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A Bit More Vitriol: Bluejuice

Describing their sound as “too straight for funk, too groovy for indie rock and too sweaty for pop”, Bluejuice sport an aggressive, party-oriented mix of rock, hip-hop, electro and dance, all delicately laced with a winning tongue-in-cheek attitude and spirit.

Since their formation almost nine years ago, Bluejuice have received countless nominations and awards for their musical efforts, including Best Emerging Artist in the 2007 Australian Music Prize for their debut album Problems, which further went on to pick up a four out of five rating from Australia’s Rolling Stone magazine. It also received countless hours of airplay on Triple J, with their single ‘Vitriol’ being the highest played song for almost a year and going on to be voted number 11 in the Triple J Hottest 100 for 2007. Few would have predicted such great success for five twenty something year olds who started out as a self-professed “jazzy instrumental band playing 3 hour long funk dirges at the pub every Sunday”.

Jogging Up Facts: AIDS Trust of Australia

The information exists somewhere in the backstreets of our memory, but like the facts within our high school textbooks, a foggy distance has grown around it – one that expands daily through feeds of “more recent” media and what is deemed to be in the “public interest”. Except HIV/AIDS, unfortunately, doesn’t merely stand in the shadows of our history, nor does its pertinence in society. There may not be a billboard declaring that there are approximately 20 new cases within Australia every week, that there was a 22% increase in infections among youth aged 20 to 29 last year or that regional areas of the country are facing a growing epidemic, but the facts are there, whether we choose to listen to them or not – only in this case, ignorance is fatal.

One of the organisations that tries to evade the calamity of unawareness is the AIDS Trust of Australia, which was established in 1987 by the then Governor-General in response to concerns about the growing HIV epidemic. Today its role revolves around raising money for the care and support, awareness and prevention and social research for HIV/AIDS. It essentially approaches corporate bodies and individuals for support, and explains to them how they will see a result from their financial investment.

Hair, Hands On: Melanie Boreham

Playing with hair is an activity that preludes external departures and reminisces childhood sleepovers, but recent COFA graduate Melanie Boreham has sought its significance and implications a little bit deeper. Proving that art both challenges and simultaneously transcends that which meets the eye, her current exhibition, The Departed, explores hair as a metaphor for grief, loss, and transformation. It is the common muse for the exhibition and is weaved throughout the artworks, which come in the form of paintings, drawings, jewellery pieces, sculptural installations and films. The Departed is the end product of 18 months of work; a time frame that, given the results, has evidently been worth it.

Melanie explains that the idea for the exhibition grew out of a dual desire to explore the versatility of human hair and the effects of separation: “It's been fascinating to see how closely related hair and relationships are, metaphorically. I used human hair, a grossly intimate material, as a metaphor to examine the effects of separation. The continual growth and severing of our hair is a mimetic act of the often destructive pattern of our human relationships. Just as we are constantly cutting our hair, our relationships are constantly evolving and breaking down.”

The Way to Uni

photo: Liya Dashkina

Pyrmont's Scattered Sky

photo: Lisa Zhu

The Neighbour's Space: galleryeight

One stroll up The Rocks to Millers Point and it’s hard to imagine that you are right next door to the bustling city-fare of Sydney. The suburb has this old school charm about it, which is made all the more stunning by its art-deco homes and its corner-street shopfronts. One of these is galleryeight, a small artist-run exhibition space in the heart of the suburb, Argyle Place. If walking in feels like home, that’s because it is – to Peter Cramer, anyway. He opened the space where his office used to be in May 2009, and is fast to invite people in past the front area towards his kitchen and back porch (he lives upstairs) – making this gallery feel more like a visit to a friend’s place than an art space in the traditional sense… Which is pretty perfect, if you ask us. On one such occasion, we had a cup of tea and a chat, and further established why we love Sydney oh so much.

What prompted you to open a gallery?

Well, there’s nothing in the area like it. Millers Point is changing now – there are two theatres and the Sydney Dance Company, and no galleries are keeping up with it. People often come in when they’re parking or having dinner, and it’s nice for tourists who come here. We started with a friend’s exhibition, and grew from that.

