing out the front of the soup kitchen. last week one of the men standing smoking on the footpath had a joey with him, in a little pouch around his neck. he was all soft that night and told me everything. but this night there was no joey, so he stood off smoking with the other men, only nodding once or twice instead of telling the whole story.

the joey’s mum had been shot by his friend. they ate the mum and he bundled up the joey in his arms. its face was marked like nice icecream, vanilla, caramel, but you know, furry. it calmed him. it calmed me. i sat there for a lot of the night with the warm little skippy in my arms, heavy nice warm feeling that comes from feeling the heat and fur of an animal through material. you can pat a dog with a coat on for this feeling, or be in the melbourne cup.

proximity is a festival where all the shows are just for one person, but the opening night it was a general opening that allowed many people to be there at once. it was in the back outside parts of the art gallery, the steps and concrete terraces and carpark, and it was laid out with a bar, dj booth, a few hundred people in dress ups, sparkling or bloody, or the best one a robot dolphin – my friend loren – with a face veil and chain mail and underwear made of large hologramatic shards of thick plastic to cover just nips and tips.

there were vans in the carpark. the kind people work in as prostitutes around the big parks of paris, where i’ll go back to. inside these vans tho it was just music. tourist kid, soft loving hearted rory, was playing to the inside of the van, steel benches, room for only ten people. i looked at him and listened and then wandered round outside. going in and out through the art gallery, and everything, made it feel like being in the carpark of a blue light disco, going through the school offices at night, the weird feeling that would come from that, dressed in a way you’d never be for school. seeing everything a new way.

when i played a woman sat very close to the PA by my feet. she asked me what it was going to be like and i told her as best i could, by pointing to the casio and the loop pedal and also telling her she was ‘very close’ to the PA. she kept asking questions so i asked her ‘what do you want a song about’? ‘mother nature. and the aztecs’ she replied yelling, so that’s what i played, plus a looped cover of ‘when i was a sperm i had a lot to learn.’

catlips played next in our one little van. i felt like a creep dancing in there with four or six other strangers, just looking at katie the whole time. it’s ok, she understands i’m not a creep, just respect and like all her music. we all danced. we all danced too when mei (saraswati) played – it got wilder. loren was singing along to all the words of particular songs. i always feel like this is the best thing that happens when bands from our town play – other people singing along with the words, when there are words – no singalongs to mudlark, but people can nod, shake, sway.

hamish djed in overalls, lover jin island by his side. stephen was in stolen pants from target, dressed – for this was also halloween – as a real thief.

the best thing though was the mini magnolias. it’s hard to describe this but i’ll try. i tried to describe it to the person from another country who i love, and that was hard too but i managed. i was lying in bed under a cream doona and between cream sheets and he smiled at me as i told him about the night, proud of doing improvising with a casio, proud of all my friends, heated up from being all mixed in with different groups of pals all muddling together in another perth weird thing.

magnolias is usually a talk show that happens in my friends’ shed, or sometimes in public places. there’s all the normal tv talk show things, stand-up from the host, theme songs, segments. so matt and tristan did this talk show in a car in the carpark. people had to put their names down on a list and at some point in the night they got a call, and got led over to the car and ushered into the backseat and into a sparkling dark lit otherworld with matt and tristan as their hosts. matt had hooked up a small screen in the front seat on which to play ‘the matrix’ on repeat. they had a spin-wheel the guests (two strangers, ten minutes at a time, ushered into the backseat) had to spin to choose the theme of the questions. ‘a.m or p.m?’ matt would ask, and the guests would make their pick for a soundtrack. each time it would be ten minutes of laughing, scintillation and confusion, pre-made jokes, writing postcards to send to the guests’ place of work, and improvised personal banter, and then at the end matt says ‘it’s time to go but there’s a gift for you in the back seat of that car over there. take these, you’ll need them’ and hands the people a pair of scissors.

how do i know what happened? i visited as a guest once, and then with stephen bellair, six of us – hosts, interlopers, strangers – all crammed into the little camry (potentially). and later stephen bellair moving round the outside of the car shining a torch in for special lighting.

proximity, yes. up close, i love all the friends and strangers more. up close, the art gallery seems a small thing too, even if it’s our big one for western australia. up close joeys are calm, calming and feel like a warm cake you just want to hold in your lap on the way to a family friends’ place.

5 stars. 5 close stars all sparkling their way into the past, via vans, joeys, caramel, postcards, friendship, landing in your lap tired out and happy, tucking under the covers with the face of a love on a tiny screen very very close and far far away.

CAMP DOOGS 2015 - Utopia in the Water Parts 1 and 2

Andrew Ryan

how do you create a utopia? apparently it takes about six months and a lot of meetings, but it’s possible. some of my friends did it and it existed for one weekend down near nannup. the utopia happened before, in 2014 and 2013, and each time it was two and a half days where no-one got bombed, everyone washed themselves in the waters of the blackwood river under ‘the tree’ at spliffton, with music only for love and music’s sake, and hundreds of faces of hundreds of friends deep-smiling at you through the bush and across the big ditch of a dusty dance ground, nose getting full of black soot and spirit getting full of yellows and browns and greens of all nature and the clear idea that this is actually what life could be/is/was/will be.

well, we drove down for four hours, listening to mississippi records cds from jake from when we were true friends, and mixtapes from my old love with many tracks to jump over. a big fire had arced up over the country and we saw a tsunami, an actual tsunami of biggest smoke of all colours we’d ever seen, a big storm cloud coming, dark as doom to white grey of death bones, and then all the colours in between, oranges and reds covering and uncovering houses and weeping willows til i thought there was no way the whole world was not ending. the sky was black, fire orange, purple. we stopped and took photos on our phones at the edge of the world and i sent some to my love in france hoping for apocalyptical sympathy.

and then i was over again, we were through the smoke and fire and out the other side, and in fact later we learned from nick it was a ‘controlled burn’, but truly, i never saw a thing like it. the whole world up in orange, the whole sky turned to vapoured lava.

so anyway, next driving, with that memory behind, came the part that’s always the best, between balingup and nannup where hills come straight out of the ground all green with pines dotted across that has made me think the exact same thoughts each year. and sections where the road is all tree lined but the trees were there before the road and have the energy of their hundreds of years and the thousands and millions of years of the soil they draw from and the endless energy of the infinite waters they call into themselves and breathe back out again.

when we go through those trees i think already about all the people who’ll be on shrooms and ecstacies and mdmas and think how they’ll get to feel this thing that’s already there waiting for them, the shimmering of every leaf and every tree, the endless love that can flow from and to them from each face they see.

well, when you arrive it’s tent time, finding the perfect place, reacquainting with the river and beginning the stream of greetings that will last two and a half days and then into the community life that’s changed forever afterwards: nat, tera, joni, first three women to draw their smiles up and outwards, knowing special things about each to already feel thankful for…

kids already, tents already, food vans already, a newly flowered stage, CAMP DOOGS proclaimed in wood and fluouro tubing waiting to be lit, and vines and flowers wrapped all round it, and a million art pieces waiting to be lit or touched or listened to or moved across when everyone was finally in place for the weekend’s wanderings.

and so started the weekend of everyone choosing their own adventure, and everyone’s adventure mainly ending in something wonderful. mine took me back and forth from the stage, missing some of my favourite friends’ music and catching others but always moving with whatever felt like the persons or places to be at the time. missed hootenanny but took a special photo of hootenanny’s nan with her tiny child and bigger man behind her grinning face. saw methyl ethel, eyes open, eyes closed, some of the songs bringing me shivers, letting my mouth follow all the words to all the songs i already know and have deep down in me. missing mathas but smiling at him too each time we passed in the campsite, hiphop town boys under gum trees and beside only just waterproof tents. and big sounds from mutton and DEAD but i was in the zone of moving, swimming, tenting, watching boys jump from the highest branch over the river, taking photos of amber b and axel kissing with half their bodies in and half their bodies out of the water, ellen’s face lighting up and breaking into laughter at them hamming up the aquatic romance.

that first night i wore lipstick, ruby woo, big red, like essential tomato sauce on a hotdog. i was in the tent of ash baroque, drag queen, and his friend aaron, who became a friend too. the next night they’d both be in g-strings, spreading their cheeks toward amber bateup’s camera, ash whirlying his willy and little grey nuts and ginger hair across the stage and flying at me off the stage to dance me into the dirt. he took the fall though, flinging his white bodyback to the ground first to protect me from the impact. loren chastised him but he said “i protected her! i wouldn’t let amber be hurt!”

this is part of the freedom we were afforded, in this paradise made by the hands of friends – to be sexy one night, lipstick, lace, and the next day to walk along the forested dirt paths with dust encrusted bare feet, dirty tshirts, dirty shorts, sun-red noses. mei, finally making it to a doogs, and with her band it was the first moment of many to look out over a night-time crowd, CAMP DOOGS spelled now in pink light over us all, and see everyone together, dancing for the joy of pride of our place, time, sound, love. mmm.

i danced to brett murray djing and then wandered again with matt, him leaving me mid-d and m to make me go dance in the party van, and in comes laura, kucka, to get down lo together, gyrating and putting our hands to the ceiling which for once in this tiny club bus we could touch. and past deep doogs, which would go all night, all the next night, but which i’d pass by like a thousand other possible treats and conversations. but like i said, every adventure leads to wonder.

and so also with lipstick on we watched kirin callinan. i stood at the side with my friend shannon to bathe in kirin’s emanating heat and unbridled giving. when he sang the words “and god is in the water” it made my whole spirit shake at a fast and tiny pace, like it did when he played that same song at the Death of the Bakery(RIP). he asked if everyone knew donny benet and one boy did and started shaking visibly and so kirin got him up on stage. the boy kept shaking as kirin did perhaps a cover, and then called for all to come on the stage and so everyone rushed it, even shannon and i from the sides, til eventually kirin made us all hoist his glistening body upwards to the scaffolding of the tiny stage, and he hung on the railing posing for photos with the wild mess of people he’d created almost taking care where they were treading below and also spilling beers and happiness all over the stage.

i think i’d been dancing that night near little alby from shit narnia, in his long overalls, grinning like a country banshee, gentle and wild too, like almost everyone seemed to become. overflowing love, overflowing gentle spiritedness, overflowing baccanalian ecstacies where it’s all glow and glitter rather than vomit and tears.

there are always tears too. my friend told me about taking shrooms and crying for his mother, sick with dementia, and crying for feeling alone, even though his friends took care of him, whisking him kindly into some first aid arms til the shrooms were gone.

little rory too, shroomed or mdmaed or ecstacied, coming up and telling me his true feelings, his overwhelming love feelings of gratefulness, which made tears choke up into my own throat.

i felt toddy’s beating heart too, holding him close on saturday night as his body tried to work everything he’d poured inside it out without dying, the fastest beating heart, drooping eyes, words of affection and a body dripping into give-up.

