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The Amber Fresh Chronicles

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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.


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.

Mark Ronson at Metros City, 22 July 2015

Andrew Ryan

one thing i like to do is have two musics playing at the same time. today it’s a song called ‘the gold hall beckons’, by a local band, and an album called ‘pensée d’automne’ by jean lumière. you just put two songs on pretty loud and let them slow dance together, or just let them be in the same room with their own thoughts, perhaps unaware of how they’re affecting one another, but definitely affecting one another.

i was thinking that maybe that’s what he likes too, mark ronson, putting two musics together. this morning i woke up with the words “what is a ‘mark ronson’” in my head, and a bruise on my nose, and i’ve been turning both things over in my mind. it’s fine to not know who someone is or anything about them, in fact, it’s very normal. so yes, when i went to the show last night, i didn’t know what a mark ronson was. i was lifting my body to see what was happening on stage, but the man singing had long curly hair which was a surprise to me. i’d seen a photo of ronson on my friend’s phone and his hair was slicked back and not like this at all. who was this man with a high slung guitar and what had he done with mark ronson?

so this morning it reminded me of meeting a no-home man from deep in the wheatbelt who taught me how to throw a spear – crack a stick to make the animal move, then throw. and he mentioned eating ‘bardies’ to me, and i asked “what’s bardies” and then he had a funny look on his face and we both started giggling and i said “is that like asking ‘what’s eggs?’” and he nodded and grinned. i’ve told this story before.

so i don’t really know what happened at the show, except that a beautiful man with slicked back hair who apparently is a type of soft genius sat up on top of a big screen, words flashing over, as in big lyrics, and underneath him people sang in the way of him putting music together, weaving the thought of someone’s voice into a song by some other one, and a glorious sound coming out. at one time when kevin parker was singing, and kirin callinan was playing guitar and mark ronson was puppetteering them, or more like life coaching them from the side, i danced so ferociously that i banged my nose on one of metro city’s many shiny silver poles that hold the whole place up, hold all the people in, away from each other, close to each other.

so that’s really my review, to sum it up: “i have a little red bruise across the top of my nose from mark ronson.” i showed kevin, to prove that i’d enjoyed the performance, but really, a few thousand people glued to his voice and the rest of the band is proof enough of something special, this time.

it was a lovely thing, just floating around in that room watching people watching the stage. everyone singing along – that was the best part. a whole crowd of people who didn’t seem to be sleazy or fucked up, just very glad to be there. and a stream of famous singers and players who were like bardies to me or eggs to a martian that hasn’t spied on us for long went on and off the stage being energetically optimistic and wonderful.

i went upstairs sometime, right, right upstairs, to some sky bar that was just a big open space of tiles and the night sky, wide open, and you could still feel the music lifting you up up there and so i went running and sliding on the tiles with my friends jules and freddy, dancing across the big black space with no-one to bother us, except the hundredth person of the night going up to freddy to ask “how tall are you?” or to make the unbelievably vapid comment “hey, you’re tall”. being tall or being famous, it’s a daily small burden until you’re on a desert island, or maybe deep in the wheatbelt where everyone knows who you are but in a very different way.

up at the sky bar The Big told me ‘go now, find your friend, he’s downstairs outside’, which was very helpful as the friend didn’t have a phone. and that’s the main thing i think about these days, how there’s these two songs going on the same time, getting helped to find my friend by a large cosmic voice, and all sorts of nasty things happening to lovely people everywhere, every moment. like, maybe one day you just have a tiny bruise on your noise from saucily dancing into a pole, but then the next day someone from the next town who wants to live in your town comes and smashes you and all your family and burns down your crops…

well, the last thing is, at soup kitchen this week i met a man who was really hanging out to talk. he had the big grey fluffy hair of someone who has no-one to look after him, and the real sad look in his eyes. but we got talking about music, and he can play everything, guitar, mandolin, piano, harmonica, some drums, but found it hard to make his own songs. “i’d get to a certain point and then at the end, it was just really hard to finish.” he lived at a place called ’55 central’ that sounds like something from a book about down and out people, but is a real place that real people actually live. anyway, we talked for a long time and he told me about his real dream he’s working towards, even while things are rough, and it’s some way to help kids on the street in malaysia and also developing an app to help people start their own small businesses, people who are down and out, a real comprehensive but easy way to get things going. i asked him why he cares about kids on the street in malaysia and he said how he’d once watched a program about children in rwanda, after the genocide, and just seeing one little kid crying, alone, parents gone, and he decided on that spot that he would do something for children who are in that predicament. malaysia is closer than africa, so he’s planning to start there.

try not to be cynical. listen to some mark ronson over the top of some mendelsohn, and just see how it all fits in. mark ronson and pond at metros city, 5 stars.

The Love Seat - Slow Dance to Darwin

Andrew Ryan

I’m listening to a song called “Breathe Without It” by Lalic. That’s my long Serbian friend Mladen and his friends. They’re coming to Perth sometime, and you can go see. Sometimes when I’m prayingmeditating I feel like I don’t even need to breathe to survive. It’s a pretty great feeling. I test it for a while but then I start breathing again, just with a different grin on my face.

