This all started last November with an email to Lyam, asking if I could write a weekly column for a magazine from a university I don’t even go to. And now, after countless late nights, 2.25L bottles of Coke Zero, bible documentaries and episodes of the H3 Podcast, here we are. The last issue of 2018. Fucking finally.
My goal with these articles was to figure out why anyone would want to start a band in a farming town at the bottom of the world. It’s not like there’s any record labels that will sign you, music stores you can sell your record in, or venues you can sell out. Unless you’re Kimbra or Devilskin, you’re almost guaranteeing your own failure. We are Sisyphus with syphilis, pushing our giant rock up Grantham Street, being crushed like Midnight Youth’s dreams in the band rotunda a few years back.
And there’s something magical in that. It’s the kind of harsh realisation that doesn’t leave any room for pretentiousness or ego. There isn’t anyone in this city that’s going to give a flying fuck if you have 10,000 followers or views or plays or people in the crowd. We’re all in this together – thrashing around in the dirt and the mud.
After all the musicians I talked to, the albums I pored over, and the internet stalking I did, I feel like I actually learned something. I’ve seen live music in garages and 300 capacity rooms disguised as Jim Beam advertisements; I’ve heard music recorded by professional studios and toasters; I’ve talked to people from all walks of life that can transcend and translate their experiences into the universal language of music.
I learned about the key ingredients of a thriving musical community: people need connection. People need to feel safe in the environments they choose to be in. People need to feel accepted, welcomed into, and celebrated in our local music scene. Sometimes, we’re okay at that, and sometimes, we miss the mark. But we’re learning as we go, and if the people I’ve interviewed this year are any indication, we’ll get there. We’re getting there.
I also learned about our shortcomings. Venues are understaffed and overworked. Diversity in music isn’t as celebrated as it should be. People don’t come to shows. We need more bands, more promoters, more drummers, and more music. We need to trust ourselves and the art that we create. And above all, we need one another.
But we do this for ourselves; the 13-year-old version that’s losing their shit seeing a band for the first time. We do this for each other, ‘cause we know how easy it is to sink into the darkness without a community to belong to. And we do this for you; for the possibility and privilege to be a soundtrack to your life.
I hope you learned something too or, at the very least, had something to read while you were taking a shit. Thanks to the team at Nexus, everyone that read my ramblings, and the people who messaged me saying nice things when I accidentally became the Champion of the Left. If I can leave you with any advice, it’s this: if you think our music scene sucks, put your own fucking show on, then.