Rich talent and education at the heart of our musical city

Adelaide is home to an experienced pool of individuals working on major world-class arts and music festivals, according to the state’s music industry body.

Music SA’s general manager Lisa Bishop says the live music industry also offers many opportunities with boutique music festivals and club nights contributing to a “thriving sector”.

“Our thriving venue-based live music sector offers jobs ranging from, but not limited to, promoters, bookers, merchandisers, sound engineers, tour managers and publicists,” she says.

South Australia is home to a number of major annual music events and festivals including the upcoming Adelaide Fringe (February 15–March 17), WOMADelaide (February 8–11), Superloop Adelaide 500 concerts (February 28–March 3), as well as smaller boutique events such as St Jerome’s Laneway Festival, Handpicked Festival, Stonecutters Festival and Umbrella Festival.

But SA’s music industry not only holds opportunities in industry-based roles – but also jobs in the spotlight. Maggie Collins is the brains behind Brisbane’s BIGSOUND, one of the biggest events on the Aussie music calendar. She says Adelaide is brimming with musical talent.

St. Jerome’s Laneway Festival. Photo: SATC.

“The talent per capita is one of the stand-out elements that comes to mind of the SA music industry,” she says. “It’s inspiring to watch from afar that SA has great quality workers and artist representatives who are lovely to work with on any project.”

Adelaide was designated as Australia’s first and only City of Music in 2015, becoming a member of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network (UCCN). The network was created in 2004 and currently promotes 116 cities that have identified creativity as a strategic factor for sustainable urban development.

Director of the UNSECO Adelaide office, Rebecca Pearce, says Adelaide was recognised as a City of Music because creativity, the arts and music are woven into the city’s fabric and are central to the state’s development.

“It not only looks at our extensive history, but also how far we can grow our urban culture,” she says.

Adelaide has birthed a number of hugely successful talents, including international pop sensation Sia, hip hop trio Hilltop Hoods, pop singer Guy Sebastian, opera’s Greta Bradman, rock legends Cold Chisel, ’90s rock group The Superjesus, and rap queen Tkay Maidza, all of which have established international fan bases.

Adelaide rap queen Tkay Maidza has gone on to achieve massive success.

SA is also known as the festival state, hosting internationally renowned four-day world music festival WOMADelaide, which attracts attendances beyond 86,000, almost half of which travel from outside the state.

The Adelaide Cabaret Festival is the biggest cabaret festival in the world, while the Adelaide Guitar Festival is the most significant of its kind in the southern hemisphere. Adelaide Fringe, Adelaide Festival of Arts and OzAsia all include strong music programs, while our city is also home to the oldest tertiary school in Australia, the Elder Conservatorium founded in 1883.

Music also plays a part in our youth’s future learning, with the State Government throwing its support behind the Music Education Strategy. According to the strategy, music education helps build confidence, promote creativity and assist students to develop emotional and behavioural awareness. Musically trained children perform better and use language more effectively and earlier, it says.

Music SA’s Lisa Bishop says a number of education institutions exist in Adelaide, including the Sia Fuller Institute, SAE Institute, Fresh 92.7 radio station and Music SA itself. Each run a variety of music courses, with Musica Viva – Australia’s oldest independent performing arts organisation – and the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra also running workshops.

“There are networking opportunities at free public workshops run by Music SA, Northern Sound System and local councils,” she says. “The Music Development Office also runs a grant program to help people collaborate with other songwriters, as well as set up their own mini music festival or event.”

Triple J breakfast radio presenter Liam Stapleton begun his radio career as a teenager at Fresh 92.7 in Adelaide. He says the city’s community radio sector was a launching pad for him to hone his skills and build on-air experience.

“Without volunteering in community radio, I don’t think I’d be working in radio,” Liam says. “It gave me experience and stacks of time on-air to hone my craft, my craft of talking. It’s harder than it looks.”

Visit I Choose SA to meet the people building business and industry in SA, and to find out how your choices make a difference to our state.

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Adelaide will always be home for The Superjesus’ Sarah McLeod

Adelaide-born The Superjesus front woman and rock goddess Sarah McLeod rose to the heights of the Aussie rock and roll scene in the ’90s, helping to pave the way for young aspiring female artists to follow.

An inductee in the South Australia Music Hall of Fame, the four-piece was formed in Adelaide and in 1998 released whopper album Sumo which was released worldwide, went double platinum and won best rock album at the ARIA Awards that same year.

Twenty years on and lead singer Sarah tells Brand SA News she will always have a soft spot for the city that started it all.

“I love flying home to Adelaide to see Mum and my school friends,” she says. “My first pit stop is Asian Gourmet in the Adelaide Central Market for a laksa – it’s actually the best.”

“I adore the Adelaide hills. My mate Susie and her husband Andrew own Bird in Hand Winery, I love to go up there and roam around the vineyards with a glass of their Nest Egg Chardonnay”.

Sarah reflects on her crazy career journey and where it all began.

Superjesus frontwoman Sarah McLeod and Stuart Rudd.

“Mum worked so hard to send my sister and I to St Peter’s Girls’ School, and all I wanted to do was work at the stock exchange,” says Sarah, who initially envisioned herself as a stockbroker, in Michael J Fox The Secret of My Success kind of style.

Finishing school and attending Flinders University she welcomed the need for some reckless behaviour. So she booked a trip to Bali with the girls.

