Local Scenes: Brisbane
I’m from Sydney, and from an age where I could appreciate the artistic world around me, never have I lived anywhere else. For underground music here, especially of the electronic variety, we sometimes complain about the struggle to find appropriate venues, to find avenues to get your music out there, to cement a hold on a non-elusive audience… but we’re lucky. Alongside Melbourne, the two thriving cities have created exciting, innovative, and successfully underground electronic scenes. Embarrassingly I’ll admit because of that fact I’ve been rather shortsighted at times when it comes to electronic music in Australia—is it from Melbourne, or is it from Sydney?
It was late last year when I came across Silo Arts because of a fantastic track I heard by Outerwaves. From there, I found myself falling into the Silo depths, discovering artists like White Palms, Tincture and Motion Picture Actress. Since then, I’ve really taken note as to what’s been coming out of our northern neighbours’ gates and have been really, really enjoying what I’ve heard. Dom_Bird, Elroy 4.0, Charles Murdoch, Big Sad, Science Project, Sauce, Chupi, Total Stranger… Brisbane, we’re listening now.
I asked Hugh Francis behind Silo to tell me a bit about the scene and Silo’s place in it all.
Living in Brisbane is kind-of strange. I’ve been an active musician here for a good many years, playing all sorts of instruments in all sorts of bands. It’s been weird – this town has a strange trade-off – the small population means there isn’t really much to do, so we get a lot of bands and musicians popping up all over the place, as a way to ease the boredom. It’s hard though, because due to the small population, a “decent gig” for most of these bands means playing to a crowd of 20 people in a dive bar. It’s fun, but it doesn’t give you any real sense of achievement.
The only real way you can get something happening as a band in Brisbane is to be picked up by Triple J (THE “indie” music station, broadcasted throughout Australia). You win a competition to play Splendour in the Grass or Big Day Out, and all of a sudden people actually care about your shows, and you get three months of allotted airplay, and if you have your shit together, you might even be able to start a career.
I was absolutely fed up with it.
I had been working on a reasonably unremarkable Audio/Visual sculpture project for a few months when I had really started getting sick of this Triple J cycle. That was when a couple of friends introduced me to Brainfeeder and Flying Lotus. They blew my mind. It was the perfect mix of art, jazz, ambience and playful psychadelia – I had no idea music like this even existed. I thought to myself, “imagine if we didn’t have to live in L.A. to see this stuff??” That was when we started Silo Arts!
Silo Arts started as a small collective of beat makers that I was hanging around with through this weird A/V sculpture thing. These guys were making instrumental hip/hop, ambient, art rock, and everything in between. I started releasing their music under the Silo Arts name, and running free publicity for them. These guys couldn’t afford to pay PR costs, and I had no idea what I was doing, so it was a great setup! Soon after, we started getting asked to do shows for guys like Daedelus, Balam Acab, Mux Mool, Lapalux, oOoOO, Oliver Tank, and many more.
Turns out we weren’t the only guys in town doing this type of music. I soon touched base with guys from Dank Morass, White Rhino, Bright Future, Ender Records, and Room40. We all get along really well! We are like a big family – and we collaborate regularly. Some of us lean more toward the artier, ambient side of things, others more towards a club night vibe… but it’s all electronic, and it’s all brilliant.
Put simply, Silo is a charity for the cultured! It exists to add a new, vibrant dimension to the same-same Brisbane indie scene. We rarely make money (and occasionally lose some!), but we like to think that this city is a better place because of it.
We are now moving into record label territory, in the vein of Two Bright Lakes, Friends of Friends, //This Thing//, Rice is Nice, or Room40. We are launching our first 7” vinyl, a split between Sydney’s Rainbow Chan and Brisbane’s Outerwaves in mid June. I couldn’t be more excited.
To get a deeper understanding about what Brisbane is all about, listen to this little mix of acts put together by the Silo crew.
Motion Picture Actress