In Conversation With: Sound Summit Co-Director Brooke Olsen - MusicNSW

To celebrate the start of MusicNSW’s annual festival of independent and innovative music Sound Summit tomorrowwe managed to grab co-director Brooke Olsen for a quick chat about the festival’s evolution, artist selection process, plus she shares her top picks from the festival program!

MNSW: In what ways has Sound Summit evolved since its inception in 2000?

BO: Sound Summit was founded in 2000, initially as a conference for independent artists, labels and people interested in working and playing in electronica and hip-hop. 2006 saw Sound Summit become a key project for MusicNSW. Sound Summit has also existed as a National Independent Labels Conference under the umbrella of TINA – This is Not Art.

Over the last 4 years, Sound Summit has undergone dramatic transformations, opening up it’s programming to encompass brilliant independent music, irrespective of genre, broadening it’s conference component to include even more facets of the independent music industry and constantly stretching it’s boundaries to reflect the best in local and international musical innovation.

In 2011 Sound Summit emerged as it’s own event – flying the nest from TINA and expanding again to include music-related art and film.

2012 marks the 13th annual Sound Summit and the future is bright!

MNSW: Tell us about your new co-directors Daniel Gottlieb and Nic Warnock.

BO: Sound Summit’s two other Co-Directors this year bring a wealth of experience to the table and I’m thrilled to be working with them!

Nic Warnock is the Director of renowned Sydney label RIP Society who have outputted releases by Constant Mongrel, Royal Headache, Zond, Dead Farmers and Circle Pit amongst others. He’s an incredibly active member of the Australian music community and plays in various bands (Model Citizen, Bed Wettin’ Bad Boys) as well as working at Repressed Records in Newtown. He’s hosted numerous shows and helped coordinate a self funded US tour for Royal Headache and his own band, Bed Wettin’ Bad Boys.

Daniel Gottlieb has lived for extended periods both in Washington D.C. and more recently New York, where he was a contributing writer for Pitchfork’s experimental music blog, Altered Zones. He has also had odds and ends published in ‘Sup Magazine, Ribbed Magazine and Cyclic Defrost.

As a promoter, he has organised or helped run shows in Washington D.C., Austin (SXSW), New York and Sydney. He has also held a number of radio presenter positions including The Sound Between on NYU’s college radio station, WNYU, and currently presents ‘Spiral Sounds’ on 2ser 107.3 – a weekly showcase of modern music experimenting in the electronic and psychedelic realms.

MNSW: What’s something different we can expect from Sound Summit this year?

BO: This year we have focused strongly on providing opportunities for opening up dialogues between independent Australian bands and their international counterparts.

Sound Summit 2012 features a huge lineup of international acts renowned for making significant inroads in their own musical communities as well championing musical innovation across various genres/styles –  Home Blitz (USA), Blues Control (USA), MIST (USA), Lasse Marhaug (Nor) & High Wolf (Fr) . At least half of these acts have already built relationships with Australia’s independent music community and will tour the country post-festival in collaboration with independent promoters, Australian bands and small-scale or DIY venues. We’re lucky enough to have a number of them hanging with us during Sound Summit to watch the Australian bands and share their experiences via Sound Summit’s panel discussions. I am so excited about this!

Additionally we have scheduled the aptly titled ‘Sound Summit Cinema’ to take place as part this year’s festival. The program features some very special original curated collections from independent Sydney film-maker Angela Garrick (Straight Arrows/Ruined Fortune/Convent) who has previously made clips for Holy Balm, Palms and Chrome Dome. Andrew Mclellan (Disembraining Machine/4ZZZ) and Joshua Watson will present a doco on Brisbane music, featuring frank and illuminating interviews with Joel Stern, Matt Kennedy, Blank Realm and Laura Hill (Scraps) and live clips from many Brisbane DIY and experimental musicians. Chapter Music celebrate their 20th year in 2012 and will be delving into thier archives to present a series of clips from their two decade history, MIST soundtrack a satirical short film about a high calorie muffin and The UV Race present ‘AUTONOMY AND DELIBERATION’ a feature length film written, directed and starring Johann Rashid and of course, The UV Race.

Beyond that the program is huge with numerous showcases, panels, a synth petting zoo and a festival club.

MNSW: How did you go about the selection process for the bands and showcases this year?

BO: It was tough! Independent bands and collectives are flourishing in Australia at present, despite the unique challenges that they face. Nic, Dan and myself obviously had specific things that we wanted to program and acts we felt were essential to the 2012 event, but in all cases opted for innovative, independent bands and collectives who we feel are representative of Australian and international DIY in 2012. Additionally we conducted a widely publicised call out to Australian acts to participate (with record numbers of apps) so a percentage of our programming is taken from these.

It’s near impossible to squeeze every act you would like to program over the 4 days. I reckon we needed a week at least to fit it all in.

MNSW: What’s on the lineup that you’re particularly excited to see?

BO: So many! Love Chants, Blues Control, The Sabbatical, Altered States and Disembraining Machine showcases. Lasse Marhaug, Primitive Calculators & Mad Nanna, Pel Mel. So many more also. Very hard to distill it down to a mere few.

MNSW: What makes Newcastle such a great home for the festival?

BO: We love the creative communities that have sprung up, initiatives like ReNew Newcastle and Newy acts like Pel Mel, Gooch Palms, Lenin Lennon & Stitched Vision. We’re excited to be working with / hosting shows and activities at Terrace Bar, Emma Soup, Equinox Oz and The Croatian Club.

MNSW: What are you hoping to gain from the panel discussions programmed for this year? Any standout topics for you?

BO: Speakers from WFMU’s Free Music Archive (USA), ABC Arts Gateway, Mess & Noise, Distort, FBi, 3RRR, 4ZZZ, Equinox Oz, Crawlspace, Cyclic Defrost, The Brag & Camp A Low Hum will contribute to a series of FREE festival events.??Sound Summit’s conference program features a number of informative and entertaining panels which discuss the positioning of contemporary independent music culture in 2012 such as The Ethical and Personal Conflicts of Writing in Big Media, DIY Touring Across the globe, Music & Innovation in radio, housing and supporting marginalized music and the social and curatorial obligations of DIY labels.??The ever-popular Music Industry 101 session is back on Friday afternoon and features representatives from APRA/FBi/MusicNSW and AAM to provide practical advice on the music biz, including a crash course in funding opportunities for independent musicians. Regional NSW musicians are especially encouraged to attend.

MNSW: Sell it to us….why should we jump on the road to Newcastle next Thursday?

BO: Attending Sound Summit will be a highly rewarding, entertaining and informative experience. You will have crazy amounts of fun and get to see some of the most exciting and innovative acts in Australia, all for the bargain price of $50.

To purchase your ticket to Sound Summit Festival, head here.
To view the full festival program or for more information head here.