New Weird Australia – Real Time Arts Interview

In this new video from Real Time Arts, I talk to Gail Priest about the past, present and future of New Weird Australia.

RealTime is Australia’s critical guide to international contemporary arts. Our focus is on innovation in performance (live art, experimental theatre, dance, music, sound), photomedia, film, video, interactive media and hybrid arts.

The realtimearts.net website offers a comprehensive view of Australian contemporary art with an international perspective, combining the current print edition of RealTime, online exclusives and updates; the RealTime archive; new works on show in our studio; featured events (forums, festivals) and arts issues; and a portal that will guide you to the best sites in innovative contemporary art.

New Weird Australia – VAGRANT dates & line-ups announced

(cross posted from newweirdaustralia.com)

VAGRANT is New Weird Australia’s travelling gig series – a pop-up club-night with no fixed abode and an open-source platform for eclectic and experimental Australian music.  Following its Sydney launch with GUERRE, SCISSOR LOCK and MAJOR NAPIER, VAGRANT travels the country during July 2012, calling at Melbourne, Brisbane, Newcastle, Perth & Adelaide.

MELBOURNE – SUNDAY 8TH JULY (TODAY!) VAGRANT #2 NAPS, WOOSHIE, KANE IKIN, BABA X (dj), ZANZIBAR CHANEL @ The Workers Club, Fitzroy – presented with This Thing

BRISBANE – THURSDAY 12TH & SATURDAY 14TH JULY (TWO NIGHTS!): VAGRANT #3 + #4 TALKSHOW BOY, SCRAPS, FEET TEETH + NO ANCHOR, THE RATIONAL ACADEMY, ANONYMEYE VS AMBROSE CHAPEL @ The Waiting Room, West End, Brisbane – presented with Micronations

NEWCASTLE – SUNDAY 15TH JULY: VAGRANT #5 SCATTERED ORDER, DRACOPEDE, THE MERMAIDS @ Terrace Bar, Newcastle

PERTH – FRIDAY 27TH & SATURDAY 28TH JULY (TWO NIGHTS!) Friday VAGRANT #6 PER PURPOSE, RITES WILD, CRAIG MCELHINNEY, DOCTOPUS @ Galleria, Perth | Saturday VAGRANT #7 TERRIBLE TRUTHS, PER PURPOSE, GUNS @ Dada, Perth – presented with Good Company

ADELAIDE – SATURDAY 28TH JULY VAGRANT #8 HOLY BALM, ASPS, MAJOR CRIMES, BEIGE ABRASION @ Format, Adelaide – presented with Celeste Juliet

Also this month, the Fallopian Tunes label, in association with New Weird Australia, assembles a hefty lineup of Melbourne based electronic acts on SATURDAY 28TH JULY to officially launch our recent free compilation, Gloss & MossSPEED PAINTERS, DOCUMENT SWELL, MATTHEW BROWN, JACOB SILVER and CALL ME PROFESSOR will play The Mercat Basement, 456 Queen St, Melbourne (Opp Vic Market) from 10pm.

Our next Sydney event will be held in September, as part of the Sydney Fringe – more info soon.

Three new projects marking three years of New Weird Australia

Pictured: Emily Grantham – releasing her debut EP on the new Wood & Wire label.

(cross posted from newweirdaustralia.com)

Since its launch in June 2009, New Weird Australia has supported and promoted hundreds of artists at home and overseas through its compilation series, live events and other initiatives.

To celebrate its third birthday, New Weird Australia is launching three new projects: an open-source, pop-up gig series titled ‘Vagrant‘; a new digital record label, ‘Wood & Wire‘ and an ongoing blog supporting video work from Australian artists, ‘Output Device‘.

Vagrant‘ is a pop-up gig series, offering small grants to local promoters to stage one-off events under the ‘Vagrant‘ banner.  Following a call-out in April, the series will call at Perth, Adelaide, Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne & Newcastle during June & July, drawing from a line-up that includes Holy Balm, Rites Wild, Asps, No Anchor, Blank Realm, Kane Ikin, Per Purpose, Terrible Truths, Anonymeye, Rational Academy, Talkshow Boy, Feet Teeth, Scraps, Major Crimes, Naps, Wooshie and more. Venues and dates will be announced shortly.

