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WAM INTERVIEWS: Home – PIAF opening acts

4 Feb

The 2016 Perth International Arts Festival will open on Saturday 13 February with a spectacular gathering of some of WA’s most renowned artists for an epic celebration of landscape, culture and community, called Home. This free one-off outdoor live performance at Langley Park will reflect on what the WA landscape and concept of ‘home’ means to local artists. Home will be directed by Nigel Jamieson, who has collaborated with Noongar elder and artist Dr Richard Walley to create a testament to our artists through the powerful sense of place in their work.

WAM interviewed a number of the incredible homegrown acts taking part, discovering what WA means to members of John Butler, The Panics, The Drones, The Waifs, Lucky Oceans, Gina Williams and The Triffids.

 

JOHN BUTLER

 What makes Western Australia – or a certain place in WA – special to you, and why? I arrived in Australia in 1986. My family and I arrived in Sydney and drove across the country to Western Australia. It is the birthplace of my father it’s the place I call home. I’ve lived all over Australia, but the light in the sky in WA is like nowhere else. I have the fortunate situation in my life that I could live anywhere in the world and I wouldn’t live anywhere now but here.

What do you miss the most about WA when you are on your tour and why? Smells, the light in the sky, the space.

In your opinion, why has so much outstanding artistic talent come from this state over the years? I think isolation definitely has an impact on artistic output and how inspiration manages to make it to you. It seems you get a great vantage point from which to create. The most isolated capital city in the planet yet connected to everything that’s happening in the world. A nice combo.

 

THE DRONES

YOUR NAME & ROLE IN ACT: Gareth Liddiard, Singer/Guitar

What makes Western Australia – or a certain place in WA – special to you, and why? The north coast is nice. You get plenty of time and space to think up there. I was born in Port Hedland. You might have a goatee, tatts, wrap arounds and wear hi-vis but I was actually born there.

What do you miss the most about WA when you are on your tour and why? People who have grown used to thinking 18 degrees is cold.

In your opinion, why has so much outstanding artistic talent come from this state over the years? The best Perth stuff is always removed from everything else in its way. You can’t just pop up to Sydney to do a couple of shows so you never really know what’s going on. Even today with the internet, which is no substitute for actually being there.  So you sit in relative isolation and stew in your own juices. You either end up horribly out of touch or something really unique and timeless.

 

THE TRIFFIDS

YOUR NAME & ROLE IN ACT: Alsy Macdonald, drummer, backing vocals

What makes Western Australia – or a certain place in WA – special to you, and why? I like WA the most when it’s not trying to be like everywhere else. Jill (Birt – also in The Triffids) and I love living in Freo. There is no other place like it in Australia. The same goes for Rottnest. People in WA sometimes put these places down because they believe that somewhere else must be better, but I have found from experience that this isn’t usually the case.

What do you miss the most about WA when you are on your tour? The Triffids don’t tour anymore, so I can’t really answer this one. When we used to live and tour overseas, there were hardly any independent Australian bands doing it, so occasionally we had to fly the freak flag for WA and Australia in general, when challenged by ignorant snobs.

Why has so much outstanding artistic talent come from this state over the years? That’s a subjective premise, but I think it’s true that artists and performers in WA are perhaps more driven to be noticed outside of Perth and WA, compared to those from bigger population centres. That’s only natural. If you look at the truly great artists, bands, and performers, they haven’t usually come from London, New York, Paris, or Sydney. They went to those places to get noticed!

Explain the creative process and how it’s been collaborating with other WA artists on Home for Perth International Arts Festival? We haven’t had a lot of input into ‘Home’ so far, but we are looking forward to working with the other WA artists involved and the ‘Home’ creative team.

GINA WILLIAMS

YOUR NAME & ROLE IN ACT: Singer


What makes Western Australia – or a certain place in WA – special to you, and why
?  It’s home, I’m born and bred in Perth.

What do you miss the most about WA when you are on your tour and why? People, mostly, for obvious reasons. Especially my kids. I miss my local shops…I miss the endless blue skies, I miss the way the light falls at sunrise and sunset. I miss country and connection when I’m away.

In your opinion, why has so much outstanding artistic talent come from this state over the years? I think it can be difficult to get people out to gigs when you’re an emerging artist, so, as an industry, we’ve been capable of nurturing great talent. I figure, if you can build audiences in Perth, you can do the same anywhere in the world.

Explain the creative process and how it’s been collaborating with other WA artists on Home for Perth International Arts Festival, as well as your input into the project? It’s an honour to be part of this amazing production. I feel particularly privileged to be working with Richard Walley; he has been one of our pioneers, so it’s wonderful that he is honoured through his songs and dance.

THE WAIFS

YOUR NAME AND ROLE IN ACT: Vikki Thorn, singer

What makes Western Australia special to you, and why? It‘s all special for me. The deserts, the coastline, the vastness. I am very connected to the south coast. A lot of family history down there with the salmon fishing. Feels like my place in the world.

What do you miss the most about WA when you are on your tour? I miss the smell of salt water and the feel of it drying on my skin. I miss the fresh scent of Karri forest after heavy rain.

Why has so much outstanding artistic talent come from this state over the years? Just ‘cause we’re more awesome than anyone else.

Explain the creative process and how it’s been collaborating with other WA artists on Home for Perth International Arts Festival? I am excited to be performing with the West Australian Youth Orchestra alongside members of the West Australian Symphony Orchestra. It’s really an elevated experience to hear a simple song you wrote, lift off the ground and become something you never dreamed.

LUCKY OCEANS

YOUR NAME & ROLE IN ACT: Co-musical director and co-composer for the opening night concert ‘Home’

What makes Western Australia special to you, and why? The friendliness of the people, the accessibility of the river and the beaches, the parks and green spaces and the gorgeous weather.

What do you miss the most about WA when you are on your tour and why? My family (if they’re not with me), the big blue sky, Fremantle, smiling faces on the street and fresh food.

In your opinion, why has so much outstanding artistic talent come from this state over the years? Before now, relatively low rent and house prices and a thriving gig scene allowed musicians to develop their craft without being distracted by endless touring. Distance from other major cities and their sometimes proscriptive music scenes allows musicians to develop unique musical voices. The ban on poker machines makes venues better for music. Keen audiences are quick to get behind local talent enthusiastically.

Explain the creative process and how it’s been collaborating with other WA artists on Home for Perth International Arts Festival, as well as your input into the project? I was thrilled to be asked to participate in ‘Home’ as there are so many things I’d like to say about this place I’ve made my home for most of my life, and how often do you get to participate in a really big statement? It’s been great to work with Director Nigel Jamieson, Associate Director Richard Walley and the visual wunderkinds Zoe Atkinson and Sohan Ariel Hayes, whose big visions have turned this concert into a unique narrative and way for us to share our feelings about WA. I’ve loved collaborating with the very talented co-musical producers Iain Grandage and Wayne Freer, and helping put together the House Band for the event. Talking with John Butler, The Pigrams, The Panics, The Triffids, Grace Barbe and Tara Tiba about their roles in the concert has been big fun, as has composing some of the music. And the way so many people have come together harmoniously and creatively to share a vision that honestly and optimistically links the rich Indigenous heritage of this land to where we could be in the future – hopefully that will set in motion ripples of accord that will make this an even better place to live.


THE PANICS

YOUR NAME & ROLE IN ACT: JAE LAFFER – VOCALIST/GUITARIST

What makes Western Australia – or a certain place in WA – special to you, and why? The Pilbara region. I love it up there. I’ve been around Roebourne area a few times in the last year – it has an amazing energy that’s hard to describe, and a really creative atmosphere.  I got two songs written out there this year, which are both on the new Panics record we just finished.

What do you miss the most about WA when you are on your tour and why? I’m not around all the time,  I miss plenty of people. And the colours and smells of the bush. And beach life. Perth summer night air.

In your opinion, why has so much outstanding artistic talent come from this state over the years? You got to work extra hard to get noticed.  I can’t speak for others but I had a lot of good stuff to draw from when I was writing in Perth. It’s a unique backdrop, you notice when you leave for a while.

Explain the creative process and how it’s been collaborating with other WA artists on Home for Perth International Arts Festival? It’s just a good atmosphere. The event feels big, ambitious and creative. All good ingredients, looking forward to it!

 

The Home concert takes place on Saturday 13 February at Langley Park between 7.30pm-9pm and is a all-ages free event. It is part of the Perth International Arts Festival which is from the 11 February-6 March.

 

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Government of Western Australia Department of Culture and The Arts Australian Government

WAM is supported by the State Government through the Department of Culture and the Arts, and is assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body.