Gavin Murray

“Everybody has a role to play in making a scene, a scene.”


When I met Gav it reminded me of the diversity of Melbourne’s local live music scene. When Gav took over the stage at Bar Oussou he took the audience along with him as 20 years of music experience came through with every belted note and whispered lyric, brimming with emotion. Whilst he calls Melbourne home, he hails originally from the Central Coast and his music career has seen him play both interstate and internationally.

“Melbourne’s live music scene is an absolute minefield of talent […] any night of the week I can go watch somebody amazing play and that feeds my creative side.”

Influenced by a range of styles, Gav’s music is full of dynamics with distinct undertones of jazz and blues Tom Waits style turning more soulful all the way through to straight rock n roll, paying homage to grunge bands of the 90s, the likes of Nirvana and Pearl Jam.

“Putting myself out there hasn’t really been a priority for the past couple of years.”

Inspired by great songwriters such as Cat Stevens, Gav has a method to his songwriting madness which I found intriguing.

“I keep a scrapbook for lyrics and come up with a bunch of titles or just a single line and I’ll put it on a blank page; then I turn the page and do another one. I never really dwell too long on an idea at the start.”

Gav has a theory that the subconscious mind thinks about these ideas while you’re living your life and your experiences are drawing in on them.

“Then I’ll play guitar, come up with a riff and go through the book […] find lines for which the syllables and the vibe fits, then I find the page just fills itself at that point – the music triggers all the stuff you’ve been working out subconsciously.”

Gav works as a sound engineer and video tech by day, with the likes of Melbourne Symphony Orchestra and the Australian Opera and he’s pulling together an in-home studio, passionate to work with local talented artists.

“You find inspiration in these people that you find at bars […] that are in some ways lonely, they’re listening to the music and escaping from something and from having beers and chats with them you can find plenty to write songs about.”

Gav is currently working on a top secret new band project drawing together styles of stoner rock and pop melodies of the 60s with powerful female backing vocals to complement his own. We probably shouldn’t even be talking about it as Gav has kept it off the radar so far, but I for one am excited – watch this space!

Bailey Sampson & Jackson McIntosh

“We’re happy to go broke for a while just to eventually get there.”


The duo’s unique setup had their audience intrigued from get-go, consisting of an electric guitar running through a Marshall amp with a slightly frayed logo along with a synth pad on a make-shift keyboard stand. ‘Looping’ live goes one of two ways, however even from sound check it was clear the duo knew what they were doing. Glassy jazz chords rang out from Jackson’s Fender in-between rock/blues inspired pentatonic licks which were complimented by Bailey’s soulful voice; the duo’s sound is slightly reminiscent of 21 pilots with an edgy electronic pop/soul/funk feel and distinct undertones of rock’n’roll.

Jackson: “I started playing guitar because my brother played drums.”
Bailey: “I started singing in year 10 for some musical.”

Having met in a Music Performance TAFE course, Bailey and Jackson have been performing under the name “Stripping on Sunset” since mid-2016.

“This is our career – this is where we both want to end up.”

To sustain the music dream they each have side jobs by day – Jackson is a landscaper and Bailey is a primary school teacher – but the majority of their week is devoted to music composition and spending time in the studio jamming.

“’Stare’ started as a jazz acoustic and then he took it, chucked it on a synth and it became this dark sort of thing.”

Their dream is to travel around the world performing to large audiences and even spending time abroad specifically in L.A. for as long as possible without ‘going broke’.

“Because we’re in our 20s this is the time to try all this stuff.”

In the meantime, the duo are eager proponents of the Open Mic scene receiving more social media likes and interest after those gigs ‘performing to strangers on any given night’ vs. ticketed events.

You can check out their music and keep up with their gigs on Facebook, Soundcloud and on their own website www.strippingonsunset.com.

Nat J

“I love living in Melbourne, there’s live music everywhere!”


It is an amazing feeling to be overwhelmed by the live musical performance of an
individual. For me personally, to come across an artist with the ability to overwhelm is a
rare thing. Recently at the Purple Emerald, however, music took over my mind when Nat J
stepped up to the stage with her keyboard and started playing her feisty first tune ‘Mirror
Balls’. She almost immediately owned the room; and as I looked around the audience,
every person seemed to be totally immersed in the raw power of her vocals and the
passion that so naturally shone through in her performance.

“I don’t like the term ‘making it’ in music. I feel like anyone who uses that term isn’t in it for the music, because they’re too focused on ‘making it’. If people resonate with my songs, that’s enough.”

And the people were hooked. I closed my eyes and for the first time in a long time became
lost in music. The lyrics “I have heard your bullshit, won’t do what I’m told” and “I don’t
need you to like me” really stood out in Mirror Balls, and throughout her set I discovered
that her songs represented expressionism at its most emotional. I found it so refreshing to
hear someone singing their mind so beautifully.

