Sydney Earthdance 2008

With people turning up to Earthdance in the thousands each year, we here at Music Feeds have taken it upon ourselves to adopt the role of tour guide and give you, dear reader, a run down of what’s on offer at this year’s festival prior to the event itself.

Of course it isn’t quite the same; the purely linguistic approach lacks the first-hand power of the artists, musicians and performers, the experience of meeting new people and perhaps getting laid, the ability to buy something outrageous from the market stalls and of course all the bright coloursss – what? –  but it still makes for pretty good reading, and serves as a tasty appetiser for Sydney Earthdance 2008.

That is unless of course you have picked this issue up from our stall at Earthdance, in which case it’s probably an idea to quickly skim the rest of this article and run off into the masses. And on that, if you are one of the more responsible readers who have read this prior to Earthdance, please stop by the Music Feeds stall and commend us on our benchmark publication in person…

On Closer Inspection: An Interview With Peret Mako

Renowned by people in the know – the music cognoscenti if you will – as one of Sydney’s best local electronic producers, Peret Mako’s overdue debut album, The Devil’s In The Detail, was released earlier this year on the Future Classic imprint to mass critical and popular acclaim. “You never know what people are going to make of it… so it’s been great to get some positive feedback especially from friends and peers,” Peret explains.

And its not only the local press who have lauded Peret – international artists such as Swag and Charles Webster are among those lining up to remix his material. “Having Charles Webster remix a track is certainly great, he’s one of my all-time favourite artists so that’s a treat,” Peret says before adding, “hopefully there’s lots more to come.”

While Peret officially launched The Devil’s In The Detail alongside Webster at a recent Future Classic Label night, getting the album released was an arduous struggle that spanned several years. There were a number of inexplicable bureaucratic complications and delays before Future Classic picked the album up and signed Peret to an already impressive roster that includes the likes of Jimi Polar and Deepchild.

In response to whether the behind-the-scenes struggles made the album’s triumphant release that little bit sweeter, Peret laughs. “I would have rather things gone a lot more smoothly, to have got payed heaps of money and flown around the world, that would have been much better,” he says. “I could have done without all the struggle.”

Turning his attention to Earthdance, Peret concedes he was actually pondering what sort of a set he was going to play immediately prior to this interview. Slotted to play the opening set on the Electric Earth stage, Peret reveals his mindset. “I think I’ll have to play really beautiful music, not necessarily dance music even though I’m playing on the dance stage. At nine thirty in the morning, unless you’re still awake from the night before, you probably won’t feel like dancing. I think I’m bringing my son so maybe some wiggles remixes and stuff like that,” he jokes.

The interview concludes with Peret reflecting on what separates Earthdance from other events on the national calendar. “Earthdance is distinct because of the ideas and feeling behind it… it’s not a profit thing, it’s just about getting great music out there from some of the artists who don’t play at the more commercial mainstream festivals. People get to hear a lot of music that they otherwise wouldn’t come across. More events like this would create more of a sense of community, which is what I think Earthdance does.”

Peret Mako opens the Electric Earth Stage at Earthdance. The Devil’s in the Detail is out now through Future Classic.

An Interview With Mark Pritchard

Mark Pritchard has forged a career carving out cutting-edge sounds across dub, hip hop, ambient and techno genres. At Sydney Earthdance 2008 Mark will be performing as Africa Hitech alongside UK cohort Steve Spacek. “Africa Hitech is a new project that me and Steve have been working on for about a year,” Mark explains. “We’ve been writing tracks that have quite quickly created this new vibe that is different to what we’ve done before. It’s sort of dancehall based, so a lot of it is quite fast, sort of like grime but with a techno rhythm, so not as lo-fi… We’ve got the essence of grime and dub step and Steve’s doing the vocals over the top, which obviously gives it a different flavour.”

Steering the conversation away from the realms of intricate music taxonomy Mark reflects on his fortuitous reunification with Steve. “We were both signed to the same label, Island Blue, in the UK in early 2000. He guested on an album of mine and then, coincidentally, we ended up moving to within 10 minutes of each other on the other side of the world, in Australia, a few years later. So it was nice for me to move here and have someone that I’d worked with. We got together again and all of a sudden we seemed to have a really exciting group of tracks that had the essence of UK music mixed with all the things we love.”

Aside from Africa Hitech, his latest project in a long string of acclaimed collaborations that includes Global Communication with Tom Middleton, Mark has also been performing regularly at the monthly Void dub step parties at Phoenix Bar. “Sydney definitely has quite a commercial club scene,” he reflects. “When I first moved here there were people trying to do nights but it was proving really difficult to get underground nights off the ground… there were a few other guys doing dub step parties here and there, but then the Void guys came over and they’ve built a really nice night. So for Sydney to have an underground night like Void was pretty unheard of, and even though dub step has taken off worldwide now a lot more than maybe a few years ago, there still aren’t many places that have an actual night like Void. Sydney’s quite lucky to have a night where they have internationals pretty much every month, and the locals are very good DJs, all the guys that run it and play know what they are doing and it’s a really fun night.”