When I was a teenager out here in the southlands I read a book about learning to first stop eating meat, then stop eating animal everythings, then stop eating grains, vegetables, fruit, and then to just exist off the sun. I didn’t believe it, but the books were special that I used to get from my friend’s mum up the hill. When I went to their place I’d always do the dishes, and look at the astrological charts on the pantry door, and me and my friend would paint and draw on her walls about bands we liked and waves and whitewash. She was allowed to smoke weed at home, which was quite a treat and magically left her intact for school.

This week a few things happened which were new for me. I saw a girl lift up her shirt to show her really soft looking white boobs while Hamjam/Char Kway Pals were playing at the Rosemount, just dancing and lifting up her shirt, while I danced nearby with other small people and our new 7 foot friend. I walked out to a headland alone, too, with big headlands, cliffs, rocks, islands, a lighthouse, big wild coast, swells bigger than horses stacked up on top of each other all around. Maybe I’ve gone there alone before, but I can’t remember.

We had Magnolias for Revelation Film Festival, that’s our live talk show that makes more sense in Matt’s shed, but we bring it out in public sometimes. The Film Festival ask us to interview the guests they’ve brought over, proudly letting their bodies be in view for people to connect with their films in a different way. I do a segment at Magnolias called “The Love Seat with Amber Fresh” and the man pictured was one of our guests. Tristan did a beautiful interview with him, it was all poetry coming out of his mouth, and cheeky answers about weed, and real answers about playing an indigenous person from a different area and what decisions to make for acting roles that will or won’t influence people’s opinions in good and bad ways about his people.

My theme music came on and I got up from the audience with a flower and started walking towards him up on the stage, Mark Coles Smith, from the movie Last Cab to Darwin. Matt said all the women in the cinema lobbies had been fainting around him, and Matt’s mum whispered in my ear that his grandfather was a pearl diver. I started walking over and our eyes met. He kept looking into my eyes as I approached and I kept looking into his, and all the rest of the room melted away. I got to the stage, gave him the flower and he said “So, do we dance?” So we slow danced there on the stage, our arms around each other, him holding me very very tightly, me touching his very gelled hair at the back of his neck, he gave me a kiss, and then we sat down for the questions but mainly just looked into each other’s eyes. Yes, this really happened. Not sure if I was breathing. I’d forgotten that he kissed me but Matt reminded me later… It was all a blur of some strange meeting through the eyes. A wet, glassy knowing. His minders whisked him out of the door at the end. Should I have gone too?

I calmed down by the time the people from Alvin’s Harmonious World of Opposites were on stage – an hour later. The director and star. I asked them if they were in love, and they floated around the topic but told me later, and I told them away from the microphones who I love, and all their crew smelled my hair. The director Platon Theodoris joked about telling everyone my secret but I fell to his feet and begged him not to. And in this way I felt like we became friends.

I haven’t seen any of the films from the festival yet, but my friend Benjamin Witt has. He sent me a facebook post about a couple of the films that he decided not to put up because of it being pointless anyway, and not wanting to get drawn into flippancies. It can be like that, you put something deep and real in public and people just make jokes. Or you make a joke and people talk about it forever. So, he just sent the post to me. And now, I just send it to you for two film recommendations and a personal reflection:

“Last night I watched “Tehran Taxi”, a film by Iranian film maker Jafar Panahi. Panahi has been banned from film making in his country but has continued to create, including smuggling a film out of Iran via USB lodged in a cake. Taxi is a sardonic car ride made with a few go-pros mounted to the dash board & a small hand held cannon used by the actress playing his niece, for a school project. There are rules to her project, for example, heroes must have Islamic saints’ names & there must be no portrayals of “sordid reality”. It’s an interesting film & a little insight into Iran but more so a criticism of censorship & control on expression. I recommend watching it. I also watched a documentary about the Indonesian military slaughtering those perceived as communists in the late 60’s, which proposed that this history had often been and still is distorted, leaving a feeling of discontent amongst their society. Both films had anonymous credits. I’m not trying to draw parallels and suggest we live under some kind of oppressive regime/one of equivalence, I feel very fortunate for living here, but with the recent news of the detention centre gag order, I hate to think that truth can be dealt with as some kind of a privilege, rather than a right. It makes you acknowledge & respect the bravery of those putting their ass on the line to defend truth for the safety and dignity of others, and the universal importance of transparency. I usually prefer not to post opinion, in fear of it seeming like pontification, so to end on a lighter note, if I engage with you in an environment of beer and trash talk, please remember that the truth is over-rated in this setting. Signed, Long Post Stew.”
P.S. Everyone looks at each other’s photos and thinks everyone else is having a good time… But the truth is, the people who are having a good time are the ones just looking out for and loving other people, freely, fully… Following their deep intuitions that are always for the benefit of others and the earth… I think that’s the way it goes… Don’t trust the photos, trust your lil heart.

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.

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.

