Makers of Melbourne

Welcome to Makers Of Melbourne – the ‘go to’ guide for our technically integrated age.

Makers Of Melbourne has been created to consume and assimilate Melbourne culture. We're male focussed, but not male specific, sorting through the dross to weed out the creative stars, standout events and stylish folk that make this city unique. 

MOM aims to embrace all facets of what makes this city a creative hub. Our aim is to inform without condescending – to keep you abreast of what’s going on without regurgitating Press Releases & to seek out this city’s sub cultures to give our readers the inside scoop on what’s REALLY happening with the people who make Melbourne Melbourne.

Interview: Wona Bae

If Melbourne has become fertile ground for the creative set, then it makes sense that Wona Bae has found almost instant growth for the seed of an idea that took root – almost unbeknownst to her – during a childhood in Korea that saw flowers become an intrinsic part of the person she was to become.

Wona: “My father had decided on three names for his children before he got married, and he went on to have three kids: my sister is the third and she is ‘best fruit’, my brother is the second and he means ‘best growth’ and I’m the first kid and Wona means ‘the best seedling’.”

Indeed it takes a special sort of person to mastermind the transformation of space that the highly qualified florist has achieved alongside her husband, permaculture expert and business partner, Charlie Lawler: in a back street behind a distinctly un-glamorous section of Johnstone Street, Wona’s nursery-cum-studio, Loose Leaf, sprouts as a breath of green among a sea of garage workshops.

The girl that grew up hating flowers after spending her youthful spare time “making chrysanthemums” eventually found her own kind of heaven right there in Collingwood, this version a white-walled, warehouse space alive with ferns, cacti, twisting hoya vines and arcing indoor palms.

Like any great love affair, it was one that developed over time: having grown up around flowers with her florist farm-owning father in Korea, Wona is very much a woman shaped by her lifelong exposure to all things flora.

But there is more to the elfin florist than a green thumb, and more to the store than its position as ground zero for healthy plant life. With the one-time fashion student qualified in Japanese Ikebana, its Korean equivalent, Kokozi, as well as picking up a Masters in German floristry, Wona has an artist’s spirit and the talent to match: her unique insights into culture and country are as compelling as her graceful sculptures – fluid twists of wood and sticks that work to form nest-like geometries that are intricate in appearance and incredible in scale.

Wona: “Floristry is different in every country, it is related to culture. Australian’s just do, they are very relaxed and their country is so big and likes the natural style of floristry. In Korea everything grows more slowly, Asian people are very cautious, they want to learn everything properly before they experiment and the floristry – it is very delicate.”

That mix of East and West finds itself in her sculptural works. The most striking example? Her three-metre tall spherical sculpture of sticks that graces the gardens of Victoria’s stunning Heide Museum of Modern Art, its hypnotic circular form embracing the idea of restraint while throwing open its form to the breadth of the surrounding space through its scale.

Unfortunately for Makers, as compelling as Wona’s story is, it’s not long before we wind it up: the business woman is a little under the weather, having taught her in-house floristry classes two nights running before backing it up with 4am trips to the market. The schedule is hectic, but one gets the feeling she wouldn’t be anywhere else.

Wona: “This is my passion. I love flowers and I love making sculptures and I love teaching. The retail part of it is not a natural fit, but it is what I have to do to bring people to me and let them know what I do.”

Loose Leaf

31 Sackville Street, Collingwood 

The Event: Fell Premiere at Melbourne International Film Festival

With a plotline that revolves around the insular world of the Victorian logging industry, Fell, the feature length directorial debut from Kasimir Burgess, is a striking addition to this year’s Melbourne International Film Festival

No doubt it’s an attention-getting movie: a deft script is tightly wound by Kasimir and writing partner, Natasha Pincus, its focus one man’s journey through the grief of losing a child and his subsequent plans for revenge all set within the controversial framework of Australia’s logging industry.

It’s Makers good fortune to get up close and personal with Kasimir, along with producer Mary Minas, 2nd assistant camera Jensen Cope and actor Daniel Henshall, on a day trip to revisit some of the lush filming locations in the nearby Yarra Valley. With principle filming having taken place just beyond Warburton and its surrounds, we – along with the cast and crew – return to ground zero in an effort to gain insight in to the film and those behind it.

(L-R) 2nd assistant camera Jensen Cope, Director Kasimir Burgess, lead actor Daniel Henshall & inside man Brett Robin

(L-R) 2nd assistant camera Jensen Cope, Director Kasimir Burgess, lead actor Daniel Henshall & inside man Brett Robin

Kasimir: “[The Yarra Valley] is a dramatic setting and a place where the continuing cycle of life and death is ever present. There are primal themes of rotting and regeneration happening over and over that reflects the nature of our story. That idea of a redemptive and necessary death.”

 Fell revolves around the characters of Thomas (Matt Nable), a sharp-suited city dweller whose daughter is killed after being hit by a logging truck. Logger Luke (Henshall) flees the scene of the crime, but is caught and faces jail time. Thomas retrains as a logger, infiltrating the close-knit community with the idea of getting revenge on the man who killed his daughter.

Though the plotline could read as melodramatic, Fell is a subtle and nuanced piece, brought to life in the skilled hands of Kasimir, whose background in short film has certainly shaped the way he approached his feature length debut. The dialogue is minimal; instead the film focuses on body language, the hypnotizing surrounds and sound to tell its dramatic story.

Kasimir: “The storyline was so emotionally epic and the setting in the logging industry and the violence that surrounds it helped to externalize a lot of what our characters were going through internally, in terms of trauma, loss and grief. Everything was elemental; from the sound of the actors breathing, we hear their heartbeats, we hear the wind. I’ve always listened to characters breath in film, in fact I may have an unhealthy obsession with it (laughter) it feels very expressive to me. ”

 Historically, the Australian film industry has excelled in production of films set in the bush (Picnic At Hanging Rock, The Man From Snowy River), and Fell is no exception to this rule. 

Boarding a mini bus bound for the Yarra Valley, the director explains to Makers how he found the principle setting for the film.

Kasimir: “My girlfriend suggested that I go and check out Warburton and I fell in love quite quickly. It was probably a year and a half before we started filming but I’d started to look for rather specific locations and angles. I brought Marden [Dean, Director of Photography] out there and we both became very excited. Most of our pre-production ended up happening in the car while we were driving around looking for locations.” 

Over a delicious lunch at Rochford winery, Kasimir and actor Daniel Henshall expand on their time spent with the local logging community. Kasimir explains that the crew spent the six months prior to filming getting to know the men who live and work around Warbuton,

Kasimir: “We had a hand opening some doors into the local community and it was a matter of observing and taking away details. I’d come back to Tash (Sic) with photos that I’d covertly taken and stories of this and that, that we ended up incorporating into the story to bring as much authenticity as we could to the world.”

 Daniel: “The actor logging crew also spent time out in the area where they fell trees. We got to know the loggers and gained a great insight as to who they are and where they come from, it was good fun.”    

