EXPAT: High Highs

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There aren’t any specific inroads to make waves overseas if you’re an Australian artist, but moving to the US, Berlin, or some subcultural hub in Europe with good pastrami and a nice local is probably a good place to start. While Gotye is probably carving out a spot for his potential Grammy and Tame Impala have sold out enough shows in the US to afford proper shoes now, there’s still a ton of our Aus dudes making us proud over yonder. It’s hard to keep track on all our exports. It’s only when these bands make their prodigal return to the internet with a new collaboration, or bathrobe photos with German groupies that reiterates what we’ve been missing out on all along.

High Highs are Jack Milas and Oli Chang – an Aussie duo who’ve been based in Brooklyn for the last few years. It’s all hydrogen harmonies and blissful acoustica from these guys who’ve toured Stateside, had some nice words in P4K and sat down for lunch with Elton at Christmas. They’re returning back here in Feburary for Laneway, so probably best to get reacquainted.

We’ll be ransacking photo piles of Aussie artists overseas over the next few months, so if you’re an Aus act living overseas keen on sharing photos of good vibes, tour pizzas or your general nomad lifestyle, mail us – editors@whothehell.net.






























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Sugar Mountain

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Sugar Mountain has released its second line-up, adding to an already bumper selection for the annual boutique festival. Held over multiple days in January 2013, the main event takes place at The Forum Theatre on Saturday 19 January, with additional sites at ACMI, Rooftop Bar and Polyester Records. We love this festival as you can tell by having featured all these bands before. Check it.

The latest additions include:

Melbourne super group Boomgates, who began as a couple of friends having a loose Thursday evening sing and strum on a couch in Melbourne. Since then they’ve played a bunch of shows, released three 7″ singles and their remarkable debut LP Double Natural.

Brothers Hand Mirror are Grant Jonathon Gronewold (HTML Flowers, Cougar Flashy) and Oscar Vincente Slorach-Thorn (Oscar Key Sung, Oscar & Martin); two Melbourne bros. Predominately using tape loops and fast mouth tricks, Brothers Hand Mirror are inspired by tattooing each other, making comic books and zines, friends, coffee and sunbeams.

Collarbones need no introduction. Their current record Die Young will surely make all the hip 2012 lists, look out for pop conventions amid swathes of experimental electronica and elegant r’n’b laden hooks.

Sydney-based multi-instrumentalist, arranger and producer JONTI makes playful, dreamy electronica. He has spent countless hours studying records like they were books, processing each song and testing his theories on a four-track recorder. If you love music, eventually you meet others who do too.

Melbourne based synth outfit FORCES will collaborate with acclaimed choreographer ANTONY HAMILTON (Chunky Move, Australian Dance Theatre, Lucy Guerin). A ‘must see’ one-off performance, curated just for Sugar Mountain.

Finally, AH Cayley’s pick for heart break, Lower Plenty. A bunch of sweet dudes from bands including Dick Diver, Deaf Wish, The Focus, The UV Race. Heavy on the downer country, Lower Plenty sound like an outer suburban Go Betweens, or a Paul Kelly song where he doesn’t name-check Melbourne landmarks all the time. Their debut LP Hard Rubbish was released earlier this year on local label Special Award Records, and pays homage to divorce and the Australian outback.

Tickets for the 2013 Sugar Mountain Festival are on sale now via The Forum Box Office, Ticketmaster and Polyester Records.


With the visual arts and satellite programs still to be announced!


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FEATURE: Winter People

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Dylan Baskind, the frontman of Sydney band Winter People says that a good song captures a specific mood in an exact way.

“It’s not a concrete thing you can say in words, but you know exactly what that song is.” He describes Leonard Cohen as a master of this and mentions the way Dirty Three’s Warren Ellis can captivate an audience.

“The Dirty Three do it in an amazing way with landscape feelings; they never waiver from it. They never put a false note in evoking those moods, I think that’s such an admirable thing,” Dylan says.

There’s obvious excitement in Dylan’s voice when he brings up a Greek performer called Psarantonis who Ellis hand picked for the All Tomorrow’s Parties bill. “Warren Ellis is like a really sane version of this guy,” he laughs.

From the way Dylan speaks with such passion about these artists, it’s clear he takes making music seriously. This unwavering enthusiasm was one of the reasons Winter People won over Harvest Festival organisers, landing them a slot on one of the more tightly curated lineups of the season.

There was no inside deal involved, no label band mate greasing the wheels and certainly no proven history of festival crowd pulling. Instead, it was an old fashioned letter addressed to the promoters pleading their case to play at a festival that represented common values.

“Most of the significant milestones for the band have come from letter writing and I wrote a letter to the Harvest promoter.”

Dylan speaks of the hedonistic culture in Australia and feels that it flows through to the festival scene.

“Harvest represents a pretty brave move against the reigning cultural climate here and I admire that.  I felt a kindred outlook with that… so I put that in writing and sent it,” he says.