Wood & Wire‘ is a new digital record label, promoting experimentation in Australian music across all genres.  Born of New Weird Australia, but existing separately from it, ‘Wood & Wire’ launches with four free releases:

  • Inter Alia‘ from Melbourne duo Peon, featuring Lloyd Swanton from The Necks
  • the debut release from young experimental electronic producer, Emily Grantham, titled ‘Chocolate Syrup
  • a complete remake of the reviled Lou Reed & Metallica album ‘Lulu‘ from BOK Darklord (aka Buttress O’Kneel and Lucas Darklord)
  • and the self-titled debut from Machine Death, featuring reknowned experimental artist Ben Byrne and Ivan Lisyak from The Paper Scissors.

Download the first four releases at woodandwire.com.au.

The third and final project to be launched this month is ‘Output Device‘.  Recognising a lack of a central platform for video work from artists in the New Weird Australia vein, ‘Output Device‘ is an ongoing blog project that curates new clips at outputdevice.tumblr.com.  Submissions from artists are welcomed and encouraged.

These three projects cap a highly successful 36 months for New Weird Australia.  Most recently, the eleventh volume in its free compilation series was released – a co-curation with Melbourne label Fallopian Tunes, the 22- track ‘Gloss & Moss‘ collection has recorded over 4,000 downloads in its first month and is available from newweirdaustralia.com.  In addition, New Weird Australia’s 2010 release from Sydney artist Paneye, ‘Lost In A Dark Aquarium‘ last month hit the 17,500 download mark – the project’s most successful release to date.  The next release in the compilation series – released on July 6th – will celebrate the country’s West Coast experimental scene, with a collection dedicated to Perth.

New on New Editions – Thomas William, Scissor Lock & Strange Forces

(cross posted from newweirdaustralia.com)

New Editions, the label imprint for New Weird Australia, winds up its first series of releases with two new albums on January 4th 2012 – from Thomas William vs Scissor Lock and Strange Forces.

Since launching in 2010, the series has released albums and EPs from Caught Ship, Blake Freele, Paneye, TANTRUMS, No Zu, Kris Keogh, Forenzics and Spartak.  Each release has been available in both physical and digital formats.  The final two releases in the current series see Sydney artists Thomas William and Scissor Lock coming together for their debut collaborative release, ‘Jewelz‘, as well as the first Australian physical release for Brisbane psych-rock ex-pats Strange Forces, who have been tearing up a storm in Berlin over the last two years. Listen to preview tracks from each release in the players below.

Both releases will be available on Bandcamp from January 4th 2012, with pre-release physical copies available in CD Digipak editions at the Unpopular Music 2011 event on Saturday 17th December.

nwaed10-featured

New Weird Australia – Axxonn National Tour

In January & February 2011, former Brisbane-based artist AXXONN (Tom Hall) gathered up his keyboards and subsonic fuzz for a trip around the country to support his album ‘Let’s Get It Straight’. The tour was presented by NEW WEIRD AUSTRALIA, and as director of the project, I acted (somewhat sporadically) as the tour manager. The tour marked New Weird Australia’s inaugural national Australian excursion after a string of Sydney events and nearly two years of compilation and artists releases through the label.

We called upon a diverse and eclectic range of acts to feature alongside AXXONN, including BREATHING SHRINE, MYSTIC EYES, SCATTERED ORDER, KASHA, AMBROSE CHAPEL, NO ZU, DOT.AY, ERASERS, CONSTANT LIGHT, OCEANS, CRAIG MCELHINNEY, SPHERES, DIE ON PLANES, GILBERT FAWN, DUO, PEON and BORGIA. This video (shot and edited by Tom, using a remote camera) features a 15-minute Axxonn set, culled from a range of performances across the tour.

New Weird Australia – Scattered Order at The Excelsior

Scattered Order are one of the most unique bands in the history of Sydney’s experimental and electronic music scene – founders of the M Squared record label in the 1970s, a home for artists such as Systematics and Makers of the Dead Travel Fast, and a beacon for emerging underground artists around the country. Reforming their original line-up in 2009, I shot this video when Scattered Order played a set for New Weird Australia in January 2011 at the Excelsior in Sydney, in support of their new album, ‘Adjust The Terminology’. Joining them on stage was long-term collaborator and renowned producer, Shane Fahey.

Kusum Normoyle & Horse MacGyver at Refraction versus New Weird Australia

Here’s two videos I shot at the recent Refraction versus New Weird Australia event at Serial Space, which featured Tom Hall, Kusum Normoyle, Horse MacGyver and Jordan Dorjee. Refraction is dedicated to the support, mentorship and development of student projects as they take their practice from the classroom to the community. Special thanks to Emily McDaniel.

Above: Kusum Normoyle / Below: Horse MacGyver

New Weird Australia Interview in The Brag

A full page feature on New Weird Australia in The Brag magazine, previewing the Sydney gig featuring Paint Your Golden Face (pictured), Alps, Caught Ship and Karoshi.  If nothing else, the article proves once and for all that swearing is cool.  ‘Fart’, however, is borderline.

Full article:

Stu Buchanan’s name is unfamiliar to most, but he could be one of Australia’s most important champions of innovative music. After a three year stint as the general manager of FBi Radio he moved on to a new role, but his heart stayed in the same place – wrapped tight around the eclectic sounds of a subculture that hides in our country’s far-spread nooks and crannies. In May of 2008, Stu launched a free digital compilation series called New Weird Australia – a thoughtfully curated exploration of original ideas, challenging sounds, sublime atmospherics and experimental pop. Volume Five of N.W.A has just been released, with a showcase of new music planned for Saturday night. I called him up to talk about what he’s doing, why he’s doing it, and where it’s all going.

“New Weird Australia is a not-for-profit initiative that’s designed to support experimental Australian music,” Stu explains. “Anybody pushing their genre or cross-genre to somewhere new, experimental and interesting; so ‘weird’ as in, unusual and unexpected and innovative.” Kind of sounds like he’s talking about a straight hour of unlistenable nu-wave art-noise but thankfully, the compilations are surprisingly engaging. “If you call something experimental, people immediately assume it’s going to be too difficult or inaccessible for them to be able to just sit down and enjoy. But when people get exposed to it, invariably the opposite is true.”

By trawling through the vast array of new “weird” music popping up in basements, bedrooms, warehouses and websites, Stu and the project’s co-curator, Danny Jumpertz of innovative artist-run label Feral Media, have filtered out some of the best in interesting Australian sounds – Kyu, Karoshi, No Art and Ghoul amongst others. By offering them up on a free digital album, the aim is simple: “It’s not to say, ‘hey people, we should all be making experimental music’ – that stuff has always existed. The aim is to try and put it all into a different context that’s slightly more accessible.”New Weird Australia, and the FBi Radio show of the same name, is also a way of bridging the geographic divide that separates different artists who seem to be working towards the same goal.

Power in numbers, people – Australia is a difficult country for local bands to crack. Whether it’s a cultural cringe, tall poppy syndrome or a simple long-ingrained reverence for anything that comes from overseas, we just aren’t paying as much attention to what’s going on around us. Stu agrees: “It’s like this tidal wave from Europe and America that just overcomes anything that’s happening here, and I just don’t understand it… You know, for every fucking Animal Collective or Grizzly Bear, there’s a band here that’s better.” Arriving here only seven years ago from the UK, Stu has a cross-cultural comparison to throw in. “There’s this weird thing in Australia where anything international is rarified in some way; it’s put on a pedastal that just doesn’t exist in the UK. The UK celebrates its own at least as much as it celebrates stuff from overseas – but here the equilibrium seems kind of strange.”

Buchanan thinks it could have something to do with the Australian music industry itself. It’s true that for the most part, the past string of ARIA winners haven’t done much to advance our standing as a global player in innovative, exciting music – and Lisa Mitchell’s recent win of the $30,000 AMP award has been decried by many as a triumph of mediocrity. “If we look at any band that we consider to be truly influential in a really kind of creative and interesting way in Australian music, they’ve never been celebrated,” Stu says. “Severed Heads, for example. Probably one of the most innovative bands to influence electronic music in the world… But here in Australia, they’re relatively invisible and to me that’s criminal. Those guys in particular should be in a hall of fame.”

