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.

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.

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!

Anton Thomas

“You don’t become a musician to be rich. You should study Law to do that.”


Capturing his audience immediately, Anton’s performance was an experience for both the auditory and visual senses. His hands literally danced across the fretboard whilst his soulful voice wove stories that transported us to a cantina by the Mississippi.

A well-travelled Kiwi, Anton has spent a lot of time in the great music cities of the southern United States, which has had a galvanising effect on him.

“You meet someone at a bus stop in New Orleans and it’s not like meeting someone at a bus stop anywhere else… I soaked up the inspiration… and it really brought my game up.”

His original, ‘Paint Me a Picture’ is a fine example of Anton’s remarkable guitar ability complemented by his voice to create a tranquil, yet catchy melody. His style is firmly rooted in the blues, but he also incorporates more contemporary flavours with an unmistakable hip-hop flair.

“I’ve always loved performing – as kid I was into drama – and when I get the chance to open a dialogue with audiences it really motivates me.”

Gifted with a humble kind of showmanship and a comfortable, laid-back demeanor, Anton naturally engages an audience; an ability so often overlooked by emerging musicians.

“Confidence is the key – it’s not always going to be there, you just need to get up and play. There’ll be times when no one digs it, but the more you do it, the better!”

Thankfully, Anton has now replaced the stress of working as a full-time chef with a less demanding role. Although sacrificing much of his income, it leaves him in a better position to follow his love of music and songwriting.

“I want to make a living out of my creative pursuits and if that leads to lots of money, then great! I don’t have that in mind though… you don’t become a musician to be rich. You should study Law to do that.”

You can catch Anton Thomas playing at Club Voltaire on 17th July, Lentil as Anything on 18th July and more generally around Melbourne’s open-mic circuit.

Check him out on Facebook, Soundcloud and YouTube.

Rebecca & Bianca Langley


Open Mic Night @ Bar Oussou
 

From the turmoil of Manus Island Detention Centre, Rebecca & Bianca don’t need to dig too deep for creative motivation. The pair’s blend of folk-pop with a touch of soul, provides a catalogue of heartfelt and vibrant sounding songs that sing of the tenuous human condition on the island. Other songs tell of the journey of love whilst traversing the pitfalls of sorrow. Sources of inspiration behind their music also include Lauryn Hill, Melbourne’s own Kate Miller-Heidke and perhaps more poignantly – Rebecca’s Grandmother, whose love of music and talent at the piano has been challenged by severe arthritis; this influence on her grand-daughter is evidently profound, spurring on her own passion for making music.

Rebecca & Bianca just want to share their music as often as they can and reckon the path to success is to just have fun and not do it for the money. When not setting up and playing gigs the girls are teaching music, working with disengaged youth or volunteering to assist asylum seekers.

At the moment despite gaining momentum, gigs and publicity has been difficult, says Rebecca, because she lives most of the time in Paris France, therefore posing a logistical challenge.

We all wish this very intriguing duo the best of luck and hope you can catch them playing when they’re back down under.

Bookers can contact biancmaes@hotmail.com

Kris Smith

“Sometimes it’s really personal and a little bit out there.”


Bringing the music of the night back to the gritty basics, blues, funk & rock inspired Kris Smith is the modern day embodiment of a (white) John Lee Hooker, fearlessly breaking off into lead guitar riffs despite having no rhythm guitar behind him.

“I loved his [John Lee Hooker] old songs, where he played everything in E.”

Whilst on this occasion Kris stuck to covers, he does have a fair amount of originals under his belt, often about his childhood or relationships that haven’t worked out. He writes songs to get things out of his system, all about his life and experiences.

“I just try and speak the truth [in my songwriting]. Sometimes it’s really personal and maybe it’s a little bit out there, but I try to make it more meaningful than venting.”

Whilst he is a diesel mechanic by day, rebuilding big generators, ultimately he’d love to pursue music full time as it is where his true passion lies. He hasn’t got stars in his eyes though, he has the humblest of dreams..

“I would love to just study music and get better at singing and guitar playing, and if someone came up to me and said ‘mate you’re pretty good, would you come and play at my pub?’, that’s what I’m looking for.”

True to his aspirations, he is practicing his craft every opportunity he gets and he advises that

“If you wanna play standing up you gotta practice standing up.”

Whilst he is currently based in Perth, he’ll be moving to Melbourne so keep an eye out for this talent as he may very well be playing at a pub near you!

Matthew Alford

“Play with your audience, you can always play with yourself later at home.”


Alford (aka Matt Alford) is a champion of Americana. Garbed in trucker’s cap, flannelette and blue denim, he belts out heartfelt ballads of love lost and retribution. Alford strums his jumbo sized steel-string acoustic with powerful finesse while projecting a deep Johnny Cash vocal that also reaches up with folky urgency in the higher register.

Influenced by artists such as Brian Setzer; Reverend Horton-Heat as well as Cash, the journey to the guitar Singer-Songwriter began with the violin, which included formal training and later – support gigs with none other than: The Waifs.

Alford is heading abroad in August to the mecca of country; folk and all things ‘Americana’ to the ears – Nashville, where he hopes to crack many a gig or: ‘…just shop…’ (for guitars perhaps?) and Heartstrings is eager to see what comes about from this sonic pilgrimage.

The life of this Performing Artist is fused with other creative pursuits including drawing and the craft of making custom guitar straps (I’ve put myself down for a blue suede one…or I will…).

When asked for advice to give to other local Musicians Alford recommends playing with as many people as you can as much as you can and reckons that rowdy crowds and bars suit his sound (we can attest to that) we hope you can catch him in a rowdy bar near you before Nashville swallows up its best new import.

>> Alford has a gig on the 4th of July at the Owl and Pussycat (34 Swan Street, Richmond)
Doors Open 7:30pm and tickets are $10 – It’s gonna be a big show with Philemon as well!

In the meantime check out his amazing drawings: