Category Archives: Music

Rock & Roll Writers Festival

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Hello there humans and any AI programs reading this, I’ve been a bit quiet of late but there are lots of exciting announcements to come in the next few weeks. The first of these is that I’m very proud to announce that I’ll be at the first ever Rock & Roll Writers Festival. There’s not really anything quite like it anywhere in the world, in that it brings together iconic musicians alongside writers who focus on music in their work. I’m very excited to have such a festival born in my home city, and absolutely thrilled to be on a panel alongside Deborah Conway and Don McGlashan:

3.00 pm – Dancing In The Dark  (Sunday) 

From novel-length saga to three-minute pop song, choosing the right words and correct structure is paramount in getting your message across. But how do you effectively combine the two? And how different is writing for a reader, as opposed to writing for a listener?

Moderator:   Samuel J. Fell
Panellists:   Deborah Conway, Don McGlashan, J.M.Donellan

The festival is structured so that there are no clashes (my pet peeve of festivals of any kind) and there is just one easy, all inclusive ticket price for the whole weekend. 1st release tix have already sold out but you can still get tickets here and check out the full program here.

I’m really looking forward to this one. Hope to see you there!

Microplanes and magic: Poetry is Dead remix

I’m very excited to announce that the wonderful Microplane has remixed one of the songs from last year’s Poetry is Dead EP. I had the pleasure of meeting Fancisco aka Microplane in Porto a couple of years ago. I was already hopelessly in love with Portugal and visiting this city, home of one of the world’s most beautiful bookstores and the birthplace of port wine, only deepened my adoration.

Microplane’s new EP is based on the idea that ‘planet Earth is becoming a huge “waiting room”. We are spending more and more time seated on chairs, downloading stuff in our mobile devices to help spend time and smiling to touch screens…’ which fit perfectly with the track Mike and I put together for our Cycle One EP. We’re very excited to have it reincarnated here. Plus having my voice transformed so I sound like a philosophical supervillain is pretty great. Also, having one of our songs released on an Italian label by a Portuguese musician makes me feel muito exotico. 

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If you want to check out the original recording you can get it from Poetry is Dead’s bandcamp page.

PS Microplane’s FB page

PPS Poetry is Dead’s FB page

PPPS Black flamingo. 

 

 

 

 

You Have the Right to Not Remain Silent

SHUT UP! Sound familiar? If you work in the arts or do anything vaguely interesting with your life, you’ve probably had this phrase or variously profane iterations hurled at you more often than you’d like. We’ve all heard the stories of people who move next to bars and complain about the noise (if you can’t figure out that bars make noise, then disturbance to your serenity is most likely the least of your problems). But what about the smaller operations? Indie theatre companies, folk musicians and other dregs of society?

Last year we hosted an intimate theatre performance at our house that had an audience of 25 people and featured three actors talking for around an hour with no amplified music or sound of any kind. It was basically a dinner party with only three of the guests doing all the talking. Our show ran for a grand total of five nights.

The neighbours across the street were furious. The noise, they claimed, was unreasonable.  On the night of our second last performance, they decided to protest the disturbance of the peace by blasting triple M at an insane volume. I went over to talk it out and endured several minutes of screaming about the fact that we were making too much noise. I considered raising the delicate concept of irony but decided to pick my battles. I assured our neighbour that we only had one remaining show and then he could go back to his life of staring rancorously at passersby for the rest of his days.

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Then our other neighbours – who hadn’t screamed at us but had also told us in no uncertain terms that they thought that the show had been ‘too noisy’ – started renovations. And when I say renovations, I mean they tore away one side of their house and built three new rooms. This went on for around four months, usually starting around 6am (earlier than the legally allowed commencement). When the renovations were finally complete, we all breathed a sigh of relief…until their new baby arrived the following week. Have you met a babyperson before? They can be quite adorable, it’s true, but they also come equipped with advanced sonic weaponry that grants them the ability to obliterate the eardrums of everything within a 300m radius and also disrupt the sonar capabilities of any bats or dolphins in the same timezone.

There are many people (like me) for whom making a reasonable amount of noise is part of their livelihood. When you tell them to shut up you may as well be walking into a restaurant and telling the proprietors to stop producing so many cooking-related scents. Obviously, people don’t have the right to crank up Skrillex at 2am because that’s just fucking unreasonable (and also displays terrible taste in music). But if your neighbours are rehearsing for (or performing) a show, try and show the same consideration that they show you when your goddamn baby screams at three in the morning. Now I know what you’re going to say, you don’t HAVE to work in the arts. Well, that’s true, but only in the sense that you don’t HAVE to have children or renovate your house. Take a moment to think how you’d feel if someone knocked on your door and said “Look, I’m trying to watch Australia’s Biggest Loser Idol’s Kitchen Rules and your child is really fucking loud. You really shouldn’t have ever procreated. Is there any way that you take your screaming progeny back to the babyfactory so I can hear who they vote as this week’s best emotional meltdown dancer?”

