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Worm-est Regards to Laneway

JMC Academy graduates Worm Girlz made the earth move at Laneway Festival

Worm Girlz

It may be a long way to the top if you want to rock ’n’ roll, but there are some effective avenues there for the taking. Proof in the pudding is Meanjin/Brisbane band Worm Girlz, alumni from JMC Academy who represented their alma mater at Laneway Festival in Sydney.

Made up of fem and non-binary members and championing safe and inclusive live shows, Worm Girlz features Lauren Rowe, Angie Gale, Isabella Wood de Melo, Niko Bray, and Jade Montgomery. Repping JMC at Laneway Festival was yet another feather in the cap for the band and they just couldn’t wait to hit the stage at the iconic festival, one which they could only previously dream of playing. 

“It’s wormalicious!” exclaims Jade, by way of introducing us to Worm Girlz-talk. “Truly the best thing that has happened to us since we wriggled out from the compost. Although it’s such a wild achievement to have received this slot, it also feels so right to us.

“Since our very first writing session, each of us Wormz have not only been dreaming and manifesting our goals, but also working ridiculously hard to maximise the outcomes of everything we do. It’s a project we all pour our hearts into because we truly believe in our music and the messages surrounding consent, being a better bystander, and body image that we promote. 

“Being recognised by the Laneway team as ready to play a big festival stage is an absolute dream come true and we’re so excited and honoured to be playing the big stage with our best friends. Just glad we hadn’t bought tickets yet (laughs).”

Worm Girlz formed the band around their studies at JMC. Despite the challenges of the COVID era and how it affected some of their studies, the school provided a backdrop of learning as well as creative and emotional support to truly get them on their way.

Studying a degree can be an absolute whirlwind and we all had a range of unique experiences during our time at JMC,” Lauren says. “Isabella and I both started our degrees in January of 2020, so it wasn’t very long until the world turned upside down.”

“Jade, however, started their studies in 2016 which is a whopping five years before Niko, who enrolled in 2021. It’s crazy to think that while we were individually studying music, we were also setting up a future in which Worm Girlz could emerge. We hope our story really demonstrates the importance of networking and creating a safe, positive community as we couldn’t have all met or made music together if not for having that connection through JMC.”

Worm Girlz formed proper in early 2023, however the band had been creating music together for much longer both in classes at JMC and at home as friendships and musical ties blossomed.

“The sharehouse of dreams brought us all together in 2020 as Lauren and I moved into the ex-rooms of Jade and Angie, who had conveniently only moved across the street,” explains Niko. “Very quickly our budding friendships bloomed with boardgame nights, Mario Kart tournaments and many, many jam sessions together with Isabella. 

“In early talks of the project, Angie was actually convinced that Jade and Lauren had to be joking about starting a band with the name Worm Girlz, but very quickly realised what the band could become as the writing process began and the pairing of silly worm puns with hard-hitting messages was born.”

“Worm Girlz brings a new meaning to the ‘underground’ scene.” – J Sweetman, Worm Girlz fan

Board games and jams at home were one (important) thing, but Worm Girlz especially appreciated the approach to education and how wisdom, experience and knowledge was passed on during their time at JMC, from both lecturers and fellow students.

Maybe it’s the smaller class sizes or the reality of studying with other creatives,” says Jade, “but a shared experience we each had at university is how much we bonded with our peers and worked together throughout our study load. We all felt so supported by our community through peer-led study groups that helped us to all stay up to date on class content and our peers always offered energetic encouragement during performance opportunities. 

“The smaller class sizes also meant that we could have more personalised attention and feedback from the lecturers who inspired us, which helped us grow further as musicians.”

“Pursuing a career as a musician is incredibly rewarding,” adds Lauren. “There are a wide range of career paths you can venture down with an abundance of ways to achieve your goals and studying is just one of those avenues.”

Aside from their own set at Laneway Festival, each of the Worm Girlz had their own must-see acts to catch at the festival.

Jade – Blondshell

Lauren – Blondshell and Faye Webster

Angie – HorsegiirL

Bell a – Faye Webster, Dominic Fike and Unknown Mortal Orchestra

Niko – DOMi & JD Beck

During 2023 Worm Girlz toured the East Coast with Dusty and supported the likes of Carla Geneve and Haters. They released their well-received debut single, “Dirt” in November. 

Kicking off 2024 with a Laneway Festival slot was a pretty impressive start to a new year by any stretch, and Worm Girlz plan to keep the highlights and good times rolling.

“2023 showed us that anything is possible if we put our minds to it and that life is beautifully unpredictable,” says Angie. “So we’re manifesting more energetic shows, meaningful connections, and total worm domination! An imperative goal for Worm Girlz involves making noise alongside organisations such as She’s A Crowd and What Were You Wearing to bring awareness and incite change surrounding sexual assault, gender-based violence and safer spaces at live shows. 

“We’ll be spilling the dirt on a huge secret we’ve been keeping just after Laneway Festival… so keep your eyes peeled on our socials to be the first to know!”

If you’re an emerging musician or production person who might be contemplating an enrolment at JMC in the coming year, Worm Girlz are understandably enthusiastic for you.

“Make sure to make the most of your time in your studies and squeeze every opportunity possible from your degree,” Isabella says. “The easy access to facilities and advice from mentors is completely invaluable, plus the people you meet in your studies will be some of the people you get to grow with in the industry, so always work hard and be kind. 

“There is something so special about being immersed in creativity and surrounded by like-minded people. JMC gave us that place and we have made lifelong friends, collaborators and industry connections from our time there.”

Worm Girlz performed at the Laneway Festival on Sunday, February 4, at Sydney Showground, Sydney Olympic Park, Burramattagal Land & Wangal Land. Full details at lanewayfestival.com/sydney/home

Discover more about enrolling at JMC Academy at jmcacademy.edu.au