a high note creations


Skills, not dollar bills.

I was sitting in a hospital with my father, Auntie and Uncle the other day, when my Auntie raised a topic that I had wanted to get off my chest for a while.

Firstly I will explain her topic and then move on to apply this to my thoughts of late.

My Aunty was discussing that when she retires, herself and her husband, had always discussed the idea of starting a village of close friends that were in similar circumstances. They all would not have a great deal of money (naturally as one could expect in retirement) and therefore, they would try to rule out the idea of money exchanging hands. Rather, skills would change hands instead.

Someone would be in charge of baking the bread for the community, while another person chopped the wood to warm the fires of every house, while another person picked the ripe lettuce out of the ground to be served in everyone’s salad and the benefits are shared around this community in a tight knit circle.

Now I am not suggesting that I am about to run off and join this village, although it really sounds a lot healthier for my mental capacity. However, the discussion of skill sharing definitely could and should present some golden opportunities within an industry that can, at times, represent similar situations as the retired folk that have been discussed above. Particularly when we focus on the subject of money.

Within the arts industry, I will so often meet with new bands and discuss whether I can be of service to them as a Publicist or Marketer. The general reply back is that they do not have the money to pay for these skills at this current time. I find myself wishing that I could go back to the times of when I worked my hours for free, however, I am in the position where I too, need to earn an income in this industry.  So I regrettably find myself having to move onto other potential clients for work, even though I believe in what they are doing. This is not where the story should end for anyone though.

So you’re an incredible band that has a great set of songs and story to communicate but you have no money. Okay, now it is time for you to go out and introduce yourself to the following people

(a) Steve, a 2nd year photographer, studying at a tertiary institution with a limited portfolio and a love for live music

(b)  Emily, Jack and Sarah, also 2nd or 3rd year students, that would like to boost their show reel in film

(c)  Rohan, a 3rd year Public Relations student who is itching to get experience in any industry so he can learn how to pitch to media

(d) Devin, a savvy marketing student who is in his 2nd year and would rather be out there doing things, rather than sitting in a lecture that is becoming less relevant by the hour

With some phone calls to the appropriate lecturers or course coordinators and some coffee meetings, you could find yourself moments away from having yourself an incredible Marketing team to drive your music message to the audiences that you need to reach.

Meanwhile, your Marketing team is loving the fact that they actually now have some real experience to attach to their CV when they go for that next job that can actually pay them.

Now, this is just a theory. I am not saying it will work in every case. However, once upon a time I was one of those students itching to get experience and rather than have an artist approach me, I went out looking and got an opening with a festival internship. I have even used this model to help elevate students (turned friends) and I up the ladder in certain circumstances, to the point, where those students are now professionals who are paid accordingly for their time.

So if you are an artist with no money, perhaps it is time to share what you have to offer to the table, then take the skills of others to help you, while, in turn, you help them to showcase their skills. At some point, hopefully both the artist and the enabler will elevate themselves to a point where neither have to offer their services for free anymore.

I do, therefore I am

Learn through doing.

If someone is not supplying you with that amazing gig experience that you crave, then run your own gig to see what can be done.

If someone is not delivering that service in a cafe as well as you think they should, then apply for a job there and change that.

If your city is not as vibrant as it should be, then form a lobby group of key influencers with similar feelings and demand a change.

I feel that a lot of people have many great ideas to improve our way of being, but what happens from there?

Where does the seed of an idea funnel into a new realm of action?

I feel that an idea funnels into an action when we accept the potential of failure (new learning) from this action.

Are you expecting that those who managed to run a sell out show, or have a line outside their cafe were suddenly an overnight success? I certainly would not think so.

I could imagine that they worked for others (mentors), they started small projects which may of failed early, they learnt from these failures and stepped on top of them on their way to their new and improved project.

They certainly did not keep their idea to their own head. They spoke up in a group meeting. They contested with ‘the way that things are done around here’ and came out the other end with a better way.

They learnt through doing.

What are you doing?

the new seed

Share your ideas. That is what I told someone in a meeting today.

This came after they mentioned in passing that they have been working on some sort of website with their friends. The person wanted to keep the website a secret until it was definitely online and happening. I stressed the importance of telling people about your ideas, engage people with them, ask for support or at the very least, to be aware of your creative plans. 

I guess after stating this, I figured I should announce my newest idea, well, the seed of an idea anyhow. 

In January 2013, I plan to run a festival. Running a festival is not a new idea, we all are well aware of this. However, it almost feels wrong to label this event as such. Most festivals I have been to, I have been aware of where it would take place. Most festivals I have been to, you are supplied with all the pieces of puzzle. You know when every act is going to be playing, where they will be playing and you also know that the security guard is going to stop you if you try enter the backstage compound. 

However, one thing that has gotten me thinking about events these days and after many discussions with colleagues and general lovers of the arts alike, is that people are thirsty for an experience. Correct me if I am wrong, however, I feel like people are getting sick of the big acts playing festivals and long lines for cheap hot dogs and alcohol that just speeds up the process of that slow wait in the long toilet cue. Various festivals that tour across Australia are looking to make a decent buck and they think that all their audiences want is a quick day of radio friendly bands and some sunburn to match. Although, the experience of something curious and weird has been selling tickets to some events faster than you could say ‘Kanye west is cancelling his show in Adelaide’.

You only had to walk along the 3000+ people in a cue to Barrio, to understand the appreciation of the unknown. The bizarre. The participative experience. Although this was a free club, I understand that curiosity will have someone reaching deeper into their pocket to find those few extra dollars. I’ve even witnessed people pay a small fee to attend a mystery tour across the city of Adelaide earlier this year when I ran Moving Music | Tour 1. 

After various discussions with the team of incredible self-starters who are part of Moving Music, we have all agreed that we wish to invest our time (and in some cases, money) into a full scale Moving Music festival next January 2013. So what can people expect from this? 

Well, you can expect a cross artform day long festival, visual artists collaborating with bands, a festival where you become the artist in some scenarios. A festival that caters for those who are thirsty for another experience in their life. Don’t expect a map, we will lead you. 

So, there it is, the seed of an idea, it is small, though with time, it will grow. Now I would like to know, who has some water?

Private or Public Art?

Two intriguing things have occurred during this weekend for me. 

One of those things was that I received an invite to attend an industry network drinks at the 20th anniversary of WOMADelaide, hosted by Arts SA on a warm Sunday afternoon. I must admit that I did not expect to receive such an invite via my personal email and upon attendance, I was greeted by a variety of people my age that were doing great things for the arts community here in our city. 

On that note, I would like to extend a huge thanks to Arts SA for hosting such a pleasant afternoon and it is good to see younger artists, producers, marketers and general good doers be spoilt from time to time. Especially when the drinks on offer include a lovely ginger infused cider.

Anyhow, the second intriguing thing that occurred was that I learnt of an interesting case where a private business and local artist were able to collaborate in order for them to both receive positive gain.

I will now elaborate further for you all. Basically in the late months of 2011, I was scouting locations for a project that I manage called Moving Music. The project revolves around creating a mystery tour through the city to locations that we redesign with creative art and architecture for musicians to perform within. One of the locations that I had my heart set on was a private car park located behind Chesser Wine Cellars. According to owner of the cellars, Primo, I needed approval from every building that owned the car park. So with fingers crossed, I work my way around the square and received the thumbs up from each organisation until I landed at my final business awaiting approval, HAFELE who seem to supply interesting hardware technology (correct me if I am wrong in thinking this).

Upon my arrival to this store, I announced to an uninterested secretary that I would like to use their carpark for an art installation/music performance for 200 odd people to attend. I was immediately faced with various reasons for why this would not be possible, which were quickly shut down by an energetic looking businessman who managed the store, named Oliver. 

Oliver questioned me further about the project and within the time that I had provided him with an elevator pitch, he had swiftly agreed that I could use his car park but he was more interested in leading me to the back of his store. Given that he had been so kind to me, I reciprocated and followed him to his kitchen displays near the back window.

