AMPLIFY is Darebin Music Feast’s new Event Producer Mentorship. A targeted professional development opportunity, AMPLIFY seeks to address inequality in the music industry by supporting and amplifying lesser heard voices. Each year, AMPLIFY offers a targeted group of Darebin-based, early-career music event producers access to mentoring and the opportunity to program and produce a feature event as part of Darebin Music Feast. In 2017, AMPLIFY was open to early-career female, trans and/or gender non-conforming music event producers who live, work or study in the City of Darebin.
We recently caught up with Daisy Caterall, who was awarded this year’s AMPLIFY mentorship. We find out more about the AMPLIFY program, and what we can expect from upcoming Darebin Music Feast event Mana.
Q. Hi Daisy, for those who don’t know you, tell us a little about yourself.
A. I’m Daisy Catterall! I’m a visual artist, a zine-maker, vocalist and DJ based in unceded Naarm. I also work with young queer people of colour producing events and gatherings to nurture a really strong community for QTIPOC and empower them with resources to be able to do it all themselves. I’m a person of the Oceanic diaspora and this informs a lot of the way I work, and the things I choose to spend my time on and what my work explores.
Q. RnB and hip hop has really exploded locally recently, and interestingly is taking a hold in Melbourne’s inner north. I’m thinking Thank Guard, Bahdoesa’s residency at The Tote this month, amongst others. Why do you think this is?
A. Hip hop is pop music at the moment. Major Australian music festivals used to be swamped with local and international indie bands made up of white dudes but now the pull is coming from hip hop’s popularity. I think this is trickling down into the local scene. I definitely feel like we’re still learning how to get it right, how to make these spaces comfortable for everyone and how to prioritise particular groups of people. I think it’s especially tricky to produce political, ethical hip hop events in Australia because hip hop music lives and breathes in Afro-America, so I think we’re still finding ways to enjoy hip hop and RnB music in a way that acknowledges what the genres were borne out of and honouring that.
Q. It seems people are slowly starting to take note of gender inequality in the music industry. Do you think things are headed in the right direction with regards to this, and do you think more can be done?
A. There is always more that can be done! I think that is key to trying to shift the political norm- seeing it as an ongoing process with no finite end. In some ways I feel like we’re starting to nail it and in others I feel like we’re still at the base level learning that more than two genders exist. It’s a group effort though hey. It’s up to those people with power to share it. If you have space, you need to make space.
Q. There’s certainly still a huge gap between queer music nights and hip hop nights in Melbourne. Why do you think this gap exists, and what can be done to start changing this?
A. I think it’s largely due to gaps in education. White queer people don’t know enough about how to keep their POC friends safe in public spaces. And hip hop nights can be charged with toxic masculinity which can feel really dangerous to queer people. This gap in knowledge doesn’t recognise the intersections that people with varying cultural, sexual and gender identities have to manage every time they are around people. I think it’s really important for each group to actively listen to other oppressed groups compassionately and understand that just because something doesn’t oppress you directly, it doesn’t mean it’s not your problem. While I feel like this is a big issue, I don’t think the solution is that hard. Just educate yourself. Read about minoritised groups and and the barriers they face socially. Talk to your friends about it and if you witness something racist or misogynist, for the love of god, SAY SOMETHING.
Q. You recently were awarded this year’s AMPLIFY mentorship . Tell us why you decided to enter this year, and what was involved in your application?
A. Producing live music events and curating line ups has been on my to do list for ages! But I wasn’t well-versed in the business side of things and didn’t want to go in naively assuming I could just figure it all out. So the opportunity to have a mentor like Bexx Djentuh whose experience I can draw from first hand is so valuable! In my application I basically got to describe my dream event, with my dream line up and really paint a picture of what I wanted to create. I backed this up with images of past events I’ve been involved in and installations that I do monthly for Cool Room at 24 Moons and I also took a lot of time talking about the themes I wanted the event to discuss- decolonising the way we understand gender and then talking about gender inequality from that standpoint. Luckily once I was awarded the mentorship, I was able to secure my exact dream line up with amazing artists who are all part of this discussion!
Q. What have you gained and learnt so far from your involvement with AMPLIFY?
A. I’ve definitely gained confidence. Having the chance to go ahead and just do it, with someone behind me cheering me on has been really encouraging. One of my main objectives is to practice being assertive! This is mainly to look after my artists and make sure they’re treated fairly and have everything they need, and then to look out for myself and my event. I think something that needs to be talked about more is the emotional labour that goes into producing events ethically. This job isn’t just emailing managers and venues and locking things in; it’s about taking care of the people who are bringing your event to life and this takes lots of consideration to be done properly. I’ve also learnt lots of tips and tricks about thinking ahead to make sure you’re cool, calm and collected on the day.
Q. Tell us about your show at this year’s Darebin Music Feast, Mana. How did this come about, and what is the show about?
A. The premise of the AMPLIFY mentorship is to produce a music event that address gender diversity in the music scene. As a queer person and a feminist, this is clearly my jam, but I believe that you can’t have this gender conversation without talking about colonisation and racism in the music scene too. So the artists performing at Mana are First Nations, Pasifika, Black, queer, femme or non-binary people. While I’m stoked that there is lots of talk going on about gender identity at the moment, I think it’s important to approach it with the knowledge that gender diversity is not new. There are dozens of words in Indigenous languages around the globe to describe diverse genders and sexualities. These diverse gender ideas were squashed by colonisation and now that they’re re-emerging, people think it’s this new thing, but it ain’t. My intent with Mana is to unite these conversations about race and gender that manifest naturally in the identities of the artists performing, to give them the stage to express the intersections of their identities and to run the show! I also want to highlight that there are dope artists in Melbourne who have been creating and making music for ages, but are only starting to gain opportunities to perform lately. I just want to contribute some energy to this movement!
Q. Who else is involved in this amazing project?
A. I get to call Bexx Djentuh of LISTEN and Alterity Collective my mentor. Bexx is a rad Ghanaian/Maori woman who holds heaps of mana herself and is teaching me how to be a boss. Neil Morris of Culture Evolves and Band of Brothaz is known for his performances that acknowledge country as an Aboriginal man. PICAA (Pacific Islander Creative Arts Australia) Choir are a bunch of Islander people who get together and singsing to reconnect to their cultures and they sing songs in language! P-Unique is a rad young MC who is on the come up and has so much energy and confidence on stage. Kandere are an experimental electronic/hip hop/Islander outfit who talk about them diasporic blues in their music. And finally Kaiit is a rad young First Nations woman who’s getting busy busy and is definitely one to watch. We also intend to donate all profit from ticket sales to The Warriors of Aboriginal Resistance, which is a collective run by young Aboriginal women in Naarm who do some important and tireless activism and protest work fighting for young Aboriginal people. Donate to them!!! https://www.facebook.com/WARcollective/
You see why I’m so inspired about this line up!!!
Q. Lastly, where can people find out more about the great work you are doing, and how can we get hold of tickets for Mana?
A. Read a bit more about the event on the DMF website: musicfeast.com.au/2017-program/feature-events/mana/
Hit that attending button on the Facebook event
And buy your tickets here.
Feature Image Credit: Daisy (middle) with some of the artists performing on the night. Photo kindly provided by Deathproof.