INTERVIEW: WE SPEAK TO THE ARTISTS FROM SOFT CENTRE'S WESTERN SYDNEY CENTRIC STAGE.

INTERVIEW: WE SPEAK TO THE ARTISTS FROM SOFT CENTRE'S WESTERN SYDNEY CENTRIC STAGE.

Words by Mustafa Araz / Photographs by Chris Loutfy

LIMITED TICKETS REMAIN FOR SOFT CENTRE - GET YOURS HERE https://www.softcentre.com.au/

header.jpg

On the 14th of September, SOFT CENTRE festival is unleashing its third installment in as many years at Casula Powerhouse. Featuring a stacked lineup of renowned international and local artists, the eclectic multi-sensory festival may very well be in the running to take out FBi’s “Music Event of the Year” title for a third time in a row. 

This year the George’s River stage (Curated by Krishtie Mofazzal) is booked exclusively with Western Sydney artists, some of whom we were lucky enough to speak with (minus power players DJ Kilimi and DJ/producer Monako). Read Below:

SOFTCENTRE_@FILTERZINE_@chrisloutfy-7.jpg

KRISHTIE MOFAZZAL (CURATOR)

How important do you think it is to direct more focus towards the arts and culture coming out of Western Sydney?

Extremely important, as the Greater Western Sydney area encompasses such a huge part of Sydney, so to not be keeping your ear and eye out for artists that are coming out of this area would mean that you’re missing out on countless creatives who are doing interesting things across a number of genres and art practices. Not only is it a vast area, but I feel like lots of the music and arts coming out Western Sydney has a really strong voice, and is often guided or heavily influenced by the creator’s own intimately personal experiences (like family history, trauma, growing up in Western Sydney, class experiences etc.). Even though music and art made across Sydney and beyond can be personal and explorative, I feel like when it especially comes from artists in the Greater Western Sydney area, there is that streak of something inventive and special. 

 What role do you think diversity plays when it comes to the creation of art?

Diverse experiences have always been explored in art by marginalised groups, regardless of it being given the platform it deserves or not. Diversity, though extremely important, can sometimes be a bit of a vague buzzword, so I think the question should more be about how do we genuinely go about supporting, promoting and furthering the discussion of diversity across all fronts, whilst also understanding and dismantling the oppression that can setback diversity in spaces. 

 How has growing up in Western Sydney affected your growth in music and arts spaces? 

I’ve grown up in Macquarie Fields and up until very recently lived there my whole life. Though a big part of me doesn’t really think being from South Western Sydney has negatively impacted me, there definitely was an issue of constant travel to get to events as an adult. Sometimes it would stop me from going to events at all knowing that it could be a 3 hour or more round trip. As a teenager, I really had no idea about all-ages spaces in Western Sydney and most of my musical experiences were either through the internet or random gigs I got to see at big venues. I guess I generally felt quite disconnected from everything until I very slowly started to meet more people in community radio and at events when I turned 18. But gaining those connections did take me some time, a lot of that probably stemming from the fact that I was quite removed from everything for quite some time. It can sometimes feel like there are all these established communities and scenes and friendship groups and when you’re super removed from it all and have been your whole life, it can be hard to become a part of that or relate to that. But aside from issues like that, I feel a strong kinship to people that are from the South West and Greater Western Sydney, and there are programs like New Age Noise in Parramatta that aim to connect creatives together that may have once felt quite removed. 

 Who is a Sydney artist you’re most excited about at the moment?

Big question! Not to sound obvious, but I genuinely am so pumped about everyone on the Georges River Stage lineup particularly. Kilimi and Monako are such dynamic DJ’s; Monako also being such a tight producer and a key part of the Sydney dance music scene through Big Ting and Kilimi effortlessly melds her personal politics and club event ethos with consistently banging sets. Aishani and Wytchings are both emerging producers that create soft yet surreal soundscapes that really take you somewhere outside of yourself. Jerry from MLDVR is a total DIY icon who, across multiple projects, creates such searing noise experiences that can really hit a personal nerve when you experience them. Atro, beloved Slim Set producer but also a DJ and producer in his own right, is one of the most genre boundary-pushing and inventive production wizards I’ve witnessed and his debut live set is really going to be something else…. And to open the stage, we have Giulia, artist, photographer and excellent curator who has such an innate sense of rhythm and atmosphere that her selections are going to truly bless the stage for the emotional and vibrant night ahead. 