…….but all the rest of that will come later, part II…..


well, that part one was way too fruity, so this time i’ll just do you the highlights.

nick odell of alzabo brought his children, and his children brought everyone joe. little cuddle-pie zen masters, being cool always as in, being in the moment always. me, nick allbrook, and tiny archer walked around the grounds like a little glowy family. archer fell asleep with his tiny arms around my neck. we walked to the river, sharing holding him and nick stripped into his little undies and i stripped to my little white undies and we took turns swimming and watching over the tiny sleepypie daytime child of archer. boys were jumping off the big branch again, this time i think leigh from flower drums did a back flip off it. what is it like to have a family? i don’t know. but having a 2 hour pretend family is just grand.

nick had arrived earlier. the odells picked him up. i was waiting for a hamburger but then i got the feeling in my spirit ‘nick is here’ so i left the little burger ticket with some friends and ran to where i thought in my spirit they would be and there was nick, all glowing and ready for a day of wandering round as a pretend family and later playing one song with me by the river for the bigboy river set and later again getting up on the shoulders of steve summerlin of alzabo and me up on the shoulders of will stoker of will stoker and the embers and the bachelorette and half dancing half shoulder ride wrestling and nick getting so turned up that he jumped on stage after ben protasiewicz of pat chow played such a beautiful set of songs with his lovely eyes darting round the people up in the deep energy-brewing van he was playing in, people watching from inside and people like us watching from outside up on shoulders or down on haystacks. yes, great songs just him and his eyes and the guitar and his beard being great. and after nick got up and sung one alain bashung song called ‘osez josephine’ on ben’s nice guy borrowed guitar.

anyway, back to the very morning i was sleeping alone in my tent. friday night had turned into saturday morning and i had turned into what i am, a woman alone in a tent with dirty and clean clothes and batteries and musical instruments and a toothbrush somewhere and a little light hanging from the top of the tent, all this in a tiny sea on top of a body and a doona and a sheepskin jacket as a pillow.

then outside the tent i heard “AMBER FRESH, where is amber fresh?” and it was my two adopted brothers, jacob and matthew aitken, who helped put the whole thing together, and big burly emlyn johnson of emlyn johnson and kirin callinan of kirin callinan all wide and fluffy eyed and talking like charred steaks around the camp fire. i crawled out and there was talk of the river, but instead we went and go coffees and kirin and i finally became friends because he wasn’t able to talk having got heavily on all the pills and powders offered in the evening, night, early morning (this is just hypothesis).

everyone was wandering round, some people would have seen leure and erasers and sui zhen and alzabo and injured ninja but i was wandering and swimming and having stephen bellair help set up some little amplifier on top of the big leg root of the big special tree down by the river. i was so tired and slept in my tent while kitchen people played, but from my tent i could hear how great they were. it was just the same as last year when big blondey dean’s other band hideous sun demon played. that year i was laying out flat in my tent too and hearing too how good they are, always good in tiny places but even better with big boy speakers and out in the woods with nothing stopping them from being 100% real. yes, i like them bands, and they like to play great music it seems. all that big bass coming all the way down the sandy paths through the trees and to my tent by the river.

outlordz i got to on time, and stayed long enough to see hamish throw a can that hurtle struck beautiful toby in the nose and cut him open, big drops of lovely bright blood jumping straight out of his face and hamish feeling sorry and toby feeling surprised to suddenly be opened in public like a can.

then i had to run to the river. people came and sat all around and i tried to wait for stephen bellair to arrive but then had to just start playing, the river flowing just like it had when emlyn played the year before and when peter bibby played the year before, and everyone listening like then too as i sung, for once with my eyes open, hoping to give something very good to people and sipping on vb and nick coming down to sing one song in the middle about his grandmother gone and underground at karrakatta cemetery. it felt very special in the way that it seems like a glowing dream, a sea of faces and a big tree under us all.

i went to see that tree on sunday morning. i had almost forgotten how good it was, even though it’s roots stretched all the way out across the weekend. when i looked at it, with the river behind and it stretching all the way above everything, it started sparkling again and giving power. all it takes is to be by that tree for a moment, free, and it talks to you in a way you didn’t realise was possible, like extra ears opening up inside your body for a new kind of music.

and, missed lots of the other bands, even dear catlips, beautiful katie campbell who i like to just smile at as well and hope she thinks nice things back. she had dancers, but i missed them. and tim richmond band with the boys in it who became friends but i got to see them five days later at mojos all great songs like melbourne without sadness, just the good bits and tim the singer teaching me how to make beef stroganoff just by explaining it. and superstar – missed. and scott and charlene’s weeding – just two minutes of seeing them to make me in love. strong songs, the blonde man real and sweating out reality and true words and everyone in the band rising up like an australian castle. and then grace barbe. oh grace barbe. the doogs people did the right thing, to give honor to Real Musicians and to have someone humble and a star and making the crowd actually do dance moves at the most special time of the night. we all danced a lot, during the bands, between the bands. when i wasn’t dancing it felt like “i can’t possibly dance another moment” and when i was dancing it felt like “i can’t do anything but dance every again”.

when no zu played i was by the side with dom from injured ninja and with chloe from true dreamz. we couldn’t help our bodies moving and didn’t want to. at one moment the beautiful boxer shorts singer with a face like george foster from moist oyster sung the words “one touch and i live forever” and the words actually shot through me like a true shooting star and my hands went straight up in the air as if i were on some great drugs that made my body move in shooting ways to music, and i looked and chloe’s arms had shot straight up in the air at the same time. my mind wasn’t strange with anything except the music and the moment, and it shot my arms up like that. woh. NO ZU everyone loved it.

well. i could tell you a terrific number of things more, but there’s a tiny taste, of one person’s choose your own adventure of doogs. if you don’t like it, you can spit it out. if you do like it, you can take it to the river and make a little sail for it and send it out across the water and see if it comes back next year.

photo Aliza Caruso

A Lasting Tinder Date and CellF, from Reabold Hill

Andrew Ryan

Amber walked up Reabold Hill to see the city and listen to birds. On that highest point of the Swan Coastal Plain in the metropolitan area she reflected on David Craft’s video single launch, a Tinder romance that lasted, and Guy Ben-Ary’s recent CellF project through Symbiotica, where he grew an ‘external brain’ and taught it to play modular analogue synthesisers, culminating in a improvisation with jazz drummer Darren Moore at the Nedlands Masonic Hall.

You can listen to her review here.

Amber in Paris #5 Tame Impala at Rock en Seine, Paris 30 August 2015

Andrew Ryan

Pretty much every morning I wake up with songs of one of my friends or acquaintances in my head. At the moment it’s the last 135 seconds of “Let It Happen” by Tame Impala, or, as it’s affectionately known in my mind “Let It Happon.”

I got to see this song played to a billion people in Paris on the weekend. Like, to a sea of people. I tried to get them all into my eyesight at one time but it was impossible. A sea of people all loving the same music. This was the thing that was beautiful about it. Friends’ faces a billion metres high projected beside tiny normal them, hair bouncing, playing these special creations to a whole sea of humans.

While they played we stood in a little loose group, Nick, Ash, Anne, Julie, dancing, grinning at one another. But yeah, the biggest thing was that – that these songs are inside so many people now, right inside, and watching them pour the songs out over this sea was what my mind called over and over ‘The Biggest Treat.’ After dancing the normal way for a while, except always with my hands in front of me in the air, I closed my eyes for a very long time. The new songs – I didn’t understand them the first times I listened… ‘What is Kevin doing!?’ I asked myself – and then after one moment, a simultaneous moment with another friend who was on the other side of the country in Australia, I understood them. We wrote to each other on Facebook, like ‘Ooohhhh, now I get it!’ Suddenly it just happoned.

So yeah, I closed my eyes and put my hands out in front and felt the gathering into my hands of all the good feeling of this whole sea of people. I wondered if we were glowing, the sea and my hands; and then I put my hands down into the waters of the Seine – it was a long way away but with my eyes closed it was right there in front of me – and I shot the good feelings out of the ends of my fingers into the waters, pouring healing into the river that makes its way continually through the whole city.

There’s a story in the bible about some river where people go to go put their bodies in and get healed. There’s enough bad things in the world that something like that could possibly spontaneously happen, a river turning into a river of healing and everyone takes their heartbreak and depression and war to dip in it and be fixed. So, while Tame played that’s what I was doing, making the river with every good feeling around. And then the sun went down slowly over the top of us, and Nick and me had many hugs which meant ‘We’re so happy our friends are so amazing,’ and also meant the joy of being with these tens of thousands of people who had the same tastes some amazing how.

Out the back Nick tried to explain in hilariously great beginners French to a French boy how AFL works, our version of football, and I laughed when we were making crude semen jokes and a French person joined in the conversation and within two minutes it had traversed to Molière and how French and English and German diverged as languages and how much of a role various playwrights had in this process.

~ ~ ~

The next day Jodie said to come to a place called La Géode, so my temporary sweetheart took me there on the tram and left me in sight of the big silver ball (×1200.jpg). I didn’t know what was going to be happoning, but I took a few steps after the goodbye kiss and then heard those magical songs again. Down below all tiny and sweating in the sun were the boys, I waved and the security man let me in. They were filming for Blogothèque, a French website. Kevin had apparently chosen this massive beautiful landmark to film in front of, and again as the clouds and the sun moved over the sky, the ball lit itself and the boys up in beautiful ways, the water of the moat below playing its own frequencies and making a million waves of glowing light, and it was exactly the cover of the album as well.

They played the songs over and over, and I talked to Jodie about album business and love and I almost broke a coffee machine, and sweated with all the other hangers-on. The boys were listening back, Cam folding and stuffing as much pizza as possible into his body, and Dom said to me ‘Aren’t you getting sick of hearing the same songs over and over again?’ But I told him the truth that I hadn’t realised til then: that these songs are like a place you can stay for a very very long time, and perhaps that’s why they’re special for a whole sea of people all across the silver globe. Like, right now, I’ve been listening for an hour to those 135 seconds of the end of Let it Happen over and over, and I’ll be fine for another hour still. I said to Dom that it’s like how you never get sick of looking at the clouds, right? And, yeah, that’s the way I feel.

Nick had brought me Vegemite and gave it to me, the boys kept sweating and recording til the power died, and Ringham and Joe and I played the game where you make a circle with your thumb and forefinger on your own body and if the other person looks in it and doesn’t stick their finger in it you get to punch them pretty hard on the arm or the chest. It’s not Molière, but it’s a pretty fucking great game. Dom gave me sunglasses that some shop had given the boys, new beautiful sunglasses like the quality of things I never have because I never buy anything and am not a rockstar. My hands and heart were full. Cam and I made a deal that he’d also get me sunglasses, we spit in our hands and I made him eat it after. So gross. But we are Australians. And Gum was getting deep into Instagram and we tried to convince him Peter Cole is the person to follow if he only wants to follow one person in the Instagram world, as he started unfollowing people and then had to unfollow everyone else to not offend anyone, golden boy that he is.

Anyway, all of this to say, Tame Impala at Rock En Seine were a thing to behold, tiny and enormous, and all the more tiny and enormous as we caught the train home and heard French people discussing the songs, humming them, glowing a little bit in their faces from having seen something they’d been waiting for, dipping their bodies into it, coming out a little bit better for it, some magical how.

Poststructural Exorcism/ Jatz and Chillblanes. Up Close and Perthonal with Jake Webb, Methyl Ethel

Andrew Ryan

OPTIONAL PREFACE TO INTERVIEW – fifty shades of physio.

it’s been a great day already… abc radio in the car on the way to the physio, beautiful physio putting needles in my back, his elbow into my back, strapping a mystery square of tape across my shoulders and body, me thinking ‘stereo tape delay’ as i felt it pulling against my skin, big thick heat pads on my back, looking at his shoes, his soft voice, him revealing his body’s in trouble too… then going to matt’s and him showing the ‘eggopoly’ pieces he’s been making out of fimo [perth/egg-themed monopoly sets, handmade], explaining how in the game if you buy enough street food vans you can then buy a street festival, etc. cooking up fruit toast from the soup kitchen for breakfast, coffee from matt, giggling, spinning my shirt round my head while showing the physio taped wings across the body… then the big drive back to freo, hearing the voice of The Big say ‘stop the car NOW, john’s gonna be there, round the corner, go see him’.

john was there, he lives on the street, nick copied a bunch of albums onto my computer at john’s request so i can put them on his ipod – “‘another brick in the wall’, you know who that is?” john asked me, “pink floyd”, i said, “yes! bizo music, that’s what i need.” john said etc. so i have pink floyd for him, and some arthur russell etc. we’re meeting tomorrow to make the exchange.


and now, we present to you an interview with jake webb, singer, guitarist, creator of methyl ethel. top memories of jake – 1. sitting under big mulberry trees in bayswater, alongside a stream and weeping willows in this secret green wonderland you have to jump big fences to get to, talking about how good camp doogs was, drawing with mulberries and grass on the pages of the diary. 2. playing at doogs together, him me and sam, planning the show down by the blackwood river before we played, sitting in a little triangle in the long grasses of the riverbank, planning without instruments because that’s the best way. 3. driving with jake out to the pinnacles, white salt and sand rises growing out of the desert landscapes on the way, the heat nearly sucking all life from one’s body out among the ancient yellow pinnacle phalanges, all their sandy veins in delicate ancient impermanency, lasting forever.

anyway. jake made a great album more or less recently, as was always going to happen. his two eps as methyl ethel before were beautiful – not as beautiful as him singing the songs in front of you in a warm dim loungeroom, coloured paper lights and orange heater making it all perfect – but, beautiful. they get played more than anything else in my car, to and from everywhere, i sing along when i’m alone. nick and i listened to ‘oh inhuman spectacle’ all the way through together in that kind of silence that a true thing of beauty can create, just breaking the quiet once in a while only to say how good it was, etc. etc. anyway, whatever, here is an interview, conducted on the slate of chris wright (methyl ethel drummer)‘s studio room. thom, methyl ethel bass player, and i made up a game a few weeks ago where one person draws some ‘thing’ some small thing that’s not meant to be anything in particular, and the other person has to come up with five things it might be… “it’s the beak of a bird, piercing water”, “it’s a heart on a string” “it’s a shakespearean fence separating lovers” etc. then you make up a system to order the answers and ask the person to pick a number between 1 and 5, and whichever answer your system means it lands on, that’s what you owe them. [i just wanted to mention the other players in the band, done.]

so yeah, here’s jake webb, of methyl ethel, talking about some of his feelings, french deconstructionist/poststructuralist theory, storm troopers walking long distances, jatz crackers etc, sitting on the slate floor in the dark with yours truly.