Perhaps it also comes down to our isolation. In order to push something overseas from Australia, you have to invest a lot – and to be comfortable investing, you have to be sure it will work, right? “You’re right, and I think that model has been true for a while – but it’s changing!” He explains that the network of people he’s focused on aren’t actually working within the traditional operating systems, distribution networks or the mainstream press. “We exist outside of it, and because we exist outside of it we’ll always survive. People say, ‘if you want to play SxSW you have to go through this guy, and go here, and do that’ and it’s like – fuck that. We’ll find another way. All those old paradigms are no longer dominant.”

Stu takes a refreshingly hopeful view of the present and the future – in particular, of the pressures artists are under; economic downfall, filesharing technology and reactionary copyright laws to name a few. “The minute you put a barricade up against somebody, it’s an invitation for them to try and route around it. The more barriers you put up, the more creative people become… so I think in some ways you’ve gotto be grateful for the idiot stance of the record companies in the late 90s – they’ve given us a great gift!”

New Weird Australia has recently joined the ranks of the international Free Music Archive – an interactive library of legal downloads begun by WFMU, and curated by left-field tastemakers worldwide. I ask what’s planned for the future. “The next compilation is going to be very genre specific, which will help us take a bit of a refresh. And, unsurprisingly to anyone who’s been watching what we’re doing, one of the next steps will be to set up our own label. We want to kick that off this year for sure…”

Meantime, the message is clear. “Yeah, there are all those overseas bands, and yeah they’re hip, and every time they fart they’ll get an interview about it. Of course those guys are good at what they do – but just around the corner, at a warehouse three blocks away from you, there’s something going on that’s better.”

From Pulpit To Pew – Mess & Noise on New Weird Australia at Sound Summit

Mess and Noise today published an in-depth review of the New Weird Australia live show at Sound Summit by Kate Hennessey, reprinted below.

A picture of the Pope is propped on a ledge behind the stage at Newcastle‘s Renew Church. People drift in from the rain outside and sidle quietly into chairs. Trapped within the cheap frame, bathed in mellow red stage lights, the Pope watches on, fading even further into weary benevolence.

It’s Sunday afternoon and the church is home to the second installment of New Weird Australia’s artist showcase at Sound Summit. It’s a dry and comforting space and there’s no reason to be here but to sit and listen. No bar, no smoking area, no swelling rumble of chatter.

Even as Alyx and Freya from Kyu soundcheck their gear, occasionally jolting earlycomers with the inevitable bleeps and blasts of the process, their aura of sweetness is incomprehensible. Incredibly, they maintain it throughout their set. The four songs, independent yet interrelated, are dominated by their idiosyncratic harmonised vocals and simple tribal rhythms banged out together on a shared drum. Kyu are proficient, albeit nervously so, with samples, keyboard and a glockenspiel. But it’s only when they turn to the drum, cymbal and mic positioned between them and sing their hearts out, facing each other and profiled to the audience, that their true power is experienced. Clicking their drumsticks together like little girls in a schoolyard clapping hands, Kyu channel Björk, Cocteau Twins, M.I.A and The Lion King with blissfully non-derivative innocence. The audience sprout fond smiles like proud relatives at a wedding.

Kyu (Eliza Sarlos)

Solo act Alps has foregone his usual assortment of instruments and accompanies his wistful folk with guitar instead. Although he only started playing guitar a month ago he’s one nine-volt battery away from pulling it off. But his pedal crackles its death-knell code through his first song; a tough way to remember to replace your batteries before each gig. Alps ditches it and braves the remaining set pedal-free. Luckily, he’s playing in a church to an audience supportive enough to surmount his technical difficulties, and attentive enough to divine the deep sense of longing that pervades songs from his most recent LPs:Alps of New South Whales and Alps of the World.

