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Bigsound 2016, Day 2: Five Things We Learned

From revealing tales from hip-hop icons to the healthy current state of the local scene, here are our takeaways from the second day of the Brisbane’s music conference.

From revealing tales from hip-hop icons to the healthy current state of the local scene, here are our takeaways from the second day of Brisbane’s music conference, Bigsound.

Previously: Bigsound 2016, Day 1

1. The difference between a California fade and a New York fade
Ever heard of a California fade? How about a New York fade? Us neither, but on Thursday morning, J Rocc schooled Bigsound on both. The California fade is a slow, controlled fade out where the New York fade is more abrupt, he says. See this and this. According to J Rocc, journalist Jonno Seidler, who moderated the discussion between the legendary turntablist and Stones Throw Records founder Peanut Butter Wolf, was doing something all of his own with the music clips he played during the forum. “Let’s call that an Australia fade,” he quipped. The engaging keynote talk was a reminder of both the diversity and quality of Stones Throw’s output over the years, the best-known example of which is J Dilla’s Donuts, released just three days before the producer died of lupus. Kanye West waxes lyrical on Dilla’s genius in This Vinyl Weighs a Ton, the 2013 Stones Throw documentary, but PBW let us in on something that got left on the editing room floor. When asked about PBW, Kanye was stumped. “Who?” He said. Best not let that footage get in the hands of one Taylor Swift.

2. Music supervision sounds like one hell of a career
You don’t hear a lot about music supervision. It’s one of those undersung titles that, when it rolls up the screen during film credits, inspires either indifference or curiosity, much like “dolly grip” or “foley editor”. But as Jackie Shuman and Marcy Bulkeley told us during their panel with Jennifer Taunton, it’s a privileged position to be in – basically, you get to assign your musical taste to film trailers or ad campaigns and watch the end result come together in a symphony of visual and aural alchemy. Shuman works for Good Ear Music Supervision in the US and chose our Tkay Mazda to provide the soundtrack to the very first Twitter ad, using Maidza’s “U-Huh” to showcase the Pope’s visit. Shuman was also responsible for the Google Android Wear smartwatch ad featuring Shamir’s infectious “On The Regular”. Nice job, girlfriend. The turnaround time for this sort of work can vary rapidly – from 4 hrs for one of Shuman’s clients, to the 1.5 years it took for Bulkeley to put together the trailer music for The Martian, which involving getting permission from Jimi Hendrix’s estate to use “All Along The Watchtower.” It was the first time his material had been approved for advertising purposes.

3. A.B. Original are hilarious
In what was easily the most entertaining session of Bigsound so far, Briggs and Trials, aka A.B Original, had a theatre full of people in stitches as they talked about making music that matters, and why there’s a photo of Larry Emdur with a tray of Weetbix at a Funkoars concert. Speaking of Funkoars, moderator Lindsay McDougall had a sly dig at Trials over the name choice, and was swiftly put in his place. “I’d love to change it,” Trials admitted. “Know what I mean, Frenzal Rhomb?.” BURN. On a more serious note, Briggs spoke of how the hardship that surrounded him growing up was a powerful motivator for his own success. “I want Bad Apples to be a space for black excellence,” he said. As for making politically charged music that’s not going to curry favour with auntie Mildred? “We have to make ourselves uncomfortable to make everyone else uncomfortable to make the change.” As the panel was underway, it was announced that A.B. Original were the first act added to the Laneway 2017 bill as performing artists and festival host MCs. We can’t think of anybody more deserving.

The duo also unveiled their new video for ‘January 26’ during their presentation:

4. Artist managers have a whole lot to manage
At another forum that had us feeling pangs of career envy, a crack panel of managers told us what’s it’s like to run the show for some of the biggest bands and artists in the world. There are personalities to pander to, at times – Jodie Reagan of Spinning Top Music sometimes has to tell Kevin Parker things in a certain way, “because if you tell him someone wants him to do something he’ll tell them to get fucked” – but Chad Gillard of Future Classic spoke for the panel when he said it’s the best job in the the world. “You get to make a living based on your taste,” he said. Nick Yates of Unified told us how Saturday morning bloody marys in St Kilda with mate Jonniah Ponniah of IOHYOU led to Violent Soho being signed to the label – they’ve gone on to become one of the biggest rock bands in Australia – and Regan spoke about how LA is the new New York. Like many other Australian artists and industry folk, she’s now based there.

5. There is no better time or place to see Australian bands
The festival component at Bigsound is an embarrassment of riches, with scores of artists playing across dozens of venues, all within a short stumble of each other. On Thursday night, you might have seen Fountaineer, PYNES, Dorsal Fins, Olympia and Teeth & Tongue – and that was just at Ric’s Big Backyard. 15 other venues played host to five other acts apiece, so that should give you some idea of just how spoiled for choice you are here. For anyone with a passing interest in up and coming Australian music, Bigsound really is your one-stop shop for checking out our emerging talent, and for finding your new favourite band, probably a few times over.

Main photo: Stones Throw keynote. Credit: Bigsound Facebook.