Elegant Mish-Mash: Matt Weston

Matt Weston’s jewellery design evokes the sentimentality of a charm bracelet, the nostalgia of a family heirloom and the eccentricity of a misplaced cultural artefact, resulting in pieces of a found art aesthetic that both tell a story and allow a story to be told. While the predominantly unisex pieces borrow from native civilisations, there is also something distinctly modern about them. They are a mishmash of times, events, people and materials. And somehow they work.

It was in Mexico that Matt’s interest in jewellery design was awakened, which is hardly surprising considering the culture’s penchant for adornment of all sorts. Upon arriving back in Australia, he headed straight for the local markets, taking on a bowerbird approach as he sorted through the trash to find the treasures that would eventually act as the basis for many of his pieces. Not longer after, he began to receive interest from stylists, editorial coverage and wholesale enquiries. “Yep, I’ll give this a go,” he thought to himself as he found a studio and started his label with few expectations but many aspirations.

Julia Stone, unedited

Okay, so the lovely Julia just responded, and instead of removing the below post (it's so pretty, isn't it?) I thought I'd just do another one! Easy peasy. Anyhow, the constraints of the day job mean I actually have to work it, so this is totally unedited, as it was sent to me this morning. Please excuse any typos!
Warning: you may develop a bit of a girl crush.

Hi Julia! I’ll start by saying I’m a massive fan, and am sad I couldn’t speak to you because you’re so bloody popular. On the dawn of your new album, how are you reflecting back on the success of Angus & Julia Stone?

sorry we can’t speak also!.. probably a good thing though as my voice is a little scratchy at the moment. it’s crazy after having so much time without touring, and now we have had a week of rehearsing every day and seven shows, my voice is deep and husky.... i sound like a phone sex lady....

sometimes i think about all our travels over the last few has been such a wild trip... so many adventures with it’s highs and lows.... the real success for us is that we are still friends and still want to hang out and make music together!

In the latest CD, your sound seems to have matured (it is STUNNING by the way). How would you say it’s developed in the past few years?

thank you....i think that playing so many shows over the last few years contributed to the way we made this record. i certainly felt more relaxed in the studio... when we made ‘a book like this,’ particularly the songs we recorded in london at fran’s, we didn’t even use head phones... we played acoustically in a room with wooden walls---listening to each other with our bare ears taking in the sounds acoustically and adjusting our levels accordingly.... i felt more comfortable that way back then-- it didn’t feel natural for me to be amplified or to hear my voice through head phones... this time round... after hearing my voice through lots of different P.As and even sometimes using in-ear monitors on stage it felt easier to record in a studio- i think i also felt more comfortable with my instruments--- when we recorded ‘a book like this’ i had only been playing the guitar for a couple of years and very haphazardly...i felt more competent with it after playing so mch... which made the recording more chilled and easy.

A Note for Press: Angus & Julia Stone

Every so often, an album comes around whose songs are threaded with magic – one where every track feels like spring sunrays escaping through lace curtains and nostalgia mixes with daydreams to create an almost elevated sense of present. Angus & Julia Stone’s latest offering, Down the Way, is the grown up version of their typical allegiance to this sentiment. They have created the kind of music that boys and girls fall in love to, sets the soundtrack for long road trips up the coast and soothes the ends to dramatic days. If, like yours truly, you have been a fan of the duo for some time, you will notice a more mature sound in this album, which was recorded from various areas of the world – at times when Angus and Julia weren’t even in the same one themselves. As producers of the album, they had full control of each song on the record, making it more refined and in some cases, a twinge darker.

Features fall through all the time when you have daily deadlines, and we usually try to fill these gaps with other interviews or full-scale reviews if we’re really desperate. The lack of cooperation from timing in this instance meant that Miss Julia was not able to answer the questions I sent her (between touring and shooting stories for Vogue, her schedule got a little tied up), and the last thing I would ever do is send the press release as is, but in this case an exception had to be made. You see, Julia writes. This is obvious if you like lyrics with your music. And so she had written a few longer entries while she was on the road, which reflect the spirit of travel and creativity in a way that is simply better left untainted by any level of journalistic interpretation. So, here it is. The “press release” that I got along with the album – the only one ever to give me goosebumps.