Ladies to the Front - Char Kway Pals and W.A.S.T.E.D at Mojos

Andrew Ryan

want to know a secret? well, it’s not really a secret because i told loren and cam george about it, as i leaned on the mojos bar in ruffled denim considering the question: “Is the Char Kway Pal phenomenon a little bit of fun, our friends who are musical gems turning their gem faces at a different angle so a new chink reflects some light, this chink being the rap chink? Or is this phenomenon a weird, wrong, inappropriate cultural appropriation, and a way for all the boys to let their deep-seated partial misogyny out through a crack in their otherwise good boy personas, finally getting to squirt metaphorical semen indiscriminently on all the women they pretend to respect?” this is not what i think they think, but this is the deep fear that gets dragged up from one’s subconscious, if one is brought up in this world with things the way they are – a different kind of fear of the other. but this is a problem, if we all are one, to fear the other – who’s problem though, and how is it to be solved?

as i was considering this, loren told me about the origin of the word “spook” – a racist term from the fifties, that all the boys had been flinging around the internet leading up to the show, although in the more nuanced form of “spooky”, and i thought – did they have any understanding of the origins of the word, and did it matter? is “spooky” completely different to “spook”? do they all know exactly what they’re saying? and who am i to care?

so, yeah, the secret is that i was thinking about these questions as i went to the show on saturday night, wondering if i should even go at all; whether it was bad business, or whether i was just going to have a great time watching friends being amazing…

here’s the thing: some of the people here are truly musical gems. they studied or they work hard at it, or they have crazy talents dropped from the sky, or some combination of all of these, which means they can move through genres at will, making it work in experimental or electronic or garage or jazz or rap or whatever way they please. james ireland, jack doepel, hamish rahn and steven bellair variously fit into this description, and they made a new band, crew, song cycle which reflects this, winning at a genre that’s not usually their own, and creating enough hype to slope across at least the circle of friends and friends of friends, and move people to download and listen enough to their tracks that at one of their first shows everyone already knows the words.

but i was wary. The Good Boys, a group in similar vein from half a decade back, with one overlapping member in stephen bellair, had won me over and i was happy to sing along to ‘Golf Rider’ (i love you/i wanna be inside ya, baby/golf rider), and ‘I Wanna See You on the Dancefloor’ (shakin that ass/shakin that ass etc.), and smile when Jefferson talked about jizzing in various ways on various people, but would this be the same? well, it turned out i ended up at the end of the night on stage with jo lettenmaier and katie campbell and all the other ladies sweating and dancing and watching everyone else down below in the crowd singing along and huffing amil nitrate and having their pupils grow wider and wider and them all chanting “she on my dick” in tune with hamish.

see, there was something in the night that made it alright, that at least for the moment assuaged my questions and made the feeling of the night for me move from furrowed-brow to non-ethically-icky. that made it feel good and FUUUUUN rather than treachery to be there. the biggest thing was the early presence and performance of W.A.S.T.E.D, a one-night-only rap combo of katie campbell (Catlips) and laura lowther (Kucka) with jake steele (Yarkhob) to back them up. katie and laura are masters of their arts and here they were messing with everyone and messing with all possible gender worries in a strong and ridiculous way – not that this was meant to be the purpose – but laura with a woollen gimpmask/balaclava on, katie taunting and working the crowd in a beanie, cap, sparkled fedora, making part-strong, part-ironic stances, laura at one stage pretending to go down on her. agh. can’t explain how funny/great/clarifying it was. the whole thing was looser, less effort, less genuinely trying to make it great than it might have been, but these two are so effortlessly great they’re incapable of putting their hands to something and it not turning out the opposite of shit.

so, there was that. there was also the fact that through their confidence, the Char Kwayers at least at times seemed almost embarrassed to sing some of what they’d written. (ed. i just asked stephen – he said he doesn’t feel weird about it, it’s just the form – o.k., now i know his feelings) and also, everyone was in it together. at some point stephen said “all the women to the front!” and i couldn’t tell if he was mocking the recent discussion about masculine trouble in crowds that was directed partly at an audience for his main band doctopus – was he pulling the piss? was he pulling the piss out of people getting upset at gender repression when there is none? was he pulling the piss out of people being dickishly macho? was he just being funny? who can say. maybe i’ll call him for a comment… but there was no trouble here. in fact, as loren said afterwards, there was a very strong female energy pumping through mojos that night… (don’t hate me for mentioning gender – or do, whatever.)

anyway. yes, i framed it all political, because that’s the way i saw it, but mainly the night was like this: in perth if something doesn’t exist, like Young Thug-vein rap music, and a night for everyone to love it, and a time to lounge on plastic sun chairs on stage when it’s covered with fake smoke and tiny artist women are dancing in lakers outfits and everyone is popping pills, and a miniature free-style battle can happen between the smoke and the basketball shorts, then someone will just make it happen. and it’ll be fun, and serious people will think about it seriously, and most people will just enjoy it… hmm. the end.

(image by Julian Frichot)


ok, so i just messaged steve on facebook. i wasn’t going to actually include our conversation, but i liked what he said so i’m putting it here in full with permission. mwah. (this is just us talking… not a real innerview, ok!)

a: steve can you answer one char kway question for me?

s: Lol mebe I can try. Pls ask away

a: ok… did you guys feel weird at all about singing very sexual or maybe offensive lyrics (as in, potentially gender offensive)? or is it just for fun/ not to be taken seriously etc etc. what’s just your true feelins
p.s. i loved your show a lot

s: I dun feel weird about it. It’s a form to me
Everything’s a joke, most things I talk about have really happened to me so it’s also real. I’m ok with it

a: ok, i just wanted to ask you.
haha everything has happened – that’s funny

s: I like to hear ladies doin raps bout the same stuff too. It’s rap music I dun find it offensive at all. Wot do u think about it?