SOFTCENTRE_@FILTERZINE_@chrisloutfy-15.jpg

ATRO

You are gearing up to play the George’s River Stage At SOFT CENTRE festival this year, what does it mean for you to be playing such an event on home turf?

It's sick! Casula is further out than I've ever lived but mad to see more events out west for sure

How important do you think it is to direct more focus towards the arts and culture coming out of Western Sydney?

Most of the exciting music in Australia atm is coming out of Western Syd! Glad to see more people paying attention.

What role do you think diversity plays when it comes to the creation of art?

Gotta elevate the voices of people who struggle to be heard.

How has growing up in Western Sydney affected your growth as an artist?

Going out was more of a trek in high school so I spent more time on the internet and became a nerd who likes weird music

Who is a Sydney artist you’re most excited about at the moment?

OneFour, obviously.

SOFTCENTRE_@FILTERZINE_@chrisloutfy-13.jpg

MLDVR 

You are gearing up to play the George’s River Stage At SOFT CENTRE festival this year, what does it mean for you to be playing such an event on home turf?

Admittedly my home turf is a little further up around Parramatta but it feels good to play somewhere that isnt in Sydney 

How important do you think it is to direct more focus towards the arts and culture coming out of Western Sydney?

 I want the attention on the creative forces coming out of  Western Sydney to be genuine and trustworthy. Too often we are playing a game that's rigged against us because of where we live and we want our art to be heard, not exploited. 

What role do you think diversity plays when it comes to the creation of art?

Diversity offers nuanced and complex experiences from different individuals. It's one of the last bastions of creating challenging and honest art. 

How has growing up in Western Sydney affected your growth as an artist?

Western Sydney offers a lot of diversity, but it also offers isolation too. I believe that's probably what's the most palpable from my own creative expression.

Who is a Sydney artist you’re most excited about at the moment?

Vorvadoss, Club Sound Witches, G2G, Research Reactor Corp, Basic Human, Angie, and Bura Bura are a few of my personal favs.

SOFTCENTRE_@FILTERZINE_@chrisloutfy-6.jpg

WYTCHINGS 

You are gearing up to play the George’s River Stage At SOFT CENTRE festival this year, what does it mean for you to be playing such an event on home turf?

It’s a bit strange, honestly! 

I attended SOFT CENTRE for the first time last year to see my amazing, talented friends: Liana, Ailsa, Del and Sol and now the next year, I’m performing? Ahhh, that’s wild to me. The other reason why it feels strange is because you don’t see this sort of thing happening in southwest Sydney. The turf that has been my home since forever. So, it’s exciting and cool to be performing amongst surroundings that I’ve grown up in.

How important do you think it is to direct more focus towards the arts and culture coming out of Western Sydney?

So important! Just looking at the Georges River line-up, the caliber of talent is astronomical. It makes me wonder just how much more talent there is in Western Sydney, still uncovered. Programs like New Age Noise (fka All Girl Electronic) from Parramatta’s Information and Cultural Exchange, are evidence of why arts and culture need to be nurtured in Western Sydney. Safe, open spaces that just allow you to create freely, learn at your own space and don’t offer just one ‘definition’ of making music. Communities like these are the impetus to ensuring more art-making is fostered in Western Sydney and not just left to wilt. It’s scary to put your art out but it’s even scarier when this fear seemingly ‘justifies’ itself because of a lack of artists and creators in your community (or so it seemed to me as I was growing up). Let alone - genuine support and opportunities for them. It’s why support from places like I.C.E and building communities, is so significant.

 What role do you think diversity plays when it comes to the creation of art?

Let’s just say that I’m tired of seeing the same faces in charge lmao.

 How has growing up in Western Sydney affected your growth as an artist?

Growing up here has been great and I wouldn’t change it at all, however, it has been trying and difficult for personal reasons. All I know is that the most resilient people ever are from Western Sydney.

Growing up in Western Sydney to me is:

- Early Saturday mornings in Cabra to do grocery shopping with my mum (anyone who has ever tried to park there knows why being the early bird for grocery runs, is important haha)

- Banh mi nem nuong and pho for days

- And always, tin can trains

 That is only a tiny fragment of what Western Sydney is to me. Those little moments bring me comfort and are a part of who I am.

