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!

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.

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.

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: