Jason Williamson Management (JWM), the team behind the careers of Christine Anu and Casey Donovan, are bringing the new face of Australian music to the stage in February and March 2014 with the inaugural The CHANGINGface event. Experience the unique talents of four impressive up-and-coming artists as they showcase their individual musical style – Marcus Corowa, Lily So & The Bellows, Bow and Arrow and Inês.
Each musician harks from a different cultural background; they challenge cultural stereotypes by celebrating their personalities through their music and their individualism as artists.
The CHANGINGface offers a musical journey across blues, folk, soul and pop with a contemporary approach to what multiculturalism means for Australia's music scene. Entertaining … unique … contemporary ... eye-opening – The CHANGINGface is a celebration of the heart and soul of current and future Australian music.
'We are proud to be presenting The CHANGINGface performances in 2014," says Jason Williamson. 'All the artists possess a unique background and a singular passion for music while challenging cultural stereotypes. We believe all the performers are important role models for their communities, and more broadly, for the Australian multicultural reality. The CHANGINGface will present an evening that surprises and entertains, while celebrating diversity and unity through music."
Marcus draws on his Aboriginal and South Sea Islander roots during his performances, resulting in music that combines elements of blues, jazz and funk to create a distinct and unique soulful, soothing sound. Harking from the North Queensland community of Bowen, he grew up playing the guitar. It wasn't until his teens that he moved to the big smoke in Brisbane with his family and soon decided to trade in nine-to-five employment for a career in music. Taking the plunge to full-time musician in 2009, Marcus has already earned himself an enviable reputation for penning catchy melodies and heartfelt lyrics, presenting them in an unforgettable way with his smooth vocals.
It wasn't long before accolades were bestowed on this natural talent. He took out the Most Promising New Talent title at the 2012 Deadly Awards and already has a swag of nominations and finalist positions to his name. He was a finalist in the 2010 QMUSIC Song Awards (Indigenous category), the 2011 APRA Professional Development Awards (Indigenous category) and received a Highly Commended in the 2010 QMUSIC Song Awards (Indigenous and Gospel categories).
This talented musician now resides in Sydney and is already a name on the national festival circuits having been on the bill at the Sydney Festival, Adelaide Fringe Festival and Yabun Festival to name a few, as well as joining in on numerous NAIDOC celebrations around the country. He's also supported the likes of Christine Anu, Marcia Hines, Jessica Mauboy, Mark Seymour, Casey Donovan, Whitehouse and The Medics. In 2012 he released his debut EP The Greater You and also penned the entire score to the music The New Black which was part of the 2012 Arts Centre Melbourne Carnegie 18 program. Marcus Corowa is certainly an artist to watch out for.
Lily So & The Bellows
Lily So & The Bellows is a Sydney-based Indie Folk-rock band born in the seedy streets of Redfern and nourished by the local creative scene. Their music summons visions of smoky taverns and hollow cathedrals, crossing genres to blues combined with a pop-spirit. The band launched their debut single Smoking Gun on the Australian scene around Easter 2013 and followed up in August with their second radio offering Madness. After performing around the traps for the past two years, Lily So & The Bellows has refined their sound and their unforgettable live presence. Experiencing a live show in the company of this band, you could be forgiven for thinking that they've been around the industry for decades.
Bow and Arrow
Indie and indigenous, Bow and Arrow are an eccentric duo with electronic stylings. Their music is available worldwide on iTunes, and their remix of UNKLE's 'Money And Run', featuring Nick Cave, can be heard on Facebook and Soundcloud. The creation of Mindy and Mitchell Kwanten, the duo live in a -big love bubble' in Sydney. Mindy is a proud Wiradjuri women who met her husband Mitchell at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music. They've now been performing together for the past 15 years, which includes a six year long residency at the Hard Rock Café.
They've also supported a swag of the country's most revered performers, including INXS and Eskimo Joe to name a few, and appeared on the bill at festivals such as The Great Escape, Fair Day and Hair Expo 2012. The duo has three releases to date – Return to Me (Demo) (2011), Return to Me (Deluxe)
(2012) and Don't Play Roulette in Russia (2013).
Bow and Arrow have created their own niche market by producing layered and genre blending songs. It's this fusion of diverse styles and influence which bleeds through from their broad and eclectic personal tastes. Their music sets them apart from the pack and it's no surprise that it appeals to lovers of all genres, from all ages and walks of life.
Born in Portugal and raised in Australia's sunburnt land, Inês embodies all the sensual exoticisms of a European goddess and all the blatant upfront no-bulls**t characteristics of a people who descended from thieves and cutthroats. Raised in the back streets of the Inner West, her upbringing schooled her in music in a unique way – absorbing knowledge from rapper ex-boyfriends and insomnia fuelled -Rage' marathons.
She is a veritable Janus with one face looking to the past a nd one that looks to the future, all explored and expressed through the rumbling soul of her music. A mixture of sweet beats driven by the trip hop melodies the spill from her jazzy past into her neo-soul present, she is a predator, a vulnerable young woman and a dualist – a rare combination that makes her an unforgettable musician. Her mus ic is a futuristic exploration of sounds from the past – jazz, soul, rhythm and blues.
Saturday 15th February 2014: Mars Hill Café: 331 Church Street, Parramatta NSW
(02) 9893 9888 or www.marshillcafe.com.au
Sunday 16th February 2014: Lizottes, Lot 3, Avoca Drive, Kincumber NSW
(02) 4368 2017 or www.lizottes.com.au
Wednesday 5th March 2014: The Vanguard, 42 King Street, Newtown NSW
(02) 9557 7992 or www.thevanguard.com.au
For more information, please visit www.changingface.com.au
Question: What is The CHANGINGface?
Marcus Corowa: The CHANGINGface is an inaugural event starting in February and March 2014, which brings the new face of Australian music to the stage. The artists involved all come from different cultural backgrounds and the shows aim to challenge cultural stereotypes by celebrating our personalities through our music and our individualism as artists. You can find us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/TCface
Question: Why did you decide to participate in The CHANGINGface?
Marcus Corowa: I wanted to be involved because I think it's really important to challenge cultural stereotypes. Being Aboriginal and South Sea Islander is a big part of my identity and its important for me to be a voice for Indigenous Australia and a role model for younger generations. However my cultural identity isn't all of who I am as a person. Sometimes I just want to be seen as a singer like any other singer and I don't want to be defined ONLY by my cultural identity. When people think of you as an "Indigenous" singer they often expect you to sing in language and be political. I am Indigenous yes, but I am also just a singer, and I don't think the two things always have to be tied together.
Question: What do you hope audiences take away from The CHANGINGface?
Marcus Corowa: I hope they just have a great time and enjoy it the way they would any other gig. I always hope that people leave my shows with a smile on their face.
Question: What does multiculturalism for Australia's music scene means to you?
Marcus Corowa: I'm not sure if Australia as a whole is as multicultural as we like to say we are. I think in music and all other industries especially in film and television we still have a long way to go in terms of truly representing the Australia that you see when you're walking the streets.
Question: What have you enjoyed most about The CHANGINGface?
Marcus Corowa: I just really enjoy music. It's such a huge part of my life and I'm really enjoying that The CHANGINGface is using music as a tool to generate positivity and break what are often negative stereotypes. It's also been really great to work with and get to know the others singers and musicians involved.
Question: How would you describe your music?
Marcus Corowa: I would say my music is really positive and combines elements of blues, jazz and funk to create a soulful, soothing sound.
Question: Do you write your own songs? What's your inspiration?
Marcus Corowa: Yeah, I've always written my own songs but recently I've been collaborating and writing with other songwriters too, which has been a really good experience. My cultural heritage does sometimes influence my song writing but I also write songs about all kinds of other things too, like love and relationships and just normal stuff about life and my journey as I grow up and make mistakes. I want to write and create music that is enjoyed by people from all walks of life.
Question: What music/artists do you listen to when you are not playing your own?
Marcus Corowa: I have a really broad taste in music and like to listen to a whole heap of stuff, both locally & internationally but right now I'm listening to new albums by Beyonce, Jimblah and John Legend.
Question: Was there a moment you contemplated throwing in the towel?
Marcus Corowa: Three years ago I decided to pursue my music career full time, since then I've never looked back. The problem was all the years before that when I worked full time in a job that I hated and even though I knew I only wanted to sing I was too scared to take the leap and risk everything. Now that I've done it, there's absolutely no turning back.
Question: Can you tell us 5 things required for a happy healthy & enjoyable life?
Marcus Corowa: 1. Do what you love!
2. Surround yourself with good people.
3. Dream Big! Have ambition! Set goals! Always be working towards something positive & challenging.
4. Look after yourself. Exercise & eat a balanced healthy diet.
5. Get a pet! (I have an adorable rabbit named Boo)
Question: What's next for you?