Quiet for it’s own sake isn’t always a good sign in any case.  If you’ve seen any action movie ever you’ll know what follows the line “It’s quiet….too quiet…” is usually a large amount of bloodletting and/or explosives. Societies that are too quiet on the whole usually have something very creepy or oppressive going on, as shown in this very informative documentary:

 

If you really want to live in a world where you hear nothing but the sounds of your favourite reality TV show or talkback host I have a solution for you: noise-cancelling headphones. A decent pair will set you back around the same price as one of the many massages you’d probably require on a weekly basis if you spent your entire life being stressed out and complaining about your fellow humans discourteously producing decibel levels greater than a bunch of Buddhist monks on a vipassana retreat.

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One simple purchase will allow you to enjoy all of the infomercials and hate-crime inciting current affairs programs you want without the outside world disturbing you. Hell, with these things on there could be a zombie apocalypse raging outside and you wouldn’t notice because you’d be so engrossed watching one of the many zombie apocalypse TV shows currently on offer.

In conclusion:

PS

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POETRY IS DEAD EP/BOOK LAUNCH

   POETRY IS DEAD@thejudith-14 &  scottwings

Dearest the World, we are launching our debut EP/poetry collection this Tuesday September 7pm at the Bearded Lady. Scott Wings will also be performing, fresh from melting faces at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, which is the world’s largest festival for people with very symmetrical haircuts. FB EVENT HERE

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Killing Adonis cover reveal

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Dearest denizens of the interwebs, I am extremely incredibly tremendously and wondrously thrilled to present to you the cover of my forthcoming novel Killing Adonis. I’m hugely impressed with the team at Xou Creative as well as my publisher Pantera Press for coming up with a design that enigmatically alludes to the dark and comedic aspects of the novel in a way that is captivating and unusual. The cover itself will have a faux leather feel, and as a huge book nerd I’m excited that it will have a special little tactile element.

The blurb is as follows:

LIGHT DUTIES.

LARGE PAY. 

NO QUESTIONS ASKED OR ANSWERED.

After receiving a curious invitation, Freya takes a job caring for Elijah, the comatose son of the eccentric Vincetti family. She soon discovers that the Vincetti’s corporate rivals have a nasty habit of being extravagantly executed, their labyrinthine mansion hides a wealth of secrets and Elijah was never the saint they imagine him to be.

 As if that’s not enough, Marilyn Monroe keeps appearing, apparently unaware of the fact that she’s very much deceased. And there’s something very strange about the story that Elijah’s brother Jack is writing…

 Killing Adonis is a tragicomic tale about love, delusion, corporate greed and the hazards of using pineapple cutters while hallucinating. 

The launch party will be held at the Motor Room in West End on September 27 and 100% of everyone everywhere is invited. This will not be your ordinary book launch, we are going to have slam poets, bands, circus performers, fireworks and all manner of wonderful weirdness. Official event page and invites will be available soon. See you there.

ex oh ex oh

JD

4C arts collective: Thank you and goodnight.

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Listen, internet. Sometimes good things happen. Sometimes these things last a day, or week, or a few years or even longer still. Sometimes they last for too long, sometimes for not long enough and sometimes just the right amount.

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When the things in question end you basically have three options; be sad that it’s over, be happy that it happened, or create some kind of immersive virtual reality simulator that will allow you to experience the good things in question in uninterrupted perpetuity, perhaps with cool additions like jetpacks and ninja waiters. Since option #3 is still impossible (hurry up science!) in this instance I am choosing option #2.

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Some years ago my friends and I formed a revolving cast of artists, actors, thinkers, drinkers, dancers, philanthropists, philosophers, rapscallions and general ne’er do wells known as the 4c arts collective. Over the course of several years we threw the greatest parties in history (yes alright perhaps that’s a touch hyperbolic, but seriously, they were fucking amazing, Andy Warhol would have gone home crying into his coca-cola with envy) and raised thousands upon thousands of dollars for various charitable causes ranging from the Women’s Legal Service to the environmental activism group Six Degrees. And damn, did we have a good time doing it.

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We’re using the last of our funds to make sizeable donations to 4zzz and the Queensland Literary Awards, two of QLD’s most important grass roots arts organisations.

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Thanks to all of the amazing people that made this dream a reality. If you danced, drank, donated, collaborated, osculated (look it up) or in any other way participated then we love you times infinity billion.

PS

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7 Best Writing Albums

It’s often said that writing about music is like dancing about architecture, which always just makes me think “Yeah, I want to see more dances about architecture!” However, speaking in my capacity as a sometime musician, occasional music journalist, part time radio DJ and all the time lovably cantankerous author, I thought I’d share a few of my favourite writing albums.

