A Chat With…Zac Abroms & Ashley Sambrooks (Face The Music)


Face The Music is fast approaching, and if you haven’t heard it’s received a much needed make over for 2016. A new location, a stellar list of speakers, and a live component. The summit has been curated by programmers (and local legends) Ashley Sambrooks and Zac Abroms, and I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to hassle them with some questions.

In June 2014 the two of you launched STEP (Society Of Tastemakers and Elegant People), and for a year and half you hosted some really interesting panel discussions with live performances. It feels like the right step forward to work on a music conference, but how did your involvement as programmers for Face The Music come about?

Zac: STEP remains one of my proudest achievements. Reflecting on the series now it still feels incredibly unique and special. We had the opportunity to collaborate with Face The Music on two occasions in 2014 and 2015 where we presented ‘The Mavericks Of Modern Music’ and ‘The Digital Natives’ respectively. When the summit approached us about the possibility of stepping into programming position in 2016 Ash and I put some thought into how the event could be improved and made a series of recommendations including a visual re-brand, a venue change, a partnership with Melbourne Music Week, a date-change and the introduction of a more comprehensive live music program. We also suggested the summit lure more interstate and international speakers and place an increased focus on business. To our delight they wholeheartedly welcomed our input and resultantly Face The Music in 2016 is like STEP on steroids.

Ash: who wants to launch a ‘Bring Back STEP 2017 Campaign’?

Re-imagining a music conference is no easy task, how long has Face The Music version #2 been in the planning stages?

Zac: Our first discussion about a re-imagined Face The Music only took place over a bottle of wine on High St, Northcote in March or April of this year and we only really began programming in May. The team behind the summit have worked tirelessly to present a new and improved Face The Music in 2016 and incredibly proud of their efforts.

This year will boast the inaugural year of live music. I think it’s fair to say previous attendees could sense something was lacking, so how did you approach bringing a live element to FTM?

Zac: In 2016 Face The Music will feature live music morning, noon and night in the form of performances on the forecourt of the State Library, the awe-inspiring LaTrobe Reading Room (in the library’s dome) and across the road in RMIT’s open-air Chambers Courtyard. In collaboration with Anita Nedeljekovic we’ve programmed a collection of the best and brightest local acts including Nai Palm, Jaala, Saatsuma, Dorsal Fins, Ecca Vandal, Good Morning and more.

Who are you most excited about hearing speak at this year’s Face The Music?

Zac: I’m really looking forward to hearing American sign interpreter Amber Galloway talk about accessibility at live music events.
Ash: Listening to Tim Shiel and Andrew Jervis discuss Bandcamp should be a winner.

You’ve done a brilliant job of pulling together a diverse range of speakers, but if there was one other person you could invite to speak, who would it be?

Zac: Thank you! Grimes!
Ash: Nah, Karen O and S U R I V E 🙁

Tell us about your favourite Melbourne acts?

Zac: Gosh… where to begin! Dorsal Fins, Foreign/National, Jaala, Alice Ivy, ESESE, Hiatus Kaiyote, anything on Wondercore Island…
Ash: Good Morning are the best band in Melbourne!

And Melbourne venues?

Zac: The Gaso, The Toff… anything Emily Ulman has a hand in really.
Ash: The Gaso is what my dream bedroom would look like.

Both of you are managing some of our favourite local acts, so what’s the best advice you’ve been given about artist management and what advice would you give to others?

Zac: The best advice i’ve been given was “It’s all about the song”, at the end of the day great songs are the most important aspect of any artist’s career. My advice to anyone starting out in artist management is be patient, there’s no such thing as overnight success – be prepared to work long and hard before you see much of a return.

Ash: Be prepared to drop everything and become a slave to the music ~ I’m not joking!

For those who already have tickets, what’s the one panel we can’t miss at Face The Music?

Zac: Don’t miss Peking Duk: ‘Australiana: A Tour Goes Under The Microscope’.

Ash: ‘The Ecosystem of Independent Labels’

FACE THE MUSIC – Contemporary Music Summit
Thursday 17th – Friday 18th November at State Library Victoria
Two full days of panels plus live music featuring Good Morning, GL, Jaala, ECCA VANDAL and heaps more.
Full details and tickets available here.