A Life Less Ordinary

There’s something a little kitsch about being born and bred in Sydney. A childhood in the ‘burbs, quarter-acre block, walking to school, riding my bike around the streets, Galaga at the milk bar, paper-boys… there’s a simplicity to it all. Growing up that way makes us practical I think. We become managers and physiotherapists and publicists. I, for example, work full-time in the IT industry in middle management (I won’t elaborate because trust me when I say, you’ll glaze over in about 15 seconds flat). It pays well and I’m pretty okay at it. It’s a solid career. Part-time, I throw together stories for magazines and websites, write copy for TV ads and turn out scripts for short films with unreliable regularity.

Had I grown up in Berlin on the other hand, I’d be a highly functioning heroin addict with a successfully indifferent career as a screenwriter in the German underground film scene, with regular showings at the Elektro Geräte artists’ atelier and O Tannenbaum. Had I been formed and molded in Amsterdam, riding my bike along the grey canals and weaving in and out of narrow lanes walled by thin, leaning houses, I’d now be running a hugely successful high-art burlesque house servicing über-wealthy young couples on weekend trips from London and New York. It all sounds so much more exciting and elusive and mysterious. And of course, achievable.

Head Hobo: Hobogestapo

When we are out late at night, breathing in the sweat and spice of Sydney’s nightlife, there are moments to be forgotten, and moments that shouldn’t be, but so often are. There is love in a glance, sex in a smile, abandon in a dance, heaving shows of masculinity, flickering flirtations, and wicked flounces of feminine whiles. Unfortunately, these precious, tiny memories can be dropped like beads of sweat, or washed away beneath a groggy tide.

From bared nipples to secret smirks, sudden kisses to wild acts of flamboyance, the Hobogestapo cohort have seen and documented it all. Creating photographic memories of nights in and days out, the group push the boundaries of photojournalism, lifting the veil off of the forgotten and unforgettable moments when we are at our most vulnerable. Think scenes of elation, ecstaticism, retribution, infatuation, insanity and more.

End of Summer in the City

photo: Liya Dashkina

Eveleigh Railway Workshop

photos: Lisa Zhu

This is how you get to Sesame Street: T-World

In the real world, nobody really wants to tell you how to get to Sesame Street, and if you do manage to find out the directions, they’re not exactly going to let you in. The notoriously closed set in New York City is rumoured to be more difficult to enter than the Pentagon, but for Melbourne’s T-World, they made an exception. The founder of the t-shirt-dedicated magazine, Eddie Zammit, has been working with the iconic children’s program for the past 18 months and has joined forces with them to celebrate their 40th birthday in true tee style. And the best part? It’s Sydney that gets the parties – a Friday evening exhibition in Darling Park and at Saturday’s Semi Permanent conference.

For those who don’t know this T-World business, Eddie started it as a personal project with his co-designer/creator Luke Fraser after hours from his design agency, Grin Creative. Formed out of an obsession with both t-shirts and magazines, they decided to combine the two and go nuts. Eddie now travels three to four weeks throughout the year, meeting with different designers and keeping on top of what’s going on in the culture throughout the world. For someone who has more than 1700 collector’s tees and has put together more than 500 magazines, you could say it was a natural progression.

Disneyland, Published: Mag Nation

When Mag Nation opened its Sydney doors in Newtown last year, this city felt a little more… complete. There is something about beautiful magazines which creates endorphins – their touch, their scent, their imagery – so Mag Nation is kind of like the grown-ups equivalent to Disneyland. Started by Sahil Merchant and and Ravi Pathare in Auckland in 2006, Sydney is the newest addition to Mag Nation’s six stores (and counting). Sahil sat down with Side Street and gave us a bit of insight into the brains behind the shops.

Why did you decide to start up Mag Nation?

No one else was doing justice to a product category that we felt was really important to so many people. Newsagents catered mainly for customers who buy magazines as a throw away item, but we realised that there were a bunch of people out there who valued gorgeous publications and would appreciate a different magazine environment, a tailored shopping experience and greater choice. And, both co-founders were eager to create something new and special as well. We were comfortable with backing ourselves.