a: hmmm i’m writing a review of the night. and actually, i was thinking about all of that side of things a lot

s: Lol hey there’s a great article on rebecca orchards wall bout the rap musik.

a: what i think is that… i know i take everything real serious – even buying a coffee for me is fraught with ethical questions -that’s a good and bad thing. second, i think that people who aren’t oppressed by certain things can’t understand what it’s like. like, i talk to (mr. x) about gender stuff a lot but he thinks it’s bollocks in a way, can’t empathise with me so thinks there’s nothing wrong… but i think he just can’t understand it. … like, same i couldn’t understand what it’s like to be aboriginal in australia.
haha yeah, i didn’t like that article!
i think everyone has different perspectives, and that’s fine

s: Werd u do wot u feel, no ruleZ

an hour later, steve messages me back…

s: Hey u made me think for a bit bout this

a: yeh?

s: And I think that really this all is way more performance based then personal expression, even though the both are of course linked. I think that our exploration of the genre is similar to closer to acting than being musicians. Would you critique Eric Banner in Chopper personally for the character that he plays? I feel like there’s an element of meta in char kway palz that draws me too it. In saying that most of it is 100% real.

a: hmmm… yeah, that’s interesting. i felt that about w.a.s.t.e.d, and so it kind of made the whole night feel like that.
can i quote you? because you said that real nice…

s: if u think it’s ok then i dun mind. Can u just add in ‘no ruleZ’ at the end ahahaha

a: haha yep i will.

s: Thanks for making me think about it m9. have fun writing ur thing I look forward to reading it

a: i want to put a quote cos you used the word ‘performance’ and that’s a word i thought about on the night, but didn’t put in my article.
hey, p.s. i love you. pps get on my dick, bitch!
woh. yeah, i can’t say/write anything like that. even as a joke.

s: Hahahaha

A Tipping Globe, A Few Shows

Andrew Ryan

sometimes i nearly get to the end of my passion for shows. it’s kind of all the same thing, it kind of seems pointless when the world is falling sideways, seemingly more rapidly. fair enough, bands exist, but what about the warming of the damn earth?

hmm. friday night i went back to midland, for a big dinner with all the families and friends of my friends who support newly arrived refugees. i saw the rwandans again and the afghans again and the americans again. somehow we all ended up at perth airport where there happens to be a mini-detention centre. there were people sitting round on the lawn in the dark with home made banners and fold up chairs and biscuits for a vigil, a few die-hards getting reports on their mobile phones about who was doing what in manus island, messages from people there who were purposefully starving themselves and sewing their lips together to signal ‘help’.

the detention centre was all lit up and barbed like a little soft prison. just this little mini holding place, beside the perth airport where people head off to get their hair plaited in bali, or where i go off to america, or where every second west australian ends up to fly north to dig up the earth so they can buy a pool and custom number plates. the afghan girl closest to my age kind of casually mentioned she’d been in a detention centre for a long time. all the people who have lived with my friends came that way – through indonesia, then on a boat, then into prison, then into my friends’ house, set up just for them even though they’re strangers, to give them a soft landing.

hmm. well, anyway, saturday i still went to a show. it had some of the best performances of the year so far. mei saraswati has become the queen of perth, acknowledged by everyone, and now held up above her woven clam shell throne by many of the best musicians we have amongst us, ben, jack, phil, bryn, john and her singers. earlier in the week i’d been in the lounge room of rupert and rebecca from the band erasers with my friend loren, and we watched 20 minutes of live footage of mei and her band recorded for rtr. we discussed it, revelled in it, all acknowledged that this is the reign of mei that maybe only a few hundred people in perth will know about – but we still know. so mei and her band’s set on saturday was actually transcendent, and it came after my other favourite performance of the burgeoning new year, eleventeen eston, with his (john tanner’s) likewisely immaculate band, jack doepel as the overlap of the two bands, who took the songs and the whole set to a higher level when his sax came out. once a girl from dorset told me she and her sister listened to john’s music as they walked along a beach in england somewhere – this is a special thing.

anyway, mei played again last night, cockroaches crawling on the mojos stage, and her all alone this time but not really alone because honestly the good parts of the cosmos are all on her side. before her andrew ryan, who runs this website but i’m not ashamed to say was so good, all alone too, my favourite way to see him, where it’s just his true songs, his own way of playing guitar standing out, and his body sweating out years of emotion, action, perth-style pain, momentary glimpses of big things. while we played i got overwhelmed by the cosmos too, i saw people on the streets in another city while i sung with my eyes closed, and i asked for good things for particular people, and i sung to mei swan, to mai barnes who was about to play as golden string, to dear nick who’d come after pond jams to see our tiny offerings, to maddison and hugh who seem to be winning happiness finally these days. there was more music, and it was wonderful… mai barnes with her glowing face standing high up on the piano chair with her own eyes closed, going to her own places way deep in there, and fabian, freely arrived stranger from chile who became one of us, on drums now with another band fox jellyfish whose singer mei and i secretly accompanied from the crowd with made up lyrics about wanting to be in a rock band too.

so yes, the passion comes and goes, and once in a while all the feelings tie in. i’m not going to sew my lips together in solidarity although i could – people do it – but i’ll try do something today, as well as music, that doesn’t ignore the tipping globe.

It's the Freakin Weekend - Ty Segall at the Bakery and More!