I’m currently working my third novel, Adonis Comma Coma, which is a dark family comedy about a nurse who starts caring for the (allegedly) comatose son of an eccentric rich family who may or may not be killing their corporate rivals in a series of elaborate murders. Here’s what I’ve been listening to:

HUNZ – Penny Time

I am convinced that local wunderkind Hunz is at least 50% machine. Not only because he produces music and animation in a ridiculously diverse array of formats and mediums under various monikers, but because he makes a type of electronic music that seems more human than humanly possible. All his work is brilliant, but this soundtrack to the iphone game of the same name is sheer 8 bit genius.

Good for writing: Chase sequences.

MR MAPS – Wire Empire


Another local group, famous for their incendiary live performances and gorgeously complex yet completely accessible post-rock compositions. Mr Maps have been around for a good few years now, and they are easily one of the best bands Brisbane has ever produced. Wire Empire is a flawless album, and has an accompanying remix album as well. ALL of their work is currently available to download for free, so what are you waiting for you dumb jerk, go and and shove it in your ears already!

Good for writing: dramatic battle scenes or emotional reunions or awkward family moments or scenes involving amnesiac ninjas relearning how to bake novelty cupcakes for children’s birthday parties.

NIN – Ghosts

Ghosts was a weird departure for NIN, and one that confused a lot of people. Personally, I think it’s one of the most original albums released in the last decade. It was also an interesting precursor to Reznor/Ross’s soundtrack work (the Social Network is another one of my favourite writing albums).

Good for writing: mysterious scenes with eyes poking out of paintings whilst the protagonist carefully tiptoes down the hall with a candle and shadows flicker around the hall and then there’s  A MONSTER! oh no wait a minute it’s just great uncle Fred sleepwalking phew what a relief except that he does look rather pale? and OH MY GOD HE’S A VAMPIRE! oh no it’s okay he’s a friendly vampire that wants to give you a hug…

RJD2 – Deadringer

RJD2 is right up there with DJ Shadow in terms of next level instrumental hip hop. This album, (his masterpiece), is a gorgeous audio collage of love and longing, beats and samples, cuts and examples, horns and handclaps.

Good for writing: party scenes at the end where if it was a movie there would be still shots of all the actors with white text at the bottom of the screen talking about where they’ll be in five years time because it’s easier to just write that text than shoot more footage unless you want to do a sequel later in which case you’re pretty much screwed.

YPPAH – 1981


Yppah (pronounced yip-pah, and yes it is a stupid name) released ‘1981’ early last year and I have had it on constant repeat ever since. Filled with sweeping, uplifting, warm electronic symphonies, this album is an absolute joy from start to finish.

Good for writing:  Happy endings.

ZOE KEATING – Into the Trees


God I love the cello. Why don’t more people play the cello? Why don’t you? Because if you did, I would listen to you and buy all your albums. Although they’d never be as good as this one, because it’s a damn near perfect collection of layered and looped longings and lamentations.

Good for writing: really sad bits that highlight humanity’s tragic flaws like the fact that in the west we discard massive amounts of food whilst in the third food people are starving and yet Coles and Woolworths still pay farmers to NOT grow food and also conservative politicians oppose regulation for corporations that perpetrate these practices, probably because they shop there and don’t want to have to pay $2.99 instead of $3.15 for a bag of tomatoes so they’d rather just perpetuate an endemically flawed duoply that hurts both consumers and the agricultural industry.

BLUE SKY BLACK DEATH (BSBD) – Noir

BSBD are my favourite band. They produce an average of 2-3 albums per year ranging across an insane array of styles and genres including synth pop, ambient electronic and underground hip-hop. ‘Noir’ showcases them at their very best; it’s a surging, swaying collection of symphonic electronica laced with nostalgic film samples. Listening to this album feels like liquifying all your memories of childhood summers into a tiny ocean filled with waves of joy, fear and delight and then diving into them from the top of a cliff.

Good for writing: that scene where the central protaganist liquifies all their memories of childhood summers into a tiny ocean filled with waves of joy, fear and delight and then dives into them from the top of a cliff.

 

ATTN: THE UNIVERSE! ZEB IS HERE!

Dearest internet. It’s been a long time coming, but my children’s fantasy novel, Zeb and the Great Ruckus, has finally arrived! It’s been described as ‘like 1984 for kids, but with more magic, music and explosions’ and will be available for your rapturous enjoyment from the 15th of September!

FACT: Reading this book will give you superpowers!*
* Note: imagination is a superpower. You may disagree with this. You may also disagree with the laws of gravity, and you will be wrong about that too.

“This is a story made from pieces of all the dreams you had when you were asleep, but then forgot when you woke up.”