Pretty to Graffiti: Shannon Crees

For an artist who grew up wanting to be a fashion designer, Shannon Crees has managed to marry into the best of both creative worlds and create a style that couldn’t exist without the other. Fashion illustration has become a vocation in itself for Shannon, but not one that is intended for the industry it belongs to. Instead, she has taken her knowledge of form and beauty and thrown it into a shower under a cluster of spray cans, and has in turn caused pop art to implode with a somewhat scarce femininity. Her images are a kind of pretty that surpass the saccharine, obnoxious sense of the word and sit at ease within the world of graffiti-splashed street corners.

An Ode to the Commuter: Stories from the 428

To be honest, it's the marketing of new theatre/writing production Stories from the 428 that has me hooked. Fliers in the shape of oversized Travel Tens, posters channelling the Blue Concession Weekly in my pocket; they promise that if we look a little closer at the average tedious bus trip, there are surprises to be found.

Now, every time I see the packed, sweaty and uninviting 428 bus zoom past, I get a thrill of anticipation. This Sydney transport fixture is the inspiration for Stories from the 428, a dynamic new production opening this month at Marrickville's Sidetrack Theatre. This particular bus route was chosen because it stops right outside the theatre itself – appropriate AND convenient!

Creative Injection: Semi-Permanent

Murray Bell & Andrew Johnstone

For two days each year, Sydney’s creative community gears up to dive down the rabbit hole and into a wonderland where pretty much everything seems possible. The mystical creatures are superimposed with human characteristics, but their magical prowess is evident in every word they speak – indeed, everything seems possible because they tell us it is. I believe the English word for such a phenomenon is called inspiration… and this week, it’s in Sydney by the truckload.
Semi-Permanent is coming to town.

For anyone who has chosen to tap into the right side of their brain for a living, the roadblocks that come with the territory can often be worse than the trademark insanity. Every so often our creative juices need to be re-injected, and thankfully, Murray Bell and Andrew Johnstone of Design is Kinky understand this impulse and brought the goods with them back to Australia after speaking at the famous OFFF design conference in Barcelona in 2001. Diesel knew about the guys because of their website, Design is Kinky, which was formed before HTML became a baby’s first words, and asked them to come up with a project which they could back. It’s not everyday that you get one of the world’s biggest creative companies asking you to do something which they can pay for, so Murray and Andrew got to talking and pitched their idea back to Diesel within a few days. It was simple – bring the concept of OFFF over to Sydney.

“There was a lot of excitement surrounding the conference within the design industry and it had a really good vibe, so we thought we should do it ourselves – and within a week we started going ahead with it,” says Murray.

The CBD Boy

photo: Margaret Sevenjhazi

Temperance Lane

photo: Lisa Zhu

Pong & Beer, Grown-Up Style: Doctor Pong

The profusion of pop-up and wine bars that have hit Sydney in the last 12 months is, frankly, brilliant (not to be overly-superlative). One of those newcomers is Doctor Pong in Darlinghurst, a place that combines booze, ping-pong and tapas, and deserves a sweet little pat on the behind because of it.

It’s a casual affair at Doctor Pong – there’s nothing pretentious or fussy about it so it never makes you feel like you just can’t be bothered. Thongs or heels; all are welcome to kick back amongst the polished concrete floors, converted barrels and squishy chesterfield couches from which to drink your beer, American-teen-red-plastic-cup-style. You never have to wait too long to get a spot at the table du pong and since it can’t soak up beer spills like the good ole pool table, you’re not left feeling like you’re back at uni sculling the last of the evening’s $2 pints. The irony that’s at play at Doctor Pong is definitely a trait for the grown-ups.

The Shoes Fit: Pip Vassett

Leading the fashion pages of Yen Magazine is a job suited only for those who are destined for greatness. Like Dave Bonney and Imogene Barron before her, Pip Vassett is the newest recruit to fit the criteria of innovation and precision that such a position entails, and she’s been fitting the shoes before her with ease – and has added her very own mark of distinction to them. Her staunch eye for detail throws together patterns and colours with an unpredictability that works like it should be in fashion’s book of rules, and her ability to make style seem effortless leaves the undoubted hours of selection and deliberation indiscernible to even the most critical eye. Within Pip’s editorial, style is innate. Exactly as it should be.

Local Stage Prowress: Circle Pit

As a whirlwind of hype continues to sweep up anything with long hair, skin-tight denim and fashion accessibility, Circle Pit boast no stifling pretensions or studied ideals. Instead they have carved a troublesome and often glorious niche in their own corner of the music scene, serving as a reminder that times certainly are changing for the better.

Since first entering our collective musical consciousness, Angela Bermuda and Jack Mannix have been just as notorious for their considerable on stage prowess as they have been for their blistering shameless rock and roll attitude and staggering work ethic. Originally both members of the now defunct Kiosk, it was the formation of Circle Pit that marked the true beginning of Angela and Jack’s creative partnership. “We always wanted to make music together and even though we’ve done a lot of stuff before, it was never really what we wanted to do,” says Jack.

Education is Power: Gemma Sisia

If heaven actually exists, then starting up a school in Africa is a surefire way to get there. There’s something about Gemma Sisia, though, that tells us that she did it with more than just the afterlife in mind. The kind of woman whose mere presence is a benefit to the greater good of humanity, Gemma is somewhat of a celebrity in the altruistic world. Her School of St Jude in Tanzania has granted her with an Order of Australia, a wide array of speaking engagements and even material for a book, which fast became a best seller when it was released in 2007. She’s in town for the Zonta International Woman’s Day Event, and will be speaking at Sydney’s Parliament House tonight… but first, she spoke to us.

Gemma Sisia

Passion, 100%: Timba Smits

When a magazine makes you want to sleep with it under your pillow and whisper it sweet nothings, you know something’s wrong – or, perhaps, terribly right. There are few which fit this criteria of published infatuation, which is probably a good thing, so as to not make you appear like a total freak. But when Wooden Toy is unleashed, beauty-lovers far and wide know it’s time to just give up. It’s not worth fighting. It is THERE to be loved. And so, keep it in your handbag, pet it when you’re so inclined and let people think you’ve joined the circus. It’s worth it.

The creator and self-confessed “arty farty guy” of Wooden Toy is Melbourne-bred, London-based Timba Smits. A creative director, publisher, curator, and exceptional artist in his own right, Timba is the Australian art world’s equivalent to the Olsen twins (I happen to quite like the Olsen twins, thank you very much). Wooden Toy showcases creatives in a visual splendour that augments their work to an even greater level, marking the pages that they sit on as separate artworks themselves. Timba’s illustrative work is everything that makes up Wooden Toy on single sheets of paper – varied in its style but always welcome with aesthetic arms. Playing with headlines has made Timba big on the typography scene, with his creation of texts and fonts making words stand out less as descriptive elements but rather, as elements to be described. So he’s got his own magazine, his own artwork and his own freelance clients, and he even co-founded Melbourne’s Gorker Gallery in 2008. He recently packed ship and moved to London, a relocation made all the easier with his British Council Realise Your Dream Award win, and he is taking Wooden Toy with him. He may be a little trigger-happy when it comes to putting himself under the pump, but it’s the passion he puts into everything he does that keeps him alive.

“It’s all relative, really. I just do what I love,” he says.
“All my friends say that all they ever see me do is working, but I never feel like I’m working.”

Mardi Gras

The Anzac Bridge

photos: Lisa Zhu

Jazz & Sushi, No Crap: Jazushi

Sometimes, all you want to do is sip on some wine, listen to some jazz and eat some uncooked fish. Although all those things sound totally pretentious, you want to do it in an unpretentious way, because YOU’RE not pretentious, you just like pretentious things. Don’t worry. WE GET IT. And apparently so does Jazushi, the charming little Surry Hills restaurant which specialises in live jazz, sushi and unpretentiousness.

Sitting rather calmly on a corner on Devonshire Street, the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it venue is definitely one that sticks in your memory once you visit, and it’s a good thing, too – there’s live music every night, not just the ones where it feels like it. Featuring some pretty noteworthy musicians from across the globe, it is one of the only spots in Sydney where you can be guaranteed to hear exactly what you’re in the mood for. Um, so long as it’s jazz. There are regulars and visiting performers alike, but the one thing they all share is sheer passion to share their sound with an audience, and that can be nice when you’ve accidentally dolloped a wee bit too much wasabi on your sushi. Nothing like the smooth sound of the saxophone to wash away extreme pain.