Andrew Ryan

we need all kinds of animals. ones like elephants that take time with their lives, stretch out their days like their big grey skins, to take everything in, seasons across years, stampedes across entire landscapes, deaths, births, sightings of hunters from when they are babies on the backs of father hunters to when they are men looking through thin eyelids, holding an arrow close to their ear. and ones like moths, with just a day to see a little of a small everything, no time for study, just intuition, slug, wing, mating, turning back to dust.

i’m listening to ancient music from mesopotamia. some things you have to put in the effort to be able to do, like reading ancient writing, to study through days and months to discover the way they would have said the words, how they would have plucked the strings of the instruments.

anyway, some people study all day and night to bring ancient music alive, some people wake up and check their facebook and then play garage rock. i like it all, elephant, moth, ancient mesopotamia, perth.

Then the Weekend

pete bibby was back and played twice at toastface grillah – once on the back of a ute, and once sitting down all closed-eyed and truly in the mood. perhaps he was a wildebeest – no, that was ty segall. pete is like a boar, super smart and good at rooting around in shared experience with his sensitive nose, nuzzling up delicate truffles that people know are there somewhere but could never find on their own.

there was talk of ty and all the segally peoples coming swimming because my friend is their friend from their homelands, and then going to watch pete together, which was a nice thing to think about, but it didn’t happen.

when ty and his people played it was one of the best things i saw this year. the bakery was full to the brim which hardly ever happens. i stood up on the top of a couch next to malcolm in the lights desk, and surveyed the whole scene from their the whole time. mr segall was super beautiful. he reminded me of a cross between a nice baby, a teenager in a basement, a drag queen – a soft shy one on their day off, and mitch macdonald from the love junkies – all this refers to his appearance and his way of moving rather than his playing. all this nice curly hair flopping side to side with the glammy rock moves, and seeming like the nicest guy just from how he turned his head or swayed about.

seeing them play was like finally understanding what some bands here are going for. this was the original and the best of some certain type of something. i asked pete what you call this music and he said “i think you call it rock music, with some pop in it”, which is what i thought too, but i don’t know any other label to be able to quickly tell you in case you never heard of it. you know, it’s like really good melody-loving songs with loud amps and long hair. and some metally shredding over guitars that could get a little tapey sound to them but not rely on it. like, just the best music you could imagine and a whole room of bakery getting excited. garage with effort and less facebook.

the segall seemed really amazed that so many people were there and that made everyone even more excited. his humiility seemed to whip the crowd into even more frenzy. there was a dancing oblong of people right in front of the stage, with all the little aborty torty boys in there, and hamish rahn, and james gates, and peter bibby, and coel healy and many other people from bands you’d love and just general music lovers squished together in harmony and flinging themselves off the stage to get flipped over even sometimes in a stage dive, dropped or carrried, all so happy about being there and hearing this band. at one point in the night a terrible/wonderful smell started rising up from that pit of sweat and happiness, even all the way over to where we were at the edge. damp shoes and damp tshirts and the opposite of damp spirits.

at just one point in the show the energy of the band dropped a little bit, and then the music sounded like some of the bands that try to play that same kind of music but aren’t as good yet… then when they got their mojo back it was back to the other level. interesting!

near the end of the show the segall called for a volunteer to do a little experiement. this boy put his hand up in the crowd and leaped up onto stage, and from that moment we would all know who ‘lockie’ was. he tried to get ty to let him play guitar and i’m pretty sure i heard ty saying ‘no, it’s my show man’, a little bit taken aback, but eventually he managed to direct lockie’s crazy energy back to the crowd, to be stagedive taken all the way to the back of the bakery and then back on stage again. the whole bizzo was crazy, especially because lockie looked like ty segall in some alternate universe, floppy curls and the same sort of face and clothes and body but just a little bit to the side. when lockie got deposited back on stage he jumped around, took videos the whole time of himself and the crowd looking up at him and then finally managed to get ty to let him play guitar – he nearly wailed but bombed instead and that was great. the drummer, who was so good and one of the reasons the band could be so good, because she didn’t fill up all the spaces with ridiculous fills but just played the right amount the right way for every song, well she and the other guys tried to join lockie for a bit but he sucked or was way too excited (turnt up shall we say) to do it. which just made the whole thing even more perfect.

hmm. ty segall, come back please.

on saturday there was another BEST THING i’ve been to in perth – the street roller hockey derby… can you believe it? this one took effort. this one guy, who i met at doogs and gave me a piggy back because of liking things i write organised it – a rink in the city, bands, lights, little kids getting pushed around in shopping trolleys on the concrete, roaring of the crowd going up when anyone got the puck near the milk crate goals, bleachers (i don’t know if what i’m describing is a bleacher), much bleached hair in teeny corn plaits (not what i meant by ‘bleachers), drinking in a big vacant lot and getting told off a bit by security but mainly feeling like this was the best, fun, freest-feeling thing to go on in the city for ages.

and i saw the ‘some young people’ again. oh man. they’re so great. i like them because i can tell if they saw someone lying in the street they wouldn’t just walk by, if you know what i mean. shout outs to you, you know who you are!

and then sunday the show at the gallery where it turned into a sun going down dance party to mei saraswati, after clare (furchick) made music by cutting her pubic and leg hair with scissors attached to pedals and contact mics.

so yes, over christmas it always seems like this place turns things up a notch… this was all above and beyond though, and i didn’t even tell you about friday night… next week i’m gonna do favourite things of the year, stay toooooned.