Cast & crew answer questions at the MIFF screening

Cast & crew answer questions at the MIFF screening

Fell had its world premier at the recent Sydney Film Festival, where it opened to excellent reviews. Much hype has also surrounded the groundbreaking decision by Minas and veteran Australian producer John Maynard to simultaneously stream the film for an online audience at the same time that it has broader release in Australian cinemas. 

 During the Sydney Film Festival, producer Maynard told the ABC Arts program, “the world premiere of Fell via the internet is a game-changer in a multi-screen world. It’s democratic, it’s inclusive and it’s about time.”

Fell is due for broader release this Thursday, 21st August.

Story: Janey Umback

Photos: Samantha Hogan

 

The Event: 'David Bowie Is' Exhibition Announcement at ACMI

Bowie fans Sean & Maddy at the announcement of the ACMI ‘David Bowie Is…’ exhibition 

Bowie fans Sean & Maddy at the announcement of the ACMI ‘David Bowie Is…’ exhibition 

He was incomparable as Ziggy Stardust and unforgettable as The Thin White Duke. Now the man behind those two iconic musical identities will have his persona explored with David Bowie is, an exhibition curated by London’s Victoria and Albert Museum and coming to Melbourne’s the Australian Centre of the Moving Image (ACMI) as part of the 2015 Melbourne Winter Masterpieces program.

It’s a coup for Melbourne, the exhibition having made its debut in London in 2013 before beginning a global tour that has so far taken in Toronto, Berlin, Chicago and – the only other Southern Hemisphere city to rate a mention – Sao Paulo.

David Bowie, 1973. Photograph by Masayoshi Sukita

David Bowie, 1973. Photograph by Masayoshi Sukita

The multimedia exhibit pulls together priceless pieces of the artist’s luminous history, from Ziggy Stardust body suits and the Union Jack waist coast designed by Bowie and Alexander McQueen, to never-before-seen personal items including storyboards and hand written set lists, along with Bowie’s own sketches, musical scores and diary entries.

For V&A curators, Victoria Broakes and Geoffrey Marsh, the exhibit is as much an opportunity to consider identity as it is a chance to get a grip on the “real” David Bowie.

Victoria Broakes: “David Bowie is poses the question, ‘what is David Bowie?’, and our approach to the exhibition has been to leave that question open because it invites consideration, not only that we all have different identities, but also that he means different things to different people.”

Along with the main exhibition, ACMI will host a series of events, late-night programs, talks, film screenings and performances to celebrate and put to show the 50-year career of an artist like no other.

The ‘Starman’ costume from David Bowie’s appearance on ‘Top of the Pops’ in 1972 on display at the V&A Museum in London where the ‘David Bowie Is’ exhibition was originally curated.

The ‘Starman’ costume from David Bowie’s appearance on ‘Top of the Pops’ in 1972 on display at the V&A Museum in London where the ‘David Bowie Is’ exhibition was originally curated.

'David Bowie Is' opens July 16, 2015. Tickets go on sale in November. Registration for pre ticket sales is accessible HERE 

The Institution: Four Pillars Distillery

Cameron Mackenzie bares a striking resemblance to Heston Blumenthal. Physical similarities aside, it’s his unbridled passion for unusual ingredients, quality products and a flair for experimentation that wouldn’t go unnoticed in the kitchen of The Fat Duck.

“I haven’t used any liquid nitrogen yet” there’s an easy laughter after Makers hints at a comparison to the boutique gin distiller, after we take part in a gin appreciation course and tasting at Mackenzie’s recently established Four Pillars distillery in the Yarra Valley.

Cameron, along with his two partners Stuart Gregor and Matt Jones officially founded Four Pillars late last year with the aim of making a modern Australian gin, although the dream was a long time in the making. It was a quest undertaken after long time gin enthusiasts Mackenzie and Gregor both ordered G&Ts in a bar and were shocked to see a boutique brand of the alcohol topped up with tonic water from a post mix gun. 

Mackenzie: “We started to think about producing tonic waters, this rapidly shifted to gin. I spent the next 12 months researching everything I could find, from that initial tonic water conversation our journey has taken 3 and a half years and we launched our first batch in November of last year”

Mackenzie speaks with a confidence that makes his journey into the blossoming world of craft spirits seem relatively simple, although in truth establishing Four Pillars as a boutique distillery took a lot of work and years of preparation for the three business partners - There were road trips to the USA to visit a number of small American producers and most importantly, the commissioning of a bespoke CARL still from Germany, bearing the moniker of Mackenzie's mother Wilma. “Our golden rule from day one was that if we’re going to do it, we were doing it properly. For us it was all or nothing.” He states emphatically, grinning from ear to ear.

From the Dutch introducing the spirit to England during the 1600s, through to the bathtub gin produced during America’s prohibition era, James Bond’s requests for his to be “shaken, not stirred” and Snoop Dogg’s 1993 release ‘Gin and Juice’, you’d be hard pressed to find a liquor with a past as colourful as the juniper based spirit – and although it was once relegated as the tipple of choice for the grey rinse set, the popularity of gin is once again on the rise here in Australia.

In fact, over the past five years, our gin consumption has risen nearly 50% across most age groups with the highest growth is seen in those aged between 18-24. And with the number of boutique distilleries in Australia on the rise, consumers are quickly becoming spoilt for choice and quality. 

One of the key points that help set Four Pillars apart from the rest of the local boutique gin pack is Mackenzie’s passion for experimenting with an unusual blend of ingredients; including a rare mix of Australian botanicals. On their mission to invent the perfect Australian gin, he and his partners consulted some of the countries best-known chefs; asking them what they thought made up modern Australian cuisine. They quickly came to the conclusion that their gin  should include a blend of Asian, Mediterranean and native ingredients. The end result is a fresh and tangy spirit with a dry citrus finish. Perfect with Tonic, or in Mackenzie’s favourite cocktail; the Negroni.

Each limited edition batch produced on the site of the former Hardies Yarra Burn winery is a considered mix of European Juniper, Guatemalan Cardamom, Australian Coriander, Cinnamon, Star Anise, Tasmanian native pepper, Lemon Myrtle, lavender and locally sourced organic oranges.

Mackenzie: “We’ve got some of the most unusual and beautiful botanicals in the world and I don’t think it’ll be long before we see distilleries overseas using Australian ingredients.”

And while both local and international distilleries may soon start taking a leaf out of the Four Pillars book and start distilling with a variety of Aussie ingredients, the one thing they’d be hard pressed to match is the passion and love that goes into each one of Mackenzie’s bottles. “Love is our fourth pillar” he says with a smile, and it’s evident that he means every word.

ku140726FourPillarsGin4412.jpg

Four Pillars open day Saturday, 6 September: Bookings through Eventbrite

Artist Profile: Richard McLean

Richard McLean is a total surprise package. An artist cloaked in the outer shell of a man of otherwise ordinary appearance. Yet the very word – ordinary – is at stark odds with the voice expressed in Richard’s visual and written work.

He meets Makers in South Melbourne following a few false starts. The meeting is a little rushed and Richard’s discomfort with that is clear. The artist appears as one who wears his emotional skin on the outside: an uncomfortable day-to-day proposition, perhaps, but one that surely informs so much of his arresting illustrations – works that vacillate between description of a poignant moment and pictures of moving torment finely wrought with nuanced tension.

Richard: “If you pick your life before you come here, then I picked a hard challenge. As the artist you’re on the outside of society, and it’s the same for people with mental illness.”

This last point is one with particular relevance to Richard, one who speaks openly around his own journey in coming to terms with – in his own words, “recovering” from – the onset of schizophrenia.

Yet as difficult as the journey has been (deftly illustrated in his decade-old book, Recovered, Not Cured: A Journey Through Schizophrenia) the artist appears to value the focus it has lent him, the drive to conscientiously adhere to a continual practice of self-assessment and self discovery.

Jesus of Suburbia

Jesus of Suburbia

Steinberg Still Life

Steinberg Still Life

It’s a drive he clearly identifies as being the impetus behind one his latest works, www.theuniversalembrace.com.

Richard: “The creative spirit is, for me, centred around talking about you and your place in the world and making peace with your past. It’s recreating your self in a way that’s looking over your whole life in a present moment. And the ultimate reason to do all this is love - love of the self, love of another and love of the greater universe and the way you fit in to it.”

Williamstown

Williamstown

And the fit of Richard? Like all of us, he is continually fighting for that knowledge – expressing his angst in those stirring illustrations while revelling in the playfulness of childhood with Grogan the Monster, a bright and nonsensical children’s book that will be launched during mental health week this this October as a fundraiser for The Royal Children’s Hospital.

Richard: “Not all of the art is dire, and not all of it is tormented. Some of it is very joyous. But creativity is something I will always do. It’s something I can’t stop doing: sometimes you feel jaded, you have success, you feel satisfied for a while – there is this cycle of up and down. Just like life."

www.creativemusings.com.au

 

Self Portrait Red t-shirt

Self Portrait Red t-shirt

Lemon Tree

Lemon Tree

Interview: Masahiro Onishi

Anyone who knows Melbourne coffee Don, Salvatore Malatesta, understands that the guy gets around. The fact that Makers missed him by a day at Switch Coffee in Meguro, Tokyo? Not as strange as it sounds. 

He dropped by for the same reason anyone with an interest in coffee does when passing through the Japanese capital – to experience the brew pulled by barista Masahiro Onishi, a dedicated lover of the bean and a one-time South Melbourne local.

Masahiro: “Some of the best coffee is in South Melbourne – I loved Deadman Espresso and St Ali."

His testing ground was noteworthy: landing in Melbourne a few years back, the Japanese-native’s keen coffee interest and light touch at the machine earned him the barista job at highly regarded The Premises cafe in Kensington.

It was from this space that was drawn much of the inspiration and drive that’s since been realised in his first solo venture, Switch, the name so chosen for its ability to cross linguistic boundaries (it means the same in both Japanese and English). Certainly nine months in and his identification of a yet-to-be serviced niche in the local hospitality market – Japan isn’t known for its coffee – is bearing fruit.

There’s the kudos donated by visits from top coffee brass like Malatesta, of course, but more than that there is the enthusiasm local regulars are exhibiting for his unique approach: everything in this space works cohesively together, from the elegant and inviting aesthetic to the focus on global beans and the café’s fashionably practical uniform – those Mackey aprons commonly stocked and worn in (you guessed it) Premises.

Makers finishes up the last of a longed for latte and snaps a few extra shots before hitting the streets. Masahiro walks us to the door and it’s the shoes that catch our eye – the beautiful oiled leather boot from French brand Paraboot that speaks as much about the café and the man as the coffee: simple, smart, casual and in excellent taste. 

Switch Coffee

1-17-23 Meguro

Meguro-ku, Tokyo, Japan 1530063 

Story & images by: Samantha Hogan

Interview: Bertie Blackman

Bertie Blackman’s latest single, Run For Your Life lifted off of her forthcoming fifth album, The Dash is truly three and half minutes of pop bliss, or as the artist herself describes it, “it’s music to have a good time to…music to feel your heartbeat to.”

With The Dash due for release this spring, Makers thought that now would be the perfect opportunity to arrange an interview and photo shoot with the inspiring performer. 

Blackman’s soon to be released album has been written and recorded in small studios in Melbourne, as well as Sydney and Central NSW. Bertie tells Makers that the time spent working in different locations around Australia helped to keep the sound of her new material “really fresh, open and exciting. ” 

We meet Bertie Blackman on a crisp Tuesday afternoon at the Happy Palace restaurant on Bourke Street, the retro interiors the perfect backdrop for the clean lines of local fashion label, Kloke, Bertie’s designers of choice for the shoot.

 With hair and makeup underway in the far corner of the open plan restaurant, a divine assortment of clothing and footwear set up neatly, and the excitable murmur of kitchen staff preparing for night service, the first floor restaurant is a hive of activity. The energy is upbeat, echoing the feelings that inspired the new album with its strong pop-inspired vibe. 

Bertie: “I think that the veil between pop and lots of different types of music is becoming less and less defined as modern culture closes in the gaps. Everything is attainable and that’s exiting for music.”

Run For Your Life opens with a strong ‘80s inspired synth, bringing to mind a feeling of freedom and, as the tempo grows, the liberation of feet pounding on pavement. It’s the first hint that The Dash will be quite the departure from Blackman’s last album, the more introspective 2012 release Pope Innocent X.

Bertie: “I’m always darting from one world to another. And wanting to nod at one of my favourite eras in music meant that I had to open out the production sound into big hooks and big vocals.”

It’s time for a quick costume change, and it’s evident that Bertie is loving Kloke’s stylings: the brand already has strong ties to the local music industry, dressing Chet Faker and contributing to the recent Architecture in Helsinki pop up store in Melbourne Central. We ask the singer if that musical connection inspired her decision to want to work with the label.

Bertie: “It wasn’t actually, I’ve always just dug their clothing. I love their mix of clean crisp lines and big loud patterns. I’m personally into classic cut clothing. These guys do this so well, classic cuts with a twist… super cool.”

It’s a well-chosen comment, and one that could also be used to describe the singer herself – classic with a twist and super cool. We think that about sums her up nicely.

Shot on location at Happy Palace restaurant

Clothing by Kloke

Hair & Makeup by Marlene Olsson 

Shoes by Victorine & Ms Blackman's own

Photography by Kirsty Umback

Interview: Tim Kill

“I will do extra things at my own cost for my own satisfaction. I just love it. Guitar making has never been about the money for me.”    -       Tim Kill

Tim Kill remembers with perfect recall the day INXS guitarist Garry Beers came calling. The kid from Frankston who had directed his focus from the age of 16 toward making guitars was wandering around Bunnings when the phone rang. Garry wanted a guitar. And he wanted Tim to make it.

Tim: “It was just bizarre. He [Garry] wanted to catch up and it was all just super cash. From being in such an iconic Australian rock band he was just a real down to Earth guy. Same with guys like Colin Hay – he’d just come around to the workshop and start swearing like a trooper.”

