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End of Disco @ Mylk (26/08/06)

Aug. 28th, 2006 | 04:08 pm

Yes. Mad party. It was sweaty. And lots of girls. With a very bumpin dancefloor. Cool trash art on the walls. I was transfixed on fluoro Simon LeBon. AND there was an actual 80s housewife there.

Well she reeaaally looked as if she had left her beige non-electric roller hoover in the cloak room for a while so she could get dooowwn in her sheer stark blue dress which was more than flattering the way it fell on her curves. Her hair stood out too. Big curls which sat up alllmost like an afro but not. Dancing. Gorgeous, and so carefree!

The party atmosphere in that club was great. It was totally the music. Tekneex and Hooli were crunching out an eclectic mix of clash electro with some wicked booty bass. Then again, it was also the crowd's attitude that made it go off, cos everyone was dancing in some form whether they were in the less crowded parts of the lounge, hitting on people at the bar or grinding on the couches. Infectious. This is how a club should be!!

Jaime Doome and Dangerous Dan are prime examples of what it's like to be a hot DJ. You have first access to the absolute freshest tunes and rarest bootlegs, and this set them apart at least stylistically from the other boys, although it would not have been easy to carry the atmosphere that Tekneex and Hooli had setup.

Obligatory blown up photocopies of art/pop pop-art icons decorated with pink and yellow fluoro adorned the walls... One said Elvis DiFazio on it, so I'm assuming he's the guy who decked out the room, google him. So it set the scene pretty well. I think this is a great venue for messy parties, but I believe the club transforms into an R&B hangout or something similar at other times? In which case, yeah, I spose it’d be pretty cool for that too. Mylk has a flow about it that makes you feel comfortable whether you want to chill, go nuts or even talk to people, and the layout really contributes the way the bars feed the dance floor and vice versa, and the way the dance floor blends into the lounges. So with the art on the walls, and the tunes, the night was made already.

I mean, yeah we're kinda past the peak of this style electroclash clubbing a la Bang Gang, and yeah we’ve almost had enough of fluoro shit and analogue synths and remade 80s tunes and Tiga and saying how cool New Kids On The Block are (actually ewww I'm well over that one) but werd to the promoters for pulling it off. Cos we know we love it. And we want more still. It caaan't die yeeet!

It's like... ok, you have to see this movie about the dying days of the disco scene in America set in the sort of late 70s early 80s, it's got Chloe Sevigny in it, made in 1998, and some really great dialogue... But get this though the movie is called The End of Disco!! It is seriously almost exactly what’s happening here ( plus drama). I wonder if the dudes putting on this night have seen the movie, surely they have! Go to the next one.

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Whomadewho... party animals

May. 31st, 2006 | 11:05 pm

Three mad scandos in a fit banging out rough-edged disco rock in skin-tight skeleton body suits!! Three eccentric Dane's screaming shut the hell up and drink and dance and go nuts!! And not only have they captured it all on a CD to fuel those pre-going out drinks, we're going to get some of it in flesh real soon. I'd kill to see these guys at a house party - it's dancing on the tabletop music.

It's the combination of DJ/Producer, virtuoso jazz guitarist and rock vocalist/bass player which makes Whomadewho rock. It's yin-yang with an extra swirly thing.

Think the freshness of their Danish compatriots Junior Senior, and Norwegian sweet heart Annie (Norway). It's the same vibe - they've emerged in the same way; roses amongst the thorns in a Scandinavian scene heavily influenced by their gloomy climate. Check out the success of Jeff Buckley and Radiohead in the region. These guys are a direct (but undirected) reaction against this culture. Whomadewho are not the first to play a raw mash of house, disco and rock, but it's the party message which comes through loud and clear and it’s the way they say. It sets them apart. It’s why they’re famous.