Two-piece Moonmilk loop live melodian, accordion and vocals to ghostly affect. The sounds layer themselves into a swaying atonal beauty then suddenly retreat. The music plays as an echo of itself, distant and haunting, as though heard from behind a closed door at the end of a long and shadowy hall by somebody too terrified to open it. It’s a spooky set, perfect for the church. The Pope would have been pleased.

“It’s a dry and comforting space and there’s no reason to be here but to sit and listen. No bar, no smoking area, no swelling rumble of chatter.”

The showcase moves to This Is Not Art‘s Festival Club, a re-purposed Masonic Hall.Blastcorp, from Darwin, is first up. He sits cross-legged near the edge of the stage, long dreads nearly touching the floor at his knees, a monome between his folded legs. The crowd, many of whom have shifted directly from church to club, are still shifting gears and mostly sit on the floor as well. Blastcorp’s first song encourages seated appreciation with its sweetly pitched vocals and harp samples. Then, he says: “It’s time to raise the BPMs. It’s rave time.” A bass-heavy techno set follows. Not so well-suited for the brevity of a showcase gig which is, of course, entirely the point.

Castings take a long time to set up. Expectations are high. They begin and Nick Senger roams the stage shirtless as four guys in muddy-coloured hoodies crouch stage left fiddling with equipment on the floor, backs to the audience. It wraps up soon after. They’ve all been short sets but this one is the shortest. The crowd modestly bay for more, motivated I sense, by curiosity rather than fervour. “Do you have any idea how much that makes us not want to play more?” Senger spits. No, not really. No-one threw their underwear. What’s the problem here? “There’s no fucking way we’re going to play more now!” he repeats. People shrug.

Crouched together, reigning over an assortment of vocal loop pedals, Gugg look like time froze the day Cobain died. But they don’t play grunge. Gugg loop vocal yelps and nonsensical word patterns such as “chicky chicky”, peel the distorted loops into danceable terrain then plunge it all back into chaos again. Playful, wonderful and dreadful. Music-makers in the crowd shake their heads regretfully wondering why they didn’t think of doing it themselves.

The short sets have been fun, but by the time Holy Balm hit the stage the Festival Club crowd – already at capacity – are ready to dance long and hard. The rain beats down outside but the hall is steamy-warm. Beer flows, old friends chat and acquaintances long-intended are made. As the set progresses the area in front of the stage gets weirder and weirder as people gravitate inwards to marinate together in the psychedelic dance jam cocktail that is Holy Balm. People start to swarm the stage. The bearded guy from comedic experimental act Bum Creek pitches in to the jam by banging his guitar case shut over and over, while another fella dances around onstage with his hoodie pulled closed, blinded, with his arms in the air. Treadmill performance artist Mr Let’s Paint TV (John Kilduff) leaps onstage and starts doing the running man. People laugh hard and dance harder. Holy Balm ride it out with only small looks of bewilderment at what they’ve cooked up.

Above: Photo of Kyu by Eliza Sarlos

Mess & Noise Interview

New Weird Australia was featured in Mess & Noise, ahead of the inaugural Sound Summit Showcase in October 2009, in a Q&A article by Kate Hennessy.  Interview reprinted below.

New Weird Australia (NWA) slipped onto the scene in July 2009, releasing Volume One in a compilation series featuring new, eclectic and experimental Australian-only music. Available for free from the NWAwebsite, it has so far racked up 3000 downloads, withVolume Two released this month.

There’s no specific theme or genre. Bluegrass glitch and free-jazz nestle alongside “sprawling sample ephemera” and psychedelic folk on the two compilations, which total 31 tracks. If it’s fucking with conventions, NWA founder Stuart Buchanan will give it a discerning ear.

An online label for now, Buchanan has quietly ambitious plans to build on NWA’s early successes and extend it into other areas. Just don’t ask him what yet, because he doesn’t want to rule anything out.

Why did you start New Weird Australia?
It’s a passion project. Like any passion project there’s a gap in your life and nothing is filling it. So you end up doing something about filling it yourself. I was looking around looking for a space, a site, a project that really promoted experimental Australian music and, not being able to find anything, I decided to do it myself.