Golden Boy Pizza and Tame Impala at Fox Theatre, San Francisco, 15 Nov 2014

Andrew Ryan

Yesterday I fell in love with the guy at the pizza place down the road, “down the road” today meaning North Beach, San Francisco, near the park where Richard Brautigan wrote “Trout Fishing in America”, a great book which I only read about 5 wees worth when it was in a bathroom I used to visit, and near where Coppola wrote The Godfather, a classic movie I haven’t seen.

The pizza place is called Golden Boy, so I’ll call the pizza guy “Golden Boy” too and he pretty much did glow golden when I saw him. We talked for maybe two and a half minutes while my pizza warmed up, enough time to cover swimming (what I was about to do) and pizza (classic), two great topics to cover when you speak for the first time to the love of your life as he gets things warmed up like your heart and the top layer of cheese. He had a little bit of stubble, I had a little bit of a skip in my step when I left the place.

Anyway, the nights before that it was the Tame Impala shows in Oakland, just next door to San Francisco. We’d left Jil and Jamie and Nick in Los Angeles; they showered crushed up leaves from the balcony as we drove away, with ‘Forever Young’ playing on the car stereo and me and Rex flipping alternate birds and thumbs’ ups back to them through the windows.

Driving up to San Fran there was a crazy scene I woke up to off my big rolled up coat I was resting on, with 500,000 or something tiny birds making formations in the sky, thousands and thousands of them all in groups cutting shapes and making big bird-globules made of their tiny bodies like black clouds with the spirit of many things inside them. They made stingrays, then penis-and-balls, then waves closing out on a coastline, all these things from being together and being themselves. And every time I thought there couldn’t be more there’d be a thousand more winging over and making something new. There was one other lady stopped by the side of the freeway watching too, me and her classically with our phones out taking videos, and Rex classically just watching with his eyeballs.

I was nearly too tired to go to the show after the big drive and ten days of camping in three states and a bunch of national parks and the desert, and a bit anxious in my spirit to be around people, but the voice of the big said “Be Brave, Go!”, in a case again of not much bravery needed, but good advice that I chose to follow. It’s all part of a bigger thing, learning to trust the voice for smalls in order to one day stop a war, etc.

When we got to the show Cam had a video to show and of course it was the boys taking shots at a bball ring to pop music and everyone missing the ring except for Gumby of course making a good shot for everyone to celebrate about.

For the show we got special tags to hang around our necks, to hang out with the friends and which meant watching from the sides if we wanted, and which meant the Fox was our oyster to go wherever we liked to see the Tame show pearl from whatever angle seemed best at each minute.

Watching bball videos meant missing the first band Delicate Steve, but I got to speak with the delicate afterwards and saw his nice face from talking distance and the next night watch him shred with a singlet on so that was enough. The story goes that one of the boys liked the cover art of an LP of his and bought the album and liked the music and that was how they ended up on tour, which is a nice way to end up anywhere.

The boys got pumped up all in their own ways, reminding me in retrospect of the poem by E.E. Cummings called ‘Maggie and Milly and Molly and May’, which is about everyone seeing beauty in the same place in their own style. And what can you say about their music that hasn’t been said before? Wall to wall hits, as always, played as hits, with any variation on the theme being met with roars of applause, and every first note of every hit being met with roars of applause, and Kevin saying “This is a new jam” being met with roars of applause also. And from all the places we watched the pearl moving and glowing all the girlfriends and managers and crew were applauding also, because it’s a pearl that everyone loves to look at and be part of shining up.

For some reason the song I liked most was the one that goes “She remembers my name”, Mind Mischief, and I woke up singing it both mornings too. I think as well as the song being plenty great, it’s a good reminder that even if you’re at the top of your game that’s one thing that’s still a trouble and a treat – even if you make the best songs ever or can run the fastest or write the greatest classic novel in the world, you still can’t make anyone love you, so when it actually happens, well… it’s actually Golden.

“After the show it’s the after party” as R. Kelly says, “then after the party it’s the hotel lobby” as he also says. So later we were all downstairs in the bar of the owner and the most exciting thing appeared in the corner which was little Hershey chocolate drops – jokes, they were the second most exciting thing – which was a shiny black baby grand piano, at which Cam sat and played the start of Fur Elise over and over with a crazy look on his face, and then Dom played some beautiful thing with his soft interior gentle look on his face, and then Dom and Rex played a duet where Dom improvised gentle jazz over the chords in his lovely way, and then I sang one song about honey to Dom and Rex and Delicate Steve when the room was unpeopled and quiet, with Dom on the high notes again.

So that was the best part of the night, all that piano time, as well, of course, as seeing Tame Impala play an incredible rock show in front of thousands of people in the most beautiful theatre with intricate high ceilings, huge golden buddah/god statues with glowing eyes at the sides of the stage, and a new video and light show that just made it all the more epic and outrageously great.

I went back to see Golden Boy later last night, but his shift had finished. On the way there I saw a man on the street asking for money, and at first I went straight by, just saying “Hello”, but then went back and asked if he’d like some pizza, and what kind. So, I got him a slice and felt good to be giving him something hot from the oven, even though it looked like it might be a little bit hard to eat without his front teeth which were missing from not having enough people to take care of him through life.

