Nigel Bird Celebrates 15 Years at WAM!
Nigel started as WAM’s Regional Officer way back in 2003, and since then has completed projects in every region of WA. Over the years Nige’s infectious personality and dedication to local music has earned him mates all over the state, and his ground-level artist development work has impacted hundreds of regional artists trying to forge their path in the industry.
Check out our interview with WAM’s favourite “Regional Bird” below. (And if you see Nige about, be sure to congratulate him for 15 years!)
So tell us, in the 15 years, what has been your favourite project to work on?
I’d have to say it is our Sounds of’/ Demos From’ community recording projects. Essentially we drive a truck full of recording gear to a regional location, set up, record local artists, host various workshops with a focus on developing the skills of engineers based in regional WA and then release and service the album. This weekend we launch our tenth compilation in Leonora. It is a program that has evolved since 2006 alongside the audio recording landscape. It has been a whole lot of fun and a great learning process spending a month with people who have become great friends including the legendary (late) Shaun O’Callaghan, George Nikoloudis, Matt Gio, Sean Lillico, Joel Quartermain, Andy Lawson, Dan Carroll and Drew Goddard. The project has importantly offered the first recording opportunity to almost 100 regionally based acts.
Are there any programs you would like to see WAM revive?
Yep, it’d be amazing to see the revival of WAM’s School incursion program, I think it is really important to the audience development of contemporary music in WA and a fantastic access point for a lot of students to see cool artists they never would have ordinarily been introduced to.
What’s changed in the organization over 15 years?
Ha! so much, the entirety of the staff (several times), the on-set of grey hair for me personally, seriously though so much. More generally, WAM has changed in line with what has changed with the music industry, when I started here so many elements of the connection with artists were completed manually, for example Song of The Year entries or WAM festival applications. Physical music product like CDs were compulsory for any act.. then Myspace came and went, then iTunes and now online streaming services dominate the landscape. I started five years before the first smart phone was offered via retailers in Australia and there was no Facebook or any social media, so nearly everything has changed – except for the passion of championing WA music.
15 years is decent stint, what drives you to keep going?
I started in the role with a mindset that there was so much potential development that was achievable in regional WA and I firmly believe there still is. There are so many incredible outcomes we’ve seen by using contemporary music as tool for community development and also numerous music industry outcomes for artists, industry people, audiences and venues that we’ve worked with. A real driver is the people I work with across regional WA; there are amazing people in our state’s regions. I’ve developed so many friends across the state in this role, it is something I value highly both personally and professionally.
If you weren’t at WAM, what do you think you’d be doing?
I’d probably be stuck working as an Electrician/Instrument technician working in automated factory/industrial settings, I did qualify as such, but quit as soon as I finished my apprenticeship to follow a passion of working with music and people.
We’re glad to see you put down the tools to take up the job! There’s no arguing that WAM and the wider WA music industry are better for it.