Danny Jumpertz came on board as co-producer. He’s been running a label called Feral Media for five years which is almost exclusively Australian music. I have known him for ages and we’ve always wanted to work together and this seemed like a natural fit.

But there’s Mess+Noise isn’t there? And Cyclic Defrost?
Yes, there are websites, journals and blogs that cover the sound editorially but I wanted to develop a comprehensive audio resource, where a wide variety of artists and sub-genres were readily available via downloading or other means. Cyclic Defrost promotes Australian experimental music but it takes a broader international view. We saw a space to focus exclusively on Australian music.

It seems like a pretty obvious idea. Why hasn’t it been done before?
I don’t know! It does seem obvious and that’s partially why I was so surprised when I couldn’t find anything. But the reaction has been so overwhelmingly positive there was clearly a need for it.

Tell us about the live stuff at Sound Summit?
Sound Summit co-director Eliza Sarlos approached us with the idea of a NWA showcase at This is Not Art, featuring some of the artists on the comps. Of course we were delighted to take part. It’s a great opportunity to showcase the fantastic music coming out of Newcastle, which is presently one of the most fertile places for experimental music, and also we’re playing in the Renew Newcastle spaces, which is exciting. The NWA showcase takes place over three different venues on October 4. It goes for eight hours with about 11 artists including Holy Balm, Lucia Draft, Tom Smith, Gugg, Castings, Alps, Brutal Hate Mosh and moonmilk. And it’s all free.

Do you classify NWA as a net label?
It’s the main component right now. Initially we’re happy to be a net label, but if I said NWA was a label that might limit it from the get-go … so we’re keeping it broad and open right now. As more platforms emerge things might change. We have ambitions to do more live events after This is Not Art next year, around Australia, so who knows where it might go?

How do you put the compilations together?
When we started out with Volume One it was a proactive process. We knocked on doors and got a really good response but it was essentially me choosing 15 tracks I thought would make a good first pitch. By the time we got toVolume Two we had lot of people knocking on our door saying they wanted to be part of it. So now it’s a mixture of proactive and reactive.

There’s no theme, except new, eclectic and experimental, right?
Yes. It’s also important to say the selections are experimental in the sense of whatever genre you’re working in. I didn’t want it to be abstract for abstract’s sake or pure sound art. But I wanted to include both of those, and more. If you’re working in the folk genre and doing something pretty experimental and breaking rules and conventions then that has a place as much as anything else. Thus far, we’ve included everything from psychedelic folk, free jazz, abstract electronica and post rock. Anything that is fucking with conventions and thinking differently, we’re interested in. I think that’s what people respond to positively, the diversity.

Do you need to have a fairly good understanding of music, and possibly even music theory or practice, to determine if something is “breaking conventions”?
I have little patience for the idea that you need to have an academic qualification to have a valid opinion – it’s a bogus argument. If you have a passion for music and – more importantly – if you approach everything with a truly open mind, then you can very clearly identify when something breaks the mould. I am also open to the idea of bringing in guest curators. This might be people who can help compile a volume or even do a whole volume.

Worried your personal taste might get in the way?
Yes, a little. That’s why I bought Danny on board as a partner. Our tastes do overlap but we’re a good check and balance. We pull in slightly different directions and attract different types of music.

“In many respects you have to cultivate an identity and do it consistently in order to get people to pay attention, especially those who aren’t predisposed to pay attention.”

Tell us about the NWA radio show on FBi?
I presented a show on FBi called Fat Planet for years that was purely international music – complete opposite of NWA. After five years of that I realised I was missing out on a lot of great Australian music. So I put it to bed and approached FBi with the New Weird Australia idea, which they were happy to put to air. The show gives us the chance to play stuff that didn’t make the compilation and also expand the NWA platform a bit and do interviews and live performance to air.

Do you see NWA as a brand people will begin to associate with experimental music?
Yes, and I don’t shy away from that. In many respects you have to cultivate an identity and do it consistently in order to get people to pay attention, especially those who aren’t predisposed to pay attention. It’s important for me to find a way to take what we’re doing and push it in an international context. To try to get people overseas and prick up their ears and get international blogs and websites to take notice. My experience with Fat Planet has taught me that the message can spread in time – if the music is good enough, then people will pick up on it, and word will go viral. That’s part of the reason we called it New Weird Australia, because it piggybacked on and played with the idea of New Weird America. It might ruffle some purist feathers, but it will hopefully get more people to take notice. And what’s not to like about the initials NWA?