Their raw yet charming self-titled debut album is available now through Ministry of Sound. Perhaps a little simple and a bit bare in places, the mood the album conveys and the allusion to its vibrant performance is more than enough to provide an entertaining and versatile soundtrack. Next party you have, chuck this record on when about half your guests have arrived and grab a beer. Relax. Atmosphere taken care of. I noticed at a party recently someone hijacked the sound system with this album. I didn’t know who the band was at the time, but I noticed people subconsciously drift towards the speakers. The poor dude spent the next hour answering “Who’s this mate?!“ “What CD is this??” It plays quite nicely at home too - it's not intrusive but you still get the energy, and technically they've done an excellent job from their home studios.

Whomadewho's frivolity is contagious, they rock a stage, and they’ll make you move this September. They will make you move, this September. They will. Make you move. This September! Expect to hear a lot of the chorus of falsetto vocals calling the party on the single 'Rose' and in the lead up to their Australian tour over the next few months. Will keep you posted.

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Modular Monthly feat. Chromeo @ The Basement (27/05/06)

May. 30th, 2006 | 06:02 pm

I was thinkin' "Heeeeeeeeeeelll yeeeeaaaah!!! A chance to check out Modular monthly while I'm in Sydney ANNND to see Chromeo!!" about a week before the gig. I rounded up all my Sydney friends to come. They got excited too. And WHOOA I saw Dave One and Pee Thug rrrrrock it!

But there was something missing. It's bothering me.

First let me enlighten you about the night!

As I arrived there were bunches of dudes in the park sinking tallies before going in. It was a chilly night - these guys were serious about getting drunk. I went straight inside. The venue was famously dark. Once I got in the door I slinked through the crowd and into the comfort of the dim, warm, wooden den in front of the stage, revelling in anonymity. The DJ was mashing a fun set of party hip-hop but it was more like background music because the crowd was mostly milling about the bar or talking on the dance floor. It was a bizarre sort of vibe. Sort of like half anticipation, half why isn't anything happening. Maybe it was because half the crowd knew Chromeo, and half were there just for the fact that it was Modular Monthly at The Basement.

I don't think most of the crowd really knew what to expect. Actually no-one really did. Like, I know Chromeo's album back to front, but you don't hear much about these dudes, and they're from a really foreign place to here. I'm sure there were plenty of people there who don't know where Montreal or Quebec are. Plus their music is hard to figure. All that squeaky synthetic goodness - are they being serious?? Or are they making fun of it? And are they really that cool? And are their names really Dave One and Pee Thug? Does he really have gold teeth? What I did know was Chromeo's album (She's In Control) is a piece of art and there were a lot of obesessed fans killing to see the guys who made it and play it live.

I can answer a few of those questions now too. They ARE that cool. A boring grey Tarago screeched up at 11.30. So not appropriate. They looked unimpressed through the unshaded windows. But Dave had wound his window down and peered down at the heat happening inside the Basement. Chillin' in the front seat with his glasses and leather jacket. Whoa, I thought, this guy looks damn COOL. Pee was in the back, gold teeth glinting onto the crowd which had escaped the club for a cigarette. His trademark head-dress was screaming Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga Gang Gang Gangsta. Aaaah, this is tha dudes who made that song! Oh man, I was so jealous.

Dave hit the stage with all that French-Canadian cool. (Cool is just the word - get used to it! In all the word's ambiguity, it's precisely what he was!) He was engaging with the way he looked, the way he spoke to the crowd, the way he moved, the way he played. Ooooh and his clear perspex and chrome guitar!!

Pee Thug is a big man with a larger vocal range than Mariah. No seriously. Pee + talkbox = the holy grail. Add Dave and drummer with half regular half v-kit to create Chromeo live.

Chromeo was in control. Hmm, but...

I mentioned something was missing, and it wasn't just my friends who all piked on me within two days of the gig (all of them yes!). She's In Control was released early 2004, and their set was exclusively tracks from that album. That's my hangup. 2004, that's more than two years. This left me thinking, well, maybe they mustn't think Australia's heard any or much of their stuff at all here - but that definitely wasn't true, they knew the crowd knew all the lyrics. Ok then, maybe they haven't made any new stuff. Huh? Maybe, but in two years a duo surely must have some new material to play us. They're keeping their new tracks secret? But why would you not promote new material on an international tour? It's confusing. Still! Why no new material Chromeo?? Why?

