You know that game where you take a piece of paper, fold it three or four ways, and one of you has to draw a head, the next person the torso, the next draws the legs and the final person draws the feet?
None of you get to see what the other person has drawn, bar a tiny speckle of the to-be-revealed creature or human until it’s completed. Well now imagine instead of just four of your mates being silly it’s 100 – and instead of drawing they’re DJing – and they’re all talented Australian artists – coming together with tasteful audio bits to create one long epic back-to-back. Wait, what?
Yeah – cool right? Although this merged creation has been much more meticulously curated. One of Naarm’s most beloved and fast-growing electronic radio stations, Area 3000, has organised 100 DJs, compiling a more than 6-hour mix throughout the latest lockdown to celebrate both the scene and the platform’s first birthday. The move will showcase the community that the radio station has created over Melbourne’s harsh lockdowns to keep the community sane, and together.
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Area 3000 has been a staple for the electronic music community throughout 2020 and 2021, releasing hundreds of mixes, interviews and other local creative oddities to bring the community together through the harshest lockdowns in the world that have attempted to decimate the scene.
Epic lockdown specials throughout lockdowns one to six have included multi-week long curations with everything from downloadable DJ word searches to meditation shows with beautiful ambient music from local artists.
The platform, pioneered by Sindy Smith (aka Sindy Sparkles) in 2020 and supported by Jay Kim (aka Highly Minogue and host of ‘Spinning Around’) from 2021, has become a mammoth part of helping producers and DJs maintain a sense of community to get through challenging times, whilst helping new and emerging artists showcase their love for tunes and talent to the rest of the country.
As Melbourne starts opening up from its final lockdown, the Area 3000 Centuria will form a tribute to the scene and display many, but far from all, of the people within it.
“Like with everything Area 3000 does and stands for, we want to bring everyone together and build a massive project that everybody could chip into and be a part of,” said Sindy.
“The Naarm scene is immense and we wanted to show just how many talents reside alongside each other. A lot of DJs out there are all struggling. Much of our interactions are now online – although it can never beat the purity of dancing face-to-face, we’re thankful for it because it means we’re never truly isolated. This year has been an incredible time for artists to connect with each other and lean on one another for support both artistically and emotionally. Centuria is an online immortalisation of that idea: although we are apart, we are not alone.”
The idea originally started with 100 local DJs contributing to an Area 3000 lockdown playlist but after some back-and-forth, the team decided to take it further because, as they say, is operated by “two masochists who just can’t stop making life hard for themselves,” and instead, decided to embark on the mission to create the 100-DJ B2B mix called Centuria. Then one day, armed with a “haphazard spreadsheet”, the duo put out the invitation for the first few DJs.
As the fifth lockdown hit in July, Sindy and Jay were in the habit of generating new special lockdown projects to bring the community together, including a Kick-Ons series during the fourth lockdown, and wanted to do something more special for the next.
Jay laid down the first track at 124 BPM with Evulon, aptly titled “Invent With Us”. At first, the team thought explaining the concept and giving instructions to DJs by mixing their song into the previous one and filming them mixing it would make sense but unsurprisingly there were technical hiccups as the entire project was a socially-distanced digital collaboration and new concept.
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After they truly started feeling the weight of the project, they decided they needed a few more hands on deck – Sam Doyle became another integral component of the project development, ensuring that all minuscule details required didn’t fall through the cracks.
“The time between 10, 20 and 50 tracks felt like an eternity and definitely stressed us out,” said Jay. “The idea of just adding one track felt like it would be a breeze but sometimes would take days because each DJ was only able to hear up to 2-3 songs previously in the mix so were never really able to feel the scope or quantum of Centuria – because it was unrealistic to send entire WAV files that would have easily surpassed 10GB from the 12th DJ onwards.”
Instead, they provided a running tracklist for each DJ to complete with the track name and ending BPM.
“The most difficult yet most interesting aspect of the project was curating it not by song, but by what we assumed each DJ would add to the mix based on their previous mixes. It was intriguing to actually view each DJ in that light, and be surprised by their selections. We don’t want to pigeonhole DJs but had to engage in it somewhat to give Centuria a flow that made sense. A funny yet reassuring roadblock we would come across was DJs being unable to comprehend the idea due to the sheer scope of it,” Jay said.
There were many times the crew decided to give up as the months went by, but as the length of lockdowns became more uncertain and normalised over time, they decided to lift the time pressure, settle into a flow and before they knew it, the project was finally complete.
The result will be nearly 360 minutes of individual favourites in one huge mix that will be one blessing to come out of some of the shittest, and the world’s longest, lockdowns in the world, in a city that refuses to let the music scene die.
The event will take place on the first birthday of the Area 3000 platform, November 1.
Local artists include Jennifer Loveless, Human Movement, Shedbug, Meg 4×4, Ivaana, Greetings, Froth Whitlam, Some Sheila, DJ Luv You, Ryan Berkeley, DJ Ingrid, Drip, Yollks, Heatwave Tommy, Foura, Lupa J, Female Wizard, Priya, Monfreaq, Kayroy, Soothsayer DJs, Frou Frou, Ham and more.