When Makers recounted the experience of chatting with Tim earlier this week, an old time friend of the now 35-year-old specialist custom guitar maker emphasised the importance of conveying the talented artist’s eccentricity – as it turns out, there’s really no other way to frame him.

Substantial red beard aside, Tim’s quirks owe nothing to the physical. Instead, his left-of-centre characteristics are almost entirely attributable to the passion and dedication he has maintained for almost 15 years – a rare quality in today’s world – relentlessly pursuing expression and voice through creation of stunning instruments designed to each produce a particular unique sound.

His talent is one that was less directed then simply uncovered and then honed over years of practice: having bought a book on guitar making as a guitar-playing 16-year-old, Tim’s furniture-restorer grandfather helped to fashion his first instrument, an experience that set Tim on the road he is still driven to travel.

Tim: “In Australia there is no real way toward an apprenticeship or anything like that, so I learned the hard way. My grandfather let me pinch his tools and I just kept making and making and played in bands, which helped me to get feedback from other people around the sound.”

There was an apprenticeship of sorts with renowned Australian luthiers, James and Merv Cargill (for whom he still works part-time restoring, building and repairing classical stringed instruments), but the slow reveal of his talent owes much to Tim’s focussed practice of the art form.

It’s a dedication that has brought him to the attention of all the right people. If Garry Beers was the first rock musician to come calling, he certainly wasn’t alone in appreciating Tim’s soulful touch. In fact Tim’s client list reads like a role call of both current and past Aussie rock icons – from the aforementioned Colin Hay of Men At Work fame, to relative newcomer Xavier Rudd, the Living End, and the crew from the John Butler Trio.

But one gets the feeling it’s the man as much as the music with which they all identify. Tim has a way about him. He’s a down to Earth guy with a serious bullshit detector. An artist who follows his passions with no posturing or pretending. A craftsman, in the truest sense of the word. All are aspects of his personality that come through strongly when Tim speaks of his work.

Tim: “I’m a custom-based maker so I don’t really run a production line of staff. I have a couple of standard models but I always go out of my way to go a bit extra – I try to pride myself on the fact there are no two guitars out there that are the same. I will do extra things at my own cost for my own satisfaction. As far as time and money goes, I’ve never put a stopwatch to [making] one…because it distracts me from how I started. I just love it, but it was never about the money for me. It’s nice to have it for food on the table, but I don’t chase after it.”

And I guess that’s it – his eccentricity and his appeal neatly rolled in to a sentence. Someone who does it for the love. It’s a rare energy and one – as human beings – that we’re all drawn to.

Certainly it helps to explain why his new hobby, the restoration of vintage motorcycles, is fast becoming a second income stream, even if Tim himself is doing everything he can to preserve it as a personal passion: when the rest of us lock on to that person following the beat of his creative heart, then we all want a piece of it.

But for Tim it’s not the unspoken adulation that matters, but the trust this brings from those that seek him out: confident in his talent, they let the artist take the lead. For Tim as a maker, this is where much of the pleasure derides.

Not that it doesn’t sometimes go wrong.

Tim: “I did this job for a guy over in WA. He was a guitarist, had a share house with Diesel and Jimmy Barnes when they were teenagers and had all these wild stories to tell. Anyway, I did a sunburst and thought it was really beautiful and I sent him some pictures. He rings me up to say, ‘I don’t want to hurt your feelings or anything, but I just don’t like it’.”

Tim laughs when he tells the story and it’s had not to admire his lack of hubris. Hoisted by his own artistic petard. So what’d you do, Makers asks?

Tim: “I made it again.”

You can hear the shrug in his voice, matched with the hint of a smile.  And there it is again. Easy. Honest. Light. Characteristics we’d all be happy to have more of.

Artist Profile: Lily Mae Martin

If a lot can be told about a creative by their studio, artist Lily Mae Martin’s decidedly feminine space speaks volumes.

Located at the back of her property in Preston, the converted garage is a virtual candy land of artistic ephemera; a collection of old box brownie cameras, canvases, reference books and rough sketches sit next to a prized collection of old photographs, carefully collected from flea markets, fetes and fairs across the globe.

“I love old cameras and I love old books,” Martin begins to explain as we take shelter in her workspace, avoiding a sudden downpour outside.

“And I love collecting old photographs. Wherever we travel I go and collect old photographs. Some of those are very fancy ones,” she says as she gestures to the fading pictures she has chosen to fill her space with.

“Though it’s not the fancy ones that I’m drawn to specifically, it’s when you’re in markets and you come across big boxes [of pictures] and it’s someone’s whole life. It makes me feel a bit sad. I’ve got so many photographs of mamas and their little kids, and of nuns. I’m really drawn to nuns.”

It is this dichotomy between traditional feminine roles and the objectification of women in art that has possibly played the greatest influence on Martin’s work to date, a collection of paintings and sketches focussing on the nude female form, with an emphasis on pregnancy and the gestating body.

Working across the fine arts, Lily Mae has been drawing for her entire life, but only began painting while she was in VCE.

Lily Mae: “Female nudes are important to me because, even though most of art is based around women being nude, I feel like it’s still quite devoid of the female experience. That’s what I’m trying to capture, that’s why in recent years drawing and painting women in pregnancy and after has been quite important. And it’s not just the male gaze. Because most of the art that is referenced is by men, women do it too. That’s the way that we’ve grown up to view the female figure, so I really want to capture all the bits and pieces in my work. "

A finalist in the 2014 Benalla Nude Art Prize, Martin admits that it can be hard to avoid objectifying her subjects.

Lily Mae: “People always talk about people in art always being objectified and it has such a negative connotation, but sometimes I see people and all I can think about is painting their cheekbones or drawing their hair.”

But it isn’t just about contributing to the reboot of how society thinks about women in art – plenty of her own experience as a person and as a mother funnels from her paint brush and on to the canvas. With experience and with time, the artist has enjoyed developing the ability to convey hers as a universal portrait representing the ‘other’ as much as it tells the story of her ‘self’.

Lily Mae: “There’s a very therapeutic and cathartic aspect to my work but I think, as I have grown along with my work, I’m able to talk about it and explore…in a broader sense. It’s not such a personal thing anymore.”

Lily Mae Martin is represented by Scott Livesey Galleries

ku140705LilyMaeMartin2402.jpg

Interview: Sebastian Costello, Bad Frankie

“There are distillers who brew excellent product in Melbourne, and I want to show it off to the world.”

-       Sebastian Costello

It is common to become intoxicated by the discovery of food and drink tested and tasted within the cultural and geographic bounds of its origin: pintxos and white sherry in the cobblestone back streets of San Sebastian, panzanella salad in some Tuscan trattoria, or a dosa straight off the cart in the laneways of Chennai.

Perhaps what’s slightly less common is bartender Sebastian Costello’s reaction to his own journey of culinary discovery. Excited by the experience of drinking his way through bourbon in Nashville and tequila in Tequila, Sebastian took up the gauntlet these two regions remain unaware was ever thrown.

