'Festivals Inspired Me To Make Music': Read The Presets' Julian Hamilton's Sydney Rally Speech

22 February 2019 | 11:03 am | Staff Writer

"I would like to instead focus on the cultural value and the cultural legacy that these music festivals help create and nurture, and the impact, as a musician, that this cultural legacy has had on me."

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Thousands turned out for the Don’t Kill Live Music rally in Sydney last night, which included appearances from a star-studded list of local artists and speakers.

Among those was The Presets' Julian Hamilton was among those who delivered a passionate speech, which he's now published on Facebook, sharing his own experiences of attending festivals as a young person and how they influenced and shaped The Presets.

Read the speech and watch footage from the rally below.

Julian Hamilton @ Don't Kill Live Music rally - 21 February 2019

Hi everyone

Thank you very much for inviting me to speak here tonight.

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You are going to hear a lot of people speak this evening, and no doubt you will hear the point being made, and rightly made, about the economic boost that music festivals bring to our state, and the economic value that music festivals add to our city.

So I would like to instead focus on the cultural value and the cultural legacy that these music festivals help create and nurture, and the impact, as a musician, that this cultural legacy has had on me.

To illustrate this, I’d like to go back in time a little, so if you would indulge me, can we take a trip back back to the very first music festival I attended as a young man?

It was summer of 1997, just behind this stage and up the street in East Sydney - the site of the original Big Day Out.

Before that day I’d seen plenty of bands in pubs, and I’d danced to plenty of DJs in nightclubs - but the Big Day Out was like nothing I had ever experienced. There was music and noise and chaos and colour coming from every corner. No matter where you looked there was a band rocking out, and in front of every band was a sea of bodies jumping around having an awesome time.

I remember it was hot day. It was sweaty. It was messy. There were punks, there were hippies. Piercings, heavy metal t-shirts, flouro-coloured hair as far as the eye could see. It was quite the experience.

And the music of course, was incredible.

The Prodigy, Severed Heads, John Spencer Blues Explosion, Aphex Twin - all these incredible acts - none of which I’d ever been able to see live on stage until that day. They totally blew me away.

It was an experience I’ve never forgotten. I realised then, at that very moment twenty-two years ago, that that was the world that I wanted to be a part of. A path had opened up in front of me.

The whole experience of music festivals like that Big Day Out, and many others like it, inspired me to compose and produce my own music. A few years later I’d start a band with my friend Kim from University - and we’d set up our keyboards and computers in his kitchen and try and emulate the music we were seeing at these festivals. This was beginning of The Presets.

Over the years The Presets played pubs and clubs, and gradually got bigger, and eventually we ourselves were invited to perform at the Big Day Out, and since then we have been lucky enough to play at hundreds of music festivals both here and overseas.

More than two decades have passed since that first Big Day Out experience really switched me on to music, and since then a whole new generation of bands have come along after us. It’s always so beautiful when I am approached by another younger band, or younger artist telling me something along the lines of “Man, I remember seeing The Presets at Field day in 2006 - it was such a hot day and then it started to rain right in the middle of your set and me and my mate had the best time. That's what inspired us to become DJs’.

Or when someone stops me in the street to tell me, “Jules, I saw you guys supporting Daft Punk out at Homebush in two thousand and whatever and I loved those shows so much, and after that day I started getting interested in music production.”

I hear this kind of thing all the time.

Just as I was inspired to make music after seeing it performed on stage at music festivals, my band was then lucky enough to inspire a generation of musicians who came after us, and now those bands are performing at festivals inspiring the next generation after them - and on and on it goes.

This culture feeds itself. It regenerates. Year after year it’s legacy gets bigger and better; it grows more rich and more diverse.

This legacy is not built overnight. It takes decades to build this!

Of course, it’s not only musicians like myself that get inspired by what we see at music festivals. Art and music inspire us all. And it doesn’t work sitting in your bedroom reading about it on Facebook. It’s not the same experience scrolling through photos of it on Instagram. You simply have to be there - with your friends, under the stars, with the music loud - jumping around to a band that you love, or better yet, discovering your new favourite band that until then you didn’t even know existed.

Music festivals have a cultural impact that continues long after all the fans have jumped on buses to go home. Their impact reverberates long after the headline act as packed up and left for the hotel. I am proof, and the bands that have come after me are proof, and the bands that are coming up after them will prove that music festivals' cultural impact can last decades!

What I am realising now, is just how close we are to losing it all if the NSW State Government continues to get their way.

Are we going to let this government continue to get there way?

There’s an election just around the corner - so make your voice heard. If you are not already enrolled to vote make it the very first thing you do after this rally.

The festival promoters here tonight, and hundreds like them built this thing.

The bands here tonight, and thousands like us built this thing.

The music fans out there in front of me tonight, and millions like you built this thing!

We built this legacy together and the NSW State government is trying to destroy it.

On March 23rd, we’ll get rid of this mob. Let’s play our part to save live music in this state and protect this valuable cultural legacy that we built together!

Thank you.

The Don’t Kill Live Music rally is underway in Sydney!

Posted by TheMusic.com.au on Wednesday, February 20, 2019