Melbourne Music Week is in full swing, and we had a chat to the organisers of Stargazed, a musician and artist run initiative. Their upcoming event, Underwater Galaxies, is presented as part of Melbourne Music Week in the Self Made Series and asks artists to respond to the title designed to feelings of the unknown – a place where little to no light resides but one where life surely exists.
How did the idea of starting a new music & art festival take shape? We were looking around the Melbourne arts and music scenes and noticed a particular lack of truly immersive events. Although Melbourne has a thriving art and music scene often the context which the experience isn’t ideal. In some art exhibitions the work is placed sterilely on the wall or in overcrowded exhibitions and often high calibre musicians given poor quality sound and shoved away in the corner. We wanted to address this and create something where people can better receive the art and music so it transports the audience in the way it was intended to do.
You’ve held a number of events so far, what’s been the biggest highlight? The highlight is definitely seeing the way the community has rallied behind the concept. Often it feels like we only plant the seeds and just watch the whole thing grow. Artists always bring their own ideas and each event morphs into something that we never anticipated. At our last event, we had an interactive video game installation and for this event, we have independant artists performing some spoken word as well as venue installations.
There’s a lot of different aspects to running a festival, have you overcome any challenges? We have strived to find artists dedicated to developing depth and intricacy in their work and to develop an overall aesthetic that represents something unique. Our art director Stephanie has worked very hard to represent this with the visual direction you see in our poster materials: A multitude of visual references and colours that reflect the level of detail in our event.
Bringing so many pieces of Melbourne’s scenes together (Bands, VJ’s, arts collectives) has been a challenge. We have carefully curate to ensure that we’re satisfied with everything and that all creators feel supported.
At times, it’s a hard thing to balance the desire to showcase everything you believe in with the need to ensure that people come through the door! This is a much larger challenge than people often give credit for. We try actively book a line up of musicians and artists that promotes gender balance and a true representation of diversity. The choice to keep an artist, either visual or musical because they are more likely to help us cover costs over someone who is amazing but emerging is very upsetting for us.
Can you tell us about your favourite Melbourne acts? Wow, that’s tough to narrow down. Some of the favourites we’ve had play have been Audego, Breve, Fierce Mild and Beloved Elk. This time around we a are pretty stoked to have Primitive Calculators and Rat & Co on board as they are both well established, respected acts.
However we are also really happy to be able to showcase some more emerging artists such as Dark Fair, who have a strong sound and Kalacoma who will engross you in the complexity of their sound.
We are inspired by a lot of the artists on the Melbourne scene who try to push the boundaries with their sound so that they are not just channelling the more popular genres of the time. Also aiming for a sonically diverse lineup means that genre crossing music is not only appealing to us but also helps with continuity!
And Melbourne venues? We like venues that are slightly less conventional such as the Shadow Electric at the Convent (RIP) and Rubix, where we have had events before. Saying that we also love venues such as The Gasometer. Ding Dong Lounge has been different for us as it has such a distinctive look and vibe, but we are confident that it will be unrecognisable during Stargazed! Next year will see us make a bigger foray into less conventional spaces, so this list is set to grow!
Are there plans to take the festival interstate one day? We’ve piloted events in Sydney and Brisbane both of which have been warmly received. We’re scheduled to take it Adelaide around March next year where we hope be part of Adelaide Festival. We also have some pretty exciting plans for next year in Melbourne and around the state so stay posted.
What I love about Stargazed is the visual aspect, transferring venues with immersive art installations. Can you tell us about what artists are involved in the upcoming show? Thanks for that! We also love the multi-sensory experience of our festival. In a city where many people have become very comfortable with what it’s like to go to standard band Q?rooms, we want to re-engage this audience by adding this special element into the band viewing experience!
For the Melbourne Music Week Event, we have pushed to find Artists who will bring something unique to the underwater galaxy space as well as working well as working with our musicians. The visual curation of Stargazed which sets our events apart from a lot of band performances with visuals as we aim to promote collaboration between the projection artists and the musicians.
On example is that although a lot of Adam Jaffers documentation is from electronic music events we decided to pair them with post-punk legends Primitive Calculators. What has been amazing to see is how the band has really come on board to collaborate with him despite being from a very different genre from some of what he usually works with. We can’t wait to see how this combination as well as all the others will turn out.
We are really excited to the work of VJ Krystal Schultheiss and of course our very own, Stephanie Peters. It’s also great to have Dotahn Caspi back with us for a second time, this time interpreting the music of Pony Face.
Stargazed‘s event ‘Underwater Galaxies’ takes place on Saturday November 18th at Ding Dong Lounge feat. Rat & Co, Fierce Mild, Huntly, Eddie Hale, Kalacoma and much more. Tickets available here.