Sebastian: “We came back and I thought to myself, ‘we’ve got whiskies from Tasmania, gins from the Yarra Valley and the Margaret River – let’s do this, let’s show Australian spirits to the world.”

The end result is Bad Frankie, an off-Smith Street bar showcasing more than 150 spirits representing 40 of the 50-or-so boutique distilleries currently operating within our border.

It’s a quirky concept. Australian-only spirits, beers and wines matched with what Sebastian imagines as our national snack – the humble jaffle.

ku140604BadFrankie0705.jpg

As concepts go, it is undoubtedly one that could come off as gimmicky in the hands of a business owner with less honest intent and more commercial drive.  Instead, the space (with the help of interior designer Sally Holbrook) evokes all the colloquial warmth Aussies have for the idea of the small town watering hole.

Sebastian: “When you’re in Tequila the Jose Cuervo distillery is right there on the corner, and you’re eating tacos because that’s what you eat and it’s awesome because you’re there – no one’s trying to sell it. They don’t have to. This is what they do.”

The key to the realisation of the Bad Frankie vision is in Sebastian’s absorption of that notion. There is no hard sell, here, instead just a real knowledge about the birth of Australia’s boutique distillery industry and its importance in our modern food history.

Certainly he relates the dates and happenings as if he had lived them. Of Van Diemen’s Land Governor John Franklin’s outlawing of small-scale pot stills in the 1800s that saw the death of the boutique distillery industry in Tasmania and eventually – when the law was passed in to Federation law in 1901 – across Australia. Of the 1992 overturning of the archaic law upon the efforts of Tasmanian Bill Lark, founder of Lark Distillery.

As of the offering, he’s not afraid to be a little parochial in the tastiest possible way. Like the inside joke that is the jaffle lamington, and a cocktail list that reimagines the Sunday roast as a strangely tasty Old Fashioned championing Gun Alley whisky.

Sebastian: “The response to what we’re doing is really great. Everybody loves it. Everyone’s worried about their carbon footprints and people are keen to taste product we can trace to just around the corner. We wanted to give them that opportunity."

 

badfrankie.com

141 Greeves St, Fitzroy VIC 3065

Telephone 03 9078 3866

 

Street Style: Tokyo

Makers of Melbourne like to keep one eye on the international street style scene & our contributor Samantha Hogan's recent trip to Japan gave us the opportunity to take a look first hand at what's happening in Tokyo. As to be expected, the quality of Japanese denim has kept this trend at the forefront of style over the Northern summer & paired with a few quirky accessories & a hint of attitude & you have the makings of some great casual looks.

Interview: Clare Bowditch

Clare Bowditch was so believable in her portrayal of musician Rosanna Harding on the hit channel 10 drama, Offspring, that she was nominated in the best new female talent category at the 2012 Logie Awards. In retrospect, the emotional performance wasn’t such a stretch for the performer, who has long held a reputation for wearing her heart on her sleeve with her somewhat auto biographical lyrics, encompassing seven albums and numerous tours both here in Australia and internationally.

While it is the subject of her latest tour, Winter Secrets, that has allowed Makers the opportunity to sit down with the inspiring creative between stints recording inside “an ABC Tardis”, we’ll happily confess that it is her juggling of several careers while somehow appearing to live a relatively balanced life (albeit one that involves wearing the hats of singer, songwriter, actress, public speaker, mother, wife and entrepreneurial powerhouse) that had us really intrigued. 

Clare Bowditch on stage

Clare Bowditch on stage

Clare appears to have achieved both professional and personal accolades without sacrificing her private life or living under the constant spotlight of public scrutiny.

 The musician won the Best Female ARIA Award in 2006, has had Top Ten albums, been named Rolling Stone Woman of the Year for her contributions to Culture, YEN Young Woman of the Year, and toured all over with the likes of Leonard Cohen, who famously “proposed” to her backstage. All of this while raising three children with her husband and recording partner, Marty Brown.

It’s very rare to find a performer who is happy to share their knowledge of the ins and outs of the Australian music industry while also giving insight as to how to live a profitable yet creatively satisfying life.

 These subjects were just two of the driving forces that lead Clare to create her online mentoring program, Big Hearted Business, in 2013.  

 Like all multi-passionate people,” the bubbly performer explains during our mid week chat, “I’ve been trying to find a place of dynamic equilibrium, which means that I can actually take care of myself while taking on my various creative pursuits, my family, my business and so on.”

Displaying a level of self-disclosure that has become increasingly rare in our age of overly hyped, mass media celebrity, she continues.

Clare: “When I saw people that were good at it [managing their careers] I started picking up on things and had the urge to pass it [the knowledge] on - I could see the usefulness, the joy the connectivity that comes from understanding creativity.”  

Since founding the program (made possible with a successful crowd funding campaign), Clare has helped produce a series of conferences and online “inspiration bombs” designed to teach creative people about business, and business people about creativity.

Clare Bowditch and Adalita performing together on the 2014  ‘Winter Secrets’ tour. Photo by Andrew Vukosav

Clare Bowditch and Adalita performing together on the 2014  ‘Winter Secrets’ tour. Photo by Andrew Vukosav

Clare: “We work with people who get that you can have a successful business and still contribute to the community, culture and social enterprise. “

Although the performer is the first to admit that finding balance is still a constant struggle, and one of the factors that inspired her to start Big Hearted Business, she is also fostering creativity through her annual Winter Secrets tour, giving one local musician in each state the unique opportunity to perform during the concert and be in the running to win a $1000 cash prize.

 Clare: “I was the person in the audience for so many years who sat there and thought, ‘I know I’ve got something to give creatively’, but I didn’t think it would be possible to make a living from it. In the meantime I was writing songs and hoping that I would have the chance to perform them in front of people one day: for me, Winter Secrets, is about giving someone who has the guts and the talent the chance to just see what it feels like to be up there.”

Earlier this year Clare Bowditch posted an update on her Facebook page explaining that she didn’t think it would be possible to run Winter Secrets in 2014.

While this was disappointing news to fans, it’s fair to say that Clare was left feeling the most disheartened of all. She explains to Makers that her busy schedule and the launch into an “album phase” were contributing factors in her decision to cancel the tour that had been running annually since 2010. 

Clare Bowditch performs at the Palais Theatre, St Kilda.

Clare Bowditch performs at the Palais Theatre, St Kilda.

 Clare: “We were thinking of launching back into an album phase now, but I thought, no, I’m going to [tour] even if it was a smaller than what we’d usually do. I needed to get out on the road and actually see the people that I’ll be writing the album for, before I get the gumption to go ahead and write it. A lot of what I write about is formed by the conversations I have with the strangers who are my audience.”

 Clare: “After [Winter Secrets] I’ll be finishing writing an album and I think we’re going to record next year. I’ll be dabbling in writing while continuing with Big Hearted Business, and next year I’ll hopefully record, release and tour. But we’ll see how we go.”

After wondering aloud how the performer manages to successfully keep all of her balls in the air, Clare can’t help but confide, “I have to tell you something funny. I was listening to a few of the new demos the other day and almost all of the songs had the word ‘tired’ in them. That was one of the themes that I was picking up on but it definitely won’t be an album about being tired. I’ll have to find something else."