Swimwear for the Perfect Girl: We Are Handsome

For the designers behind We Are Handsome, swimwear is more of a lycra canvas for the body than a water-happy costume for summer. Featuring bold prints and iconic names such as The Hollywood and The Africa, We Are Handsome (WAH) is a collaborative project between Indhra Chagoury of Oscar & Elvis Swimwear and Jeremy Somers of People Like Us. Born late last year, WAH has so far received phenomenal amounts of press and success, from selling out in Bondi’s Tuchuzy and Melbourne’s Fat to being worn by Ruby Rose and Catherine McNeil when they announced their engagement. It has received coverage in titles such as Vogue and Harpers Bazaar and has been nominated for Aussie Swimwear Designer of the year. Needless to say, the brand is certainly on the (inter)national radar.

Perhaps the most noticeable thing about WAH is that the name of the label is almost as distinctive as the swimsuits themselves. Coming up with the name for the brand was an arduous process, with the two designers bouncing suggestions back and forth for weeks. “Making the name descriptive of the brand is always a good move, as it gives people a good reference for what they’re about to see and experience,” Jeremy explains. “It had to be nice to say out loud, to roll off the tongue, be easy to spell, be not too cool for school, not have an ampersand in it, not start with ‘the’, and the URL had to be available.” It sounds like a pretty detailed and rather tough criterion, but eventually they came across the word ‘handsome’. “We wanted something a little different… at first we hated it but it grew on us.”

Talent, Passion & Motivation: The Drones

Melbourne rockers The Drones, have been delivering a near peerless aural experience ever since they entered the limelight as winners of the inaugural Australian Music Prize for their 2005 record, Wait Long by the River and the Bodies of Your Enemies Will Float By. Lately, members Gareth Liddiard, Fiona Kitschin, Michael Noga and newest recruit Dan Luscombe have been basking in the success of their epic fifth album, Havilah. Literally translating into ‘place of gold’ in Hebrew, the record documents a rich array of enthralling stories told with a writer’s wit and a poet's heart, delivered with such controlled and compelling power that it leaves listeners’ pulses racing.

Where previous albums accentuated The Drones' fierceness with primarily aggressive tracks, Havilah exchanges parts of that for down-tempo, hymn-like pieces – a move guitarist Dan Luscombe describes as the most natural next step for the band. “You take in different influences, and want to get turned on to different stuff all the time, so it only makes sense that you'll become more interested in playing with an ever-developing approach,” enthuses Dan. “Each Drones album sounds quite different to the last, and I imagine that will continue to be the case from here on in.”

Dan Luscombe

The Hairy Fish Dish

(Now the story of restaurateur Patrick Bergeron

And the quest for the perfect dish

For his restaurant.)

And when one day he asked my advice

I sat back to smile a smile wise

Then I said ‘easily done and I’ll tell you if you insist

The perfect cuisine is the Hairy Fish Dish.’

To this Patrick exclaimed

‘A hairy fish? why there’s no such thing, of which I’ve never heard

Really it sounds like something from a Dr. Seuss story

Truly, truly rather absurd!’

The Nonchalant Creative: Aldous Massie

You can usually find Aldous Massie on an Oxford Street stoop during a weeknight with a longneck in one hand and a skateboard under the other. He is also one of Sydney’s most talented young artists, even though his modest persona would have him cringe at such a title. He’s had his work shown at venerated spaces like China Heights and Palmer Projects, and he was just part of a group exhibition at the Absolut Stairwell gallery. (When we caught up with him at the event, he seemed more excited about the complimentary canapés than the fact that his art was being shown amongst the likes of Andy Harwood, Sarah Larnach, Jacob Ring, Anwen Keeling, James Jirat Patradoon, Ted O'Donnell, Luis Martinez, Seamus Heidenreich and Robbie Whitehead.) He was also recently commissioned to design the shopfront for Melbourne’s Hermes boutique. So how did a kid who didn’t quite get around to finishing his fine arts degree manage to get hooked up with one of the most famous international fashion houses?

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