Can you give AMO a bit of background to your career, and what your current job entails?
I co-founded GAP Records in 1980, which licensed the innovative UK label Factory Records for Australia (Joy Division, New Order, Happy Mondays). In 1984 I founded Volition Records, Australia�s first dance label (Severed Heads, Southend, Itch-e & Scratch-e, Single Gun Theory, Boxcar) and that same year established Factory Australasia which I ran till 1992. In 1994 I co-founded the �Boiler Room� dance stage for The Big Day Out. That same year I Initiated the Dance Music Award category for ARIA which Volition artists won two years in a row with Itch-e & Scratch-e and FSOM. After Volition�s distribution contract expired with Sony in 1996, I took a year off.
In 1997 I set up a publishing company �Higher Songs� through Universal Music and an artist management and consultancy company which became 2000AV. In 1998 I began managing dance act Love Tattoo who I signed to Ministry Of Sound Australia and worked with for about four years. In 1999 I began work as local dance A&R consultant for Warner Music where I introduced the local artist dance compilation series �A Higher Sound� of which I produced three volumes. In 2003, I co-founded A Higher Sound Recordings, a production company/label with artists, DJ Craig Obey, Aviators, Waldo G. and licensed Craig Obey�s project to Ministry Of Sound Australia.
Currently, I�m concentrating on two areas: 2000AV artist management which now has a roster of ten artists who over the next 12 months will all have albums completed including Craig Obey, Pty Ltd, illuminati, Grafton Primary, Waldo G., and, as consultant to the Australian founded internet radio station, pulseradio.net. As one of the first dance radio stations on the internet - started in a suburban bedroom in Sydney in 1998 - pulseradio.net now has over 100 DJ�s across the globe who contribute shows 24/7. I�m overseeing the station�s expansion into other areas of the music business, new programming, and the relaunch on July 1st.
The recent production of the AIR compilation, �AIR ElectroTempo.1�, was created out of industry demand, as explained on the accompanying press release. Can you give AMO readers a bit of background as what sort of demand AIR was noticing, and how it inspired the release?
It was obvious after attending Popkomm last year, and based on my recent trips overseas, that interest has not waned for Dance and Electronic music around the world. Often touted as being a genre in decline, the demand is still there and Australian artists have as good a chance as any to secure overseas release and success. Already this year, �Star2Fall� a track by Sydney based outfit Cabin Crew - an offshoot of the Aviators (get it?) who are featured on the compilation � have given local label Vicious Vinyl a Top5 national chart hit in the UK. At Popkomm I saw the demand for Dance and Electronic music but noted the lack of Australian presence.
How & when were you approached by AIR to come onboard and oversee the CD�s production? What excited you about the project?
At Popkomm last year, I was one of just a handful from Australia servicing D/E music to overseas companies and after seeing how the French Stand was continually swamped by attendees and the amount of French D/E music that was being touted, I figured Australia should have a CD dedicated to the genre. I spoke to AIR CEO Stuart Watters on my return in November and suggested what AIR should do. Stuart agreed so I got the ball rolling. I�ve compiled and released eight Australian artists� D/E Compilations, so I guess it was a logical step that I did it.
The motivation behind doing a compilation like �Electrotempo� is down to the constant flow of great D/E music being produced here. It doesn�t stop, so to discover and find new tracks, artists, producers and sounds is still an exciting task for me. It�s been part of my life for some time now, since setting up Volition in the mid 80�s.
Where did you begin when looking at potentional contributors? What was some of the criteria you were looking for when selecting tracks?
It started by contacting a number of acts and labels that AIR and I knew, and built from there, once I had around 20 tracks it was relatively easy. Some tracks always standout above the others so you get it down to the standouts of the bunch. I might add we had a very tight deadline and a Christmas and New Year holidays to get through, so it was a fast track project. Unfortunately the whole process wasn�t entirely completed as I usually like to spend some time on mastering and assembly, but that was not possible, however we did manage to give it a quick tweek. With the retail edition we are planning for release later this year we�ll have more time to finish the process.