“I wrote that song out of frustration, about being done with everyone else’s opinions. If you try to take on everyone else’s opinions on your art, nothing you write comes out good, because you are trying to please everyone else. You end up doing nothing for yourself.”

Nat played the piano when she was a kid but became bored with it and after some time,
took up singing instead. She has been focused on that for six years now, and only recently
took up the piano again. In early 2014 she was singing with a guitarist, but after two gigs
he moved to New York so she was left in limbo:

“Nothing was happening so I thought ‘Fuck it, I’ll just reteach myself the keyboard.'”

You would never know she had been away from it at all. Her melodies weave seamlessly
in and around her lyrics like a seasoned expert, and her tunes stick inside your head. She
gets inspiration from singer/songwriters like Sara Bareilles, Missy Higgins, and Passenger.
But Nat has been writing songs in some form or another since she was much younger.

“As an eleven year old, I used to take Britney Spears songs, and rewrite the words. That
was the first songwriting I ever did.”

Her songwriting has evolved immensely since then, and Nat now regularly gigs around
Melbourne. She has also released a wonderful debut 8 track EP Rinse, which can be
found on her Bandcamp page. My personal favourite tracks are Champagne & Cigarettes,
Mirror Balls and If I stay, but the entire album is a great listen. It showcases her fantastic
ability to write catchy pop/soul tunes. I highly recommend seeing her perform live too. It is
truly something special. See her Facebook page for upcoming performances.

Lucas O’Connell

“I just want to keep on making albums and keep sharing music – that’s all. I just think sharing music is the most important thing.”


I had the pleasure of meeting Lucas O’Connell after he played a remarkable set at The Snug last Tuesday night. Over the course of a lengthy discussion about, well, anything and everything, the words ‘sharing’ and ‘connection’ came up time and time again. Now I must admit that I am generally a little suspicious of such terms. I mean come on… ‘sharing’ and ‘connection’ may have worked at Woodstock but in this day and age those kinds of sentiments are a little suspect. Of course it would have been a lot easier to maintain my staunch cynicism had I not witnessed firsthand the powerful effect Lucas’ songs had on the audience that night.

“I get inspired by the connection with the audience… people appreciating what you do and you appreciating what they do. It’s mutual appreciation between the artist and audience. Open mics are great for that”

Prior to our meeting I sit and watch Lucas’ set from a small side table at The Snug. He begins by laying down a steady, seemingly effortless finger-picking pattern, the song building in momentum with each passing chord. As he starts to sing in a startling and spookily understated voice the song unfurls before me, enveloping the room. Lucas goes on to sing about Medusa and Cleopatra, his voice rising and falling with the ease and grace of a champion figure skater. I exchange glances with a friend of mine, as if to say “what have we here?”

Over the course of his set he masterfully fuses the feel and mood of early trad folk with the creative clout of the best 60’s and 70’s singer-songwriters. It is one of those rare musical experiences – rather than simply being impressed I am left with the sense that I have witnessed something truly special.

“It’s a very private thing to share… your own songs. A lot of people struggle. I think it’s just relaxing for the soul to share your music.”

Originally hailing from Wellington in New Zealand Lucas has lived all over the world, spending time in Australia, Japan, Korea, Peru, Argentina, England, Scotland and parts of South-east Asia. He took up playing guitar at the age of 21 while travelling and from there began writing his own songs. It was in an Edinburgh post office in 2006 that he found a creative sanctuary of sorts, dreaming up folk tunes while sorting mail (On a side note I personally love this aspect of his artistic development – he is literally working his way up from the mailroom). Pretty soon fellow travelers were urging him to ‘share’ his songs on stage in front of a real audience.

“Because I was always travelling it was kind of a gradual step – playing in front of backpackers to playing on stage.”

Lucas’ inspirations are many. During our discussion he spoke of his love for Ancient Greek Mythology, Kerouac and 60’s bands, along with more discernibly obvious influences such as Nick Drake, Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen et al. He also spoke of his fondness for open tunings.

“I use about fourteen different tunings in my songs. And I’m always looking for new ones – it’s like you’re creating your own chords.”

Two years ago Lucas released his debut album ‘Songs to Sleep on’ (great title!), receiving airplay in his native New Zealand as well as on BBC radio. He also shot an eye-popping video for the lead single ‘Liquid Night’ which was shown at the Byron Bay Film Festival. Lucas has decided to stay put in Melbourne for the next little while, so with any luck you will be fortunate enough to catch him playing at an open mic somewhere soon. Otherwise you can check out his tunes on Soundcloud, or find him on either Facebook or his website.

