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18 April 2017

Making Conversation: podcast interviews with Australian composers

Making Conversation: podcast interviews with Australian composers

If you're familiar with the work of Making Waves, you'll know that on the first of each month we (composers and curators Lisa Cheney, VIC and Peggy Polias, NSW) release an hour-long, streamable playlist of new music by Australian composers. Through themed playlists (check out the current one here), Making Waves connects listeners with the online offerings of both early-career and established composers and performers. As a brand-new initiative associated with Making Waves, we have now launched a podcast titled 'Making Conversation: Australian Composers' Podcast', featuring 30 conversations with a diverse array of Australian composers.

Making Waves commenced in 2015, and the aim remains the same as it was then: to give voice to a rich and active Australian new music sector. After a solid first year of programming 12 hours of music in playlists, we found ourselves yearning to know more about the composers behind the music. While some of the featured composers were colleagues whom we had met, others we only knew from afar. As we delved into their bios, we began to discover the many permutations of a 'portfolio career'. The more we learned, the more we wanted to find out. How did they work? How do they balance creativity and life? What are their fears? What are their passions? Why do they compose?

'I think for years I've wanted an excuse to have these kinds of conversations with other composers, and now I've found one', said one of our interviewers, composer Chris Williams. Another, David John Lang, stated, 'Composing is, in many ways, such a weird thing for a person to want to do - it was fascinating to hear these composers trying to articulate, in many different ways, the intense inner drive they all share that makes them want to write music'.

Given our own passion for listening and storytelling, it felt like a natural progression to extend Making Waves activities into podcasting. In early 2016, we were successful in crowdfunding what we envisaged as a modest series of interviews with composers around Australia - we were also fortunate in securing MATCH funding via Creative Partnerships, which doubled our crowdfunded amount.

Initially we were both intending to travel around Australia to capture interviews with composers who had expressed their interest in taking part. However, the realities of our own portfolios - composing, postgraduate studies, parenting, teaching, music copying and other gigs - made it necessary to repurpose the original travel budget, instead hiring an interview and production team to work with us. After a call for interested music journalists and interviewers, we were grateful to welcome eight bright minds to the team. With an even geographic distribution, we were able to capture interviews in every state and territory, and even some in the United States and United Kingdom.

The project officially commenced 1 July 2016 and, for the first six months, the team set about busily capturing their interviews. We took this project as an amazing learning opportunity and worked together to 'peer review' and appraise each others' interview and audio techniques. Sincere thanks for joining us on this journey go to our Making Conversation interviewers Leah Blankendaal (VIC/SA), Stephanie Eslake (TAS), Sascha Kelly (VIC), David John Lang (SA), Matthew Lorenzon (SA), Rebecca Erin Smith (WA), Chris Williams (overseas), and Antonia Zappia (NSW), as well as audio consultants Daniel Thorpe (SA) and Thomas Green (QLD) and Making Waves interns Angus Baxter (VIC), Marlene Radice (VIC) and Mark Wolf (QLD).

The wonders of modern technology and especially some amazing free and 'freemium' platforms made it possible to coordinate such a large undertaking with such a geographically scattered team. As we are used to working remotely on Making Waves from interstate, we exploited cloud and browser-based services to communicate, learn and share with our team.

Reflecting on this journey, we can say with absolute certainty that there are many things that are special about this podcast. Firstly, we're delighted to contribute to the important body of work that preserves and celebrates the life, philosophies and music of so many Australian composers, several of whom are in their early-careers. Secondly, we're proud to have brought together ten emerging music journalists and provided them with ethe opportunity to record and produce their individual episodes in a safe learning environment. Each team member arrived with varying levels of skill and experience, and it was a joy to work together to share and refine our interviewing, mobile recording, audio permissions, scripting, editing and production skills.

The series has culminated in some 30 episodes, each with their own unique character, depending on their featured composer and interviewer. The series launched on Friday 21 April, with a new episode released each week.

The line-up of our first 10 episodes:

  1. Anne Cawrse interviewed by David John Lang (21 April)
  2. Michael Sollis interviewed by Leah Blankendaal (28 April)
  3. Annie Hsieh interviewed by Chris Williams (5 May)
  4. May Lyon interviewed by Matthew Lorenzon (12 May)
  5. Alex Turley interviewed by Rebecca Erin Smith (19 May)
  6. Jenna Cave interviewed by Antonia Zappia (26 May)
  7. Lisa Young interviewed by Lisa Cheney (2 June)
  8. Peter McNamara interviewed by Peggy Polias (9 June)
  9. Connor D'Netto interviewed by Sascha Kelly (16 June)
  10. Maria Grenfell interviewed by Stephanie Eslake (23 June)

'Episode 0', the series preview, is available for listening here - see also the main podcast page for full information about the series. You can subscribe to the Making Conversation podcast via iTunes, or copy the following link to subscribe via your favourite podcast app or RSS: https://makingwavesnewmusic.com/category/podcast/feed/.

Further links

Making Conversation main podcast page - https://makingwavesnewmusic.com/podcast

Making Waves - http://makingwavesnewmusic.com/

Making Waves on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/makingwavesnewmusic/

Making Waves on Twitter https://twitter.com/makenewmusic and Instagram @makingwavesnewmusic


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