WAMi Festival: 'This Is How We Solve Perth's Isolation'

23 May 2012 | 4:16 pm | Staff Writer

When a market is as isolated as Perth can be, you've got to work hard for yourselves.

The 2012 WAMi Festival takes over the live music scene in WA from this weekend, with Opening, Closing and Awards parties, Hall Of Fame Inductions, Showcase gigs every night of the week, the WAMi Music Business Conference and plenty more from Saturday 26 May until Saturday 2 June.

TheMusic.com.au took five minutes with keynote speaker Mark Dodds from Sydney-based independent music label Inertia, and Bex Chilcott, from WAMi-nominated band Ruby Boots, currently touring new single Wise Up and its new video clip.

For Dodds – attending his first ever WAMi Festival – the weekend is a chance for him to get some hands on experience of WA's local music scene, and share some ideas on what bands need to do to make that label leap.

“Basically I think there's a lot of questions out there that a lot of bands have about what exactly record companies are and what they're role is in this new world order of digital and everything else where it's profitable to do so much yourself,” he says.

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And something they do look for – to a certain extent – are awards like the WAMi's.

“Especially with a market that can often be isolated like Perth you look for bands and artists that are working hard in the territory and are admired by their peers. And I think that accolades like WAMi's and stuff certainly demonstrate that.”

Of course awards only take you so far.

“I think in the end there's no checklist or anything, but you're certainly looking for bands who are working hard and building a profile for themselves and who have gone to a certain stage before they start looking for assistance and help. I think WAMi's…[are] a demonstration that a band has taken initiative and gone out there and played shows and built up a following and put themselves on the map and I think that's really important.”

One band who ticks plenty of the abovementioned boxes are last year's WAMi Award winner for Best Country Act, Ruby Boots, and theMusic.com.au finds frontwoman Bex Chillcot on a small break between tour shows in Sydney. For her, accolades aren't really about the titles, just the peer-recognition.

“It's interesting with awards because you know they don't do anything for you musically but in terms of being able to continue to do what you do, anything like that is really great. More personally I think for me the award recognises the support we have amongst our own community and I think that's a really important part about it.”

And when it comes to the festival, besides her own band's launch show Friday 1 June, she's looking forward the conferences. “In terms of knowledge, because I wasn't playing for a few years, I was really focused on the business side of things, and that's where I learnt a lot about [music business].

 “I'm gonna make sure I check out the Chicks In Music Business conference on Saturday because I think that's really something special that's happening in WA at the conference.”

As for who's gonna take home some WAMingtons, Chilcott singles out local rock chick Abbe May as a serious contender, while Dodds is just looking forward to immersing himself in the WA scene for the weekend.

“I'll just go and see where things take me, but I'd be nuts to miss the opportunity to go and check things out and engage with Perth music in general. See what's going on and see what's to offer.”

The WAMi Festival Opening Party is on this Saturday 26 May, with various events running until the Awards Ceremony and Closing Party the following Saturday. Check wam.asn.au for the full program.