~the sound of two people taking thin slices of cheese, jatz crackers, and their own bodies into a small dark studio room ~

amber dictates to her iphone: “we’re in chris wright’s room. jake just went to put on his dressing gown.”

jake: coughs sorry i was cough cough i have very bad cat allergies apparently. so my bronchioles, broncosauruses are swollen, so i may cough throughout.

amber: that’s alright, it’s gonna be typed up, and i know how to spell ‘cough.’

j + a: ~ brief talk of asthma puffers, steroids. cheese and crackers, cupie mayonnaise etc ~

j: yesterday i had cupie mayonnaise on jatz.

a: that’s pretty disgusting.

j: give that a try, maybe some peanut butter on jatz…

a: that’s not crazy. just mayonnaise though, that’s crazy.

j: what can i say, i like condiments.

j + a: ~ crunching sounds

a: um. what shall i ask you about?

j: i dunno, that’s your job.

a: what are you reading at the moment?

j: kim gordon’s book.

a: oh yeah, what’s it like.

j: it’s good.

a: oh yeah. what’s it about?

j: kim gordon.

a: REALLY, what’s it about?

j: it’s about her life. you know who she is, right?

a: yeah.

j: well, yeah, it’s just about her. [this is the sound of an interview not going well up to this point, just wait though, he’ll warm up]

i’ve done that thing again where i’ve just read four or five chapters of a lot of books and stopped. i’m also reading the three stigmata of palmer eldridge by pkd [Phillip K Dick]
which is really good but i’ve just stopped again, you know?

a: ok so… the songs on your album. um. what are they about? [both laughing]

j: [laughs more at shit question] hmm. heaps of different things.

a: are there any books in any of them?

j: yeah, i guess so.

a: what books?

j: there’s a reference to nietzsche in a song, slightly.

a: like to an idea of his, or a specific …?

j: the title, but also to the whole book itself.

a: what is ‘oh inhuman spectacle’?

j: it’s a – this won’t surprise you at all amber – but it’s from a lecture on derrida.

a: yeah, by who?

j: i can’t remember what his name was. he was talking about… … it was either derrida or baudrillard… it was probably baudrillard cos i think it was a reference to reality television. he called it the great inhuman spectacle. because it’s supposed to be a direct representation of life but it’s kind of completely the opposite.

a: hm

j: so, i guess as far as the whole album goes, it’s like… the side of your life that’s not private. that you live, kind of before everybody else. how your business just happens to be everybody’s business. so, it’s funny when people ask me what the songs are about directly… i mean, a lot of what i talk about in the album is how i don’t like to talk about what is my own private business, because it’s not for anybody else, it’s for me to know.

a: yeah… i know you’re quite private, but is that something you feel like is a good thing? or do you want to be more open to people?

j: i’m getting better, but… i don’t think it’s a good thing. i think it probably does more damage than it does good. but i’m getting better… at it. [being more open]

a: how come?

j: how am i getting better?

a: how has that happened?

j: instead of assuming that people are thinking things, i’m just going to them and saying ‘hey look, what’s going on, what’s happening?’ you know ‘this is what i think, is this right?’ generally i’m wrong, and it fixes things. who would have thought?! who would have thought that talking about stuff can generally heal things.

a: me

j: [both laughing] i’m learning. but…

a: what did that lecture have to do with nietzsche? or is that a separate topic

j: it wasn’t nietzsche, it was derrida and baudrillard. he was just explaining their theories. don’t ask me to explain them. i feel like i’ve got a rudimentary grasp on it all…

a: my brain’s not good for philosophy. i feel like that’s a ridiculous thing to say, but it’s true.
… you know ella harwood who did that picture of your face, do you still talk to her sometimes? [ella is a teenager in england who drew this beautiful and melancholy portrait jake used to use as his band photo]
j: no, i don’t.

a: how come?

j: well, i’m lucky if i even talk to my own sister.

a: oh ok.

j: you know, i’m not a very good communicator.

a: ohh yeah! [both laughing, this is true]

j: it sounds a bit strange – but i do think about her often, just in a … i feel like i want to do something nice for her.

a: maybe we should go and visit her one day.

j: she’s a supremely talented young girl.

a: yep. what was it about her art that you liked?

j: i dunno. nothing specific.

a: was that a dumb question.

j: yeah.

a: so is ‘what are your songs about’, but that’s ok.

j: she drew those crayon drawings of herself. self-portraits… jean cocteau did these single line drawings, a whole range of them, and i loved them so much. there’s actually a guy who sells them online and i contacted him once asking him how much they were. and they were very expensive as you could assume. however, i love those.

a: you would have to sell a lot of lemonade at your lemonade stand. do you look at art every day? i mean – obviously we don’t have a million spectacular galleries here – but do you go searching down different rabbit holes of art on the interwebs? or not really, you just have people who you love already…?

j: i do, yeah. everyday. i always feel like i’m searching for new things. it all seems… … one reason i don’t really like talking about things is because it’s nice having my thoughts up in my head and as soon as i put them into words i automatically start to hate them. i put it into words and i think ‘oh… i don’t like the way that sounds!’

the word ‘inspiration’, i don’t like it. because it seems like when you say ‘i’m always looking for inspiration’ it’s like inspiration is something you can just pick off a tree. or it’s like filling up your purse full of…

a: raspberries?

j: [chuckles] yeah.

a: i wasn’t thinking about art as in for inspiration, just for like, pleasure, looking up artists… um… when you are singing, do you feel free, then? like is any of it about expressing things that wouldn’t be expressed otherwise? or not?

j: yep, you got it.

a: well, i feel that way. you know, i say things in songs that i, to certain people, wouldn’t say.

j: yep. it’s all that. which is a bit unfair.

a: why?

j: because… if it is instead of having a conversation with someone, i would put it into a song, and i get a release from it, every time, it’s like a catharsis for me but it’s not for anybody else. and it’s only recently that i’ve realised that… there are things locked in those songs that every time i play them … it’s another exorcism you know? or that i play those songs sometimes and i have to put things out of my mind otherwise it’s just too much.

it doesn’t seem real, to talk about it. it seems like ‘oh that’s too romanticised’, but it’s the truth. it can be pretty difficult. and i know that for you it’s a … it’s completely [laughing]… it’s even more so.

a: hm. do you ever feel like your songs get reinterpreted back to you in a different way when you’re playing them? you know, that like you write it about one thing but then you find more things that it’s about that you didn’t know?

j: yeah.

a: hm

j: but also, i feel like a lot of them are just for me they’re stuck in the moment of when they came into existence, which is nice.

a: it is nice.

j: and i’ve got that for the rest of my life. i feel like the reinterpretation, the reinterpretation of the songs is the majority of the reason why i like to make music. for people to interpret things themselves.

a: you know how me and nathalie and caitlyn used to play with you, and then we didn’t anymore.

j: mm hmm…

a: how did that happen?

j: i guess, out of necessity.

a: i mean, how did you decide for that to happen?

j: it was as simple as nathalie and caitlyn, supremely talented musicians, much as yourself, had other commitments. and so, yourself as well, being a committed person… and sam went trekking..

a: but why have you decided to go for three instead of bigger?

j: it’s cheaper to travel with.

it’s cheaper and streamline. i mean, not to say that you guys aren’t all my close, good friends…

a: well, i can hardly even play guitar.

j: neither can we! it’s never been about playing ability. it’s been about being able to enjoy each other’s company. yeah, that’s the priority.

a: did thom and chris play on the album at all, or what it all your own…

j: thom played organ in a song and chris did some percussion.

a: but you did the rest of the drums?

j: mmhm.

a: mm… mmm

j: was that sounding like a ‘mmm i thought so, i would have done some things differently’? [laughing]

a: as if! was there any point at which you realised you had a special singing voice?

j: no. [pause] i don’t really like my voice.

a: awww. well everyone else does! really!? do you not like it at all? or you just don’t like when it’s so special?

j: what i like about it is that it is versatile. and that… i’m not constrained by gender in my voice. that’s what i like about it, that i can hear other people in it.

a: you mean just in your range, or in other parts.

j: i guess other parts.

a: what else, apart from range, do you mean you’re not constricted by the gendered voice in?

j: i’m lucky that i can sing the melodies that i want for the songs.

a: yeah, that’s so cool!

j: i feel very lucky about that. and i guess i write everything from my being able to sing it, you know. i’m super lucky i can sing all the harmonies… that’s the easy part.

a: that’s so cool. i often think about – like i imagine – being able to sing the notes that i could imagine, but then i’m like, ‘well, other people have that as their gift to everyone else.’ you, my friend sheryn. you know sheryn who used to sing with me sometimes? i might have played you her music… anyway

j: oh, yes! you have played me her music. it was…

a: like, nice pop music.

j: yeah, you played it for me in your car once driving somewhere.

a: yeah, she made one album, and she sold heaps of copies.

j: and she has a baby?

a: yeah, she has a baby.

j: and she just has a baby she doesn’t

j + a: do music anymore!

a: yeah, and many people were contacting her about making it big because she could have. [end of segue about people who can sing all the notes they can imagine]

so… what don’t you like about your voice.

j: i don’t like me in it. that’s what i don’t like. it’s like when you become aware of yourself speaking, it’s that feeling.

a: so. is there some other place in life where you don’t feel… like when you’re playing shows or whatever, well, you might be looking at what you’re doing but you’re still free, of that ~thing~… are there any other outlets that are in that way where you just feel free, or places in life where you just feel free to let yourself –

j: walking. walking long distances. going running somewhere. running around lake monger or something. there’s something about walking isn’t there.

a: yep.

j: seriously, that’s it. i guess if anyone ever wanted to know how it was to play music, they’re very similar aren’t they.

a: yep.

j: i was thinking about this yesterday as well.

a: yeah?

j: and i guess because it’s the one thing that every body, well, pretty much every body has experienced, when you’re a kid it’s like your first independence. first part of independence. i remember walking down to point walter as a kid from my house, a fourty five minute walk, and people would think you were crazy. but i loved it. where you have your cd walkman or tape cassette walkman which runs out of batteries half way through the walk, yeah, i dunno, i love it.

do you remember when i got on that big – i walked to fremantle and back –

a: yeah, i remember.

j: that’s right, we walked –

a: you walked to my house [20ks or something]

j: yeah, that’s freedom. for a couple of hours or something.

a: what were you thinking about yesterday, to do with walking?

j: this whole conversation. that anecdote about as a kid. it’s the great centering act.

a: nick said he’s going to walk the bibblemun after tour. in kung fu shoes [laughing]

j: alone?

a: yeah, of course alone.

j: of course. i was thinking how long it would take to walk to mandurah. probably a long time.

a: i feel like we’ve talked about that before.

j: my mind tells me that you can just walk the greatest distances.

a: yeah.

j: did you read actually in the news, that a guy in america, a stormtrooper in america, walked 800 kilometres –

a: a storm trooper, off starwars?

j: yeah, to comicon.

a: oh! you DO mean a stormtrooper.

j: yeah, a stormtrooper

a: walked how many?

j: 800 kilometres. in memorial of his wife, he walked to comicon. 800 kilometres.

a: ohh that’s beautiful.

j: that’s a long way to walk in a storm trooper suit.

a: yep.

j: so there you go. great things are possible, if you believe in the force.

a: it’s true. oh yeah, so what are your current thoughts on –

j: the force?

a: yeah, the force. the big.

j: the big release.


j: i dunno if this is an analogy or if you’re actually talking about star wars…

a: i’m actually talking about the universe. so yeah, i guess star wars in a way. like, you know, the bigger things.

j + a together: uuummmmm [laughing]

a: nah, you know like, have you had any special, like –

j: you know what. you once said to me something that i repeat very often.

a: hmm?

j: that sometimes, on a clear day, heavenly bodies appear in the sky.

a: [giggling]

j: and i say it often, and i look often.

a: hmm.

j: hmm.

a: hmm. alright.

j: and take from that what you will. i feel like we approach that same that exact same thing from different angles. but it’s the same angle.

i want to stand on that moon and look back at earth.

a: well… you can.

j: i know.

a: that’s within the – you know – human experience is within that circumference.

j: i do feel like one day, that will be very possible. what a view. have you seen pluto?

a: oh you mean, how the stars are at the moment?

j: no, the pictures…. well, last night, yeah venus and jupiter are [the stars are being very intense at the moment, lined up in a special way… but this is not what jake was trying to tell me]

a: and who’s the orange one to their right? cos they’re being so intense with one another.

j: so the bright one is venus. the one below is jupiter.

a: and you don’t know who’s to the right?

j: no.

a: i’ll put ‘bracket’s ed dot’ and the planet. [ed. didn’t find out yet] um but with pluto, is the planet/not planet thing happening again?

j: no i think there was a ship –

a: new photos of it?

j: the first photos, ever.

a: really!?

j: yeah, we’ve never really seen it before. anyway.


a: but if you were asking me if i’d like to see earth.

j: ohhh my ass. put that in [more squealing]

a: what have you got a spasm or some shit?

j: i’ve just got, my ass has gone to sleep!

a: you gotta pummel it.

