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.

Filtering by Tag: melbourne culture

Interview: Brian Nankervis

Brian Nankervis loves a yarn.

Even though I’d been previously advised of this fact, it comes as actual relief when we settle easily into our allotted phone interview.

It's Nankervis’s genuine openness and natural gift of the gab that has made him a stalwart on Australian TV, with appearances on Hey Hey it's Saturday, Jimeoin, and cult 90s sitcom Let The Blood Run Free, as well as warm up jobs for The Panel and Big Girls Blouse, not to mention his long running gig as MC on the SBS music quiz show RocKwiz.

Monday afternoon and the St Kilda resident has just finished up a relaxing coffee in a neighbouring café, taking brief respite from a busy day. He spent the morning performing at a local primary school before moving on to host an intimate lunch, raising awareness for people living with disabilities.

It's a rich and varied schedule and one that no doubt keeps this former teacher on his toes, however (and as much as we could chat for hours) it’s none of these things that have lead us to arrange today’s conversation, neither is it his annual hosting role for the Sacred Heart Mission's Heart of St Kilda variety show, nor his spell as a Triple R DJ in the 1970s and 80s.

We’ve been brought together to discuss a very special collaboration between the members of the RocKwiz orchestra and Melbourne institution Ding Dong Lounge; who are proudly presenting a night of soul food, music and entertainment inspired by the spellbinding history of New Orleans.

What initially started life as a side project between owner of Ding Dong, Bill Walsh, and Nankervis, rapidly progressed into a series of sold out dinner shows occurring in late 2014 – the two have once again joined forces to develop a brand new night of entertainment, set to make its debut this coming Sunday the 1st of March.

Nankervis: “Bill approached the [RocKwiz] office and suggested that we get RocKwiz involved with the club and put on a show based on New Orleans, as their kitchen has a New Orleans theme. I knew that the band were all mad fans of New Orleans music so I approached the orchestra and we hatched this plan to perform the Dr John album Gris-Gris from start to finish, followed up with a second set of live dance songs.”

For the Melbourne born showman, live performances like the Ding Dong theme nights offer great opportunity for audience interaction, “to get the band going and see the audience dancing.” He happily shares that last year’s shows were “fantastic, one of the real high points of my career” allowing Nankervis time to schmooze, mingle and host, “I’ve always fancied myself as a maitre d' so that was good fun.”

While Nankervis may proudly wear his self-appointed title of Maitre d’, it’s not the only new mantle that he’ll be awarded with this afternoon. As we begin to wind up our interview I casually enquire about his evening plans. “I’m off to supervise my son’s cricket practice.” He shares, and it seems to me that we can go ahead and add the word coach to that impressive resume of his.


Brian Nankervis and members of the RocKwiz Orchestra New Orleans dinner and show is on both Sunday the 1st and 15th of March from 6:30pm. Tickets available here

The Event: Bohemian Melbourne at The State Library of Victoria

Now open at the State library of Victoria, Bohemian Melbourne is a stunning exhibition devoted to celebrating the lives of a select group of individuals whose artistic legacies have helped mould the character of this city.

Curated by Clare Williamson, Bohemian Melbourne shines light on a rag-tag bunch of artistic rebels including Marcus Clarke, Mirka Mora, Vali Myers and Nick Cave; mindfully exploring history’s backstreets and smoky salons, while sharing the stories behind the daring poets, artists, visionaries and rock stars who changed Melbourne’s cultural landscape forever.

Inspired by Tony Moore’s Dancing With Empty Pockets: Australia’s Bohemians, the planning of this exhibition started around 2 years ago when Williamson began securing loans from private collections and accessing the State Library’s rich list of resources. The accomplished curator happily confides to Makers of Melbourne that her greatest struggle involved short-listing the chosen few who would end up being featured in the final display.

Clare: “It was tough and as a curator it’s always painful when you have to pick and choose. I could have made the exhibition twice the size that it was, it could have been huge but we always try and angle our collections so that its 80% library collection and about 20% major loans. We always look at how a story can be told visually and sometimes it might be that we have a fantastic person with no material culture to tell their story in a visual way.”