See Clare Bowditch and special guest Adalita perform  ‘Winter Secrets’ this Thursday 17th July at Sooki Lounge, Belgrave or catch them at The Corner Hotel, Richmond on Fri 18th July 

Interview: Benoit Gouez, Moët & Chandon Chef de Cave

“When it comes to sparkling wine and Champagne I think we speak of different categories and, honestly, I think the sparkling wine producers of the world should better define and assert their own style.”

 -       Benoit Gouez

Benoit Gouez 

Benoit Gouez 

So maybe you always knew that even a great sparkling would not match up to a classic Champagne. Just in case you had any doubts, the head winemaker at historic French Champagne house Moët & Chandon, Benoit Gouez, is happy to relieve you of the notion.

In Melbourne for a one-night only stop to bring attention to the latest release Moët & Chandon Grand Vintage 2006, Benoit was the main attraction at an extravagant Champagne dinner hosted at No. 8 by John Lawson. But as interesting as the tastes of vintage Moët were (dating as far back as a rich and golden glass of 1985), more arresting was a pre-dinner chat with one of the world’s most influential tastemakers.

Unapologetic about Champagne’s superiority in the battle of the bubbles, Benoit had some stern advice for both national and international producers of sparkling wine.

Benoit: “I think that, for sparkling wine producers in the world, they should better define and assert their own style rather than trying to copy something that is already established. I have always found that a more interesting approach.”

The elegant Frenchman points to the success of Australian shiraz as an example of a French grape – syrah – that has been rebranded by wine makers in terms of its taste profile. By doing so, explains Benoit, the Australian market has distinguished itself from the classic Rhone style and successfully established its own lucrative market.

Opinions on sparkling aside, a conversation with Moët’s Chef de Cave was interesting for the insights provided as to his own role at the head of one of the world’s most recognisable maisons. When the international Champagne drinking community knows well the classic Moët style, how much allowance does he have as a winemaker when it comes time to create vintage?

Chef John Lawson with Benoit Gouez

Chef John Lawson with Benoit Gouez

Benoit: “The Moët Imperial is what I describe as the concept of non-vintage, it’s that concept of constancy – we know what we have to achieve and we do it every year, therefore it involves a more technical process. The Grand Vintage, for me, is the opposite of the non-vintage approach. It’s total freestyle and there is room to explore the different facets of the style according to what I think of the harvest. It’s a much more personal approach, with no obligation to the grapes other than to make the best representation. And if I’m not satisfied, there is no obligation to produce it.”

His minder calls time and Makers descends the stairs to dinner as Benoit conducts a final brief while the flutes are poured. We spend the evening drinking his genius and come to much the same conclusion as he had earlier decreed – when it comes to truly great Champagne, there really is no award for second best.

Interview: Oscar Lake

While the concept of what is considered good or bad sartorial taste comes down to personal choice and personality, it’s hard to deny the appeal of a man in a well-cut suit. It’s even harder to deny the appeal of a personally tailored suit, especially when it’s being offered as an affordable clothing option by Oscar Lake, a man who, at the ripe old age of 30, is proud to call himself Australia’s youngest tailor.

Oscar Lake photographed by Sam Wong

Oscar Lake photographed by Sam Wong

“I’m not aware of anyone else my age that is in this line of work,” Oscar begins as he sits down with Makers over a glass of whiskey at the Oscar Hunt showrooms, where the youthful blonde has held the position of head tailor for the past 12 months.

It’s easy for Makers to see the parallel between the tailor and his employers. The retail operation has its own humble beginnings; the once itinerant fashion brand was born out of temporary showrooms in both the Cullen and Olsen hotels before finding itself a more permanent home in the Melbourne CBD, while Oscar studied fashion design at Box Hill and was working in womenswear before making the decision to plunge into a more traditional trade.

“I thought that bespoke tailoring would be the most difficult thing I could do,” he says with a chuckle, “so I decided to learn how to do it.”

The young tailor spent the first five years after graduation working in Armadale before joining the ranks at Oscar Hunt. The way he tells it, the decision to move in to made-to-measure seemed like a no brainer

The new Oscar Hunt showroom in Melbourne's Hardware Lane

The new Oscar Hunt showroom in Melbourne's Hardware Lane

Oscar: “I felt like the move to made-to-measure would be a smart one as the bespoke community here in Australia is decreasing in size. (Mine) was a decision to try and work with a business that is at the head of the new frontier of suiting, where service is still the most important aspect. We can produce something that is as close to bespoke and handmade but with less cost and more efficiency, but retaining the same amount of style and quality.”

It’s an important distinction to make: few and far between are men with the money – or even the desire – to opt for truly bespoke suiting. As American author, Meg Lukens-Noonan came to explore in her awarded book, The Coat Route, this most traditional of all tailoring schools is a dying art.

Made-to-measure offers the next best thing: where bespoke involves hand making a pattern for each individual, made-to-measure finds its niche in creating individualised alterations from a pre-made pattern. It takes a keen eye to distinguish between the two.

Tailors like Oscar, while not preserving the skill of bespoke, are at least helping to keep the dream alive by drawing new clientele in to the realm of tailoring with an option that finds itself occupying the high ground somewhere between off-the-rack and a true bespoke service

Oscar Lake photographed by Sam Wong

Oscar Lake photographed by Sam Wong

Oscar: “We’re able to tailor for men with unusual body types and help them find clothing that they wouldn’t generally be able to find somewhere else. We’re selling a luxury product, meaning that our clients expectations are very high and they expect a good quality finished product.”

Oscar Hunt’s new CBD quarters tell the tale of a successfully growing business and – for Oscar, at least – the reason behind the rising appeal of a service that embraces both tradition and the day-to-day financial realities of the working classes is clear.

Oscar: “If you’re looking at a man across the room in pretty much any suit, regardless of how expensive the fabric is or how much they’ve paid for it, it all comes down to the fit. And if it fits well, a man will feel more confident.”

The new Oscar Hunt showroom in Melbourne's Hardware Lane

The new Oscar Hunt showroom in Melbourne's Hardware Lane

Interview: JP Klipspringer

JP Klipspringer is the new recording project of Melbourne songwriter and The Zanes front man, Jack Poulson. Produced by Simon Lam (I’lls, KLO) and mastered by Andrei Eremin (Chet Faker, Brightly), Klipspringer’s lush and arresting tunes take influence from artists as varied as Elliott Smith and Primal Scream, drawing comparisons to The XX and James Blake.

 Klipspringer’s debut EP, Drip Dry, is a stunning first offering from this new act: lead single, Bury Me, has been enjoying airplay on Triple J, Melbourne’s 3RRR and other community radio stations across the country.

It’s a miserable Monday night when Makers finally gets a chance to catch up with Poulson, one of our favourite new artists on the Melbourne music scene, phoning in on his long walk home with a cheery opener.

Jack: “I’m walking, so if I sound puffed it’s not because I’m chasing anyone. I’m probably not as fit as I should be."

