Here at RSOM, we love supporting initiatives that help out Melbourne artists. So, when we heard RSOM alumni Connor Ross was behind the up and coming event Songs on Song, we had to get behind it.
The inaugural Songs On Song will be held on Friday April 26 at the Wesley Anne in Northcote. Connor describes it as “an intimate night of songs featuring four of Melbourne’s leading songwriters: Alana Wilkinson, Tiaryn, Maja and Benjamin Trillado”.
A portion of each ticket sold will be going straight to Support Act, a charity organisation supporting the wellbeing of those working in the music industry. Founded by APRA/AMCOS, ARIA and PPCA, Support Act provides mental health support, and emergency and crisis financial support to those in the industry all around the country.
We were lucky enough to chat to Connor leading up to the event and find out all about it.
J: Where did the idea come to you from?
C: “I was watching a video some time last year of a songwriters-in-the-round show. I’ve seen a few of these, even been part of some. You put some songwriters on stage together and they take it in turns to play songs based on whatever the theme of the concert is. But, I thought, what if the theme was the song that was played directly before you? A few months of occasionally sliding the idea into conversation with friends to see what people thought of it and with no one telling me outright it was a terrible idea, I decided to make it happen.”
J: Why is Support Act important to you?
C: “People talk a lot about the concept of the struggling artist – the idea that so many individuals who create things have to draw on some hardship or some pain to be able to do so. However, that discussion often doesn’t go any further than the person on stage, which is where I think Support Act are especially valuable. Technical crew, managers, promoters, publicists, bookers, writers – any role within the music industries can come with enormous stress, pressure, long hours, travel requirements; but not everybody gets to sing about it. Support Act are doing such strong work in really highlighting the importance of mental health for everyone in this industry. Because, like a successful musical career needs to be built on a foundation of smart business management, a solid team, and everything behind the scenes, so too does a healthy industry need to be built on a bedrock of the health of the people making those business plans, forming that team, and doing that work behind the scenes. We can all learn from and contribute to the health of those around us and grow together as an industry.”
J: What can fans expect from the night?
C: “Honestly, I’m not entirely sure! I’ve kind of thrown these musicians into the deep end on this one. Sure, I’ve got a vague idea of how it might work in my head but trying to convey that to the artists with confidence is a different story!
In practical terms: it’s gonna be a fun, intimate night of music. We’ve got four fantastic artists together on stage, and they’ll be bouncing off each other in a game of free-association with songs. So, for example, one of them might play a song with reference to the colour blue in it, so the next person might take that idea and play a song about feeling blue, which might prompt the next muso to play a tune inspired by Miles Davis’ album Kind Of Blue, and on and on. Completely off the cuff, no pre-planning, just watching musical minds at work. It could go anywhere! Or nowhere? But it’ll be fun.
We’ll also have two of the musicians playing sets of their own, plus a special guest MC!”
J: Was there any particular reason for choosing the Wesley Anne?
C: “The Wes Anne is one of my favourite rooms in Melbourne. It’s just beautiful, and I think really suits the vibe of this show. It’s warm, it’s intimate, and they pour a great brew (responsibly). What more could you want!?”
J: If you can share it with us, what has your process been for selecting songwriters?
C: “There’s so many amazing musos in Melbourne that it’s always challenging trying to decide who to approach to bring on to a line-up – but that being said I’m so chuffed with who we’ve got coming along for this one. I wanted to try to get a little breadth of musical spread onto the stage – so we’ve got some folk, some folk-punk, some R&B, some future-soul – but it’s all stripped back to its bare solo bones. I think this way instead of seeing four folk musicians play songs about sad mountains (a particular favourite theme of mine), we can see that musicians from all different influences write songs about sad mountains. Or, you know, love or whatever.”
J: Do you plan to do more of these events in the future?
C: “Absolutely! In fact, the next show is already beginning to come together as we speak. But I really want to see how people react to the format to help with planning the next one – what works, what doesn’t, and how we can grow the show. So come along and let us know what you think!”
Check out the artists performing at the inaugural Songs On Song below: