What are WAM’s greatest challenges at this point?
We’re a not-for-profit organisation, so money is always tight when you’re producing events. However it teaches you to be really creative and resourceful, so we’ve made every cent count.
There’s still the perception that WAM favours certain genres above others. What are your thoughts?
It’s tough because there’s always going to be more coverage for successful bands and these genres tend to be dictated by popular taste… like rock, pop and electronica. We try incredibly hard to promote the successes of artists from more obscure music styles in everything we do, and at events like the WAM Festival one of our main goals is diversity, which we’re also achieving with this year’s sideshows in Blood Rock Fest, Stormrider, Ellington Jazz Showcase and Coast 2 Coast, covering hip hop, punk, metal, jazz and more.
It also takes two to tango. The amount of acts that don’t regularly engage with WAM from certain scenes – including not actually applying to play the WAM Festival – then complain we don’t give them enough coverage – but don’t seem to notice when we do – still astounds me.
I grew up in the punk scene, where people prefer to take the DIY approach and tend not to ask for help or guidance from the wider industry. So I totally get it, but I can’t help think that there’s got to be a happy medium where niche scenes can still do their thing in their style, but benefit from what industry organisations like WAM can do for them. I think people need to see beyond their biases to help themselves. That might have been the old WAM, but it certainly ain’t how we run things these days.
There’s been some high profile venue closures/changes in Northbridge and Freo of late. What can we do to preserve and build audiences while pleasing landlords and councils?
The unfortunate truth is that live music venues are always going to be up against it because they are subject to more regulations, cost more to run and offer less financial returns for business owners compared with, say, your average shiny wine bar. However the Federal Government have realised how imperative music venues are to the cultural sector and have recently put funding towards an organization called the Live Music Office, whose sole purpose is to tackle the issues faced by live music venues such as those that arise with landlords, residents, councils etc, and with the goal to affect policy at a state, federal and local council level long term.
In the meantime, going to original local music shows is a direct way you can support venues and acts, and there’s always a ton of great shows on in this town so it’s a no brainer!
What are your Top 5 picks for the WAM Festival?
Having an ice cold beverage in the outdoors while watching WA’s finest at the free WAM Festival Block Party (Saturday, November 8, 4pm-12am).
Ian Jourgensen’s keynote at the WA Music Conference (Friday, November 7). This guy has pretty much redefined the DIY style of music promotion, even writing a book on the subject. He’s an upstart and a trailblazer and you can’t help but respect that.
Tomás Ford’s opening number at the WA Music Awards at Capitol (Friday, November 7). It’s going to be next level fabulous!
Opening Party at The Bakery (Thursday, November 6) featuring a ton of rad rock bands such as Hideous Sun Demon, Scalphunter, Pat Chow and more!
Food trucks, everywhere. Living off food truck food for three days and lovin’ it!