Growing up in Western Sydney, I always felt so far away from everything so art-making was my way of making my own worlds. It’s why I spend a really long time when it comes to art-making and probably why it took me so long to share them with people!

 Who is a Sydney artist you’re most excited about at the moment?

Rainbow Chan!

SOFTCENTRE_@FILTERZINE_@chrisloutfy-3.jpg

AISHANI

You are gearing up to play the George’s River Stage At SOFT CENTRE festival this year, what does it mean for you to be playing such an event on home turf?

It means a lot to be playing SOFT CENTRE festival smack bang in the middle of Western Sydney because there's so much amazing music and art in this area that deserves a louder voice, and for SOFT CENTRE to have their George's River Stage open for Western Sydney musicians is just mind-boggling. it's a giant shout-out to the West and it's so important to me, growing up as a kid in Western Sydney to see myself being put on a stage among so much diversity, talent and hard work in my area! There are so many interesting stories to tell and messages to share here and I'm really proud to be able to share mine among all the cool stuff going on.

 How important do you think it is to direct more focus towards the arts and culture coming out of Western Sydney?

 I think it's really important that eyes stay on the Western Sydney art sphere. There's so much diversity - not the token kind that people use as an achievement to unlock, but the real kind that you can't fake. Take SOFT CENTRE as an example: every year, a whole heap of people come out to perform and appreciate the arts in Western Sydney, and every year it gets better and better. There are so many amazing projects that have really carved out a space in the art world for this region - look at all the really cool stuff like New Age Noise that the Information & Cultural Exchange. It's important that, as a collective, artists from Western Sydney exercise agency over their world.

What role do you think diversity plays when it comes to the creation of art?

Art is such an important aspect of everyone's lives and it often goes underappreciated, everybody has such a unique vision with something new and different to share. It's really important that as artists (and as an audience) we get to experience and make the most of as much as we can. Growing up in Western Sydney as a little Indian girl, it's always been interesting to watch the Sydney art sphere grow and change, and now, to be able to share my own story in my region is amazing. I think art is like a vitamin pill - it's not a substitute for real-world experience but it can really help act as a representation of the real world, and to hear a single story over and over is a bit tiring and unhealthy. I think that when artists really let the individuality of their experiences and identities shine through, it's really beautiful.

How has growing up in Western Sydney affected your growth as an artist?

Western Sydney is such a diverse place, and growing up here has always felt very "no-fuss". People like what they like and they do what they have to do, especially because there's a lot of diversity in terms of culture, I've been lucky enough to grow up here in such a melting pot. My family is from India, and I used to be afraid of how "brown" I was in front of non-Indian people. The stereotypes associated with being Indian and living in a Western country made me feel like the butt of a joke, but as I got older I realised that I'm surrounded by so much variety that it shouldn't matter where I'm from! I started in music-making watered-down audio loops that felt inauthentic, but my environment helped me grow into somebody who embraces the nature of the culture I grew up in and the culture my family was from. My transformation began with some innocent field recordings of traditional songs, and now this influence has led me into something like an ode to my life in Western Sydney and my roots. I've created a project called "uncreation" in which I unpack and explore the universe with reference to Jain cosmology.

Who is a Sydney artist you’re most excited about at the moment?

As corny as it might sound, I'm super excited about Wytchings! She's super cool and just released an EP called "Neptune" which is a beautiful, ambient, watery portrait of electronic music and sound at its best. She started playing live really recently and it's been so cool seeing her growth as an artist. There are so many equally talented Sydney acts out there right now, but Wytchings is definitely a stand-out!

SOFTCENTRE_@FILTERZINE_@chrisloutfy-21.jpg

GIULIA

You are gearing up to play the George’s River Stage At SOFT CENTRE festival this year, what does it mean for you to be playing such an event on home turf?

It’s an incredible feeling to be playing at SOFT CENTRE! The first year I went I was living in Melbourne at the time, but now the venue is a 7-minute drive from my family home. I remember my mum dropping me off… it was unbelievable to be witnessing such an interesting, boundary-pushing event so close to my home, and to have so many friends travel out “my way” for something. It’s rare. I only learned to DJ earlier this year as part of the FBi Dance Class mentorship program, so it feels sort of unbelievable that I’ve received this opportunity, I’m very grateful. It’s something that is the culmination of a lot of wonderful support I’ve received in the last 12 months living back in Sydney, something that I feel I wouldn’t necessarily have if I were living elsewhere. SOFT CENTRE is my favourite event of the year, there are so many artists and friends that I deeply admire and who are a part of the festival this year too (whether that’s performing or working behind the scenes) - so it feels extra special.