So last night was a good night, Saturday and Sunday nights at Fox Theatre were good nights – everyone doing their things and everyone working out ways to make someone remember their name, but still enjoying things no matter if the someone doesn’t remember your name, or doesn’t have another shift at Golden Boy, if at least you’ve got music and nice architecture and some friends and a nice little slice of warm pizza.

Pond, Doctopus, Peter Bibby and his Bottles of Confidence, the Independent, San Francisco, 30 October 2014

Andrew Ryan

Well it kind of felt like being home again. Except I was sitting at a bar eating pancakes and rex was drinking a $2.75 beer. Both those things couldn’t happen at home. There’s no pancakes at the bars, and you gotta burn a bunch of money, like the Melbourne boys say, to get even a teeny beer in our town. But outside the window the boys were all walking by and i could wave from the window or run out on the street and see my friends. I was in San Francisco, all the way across the crazy world, and they were there too – the simplest explanation for it: friendship and adventure on my part, and them being good at music, very, really good, on theirs.

Nick was smoking a cig on the footpath, getting ready for a pre-show interview. Everyone was car-lagged and dopey. Stephen and John and Jeremy seemed to still be in the “I can’t believe this is happening” phase of getting flown to another land to play shows. Julien was wandering in the street with his lady. Ben, the Doctopus driver and wonderful photographer, seemed to have been kicked in the guts by the 12 hour drive down from Portland, where the van had been broken into and many things nicked. But they were all there together so all signs still pointed to contentment and a very fun night.

So the show was at the Independent but I didn’t take much notice of the surroundings. I just had eyes for the buddies. What a strange thing to walk in and Peter Bibby’s on a Californian stage, with Nick at his side on drums, all concentrating and serious, Johnny at the edge, looking like a lovely cartoon and giving some grins at us in between his sweet unaffected deadpan stance, and eventually hearing the words from Pete “Hello my name is cunt and I’m a regular Midland train station” and singing along with Joey and Steve in the chorus. It was all so weird and all so fine.

When Doctopus played it was hard to tell if everyone loved it, but I loved it as hard as ever. Some guy talked to me after and said he couldn’t understand anything Steve sung. That’s kind of a nice idea, that Australian is really a different language and that you gotta actually come hang out for a while here to get it. Kasie liked it for sure. She’s my favourite new person in San Francisco. The night before I had played in her friend’s attic, this great guy called Ash who did simultaneously melodramatic and super chilled singing over big beats while nonchalantly eating a pear during his own opening set for the little house show. Kasie and I had never met before but she’d organised this house show and brought me flowers and I’d brought her a three colour bean Vietnamese bean drink and I watched her do an amazing set of melancholy hymns and she cried when I was playing, so it was instant friendship. And yes, she and her friend Aubrey liked Doctopus for sure.

When it was time for Pond, people shuffled up closer and started getting out their phones and started buzzing a little bit. Sometimes if there’s friends in the audience Nick will come out before he plays to get a little bit of love, to fill his tank, cos it’s kind of hard to be up there with all the eyes on you, pouring yourself into songs and your energy out toward a crowd of strangers if you are keen to love them and give them a good show but you’re also pretty shy, so he came to get a little hug and kiss, a squeeze of friendship confidence. I made sure he met Kasie and gave her a big hug because I knew it would make her day/night/week/month/year, and I knew that the feeling she would give to Nick in three seconds of hug would be good, sweet, kind energy, which is what everyone needs when they play, unless you’re going to be biting heads off chickens in your show I guess.

They played songs from all the times – forward in time to Man it Feels Like Space Again, back in time to Frond. My eyes always go from one man to another man when I watch Pond play, but my favourite this time was watching Gumby drumming up a sweat lodge of loveliness, and being a cutie pie telling everyone from the stage that he’s got a small penis and isn’t ashamed, when girls were calling out to him cos he took his shirt off. I think his shirt gets taken off as clockworkly as Matthew McConaughey’s. “I understand what it takes to be a man but I don’t have the time of day to be brave” that’s a line from one of his songs that I’ve been listening to this morning.

After the show we all went to a guy called Merkely’s house for a little party after. I had been a bit sceptical but wanted to keep hanging out, and it turned out to be the greatest house ever. I’d need a long time to describe it all to you, but just imagine a place where everywhere you look there’s a hundred great things to see, and imagine that your host looks like a cross between Michael J Fox and his dad in Teenwolf when they’ve been transformed into werewolves, and that the host is pretty eccentric but still properly connects human to human and loves your accents, and imagine sitting on a double bed in a tiny dark enclave with too many people to fit on a double bed, friends and friendly strangers, listening to music and giggling and knowing this can’t last forever but for the moment is the best possible place to be. Yes, imagine that and then times the feeling by 1000 – not so much happiness that you faint, but enough that your whole body is full to the brim of contentment for a moment in life, or even a whole nice night. That’s what it was like. And I know you’ve had those times too.

Emlyn Johnson, in a backyard with no electricity Wednesday 15 October 2014

Andrew Ryan

Well, hello friend. I hope you’re well. Today I’m telling you about last night and the things that happened.

Sometimes it’s a little bit sad to think that part of playing all our shows is a little bit about things we don’t care about so much, and that is, selling beers. Beers are fine, sometimes dragging your flannellette shirt in the spilled wheat juice on an outside bench sitting next to some friends is nice, but sometimes it’s better to be in a field listening to wind in the bamboo, with clean clothes on and all your money in your pockets.

