Interview: Sampology and Izy on the difference between Melbourne and Brisbane’s music scenes

Interview: Sampology and Izy on the difference between Melbourne and Brisbane’s music scenes

Words by Sampology and Izy

Sampology and Izy caught up for an artist-on-artist interview to discuss the difference between the Melbourne and Brissie scenes, and Izy's replay of 'Running Around' from Sampology's new 'Regrowth Rearranged' project.

Sampology: I was curious about the funk, soul and instrumental funk scene down here in Melbourne. It seems like there’s niche scenes with genres. I’m curious if that’s your experience, or if the situation is more eclectic throughout the night, like you’ll play and then there’ll be some hip hop or electronic act? Because in Brisbane, we don’t have the population support for these little niches, everyone just goes to each other’s parties, because there’s only a few good parties that week.

Ryo: Yeah. Up north in Cairns, it’s not a huge scene for doing your thing musically. It’s kind of a tourist town mostly relying on the pub scene and top 40, but we obviously couldn’t adapt to just doing those kinds of gigs. So the beautiful thing was we’d always create our own gigs and hire a hall. We’d mainly play Machans Beach Hall, which is such a strong community and always backing the arts and things like that, and we’d put on gigs with us and Los Caracoles, which is Maru’s parent’s Latin band. People would come out because a lot of people were starving for that kind of stuff. It was hard work as well because we’d have to set everything up a couple of days before, like a big system, hiring the hall, setting up tickets, doing a poster run, but it was worth it because it was always such a vibe because there was nothing like that up north. 

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Sampology: And what about in Melbourne? 

Ryo: Yeah, the refreshing thing about moving down here was that kind of stuff was everywhere. You still put in a lot of work, but you didn’t have to do everything, like be the front of house company and the promoter and the musician at the same time. It’s refreshing to see the niches here that people really get behind.  There’s so many different niches that the population is backing and they can come out and go to their thing. It’s really refreshing to be part of it, I think. How about for you? 

Sampology: Yeah, like I was saying before, I really love Meanjin and Naarm and going between the two. You can soak up so much inspiration so fast and go back to Brissie and do stuff there. I feel like in Brisbane, it doesn’t have the population to support the niches as much, but it’s more of a cross pollination kind of city. I’d be at a dance event on the weekend and I’d see the jazz and soul guys that would be playing midweek gigs on the dance floor. Then the next week at an improv thing on a Wednesday in the West End, there’d be some club kids checking it out and they’d be open to it, which is cool. It’d be interesting to see if there’s people that make music in the room from either factions and if that affects what they’re creating.

Ryo: Yeah, definitely. 

Sampology: If that cross pollination influences that, which hopefully, might reflect a unique thing that is from the city, even in a small way. Rather than being a global sound that doesn’t really have a location, which I feel like is more often the case in contemporary times. Both cities are evolving and changing, especially with everything being closed for the last two years, so it’s cool to be down here for a week and suss out what’s happening.

Ryo: Yeah, and noticing the city evolving following the lockdown. 

Sampology: Yeah, I think I’m still getting my head around it. In terms of gigs and spaces in cities, I feel like the midweek gigs with smaller capacity rooms are just as important as the three or 400 and up weekend gigs in terms of development. I know that like a lot of Naarm residencies that have gone on in the last eight years have been really influential to people up in Brissie to see. Things are open now but they’re still getting back on track so I think I’m seeing a little bit of that cross-pollination happening again and I’m hoping that happens more. Both from a punter’s point of view, but also just people being able to try things live midweek and having awesome conversations when the band’s taking a break. 

Ryo: Yeah, I feel like coming out of lockdown, there is a different attitude or feeling. Instead of a big weekend gig, where everyone’s hyped and gets a bit loose, the midweek gigs are a little different, like a lot of musos come out here to really check out the music and really listen intently. People are really soaking up what’s happening in the room. Before lockdowns it felt like everyone was go go go, even during the week. But coming out, people are a bit more sensitive from being inside for so long and it’s refreshing. I love going to a Monday or Tuesday residency, it’s more like a hang and people just sharing what they’re doing. I love it.

Sampology: Yeah, which they can take back into their studios. Because the more stuff that’s released from a community and cross-pollination perspective, the better. What do you guys have coming up that I should keep an eye out for? 

Ryo: Well, we have the last date at Strawberry Fields this Sunday. After that, oh, Section 8 16th Birthday gig on April 9. But they bring in a lot of artists from the north like from Meanjin, including Dancingwater, who’s super inspirational and at the forefront both as a musician and as an activist for First Nations rights and everything surrounding that. Also Water Streets, which is a hip hop crew from Cairns, and then Z Retro which are Hopestreet Records family and then a bunch of DJs should be cool. We feel like all the postponed festivals all got consolidated into like, a month or two and we’ve just been trying to keep up. After this weekend we’re going to set a couple of dates to record our second IZY album. We’re stoked. It’s nice being really busy and then just then just chillin.

Sampology: I’m just excited about all that stuff. The main thing I’m excited about is the IZY replay coming out at the end of last week, and having the Ron Trent remix of the same track Running Around coming out. He’s kind of a landmark or OG of the Chicago house and contemporary soul scene, going all the way back to the late 80s, early 90s. Continuing that throughline back to Chicago and I feel really stoked and privileged to be part of that. I played his remix on the dance floor in my DJ sets and that’s been cool to see as the response of people physically moving in a space to that. So it’ll be cool to wrap up the project in full with the ‘Ten Foot Flowers’ and ‘Running Around’ and for that to come out as Regrowth Rearranged. It’s just cool for that to draw back to the original Regrowth album as well and for people to discover that as well. It feels like a very fulfilling way to spend your time, all of this stuff we’ve talked about, so I’m kind of grateful for all that.

Regrowth Rearranged comes out on April 8. Izy’s neo-soul/funk replay of Sampology’s ‘Running Around’ is out now.