How important do you think it is to direct more focus towards the arts and culture coming out of Western Sydney?

Of course, it’s so important. There are so many exciting, super talented artists across the music and greater art spectrum that reside, or at least grew up in Western Sydney. There can sometimes be this unspoken feeling that you are lesser than, or things are generally harder for someone to break into a “scene” if they are not from there. In my experience, Sydney has a really strong dance music community that I love being a part of, but it’s really central to the inner-west. So it’s a great thing that more artists from Western Sydney are getting opportunities to showcase their talent, and audiences are being directed out to the western suburbs to witness it. It sends a message that what your doing is worthy and interesting and to keep going with whatever you believe in, no matter where you’re living. It can be really frustrating when you’re doing really cool things or want to be involved but feel geographically disconnected from a community you would otherwise be a part of. Being creative is a wonderfully important thing no matter who you are, and there’s generally more diversity the further out you go, so it’s great that artists are able to showcase their talent. Everyone deserves these opportunities, and it keeps things really interesting, too.

What role do you think diversity plays when it comes to the creation of art?

Art is an expression of oneself, and that is inherently tied to the experiences of the artist, which for a lot of people includes diversity and the adversity that can come with it. But there is also so much strength in diversity too, and I think the more light that is shed on diverse spaces and individuals, the more everyone else is hopefully starting to realise that. I think diversity – and one’s experiences – definitely have an influence on the type of art an individual creates. Whether that is diverse in terms of cultural background, gender, sexuality, etc. These are things I feel SOFT CENTRE really champions. I would, however, like to acknowledge that as a white woman with a good upbringing, I speak from a place of privilege. I somewhat tick diversity boxes in that I’m queer and grew up in the south-west, but there is a much greater spectrum of diversity that should be recognised and championed. But overall, diversity in art is great and very important. It opens up possibilities for inspiration, encouragement and opens up the conversation of what can be “art” as well.

 How has growing up in Western Sydney affected your growth as an artist?

I had to think really hard about this question. My initial thoughts were that it hasn’t necessarily played a very big role in my growth or my position as an artist. Although I live near the Casula Powerhouse, I spend a lot of my time in the inner-west, which means I also spend a lot of my time driving. So it’s made me a really good driver. Thinking about this further though, I realise that my experience of growing up in the south-west has allowed me to not necessarily live in a bubble that a lot of people find themselves – and often don’t realise that they are – in. You witness more diversity in your day-to-day life, and it makes you more aware of what’s out there. Or at least that was the case for myself. I’ve grown in the way I am open to receiving inspiration from a variety of different areas and also have this awareness of what’s being created in all different locations in Sydney and around the world.

 Who is a Sydney artist you’re most excited about at the moment?

Just one? There are so many! An artist that doesn’t fall into the dance or electronic music category is Imbi The Girl. When they are performing, there is this intense energetic exchange that happens, and everything is delivered so beautifully with such raw emotion. I cry every time I see them perform, and often when I’m listening to their music at home. A lot of the artists I’m really excited about at the moment are actually playing at SOFT CENTRE this year. It’s going to be really incredible. INNR & Thrax always blow me away with what they come up with, and Atro is really just killing it at the moment. His skills on the decks are wild, he’s debuting his live set this year and I’m really excited to see it. I think D-Grade is my number one pick, though. They’ve had such an incredible journey since they started djing. They have really interesting taste, and the energy they bring to their sets is great. It’s always so much fun. I’m always right up the front dancing, so if you’re coming along you know where to find me!   

filter pin.png


INTERVIEW: KING AK TALKS CLOTHING BRANDS, RECORD LABELS & WORKOUT MUSIC

INTERVIEW: KING AK TALKS CLOTHING BRANDS, RECORD LABELS & WORKOUT MUSIC

FILTER TV: FRAKSHA, SCOTTY MINISTER & DIEM ON AUSTRALIAN GRIME & SMASH BROTHERS

FILTER TV: FRAKSHA, SCOTTY MINISTER & DIEM ON AUSTRALIAN GRIME & SMASH BROTHERS