Victoria has a new festival to look forward to in the summer of next year as Ballarat Funk’n’Fest has announced its first-ever run, bringing along a swathe of incredible Australian talent.
Carla Troiano’s vibrant personality is best expressed on stage through her powerhouse vocals as the lead singer of Melbourne soul-funk band Mayfield, but with the band having been deprived of opportunities to play live in the past two years, Troiano is looking to embrace a new level of excitement and make up for lost time at Ballarat’s Funk’n’Fest.
Mayfield will be part of a compelling lineup comprising of some of Australia’s finest soul, funk and RnB talent when they come together at Ballarat’s North Gardens on February 20 this summer. None other than Australia’s queen of soul, Kylie Auldist will be there alongside Lake Minnetonka, Moreland City Soul Revue and the absorbing Women of Soul. With a line-up of this calibre, the event shapes as the perfect opportunity for music lovers to get together for a boogie and a drink on a Sunday afternoon.
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Troiano is excited to be back playing live after what has been a long period of stop-start time for the music industry, and although Troiano respects the fact that technology has been at the forefront of helping artists survive the recent pandemic, it’s clear that playing live is where her heart lies.
“So, really looking forward to just getting out and getting back in front of an audience. I mean, technology, technology’s pretty phenomenal, but nothing beats a live audience.”
Troiano admits that the time away from playing live did cause some nerves about returning but with Mayfield having played at major events like the Grand Prix and the renowned St. Kilda Festival, it has become second nature.
“It’s interesting, because… we sort of got used to not performing and then I know personally, I was a little bit nervous getting back in front of an audience. And then it’s really like riding a bike though. You’re like, oh, yeah, I love this. This is what I’m supposed to do. I’m not supposed to sing in front of a computer screen.”
The open parkland at Ballarat’s North Gardens will provide the ideal space for the connection between artist and audience to be fully realised with the location having fostered performances from Powderfinger and The Living End in the past. Funk’n’Fest allows Troiano a chance to perform with close friends from the soul-funk community as well as an opportunity to play outdoors again.
“There is something kind of quite special I think, about a line-up, particularly this kind of line-up, where you’re sharing a bill with your mates, like, we’re all friends. So it’s, it’s quite awesome. So, it’s a different atmosphere when you’re in an outdoor setting, it’s during the day, it just kind of feels a little bit more relaxed. But at the same time, you know, festival, it’s a party, it’s, you know, who doesn’t like a beer in the daytime?” Troiano laughed.
Enriching Mayfield’s performance at Funk’n’Fest will be Troiano’s close personal connection to Ballarat.
“I actually studied in Ballarat… I did a music theatre degree there. So I’m excited to get back to, you know, back to a place where I’ve spent so much time and it’s great. And it’s great to see that locals can come out and support local bands. Like it’s just it’s, it’s awesome.”
Another act sure to get the crowd moving on the day is Women of Soul, Australia’s top tier collection of female soul artists. Troiano has been a part of the collective since 2014 and this year the collaborative outfit decided to honour to their journey so far.
“So, we’ve done a re-launch this year, and celebrating the 10 year anniversary. And it’s a pretty special project because it really nurtures all female-identifying artists and gets people to collaborate at all stages in their careers.”
With pure soul, funk and RnB festivals having become scarce in Victoria in recent years, Women of Soul and the entire lineup will benefit greatly from Funk’n’Fest being a dedicated festival of this kind.
“It’s giving a platform for original soul-funk artists to share their music, and it really has been quite a struggle the last couple of years. So, really looking forward to having a big funk party.”
A portion of the funk being delivered at Funk’n’Fest will be from Mayfield’s mix of sweet soulful yet authentic up-tempo tracks from their 2017 debut album, Victim of Circumstance. The album was met with rave reviews and remains relevant today in the soul-funk scene.
“When I sing those songs live, it reminds me why I got into music in the first place. It kind of brings my soul back home. Yeah, just to kind of go, I go, oh yep! Now I remember why I, I’m living this crazy dream.”
‘On the Ropes’ from Victim of Circumstance is one of the more upbeat tracks that has the potential to ignite the crowd on the day.
“It’s usually what we play at the end of a set. And the whole band is sort of really electric and on fire and people were just dancing.”
Mayfield have been working hard recently and are armed with fresh new music that they’re preparing to surprise fans with in the near future.
“We’re definitely planning to release a single… And we’ll be playing a bunch of new music as well at Funk’n’Fest too.”
The festival is set to give the Ballarat and surrounding communities a taste of some of Australia’s best soul, funk and RnB artists in what promises to a day full of smiles, dancing and all-round good times.
Children are welcome at the event along with dogs too, allowing families to bring the whole crew along.
Funk’n’Fest will be on February 20, a day after the Ballarat Beer Festival. Tickets can be found at www.funknfest.com.au