J: pummel it? [pummelling noises]

a: when i told jamie the name of a particular song, dr. honey’s whistle yesterday, he laughed so heartily.

j: oh did he. [whistling]. dr. honey’s [weeheww]

a: yeah i would prefer to just see everyone on earth be able to freely walk as far a distance as they like unmolested, than to see earth from the moon, you know?

j: yeah.

a: it’s not one of my desires.

j: that’s fair enough.

a: but i’m happy that it’s someone else’s desire, same as i’m happy that you can sing all the notes.

j: it’s not that i want to conquer the moon –

a: yeah.

j: [oooh] it’s just, hmm.

a: what is it?

j: you know – it’s like when you look at a view… and you sort of think ‘i want to look back here from there’?

a: hmm.

j: it’s kind of like the greatest example of that.

a: like, if where you are for music is earth, and the moon is you know, a far off destination, what is that moon? … that would be crazy to reach but you could reach it.

j: ok so, i think all it is is a just point of perspective to be able to look back… and… see the distance that you’ve travelled. and be able to have to perspective to say ‘wow, i’ve come a long way to be able to look back from here.’ and whatever happened to get here… … i guess to be able to just say, that the view’s pretty good.

[both giggling]

a: do you want some jatz with that cheese?

[more giggling]

j: or maybe get there and sort of be like ‘oh… it looks better in the pictures’.

a: it’s just the same, one’s blue and one’s white.

j: yeah [laughing]

a: cool. got any shout outs? shout outs to your crew?

j: nah. oh i guess we’re sitting in chris’s office. my first – when i was born i grew up in a house with slate.

a: yep.

j: and to the slate i have returned. i’m quite fond of slate. although my grandma used to say ‘don’t sit on the slate or you’ll get chillblanes. and i never knew – what are chillblanes?

a: it’s sort of like a soft version of frostbite, where your body’s permanently affected by the cold.

j: well, you know what grandma, i’m sitting on the slate, and i ain’t got no chillblanes!

a: cough.

If On a Winter's Night a Traveller Gives You a Book List

Andrew Ryan

i’m very love sick. it hits me at 4 in the afternoon, sometimes earlier. i wade my way through it til sunset and then i pop out the other end. after that i can cook, think about the future, do soup kitchen, luxuriate in the shower. before that, i’m a mess. him him him, my mind hums. him him him.

last night at soup kitchen one of the men started talking to me about nabokov. i don’t know how we got there, but we got there. “the problem with nabokov,” he said, “is once you start reading him you can’t stop.” once i start anything i can’t stop. except yoga, and quitting smoking, and swimming and learning swedish and all the rest. “is it such a problem, to not be able to stop?” i asked. “56 novels, yeah it’s a problem.”

anyway, the guy made me a list of books to read in his lovely curly font, curly like all the tattoos up his neck and onto his face and the big glossy spacers in his ear lobes and his manner to me, all curly, all lovely. all the young guys were at one table last night, giggling, asking for toasties and teas and ice cream and giving me and each other funny looks. curly cheekily threatened to not finish his sentences if i stopped his flow again by getting up to get something for someone. i like all these men. i don’t know if they’re dealing drugs under the table (‘junky’ by burroughs just put fresh ideas of what happens outside my vision into my head) and laughing when i walk away, but i’m pretty sure what’s happening is just that week by week we’re becoming friends.

these are the books curly told me to read. i’m going to read them in order, except nabokov who i’ve given up on already. maybe we can have a bookclub except we never talk about any of the books or know who’s read what. (like moss growing in iceland. it’s probably happening and that’s a nice thing, but you can’t know for sure):
“desperation” – nabokov
“boredom” – alberto moravia
“contempt” – albert moravia
“if on a winter’s night a traveller” – italo calvino
“the island of the day before” – umberto eco
“white noise” – don dellilo
“satanic verses” – salman rushdie

nick allbrook gave me ‘if on a winter’s night a traveller’, which is convenient because i’d like to tell you about a show he played at. similarly convenient is the fact that louis, a guy who played in the ‘darling rangers’ who i’d also like to tell you about just walked by where i’m sitting, and we shook hands and met for the first time, him wearing a wonderful woollen jumper from someone, me wearing a wonderful woollen jumper from, well, nick.

i started ‘if on a winter’s night a traveller’ many times, maybe even on my way to france, but never finished it. but like moss i’m going to persevere.

nicholas allbrook gave me ‘if on a winter’s night a traveller’, which is convenient because i’d like to tell you about a show he played at. similarly convenient is the fact that lewis, a guy who played in the ‘darling rangers’ who i’d also like to tell you about just walked by where i’m sitting, and we shook hands and met for the first time, him wearing a wonderful woollen jumper from someone, me wearing a wonderful woollen jumper from, well, nick.

i started ‘if on a winter’s night a traveller’ many times, maybe even on my way to france, but never finished it. but like moss i’m going to persevere.

so those two and a bunch of others played on friday at the oddfellow. the oddfellow is down some stairs and into a wide limestone and wood cave, carved out by men maybe even pre-hi-viz. i went down there and sat with nick, him in a great outfit of big dark blue overalls and a black long-sleeved shirt. clothes don’t really matter but if you’ve got food and freedom it’s nice to look around and see people wearing the exact outfit you’d also like to be wearing – this is what happened in this case – or an outfit that brings your eyeballs pleasure, like stephen bellair in sportswear with two cute buns for his hair to nestle in.

anyway, we talked about france and all the other things, and lovely andrew campbell, smelling like a man and with a secret look that says “all pleasures belong to me” came and sat with us too. i was looking round the room trying to see all the men from darling rangers – i’d been waiting to see them play, and almost seen them a bunch of times, but always left whatever place it was too soon. drage, one of the kings of songs here in perth, and strawberry pete gower, who i’ve told you about before, everyone acknowledging his talent and waiting for him to either self-destruct or play a million great guitar songs on their backporch til 5 in the morning, were both maybe late for their own show, but in a way that’s all part of the show.

so then it happened, they all were there and started it up, straight into drage pouring his organs through the sound of his voice and wild in the eyes, and redhead felix who gives me free icecreams sometimes at the movies being perfect on the drums, and ash who is the groomed lynchpin of the ungroomed, grimey 208s, home to the darkest, heaviest shows we get even when the music isn’t that dark or heavy, where drage sleeps under the staircase, and their great bassplayer with his elbows up high, and lewis, the best person to watch going nuts on his keyboard. all their friends were watching and also a few little scatterings of marines who were all in town to eat kebabs and look at women’s asses in between playing cards on the ship and learning to kill things. poor guys. i felt happy for the ones down there, seeing drage sweating away at a similarly bizarre game, violent in its own way but violent for creation rather than destruction.

in between sets i was up the stairs outside on the pavement, watching marines flow by. nick sung me ‘war pigs’ because i couldn’t remember how it all went, which he was going to cover in his set, and i laughed as he sang and remembered being 14 listening to that song and holding hands with my friend’s cousin very softly and surely, me on a couch, him laying next to the couch, with black sabbath on tape and surfing stories as the backdrop to a non-fatal holiday crush.

that holiday we all floated in a fat black tyre tube out across the deep waters of king george sound, all the way from bombie rock to goode beach, me seeing sharks everywhere in all the weedy shadows, and the boys pushing us off at intervals into the water, everyone tight in their wetsuits and loose in pleasure, all the days stretching out before us to be filled with weed and black sabbath tapes and that big ocean, salty frozen hands and faces getting warmed back up again in front of fires on the couches and carpets of someone’s grandparents’ house.

so yeah, then hamjam played and nick played, great as every time i’ve written about them. i went off walking in between, feeling lonely but still happy, joe and ben arriving at the right time to buoy me, and stephen bellair giving me a hug at the right time to buoy me, and i didn’t watch hideous sun demon even though it was their special show, but whatever they did couldn’t have made me love them more than i already do (lots). but dean, singer, feature-film star in the waiting, poured cool, gentle water during the week over an internet drama involving some raging family, hurt at life and at the fact their son/brother got beaten in a band competition, and that made me love him more. cool water to let them fizz away their anger and get back to loving their family’s music, to the exclusion of all others.

so there you go. time to read.

Microbial Universe and a little Tired Lion at the White Star

Andrew Ryan

Whenever I go away, I never go to see music. See, when I’m away, down the south way, I drive for five hours straight into this womb. It’s a womb made of cute parents, heaps of granite, cold blue-green water flecked with seaweed and moonlight diamantes, If You Are the One episodes, and a bed that lies on top of suitcases full of love letters.

By the way, something happens between when we are an embryo and when we shoot out of the womb, (a lady squeezing the hand of her friend and screaming swear words with sweat all on her brow and wearing a big rainbow coloured poncho even though the nurses tried to get her into white scrubs too, as the exit strategy), wherein we are “seeded” with a whole heap of microbes that stay with us for our entire life. My friend, a hot partly red-headed doctor with a well-cut fringe, told me over breakfast. I’d slept on her and her boyfriend’s couch, and soon I’m going to room-share with their housemate. Me and the housemate talked about having bunk beds, and about making a movie with him (from Methyl Ethel), Drage (from Drage and Darling Rangers), Jake Suriano (from Hideous Sun Demon and Kitchen People) and Lochlan Gibbons (from being a DJ). All the hot tall boys in the city with striking faces. Me and the housemate talked about that tall boy movie, but me and the doctor talked about microbes.

So, we get this universe of micro-organism planted into us. My friend’s finding out the source – the lady’s vagina? The lady’s butt? The lady’s gut? Some alien implantation. In three years when she gets the answer I’ll pass it straight on.

So yeah, usually down south I don’t go to shows. I’m in that womb, seeding myself on the past in my childhood bedroom, with the bed-on-suitcase scenario.

But this time I sent my friend Amber (yeah, same name) a message to say “Want to go to the Earl?” So we went to the Earl of Spencer (corner of Earl and Spencer streets of course) and drank some wine and listened to her friends complain a little bit about Bali. Amongst the conversation pieces she said “If you feel like you should do something about something, then you should listen to that voice and not silence it.” This was her summary of her and the friends talking about Bali and poverty and everything else, and it made me very very proud that we are highschool friends She’s seeded three babies with microbes for their life, she started young, as a teenager, one of my favourite teenage mums.

So then we went down from the Earl of Spencer, old Albany pub with nice lighting and leftovers of people’s pies dying slowly again on their plates, a real fire in the fireplace, people talking about their coastal town real jobs and swilling red wine and beer, to a babies’ pub, the White Star. Amber works at the drug rehab place in the town and I could see her recognise and not acknowledge people who come in to get help, protecting them by looking out across the room and not stopping her gaze for more than the tiniest moment. She knows how to protect people and how to seed them, as I told you.

