Sounds Like Brisbane is a musical collaboration between Brisbane artists and labels to promote the bulging scene in Brisbane. The album features the likes of I Heart Hiroshima, Regurgitator, The Optimen and The Good Ship. Craig Spann from Sugarrush records gives us the background on the comp.
Music Feeds: Tell us a bit about the “Sounds Like Brisbane” comp.
Craig Spann: Well, SOUNDSLIKEBRISBANE (SLB) is an informal collective of Brisbane independent record labels. For years now – and particularly when the majors starting scaling back their presence here – the indie labels have been the backbone of the music scene. They’re not only out there finding these amazing artists, they more often than not do much more than just release them. They book the shows, do the promo, pay for petrol and really support the bands in so many ways. So the whole idea behind SLB is to not just promote the music, but give some recognition and support to the labels that put in so much time and commitment. There are plenty of other people doing amazing work here, but we’re focussed on labels as Brisbane seems unusually endowed with them. There can’t be many other cities this size with this many. We have 16-odd already involved with a bunch more to go up on the site soon. And that site has become a bit of a gateway for fans looking for new music who can be guaranteed finding something they like. The compilation is just a snapshot of the artists released by those labels…tip of the iceberg really and it showcases the diversity of what all these labels release.
MF: Where did the idea come from?
CS: For the compilation? We just see that as a natural part of what needs to happen to get these bands in front of new audience. The SLB project itself was hatched at a barbecue in a typically leafy Brisbane backyard. It has always been driven by the idea that hey, we’re a bunch of small labels trying to do the same thing, we’re not ‘competitors’, so why aren’t we at working together more? From there it came together very quickly thanks to support from all the labels, their artists, QUT and Q Music. People could see this whole thing just made sense.
MF: Was it hard to get the artists to contribute to the comp?
CS: Not at all. These labels all realise that rather than being a threat, the web gives us all a chance to find new audiences for artists all over the world. And it’s only fair really that we give them a taste of the music so, hopefully, they spend some time finding new bands.
MF: The Brisbane scene is one of the most diverse scenes in the country, what is it about BrisVegas that produces such awesome talents?
CS: There’s a mountain of reasons, all playing their little bit. I remember a time when it was a big issue, but I think the sense of separation we have from that traditional industry power base down south is a positive thing. Bands here I think have always been very keen to just do their own thing, try something new. It’s always been a fusion town, people throwing all sorts of ideas around…some of which are shit, but just trying things is where magic comes from. And THAT is the sound of Brisbane…diversity. There’s no one ‘sound’, and it is the unexpected that makes it so exciting. I’ve always been blown away with the DIY approach also. So many of the people I talk to every day just get on and do it, they don’t sit around waiting for some knight in shining armor to come make them a star – they just get on with the job of making records and putting them out.
MF: What’s your diagnosis on the Australian music scene in general?
CS: I think there is no doubt we have truly world class artists here. Looking beyond Brisbane, if you listen to a band like The Drones you’d be hard pressed to find a finer rock band anywhere in the world. What we do need is to support the infrastructure around those bands so artists can focus on being artists – not spend most of their time booking shows, chasing up publicity, running their own distribution. We need more labels, more managers, more people working to take that burden from artists so they can concentrate on what really matters – writing great songs, making great records, playing great shows. And that is what this whole SLB project is ultimately about….promoting the labels and their bands, but also hopefully building the skills and knowledge of those label operators so they can better support their bands, and make a living in the process. It’s about supporting each other. Hopefully it will spawn even more labels because, in Brisbane at least, they have become the heart of the music scene.
MF: Is there any thought in making it a series with more compilations down the track?
CS: Absolutely. The response to this one has been fantastic and given the volume of artists Brisbane labels release, there will be a whole batch of new bands to listen to again soon.
MF: Tell us a little bit more about Sugarrush Records?
CS: We, like just about everyone else involved, are a tiny label that’s driven solely by the idea of putting out music we love and supporting bands we think are pretty special. I think in the end, we’re just trying to make sure good music gets heard. We don’t have a profit motive at all when looking for music to release, just great songs and committed artists. If we like it, we release it.
MF: What’s your favourite track on the comp?
CS: Too hard! I love them all for so many different reasons. That Jackie Marshall song has always given me goosebumps though, from the moment we first heard it. Magic. And I do think Halfway are probably one of the most truly special bands doing the rounds at the minute. Their latest record has been on repeat in the house, in the car, everywhere really for months. Even my six-year-old son knows most of the words. Just brilliant songwriting with this wonderfully unpredictable edge to it. But then there’s the Mr Maps track…see what I mean? Too hard.
If you like a copy of this record, you can download it for free at http://www.soundslikebrisbane.com/