Those shared ideals between Winter People and the Harvest Festival are that the event is about music minded people coming together in a social way. “This event ensures there is an unhindered appreciation of music,” he says.  It’s a sentiment certainly reflected in lining up Winter People alongside artists like Fuck Buttons, Mike Patton, Sigur Ros, Grizzly Bear and Los Campesinos.

Winter People released their debut record A Year At Sea in September. Dylan speaks candidly about the idea of the contemporary record format.

“Soon it will become an anachronism to release an album,” he says. The CDR length and the LP length were determined by the core constraints of how much can fit on the medium. A tradition was created that became almost a golden standard and as Dylan notes; “It’s an absolute quirk of the economic cultural industrial situation if you’re up around record labels that described that as a milestone of band having arrived.”

“If you can pull together 12 songs or how ever long, 45 minutes or so, the challenge is ‘the goodness of the album’. Everyone can agree their favourite album is the one you don’t skip songs on. So the challenge is – can you make two hours of music where you’re not gonna skip a song?”

However, Dylan doesn’t agree that the album should be a contained conceptual statement. He says that the basic unit for music is the song. “What matters is the wholeness of the songs, as opposed to the wholeness of the album.” It’s an interesting point that flies in the face of changes to the way music is being currently made, distributed and consumed.

To Dylan, the concept of an album seems almost secondary to the vessel of a song. However, Winter People have released a typical format LP and will promote it with a tour. You’ll still find it in big box retailers for $20, despite a culture that he says; “Are going to chose a few of their favourite tracks and share them with their friends”.

“As all translators gripe about, there are words that just don’t carry over and there are things you can say in one language that you can’t say in another. You can get the point across and that is what’s important. A good book in one language is still a good book in another … and I hope the same of these songs.”

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What hasn’t changed though is the performance of music itself. “Music is at an interesting crossroads. It’s definitely in a crisis on its industrial scale, certainly the 80’s behemoth that it was is sickening and dying at an incredible rate … what you will likely get is a return to a chitlin’ circuit mentality of people who can make their living while they are playing. It’s not gonna be a glorious pursuit; well it’s not a glorious pursuit at the moment,” he says.

Dylan finally reflects that “maybe this is not a bad thing for the future integrity of those that get involved,” –  a sentiment that may well prove to be significant in keeping Australian music honest.


Winter People play Harvest Festival in November.

Sat 10th Nov – Melbourne, Werribee Park
Sun 11th Nov – Melbourne, Werribee Park SOLD OUT
Sat 17th Nov – Sydney, Parramatta Park
Sun 18th Nov – Brisbane, City Botanic Gardens


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Melbourne Music Week

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Brilliant. Yeah. That’ll be the word used all over the interwebs when describing Melbourne Music Week. The program is out friends and let me just say it – Melbourne is the music capital of Australia. MMW is as diverse as it is crowd pleasing. Heaps of music stuff linked up with the most creative artists, film makers and industry specialists. Performances, exhibitions, workshops and special talks, walks and even a breakfast program. Too cool Melbourne. Let’s talk specifics:


A hidden warehouse forming the heart of the festival. Well not so much hidden… you can’t hide a warehouse can you? But the location is secret. All will be revealed on Friday 16 November. Internationals will mix with locals with themed nights of very interesting music. Straight Arrows, Bitch Prefect, Oliver Tank, Lost Animal, Courtney Barnett, Terrible Truths and No Zu have all got slots. Brilliant.


Chapter Music are celebrating their 20th Birthday with an indie music spectacle sure to make even the most hardened mess + noise critic weep with joy. Crayon Fields, Twerps, Pikelet, Laura Jean, Primitive Calculators, Bum Creek, Standish/Carlyon, Jonny Telafone, New Estate and more. Not that you’ll need it. Tickets are still available here – loco. Cutters Records and Two Bright Lakes are doing a sweet night and so is Siberia Records. All worth a look.


Ok, here is where Melbourne just shows off. It’s like when European cities open the doors to old museums and stuff for one night except this features more than 40 Melbourne musicians/dj’s most of who have been plugged on here before so you can be sure it’ll be a massive night of awesome. They are playing at ten of Melbourne’s most famed least shit venues all in one day/night and it’s free. Boom.

Of course there are heaps of other things happening as I mentioned in that pumping lead paragraph so check the festival guide. One last thing though –


Yeah I’ve got a sweet spot for ‘This Thing’ cause they are… Brilliant! They are doing a free event (did I mention how much of this festival is free – it’s crazy y’all) at Signal, Northbank Flinders Walk which is one of those places that you go by and think, damn it’s sweet to live in Melbourne. It’ll be ‘all ages’ and will definitely blow the minds of every unsuspecting tourist passing by. Be there.

We’ll update you with more details of good stuff closer to the date on our Facebook but keep an eye on the festival site:

Melbourne Music Week

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