ITM’s Looking Local: Astral People, Sydney

If you’ve seen the line-up for boutique festival OutsideIn, you might’ve wondered who was responsible for bringing the likes of Smoke DZA, Oliver Tank, Africa Hi-Tech and (many) more together on the one bill. That’d be Astral People – a Sydney based artist management and touring company with a focus on innovative talent and catering to a niche, sharp-minded audience. Astral People are about to celebrate their first birthday, the milestone year being seen in with a bash at Goodgod on Saturday night. To extend the birthday revelry and to shine a light on a local promoter we’re really excited about, we chatted to the guys at Astral about their vision, their take on the scene at the moment and what else they’ve got coming up.

Who are the people behind Astral People?

We’re Tom Huggett, Lee Danilewitz and Vichara Edirisinghe. Tom and Lee met on an internet forum, naturally. Vic was introduced to Lee at the Collarbones’ LP launch through Tom. Beers were had, talk was made and Astral People was born.

The lineup for OutsideIn is mighty impressive. How did you manage to nab all the acts?

OutsideIn was the product of months of scouting and hard work. We all had dreamt of one day hosting our own festival and when we noticed a gap in the marketplace for a niche boutique festival like this, we decided to run with it. We’ve actually been working on it since the start of this year and it all came together slowly. We’re touring a lot of the internationals ourselves with OutsideIn and because of that, we were able to book them for the festival as part of their national tours.

As far as the locals are concerned, a lot of them come from our very own management roster. The rest of the acts are locals we’ve watch grow over the past year and have been in contact with for a while. All locals were handpicked to play a certain role in the flow of the day, not just the big names. We wanted to put together a well-balanced line up, catering for different tastes but still keeping with the overall branding and representation of Astral People and that of our co-presenter Yes Please.

So you’re celebrating your first birthday on Saturday. What’s been the highpoint of the year?

Seeing regulars at our nights. Our goal for Astral People from the beginning was for our punters to come to our nights based on the branding involved with Astral over the internationals alone. At one of our shows we had someone approach us and tell us that they had no idea who the international act headlining was, but bought a ticket regardless because they love our parties. To hear something like that from someone we’ve never met before was a proud moment for all of us. We put a lot of effort in to the curation and production of our nights – making sure all acts are there to play a specific role in the flow of the night and often blowing out budgets on extra production – to give people an experience rather than a bunch of acts on a stage which we’ve found has been an issue with a lot of promoters out there in the past.

We can’t wait to celebrate turning one with our good friends and family, with our main man Ryan Hemsworth all the way from Canada. It’s been truly humbling to see our little idea grow into what it is today.

What’s the philosophy behind Astral People parties? What do you look for in a DJ?

We look for a great live show and not just the hype surrounding the artist. With all the acts we’ve booked, we’ve made an effort to see them play live first and not just book them on their name and music alone. In terms of DJs, we’ve looked to book guys we know who will understand the other live acts playing on the night and cater their sets accordingly to ensure the overall consistency of the night – gluing the pieces of the puzzle together. We’ve found great success with our residents Preacha and Astral DJs in doing this.

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