Know what I mean? So, that’s one of the pleasures of shows in backyards.

Anyway, Emlyn is here and we’ve been listening to him play in our loungerooms and back porches and heard him whistling in the shower and he and Peter Bibby making up words in word games that to me is all part of practicing for making songs. So many songs, so many great songs. Everyone I know likes Emlyn’s so many great songs.

So he was playing in this backyard. The house was all dark because someone at that house forgot to pay the electricity bill, but they remembered better things, like to plant tomatoes at the right time, and to prepare the soil really well so Tom could say “They’re growing like weeds, I can give you some if you like.” Emlyn showed me a picture of his grandma a few days before, and she looked like Tom. What a world.

So the tomato plants were healthy as weeds, and there were biggest grape vines from old thick roots coming up from the ground and winding round to make a ring of green and fruit potential all around us. Many roots coming up from the ground, not just one. And the sky was going very amazing. Perth sky is special, even the people who lived here and then come back for a visit notice it. It’s the clearest air, like the clearest aqua ocean water.

Well, we looked up into the sky, at least me and Cam whose face was tilted upwards sitting next to me, looking at those clouds. The clouds were all the way across, but in patterns and in each tiny break between clouds there was just one star. The sky was getting darker but still blue, and the blue and the one tiny star shone out between each glowing cloud.

Emlyn sung two sets, and in the middle everyone talked in the dark, around the outside table drinking their beers. Ollie was lying on the grass and I lay down with my flannellette shirt to protect me from the prickles and we told each other about our days.

Emlyn’s songs are like this: whether the song has one word or a hundred words in it that song carries a lot of feelings. Because his music is beloved, everyone was requesting songs to play and he played all the requests. I don’t know anyone else with this many perfect songs. His voice is deep and sweet and rough and trilly, his guitar playing is mellifluous and jarring and sure and silly. The songs are from our country in a nice way, and the whistling to me is connected to “Australia” but there is no nationalism to feel bad about.

Well, anyway, each person in the yard was in their own world but connected by a love of the songs and by the grape vines winding round us and the sky looking its immense face down on us. Very, very immense.


Kipperville (Robbie Williams (solo) at The Bird)

Andrew Ryan

“i feel like robbie williams”. that’s what my housemate said before she left the house this morning. she’s a beautiful brazilian architect and she had a ponytail, a nice white skirt with flowers, a little white jacket, and a travelling bag on rollers to keep her things in. i didn’t know why she felt like robbie williams, but i liked it.

“i’m going to work really hard today, and then see my nieces” i said. she laughed and told me “you’re like robbie williams too!”

this week lots of walruses washed up on the shore somewhere far away. that seems like a bigger mystery than feeling like robbie williams, but i feel like i understand those walruses.

yesterday i was riding a bike with a yoga matt attached to the back. my friend was riding with a big lady’s sun hat on, and a white singlet, and a big beard, and pants that are called chinos unless you’re working in the fields, like he does, in which case they’re called ‘pants.’

we went to another friend’s house with enormous roses in her front yard that nearly made me fall of my bike with their loveliness. me and the rose friend did yoga while my chino friend read a book called ‘nausea’ and then the rose friend explained how to poach kippers in milk. that seems like something robbie williams would do, poach kippers in milk after yoga. i imagine him in the kitchen, smoking as he cooks, but never getting any ash on anything, turning every now and then to his guest who’s in a lemon pant suit, or a lemon plant suit.

on the ride home i started feeling worried, even though this was a great scene: riding home from kipperville with a yoga matt tied to the bike by a leather belt, and this time with the addition of four enormous roses wrapped in alfoil which didn’t lose their petals on the ride. and in my friend’s pocket a jar to fill with mulberry jam once i cook it, and in my friend’s other pocket a pair of clippers to cut the heads off our own roses so they grow better.

this is getting too deep now, so i’ll turn to music. we all played a show at the bird, the kitchen people, the me, the long lost brothers, the flower drums. everyone did a good job. but the guy who did the best job had not many teeth in his top gums, and a cap soaking up all the sweat from his intensely energetic head, and a tshirt soaking up the sweat from his intensely moving body. let’s call him robbie williams.

robbie arrived while long lost brothers were playing and almost couldn’t contain himself. everything made him nearly explode out of his body, andrew, mitch, steve on stage. every thing they were playing, every setting of their amps, every snare fill. everyone else was standing round the edges, being nasturtiums. but robbie was deep in it. he kept turning to us, trying to get us involved, but we were happy to watch him sweat, and to watch the band sweat, and watch to watch Robbie’s hands and body sometimes move like a raver, sometimes move like a metalhead, always move with pleasure that you couldn’t be sure was natural or chemical – a false dichotomoy, but you know, still useful for pinpointing things. every now and then robbie williams would fling himself into a chair for a minute, turn to face someone new, lift his eyebrows for a heartbeat, search for connection and then leap up again to the dance floor. when he sat next to me i put my head against his head and moved my skull against his skull with all our hair combining sideways so that he would know i was with him in spirit even if not in leaping.

he was my favourite guy that night and i can see why all the girls go crazy for him. still gotta work out what to do about those walruses though.