Daniel Wick

“(Music) was definitely a coping mechanism; it gave me an outlet.”


You would never know that Daniel Wick has only been playing guitar for just over three years. As he stepped up to the stage at Bar Oussou open mic last Tuesday there was a sense in the audience that something special was about to happen. He has obviously been here before. He looks comfortable on stage as he begins to fingerpick his way through his first original song, ‘I’m not here to stay’.

“After a tragic break up, I had to write a couple of songs.”

 His fingerpicking style is Dylanesque, but his vocals are unique with an almost Jeff Buckley feel. He gets much of his inspiration from folk and folk rock and you feel this influence when listening to his songs.

“My holy trinity is Bob Dylan, Van Morrison, and Leonard Cohen.”

At the moment he is drawing a lot of inspiration from Brian Jonestown Massacre and he aspires to get a few musicians together to play a few bigger, more arranged pieces. At Bar Oussou, he often plays together with his friend Paul, who provides great accompaniment on the harmonica.

Wick, who works as an English and Media teacher at a local high school during the week, moved to Melbourne from Perth three years ago. Bar Oussou was the first place he played after he moved here, and he comes back almost every week. He enjoys the open mic scene around Brunswick, but also occasionally travels to Northcote and Richmond to perform there as well.

“Play open mics, all the time. It’s a really good way to get your confidence up and get your music heard.”

Wick also does a bit of slam poetry and finds inspiration from poets and stand-up comedians. In fact, he is currently working with a local poet to put one of their poems to his music.

Daniel Wick is a singer/songwriter with huge skill, great potential, and it’s definitely worth going to see him perform. You can listen to some of his demos on Soundcloud and find him on Facebook.

Kat Eddy

“I feel like maybe I’ve moved past crocodiles being an inspiration, you know?”


Kat Eddy stepped up to the microphone at Baxter’s Lot open mic last Thursday night and the room suddenly fell silent. As she played her way through a string of impressive original acoustic pop songs the audience were left in no doubt that they were witnessing something special. Those in attendance may have been surprised to learn that Kat had only begun playing open mics relatively recently, as a means to get her songs out of the bedroom and into the public domain.

 “I have a lot of songs – I wasn’t doing anything with them and wanted people to hear them.”

Kat has held a lifelong passion for music, having written her first song (about crocodiles) in grade five. Today her songs cover a wide variety of subjects and themes, ranging from the desire to be able to alter past mistakes (‘Start it Again’) to the challenges she and others have faced being a woman (‘Girl’, partially inspired by the plight of Pakistani human rights activist Malala Yousafzai).

“I don’t do very many love songs, which is weird – I’ve been told it’s not normal… I just sing about other things.”

While performing she appears relaxed and comfortable, gracefully laying her vocals over a bed of sophisticated, jazzy chord changes. She also possesses an unusually rhythmic playing style, going so far as to utilise the body of her guitar for percussive effect.

“I’m a perfectionist with arrangements – so I’ll write something but then it will take me ages to work out exactly how I want to play it… once it’s ready I stay with it.”

Drawing inspiration from a broad range of influences Kat cites Katie Tunstall, Sara Bareilles and Jamie Cullum as artists that have left a lasting impression on her.  Her goal is to record and release an EP sometime early next year, while pursuing regular paid gigs and continuing on the open mic circuit.

You can catch Kat playing at her two favourite open mics at The Snug (every Tuesday night) and Baxter’s Lot (first Thursday night of every month), and keep up with her music on her Facebook page.

Matthew Stoff

 

“Everything is part of your story.”


Getting started in a new town can be daunting but Matthew Stoff of ‘The Descenters’ is here and ready to take Melbourne by storm! Motivated by a need for self-expression and a love of performance Matthew quickly took to the stage, writing his own material and teaching himself how to play guitar.

“I just want to play music for people who get what I’m about.”

When asked about his sources of inspiration Matthew provided a font of resources! Though The Descenters is a post-punk/ alternative rock band, inspiration is drawn from any vocalist with their own unique style. Matthew is clearly influenced by things that he is passionate about: literature, philosophy, even anime and movies.

“Anything is potential inspiration for creation.”

A great lesson for all open-mic-ers!
Matthew’s typical day since leaving Brisbane starts with ‘a million coffees’. He always has a variety of projects on the go and is seeking a regular haunt down here in Melbourne town. Throughout his musical career he has learnt that all publicity is good publicity! He advises musos to be confident and play as often as you can.

“Everything is part of your story.”

You can keep up to date with new gigs on Matthew’s Facebook or check out the band at Soundcloud & Bandcamp – Here’s hoping Melbourne turns out well for him!