The library’s exhibition, which closes on the 22nd of February, includes a range of   “must show” characters (Barry Humphries, Mirka Mora and Vali Myers) as well as lesser-known creatives like the flamboyant Val Eastwood, proprietor of Val’s coffee lounge. Arguably the birthplace of Melbourne’s ‘camp’ culture (as it was known) in the 1950s, Val’s Coffee Lounge was a meeting place for artists, performers and musicians seeking momentary freedom from society’s conventions.

Val Eastwood at Val's Coffee Lounge, Unknown photographer c. 1950s - Courtesy of the Australian Lesbian and Gay Archives

Val Eastwood at Val's Coffee Lounge, Unknown photographer c. 1950s - Courtesy of the Australian Lesbian and Gay Archives

Eastwood, a well-known figure in the bohemian demimonde of 1950s Melbourne (often seen wearing men’s tailored suits and carrying a silver topped cane) established her café in what is now a Hare Krishna restaurant on Swanston Street. Creating a sanctuary for cultural misfits, Val’s played an integral part in the development of Melbourne’s café culture - To this day hundreds of cafes, bars and coffee shops generate opportunities for people to meet up and share ideas.

Bohemian Melbourne has been created as a place for visitors to engage.  The exhibition includes interactive displays and video monitors’ playing exerts from feature films, documentaries and rare footage, designed to bring the subject matter to life. “There’s great footage of Vali [Myers] in her hotel room at the Chelsea,” Williamson shares, “And [footage of] people coming and going including Debbie Harry.”

Clare: “Vali Myers was a much-loved figure, a lot of people met her in her open studio in the Nicholson building where people were welcome to come and buy a print or have a dance. People talk about how she was such a down to earth friendly character even though she had travelled the world and had met amazing people, she lived in Paris and Italy and met Warhol and Dali and tattooed Patti Smith’s knee.”

Vali Myers in her studio in the Nicholas Building, 1997, photographed by Liz Ham - Courtesy of the State Library Victoria

Vali Myers in her studio in the Nicholas Building, 1997, photographed by Liz Ham - Courtesy of the State Library Victoria

Sydney born Myers (who passed away in 2003 at the age of 72) was drawn to her adopted hometown of Melbourne’s strong artistic scene – It’s a creative culture that has been encouraged and supported since the gold rush, when thousands of foreigners flooded into the state of Victoria seeking gold, fame and fortune.

 What followed was an influx of performers, poets and free spirits drawn to the hedonistic lifestyle surrounding the financial boom. An element of Australian history rarely explored in secondary school reference books.

Clare: “We tend to make a point of things like the 1920s Paris or the Beat Poets or Haight-Ashbury in San Francisco in the 1960s, but we tend to not be as familiar or know that we had people here, like Marcus Clarke back in the 1860s who was living the life of a young dandy and starting up bohemian clubs where he and his mates would get together and smoke clay pipes, drink beer from pewter mugs, and recite poetry.”

Marcus Clarke, Unknown photographer, 1866 - Courtesy of the State Library Victoria

Marcus Clarke, Unknown photographer, 1866 - Courtesy of the State Library Victoria

Bohemian Melbourne offers fascinating insight into the history of our great city and into the lives of a group of artists not afraid to march to the beat of their own drum.

Clare: “Melbourne is a city that loves to celebrate the people who have the courage to express themselves through their art, whether that was through visual art, literature, fashion design, music and performance. The more that we looked the more we discovered just how rich Melbourne’s history was and how we love to celebrate the individual. Melbourne is a city very proud to embrace and celebrate individual expressions of culture.”

 Bohemian Melbourne runs at The State Library of Victoria until February 22nd. Entry is free.






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 

Interview: 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,

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.”



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."


Self Portrait Red t-shirt

Self Portrait Red t-shirt

Lemon Tree

Lemon Tree

Interview: 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."