OK, so part of NWA’s mission is to promote “alt-Australiana” internationally. Isn’t this focus contrary to building something strong and self-sustaining here?
I don’t see the two as being mutually exclusive – they run in parallel, and feed off one another. Digital music delivery has all but broken the notion that there is a hard divide between local and international distribution, and we’re just one of many who are taking advantage of that.

How does NWA’s model fit into the free downloads/struggling artist paradigm?
It plays alongside that paradigm. It acknowledges that part of discovering new music is being able to download, for free, in order to sample music. The belief that every download is a lost sale is a myth. Many people, if not the majority, will download just to sample, to take a punt on something. It’s how most people now sample new music; not via TV or radio or streaming tracks. NWA provides enough “free” music to allow people to sample an artist, and they’ll hopefully engage further if they find something that resonates, by buying an album or a gig ticket etc.

Would you consider charging for downloads?
The “no cash” model feels like the right way to go for the time being. No one can possibly get ripped off as there’s no money anywhere in the chain. Free also means limitless distribution and easy viral distribution, which is the whole point. We might release artist albums, or other types of formats, in time that follow a more traditional retail model, but it’s not the primary objective.

Birthed any superstars yet?
Well, not yet but we’ve had more than 3000 downloads of the fist volume. When you think a lot of these artists have never released anything before, or were selling 50 copies of their stuff in Australia – if they were doing well – that’s a good result.

Independent record stores such as Waterfront and Red Eye [in Sydney] were so important to people like me growing up. Do you see parallels between music stores of old and online labels such as NWA now?
It’s a huge question, we could write a thesis on it. I think we’ve always aligned ourselves to critics and curators in order to find music. Essentially that’s the role of a good indie store, we rely on their stock list to guide us, and we take pleasure from finding ourselves in the company of kindred spirits.

But when we don’t have a good record store nearby, or we want to find something from much further afield, then blogs and net labels will easily perform that function. My blog roll has been gradually whittled down to a handful of impeccable curators whose judgment I rely on almost 100 percent. That level of trust only comes from kissing a legion of frogs and trawling through mountains of shit. But thank fuck I’ve found them.

That said, I still love walking into somewhere like Repressed Records in Newtown and sticking a 7″ in a brown paper bag – I doubt I’ll ever find a way to beat that minor thrill.

What’s been most surprising about the project so far?
How quickly it all came together. From the first idea to the release of the first volume was only a few weeks apart. And that’s purely down to the support and trust of everyone involved. It shows you don’t need to sit around planning and scheming forever, just get your work out there. Clarity through action. If you fuck up, so be it – at least you’re moving things forward.

Stuart Buchanan is a panelist at Sound Summit, which runs from October 1-5 in Newcastle. More information here.

Introducing New Weird Australia

For a while, I’ve been looking for an outlet to best explore, promote and galvanise the weird / experimental music scene in my current home of Australia. This country has a long and vital history of experimental music, however until the birth of the internet age, this rich seam of avant-garde audio remained largely confined to its geographic borders. Over the last ten years, emerging Australian artists have found new avenues and new audiences thanks to international digital distribution, and in considering how to best move a new Australian project forward, it makes sense to capitalise on that paradigm.

The idea is this: New Weird Australia is a free compilation series of new, electic and experimental Australian music, made available to download via newweirdaustralia.com on a bimonthly basis. The first volume in the series is slated for release in late June 2009.

With this in mind, I’m seeking expressions of interest from Australian musicians and audio artists actively pursuing an agenda of experimentation and innovation in any form or genre. New Weird Australia is also seeking expressions of interest from graphic designers, visual artists, photographers and others working within the visual medium to develop cover art for each volume in the series. Please visit newweirdaustralia.co for full details of agreements, licencing & promotion.

Web: newweirdaustralia.com