23 August 2019
JOLT Festival 2019: Copy That, Copy Cat
20-22 September, Footscray Community Arts Centre
The 2019 JOLT Festival takes place on the weekend of 20-22 September, with five concerts full of sonic adventures and explorations, including performances by vocalist Emily Bennett; the Impermanence trio; Cat Hope & Lisa MacKinney's noise duo; percussionists Hamish Upton and Peter Neville; JOLT's regular collaborators The Amplified Elephants and Sonic Adventurers; and numerous other sound artists. Here, James Hullick writes about the program planning, a task he shared with The Amplified Elephants, an ensemble produced since 2006 by Footscray Community Arts Centre and JOLT as part of the ArtLife program. For full festival details and tickets, see the website.
I am sitting in a room with some of The Amplified Elephants Ensemble and all of the Sonic Adventurers Collective.
The Amplified Elephants programmed a large percentage of the JOLT Festival 2019. The Sonic Adventurers along with the Elephants will be performing in the Festival.
The people sitting here with me right now are some of the kindest, most talented, and most remarkable humanists you will ever meet. And while they may cheer and laugh for such praise - it remains a fact.
We pass through the days, and for many of some of those days raise considerable complaint: why is the world treating me this way? But in the presence of my friends here - some who I have known for more than a decade - all that whinging melts away. My friends in this room have often faced considerable adversity: though never once have I heard any one of these people complain about their lot in life. Not once.
I choose to spend my time with The Amplified Elephants and the Sonic Adventurers because they make me a better person.
They also make me a better musician, composer and artistic director. In order to ensure their wellbeing and growth as artists I must accept the weight of leadership. I must embody the reality that to lead is to serve.
The one who is willing to give up their material benefits for the greater good is the one who is ready to lead. I thank The Amplified Elephants for it is they who prepared me; who taught me to serve happily; who revealed to me the insignificance of my ego and artistry.
I do not structure my leadership to howl like Ozymandias into eons. I structure my leadership so as to pass the baton on; calmly, and to wiser hands. This is why JOLT and I invited The Amplified Elephants to curate roughly one half of the acts for the JOLT Festival 2019. The time has come for The Amplified Elephants to take on the responsibility of their own leadership.
It was the Elephants who chose Super Luminum (Cat Hope and Lisa MacKinney) and Emily Bennett, Cissi Tsang, Nick Wilson and others in the festival. Some of the acts are well known; some are not so well known. Significantly, all of the acts in this festival contain artists who have shown leadership and depth of commitment to the sonic community. The Elephants chose leaders.
They chose leaders for you, the audience: that you too might be inspired to greater - more egoless - endeavours.
And this gets to the heart of the general arts war that is waging across the globe: the war of creative innovation. But you will never create anything new, will you, unless you master yourself? After my time with the Elephants, the thing I would say to my art music and sonic art friends is this: innovation for innovation's sake is meaningless. Innovation has far more impact when it arises as the by-product of right motivation: of wise commitment to the betterment of communities, and the liberation of the self from the tyranny of the self.
When artists obsess about innovation and 'new ideas' they become entangled in the Dada arms race - and for what purpose? With the proliferation of the internet audiences have been force-fed innovation of no consequence. They are tired of it. The emperor has no clothes. Only the emperor doesn't know. Everybody else: they know. The Elephants: they know.
Serve the community. Abandon yourself.
And if you must be a copy cat - then copy that.
> See also: a list of participating artists (AMC Calendar)
© Australian Music Centre (2019) — Permission must be obtained from the AMC if you wish to reproduce this article either online or in print.
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