The Event: Stonefield at Dr Martens Pop-up

Having only recently returned from recording and touring around Manchester, Nottingham and Bristol in the UK, the four Findlay sisters (better known as Stonefield) had the honour of kicking off the first of a series of concerts supporting the Dr. Martens #STANDFORSOMETHING pop up store in St Kilda.

Set in the intimate venue of LuLu White’s dive bar, punters were granted access to the gig after entering a draw for tickets on the Dr. Martens Australia/New Zealand Facebook page.

Stonefield treated an enthusiastic crowd to a seven track set and the sister’s '70s inspired rock aesthetic was a perfect match for the interior of LuLu White’s: the gutted-out dive bar  is located in the former home of the Tongue and Groove night club on Grey Street.

Hitting the stage at 8:30pm, Stonefield, along with the group's live drummer, Manny Bourakis, played a set that included both new and old releases,  including Through The Clover,  the single that had the band nominated for a Triple J Unearthed award in 2010.

The #STANDFORSOMETHING pop up store runs from Thursday 19th through to Sunday 22nd of June with doors open to the public at 11am. Free coffee is being served by Code Black Coffee Roasters and complimentary hotdogs have been provided by the team at Massive Wieners

The Event: Dr Martens Pop-up Store and Gig Series

Sticky St Kilda pub carpets, rock bands and Dr Martens are a familiar Friday night trinity for anyone who’s already lived through the ‘90s. Second time around, the shoes that were once a symbol of rebellion have again become an on-trend fashion statement.

But while the meaning behind the shoe brand’s wear may have altered, its affiliation with music – and Melbourne’s live music home of St Kilda – is as strong as ever courtesy of the brand's #standforsomething pop-up store and intimate concert series happening next week in the suburb that started it all.

Band of Skulls

Band of Skulls

Starting Monday, Dr. Martens will play host to three bands on three successive nights as a loud and dirty lead up to the opening of the four day pop-up store.  

Stonefield (Monday, June 16), Kingswood (Tuesday, June 17) and English alt-rockers Band of Skulls (Wednesday, June 18) will be the ideal opening salvo for the fans that have been able to secure free tickets, only previously available via ballot. At the pop-up store, you'll find a selection of old favourites, once favoured by Melbourne Sharpies throughout the 1970s, as well as limited edition #standforsomething styles and key seasonal footwear.

The #standforsomething pop-up store runs from Thursday 19th –through to Sunday 22nd June at the Lulu White Bar on Grey Street, St Kilda.



Interview: James Nolen

“Film is everything now in dictating people’s subconscious attitudes to style and fashion.”

-       James Nolen

As the film programmer for the Australian Centre of the Moving Image (ACMI), James Nolen views film as far more than a release in to fantasy: for him, it reads as a barometer of society’s cultural landscape, particularly as it relates to notions of style.

From the influence of The Breakfast Club in defining ‘80s style to Val Kilmer’s telling of Jim Morrison’s life in The Doors, that was the spark to ignite the leather jeans trend of the early ‘90s, the ability of film costume to exert influence on what we wear – and how – has only grown more powerful.

James: “The latest Hunger Games film is an interesting example: that one film was going to do more for that whole luxe sports industry than anything else. Costume designer Trish Somerville was looking for some contemporary high performance sportswear for the training sequence in Catching Fire and came across the label Lucas Hugh from the UK. Trish commissioned not only women's but menswear from Lucus Hugh, which was a first for the company. With the huge global success of this film, you can imagine what influence it will have on the major sportswear brands and some of the fast fashion retailers who are also expanding into sportswear, most notably, Uniqlo”

The Great Gatsby, too, has done more than its fair share to float further the gentleman’s outfitter revival that’s captured the imaginations of so many men across the city.

James: “Fashion in film completely filters down to street level, especially with Gatsby’s take on men’s fashion; those beautiful derby shoes and lovely textured socks that were a feature of the ensemble. You do see that filtering through even to mainstream at places like Top Man.”

But the film and shoe buff’s own personal style heralds from a different source: the queen of English punk rock fashion, Vivienne Westwood. She is, he believes, one of the few men’s shoe designers willing to take radical style risks in order to realise her vision.

