The Newmarket Sessions are a new four-part mini series, showcasing some of Melbourne’s favourite acts in genre-bending collabs aimed at expanding their sonic horizons.
Cry Club, Surprise Chef, Hachiku, Simon Bruckard, Dylan Martorell and Obscura Hail are all featured in the artist series, which is hosted on YouTube and IGTV, as they collaborate with The Newmarket Collective, the highly-celebrated in-house musicians from Newmarket Studios in North Melbourne.
The Newmarket Sessions were recorded by Guus Hoevenaars (Courtney Barnett, Vance Joy, Kingswood), filmed by Kyle Caulfield (Slowly Slowly, Kingswood, Mushroom) and produced by Kylie Davies who heads up The Collective, and has worked with everyone from Beyonce to Stevie Wonder.
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“We wanted to celebrate the incredible music scene in Melbourne and really discover and connect some of the many styles within the contemporary music genre,” Davies says about Newmarket’s work.
“We work right across the spectrum at Newmarket and wanted to bring together musicians that would not normally have the opportunity to play with each other. Brainstorming, and coming up with opera, soul, pop, pop punk, indie and experimental, we invited artists to collaborate with our in-house musicians The Newmarket Collective to reimagine their work with new sounds and experiences, all with close involvement of Auslan interpreters.”
Newmarket deliberated long and hard in choosing the eventual collaborations, creating performances that genuinely push the artist and themselves into unfamiliar territory. Nevertheless, there were certain facets to each artists’ style that helped set the collaborations’ trajectory.
There’s a strong sense of personality that arises throughout the performances. The balance between identifying and extending the artists’ existing capabilities, and then pushing them in a new, surprising direction, make the sessions all the more interesting.
“Some we admired from afar and approached them individually, others we contacted through labels such as Remote Control and Milk!,” she continued. “We spent time with each artist or band discussing our vision for the project and marrying that with the ideas of the artist to create an exciting sonic path to take, from there we organised the musicians and arrangers for them to work with.
“For example, Surprise Chef was definitely a string section, Cry Club undoubtedly a horn section. For Dylan Martorell, we explored the sound palette of flutes and a unique double belled trombone to go with his robotic ensemble. Hachiku chose acoustic strings with harp and vibraphone giving new sounds to her tracks. Simon Bruckard took the opportunity to rescore his opera Cassandra adding double bass to it, while Obscura Hail broke the boundaries down with theremin, percussion and baritone saxophone for maximum sonic effect!
What’s particularly interesting is that The Newmarket Collective, not the artists, pushed particular ideas forward, often leading the artists themselves. Given the huge amount of experience the studio embodies, it was an experience that left its mark on the artists involved.
“It was a trip to work with such intuitive musicians amongst a professional and loveable crew in a pretty mind-blowing studio,” Obscura Hail said. “Having an Auslan interpreter present and being able to share our music with a more diverse audience is really special, too. Seeing how the narrative and music were translated gave us a new kind of expressive feedback loop.”
“The Collective spearheaded the idea to give the artists an experience that they would not normally get, to play with musicians they haven’t played with before,” Davies added. “All artists were really open to ideas and directions that their music could take and we encouraged them to think outside the box, perhaps consider instruments they have always dreamed of playing with, but hadn’t been able to up to this point.
“The artists all really enjoyed their collaborations, and this has been reflected in the wonderful audience response as well. Each collaboration was totally different to the next, we loved seeing each one come to life. The planning process was different for each one – Surprise Chef and Hachiku for example were well planned in advance, the songs specially arranged by Mark Buys and Matt Boden for the recording. This process gave the artists the opportunity to work closely with two of Australia’s most prolific arrangers and orchestrators which is a really exciting experience. Others such as Dylan Martorell and Obscura Hail we discussed the instrumentation prior, but it was all improvised and rehearsed on the day of the shoot creating a really exciting vibe for the recording, not quite knowing what we might get.”
Ultimately, The Newmarket Sessions are must-see for lovers of Melbourne’s music scene, a sentiment Davies echoes in her hope for the future of recordings like these. The addition of Auslan interpretation, as well, adds to the hope that these sessions can pioneer similarly inspiring and accessible projects in the future. For their part, The Newmarket Collective are hoping this is just the beginning, so certainly keep your eyes on them in the future.
“It’s very hard to pick a musical highlight from the episodes as all the performances are incredible and varied in their own right,” Davies said. “Working with Kyle Caulfield as director and Guus Hoevenaars as engineer/producer was brilliantly inspiring. I would say one of the highlights for everyone involved was working so closely with Amber Richardson and Celeste Di Pietro from Auslan Stage Left. We all learned such a huge amount about this craft. Having the interpreters so closely involved, as part of the live performance and interviews really blew everyone’s mind and added a completely new level of performance we didn’t quite know we could achieve.
“We would love people to discover the incredible variety of talent we have here in Melbourne across the contemporary music genre, the power of collaboration and the possibilities it brings. We wanted to point the artists and their audiences towards some new ideas, building bridges across the styles and connecting the community. We have all met some wonderful new people in this process and learned about new sounds, and also importantly accessibility, and how we can incorporate that in our performances more.
“We would absolutely love to do this again as we have barely scratched the surface of the rich diversity of artists in this city, with some scope to expand across other disciplines as well as music. The possibilities are endless at Newmarket Studios.”