On a personal front, Pritchard has also just completed a solo album under the moniker of Harmonic 313 that is set to be released on the renowned Warp Records early in the new year. However at present Pritchard is focused on his first Earthdance since moving from the UK to Australia. “I think the plan is to showcase a bit of the Africa Hitech sound and hopefully play a bit of hip hop as well, so we’ll probably play half and half. Steve will be on the microphone getting down and I’ll be DJing.”

Africa Hitech  (Mark Pritchard & Steve Spacek) play on the Beyond Boundaries stage at Earthdance.

Art & Performance at Sydney Earthdance 2008

There is a certain misconception that Earthdance is purely a music festival. However it is much more than this. While music remains a core element of Earthdance, with an array of Sydney’s leading bands and DJs playing over multiple stages, the event stretches far beyond the music sphere, both conceptually and in terms of what is on offer. And a look at the art and performance program at Sydney Earthdance 2008 reveals as much.

This year’s Earthdance will incorporate a diverse array of artworks and performances from some of Australia’s leading and more forward-thinking artists. People will have the opportunity to explore and interact with a range of striking works that traverse ice sculptures, instant video portraits, interactive installations and large scale group paintings from a broad selection of renowned artists, the majority of which will create their works onsite for the public to observe the process of creation.

Among those displaying works onsite at Earthdance are AñA Wojak, who was the 2007 Artist in Residence at Sydney Royal Botanic Gardens and has exhibited multiple times for the Archibald Prize, Anthony Babbici, who is well-known for epic art-action painting at large street and dance events, and Brendan Penzer, whose sculpture depends on audience participation.

In order to make a statement regarding the need to reduce carbon footprints Brendan is asking the public to leave the car at home, travel to the event in an eco-friendly manner and bring a toy car instead (such as the Hot Wheels or Matchbox variety). Brendan will then begin to construct a full-size car sculpture made out of the donated miniature vehicles. Brendan’s work is but one of the many works that fuses an enjoyable aesthetic with a politically conscious and environmentally aware core.

There is of course a strong representation of sub cultural art, epitomised by the Newtown-based street art troupe Ohreally, whose performance art is comprised of live painting with a range of different tools, including spray paint, markers, acrylic brush work and shellac on recycled objects, which are then given away to the public for a donation.

Throughout the event Sambalouco, a group of 30 samba musicians and dancers, will rove the festival space along with some of Sydney’s finest spinning crews, comprised of Firetrybe Nation, Carnivale Delight and Something Odd, as well as a plethora of other street entertainers.

Elsewhere Around Earthdance

Don’t miss Earthball, the three-on-three basketball competition hosted by the West Sydney Spirit (Ex-West Sydney Razorbacks) NBL Club, which has three separate divisions for everyone from the age of 14 and above. Keep your eyes open for special guest appearances, autograph signing & promotional giveaways from players and team.

The Earth Village will incorporate everything from eco workshops, community stalls and yoga and meditation areas to food stands and exotic markets, while the Kreative Kids  Zone  returns  for  another  year  with  fun  and  entertainment for the children and the young at heart alike. The MMAD Youth Area will play host to the Darryl Beaton band and other leading young acts and performers, while rumours of a petting zoo have been confirmed.

With so much on offer it’s probably best to end the tour at this point, as you are probably ready to run off into the festival and enjoy yourself. In that case, be gone, vanish, away with ye ungrateful reader!

Music Highlights:

Bands: Fretless, Theatre of Disco, The Versionaries, Foreigndub, Kingtide, Africa Hitech – Mark Pritchard and Steve Spacek, Groovelands, S.Y.L.K., Mashy P  feat MC Pochoman, Shades of Gray, Hyske.

DJs: Peret Mako, Deepchild, Annabelle Gaspar, Kato, RifRaf, Marcotix, Anna Lunoe,  Marc Dynamix (MDX), Sleater Brockman & Magic Happens, Mark Murphy.

Art & Performance Highlights:

AñA Wojak, Gavin Barbey, Elizabeth Day, Osnat Almog,  Brendan Penzer, Anthony Babbici, Chris Retallack, Sambaloco.

Earthdance is a community-based not-for-profit event that is held in over 400 different locations worldwide on the same weekend to coincide with UN world peace day. It is designed to unite different subcultures and bring together normally separate factions of our community through entertainment spanning art, music, performance and much more. Sydney Earthdance, from 9am-6pm at Prince Alfred Park Surry Hills Saturday 13 September, entry through gold coin donation. For more information hit http://www.earthdance.org.au.

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