James: “She is willing to make ugly shoes that then become beautiful in two years time. I don’t think she cares if they work, as long as they work for her.”

It is a perfect match: James is nothing if not adventurous in his choices, from today’s silver custom-made Rocco shoes to the Melbourne-made red brogues produced by a local Greek shoemaker under the Pantheon label. 

James admits he pushes the boundaries, noting the regular comments received on some of his more striking pairs. But then what are shoes, he notes, if not a vehicle for self-expression?

James Nolen, ACMI film programmer.


Interview: Stanislava Pinchuk

It’s not an exaggeration to suggest Stanislava Pinchuk is one of those artists who represents Melbourne as we love to imagine the city to be: daring, cultured, intelligent, interesting and wholly unique. The woman who began as a graffiti artist gracing the city with her ethereal, large-scale illustrations pasted to brick walls and doorways has moved on, while retaining (at least in spirit) the tag that informed her earlier work – M-I-S-O.

 Makers of Melbourne catches her on a sunny weekday morning just as news of the worsening crisis in her familial homeland of Ukraine hits the wires. It seems a world away from the quiet green of her plant-filled, seventh-floor studio within the iconic Nicholas building.

 But Stanislava knows the falsity of geographic distance: the world is an increasingly small space and it is artists like her who transcend language and culture through their art that help make us aware of our connectedness.

 She is broad in her reach, travelling frequently, spending months at a time in Tokyo and soon to fly to Paris to work on a book project with likeminded ‘creatives’. At 25 she is an artist on the make, a figure to watch who is breaking ground right in the heart of our city. In the midst of this busy schedule, she took time out to have a brief chat.

Can you talk us through a little bit of your progression as an artist: the development of you from a graffiti artist to the place where you now find yourself?

I'm not sure if it was really like that – I always drew and did a lot of things in between. Graffiti was just one thing I did between many others, so it wasn't such a linear progression. Unfortunately, it was just something that had to drop off after a few really gross legal experiences. One day I'll come back to working in public and, hopefully, illegally – just at the right time and place. 

 You also take a very freehand approach to tattooing, doing it by hand: it seems there is a really strong marriage between this arm of your art and the pin prick works you are increasingly becoming known for.

Yes, absolutely – it's pretty much the same technique, hammering holes in one by one. Both require the same fastidiousness and precision, so both are unforgiving if you make a mistake. It's just a question of wearing one with you wherever you go, as opposed to having it housed in a museum or home. 

To me, both mediums are very much a reference to what is historically understood as 'women's work' – things like embroidery or lacemaking. Like the pinhole works, they are technically difficult and physically demanding mediums that work to produce something quite subtle and beautiful. I think as skills that they are pretty undervalued.

Tattooing to me has always been a really similar idea: in most cultures with ritual tattoo it is most often women tattooing other women within the community. To me, it plays so much with the tension between physical pain, technical demand, and decoration and beauty. 

The Nicholas building is such an iconic space in the city's arts scene - what is it like for you to have a studio in that space as an artist? How does it fuel your inspiration?

I really, really love the Nicholas – it feels like a beehive, and you never know who you will bump into in here. It's a pretty special place, and it's got some really amazing, weird tenants. I'm pretty versatile, and can work anywhere – so I'm not sure if it fuels any inspiration directly – but it's definitely good to bump into the friends I have in this building and visit each others' studios, swap tools and talk shop. 

 Tell us about the relationships you have with some of the past and present artists in the building - you mentioned that your studio once belonged to Vali Myers?

Yes, my studio once belonged to Vali. I never knew her, but I'm a huge, huge fan. It sort of ended up mine by accident. But it's so wonderful and I get the best visitors – Vali's friends coming up and just hanging out and telling me stories. Funny, smart, totally free people: the best company. It's the greatest thing to inherit with a studio. I feel pretty lucky. 

Where do you spend your downtime in Melbourne - which parts of the city do you most relate to?

