After an inspiring day one that featured highlights like Carl Cox’s passionate – and often hilarious – keynote talk and a vibrant panel about the next generation of Australian festivals, the second day of EMC took over Sydney’s ivy complex today.
Gilles Peterson and Ta-ku started the day with an intimate, enlightening conversation, while elsewhere the Artist Panel saw four top Aussie acts spilling the beans on their worst fears and nightmare gigs. Here are eight things we learnt from the second day of EMC 2015, before this year’s conference is capped off tonight with the biggest party of the year at EMCPlay (you can still grab a cheap ticket to that here). [Article images by Pat Stevenson – Hobogestapo, and Veronica Wood]
Legendary UK DJ, label head and tastemaker Gilles Peterson and much-loved local star Ta-ku are no strangers to each other – Peterson has released work by Ta-ku on his Brownswood Recordings label; that might explain why their keynote talk felt like sitting in on a conversation in someone’s living room.
Amongst the many fascinating and hilarious tidbits from the convo, it turned out that both the veteran and the up-and-comer have faked DJing under high-pressure circumstances – Peterson on live French TV, and Ta-ku at a club gig in Perth soon after he had his first hit. “Everyone fake-DJs sometimes,” Peterson cracked. “DJing is nerve-wracking. It’s harder than people perceive it to be,” Ta-ku added.
Peterson went on to wax eloquent on the craft of selecting, saying, “There’s been a return to the art of DJing with people like Floating Points, Four Tet, Daphni, Jamie xx.” Ta-ku was visibly amazed at the length of some of Peterson’s famed marathon sets. “14-hour DJ sets are a great way of losing weight,” Peterson quipped. “You don’t really eat.” Words – Jim Poe
A quartet of ace Australian artists – Tkay Maidza, Mashd N Kutcher, Tom Loud and Slumberjack – closed out the EMC Keynote Theatre with tales of stage invaders, internet trolls and (possibly) bloodstained rural motel rooms.
Some of the most memorable advice on the Artist Panel came from Mash’d N Kutcher’s Matt: if you’re making music, a white board is “a bloody good investment” for keeping track of ideas and feedback. Slumberjack also stressed that artists should accept that their early work will probably become unpalatable: “I was going to be the next Hardwell,” Morgan said, “but I realised I couldn’t make [big room].”
“It’s not about finding your own genre, it’s about finding your own sound,” Adam from Mashd N Kutcher said. “Like with Flume, he stuck with his sound and it became its own genre.” Tkay Maidza agreed; “I don’t have a genre,” she said. “My voice makes it sound like ‘Tkay’.” Words – Nick Jarvis
People often talk about the “formula” for making a hit, but the “DNA Of A Hit” panel made clear that although great music is timeless, it’s also distinctly a product of its time. There’s no real way to make another My People, Hyperparadise, Phreakin’, or Sweetness & Light.
Speaking about their #1 on the list of Greatest Australian Dance Music Tracks Of All Time, Paul Mac and Andy Rantzen explained that “Sweetness & Light was such a unique amalgam of influences, styles and even contributors that it’d simply be impossible to make it again now. And that’s what’s beautiful about it.” Words – Andrew Wowk
What So Not and US power players Denise Melanson, Rob Woo and Paddy Scace came together to talk about how to crack the North American market, but they had some valuable advice to dish out on the side: don’t be a dick.
“Someone who is the intern or the assistant very quickly rises ranks,” Spin Artist Agency’s Rob Woo cautioned. “There’s no sense in burning bridges on the way up. I’m nice to all my interns, mainly because I might end up working for them one day.”
“The really cool thing about the music industry right now is you can work with whoever you want,” TMWRK’s Scace added. “You can work with only nice people.” WSN’s Chris Emerson agreed, and pointed out that the newest faces in the industry often have the most to add: “It’s the younger crowd coming through who know the most about technology.” The moral of the story? Play nice. Words – Katie Cunningham
If you’re really into your trance, or trying to build a career as a trance DJ and producer, you’re actually better off starting in Australia than heading to overseas to trance Meccas like the Netherlands – that’s what Australia’s biggest trance star Marlo and his manager, vocalist and wife Janette Bishara told the crowd at Marlo’s Meet the Team panel.
We’re one of the few countries with weekly trance club nights, Marlo stressed, and it’s a much safer place to build your profile without taking huge risks. “You don’t have to move to Europe,” he said. “I sold everything I owned and moved to Holland, and I couldn’t get any gigs – I went too early.”
“Trance is like the quiet achiever scene here,” Janette added – a fact evidenced by Marlo breaking attendance records as the headliner at Sydney’s superclub Pacha four times in a row (and surprising Pacha booker, and forum moderator, Pat Ward).
“People in the industry think, oh, trance will never work with our crowd – but that’s bullshit. There’s no reason why people in the general public won’t have a good time out with their friends to the music I play,” Marlo said. Words – Nick Jarvis
Marlo’s second big piece of advice was that you can’t expect the industry to help you to the forefront – especially not in trance. “You can’t make a track, send it to Armin and expect him to start playing it and make you a huge star – you need to do the hard slog in trance,” Marlo said. “Make bootleg remixes and play them at all of your club gigs – nobody else will play your music in the beginning.” Words – Nick Jarvis
Lucky Entertainment founder Luke Udorovic cautioned young artists against getting a manager too soon in the panel about How Lucky Entertainment Blew Up. The whole Lucky team stressed that their best business connections came through getting to know people socially, not through cold calling or emails; you should only get a manager, Udorovic said, when you can’t handle the workload yourself any more. He applied the same idea to expanding Lucky Entertainment – he only started hiring new people when he “just stopped sleeping”. Words – Nick Jarvis
Anyone familiar with the comedic stylings of The Meeting Tree wouldn’t have gone into the Masterclass Theatre’s ‘Real DJing’ session expecting an entirely serious debate. Sure enough, r u a cop? instigators Joyride and Raph gave the at-capacity crowd plenty to laugh about, including roasting host Levins for arriving 15 minutes late to his own panel. Their words of wisdom? Raph advised anyone railroading a set that “filtering and microphones are your best friend,” while Joyride complained his “cabanossi”-esque fingers aren’t quite dexterous enough for DMC-worthy feats of mixing.
But current DMC champ DJ i-Dee argued that “real DJing comes down to how open-minded you are” and being ear-trained, while veteran local Kaz James noted that the current expectations of DJs to put on a show means they become “artists instead of real DJs”. But it was Tigerlily who made the most sense of all: “We all are here because we fuckin’ love music. As long as you respect music and the art that it is, you’re a real DJ.” Words – Katie Cunningham