The artist débuted Drip Dry at the Toff in town last May to some very positive reviews and his four-track album is currently available for download on iTunes. I can't help but mention that Makers was bummed to miss the gig last month.

Jack: “Oh that sucks. It was really a lot of fun. I was having nightmares earlier on in the week of the launch, but it turned out great. There was a packed room, the support acts were fantastic and I think everyone enjoyed it. We certainly enjoyed it: I’ve played plenty of shows with my other band, The Zanes, but this was our first show as a band as a solo project.”

Releasing their debut album in late 2012, The Zanes took an indefinite hiatus at the beginning of this year when drummer Paul Ryan made the decision to temporarily relocate to London. In a way the move made it easier for Jack to focus on his solo work and (taking his name from a character in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s, The Great Gatsby) JP Klipspringer was born.

Jack: “There was always a plan to focus on the solo stuff this year...  it just took a bit longer to kick into action that I expected. I’d started recording songs for this EP a long time ago: Bring you Home and Bury Me were recorded almost a year ago, now. The other two tracks were recorded a bit more recently. I’m trying to do this properly and take it slow and make sure I get the songs right, instead of just bursting out onto the scene with any old thing.”

The passion and dedication to his music is evident in Jack’s tone as he explains the origins of his solo work.

Jack: “As a singer, you’ve got to learn from your previous bands and I’ve learnt to take my time, make the songs right, and put some effort into releasing an EP. I’m looking forward to recording the next round of stuff in August. I’ve already started writing and I’ve got a few songs that I’m choosing between. There are six or seven tracks that I want to put on the next EP [likely to be released later this year] and maybe I’ll release another single before that.”

With plans to travel to both America and the United Kingdom before that happens, it sounds like the musician is juggling a very busy schedule: he talks of combining travel with putting on a few shows on America’s East Coast, perhaps recording there before tripping over to London to visit former band mate, Paul Ryan.

It’s a full diary but Makers of Melbourne has no doubt that ‘Klipspringer’ will be able to handle the pressure. Before we end the conversation I make sure to thank the singer for his time and leave him to continue the long journey home.

Jack: “Thank you very much, this has been a lovely chat on a cold Monday night, it’s taken my mind off my wet shoes. I think I have a hole in my sole.”

Makers: “Ah. That’s the glamorous life of an up-and-coming musician.”

Jack: “Oh yes, walking through wet parks with holey shoes. This is the life.”

I hear him laugh before he hangs up the phone.

Artist Profile: Jason Parker

Where some would view shyness as a social hindrance, artist Jason Parker has used it as a frame within which to build a melancholic painting style that defines his art and – to some extent – his life.

Makers first met Jason in a shared creative studio after spying samples of his work resting half-complete. Painted in oils, the studies of his subjects are stirring for a suspended sense of loneliness.

Jason: “People are the main story in my work. I’m obsessed with watching my fellow man, I love watching interactions between groups of friends and I often find myself staring at people until it becomes…maybe creepy. I think it’s because I’m such an introvert that I feel a bit of a disconnect and by painting them it creates a connection in you to something bigger.”

There is a fine nuance to the tone of his canvases that is wrought by the creative tension between painter and subject. Caught in benign poses, one is never sure if the sense of menacing emotional darkness depicted is the state of the study, or the projection of the artist.

It’s a conflict Jason himself is open in recognising

Jason: “I attach my own sense of loneliness and vulnerability to the subjects. Whether that comes from the subjects I choose or whether that is me putting my stamp on them, that’s hard to say. What I can say is there is a recurring theme of loneliness and longing in my works.”

Having only recently made the transition from acrylics to oils, the 25-year-old is still deep in the process of defining his artistic voice and developing his craft: trained as a graphic designer, he is in the process of consciously moving away from compulsions to create beautiful composition and instead to work on production of pieces that hold the essence of a feeling derived – not from the subject – but from his subconscious.

The response to his vision, so far, has been encouraging: having last year rented a space to show his work, the selling of some 80 percent of paintings exhibited served to strengthen his self-belief. One must imagine it’s a spark that continues to flame as others within the Melbourne art scene also begin to take an interest: on July 25, his paintings will be on display at Off The Kerb gallery and studios on Johnstone Street in his first commissioned exhibition.

Jason: “I’m turning 26 this year so I’ve taken a huge step back to reassess what I want to do and – with art – it’s almost like, if I don’t give it a go now it will never happen for me. I guess all of this affirms that this is what I should devote myself towards."

Interview: Phillip Adams

“I like that edge.  I may be getting closer to that edge with each work I create.”

- Phillip Adams

Phillip Adams is a complex man upon which to get a grasp. Not an understanding of his drive, per say. That particular characteristic resonates as clearly as his otherworldly choreography. Indeed, the acclaimed dancer and choreographer, founder and director of ground breaking dance and performance company, BalletLab, and visual and performance artist is dedicated to artistic expression in a way few allow themselves to be.

It is his intent that leads to questions as one struggles to place the two parts of the man: on the one hand is the gorgeously welcoming host and conversationalist pouring tea from a delicate pot to serve up alongside morning tea of scones; on the other, the artist who demands what can appear to be a Machiavellian sense of control over his audience.

Find the evidence in a summation of his provocative works:

 And All Things Return To Nature Tomorrow, a work staged at the Melbourne Theatre Company following two years of research on cults, required the audience to remove their clothes in a recreated science lab and “be naked” with the artist for an hour as they shed themselves to become “abducted” by an environment and “transported” to another planet.

The rethinking of his childhood involving hypnotism of part of an audience for his theatre work, THUMB, reconnected participants to lost memories of their past while taking them through experiences of scale inspired by the mythology of stories like Tom Thumb, Jack and the Beanstalk and James and the Giant Peach.

Aviary image courtesy of BalletLab

Aviary image courtesy of BalletLab

In all of this he is very much presents as the puppeteer holding the strings.

 Phillip: “I think there is a slight manipulator in me – a provocation. Allowing people to have this jolt of experience as opposed to the seated structural viewer. I love that engagement when you push through the fourth wall and, without that, the artwork cannot exist. It has to activate you and it has to activate it.”

The ‘it’ of which Phillip speaks is the central core of the creative embryo. At this time in his career – having already achieved so much as a dancer and choreographer on the international stage – Phillip’s deep dive in to the visual arts has essentially become a kind of self-conducted psychoanalysis.

The theory is not one that he disputes.

Phillip: “There is a sense of anxiety around all of my work… that feeling that something may go wrong. I like that edge. I may be getting closer to that edge with every work I create.

The “Hitchcock-ian” element – Phillip’s own term – is in the artist’s desire to drag his audience down in to the depths of self he is determined to explore.

It is a one-in, all-in approach that begins to make sense as one understands the method in the madness – that his drive to reimagine his past could fall in to the category of self-indulgent nostalgia without the presence of an audience invested enough to aid in igniting the work’s reimagination.

After all, the demanding tenant of true art is that it offer new insight. Without that, it is less a creative expression than an insipid repainting of moments in which life’s significance has already long passed.