Well, yes we were at the White Star. What a name for this bright beacon of just drinking and some music. It’s brighter than it would be in the city. The music made my ears bleed a little bit inside, all the interior universe running away from the sound. A local band played first, earnest, with their own neon sign of their band name chewing up power on the stage as they played. The music was not good for my taste, but they were still beautiful, sweating away, so many cables, so many pedals, their own mixing desk. Too much, but I still watched the bass player with a happy feeling in my body, swinging his glittery green bass around and jumping in time to the lead singer. I wondered if they played in church as well, with all the jumping and all the enthusiasm. If they sang with their own accents I could have loved it too.

And then the PERTH band, all the way from PERTH were almost ready to play, Tired Lion. I was a tired lion (oh shit, they probably have that said by people all the time), but I was very much wanting to see some songs, we were bored in the White Star and it was all too too loud even in between, but I wanted to see what would come out of the body and mouth of the beautiful singer, swinging her own interiorly glittery self through the room, humour and disdain all mixed together it seemed to me from her spirit. When they played what came out was beauty and glitter too, her beautiful voice strong and grungely and clear and wiping lipstick accidentally over the microphone and back over her face, her hair going all ways, she acting and being like someone where people look and know “She’s a star”. But then mainly I listened to the guitarist. So measured and true to what was needed. It was like other music, so I couldn’t float into it and away, but it was a powerful, skilled version of the things it was like. The other Amber loved it too.

Well eventually I had to get back to the womb. Climbed up on the suitcases and put the covers over my head because it was actually the Winter Solstice or one day off, and talked on facebook into the night to my friend Ben about poetry and video clips and family matters and all the other things. And then floated out into sleep. Me, my microbes, the image of the Tired Lion girl’s face all strong and pure, the image of my friend Amber’s measured summary of all of life, the forever thankfulness for warm things and knowing up in the city there’s a couple hundred interconnected friends, microcosm, all making things, loving each other, symbiotically growing some good, real thing, even if it’s just for a little while.

Dimly Lit is Still Lit

Andrew Ryan

i call you by a secret name
this is my only secret
i see you every night in every dream
it’s the only thing i talk about

when we are high up there
above everyone
with everything
all forms are one
and sense belongs to us

there’s no jealousy
all the light comes
all the way through

and we are free


this is the way i’ve chosen to describe my love. it’s a music review. when someone says “i don’t listen to music much”, i listen to the sound of their voice. it’s my brother’s voice, and everyone’s my brother.

sometimes i get really really really sad, like all my friends do. mei was playing in a yurt built by our friend who has cancer and heaps of tears poured down my face. as i went to my seat i stood on the guy behind me’s ankle. i cried about that. i cried about our friend with cancer. i cried about how good mei’s music is. i cried about all the people who are not free. i cried about my perpetually brokeback heart.

the yurt was dark inside. it was a saturday night, after dinner, after playing new recordings to my friends with my face in my legs on the floor, their thoughts about it flying all around on top of my own thoughts. after seeing ben witt play at the bird. after seeing hayley playing in the cafe. after playing in the cafe. every night there’s many shows in this city, all friends, all astounding. every night birds wing over head playing too. every night i dream of the same thing. but dreams and wishes are different.

hayley is very very strong. it was right to see her in a room – a cafe – where everyone’s eyes were trained on her. her voice is a gift to all of us, and her songs are a gift too, one she’s crafted with care from trouble and heartbreak and strength. when she plays i send prayers to her body to make it stronger, and her voice and guitar playing send prayers into me to make me understand the earth better. when she plays people hear the beauty of her voice and travel on it through her words into the brief feelings and scenes the words are conjuring – i’m pretty sure. she sung ‘donna donna’, a song from the fourties about a calf being lead to slaughter and at this moment these worlds combined: fragility, strength, purity, blood. in the moment it was about being a woman, being breakable, being gentle, beauty and sadness. anyway… there were all sorts of people there who belong together in art and music, and that’s what every afternoon and evening in the city is like. lyndon blue was there, hero of our town, among those i get shy in front of even though they are friends, quietly taking it all in while i wondered how he was experiencing this moment. lyndon, how were you experiencing it?

well, i’d like someone to write to me and tell me how they experience music when it’s at its biggest. when ben witt played at the bird the same night, i couldn’t understand afterwards how people could go back to their same conversations when it ended. had they felt what i had felt? had they really heard what he’d done? his new songs are more and more intricate, and his live solo performances more and more 3D with sounds filling a bigger space than the room itself – way, way out into the world. intricacies, man-made, arpeggiated, intertwined, trifles and decade-saved heirlooms tucked preciously in various pockets of soundspace and others laid extravagantly out on the table, going through you and through themselves to land as a final pollock of chaotic balance and richness right in front of one… or something.

i was overwhelmed. so i went to the dim-lit yurt and bawled my eyes out, among rows of silent appreciators in the flickering light, only enough light to see dark shapes thrown against the soft walls, constructed by our slightly crumbling friend fighting against the attacks on his insides. when hayley had played that afternoon, i felt the spirit of our friend kate-anna who died, there with us, i felt her actually there. so maybe that’s another place the tears came from.

when nick played guitar parts into a song in the little room i felt it big too. in the lamplight, with aden in one corner, me in another, nick in another, the tiny room and my body filling with energy flowing from the sounds and back into the sounds, my face glowing, my hands hollowing themselves upwards, my legs beginning to shake, all the room shimmering, like the cloud aden later described explaining how he moves the sounds into their places in space for every song.

we’re all made of all of this, heart break aside. shimmering energy of light and sound, all bathing in it together.

(love to sestri-levante)
(next times i promise i’ll write more normally)

Peter Bibby and his Bottles of Confidence at Mojos and Some More Reflections on Dirt

Andrew Ryan

bibby was back again. but that’s not a miracle. this is a miracle: on tuesday night at the soup kitchen a man came in, right at the end of the night. he had a shirt and a vest and washed hair and nice pants and nice shoes and a big fat smile on his face and A JOB. everything has changed, his body said. how many times has this happened the year we’ve been going there? only once.

saturday night: mei and matt and i were walking to mei’s show. we saw a man on the pavement, very scab-ridden and very dirty and very smelly. ‘hiiii amber’ he says. ‘hiiiii jason!’ i say. yes, i take pride in my friendships, especially with the dirtiest people on the crust of the earth, because people only become dirty if they had some big lack of love. if someone pushed them into the dirt as a child. or they had some loose bit in their brain that made them annoying to love. when they get dirty and scabby and full of drug holes they need more and more love to make up for the lack, but they get less and less because they’re covered in a layer of ‘go away’. jason met mei and matt a few weeks before when we were all on the street with my mum too, and everyone did hugging both times. human touch. that’s what we learned in first aid is the thing that actually starts the healing process. the teacher was talking about head injuries and car accidents and heart attacks but she was a legend and reminded us all: human touch is the thing.

jason told us good information too. “all the old men out here are hurt and don’t trust anyone because they’ve learned not to.” it was simple information, the kind that he lives inside every day. who turns to alcohol and drugs? all my friends. who gets turned to dirt by alcohol and drugs? mainly people who learned that the world is mean from when they were tiny.

anyway, you want to hear about a rock show? it was pete’s album launch. at mojos of course. me and sam were running late, because of my indecisions about everything, but we got there, and me, he, and nicholas played one of those very enjoyable sets where you don’t mind if no-one liked it cos you all liked it. it felt special. we played ‘hot date’ because it’s about pete, and some new songs pete hadn’t heard yet, and one of his songs ‘cordial’ where i changed the melody and changed the words but kept ‘mother fucking’ in it for comic effect. it was mainly all for him, cos it was his show and we love him. the set took a little dive at the end, but it didn’t matter.

hamjam were next. i saw them play as a two piece once at bar 459 and it was one of those times when you see people that never do anything wrong play not as perfectly as usual. but that place is hard to play unless you’re doctopus or borty torty (ed: aborted tortoise). 2 piece hamjam is more contemplative. more smooth. anyway, this was the 2-version as perfection. the crowd was pleased, the connoisseurs were pleased. like, it was special. there was a row of beautiful girls dancing at the front, so beautiful i was looking around at all the mens faces to see if they understood that this was one of the greatest sights that could accidentally be before their eyes. (apologies for heteronormativity.) sometimes one of the beautiful girls would turn to me and i’d be overwhelmed. but yes, these two: hamish’s songs which i’ve always loved, and just james ireland, who everyone knows is musically untouchable, effortless. he reminds me of the bboy from jandakot who i loved and went ice skating with once at the rink at cockburn, where no-one i know has ever gone, where it’s all dark and rough and a nice place to hold hands with someone in a tracksuit. this is what instruments they had: guitar, keyboards, drum machines, pedals. everyone in the crowd was turning to one another during the songs and saying ‘this is sooooooo good’, and everyone turned to one another at the end of the show and said ‘that was sooooooo good.’ hamjam, play forever.

hmm. then i got bored and nearly went home. then i went in the bandroom and did ridiculously silly dancing with nick to a whole song, being wild with our limbs each and cracking up laughing at ourselves and one another. i was glad i didn’t leave. i was glad to see my friend be free.

but back to that saturday night for a moment… we were still on our way to mei’s show, when we saw brandon who comes to soup kitchen. he hardly said hello and looked very very sad. he was sitting on the ground with a group of people and one lady said with her hand to come close and sit, so we did. brandon was crying! he said he wanted to kill himself and run out in front of a car. all his things had been stolen earlier in the week. all his good clothes and his bad clothes. ‘come see my friend play at the bird,’ i said, even though i knew it would be too hard. ‘i don’t have any good clothes’ he said, and he was in a dirty tracksuit which is perfectly reasonable clothes to wear at the bird. but i didn’t insist because of the divide. he is used to being outside, asking for money, hanging his head low, and we are used to going into the bird with our heads high and having money for whatever we want. ew. me matt and mei were going to have pasta at a place i’d never been before. ‘it’s not fair!’ my brains insisted.

well, the lady who had become brandon’s mum for the moment offered mei and matt a blanket. they didn’t know what to do with it, neither did i, and then we all realised she was offering it to sit on instead of the ground, because i guess we didn’t look like people that sit on the ground and also because she is used to sharing. she had a snaplock bag of lollies and made sure they went all the way around the circle. this sharing is a special thing that happens with people who have less things, and it’s a very good thing that also sometimes comes to bite them when the sharing is not just lollies. or maybe sharing can never bite you. i dunno.

anyway, we went and had our food at the nice slightly posh place. brandon and his ‘mum’ were just around the corner, at the back door of another bar. every now and then brandon would come past and make a funny joke to us, or pretend to scare me by grabbing my shoulders and all the other clean people would look at him a bit askance because what was he doing round here? and i felt the ‘it’s not fair!’ the most strongly it can be felt, when you are eating a big bowl of delicious pasta in a chair and have a bed to go back to after a glass of wine at the show, and just around the corner is someone who cries just the same as you, has the same feelings but maybe from different experiences and is going home to ~~ NOWHERE ~~ with no bed and now NO BAG because someone stole it.

i always write about the same thing. but it’s just a brief moment in time, and it’s fine. and these are the things i’m trying to work out.

so, pete, nick and johnny played. pete was completely mesmerising. he’s still surprised that strangers know the words to his songs but he writes classics and has “it”. usually whenever pete plays with others i wish he was on his own – this time, no way. they as a three piece were perfect, and when lyndon joined as a four-piece, were perfect. people were talking some of the time, but mainly all the eyes were just on pete. and yeah, people know the words to the songs, people call out the songs they want to hear. “red xf falcon!” they demanded. “cunt!” they demanded. last year in october pete had never been overseas. he talked to me about being scared to go on the plane such a very long way. but now he’s been to america twice and as i write this he’s in that little england place. travelling round with his shirt undone on the back of a flying body of songs which in my imagination looks like the body of falcor from neverending story. he goes country to country now, holding on tight to falcor’s fur, and then sings out the songs. through this process falcor goes to visit many people in many countries in their rooms at night after the show, half-sleeping by their beds (they all have beds) and warming up the room with his big white body. pete was captivating, the other boys held him up. at the end of the night for the last kylie minogue cover hamish joined pete to sing and i juggled heavy whisky glasses behind them on stage til the glasses broke and i had to use emu bitter cans. i’d promised pete i’d juggle, so it had to be done.

my drummer sam had just been to see sufjan stevens play at the opera house in sydney the night before. he was still all aglow and said it had been the most incredible musical experience of his life. this mojos show wasn’t that, but it was very special and very fun and i watched faces of pete’s fans enraptured from the moment he started til the moment he sung the last la-la-la by kylie with ham at his side. blah blah. much love. hope you get a visit by a falcor, and some extra miracle happens so someone has enough money to have a soft place to rest their head.


