In The Pines


RTRFM’s annual autumnal music festival, In The Pines, takes place this Sunday, April 20, with 20 of Perth’s greatest performing at UWA’s Somerville Auditorium. BOB GORDON reports.

A little bit of animal imagery goes a long way.

From out of the woods on the RTRFM In The Pines poster peered a deer, a fox and an owl. The idea of shooting a cover shot featuring a deer, a fox and an owl led to an invitation to a couple of band members and then to some dogs.

And if the dogs were going to be around a table with everyone then they might as well play some poker. 

And so we have our homage to US artist, C.M. Coolidge’s Dogs Playing Poker series of iconic paintings. One icon deserves another, and RTRFM and In The Pines are certainly iconic in Perth culture.

Recently appointed RTRFM Music Director, Adam Christou, is new to Perth. Previous a publicist for Remote Control Records in Melbourne, he nonetheless was well au fait with the Perth community station.

“Absolutely,” he affirms, “RTRFM has an amazing nationwide reputation in the music industry. I’ve always seen it as a leader of the independent/community broadcasting sector myself, so I jumped at the chance to be able to come over and work here.

“Having been a prior volunteer and broadcaster at Triple R, I was pretty aware of the station through that avenue as quite a lot of Triple R’s staff – including its current and previous station managers – have come from RTRFM over the years. My old job interacted with RTRFM quite a bit as well.”

Christou hasn’t been to an In The Pines before but finds himself very quickly in the middle of helping to organise one. He understands first-hand the importance the event has for RTRFM not only for fundraising but also in terms of the station’s culture and ethos.

In The Pines is our biggest fundraising event outside of Radiothon,” he notes. “It fundraises quite a large chunk of our annual revenue and it’s pretty integral in keeping us going each year.

“The importance of the event in a cultural sense is that it’s the station’s big love letter to local music. There’s no other station I can think of in the community broadcasting sector that puts on such a big festival every year – and so many other local music events and festivals on top of it –  and has managed to make it such a long-running tradition. It really feeds into RTR’s role as one of the biggest supporters of WA and Australian music in the country and it’s great to see all the station’s staff, broadcasters and volunteers get together and put so much energy and effort into putting it all together.
“In many ways, the festival is the heart and soul of the station and reminds everyone why we’re here doing what we do.”

Christou says he’s especially looking forward to seeing Mudlark, Dianas and Rabbit Island perform, though there’ll be much to take in and learn of across the board.

“Those ones I’m looking forward to the most. Rabbit Island has a full band playing with her and I’m really excited to see how it turns out.

“I’m pretty excited for Bill Darby’s set, I know he’s a bit of an icon of the Perth music scene, so I’m looking forward to seeing what he’ll be like on the day. Likewise, I’m stoked to see some of the more heavier bands in action – like Scalphunter – so it should be pretty fun.”

While he’s always been a music buff, moving into a job role at the core of a city’s music scene is an education in itself. Let alone the impact of shifting one’s life across the other side of the country.

“When I first moved here for the job I think I underestimated how much of an energy-drain moving to a new city could be,” Christou explains. “Slowly unpacking my entire life and re-piecing it together has been an interesting experience, but I’ve been here three months now and I think it’s time I start really throwing myself into the various scenes here.
“Perth’s a pretty dynamic and exciting city, the music scene here is a very different beast to the East Coast and it’s great to see a variety of genres and styles of music being championed here that are harder to find in Melbourne or Sydney. There’s a very exciting post-rock scene here, as well as a strong experimental music scene. There’s also a very vibrant electronic music community and DJ scene here that is bringing out incredible touring acts and putting on some of the best dance parties in the country.

“I’ve started scanning every gig guide and press release that comes through for tour dates and shows; I’ve made a promise to myself to make a solid effort to get down to three-to-four shows a week if I can. At the moment I haven’t quite lived up to that goal yet, but I think it’s time to really kick it into gear as this is the sort of role that demands that level of dedication to the local scene.”