Fitzroy! To be honest, I barely get any downtime, so when I do it happens in my own neighbourhood. I've lived here for a really long time, and it's hard to imagine ever moving. Usually it's drinks and chess at my friend Andre's studio, or at The Napier pub; it's a real gem, and I hope it never changes.

The Event: VAMFF Offsite Runway, Nixi Killick

A stand out of the 2013 Melbourne Fashion Festival graduate’s parade, self proclaimed “future imaginer” Nixi Killick (with a little help from a successful Pozzible campaign) kicked off the 2014 Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival with an offsite runway show at warehouse-cum-art gallery, Toot Fanute.

Half fashion parade, half art installation, a handful of models worked their way around the crowded event space, posing on foil covered boxes as a keen, fashion-forward audience scrambled to look on. 

The full house was entertained pre-show with a short set by singer Nai Palm from Grammy nominated band Hiatus Kaiyote. Show over, attendees were given the opportunity to purchase some of the more wearable parts of the Nixi Killick "bio psychedelic streetwear" collection -  a selection of t-shirts, hats and drawings available to purchase from a makeshift merch stand.

The young Footcray-based designer's business savvy in using her collection launch to sell a range of accessories was admirable. Most of the unisex streetwear shown during the energetic parade was more couture than prêt-a-porter, making it challenging for the average Melbournian to wear. 

Designer Nixi Killick (second from right) & her event team

Designer Nixi Killick (second from right) & her event team

Q & A: Danvers

Far from the frenzied math-pop and tribal rhythms of bands past, Fire! Santa Rosa Fire!'s David John Williams is now operating under a different name. As Danvers, David charts deeper and murkier waters with skeletal guitar lines and hazy jazz chords - recalling a world of illicit Prohibition-era bars and crackling acetate records all coloured with a distinctly 21st century melancholy. Propelled by the sharp, minimalist percussion and lurching atmospheres, Danvers delivers each song with a croon and a holler, the impossible biological offspring of Thom Yorke and Leadbelly.

Following on from the debut single ‘Paper Skin’, a home-spun, bedroom recorded affair that proved to be a sleeper hit among the indie music media both here and abroad, the latest single ‘Oh Darling’ saw Danvers collaborate with Melbourne producer Jono Steer and the end product is rich stew of hazy blues that boils over into compressed drums and simmering effected guitars.

We caught up with David on a rainy afternoon and discussed Danvers over a coffee in Degraves cafe. 


I never know if interviews need a formal starting point or if they should just flow, but could you please tell me about Danvers?

Of course! Danvers was and still is a musical project that has been in the works for a couple of years now. It was an excuse for me to experiment with some stuff that was more introspective and not really the type of thing that anyone else wanted to get too involved in - When I was younger it was an excuse to mess around and play with different ideas but it has really been in the last year and a half that I’ve wanted to take the whole thing a lot more seriously. I’ve borrowed the sound heavily off stuff that I used to listen to as a kid, lots of folk and blues.

It seems like everyone is dabbling in blues and folk music these days. Are musicians feeling like they can experiment more with the music that they enjoyed when they were younger?

Well that’s it really. Maybe it’s a cyclical thing where people of my generation are listening to that style of music again - It wasn’t necessarily a conscious choice to perform that genre in particular, but it was a conscious choice to assemble the ideas so that they were more easily identifiable as only one genre. I didn’t want to make music that was a bit of this and a bit of that. I wanted to focus on a smaller idea.

Was it an idea that you took to Fire! Santa Rosa Fire! originally or was it something that you felt more comfortable keeping to yourself?

Having played with Fire! for so long I’m a huge fan of the democratic musical process, but Danvers was something that I wanted to start by myself and then outsource other people for their skills. Everybody that I’ve got in the Danvers band now I look to for a certain element, as well as being able to play really well it’s also their tonality or their ear, I can look to them all and learn from their talents as performers.

How many people are in the band?

There are three others. Mark Gage from Foreign/National, Sam Stearne (the drummer in Fire! Santa Rosa Fire!) and a guy called Rory O’Connor who was in an Adelaide band called ‘Steering by Stars’. We’ve all got other musical stuff going on.