I remember a very lonely Modular party tour which went through Brisbane a couple of years ago. I'm pretty sure it'd sell out if that same gig was today. So, in the end, confused, but overwhelmed by a great performance from studio based musos and the awesome Modular people. It's just unfortunate that a band who's produced such an album brimming with talent couldn't show us anything new.

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The Presets reckon they're cool.

May. 20th, 2006 | 10:02 pm

Before I met the guys, I wasn't sure about the ridiculous (though hilarious) blurb in all their media releases. Who writes this crap!? Turns out, if you boil it all down, you're left with a pure and concentrated sample of The Presets' sense of humour. And these dudes are damn non-chalant type of guys, at least when it comes to my comfort stuck in front of them asking dumb questions.

We're sitting at a bustling, cute and simple Italian cafe in Crow's Nest. They're in a bit of a huff - they've been carting gear all over Sydney and they're taking a new phone interview between each breath. They've also got to get their set sorted before they start another national tour, and they've not totally enthusiastically sacrificed a more relaxing lunch break to have a chat with me on a surprisingly warm Sydney afternoon.

Waitress: "Macchiatos?"
Jules: "Yep."
The waitress slips coffees in front of Jules and Kim.
W: "Thank you."
Kim: "This is the secret to being a Sydney-sider mate; order yourself a macchiato, and you say "baby" after everything."
Me: "Baby?"
Kim: "Yeah baby."
The waitress plonks a flat white on the table.
M: "Thanks."
W: "Thank you."
K: "You didn't say baby."
M: "Oh."
J: "She knows you're from Brisbane by the way."
M: "Already?"
J: "Yeah."
They rattle their teaspoons in their tiny macchiato glasses, oohing and aahing.
J: "This guy really knows how to make a macchiato. It's a sight for sore eyes."
M: "Baby," I'm amused, "but only to the girls?"
K: "Nah mate. Nah baby. Everyone's a candidate. If you really want to be a Sydney-sider, especially to the boys... Hehehe boys mate."

They're both hidden behind dark, oversized 80s sunnies. And usual Preset's attire. Jules has a worn black shirt, black jeans and sneakers, Kim struts to the counter in an oversized 80s sports jacket - one of those really floppy, poor-fitting ones hanging off his shoulders- and orders lunch.

I don't want to make these guys out to seem really cool because it'll go straight to their heads. But the fact is, they're not. They're annoying instrumental graduates from the Conservatorium. I drilled them, because instrumental music students (as opposed to production orientated ones) are obsessed with their tool to the point that they forget about real life. Jules and Kim reckoned they LOVED uni and its classical focus. So are these guys freaks from music school?
J: "They're a different type of people. They are different, but every now and then, like, I mean, we are the same; kinda obsessive but we kind of have a bit more of an idea of what's going on in the world. Most of these people kinda are a bit crazy, locked away for like hours on end and battle with their instrument. And sort of it's like discipline, like a state of massachistic need, you know, they don't feel good unless they go and do it you know what I mean? It's almost a sickness. But it's a good thing if you can, like, have that talent and control it."
K: "You gotta discipline your discipline."
J: "Yeah exactly. It took me years to shake the feeling of not practising, after practising for so long so regularly. Like doing sorta five hours a day up to like, when I finished uni, I had a massive reaction to it and couldn't do it anymore. But I still had this emptiness feeling, which I used to be able to fill if like I felt that bad I'd go and do twenty minutes practise and it'd be alright.
Now I fill that emptiness with alcohol and drrrugs....
Now I don't need to practise to not feel empty anymore. I've taken control of my emptiness."

Sigh... They're such dry comedians...