Email Contact: thedescenters@hotmail.co.uk

Gothum

 “I just want to play music for the rest of my life.”


Playing some wicked-cool originals, this New York rocker ruled the stage at the Cornish Arms Open Mic. But with a name like Gothum, how could he not?

“I was born a grunger, man.”

Now, before you picture some high-school dropout who just happens to write great songs and have a bunch of musical talent, this particular singer-songwriter is currently studying for his PhD in Chemistry while still maintaining a strong presence on the Melbourne Open Mic scene!

“I’ve always been writing songs. The first time I heard Smells Like Teen Spirit it changed my life.”

Grabbing musical influences from almost every possible genre, Gothum blends the stylings of completely separate musicians such as Jimi Hendrix, Marvin Gaye and Nirvana and blends them into his own passionate, self-expressive style; a soulful but grungy voice with slick guitar licks blended into his rhythmic chord progressions.

It’s no mean feat to balance the amount of music Gothum plays with the extraordinary workload that comes with post-graduate studies, but Gothum is steadily following his aspirations of playing music full-time.

“I have a day job, so I can’t really do it full time right now, but I would love to. I just want to play music for the rest of my life.”

When asked for advice to other aspiring musicians, Gothum professed his love for musical passion, valuing it much higher than musicianship.

“The [musicians] I love are the ones who bare their souls, who put every piece of themselves into their music. You don’t have to be a great musician to write great music.”

A well-known face on the Open Mic circuit, you can often catch Gothum playing at the Brunswick Hotel, the Cornish Arms and Club Voltaire. Keep up with his Facebook page and check out his fantastic demos on Bandcamp!

Sarah Edelstein

“I now know that wherever I go, wherever I move, [open mics] will be the way I’ll try to meet people.”


Continuing along the fantastic standard of the Cornish Arms’ Open Mic, singer-songwriter Sarah Edelstein played a catchy set consisting of three personalised and very heartfelt covers. With a voice like a soft-spoken Missy Higgins, Sarah wooed the crowd with her renditions of George Michael’s “Faith”, Missy Higgins’ own “Sugarcane” and Joni Mitchell’s “Big Yellow Taxi”.

“[Music] will always be a part of my life, no matter what.”

Originally from San Diego, she now works at a synagogue in Melbourne, and writes many of her original songs in Hebrew. The multi-talented Sarah also writes original folk tunes in English, although she’s yet to grace us with them. Stylistically, Sarah’s music is influenced by singer-songwriters such as Joni Mitchell and Ani DiFranco, and she draws inspiration from the warm reception she received playing to teenagers at a summer camp.

“Whatever engages young people will tend to engage anyone.”

Although Sarah used to play occasional open mics on campus at her university in California, it wasn’t until she started regularly playing in Melbourne’s circuit that she realised her love for the open mic community, and its open-armed attitude.

 “I now know that wherever I go, wherever I move, [open mics] will be the way I’ll try to meet people.”

Although she confessed that “I should be the one receiving advice”, Sarah spoke to us about the deep personal benefit that comes with playing live music to an audience:

“It’s a great way to check in with yourself – to sit in front of a microphone and to see what comes out.”

You can often catch Sarah playing at the open mic nights at Mr Boogie Man Bar on Wednesday nights and the Cornish Arms Hotel on Mondays, so be sure to check her out there!

Scott Candlish

“I want to do as much as I can, so I don’t have any regrets in 6 years’ time.”


Scott Candlish graced the Cornish Arms Open Mic stage showing passion and emotive quality throughout his brilliant performance. His expressive vocal tone and airy guitar gave off a nostalgic vibe, drawing the audience’s attention to this promising musician.

Playing some original acoustic songs for us, he showed his great talent for songwriting. His performance displays a passion for classic melody and harmony, influenced by the likes of Simon and Garfunkel, Crowded House and Daniel Johns.

“Harmonies create such a balance and enhance the overall sound, like a magnet coming together.”

As a 22 year-old music student, Scott is coming into his own as a performing artist. In his determination to learn and grow as a musician, he keeps his attention focused on his music:

“I put pressure on myself to play and get better… I have a passion for music, it just feels right.”

With a newly-formed band and an EP in the works, he hopes to spend the next few years developing his skills and building his audience. Scott is determined to explore all musical possibilities while he can.

“I want to share and play my music and pick up as many people as possible on the way. I want to do as much as I can, so I don’t have any regrets in 6 years time.”

Scott is pretty excited for the year ahead. He hopes to continue on his musical journey and get his band out there to develop a following:

“I have a solid ground of confidence and now it’s just about developing ways to connect with people.”

You can check him out on Facebook and keep posted on his upcoming activity with his band.