Richelle Boer & Matt Bourne

“I love the way that music connects people. It doesn’t really matter how big or small it is, as long as I can keep doing that. That’s what I want to do.” (Richelle)


We’re setting up to interview another artist when The Balaclava Hotel is filled with a gentle, refined, lulling harmony. Richelle Boer and Matt Bourne are testing mics over quick plucks of the guitar. The soft timbre of Richelle’s voice pulls our attention away, and the chilling harmony hooks us in.

Richelle and Matt, both members of five-piece band ‘Iris’, played an acoustic cover of “Beat It” that was slow and smooth, and two originals including the incandescent “Vertigo”. The full band sways on pop indie echoes that drop in and out of folk and rock.

“[My songs] are more often about running away than about love. They’re hopeful because it’s usually me working through something and trying to come out the other end okay.” (Richelle)

Richelle grew up with a singer for a father and felt called to the stage from the very beginning. Matt picked up a guitar one day and just kept playing. Both come from different backgrounds, but the story is the same: their music is their life.

“Work hard and keep working hard. And keep showing up; show up to practice, show up to write, show up to sit there and feel like you can’t go on… and then do it again.” (Matt)

Richelle’s advice is to record your music. The pressure of putting it out there makes you question whether the music is as good as you want it to be.

“Make a good recording. Spend the time doing that so you’ve actually got something to show and to give out.” (Richelle)

The band just returned from a house concert tour in Europe, and have released a music video and the first half of their EP. Iris is currently developing the full EP, and will be performing at the Wesley Anne, Fri Aug 22, alongside Wire Bird and Velvet Archers.

Like them on Facebook and check out their website.

 

Tom Millington

“If you can get yourself right, trust that your unravelling will be just so and exact.”


We’re up near the back of the room, three artists into the night and drinks in hand. It’s my first night on the job, and the host announces: ‘We have a special guest tonight, my good friend Millington!’. The whole room breathes in at the same time.

A barefooted man steps up on this cold July night, giving the host a quick warm slap on the back in passing. He is a spoken word poet as well as a muso; a foot-stomping blend of Gypsy-Funk Roots-Rock Smokey-Folk Blues-Pop.

The next thirty minutes are a pounding, thrumming feast. I can’t stop listening, and the steady pulse sticks in my ears for a good half hour after.

“[Music] is the language of the heart. I think my musicality’s always been there, because I was taught to do music before I knew an instrument. So I felt what I wanted to do, and then I just needed to have the tool in order to do it.”

His music is driven by stompbox under acoustic guitar, electric guitar and a beautiful resonator ukelele. Each song is broken up by spoken scatterings of life, of love, of slam poem musings. Millington holds your heart in each strum and doesn’t even hint at letting go ’til his set is done.

“Do what you feel. Do what you feel, at every one given moment in time. Because then you’re acting on impulse, on inspiration, on this intuitive level.”

Despite playing three to four nights a week, Millington has a relaxed attitude towards his career. He’s played festivals overseas and hopes to play to bigger audiences in Australia, but the music, his connection to his inner self and being with his family are what matter the most.

“I could train in a million other things that I’m interested in, but they’d all have a shelf life career-wise. Whereas [music] I can get up and do almost every night, so I love that.”

Millington is currently planning to record an EP. He plays regularly in Mornington and will be performing in a few joints closer to Melbourne, including his next appearance at the Wesley Anne in Northcote in September.

Keep up to date with his goings-on at www.facebook.com/millingtonmusic.

Sarlin

0_16Open Mic Night @ The Balaclava Hotel
 

“Don’t be afraid to not fit the template.”

It’s Thursday night at The Balaclava Hotel and the room is filled with musicians and live music lovers. Sarlin’s magical voice and array of instruments, which make up her a one-man band, brings the room to utter silence.

Originally from Sale, Sarlin moved down to Melbourne to study Exercise Science and pursue music-related opportunities. Aside from focusing on her studies and music, she currently works at a café on Sydney Road.

“I really enjoy the contrast, I love it. Music is really taking over a lot though.”

Sarlin won The Balaclava Hotel Open Mic competition in 2013 and has been invited back to play as a featured act. She also played at the Moomba Festival this year.

Her pre-gig ritual is going for a run earlier in the day. She finds that even a brief run clears her head and warms up her body for the performance.

Drawing inspiration from folk and acoustic music, she’s still experimenting with sounds. Moments of significance and observations fuel her songwriting.

“It’s times when you step out of your body and look at situations; the feeling of hunger/drive and pure bliss – those types of moments.”

Her advice for musicians is to surround yourself with creativity and not to be afraid if you don’t fit the template. Be around like-minded people and get behind a microphone as much as you can.

Sarlin performs at various locations throughout Melbourne, but your best bet at finding her is up and down Sydney Road (Bar Oussou, The Cornish Arms, The Brunswick Hotel, etc).

“I’m definitely going to continue music, but I’m not going to rush.”

Sarlin cautions readers that she has not uploaded the recent material she’s been working on, but when she does you’ll be able to find it all at the following links: https://www.facebook.com/sarlinmusic   https://soundcloud.com/sarlinmusic   http://www.reverbnation.com/sarlinmusic

Robbie Phillips

0_6Open Mic Night @ The Balaclava Hotel


“I never thought I would ever get to play Spice Girls in a setting like that.”

In the comforts of the Balaclava Hotel, the dim lighting sets the scene amongst the warming audience and an old man dancing in the corner, the room is filled with eager listeners as Robbie Phillips hops up on stage and delivers a gracious performance.

“The whole set up here is just awesome. I reckon it’s one of the best Open Mic dynamics that I’ve played at. This one is so supportive and so natural.”

Originally from Western Australia, Robbie has been a bank relationship manager by day for the past 6 years. He loves his job because he brings colour and life to traditionally tense setting. After two years of playing live in the cosy spots of Melbourne, Robbie admits he’s still figuring things out when it comes to music and identifying the sort of musician he intends to be in the future.

“I like to travel to places that are scenic, just chasing that horizon. I think that’s evident in my songs.”

Robbie is inspired by Leonard Cohen and lyrical artists that represent the truth and storytelling in music. Growing up playing classical music, he became more intrigued by the lyrical aspect of music and how it can be a pursuit of self-discovery.

“My life can be very exhilarating – the stuff I do.”

Playing regularly at gigs just for the experience and for his passion for music, the commercial music scene isn’t high on the aspirations list – although he wouldn’t mind performing on the big stage if the time was right and the opportunities presented themselves.

“Music never fails; sort of spiritual I guess. It’s very therapeutic.”

Entertaining people with his music and capturing the attention of an audience is what encourages Robbie to keep doing what he loves when he’s not at his day job.

“Motivation for me is figuring out my voice and what this is about.”

One of his more memorable experiences playing live was at one of his first gigs at a gallery where he had no idea what to play for an hour and decided to light up the mood and get everyone moving to his version of ‘Stop Right Now’ by the Spice Girls.

“I never thought I would ever get to play Spice Girls in a setting like that.”

His advice to local musicians is to make sure you have stage presence and if music is your virtue then play to entertain.

Robbie performs at Open Mic nights once a month at The Balaclava Hotel and also at the Eugenius Café in Windsor (he’s playing there this Sunday, *hint hint*).

Check out Robbie’s latest music and adventures by heading to his Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/robbiephillipsmusic