There's no time for them to feel emptiness anyway. Tour as begun. They've been hard at work refining and beefing up their set, and it's developed a lot since we last saw them. The last few weeks have been spent tweaking, turning, chiselling, tempering, moulding, tightening. Their creativity and its delivery have developed too.
J: "It's a bit more mature I guess. Bit more direct. More economic.
It's just cleaner. Slicker. Better."
And they're more than ready to party after some tough months touring the UK and the US and in a seemingly rare moment, they get genuinely passionate. Do they prefer being on the road over there to here?
J: "No. Over here's the best. Yeah man, like being on the road here means flying to Melbourne, whereas being on the road over there means driving everywhere."
K: "Before I had gone overseas I was like, uhh this is fucked, all I want to do is go and see the world. Then you realise when you go overseas that it's all beautiful places and it's all different and stuff, but, here's got such good quality of life and there's a decent cup of coffee around the corner."
J&K (spontaneously in unison): "This really is the lucky country."

Good luck to them, they won't be able to have a decent sleep for a while! They tour very hard, they're already in Perth, and they have consecutive gigs in Fremantle, Perth and Adelaide before they get here on Sunday the 28th. They're not going to have many days to relax for the next month.
J: "Generally those days off, you can't party and go wild and you don't have the chance to let loose when you're actually working, you know, cos when you're performing you gotta keep your head on. And if you have too many wild nights it kills ya when you get 6 shows in a row."

They're two very driven dudes and their pain is starting to pay dividends. Check em out, the Presets' disco will be rocking out near you within the next few weeks
The waitress reappears with Kim's ravioli and a bread roll for Jules.
J: "That roll's good," Jules scoffs down half of it.
K: "Was almost going to get a garlic bread today."
M: "Is that all you're getting?" I ask Jules.
K: "HA. Yeah man. Music business is really paying off!"

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The Diplomat

May. 17th, 2006 | 09:39 pm

Her only qualification is degree in commerce completed when she was 36. Before that she ran a struggling desktop publishing business with her partner. Before that she travelled to towns trying to sell accessories. She's second in charge of our embassy in Mexico City, population twenty million. She's responsible for the rights of every Australian on Mexican soil, and for any related public relations should situations arise. It's her job to promote awareness of Australia and its people and culture. It's finally happiness and fulfillment.

"They said 'Do you want an interesting life, do you want to travel, see the world, have a diplomatic passport, and have a varied and diversified job?' And I wanted that!" The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade were recruiting, and just at the right time. Sometimes looking for the track can end up being just as painful as being stuck in a rut. Nothing had really ever fallen into place for Susan Lee. An exceptionally bright child with four much older siblings and a baby sister, she was torn in all directions as her brothers and sisters gave her loaded advice on what she should do with her life. Loaded advice in the way your boss offers a tip that better time management will improve your performance - there's expectancy and pressure attached. But imagine if you had four bosses and they were all telling you to do it their way. That's a fair burden.

Susan escaped. She moved out of town and got married. Nineteen years old. Years later she realised she hadn't married her best lover but her best friend, and they eventually divorced. Being in a country town and not really getting the chance to develop many employable skills, she later moved to more metropolitan Queensland to chase better money. Working in a Gold Coast boutique wasn't satisfying. She attempted to found her own private enterprise selling fashion accessories to shops around New South Wales, which wasn't satisfying. She met the man she was meant to be with and began a desktop publishing business, which wasn't satisfying. "So then I just thought, well, I really just need to do some sort of formalised education and get a better job. And it just opened up so many doors."

So before she had graduated from her degree in commerce, she had already been offered jobs multiple government departments and accepted a job at Foreign Affairs, making the expense-free move down to Canberra following her graduation. "It was a shock. It was great. When you first get into the department as a graduate you are punished. being a graduate is actually quite a special thing to be in the department, and you are treated quite differently to other people who are not graduates. So in punishment, they pay you a measley amount of money so you are subjected to being very poor for your first year. But that first year was great, you bonded with your other graduates, we did everything together, we did lots of training, we actually sat in and met international court judges and ministers, we met the hierachy of the departments, so there were lots of benefits. And after that rookie year you are automatically granted a promotion, which takes some people ten or more years to move up."

