Two artists tell us what they love about Canberra's music scene | HerCanberra

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Two artists tell us what they love about Canberra’s music scene

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Live music was one of the industries hit hardest by lockdowns in recent years.

However today, Canberra’s live music scene is going from strength to strength with new live music venues cropping up (hello, Fun Time Pony), more locally-run festivals than ever, new recording studios being established and gigs galore.

We chatted with two local acts about their favourite aspects of Canberra’s music scene, what they’re working on and what advice they would give to the next generation.

Gia Ransome

Gia Ransome. Photography: Cassie Abraham.

What do you love about the Canberra music scene?

The music scene here is really socially supportive. All of the bands show up for each other and get around each other’s music.

It’s a nice community to be a part of, and I think hyping each other up makes people feel more motivated and comfortable putting their music out there.

Where is your favourite place to see live music?

For bands, Sideway is always a good bet. For soloists, Gang Gang Cafe is really nice and cosy.

What advice would you give up-and-coming artists from Canberra?

I think young artists often feel like they have to musically fit in with what other bands in the scene are doing rather than trying to develop their own unique sound. I’d love to hear more people pushing the boundaries and playing different kinds of music in Canberra.

What are you working on and releasing at the moment and why do you love it?

I’m working on a new single called ‘Buttercup’. I’m having fun going more rock and roll with this one. We’ve doubled and tripled almost every guitar part, so building the layers has been a cool challenge.

I wrote this song a while ago about someone I was dating at the time, but it never quite sat right. I revisited it after we broke up and suddenly had all these new ideas that felt much more honest, and it quickly became one of my favourites.

Can you describe your music in three words?

Dark, dramatic, melancholy.

Do you feel that the Canberra music scene has ‘recovered’ from the challenges of the pandemic? If not, why?

I spent the five years prior to COVID in Melbourne and overseas, so in terms of what it was like then compared to now, I’m not the person to ask. That said, since I came back to Canberra in 2020, the music scene has improved a lot.

For a while, it was hard to get people out to watch gigs, but attendance for the last year or so has been increasing. It’s a lot easier to fill a room now, and I think bands are less stressed when putting on shows because ticket sales are going better.

The less we stress about selling tickets, the more time we can actually spend on our music, and the better the show is.

Neon Honey

Neon Honey. Photography: Lilya Kichigina.

What do you love about the Canberra music scene?

The Canberra music scene is a vibrant tapestry of diverse genres, creating a unique sonic landscape. What makes it special is the tight-knit community and the genuine passion shared among musicians.

Initiatives like MusicACT and events such as the National Folk Festival showcase the authentic spirit of the scene. With educational support from ANU School of Music, local artists have a solid foundation to contribute to Canberra’s rich musical identity.

Where is your favourite place to see live music?

My favorite place to play and experience live music in Canberra is Smith’s Alternative for its intimate setting. The close connection between the audience and performers creates a unique and immersive experience.

On a grander scale, the Canberra Theatre Centre’s Playhouse stands out for larger performances. The state-of-the-art facility enhances the visual and auditory aspects of the show, making it a fantastic choice for big-name acts. The diversity between intimate venues like Smith’s and larger spaces like the Playhouse ensures that Canberra’s music scene caters to various preferences and occasions.

What advice would you give up-and-coming artists from Canberra?

For up-and-coming artists in Canberra, my advice extends to actively engaging with the local music scene through events and open mics, utilising online platforms for visibility.

An additional crucial aspect is to embrace the power of self-production. Learning to produce your own music not only provides creative autonomy but also opens up avenues for experimentation and expression.

With accessible digital tools, aspiring artists can hone their skills in music production, giving them a competitive edge and ability to collaborate with other musicians more effectively.

What are you working on at the moment and why do you love it?

Currently, I’m dedicated to innovative ways of releasing my music. I’m exploring platforms like Bandcamp and considering Triple J Unearthed for the release of my favourite singles before distributing complete compilations to larger platforms to build a more intimate community.

Engaging in numerous collaborations, I’m in the process of preparing for another film clip, following the recent release of ‘Chasing Shadows’ on YouTube. Alongside continuous music production and writing, I’m actively planning shows, applying to festivals, and forging new collaborations with fellow artists. This dynamic blend of activities reflects my commitment to both artistic exploration and strategic growth in the evolving music landscape.

Can you describe your music in three words?

Ethereal, Dynamic, Enchanting.

Do you feel that the Canberra music scene has ‘recovered’ from the challenges of the pandemic?

While the pandemic presented challenges for the broader music community in Canberra, it also became a catalyst for my personal and artistic growth.

Struggling alongside fellow musicians, I found the courage to quit my job and fully commit to being a musician. This shared adversity within the community has fostered a collective resilience and determination. Despite the difficulties, there’s a sense that with struggle comes room for growth, not just for me individually but for the entire Canberra music scene.

The challenges of the past few years have sparked creativity, collaboration, and a renewed appreciation for the local music community’s strength and resilience.

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