To those that haven’t experienced it in first person, Australia may scream out Kangaroo’s, surfers and BBQ’s, however this beautiful country has a lot more to offer – musically too.
In the last few years there has been massive growth in the underground music scene, despite the lock out laws that were introduced in Sydney which commenced in 2014. The laws cracked down on venues, restricting people to enter the venue from 1:30am, and last drinks orders being taken before 3:30am. These laws also resulted in many parties being shut down by local authorities.
Through all the commotion, there have been a few groups of likeminded and musically driven individuals that have managed to stick together and run successful parties across the city.
aboutjack, Space Junk and Whitecat – the brains behind The Mantra Collective – are three of these driven individuals that have been persistent in their efforts to keep the scene alive, as well as encouraging cultural and musical growth in New South Wales. Since starting their parties in 2012, they have had a solid array of artists come from overseas to Sydney, many making their Australian debuts at one of their parties. So far this year they have shown the Aussies the likes of Barac, Andrey Pushkarev, Lazare Hoche, Cezar & Subb-an and East End Dubs.
I was lucky enough to be in Sydney around Christmas time in 2015, where they had arranged a FUSE showcase for their 3rd Birthday, with Enzo, Seb Zito and Rich NXT heading the bill alongside some local talent on warm up duties. I couldn’t believe the energy in the crowd, I was as far away from London as physically possible, yet the vibes brought by the FUSE team made me feel all though I was back at 93 Feet East or Village Underground – their stomping ground’s in the UK.
I caught up with Whitecat (Tim Reeves-Smith) who makes up one-third of Mantra Collective, and asked him about the growth of underground music events in Sydney.
“There aren’t many people pushing the proper underground here in Aus, it’s mostly coming from S.A.S.H and Mantra here in Sydney. Melbourne is lagging behind a bit in that aspect, they’re still very much Techno focused, although there are now starting to be smaller underground promoters coming through and booking similar acts to us, they aren’t yet at the level we are up here,” says Tim “but the tide is turning!”
We spoke about some of the bookings they have had in the city, and I asked Tim what the biggest highlight has been so far.
“Definitely the first Reconstructed with Barac and East End Dubs that we did alongside Bare Essentials. Honestly, that was the best party I’ve been to in Australia, it really blew my head off – what we achieved there. It was like a PROPER underground EU party”
After hearing from a promoter’s point of view, I wanted to find out what some of the artists experienced down under, and if there was anything they found particularly different.
Archie Hamilton has definitely been one of those that has really shone in recent years – playing all over the world at some of the biggest clubs, producing tracks that have torn up dancefloors left right and centre, and last year reaching #70 in Resident Advisor’s Top 100 Poll.
“The Australian underground scene is really growing;’ Archie says, ‘there are some amazing festivals and parties. Various authorities are trying to prevent this growth with ‘lockout laws’ and the like, but I think the spirit of the people is more powerful and will win out!”
I also caught up with one of Mannheim’s finest, Fabe. The Salty Nuts head honcho – and one half of dynamic duo Ho Do Ri with Ben Balance – played with the S.A.S.H crew just a few weeks back.
“It was an amazing experience. Underground house and techno is actually not that much spread over there but a few promoters are doing well to build up the vibe that’s needed to make our music understandable for the people.”
“I was pretty excited about the energy people transported at both parties I played, it was a real fun time and it’s about positive vibes and partying over there. People were really impressed by groove and than it’s always the best condition for me to create the perfect connection between the music, the people and me.”
“ The S.A.S.H Crew built up a huge brand over the last 6 year and they are probably the main key in underground music over there. They are not addicted to booking big names because people are already caught by their vision and their belief in quality underground Music and DJ’s. I’m sure the scene in Australia will grow very fast and underground talents from Europe and all over the world will be part of this…”
Last but certainly not least, I decided to speak with someone who was born and raised in the UK, and has been spending long periods of time in Sydney over the past few years.
“This is my third time coming over to Sydney and I’m here on a one year visa, here to connect with as many like minded people and really help push the scene forward and take it to its rightful place.” says Shai who has recently moved back to the city after being in London for a while.
For those that may not know, Shai Spooner runs Entity:London, along with his business partner Nick. You may have heard one of their first two vinyl only releases which both received heaps of support, and include some of his collaborative works with Jordan Dessar, Monika Ross as well as remixes from Fabe and Julian Alexander.
“The Scene in Sydney I feel is on the cusp of some great stuff, Mantra Collective being the main party in Sydney pushing the boundaries for the scene here, programming solid lineups from both local talent and some real heavy underground hitters. Also have to big up the guys from S.A.S.H who have been putting on excellent events, running two parties every Sunday is not an easy feat and these guys are packing both clubs out weekly.”
Shai will be playing for Mantra Collective & S.A.S.H throughout the year alongside some other local gigs.
“Another thing I admire with the guys over there is the need to focus on local and up and coming talent. There are heaps of local artists including Venda [Bodyparts], Marley Sherman, Mike Watts, Mike Witcombe, Brock Ferrer, Tyson Bruun [Lokomotiv], and Mulshaw (another Londoner who’s been in Aus for a number of years now).”
It’s fair to say that the scene in Sydney is booming and doesn’t plan on stopping any time soon, there is so much potential and opportunity in this city, which is now being noticed internationally. Artists and DJ’s from Australia are getting more recognition, and parties are on the rise. Lets see what happens next, there is sure to be more growth, more talent and more good times to be shared.
Mantra Collective – https://www.facebook.com/MantraCollective/
S.A.S.H – https://www.facebook.com/sashsundays/
Salty Nuts – https://soundcloud.com/moresaltynuts
Entity:London – https://soundcloud.com/entitylondon