Susan's duties in that first year were in the financial branch doing the statements for the department. Fellow graduates had very diversified positions from auditing to human relations to trade. "That's the interesting thing about Foreign Affairs. You could be working on treaties, you could be working on trade negotiations or media liasons." And within that year she was promoted and the first to be internationally posted out of the group, having stood out from the rest in her application for a posting in Vietnam. She was excited to recount her new duties, "I had a budget and I had to design an outreach program to introduce Australia, its culture, and Australian everything to an audience that basically only sawa Australians as people who came to the country and fought. So that was probably the most interesting part of my job it took me all around southern Vietnam, where I made speeches, I addressed university students, I put on performances, I brought acts from Australia to perform, we did art exhibitions, we had artists come and teach people." Amazing given she was intending to become an accountant!

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Damn Warner has snared me

May. 14th, 2006 | 08:52 pm

Sorry, I just have to get this out, cos I'm hopelessly obsessed with Pussycat Dolls - Beep. I can't get over the chord progression in the bridge before the chorus. Love it!

Ps. OMG I just signed up to their site and sent Nicole an email hahahahaahaa

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Ladida @ Chinese Laundry, Sydney (13/05/06)

May. 14th, 2006 | 05:55 pm

So you're in the middle of the CBD. It's Saturday night, you've had a few drinks. It'd midnight, the city is more active than peak hour on a work day. Walking down George St you find yourself in the middle of crowd migrations to find another watering hole. Take a turn down King towards Darling Harbour, and into the Slip Inn on Sussex. There's a group of drunken women threatening the mass of empty beer glasses as they dance around the room to cheesy house, knocking over chairs and bumping tables. The room's packed full of gawking daggy footy fans watching the FA Cup grand final. The atmosphere here is just too euphoric, so you head downstairs, past a bar which is pretty much the same except without TVs, so the blokes here are busily sleazing onto the boozed talent.

That's what it was like, and by this stage I felt lost because I thought I was here to see a fairly underground DJ set, but there was no signs of it. I continued down the stairs to be overwhelmed by the transition from pub to club. For one thing, there were no blonde women in the basement. Yeah... Does that mean anything? Anyway now that I had found the sort of vibe I was expecting I made my way through Ladida's dance floor, shocked to have shoved through such a common Aussie city pub scene straight into a crowd being pounded by a brilliant set of minimal techno. I mean, the crowd upstairs hardly looked different from the one downstairs (apart from the mass of brunettes! Oh, let's brush aside the dilated pupils...). Yet, their response to the obscure and technically captivating European techno being spun by the Czechoslovakian DJ was proving the openness of this diverse bunch of partyers.

It was a dark and dirty room. And quite frankly, everyone in there was dark and dirty. Or at least they were by the time they came out! I've got no more words beyond that it was simply a great party.

Dirty is not how I'd describe the tunes however. Minimal techno, beautifully and masterfully produced. And the system was perfectly suited to the style with impactful bass and most critically, exceptionally crisp high-mid to high frequencies. Minimal electronica is always accentuated by a good system, and this one brought out the attention to detail for which these genres are reknowned.

Ladida was an international model. She's Czech. I don't really need to further describe how gorgeous she is, but know this woman gave up the potential of a huge modelling career to play techno - in a Czechoslovakia coming out of Communism! She's got an amazing story, and you can tell she chose to follow what she loved doing, and she's got talent. Now, I don't want to draw to much attention to this, but before the gig I was slightly cynical as to the level of entertainment her DJing skills would achieve. She delivered with her music that's for sure - the set was put together well and she had excellent consciousness of her audience, a highlight of her expertise. But to remain completely honest, her mixing was not to standard for an international DJ. She did look noticeably fatigued, probably the aftermath of the previous night's gig in Melbourne, however a male DJ would not get away with such consistently sloppy transitions. Since she's often quoted on her affinity for three deck mixing, I'm going to give her the benefit of the doubt and say she was exhausted, maybe even unwell, which can sometimes really affect a DJ's ability to mix well.

