By Nick Killham – Backpack Sounds
GROWING UP IN AUSTRALIA, even in rural New South Wales, it was easy to immerse yourself in fresh Aussie music. Thanks to the nearly national coverage of the sainted Triple J, and the thriving gig and festival culture, any interested punter could stay on the cutting edge of cool. It was almost as if we used to listen to bands that didn’t even exist yet.
After half a decade doing the London thing though it can get a little tricky to keep a finger on the Oz music pulse. Who are these whipper-snappers Cloud Control? What’s a Gotye?
Ok maybe it isn’t quite that dire, but if you really want to stay plugged in to the current musical renaissance at home you need to devote a lot of energy, and as energetic as Aussie expats can be, there are also plenty of distractions. That’s why, in a particularly industrious drunken fit of productivity, two London based Australians decided to fight the good fight and make things a little easier for all you Antipodean music fans.
Enter BackpackSounds.com – London’s newest music site and the only one dedicated to unearthing Oz music gems, wrapping them up nice and presenting them to the Australian population in the UK’s capital, and beyond. It’s like if Australian Times just did music!
We founded Backpack Sounds in January 2012 with two main goals; promote the acts from home that European based audiences might not have heard yet, and let people know which Aussie artists are touring around our way. And, so far, we’ve had a hell of a time making it happen.
We aren’t talking about gig listings for your local AC/DC cover band, or even reviewing the latest Hilltop Hoods album – for us this is about what is new, exciting and surprising in Australian music. Of course this means we’ve expanded our social lives to encompass a lot more shows; from watching London based Aussie band The Dark Lights to catching Grinspoon’s acoustic set at the Walkie – we’ve been out and about trying to find the best content for our growing reader base. And God bless Spotify, we’ve been getting our listening on too, with new music coming from some of our hot tips for 2012 – try Jonti, Seekae, Steve Smyth, San Cisco, Lanie Lane and Jack Ladder for a start (and come back each week for more).
We’ve met some great people already, just by being out and about, getting to gigs and dropping in on other events in the UK. You’ll hear from some of these new friends over the coming weeks as Backpack Sounds guest edits your Australian Times Music From The Motherland entertainment section. We’ve got London based Bonfire Nights, tickets in hand for this year’s South by South West, ready to talk to you. We’ve harnessed our favourite Antipodean electric-harpest Tara Minton. APRA’s London rep Cathi Ogden is going to give you the lowdown. And maybe, just maybe, we’ll have some other big surprises in store for you. It has been exciting to see the community of Aussie musicians and music-lovers that already exists in London. This community is thriving, and believe it or not, it parallels the incredible scene our friends back home are enjoying.
It hasn’t all been giggles – for a couple of technological novices it has been a challenge beating WordPress into a shape we liked, the page design took some work and the hangovers have been encroaching with greater frequency. We’ve had a lot of help from friends though and couldn’t be happier with the response we have been receiving. There is so much love and positivity for a project like this and it has made all the hard work worthwhile.
2012 is going to be a massive year for Australian music, and with a bit of luck it will be immense for us as well. Come check us out at Backpacksounds.com, follow us on Twitter @backpack_sounds (don’t forget to follow @AustralianTimes too) and come say hi at the next great Australian gig in London. We’ll be there. Enjoy!