Can you tell us about what the goals of this project are? Who are some of the international recipients who�ll be discovering new Aussie music via the release?
The goals remain the same with any compilation of this nature, they�re compiled to give a snapshot of the scene here and also hopefully make people more aware of licensing possibilities from this territory for the world market. AIR do a fairly comprehensive mail-out all round the world, from music trade events through to media. Its circulation will also see it get to many labels around the globe, so in general it will get some solid exposure.
What are some of the challenges AIR labels face when producing/marketing electronic music both domestically and internationally?
As with new music in general, its about finding a place within the market and having the quality and difference to last and standout. Also, in having the finance to promote the music on the other side of the world to make an impression, so that releases and distribution will happen in overseas markets. Australia is limited in how much it can return acts and labels financially; therefore exposure overseas is paramount for their survival. The same goes for the local market, artists and labels have to get their music out to the clubs and indie radio stations to start raising their profile. In addition to this, what will become very important in the coming years will be the increase of internet and satellite broadcasting which will assist artists and labels in reaching greater audiences globally. The internet will increase in importance due to its 24/7 access for listening and buying music from anywhere at any time in the world.
In many ways the challenges of achieving global exposure will make it a very exciting time for music, as it will bring about new forms of marketing and promotion and give more power and invention to the independently minded. With the �indie� labels increased parity with the global majors, these challenges are already being dealt with.
What role/functions did Amrap and CreationPro play?Creation pro helped out by sponsoring the manufacture of the discs, and AIR works closely with AMRAP (Australian Music Radio Airplay Project) in distributing all AIR releases to community radio around Australia.
Can you tell us what some of the feedback � from labels, artists and recipients alike � has been?
The reaction is very positive. There are more local D/E labels and artists than ever before so a compilation like �Electrotempo� is good for everyone as it gets the music out and exposed. AIR�s coverage and connections ensures that it will get a look in on a global level.
What do you think the future holds in Australia for the electronic/dance music scene? Any particular changes/growths you can see happening (in either the industry, media, etc)?
Australian Dance/Electronic music artists have had many releases overseas in the past 25 years, however the local music media have often overlooked the fact that this genre has been flying the flag for Australian music overseas. Although the genre is reaching the airways more than before, the fact is its still largely from imported artists. It seems to be the common thread that has dogged the most talented artists from Australia, that many have had to seek audiences overseas to be accepted locally - it's a crazy situation when artists here in Australia have been producing such great music for some time.
I think the changes are occurring already on the D/E music scene with a lot more D/E acts playing live again, it�s a trend that has taken some time to come around again. The live arena is a very potent force in getting the music out to a bigger audience, together with the growth and opportunities of the Internet as detailed in a previous question.
Lastly, what do you think is the most important issue facing the Australian electronic music scene today?
The most important issue is being heard! The plight of the Australian dance and electronic music scene is not much different from the alternative rock scene � its all about getting heard on FM radio and having your film clip getting high rotation on �Video Hits�. These are the barriers that artists and labels have to leap, and then hope that once you�re there, the audience takes enough notice to go to the stores or to websites to buy your music. In general for D/E acts, the club scene is an important foundation for success and any erosion of that medium will cause major problems to the scene. In some places that has already happened. For instance, a few years ago New York used to be a clubbing capital, but Mayor Giuliane came down on the club scene because of drug paranoia and some fantastic venues disappeared. The scene has returned there, but more in the shape of bars with DJs. I was quite amazed where US dance music was at when in New York last year � it�s nowhere! It�s 10 years behind the times and most artists are too lazy to get out of the studio. Whereas on the West Coast it�s the opposite, the club scene is healthy and there are a number of acts doing it live. The serious artists have got themselves organised and are out playing in front of people.
For me, live performance of dance and electronic music is one of the most exciting and creative areas in entertainment � a level dancefloor shared by punters and performers!