And how long have you been playing as Danvers?

Well I was kicking around Adelaide for a while but it’s only probably been around the past year and a half that I started taking it seriously. Now we’re trying to get out, play shows and push toward releases and that sort of stuff.

But Fire! is still together? I was a fan.

Oh yeah for sure. At the moment everyone is just off doing their own stuff.

How will you know when it’s time to get back together?

I don’t know. Probably someone will just send someone else a text message or something. Nathaniel and Caitlin are off performing as ‘Manor’ at the moment and things were headed in the direction of everyone wanting to do their own thing for a while. For example I didn’t think that everyone in Fire! Would dig the stuff I wanted to do as Danvers in the same measure as I did.

 I would suggest that it’s also good to have a creative outlet, or a side project.

Absolutely. I’m always thinking of new things and it’s hard to have to say, “will this fit within the band format?” That’s the way it goes.

You said that you’ve only been performing for around a year and a half but were you writing music before that period started?

So much stuff! Writing it, recording it, listening to it and putting it out onto some obscure part of the Internet. All of that was leading up to this and in total I’d say it has been around four or five years. One day I just decided to put that little bit more effort in and be a little bit more critical with it.

It felt like the right time?

I felt it in my waters (laughs).

I love that expression! Is the Internet good for things like that - The fact that you can release music and see what the reaction is?

You could say that it cuts both ways. Now that everybody can put music out, it means that nobody can really put out music and it gets noticed. Because everybody is doing it the stream has become incredibly diluted. But really it’s not a bad thing to have this outlet for releasing whatever you want.  It’s a learning curve though, knowing where to put your stuff and when to release it. It’s trial and error.

And what’s your writing process like, if you don’t mind me asking that very clichéd question?

Nah I’m always interested in hearing the answer to that when it’s asked to other musicians. I approach it from a musical element; I’ll pick up my guitar and play it until inspiration strikes. It’s funny because you can be playing for hours and hours and come up with nothing or pick it up and in two minutes you’ve got a song. In my experience it’s the quick ones that work the best. Lyrically I just write stuff down.

Do you keep journals?

Yep. I’ll write things down and look back on them and think, “that’s a cool line” or “that’s a load of crap”.

 I wish I could keep a journal.

It makes you feel like you’re a big whale sifting through plankton. There’s so much deluge and lots of barnacles. I feel like I’m constantly raking for good ideas.

There’s only one type [of journal] that I like and I can only find them in Adelaide so I stock up whenever I go back. It’s not like I’m writing down, “Dear diary, today I was sad” or that type of thing. My phone also works well but it’s not the same. I’m not great at doing a narrative lyrical thing. I’m not very good at telling a story that’s worth telling.

Do your lyrics then come from personal experience?

Mainly personal experience, they can get a little schmaltzy sometimes.

Schmaltzy like cheesy?

I listen to a lot of old timey, jazz and blues and there’s so much emotion in it that sometimes I have to borrow one liners and overuse words like “baby” and “honey”. I think they’re nice words. When you listen to a guy like Howlin’ Wolf singing about his “baby” and then Justin Bieber singing about his “baby”, there’s no comparison. I think one of the reasons that I’m so drawn to jazz music is that you’ve got these artists with really unusual sounding voices.

I came to the decision a while back that I didn’t want to sing like anyone else, I just wanted to sound like me.  You’ll find that when you start singing and sound very different to other performers you’ll get a lot of people saying, “that’s new, that’s different” and then you’ll get others who are saying, “I don’t like that, I can’t relate” There’s a great contingent of the music populous who just want to listen to something that doesn’t provoke them in anyway, but to take the next step you need to release the fear of making your music a reflection of yourself. Having said that, as a performer someone will inevitably say, “you sound like so and so”.

I guess the fact that people are commenting at all is a good thing, you know what they say - All publicity is good publicity.

For more information on Danvers (including details on his upcoming show at the Workers Club, 18th March) check out the Danvers Facebook page