Phillip: “There are so many layers to my work and sometimes it’s hard to find where it all fits. You just have to allow it and love it or hate it. There is no definition of queer culture, but this feels as decidedly queer behaviour patterning – meaning, ‘an odd set of rules and strange and other unorthodox practices’. If my audience can’t engage and experience it then the work doesn’t live in the present.”

The interview comes to a close and Phillip rises from his chair to move his still impressively beautiful dancer’s physique for our camera’s gaze. In his well-cut suit against the backdrop of his Dr Ernest Fooks-designed house, he is the perfect reimagining of the boy that grew up in the pre-fabricated, post-war architecture house in the wilds of Papua New Guinea.

He, the idea. And us, the witness to land the perception of his created reality.

Phillip: “Obviously there is a deep desire for the ritual in everything that I do. I’ve become not what I was and, at 50, this has become Act II. The works are an avenue to explore, to understand how I play the second part of my life out.

Street Style: Cardin

Even among the dapper gents at this year's Festival of Steve, a more casually attired Cardin still stood out as a guy assured of his own style. Makers grabbed a few shots just on dusk outside of Russell Street's iconic Kelvin Club of Cardin wearing an M-ONE-11 shirt, Bell & Barnett Jumper, Kenneth Cole shoes & Kangol hat.

Interview: James Young

“I’ve always been lucky. In advertising we would get paid a fortune to map a vision and a strategy for a business, none of which I’ve ever done for myself. My attitude has always been, be positive and let it fall in your lap. That’s always worked for me. Surround yourself with positive people and energy and wait for the phone to ring.” - James Young

James Young MC's at Cherry Rock festival

James Young MC's at Cherry Rock festival

There's something very reassuring about being in the company of James Young, co-owner and public face of Melbourne rock institution, Cherry Bar. It could be the years spent in advertising, the constant repetition of my name while we’re chatting, making me feel more like a trusted friend than an interviewer. But I'd like to say that it's the bravado and confidence that rock music brings – and the man has rock ‘n’ roll running through his veins.

 It's a Thursday night, just after 9pm, and Cherry is empty save a few staff members, a techie setting up sound equipment on the small stage and a couple of barflies who look like they've decided to get an early start on the weekend. I wander in and take a seat at the non-service end of the bar. It’s so dark that, for a moment, I worry that I won’t recognise the man that I’ve come to speak to.

 James: “It’s unfortunate that you can operate a bar for fourteen years without a solitary noise complaint and then a new residential building moves in and, instantaneously, under the current laws, we’re too noisy for them.”

 Young and I are sitting on a cushioned bench in the smaller back room of Cherry discussing noise restrictions. This room has no doubt seen a fair share of mischief over the years, but tonight it’s staff only and, ironically, we’ve managed to interrupt a barman enjoying the peace and quiet of an early break with his head stuck in a Stephen King novel.

 James: “The issue of live music venues being threatened by new residential developments is the biggest issue in music globally at the moment.”

Young speaks, absentmindedly pausing to adjust the large AC/DC ring he wears proudly: in retrospect my fear of not recognising the proprietor seems foolish as I take in his jewellery, leopard print suit and white cowboy hat.

Our bar tender friend departs for quieter ground with a wave goodbye as he continues.

 James: “Everyone’s worried about it because with physical CD sales dead, playing live is the new revenue for bands, their performance and selling merch and all the rest of it. And it’s also their university; playing live is how bands hone their craft.”

Noise restrictions are something this man knows a lot about and, with the recent closure of the Palace Theatre and a new residential apartment block currently under development less than 20 meters away from Cherry’s front doors, it’s a subject very close to his heart.

 James: “My business partner ‘Lazy Pete’ is really worried about it and I’ve met so many well meaning, passionate music lovers in Melbourne who are all worried about the future of Cherry, too. Actually, they’re more worried about the bar than I am.  I’m quite a positive and optimistic person and I believe that every year presents new challenges in your life. You’ve just got to suck it up and deal with it. This is just another thing that we’re going to have to deal with."

 I book over 1,100 local acts a year for Cherry, we’re open seven nights a week, have live music seven nights a week and I’m knocking back around 2000 bands a year. There’re just thousands upon thousands of bands in Melbourne and what they want more than anything else is the opportunity to play in front of people. They want more venues where they can play and, as I like to say, over my dead body will Cherry Bar be closed. We might have to make some modifications but Cherry will be here and I will fight for the death to protect our late licence. To be a world-class city these days you’ve got to be a twenty-four hour city.”

Young is passionate about the contribution live music makes to a cityscape, citing the appeal of destinations where music can be heard on city streets at all hours. He’s also quick to point out the obvious contradiction in selling the appeal of an apartment based on the culture of the site while then endangering that very culture by virtue of drastically altering the scope of the bar’s current operations. As it is, it looks likely Cherry Bar will no longer be able to operate with its current 5am license.

 James: “The people who are about to move into these apartment blocks bought them based on promotional materials that said ‘join the culture of AC/DC Lane’. I think one of the beautiful things about this bar is standing out the front with the doors open and the music bleeding into the laneway; while you’re smoking or talking to friends, picking up or just enjoying the night air. I think it’s a beautiful thing to have that music coming out and it will be unfortunate if we incubate that sound and close the double entrance so that everything is contained within. International guests and tourists don’t want to come down and just take a photograph of a street sign to say that they’ve been to AC/DC Lane; they want to experience it. And that experience is music and live rock ‘n’ roll.”

 The door to the backroom opens with a squeak and suddenly we’re joined by a cameraman and sound recordist, here to film James Young for his regular ‘Cherry TV’ slot, broadcast weekly on the popular Cherry Bar Facebook page.

 Before he leaves me to start filming I ask a question about social media and its impact on the bar.

James: “You can write media releases for Cherry Bar and distribute them nationally, but I made the discovery that all I really need to do is post it on the Cherry Bar Facebook. These days online content gets picked up by the mainstream media, who are trawling the internet for interesting stories. All we’re trying to do is say, ‘come here for a drink if you think this way, because this is where live music-lovers hang out’. If you’re following our feed and enjoying it, then maybe you belong and are part of the Cherry family." So far it seems to be working.

Street Style: Ben - Suit Your Style

It was obvious from the fit of Ben’s navy suit to the wear of his brown suede Loake loafers that his pursuit of style was more than just a happy accident. As the co-founder of Suit Your Style, Ben is one half of a Melbourne duo keen to open the eyes of the general male populace to the idea of custom made suits – without the custom made price tag. The online service offers a gallery of 14 suits, one keen price ($699 for a fully custom model), and myriad variations. “This is not made to measure,” emphasises Ben, “we can make to whatever your style or requirements.” There are physical fittings available in the heart of the CBD for those that prefer real-time to online. We say anything that makes a man look this polished has got to be a system worth trying.

Ben wears Suit your Style custom double breasted navy suit, Loake tassel loafers, Drakes tie, Christian Kimber pocket square & Ralph Lauren bag.

Ben's double breasted navy suit & Christian Kimber pocket square

Ben's double breasted navy suit & Christian Kimber pocket square

Loake tassel loafers

Loake tassel loafers