Andrew Ryan


i’m at my cousin’s place down south and he listens to double j (that’s a radio station) as soon as he gets home from work and til he goes to bed. tonight there was a lovely british announcer who played a song by laura veirs that i’d never heard before. my old boyfriend liked laura veirs’ music to the point i felt romantically jealous, but my strongest memory with her music was painting another cousin’s house listening to an album of hers and then in came a b-boy i was in love with and i felt embarrassed because there was no ‘break’ in any of her songs and i could tell it was like sandy lettuce in his ears. (she has an album called ‘saltbreakers’, you might like it if you’re not a b-boy)

but yeah, sandy lettuce aside, double j on a wednesday night with the host playing veirs and reminiscing about not killing himself thanks to a leonard cohen song: two thumbs up.

my friend was here on tour with a band. he dragged me by the feet across the carpet floor, in between doctopus and hamjam’s sets. getting manhandled by friends is nice sometimes, as long as you’ve got pants on: one and a half thumbs up. we also roamed round fremantle and found a table tennis table in a department store. i won the game while hole played over the speakers, which seemed a strange and great choice from whoever was hollowed-out department store dj that day: two thumbs, pointing to the top floor of a department store.

it’s mixing and recording album time at the moment for me. i go to a house with a guy who just does things however i like, and makes suggestions and takes all my instructions, sound engineer, coach, musical confidante – this is a treat. there’s a pool at the house and i jumped in before guitar orchestrating, and then nick jumped in and he had silver swimming shorts, completely silver like an alfoil continent: two thumbs up.

down south here i’m driving round through the forests and up and down the coast helping my friend who’s running a camp. this task has been made 100% great by listening to volume II of gomorrah by emlyn johnson on repeat, especially the song “on the dole again”: two thumbs.

it was ‘in the pines’ last sunday, the big wa music day of wa music, but i didn’t go because of the silver shorts and putting tracks through pedals and cooking pancakes for my touring friend. we drove to fremantle with the radio on though, and shit narnia were getting played live over the radio from the pines, and i got goosebumps during their song about having sex on a golf course. i could imagine hugh exactly, shirtless and sincere on the stage, and i also had the memory of him saying poems out in the backyard of a melbourne house that used to house emlyn, then lil leonie lionheart, and now peter bibby. hugh’s poems were great in the backyard by a fire with everyone staring into it in the dark, and his words coming out to meet our thoughts, and then, yeah, him on stage, but through the radio, giving me goosebumps along the metropolitan coastline: two thumbs up.

why do i go on about the same music all the time? do you mind?

later that evening, after the shit narnia goosebumps, and by the way i told my friend in the car my great idea about them calling an album “poop cupboard”, i got told by the big to hang around there and it ended up being one of the best sunsets i’d seen in fremantle, with a big red sun falling down into the water, someone giving me an oyster that i touched so much before eating it because of that smoothest wet feeling, we were down on the beach, and leaving everyone in a group on the sand and taking my body into that water, dusk water, clear and old baby blue, millions of years of sand underneath us all, after a long afternoon of maybe finishing hits, yes, guess what, i gave the whole thing another smooth, song-worthy two thumbs up.

Yardstock in Backyards/ Whalehammer Reunion Show at Rosemount 21 March 2015

Andrew Ryan

in my dream a boy was playing piano. some classical piece recorded on old paper and he looked sideways up at me as he played. a tiny boy. and he added in notes in between all the phrases, heaps of notes. we were making this music together, this tiny dream child and i.

i did recording a few weeks ago, sitting at pianos, sitting at organs, sitting in a little wooden room with big headphones covering me, with leonie’s and cosi’s tshirts on me for luck, with leaves and flowers and seedpods hidden around for luck. who even makes music? we all do. everyone was there, playing through me. i was someone else’s dream, all my friends’ dreams, the world’s dreams. and that’s what’s in the special music of my friends – the dreams of the world.

something lame is happening here in the country where we grew. the old people who lived here forever, as much as we can dream forever, are getting moved again, ignored again, beaten down again. some of the old people have gone to an island near where i live. a tiny island in the river of the city. they’ve lit a sacred fire. they’ve set up camp.

we’re going to go there. andrew who runs the record store told me about it last night in between when i was dancing, said saturday nights from now on we’ll go and get people who play music to go and listen to the elders. this is the right kind of way to move in your life, an opening move, a strong and strange move, a move toward strangers.

when people play you can go to a place to prepare yourself for moving the right way through life. some music makes it easy. rupert was playing in his own backyard for yardstock, under the name ‘leaving’. we watched him through the grass, and the grasses and trees played along with him. everything moving. loren and toby tied my legs and arms down to the ground with long grass that was growing up. little bowties of green to hold me there in deep appreciation, my eyes still able to move even though the rest of me was tied, tied to freedom, looking over rupert’s handsome kind face as he sat and played electronic organs.

this was the beginning house of yardstock. all these bands all playing in yards, a tin going round bound for people camping out under trees to protect these big old things that let us breathe but mainly rely on us to stand in front of each other if someone has a big axe. have you ever stood between a tree and an axe? some people call them ‘hippies’ as if it’s an insult, but camping, protecting, singing – these are the things we’re made for.


dreamy advice column over.

best thing about yardstock? apart from getting tied with grass and stroked by loren and toby, was when matt brought me a green tea icecream. and seeing the old guard of perth music playing in new bands and being real. they never say ‘we’re such-and-such band!’ at the end of a show, as if the point is that people know and remember their name. they just PLAY for pleasure and maybe even necessity.

this theme was continued at night, when i bailed from yardstock to go the whalehammer reunion show. whalehammer, alzabo, craig mcelhinney, tsvoim, bamodi. everything dark and heavy, everything uplifting. please just look up all these bands. lie on the floor and listen to them. see what happens. nick odell put the show on and it was all people making music in the purest way – music for music. seems crazy to say that, but sometimes there are other factors mixed in. radio play or something? i don’t know, but this was special.

renee sat next to me feeling better by the minute with the dark energy helping her. i closed my eyes and let all the doom fill me with good plans for the world. little nick raised pretend goblets in the air and let his body be washed in it all. hayley beth, who’d played an actually mind blowing show a few weeks before, stood at the back, i imagine her also being drawn inward and backward to the memory of when these type of shows were the ones that always happened.

i remembered whalehammer playing a show in dave egan and nick allbrook’s old sunroom lots of years back. i think me and dave and peter cole’s old band triangles played too, and a set of drums fell down on top of us during the set. whalehammer in my memory were weird, sincere, and great – just dave west and ringham on acoustic guitars. this time it was a billion leads from dave into and out of guitars and keyboards, and steve summerlin back on bass after alzabo, and ringham sometimes down with the others and sometimes up on the drum kit. still weird and great. still purest of pure.

after the show little allbrook played me songs on the keyboard in my room, beautiful new songs, and in between we talked about how great the show was, and jarlmadangah, . i guess it was like my dream in a way – maybe the dream was just a memory. and maybe some of the purest times of music here are just a dreamy memory too. but these dreams only go back 8 years or so, not 40,000 years. so for the next few saturday nights i’m gonna go to the island instead of shows i reckon, and see how those old people are tied to the ground.

Broken Foot, A Missive from an Old Bank in Melbourne, March 2015

Andrew Ryan

i am listening to my friend mladen’s album. ‘broken foot rabbit hole’. leonie is beside me drawing comics. don’t worry, we work hard too, not in the fields, but in other related places.

last night we were at the place this music was recorded. a big old building called ‘the bank’. i trammed up towards it with my friend and drummer sam, back from all the world where he’d been making his home in a tent, learning how food really grows, playing his hang drum on the streets of every different city.

we had a meeting in the big backyard after liam showed us through all the rooms, climbing through all the windows of the big red brick palacial institutional post-bank apocalyptic studio – one room with two pianos and a million guitars and grubby carpet; a vault that someone uses as a studio; a sunlit front room where cosi’s going to sit and make great art that can last the test of time and the test of a stranger finding it special.

so we had our first ‘band meeting’ in a year, sam and i, in the big junkyard backyard field of the big many-roomed bank. just us, while liam and evelyn and georgia and louie played in liam’s room, jagged victorian soft punk with improvised but just-as-good-as-sweated-out words from georgia. sam and i held hands for a moment and said a few words to open the meeting, and then talked about recording in a few days. sam explained he will be all mind-messed and broken-footed and put back together again after the festival he’s going to and we both agreed this will be just the right time to make music. he played some notes on his water bottle that changes pitch when you squeeze it and i decided in my mind what song that would go just nicely on.

hmm. there’s many ways for music to be made. sometimes you can just talk about it instead of practicing. discuss the feelings of songs, remember a friendship into freshness.

on the topic of broken feet, i’d watched a clip that morning of a pop band, because my friend had put me in the clip, and then in a moment i saw the news one of the boys in the band had shot through his own foot, in a ute, on a farm, chasing some animals, maybe rabbits, that now would not be dead because the bullet went through a musical human instead of them. it was like a scene from a movie, an actual movie i saw recently, where shooting yourself turns out to be good for publicity. in fact, there’s some way in which it would make sense for a person to do this on purpose and in a short film it could happen. hmm.

so back at the bank a girl called georgia was there. she had come back from her first day at university, and from getting thrown out of a food court for doing ‘table diving’ which is eating food people have left behind. well, georgia had not made any friends on her first day, but she’d written a poem and i asked her to read it. it was all about fitting in. some places you fit in by having blowdried your hair, or knowing how to pick corn well, and some places you fit in by knowing what a space echo does.

everyone here takes food from the big shops for free, but we all went and bought food for the bbq, and mladen and i walked through the aisles at opposite ends, all the tins and packages in rows between us, stopping each time to silently pose or wave. do you know this game?

#.# skippable intermission #.#

hmm. earlier in the day i’d been with pete bibby and tahlia. tahlia went to the shop next door to where we drank our coffees and got a stack of second hand books. one of the books called out to me, so i picked it up and knew it would have something special it in. my eyes ate up all the words on the cover really quickly, and choked, but in a nice way, on one name: “Imants Tillers”. it was a name that stuck to me. i shook my mind and out fell this memory that imants tillers was a latvian artist i’d heard about at least a decade ago, somehow related to my dear grandmother who was a painter in latvia too. i turned the pages. and it was true. imants tillers, artist, latvia.

there was an essay there, and my eyes slipped over the pages and fell directly on one poem, imants quoting a latvian poet for some purpose i’ll never know, except that to me it was an arrow of connectivity shooting me in a nice place.

runā akmens, runā kalns
runā vārpus druvā
runā katrs koks un lauks
valodā tik tuvā

and underneath, the translation: the rock speaks, the mountain speaks, every ear of corn speaks, every tree and field, in a language so intimate and familiar.

hmm. so this poem was in a language so intimate and familiar, the language of everything speaking. if you read this every week, you’ll know what i mean.

#.# intermission over #.#

back to the bank, there were now many people in the big junk yard, and the moon had risen and become brighter and brighter, the sky deep blue, some east timorese musicians with long dreadlocks lounging on broken couches, leonie, sam, french julie, mladen, liam and i all on a heavy pink futon which had turned the grass underneath it into pale coleslaw, with leonie playing guitar and singing the classic song ‘whole wide world’ while liam played bass on the instrument he had constructed ten minutes before with a bottle, some wide tape, some old guitar strings, and part of a wire clothes drying rack.

we sat out there til it was too cold for bare legs and then all dispersed, each to our own soft parts of the soft nighttime city.

on the way home leonie told me and sam about her students reading my poetry in class and liking it, and i felt happy and proud, and told her about the poems of imants and georgia that had made my own day electric. and i found a nice bunch of plastic flowers somebody was throwing out that i enclose here, in picture form, for you.

this is kind of the beginning of a larger story, but the main point again is that you might like to listen to ‘broken foot rabbit hole’ by lalić, and think of the mountains and fields speaking to you. then maybe show someone a good time by making an instrument for them out of what the field around you suggests to you, or reading them a poem at a coffee table, with clean and tiled or grubby and carpeted floor beneath you. this is my hot tip for a good time, just for today, and possibly for every day, if you hear this idea as valodā, tik tuvā.