We stood at the window and looked out to the car park and he quizzed me

"What is wrong with this picture, Sam?"

"I guess you have a pretty boring and ugly wall next to your window, Oliver"

"That’s right Sam, and the worst thing is, I have to lead various clients to this part of the store on a daily basis and look at that ugly wall every day. Now, what would I have to do to have this wall painted with a piece of street art?"

Now I am an opportunist at heart, so I immediately put Oliver in contact with a good friend of mine, Josh Smith, who also owns Espionage Gallery, as well as another artist named Fredrock, then they started talking from there…

Time has since passed and I bumped into Josh at the Arts SA drinks yesterday and I found out that himself and Fredrock were actually paid a handsome dollar to create a large scale street art work on this wall by Oliver and they just finished it. See below for this art work by Joshua Smith and Fredrock.

Result - Josh and Fredrock have been able to feature a large scale work of their own with commission in our city that will probably encourage more people to populate this space to view the work. Meanwhile, Oliver now has a large scale piece of local art to introduce to his clients and furthermore, he can discuss with them how he actually commissioned it himself and hence demonstrate his ability to embrace local art within his city. 

My thought is, we all feature art work in our houses and many of our guests will comment on these pieces of work as they enjoy their dinner or coffee. So why shouldn’t we extend this kind of thing outside of the living room? There are so many boring walls like the one that Oliver now has ‘hung’ a piece of art that he loves. I am now willing to bet that there are plenty of other private businesses that are willing to shift their marketing spend away from the ever dwindling reach of newspaper and press advertising and such and focus it towards supporting local art that brings people into their space of the city to interact with the art and maybe even their business. 

I will continue to believe that our city has high hopes for how we want to live and support one another. Sometimes I think we get lost in waiting for an organisation like Adelaide City Council to make positive change for us, rather than activating the city ourselves. Rather than sit and wait for change and point the finger, we should just move forward and walk into that furniture store around the corner, talk with the owner, discuss whether they would like their wall painted. If they don’t, then they don’t (and it only took 5 minutes of everyone’s time, rather than 2 months of administrative council discussion). However, if they do, then you just saved yourself 2 months of administrative council approval and helped them do their job as well. Congratulations. 

Moving Music

Moving Music began as all projects normally do for me. With an idea that came from other ideas. 

Prior to creating this project, I founded an online web series titled 6 on the St which basically stemmed from an idea of filming musicians in a space less familiar to the musical eye. The true pioneers of these kinds of films can be discovered here. Over the span of a year and a halfish, we completed this web series based on 12 Adelaide music acts and melded these performances together to create a documentary which premiered late in the month of October.

Around a similar time that I was producing this project, I was exposed to an incredible street theatre experience through my work at Adelaide Festival Centre. This experience is known as En Route and was created by an innovative group called one step at a time like this

After finishing the documentary and experiencing En Route, I found myself in a space where I wanted to share the filmed sessions we had created with Adelaide’s musicians in real time, not just online. 

With my unique experience of art in a public setting that one step at a time like this gave me and my previous love for music in such a space through filming, Moving Music has been created and starts moving January 14.

Without further ado, find a brief idea seed/mission statement/promise of what you may expect if you choose to become a participant in Moving Music.

Moving Music is an innovative Adelaide based project, which serves the purpose of activating various spaces in the city by injecting them with temporary architecture, interactive/public art, and live music. An audience of this project will be led through paths less travelled in the CBD to discover secret gig installations within alleyways, car parks, rooftops or anywhere else you normally would not appreciate such art forms.

We are excited to announce our first line up for Moving Music which includes the following 3 acts. I will be explaining each of these acts in more depth in coming weeks but for now, be entertained by their names and this video of our final artist for the night.

Line up for Moving Music - January 14

Tom West

Steering By Stars w/ Choral Grief

Shaolin Afronauts

Register for Moving Music by emailing attendmovingmusic@gmail.com

Limited spots are available

Shaolin Afronauts - WOMalley-way Sessions from Kieran Ellis-Jones on Vimeo.