How chance and house music paved the way for Melbourne electronic collective, 6am at the Garage

How chance and house music paved the way for Melbourne electronic collective, 6am at the Garage

Words by Fergus Neal

6am at the Garage have progressed from musical connoisseurs to DJs, and they’ve just launched a nightclub together. Best friends Liam Alexander and Ben Rausa talk about the wild ride of chance that has brought them to their slot at NGV Friday Nights.

6am at the Garage came together serendipitously when Alexander and Rausa moved in together as strangers. The pair connected over music, their genesis taking the form of a blog that would lay the conceptual foundations for their musical progression.

“Benny and I moved into a rental house together when we were 18,” says Alexander. “We met in the house, which is where Benny showed me dance music for the first time and got me hooked on it. Then he showed me how to DJ and we were away.

“6am started a few years later. I was away overseas and me and Benny were missing each other. We thought, ‘What can we do to keep our minds active?’ I was in Berlin and was going to lots of nightclubs and we thought, ‘Why not just write about music?’ So 6am started as a blog; record reviews, podcasts, and photography.

“We taught ourselves how to make a website and emailed every record label under the sun. That went on for six or 12 months before we started DJing events together, which was literally me drunkenly jumping on to DJ with Benny one night and someone booking us to do their festival. So there was a lot of chance involved.”

The pair have been noted for their dynamic performances which emanate a sense of playfulness combined with musical nerdiness that works through instilling their house, funk, and disco influences onto audiences.

“Our music has to have a bit of soul and a bit of life in it. Benny’s background in soul and funk led him to house music just before we got together. The fact that house has those elements of what came before, a bit more than other styles of music, has kept it close to our heart – and disco, by extension.

“We’ve grown into playing some more rave-y late-night stuff with our party, Lucid, and at our nightclub, but those initial roots in house were really important to us because that’s where we started.

“Being in the position as club owner, there’s not so much connection with where it came from in the late ’80s and early ’90s Chicago and the UK rave scene where these styles of music have been a little bit, not forgotten, but they don’t have as much clout.

“You play some house out there and the kids run away, so we’ve kind of developed our taste and record bags to adhere to that, but I think it’s important to remind people that house music is where it all started really.”

The pair have, in the last few months, launched a 24-hour nightclub that pays homage to the musicians who influenced them and sparked a great friendship. Colour is the lovechild of The Nightcat and Lounge, both venues that Alexander and Rausa got their chops at.

“Colour has been open for three-and-a-half months. Benny was the booker at The Nightcat and I was the booker at Lounge while we were concurrently running 6am parties and DJing together, then we had the opportunity to come and do Colour and that’s what we’ve always wanted to do. We’ve been riding a pretty wild rollercoaster for the last few months, but it’s been pretty fabulous.”

When asked if he is excited to perform at NGV Friday Nights, Alexander replies with utter elation.

“It’s nice to have an event where your mum will be able to show her friends, so now they’ll understand what I’m doing. It’s such an iconic Melbourne venue and it will be special to perform on a night where art and music intersects.”

6am at the Garage will play NGV Friday Nights on Friday February 7. For more information and tickets, visit the NGV website.