After a few drinks and some Dutch courage, Sarah jumped on stage – her first time ever performing in front of an audience. Wearing baggy shorts, a Stussy t-shirt and green bumbag (standard Bali attire) she grabbed the guitar and belted out a tune with an Indonesian cover band. The place went bananas and people were buying her drinks all night.

Following the unexpected audition, the band had her playing every night. They even invited her to play in Jakarta in front of 200,000 Indonesians. Tempting as this was, Sarah declined, flew home, quit university and started a band.

“I’m a huge believer in swinging on the first pitch, perfection is boring and making mistakes was the fastest way to learn,” she says.

Fast forward a couple of years, which included developing nodules – a throat condition affecting her ability to sing – Sarah began working in a surf shop while her voice healed. She practiced guitar riffs when trade was quiet, and it was here that the first band Hell’s Kitchen was born.

“Our first gig was at the Crown & Anchor, then we managed to get a gig at The Synagogue (now Mary’s Poppin). We rode on our push bikes and stuck posters up all around town,” Sarah says.

“From there we did The Austral and The Exeter. I’ve always loved those two pubs. Since then we’ve done Fowlers, The Gov, the Adelaide Entertainment Centre and the Thebby.”

At the 1994 Adelaide Fringe Festival, two guys wearing black sunnies (who were big in the music business) loved what they heard and signed the rock group on the spot. The band had a solid sound, new management and bookings were rolling in.

Three of the four The Superjesus members Jason Slack, left, Sarah McLeod and Stuart Rudd.

Just before their first performance at the 1996 Big Day Out, they had a last-minute epiphany and changed their name to The Superjesus. Warner Music jumped at the chance to have them on board alongside fellow ’90s rock legends Regurgitator.

Armed with a level of filthy determination, The Superjesus toured the USA in a 12-seater Ram, which they later left trashed and dripping oil in the Warner Music car park before they flew home.

They released full-length studio album SUMO, a huge success which hit gold before it reached the stores. But after playing in London at a food and wine festival, the group lost its spark, returning home and going their separate ways.

Sarah went on to live in Sydney with then boyfriend, Chris Joannou of Aussie rock royalty band Silverchair, but recognised a total shift in focus was needed. She then moved to Melbourne and changed her tempo.

“I wanted to live simply and fight for every dollar, I wanted to live and die by my sword,” she says.

Sarah also moved to New York and remembers riding a motorbike daily along the Brooklyn Bridge to an underground recording studio to play guitar riffs over every rap album the studio pushed out. She then returned to London, this time collaborating with dance music producers.

Now Sarah reflects on Adelaide’s music scene and says it’s gone from strength to strength, helped by booming small bars staying open later.

“There are so many amazing bands coming out of Adelaide,” she says. “I love Southpaw, they’re a rad blues rock band. I feel like we put in 110% to compete with east coast bands.

“I think Adelaide supersedes Melbourne with its music community. I’m thrilled UNESCO designated Adelaide ‘A City of Music’.”

Scouted 2018 to discover SA’s best emerging musical talents

Adelaide’s unsigned and emerging musical talents could secure their ‘big break’ when music industry leaders descend upon the city’s west end later this month.

In its second iteration, Scouted is returning in 2018 and will feature 16 emerging local artists performing across four renowned live music venues in Adelaide on Friday, July 27.

The multi-venue event will run in conjunction with Umbrella Winter City Sounds, an open access festival from July 13–29 offering a smorgasbord of live music projects and performances across Adelaide.

Check out the Umbrella program here.

The Scouted performances will unfold at Jive, Rocket Bar, West Oak Hotel and Nexus Arts and coincide with Adelaide playing host to the second annual AIR Awards, which brings music industry leaders and independent artists from across Australia into town.

Following the 2017 Scouted, several artists were signed and many secured national media coverage and sought-after festival slots.

This year’s Scouted line-up includes WOMADelaide alumni Hana & Jessie-Lee’s Bad Habits, local rock favourites Donnarumma, who recently opened for Cold Chisel at the Adelaide 500, and the newly formed duo Dhungala Baarka.

Other artists include multi-instrumentalist Bree Tranter, electro dance act Strict Face, shoegaze outfit Blush Response, soaring indie folk band The Winter Gypsy, Argus & The Liar, Fair Maiden, Hartway, Naomi Keyte, Neon Tetra, Ollie English, Runaway Weekend, Siamese, and Wing Defence.

New wave group Neon Tetra will perform at Scouted. Photo by @fenj_.

Music SA general manager Lisa Bishop says Scouted is a key opportunity for home grown talent to showcase themselves to some of the biggest names in the music industry.

“After the success of last year’s event, we are looking forward to impressing key identities from the Australian music industry in town for the AIR awards again,” she says.

“SA has an incredibly rich and vibrant music scene and we always welcome the opportunity to turn a national spotlight on it.”

The Scouted artists will all play at one of the four stages at Jive, the West Oak Hotel, Rocket Bar and Nexus Arts.

Umbrella Winter City Sounds festival will kick off on July 13 with a free, all-ages opening night party from 5–10pm along Bank Street.

Six local artists and DJs will perform live, with local street vendors, beer, wine and art on offer.

Scouted is on Friday July 27, from 5–10pm. Visit musicglue.com/scouted for more information.

Visit I Choose SA to meet the people building business and industry in SA, and to find out how your choices make a difference to our state.

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