Up Close and Perthonal: A Hot Date with Peter Bibby Under a Moreton Bay Fig Tree at Night, February 2015

Andrew Ryan

dear pete. dear old pete. yes, the hot predictions were true and his star has risen over the sky, his perfect songs and own true voice, apprenticed on the streets of perth and in the sheds of midland, taking him further than he could have imagined. last time i brought you an interview with pete he was just about to release a frozen ocean home-job album, with the memory of being a plasterer still fresh and wet in his mind, and the ubiquitous romance dramas hanging over his head. now he’s been overseas as a rock star pretty much, flying through the californian desert in a convertible with his band (johnny and lil nicky), his lipsticked and denimy manager toasting him champagne from the driver’s seat, his songs getting played on the ‘normal radio’, with a lovely photographer girlfriend (shout outs to tahlia who writes for here too <3) back home, and when we reunite he’s just come back from playing laneway festival all over the country. sounds fanciful, but it’s true. see, you can always trust my judgement, friends.

of course, he’s still the exact same pete and we sat again in hyde park at night, under a big old moreton bay fig tree in the night, with wine that a lady gave me that day for finding her purse and returning it, and cheese and mini tomatoes and rocket (that’s arugula if you’re in america) and the sounds of all the night birds, and us giggling, crunching through the leaves, hugging lots because we hadn’t seen each other since america, and talking of music, love, deserts and vonnegut. we get a bit wobbly half way through, so maybe read this while drinking some nice bevvy and you’ll be on the same level by the end…

last time the interview brought our friendship deeper. since then much has happened… this is a little insight into it all, just for you. again, just insert giggling between most things that are said.

p: i’ve missed you amber
a: really?
p: yeah, yeah, fuck yeah. been super excited to see you
a; ohh that’s so nice
p: when i was there in sydney…
a: awww
p: bein all lonesome
a: are you gonna sit all the way up there?
p: nah i’m gonna move so we can speak face to face
(sound of leaves crunching under a big fig tree, lots of ‘awwwww’s)

a: we don’t have to start at the start cos we did that last time.
p: wait… let’s stop… i need to light this ciggie.
(much giggling, much crunching)

a: ok
p: so
a: pete
p: amber. freshie.
a: last time i was preparing to interview you i was writing questions on a plane from france to here via china, i was trying to find my path in the world.
p: i remember then.
a: and since then, you went overseas for the first time. can you tell me a couple of things you liked about america?
p: the first thing that i liked about america was the amazing landscapes. it’s just so amazingly big and varied. like everything you’ve ever seen in a movie or a magazine. flying from l.a. to seattle, it was the crack of dawn so as we were flying up it became light, and you go through mountains and deserts and then it turns into snowy forests and then big snow-capped mountains and then just all these different cities. it was so incredible, and then i found out that the people were really great too. and everything’s really cheap and fun.
a: did you feel good in your body, in that land? i did.
p: i did yeah. it felt like a magic place, especially out in the desert.
a: yeh how good was the desert.
p: the desert was amazing. just felt like you could stay there for a long time. i wished i got to stay there for longer than i did.
a: you should have got to camp.
p: yeah. but i get to go back really soon.

a: when i was away there, listening to music in the car i felt like i understood lots of things in the music in the deep down way because i was in the place where it had been made. did you have any sort of feeling like that? like having listened to buttloads of music made there?
p: can you say that whole thing again?
a: did you feel like you understood music from america differently, or like rock and roll, differently, being in its land of origin?
p: yeah yeah i reckon i definitely did. there’s definitely… i mean it wasn’t even rock and roll that was a big part of it, but then there was every movie you’ve ever seen, well not every movie you’ve ever seen cos i’ve watched movies from all around the world – i’m a very cultured chap – but you know it just felt like, a movie where you’re just not the main character. but i definitely did feel that energy, that inspiration through every city i went to, like you can feel the music that you’ve heard from those places, like seattle i could feel jimmy and i could feel kurt, you could see its influence, from the people that were ridiculously famous. and l.a. and stuff it’s just like…
a: what music do you like that’s from l.a?
p: there’s all… well, like straight up the doors. i’m pretty sure that’s l.a. you know they had a song…
a: i know that song
p: a cracker of a track

a: have you read ‘just kids’ by patti smith?
p: i haven’t no.
a: it’s really really amazing. it’s her autobiography and biography of robert mapplethorpe.
p: was that in l.a.?
a: she was mainly in new york. but all of those people were around her in the flesh
p: yep.
a: like all the beat poets, all of that music from that time
p: i like all those guys. they’ve tickled my brain with a few enjoyable ideas
a: are you reading anything at the moment?
p: i’ve been really lazy with reading. i started reading ‘hell’s angles’ by hunter s thompson. which is pretty fun to read. it’s a really enjoyable look at the media. i feel like it’s more about the media than it is about hell’s angels.
a: i haven’t read it. what does it say about the media?
p: well it talks about how it manipulates things into a really distorted idea of what it actually is. like there was a few fucked up things that happened with the hells angels but because they were a big intimidating bikie gang it just got so blown up in the media. and it was basically just bullshit. or like, i guess, questionable.

a: what haven’t you been lazy about lately?
p: playin music. i’ve done a fair bit of that. being ‘tour manager bibby’
a: what’s it like playing with nick and lyndon and johnny?
p: it’s pretty great. our friend gumby, young jay, i didn’t hear him say it, but nick was telling me he was saying “how is it that bibby just has a band full of the nicest most reasonable, responsible guys and he’s so fucked?”
a: it’s true!
p: but yeah it really is that, like, me and nick are way more on the path… or you know just we enjoy a beverage and a cigarette whereas those boys don’t. well, they enjoy a beverage and stuff…

a: do you think you’re more scared this time talking because you’ve had to do lots of interviews?
p: yeah definitely
a: whereas last time you were good old pete from midland?
p: that makes me feel a little bit sad. i mean i guess that’s something i’ve been lazy about. like getting my shit together to figure out how i’m going to deal with this shit, you know. like it’s pretty strange world.
a: what’s been the weirdest thing?
p: i guess it’s just people that you don’t know, giving such a shit about what you do and being so excited about it and when they see you on the street or something, just wanting to come and have photos and stuff. it’s like that stuff weirds me out because i’m happy to talk to anybody, i love talking to people but i don’t want to talk about me, you know, it’s a weird feeling people thinking i’m some amazing legend person, when i’m just a bloke. i just wrote a few words and turned them into songs that i have fun singing.

and then through amazing strokes of luck and blessings it just turns out i get to be on stages where these people hear it and that’s what has made it happen. which is just the best thing ever, but i guess i just don’t like the way people idolise musicians. i think it’s a big crock of shit. i love that they come to the shows and love music but i think they should just forget about that they’re different. i feel like these people look up to you in a way that they think you’re a different level. that’s probably not even true actually.
a: nah
p: i think i’m losing my train of thought
a: do you think its nice in a way too for people to have someone to look up to?
p: yeah it’s amazing.
a: and keep a little bit of thinking your’e a bit special because it’s nice for them as well?
p: yep. and i always keep that in mind when these people talk to me and want to have a photo. i realise that it means a lot to them. and that makes me feel pretty special. i guess i just don’t like it when people seem to lose themselves in being impressed by someone else, or something. it’s just a strange, strange thing.
a: do you think there’s anyone that people should look up to or idolise?
p: michael jackson
a: i mean not even necessarily music, like in the world
p: yeah. yeah kurt vonnegut
a: aww what a man
p: that guy’s a bloody genius
a: why do you like him?

p: cos he writes some of the best words i’ve ever read, based on some of the best ideas ever come up with. so much just stripping the bullshit off and showing the way it is so beautifully and imaginatively. he creates some of the most odd worlds but it’s also like, he’s either just pointing out how ridiculous things are or shows how they should be. it’s grouse. it’s bloody grouse.
a: i like him because of all of that but also because he seems like he was just such a kind nice person
p: yeah, yeah exactly
a: like a boss person, not just a good writer that then goes and selfishly lives their life as an artist holding themself up as something special…
p: yep. yeah i mean i’d have loved to have got to meet that guy. he’s just so real. but then so bizarre and odd. and same as hunter s thompson. that guy’s a menace but just speaks the truth, just talks about how it is. i love that business. i base all my writing on that sort of honesty. you know. real shit
a: you know all the people who you are around at the moment, that have got whatever forms of success they have got do you reckon everyone is being real?

p: i think everyone is. i mean i’ve met some real lovely folk over the laneway thing. but i don’t think you ever get the chance to really know someone because it’s in that setting. there’s lots of nice conversations you get to have. but i guess everyone’s got to worry about getting to the stage or their hotel or catching a flight.
a: can you tell in people’s music though?
p: yeah. you see the real beauty when you see people on stage. you get them more. there’s been some pretty good shows. angel olsen is great. i haven’t got to talk to her a whole lot. but she seems just so authentic. and courtney barnett. she’s fucking lovely. so down to earth.
a: are you less bummed now that people say that you sound like one another?
p: i’m way less bummed because she’s a bloody legend and we talked about that
a: did you?
p: yeah i brought it up and she was like “yeah, i mean i don’t get it”. i guess we both just agreed that we speak our minds in an australian accent but besides that there’s not much else in the comparison. i’m maybe a bit more of a trashbag than she is. she seems pretty onto her shit

a: did you hear that duck?
p: i did hear that duck.
a: i’m gettin eaten by ants

p: i guess the thing is you’ve heard them and respect their music but like if you went to highschool together you probably wouldn’t hang out with that guy. but the music and the reason why everyone’s there shows the worth of the whole deal. and just shows that everyone’s completely different and everyone’s beautiful. everyone’s got a thing you know that they can do.
a: you really mean it don’t you?
p: i do mean it, i really mean it. i mean it goes back to what i was talking about the people who want to have photos and hassle you out a bit and look up to you in some strange way i’m still coming to terms with i guess, but you know those guys have something in them that they can do really well, you know. and i guess everyone’s just gotta realise that. that’s what makes me feel weird about the whole thing. i don’t feel like i’ve been idolised in anyway but you see that with people who are BIG music band, big artist performer people, and not just even in music but people look at them as something they could never be. And the thing is that every single person has a thing that they could just be awesome at. and it’s not only ever one thing. there’s a bunch of skills in every human, you just gotta figure out what it is and just do it. and love it.
a: yeah
p: like you’re pretty good at stuff amber. i’ve seen you be pretty good at… how’s this fucken tree! look up there!

a: i like that little bit that got lit up. yeah sometimes i’m like, you know i’m so in love with plants, i was walking along, running along mary street the other day and i had to stop in the middle of the street even though i looked like a weirdo and put my hands up and all this energy was coming from the trees and stuff but then at the same time i’m like – they’re just trees, you know, they’re not going to hold my hand and cuddle me at night
a: do you have any love advice for me?
p: umm.
a: oh yeah i was thinking , you’re one of the most romantic people i know!
p: really?
a: yep.
p: oh man. i’m an arsehole.
a: that might be true but you’re also very romantic.
p: i suppose so but i think that just comes from loving. you know, from love. i love a lot.
a: yeah you’re very full of love
p: yeah i’ve got a lot of love
a: where do you think it came from?
p: i think it came from my lovely parents who still completely love each other. and my whole extended family who all love each other, just growing up in a world of love. i had a very very good upbringing. some of the finest family i’ve ever known to exist. that’s where that all came from. just love. it’s a very real thing.
a: do you ever have spiritual experiences while you’re playing music? or like transcendent experiences?
p: to be honest, not very often. i’m often just thinking about what i’ve gotta say. just trying to remember my words. i mean sometimes when everything’s working well i definitely get on a level but not so much these days
a: what level? why not these days, cos you’ve been playing too much?
p: nah cos it’s like a different thing now. it’s like i feel like i’ve got some concern i feel like i have to do a good job. back in frozen ocean days playing with macca like it was… there was just no fucks to be given but we gave every single fuck about like-
a: quote!
p: playing massive you know. and it was just so loose, there was so much freedom in that band cos it was just me and my bro. that guy.
a: makmak

p: makmak. i didn’t have to worry about anything. we could just stop doing what we were meant to be doing and do whatever we wanted to do, whereas these songs are very written, structured, we don’t get to play music enough cos everyone’s too busy to get to that level where you can just relax and freak out. but i mean we do… i dunno.. we do lock in. i think it’s a good band
a: of course it’s a good band.
p: i don’t think we get to play with each other away from stages often enough to get to that transcendental state. but i get that a lot when i’m playing by myself. certain songs.
a: it’s pretty good hey
p: it’s pretty good, it’s nice, meditation, come out of it feeling pretty great. johnny was telling me at our show our two months late album launch in melbourne that he had a full on out of body experience while we were playing, and i swear i was looking at him when it happened
a: you knew the moment?
p: yeah i could definitely feel it and i saw him and he was staring off into the distance but holding down the bass so well. and then sort of like came back and just had this big grin on his face.

a: that’s so good. the other night when i was playing, i was playing on my own, i think it is different on your own because… well someone else was telling me about liking watching me better on my own because when there’s other people, that’s your team
p: yep
a: but when it’s just you you’re joined to the audience as your team
p: yep

a: but anyway
p: definitely
a: the other night… actually i won’t tell you about that it’s too deep… but one time
p: you can tell me after
a: when i was playing in my room one time i was playing ‘hot date’ and The Big was making it be about us, you know? [backstory. ‘hot date’ is a song i wrote once when pete and i were nearly in love. we went on a hot date. saw a really bad ben affleck movie. pete got into a fight. we remained friends.]
p: yep, the big… what do you mean?
a: like, god.
p: yep.
a: that the ‘hot date’ song’s between us.
p: i’m honored by that. and we had a hell hot date. i got super hot that night. i got so hot i tried to fight that guy
a: but what i mean
p: so pissed off at ben affleck that i took it out on some drunken idiot. ha!
a: but what i meant was, yeah, that song’s about you but like god made it about me and god, not about me and you, no offence, but just that one time.
p: is that the way you see personal relationships that are special all the time?
a: what do you mean?

p: like that idea there, that you know you wrote that song between me and you but then after a bit when, you know, it became pretty clear that
a: that we weren’t meant for dates
p: that we weren’t meant for hot dates together, we were meant for chill fun dates, that that feeling and that connection just goes back to god. cos that makes me think that all the love songs that i’ve ever written, not saying that’s a love song, that’s a raunchy party song
a: haha
p: but yeah i just suggest that all those people that i’ve written those songs about, they’re actually just god
a: well
p: it’s not in that straight up way, of like ‘you are god’ but maybe that feeling that you have is a thing of god. does that make sense?
a: yeah, i think it really is, yep. i mean, for an understanding that you have and i have that the Big Thing is a Big Loving Thing, i think that’s how, like what i was saying about the trees like, between you and another animal or plant or whatever, we’re meant be connected by, i mean we are all connected as one, but love is the thing

p: love is the thing
a: so yeah i think
p: love and honesty
a: yeah i mean
p: i think that’s a great thing to focus on when you’re making art and music and stuff, a good message to tell the people.
a: which part?
p: just things based on love and honesty
a: they’re my favourite things
p: what were you going to say?
a: oh i’ll tell you when i turn it off
p: ok.
a: do you want to say one last thing?
p: umm. i haven’t really been thinkin about it in a way of everyone’s going to hear everything i said…
a: i won’t write all of it up, just all the juicy bits
p: just the juice. did i give you enough juicy bits?
a: plenty of juice.
p: alright
a: it was more rambly than our first one maybe because i’d written questions last time or maybe because neither of us was nervous
p: yeah, well yeah i mean you had an awkward start to the situation from stephen giving you a grilling
a: oh yeah whoops [trouble from a review i wrote a few weeks ago about a show]

p: a stephen grillin
a: yeah do you reckon i should tell the truth in reviews and stuff even if it makes people upset and more self conscious?
p: yeah i think defintely because you know you’ve got to know the truth. you’ve gotta have the love and the honesty and sometimes that love that drives the honesty might give someone a bit of a sting. that honesty can sometimes fucken hurt, but as long as it’s driven by the love then i think you’ll eventaully just heed the advice and make your best decision. i actually do have a last word. the other night
a: good cos i didn’t want ‘decision’ to be the last word
p: me and lucas had a very large night last tuesday in sydney
a: i read lucas and louie some kafka over skype the other night
p: did ya?
a: yeah, anyway please continue
p: so we came up with the five finger rule, and i still think it’s pretty beautiful
a: yeah
p: and magic
a: yeah
p: i just gotta remember it though. so it’s like… … i think it’s … … be cool. oh fuck. i need to remember. i’ve gone through it so many times to remind myself. it’s something along the lines of be cool… don’t be a dick… … know who you are… … let all of that blossom… and see what happens. i think we had it worded maybe better but that will do
a: i could try and live my life by that.
p: be cool, don’t be a dick… what was the middle one?… know who you are… something along the lines of acting accordingly. letting it blossom
a: ok bye pete.
p: bye amber, i’ll see you in two seconds.

(and then, of course, we climbed that tree)

[photo by stephen bellair or korrin stoney i think]

Laneway Fremantle 2015

Andrew Ryan

Laneway. I went to Laneway once when it used to happen at the Perth Cultural Centre – this place in the middle of the city where our little Art Gallery and little State Library and little Contemporary Arts Institute all nestle together. For some reason I was at a stall that time, I can’t remember why, and for some reason I was selling a thing I made called “Lol Bags” where you paid a dollar and got a bag full of lollies (candy) and then I whispered a joke in your ear. Daniel Johnston played, and it was when someone I knew had just been on tour with him and told me about him wandering around whatever place they went to, far and wide, and him being very sweet and they’d just find him, gather him back when the time came for a show.

So, this time it was in Fremantle. Fremantle is becoming more and more a magical place in my mind. This time again the evening involved riding in the moonlight over the traffic bridge, where I’d seen those gutsy tiny teenage girls jumping off to fly far down into the river below… But that happens later.

I rode my bike to the train in the city, jumped on, and spent a lot of the journey to Freo thinking about “fame” and what it brings. I was looking at people who seemed like they might be going to the Festival too. One boy had delicious denim overalls on, and a tucked in t-shirt and a teeny cap way back on his head, and big black boots showing nicely with the overalls rolled at the bottom, and a box of cigarettes nestled into his turned up tshirt sleeve, held there by soft fabric and his dedication to looking cool. Anyway, so there we were, near one another on the train, and I thought how if someone else on our carriage was one of the people he was going to see an “indie rock star”, he’d be sneaking looks at them all the time, maybe sidle up to them and say “hey, I don’t want to be that guy, but I just want to tell you I really love your music, and can I get a photo?”

So I was looking round our train at all the people, and imagining how things would be if we gave everyone the attention and honour we give to “famous” people. I tried to look at each person on the train as if they had some amazing secret talent, I turned an old man into a jazz piano legend, heading back on the train from his big show to drink whisky with all the other legends. I turned a middle aged Vietnamese lady into the lead singer of a droney punk metal band, older than when she was touring every day, but still able to make a massive crowd go “WOH” as she screamed from stage.

Anyway. The festival was full of music I wanted to see: Dianas, Peter Bibby, Pond in the overlapping friendship-and-music-i-love bracket, and Connan Mockasin, Angel Olsen, Mac Demarco in the just-music-i-like bracket. Connan Mockasin was the main one I was itching for though, and he was playing at the same time as the mate Pete, so I abandoned Pete after a few songs for the Connan stage. My friend Edd showed me the song “It’s Choade My Dear” when it came out and I must have watched Connan floating down that river a hundred times with those lemon slices on his eyes and pouring out music that seemed completely familiar to me even though I hadn’t heard something really like it.

Well, Connan and his band were just how I’d hoped, weird, good at everything, kind of quiet, kind of glittery – in attitude rather than appearance. They were joined at some points by Mac Demarco and members of his band, Mac pulling up Connan’s shirt in a very very slow reveal which later I was told had become a normal part of their respective sets – shows of semi-comic intimacy and long make out sessions beside the microphone. Anyway, this was very early in the day, and just the true believers were there, and honestly, just this one act satisfied me because I felt pretty lucky just to see them.

Angel Olsen was also my favourite, managing to draw the crowd into her even though the venue seemed so wrong for her. I see her in my mind in lounge rooms and dim bars and churches and bookstores and theatres playing, but not in 40 degree heat in the sun, sweating in her black jeans and everyone in the audience melting in the daylight and her music just drifting outward across a big lawn. But she and her band managed to gather the feelings in and create a room out of their music, themselves, and the huge crowd witnessing them.

And Courtney Barnett was also my favourite. I was set up to like her even more this time, after Pete told me how lovely she is from knowing her on tour, and also I’d seen her before, being powerful, real, generous. This time she seemed even more generous to the crowd and everyone was 100% on her side and even still she could win over an extra section of each person’s heart. It’s so strange to say but her song “Avant Gardener”, her big hit, gives me shivers! There is something deep in that song, especially in the “I’m having trouble breathing in” chorus that has spiritual and energetic power. I got all goosebumpy and wondered about it – is this because so many people have listened to this song, while having a hard time, and it’s lifted them up – saved them – that it’s got this power? Who can say.

And Pond were my favourites. I made sure I was right up the very very front, where I always am when friends play, and all completely squished into the bodies of many young men, my friend Simon making a place for me because he knows my devotion, and just getting to bask again in their greatness, looking personally like a young man in my friend’s Evil Knievel cap and trucker shorts.

Mac Demarco played after Pond and all the Mockasins and others were seated at a banquet alongside them, and Connan got up for the long make out session, and Gumby (Jay Watson) got up in his red leather jacket with nothing underneath and just some lil black shorts on and sang along to one song. Oh Gumby. We had him as a guest at our Late Night Talk show a few nights after and I got to sit on his lap and ask him “The Love Seat with Amber Fresh” questions like whether he ever faints when he looks in the mirror and what romantic things he does with his girlfriend. Anyway! Born to perform, like Mac Demarco, and all his band and like Mac’s mum who introduced him and told us she was gonna stage dive but then backed out because the audience were just not frothy enough for it to seem safe. But they were frothy. Just more quietly frothy.

There were many more bands of course, in between, and after, but it was time for a break. 40 degree heat! I found Nick and gave him his presents – a shirt and a singlet, because he never buys clothes, like me – and found Ash and decided it was time to swim. We went down to Bathers Beach and dipped our bodies right into it, that salty saving sea, and a few minutes later Joe Ryan and Jamie Terry arrived at the very same spot and dunked themselves too and Joe and I made spas for one another by pumping our legs in the water, and they said “Come back into the show after” and we told them “We can’t! There’s no pass outs” but of course, they couldn’t understand, because they are the rock stars, and we are the people on the train, with no chance to go back in once we’ve left the show, but still Access All Areas passes to the best thing around that day which was of course the sea.

Even though we couldn’t get in though, we knew something good was still to come. Some of the Mac Demarco people were set to play a little after show at Mojos, and this turned out to be the musical highlight for a creep like me. See, I like it when you don’t know when the songs are going to end, or what’s going to happen. That’s why I liked Connan the best, and why at Mojos when Walter TV and Andy Boay got on stage an hour late and without half their band, I was most excited.

It was GREAT. Walter played some sad lovely songs on his own, while Andy was all crumpled behind the drumkit, on the floor. Then they tried playing together, Andy without a drum seat and staring in his great way at Walter and all things kind of falling apart. And then, somehow, a little beam of light emerged from the crowd in the form of George Foster, of Dream Rimmy and Space Man Antics and all-round-amazing-guy fame. “Are you a drummer?” Walter asked, and with a humble nod, George was integrated for one night only into the band, taking the place of Mac or whoever usually would have taken the task.

So they all saved the night together, not that it needed saving, but finally assuaging all the people who’d paid good money to see famous people do something. They all kind of locked in together, George keeping up and adding his own flavour to it all, and the other two grinning and grimacing as they made their way through a weird, shambolic set that was simultanously great and shabby and sounded to me like the worm Alice in Chain’s rooster was eating. Yeah, it sounded like a great worm enjoying the dirt and it’s own fruity imagination.

So Laneway, I give you all thumbs up, even though you’re a festival, for bringing all things we could love closer to us, close enough to adore on and off the pedestals, in and out of the big ocean of things we’re all swimming in.