Hello! You are reading this in order to determine whether or not this book will be of interest to you! Well, congratulations, you obviously have fabulous taste! Zeb and the Great Ruckus is a story about magic, music, fireworks, bewilderbeasts, clockwork birds and weaponised toffee. It has some funny bits, some scary bits, some sad bits, and a rather large bit about a cave-dwelling ruttersnarl which we would tell you about but we don t want to give away the ending. If you like the sounds of any or all of the above, then this is the book for you! If you would rather read a complete history of European haberdashery, please consult your local book emporium.

Harry Potter says it’s the greatest book he’s ever read!*

Technically, it’s categorised as a children’s fantasy novel, but as I often say categories are for marketing departments and people who are too lazy to make up their minds about things. This isn’t just a book for kids. It’s funny, it’s sad, it’s strange, it’s a protest novel, it’s a celebration of art and music.

*quote attributed to Harold S. Potter – 32 year old amateur taxidermist currently residing in his mother’s house in Tingalpa.

  

I’m extremely excited about the illustrations, which were prodived by fellow Brisbanite Kathleen Jennings. She recently won TWO Ditmar awards (the oldest and most respected scifi/fantasy awards in Australia) and has also been nominated for a World Fantasy Award. Kathleen has a beautiful, whimsical style that encapsulates Zeb and his companions perfectly. Plus, she has an obsession with Daleks that I find thoroughly enjoyable.

  

Preorders are open right now through Odyssey Books and the Amazon store so hurry up and make with the clickety clicks already! (Amusing side-note:  I once had a fan tell me “My mother, who is 82 said ‘it’s amazing that they can operate the world’s largest book store from the middle of a giant south american jungle!'”).

You can also check out the facebook and goodreads pages. If you enjoy the book and would like to write a kindly review or even send me an email/tweet/messenger pigeon, that would be hugely appreciated. I’m one of those nice authors that actually replies to emails (most of the time.) If you hate it, please address your grievance to our dedicated complaint service email: campbell.newman@qld.gov.au. Details of the launch party will be announced soon (followed by the super secret after party at my house). You should come. It’s going to be one hell of a ruckus.

R.I.P. Rave

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As a teenage music nerd, my bedroom walls were perennially populated by posters featuring various scowling dudes with guitars looking down on me lying on my bed losing myself in my headphones whilst devouring Rave magazine. Growing up I always thought that being a music writer would be the most inconceivably, unbelievably, incontrovertibly cool job imaginable. Years later, I moved into my first Brisbane sharehouse with two wonderful girls, one of whom was just starting to pick up speed as the lead singer of now superstar act the Grates. Her then boyfriend wrote for another local music mag, and it occurred to me for the first time that music writers were actual people who existed in the real world and breathed and ate and drew on the fridge and used the bathroom when you really, really needed it. 

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It wasn't until late last year, when I'd accomplished the infinitely more arduous task of having my first novel published that I got around to signing up with Rave. In the short time since then I've reviewed countless gigs and albums and squeezed in just a handful of interviews. As a writer, it's been a fun challenge to pump out tiny bite sized non-fiction pieces at a high rate of frequency, as opposed to my primary concern of churning out massive 80 – 100k word fictional behemoths every few years (if that.)

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I was devastated when I received news that Rave was shutting down, and not only because of the fact that I will now have to start PAYING for gigs like a total loser. Rave provided valuable exposure for local bands and artists, great opportunities for local writers and photographers and, perhaps most importantly, was an entirely independent operation. Independent media is important; the beauty of working for Rave was that we didn't have to serve anyone's agenda. My editors would occasionally ask me to change a few things here and there, but this was more for content quality than because we were beholden to some corporate giant with vested interests (just look at the whole Rinehart/fairfax debacle at present). Clearly music journalism is nowhere near as important as political journalism, but journalistic integrity is of fundamental importance in terms of filtering what and how information reaching the masses and and we are currently seeing a dangerous erosion of its values which the loss of important independent media sources will only exacerbate. Thank Christ operations like New Matilda and The Conversation are still afloat.

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Here are a few highlights from my time with Rave; bands I would never have otherwise heard of, concerts I might never have gone to, interviews with amazing people I would otherwise have never met. Thanks to all the wonderful writers, editors and photographs and bands that I've worked with. This city is filled to the absolute bursting point with obscenely gifted artists and it's been an absolute blast working with a team dedicated to celebrating this this talent. See you at a gig sometime!

INTERVIEW with Jo Nesbo

GIGS 

Cut chemist

Bright Eyes

2011 Poetry Slam

Ball Park Music

ALBUMS

WILLIS EARL BEAL – acousmatic sorcery

 

BIG DEAL – Lights Out

 

STEVE SMYTH – self-titled