In the end, any minor hiccup she had behind the decks was more than compensated for by a very original and fresh set of tunes - definitely for Australian ears! It's obvious Ladida works hard to get as much as she can out her dance floor, and by doing so she radiates an unique natural charisma which certainly won the crowd over when she left the booth after her set to join the mob, which capped off a great night. Great party!

Image by XF Empire. from the inthemix website

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La.Di.Da on the weekend

May. 12th, 2006 | 10:30 am

I'm covering Prague DJ, ex-CK model La.Di.Da at Chinese Laundry in the city tomorrow night. Was also given a task to do an interview on someone about their job and what it means to them, so I might try to see if I can grab the lady for 10 mins before her set or even see if she hangs around in Sydney for a bit. Meanwhile, she's not too bad lookin'.

Image from LaDiDa's site.

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bAng gAng wooo

May. 8th, 2006 | 08:17 pm

So, suddenly this beautifully feminine, manicured hand slaps down on mine not unlike the brush of my housemate's half-persian cat. "Don't!" attacks an aggressive shriek. I follow the hand up to a large tattooed forearm half-covered by the rags of what used to be a shirt, but now looks more like what those sad Brisbane visual art PhD students who never wash/leave a darkened room/eat without leaving half their food down their front/eat would wear if all their clothes got lost in a fire and they had to rip a shirt off the homeless guy who lives in their West End backyard. By this point I'm realising, as I notice the chains-of-death also attached to this heaving but intriguingly camp and angry natured behemoth, that this ain't no ordinary chick, err, person. Light make-up (for a FREEEAK) - just a bit of eyeliner, foundation and lipstick. Head shaved erraticly, and where the razor has missed exists foul knots of dreadlocks. By now I start to figure that most of the signs point to this creature being male, bringing to mind the lessons that Miriam taught me: to never EVER make assumptions about gender (although I was far from making assumptions here!), and to not judge by appearance (let me just clear my throat).

Anyway, I had truly been reprimanded for pretty much clambering over the bar whilst falling on a couple of thirsty patrons in a successful effort to get a piece of lime for my G&T. Well, satisfactory effort, because I had only managed to grab a piece of unfashionable lemon. But, you know, I didn't reaally care that much, because I was too busy enjoying a uniquely frivolous atmosphere created by the Friday night union of freaks, kool dudes and hot chix that can only happen in King's Cross.

Imagine being really reeeallly euphoric, but not. That's Club 77 on a Friday. It's like you're in a room surrounded by friends who you love, but you're not sure if they hate you, or if you were surrounded by friends that love you, but you're not sure if you hate them. Insane!

Ok, so we've played some Guns 'N' Roses pinball - pointless because the swell of such a crowd causes the machine to tilt and shutdown - and move to the dance floor as Ajax of Bang Gang spins a particularly pounding tune. On the way I'm temporarily overwhelmed by the doe-eyed glance of a stunningly gorgeous, tall fair-haired girl standing out amongst a crowd containing many attractive people. She smiles. I whimper. Dammit. She is quickly forgotten as I become aware that I'm actually surrounded by similarly endowed women. Actually, it seems she hasn't quite been forgotten. Hmmm. Maybe she'll be there next week.

And that's the thing about this night. Everyone comes again and again. They love it. This is what causes that crazy sensation of having people you love around you but not being at all secure. But how the hell does the average Bang Gang fan manage to dress like they do week in week out? Maybe this is something I'll investigate further, because it seems that every Bang Ganger's ensemble is assembled with extreme attention to detail. It's also quite apparent that they love the stares at the particular eye-catcher with which they have adorned themselves. Like the flannel telly tubbies shirt, the guy wearing the black patent leather mary-jane shoes (I thought of that first!) and one girl's tartan Cher-from-Clueless jacket. People watching only gets better if you go up the road!

Image from The Bang Gang DJ's site. Cos I don't have a bloody digital camera yet!!!

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Apr. 29th, 2006 | 09:54 am

Norwegian singer Annie. You can't not fall in love with her after you hear her album! ...I think I'll be able to see her while I'm in Sydney YAY!

Pic from Annie's site.

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