Marcus Corowa: Right now I'm gigging heaps all over Australia, which I'm really enjoying. It's great to be on the road meeting so many different people and seeing so much of our beautiful country. I'm also doing a lot of song writing in any spare time I have and working towards releasing a second EP. You guys can follow me on instragram/twitter to see what I'm getting up to.
Question: What should audiences expect from The CHANGINGface?
Lily So: The audience will discover some great music from up and coming artist from diverse backgrounds.
Question: How is The CHANGINGface unique?
Lily So: The CHANGINGface is about giving exposure to new artists and exploring their cultural backgrounds. I don't believe that it is about being unique but more about the universal language of music and sharing stories. That's what music has always been about to me and less about the individual, a unique style or event.
Question: What do you hope audiences take away from The CHANGINGface?
Lily So: I want the audience to take away something memorable. Music is capable of evoking powerful emotions and it has been a great influence in my life. I only hope I can inspire the same feelings in people. It's what every musician wants their audience to experience. I hope that they find something new and exciting in the sounds of all the artists involved.
Question: Can you tell us about Lily So & The Bellows?
Lily So: We're usually a 6-piece band and we all live in Redfern or the inner west. We're all friends and somehow gravitated towards each other musically and in locality. I started as a solo folk artist some years ago and now we're more like an indie pop band with a touch of soul.
Everyone in the band has their own solo projects and also play in other bands of varying genres. So we bring a lot of different influences back to the group.
Question: How would you describe your music?
Lily So: I've always loved blues and soul so they have always been a reference point for me. But at the same time I love all the new music that's coming out in the indie scene - from country folk and garage to jangly pop and dance.
My music has always had a darker edge with a blues-folk feel. Lately, I've been really loving pop melodies so the songs I write reflect that.
If you were to put us in a genre I'd say we were more of an indie pop band with a folk-rock mentality and 50's girl band soul. We also love to rock out at every chance we get.
Question: Did you have any pre-conceived ideas about the music industry?
Lily So: Well in anything to do with the arts it's always going to be a struggle financially. Being a musician is like being an entrepreneur except your idea isn't original. So you have to work very hard and generally most people don't want to pay you for your craft. It's one of a few jobs where you could be the best in the world but no one would care if you don't know how to publicise yourself or pay for a team to do it for you. And it really is about who you know.
As an artist you're continually asking yourself, 'Well what's the point?" and it always comes down to the music. It's addictive and musicians today are getting pretty savvy. The music industry is a difficult nut to crack so you have to be pretty damn determined and very open-minded. Gone are the days of the air-headed, drug-addicted musician succeeding in the industry. You need a clear mind to manage your twitter account.
Question: Do you prefer performing live or recording?
Lily So: Definitely performing. It's quite a thrill and you can be as creative as you like. I find recording very rigid and stressful because you have to get it so perfect and yet be able to perform passionately. It's hard to really let go when you're concentrating so hard. That's when a great producer/engineer comes in. They can bring out the best in you. Although I don't particularly like recording, you can't beat the end result – a piece of music you can share with the world in a second even when you can't afford to travel.
Question: What/who was your inspiration to go into the music industry?
Lily So: As a child I was very shy and had trouble conversing with people. Despite being born in Australia, English wasn't my first language as my parents spoke Laotian to me. When I sang in choir I suddenly found a new way of communication - I really loved it.
I've been lucky enough to have talented teachers and mentors who helped me realise that I could sing and friends to help me find amazing music. It was the art of storytelling that really fascinated me and soon writing came naturally.
Artists such as Eva Cassidy, Edith Piaf and James Brown demonstrated what was possible with the voice and new artists are always coming up with exciting sounds. I can only aspire to do the same. Even if I stopped performing tomorrow I only hope to be a part of the industry somehow – as long as I can keep listening to music.
Question: What is the biggest challenge you have faced along the way to your musical success?
Lily So: It's always the finances that have been a difficult balancing act. It costs a lot to record and distribute your music if you want to do it properly. They'll always be cost-effective ways to do it – the rise of the bedroom producers is evidence of that – but like any business you have to put some money into it to make it grow.
Even if you get paid for a gig it barely covers the essentials, especially if you're a big band. So everyone has their day jobs which can sometimes rob you of your creativity. It's a fine balancing act but you need to record, you need to make a video music video, you need to send out press releases and CDs but you also need to feed yourself too.
Question: What's next for you?
Lily So: We're currently working on some new songs and recording an EP in the near future. Unfortunately we're losing a couple of members who are jet setting overseas so there are a few challenges and set backs. There may be a new evolution of the band but they'll definitely be some new music and more gigs coming this year.
Question: How would you describe The CHANGINGface?
Mindy Kwanten: The CHANGINGface is a wonderful opportunity for people wanting to check out and be part of the up and coming sounds that are emerging in Australia right now. It's a great chance for us as musicians to have a platform to share our music because in this day and age from our point of view, it's really hard to secure gigs if you are not established or know someone, and from the publics perspective, they'd rather sit at home and download an app or sit on the pokies than get out and support new music! A great thing about CHANGINGface is that you can experience many different artists in the one night! So if you are a music lover, or if you like to keep your finger on the pulse, or perhaps you are looking for a new experience and seeking inspiration-this event is for you!
Question: What is it like working with the other artists?
Mindy Kwanten: Well at the moment we haven't met everyone yet. But so far everyone seems positive and sassy! Which is a great combination! We have had the pleasure of knowing Marcus for a while now and he is simply amazing! He is a unique voice in Australian acoustic soul and always heart felt and real and on top of that, he is such a great guy. We love working with other artists and discovering how they have put on a live show and decide to communicate their music to a live audience. We feel that live music is the best representation of a song- where you get to see hear and feel the artist deliver it all before you.
Question: Can you talk us through how The CHANGINGface is eye-opening for audiences?
Mindy Kwanten: The CHANGING face is eye opening because you get a range of diverse artists playing different styles of music. People might be surprised at the different things everybody has got going on out there. The Australian scene is very diverse…. and speaking for ourselves you'll probably see something you haven't seen before!
Question: Tell us about Bow & Arrow.
Mindy Kwanten: We are a duo consisting of a husband and wife team. We have released 2 EP's and our music has been described as unique and interesting. Live, we aim to invite the audience into our -lounge room' where we create our songs on different -stations' that we rotate on to build the music. Depending on the song we use different techniques to do this, live sampling, looping, keyboards, guitar, bass and some big vocals!
Question: What's it like working with your husband?
Mindy Kwanten: It's really really amazing! We've been together 15 years so we have our own language, which can consist of a simple look or breath! We've also played many different styles together for years and toured with heaps of artists so we have our own special stage language going on too! People always comment on how our voices sound harmonising together and I think that they are just hearing love.
Question: What's a typical day like?
Mindy Kwanten: A typical day starts with love and feeding our animals. We have two horses, a dog and a cat. We live on a property and love spending time in nature. We are constantly inspired but some days you feel like writing songs more than others. We guess it's what you might call -the zone'! If we are feeling the zone then we will sit down and have a song writing session. During our process I will record some of our ideas and at the end of the session we always have heaps of solid ideas which we will go back to individually and expand on it. If we are not feeling in the zone, we will work on the other side of the music. Like, talk and design film clips, live shows and how we can make them exciting and different, keep in touch with our fan base and drum up noise for upcoming gigs!
Question: What has been your favorite part of becoming a music artist?
Mindy Kwanten: From conception of a simple idea which blossoms into a creation is pretty cool! But playing our original music to a live audience is probably our favourite thing about it all. When you see people react and connect is where the magic is.
Question: If you could collaborate with another artist, who would it be?
Mindy Kwanten: Theres a loooong list! Lol! Radiohead, Aretha Franklin, Daniel Johns, Frank Ocean and Josh Homme! The top five change daily but these are some constant offenders!
Question: What message would you like your music to say to your fans?
Mindy Kwanten: Each song has it's own message. What we want them to get from it is whatever they decide! It's the beauty of a song! It's an individual thing…
Question: What is the story behind the band's name?
Mindy Kwanten: It's a couple of things that all meld together. Arrow means boy. When we thought of the male symbol, it's got the arrow point at the bottom. Bow means girl. We thought of a ribbon bow to represent the girl. We are a boy and girl. Mitchell is also a valentine's day baby and we have both been in love for many lifetimes so the connection to cupid and cupids arrow seemed to fit.
Question: What's next for Bow & Arrow?
Mindy Kwanten: Apart from the CHANGINGface, you can catch us at the new HOMEGROWN festival at the Sydney Opera House boardwalk (formally message sticks festival) and we will be doing a HUGE launch of our EPs April so jump on our Facebook to stay up to date on details for that one! Our first ever film clip which is a 1920's inspired naughty nursery rhyme animation is almost ready for release which we are really excited about as it's been a while in the making as the old style takes a long time, and we are organising a backyard tour to commence toward the end of the year!
Interview by Brooke Hunter