Griffith University’s Bachelor of Popular Music has unarguably seen some of the Gold Coast’s finest young music makers file through its doors. The program, built on the innovation and creativity necessary to succeed in the industry, sees students undertake their own musical projects while also getting a grounding in musical theory, technology and the music business. Born of these ideals is SEED, the program which sees the best songs produced by students featured in a compilation album, along with accompanying gigs. Blank GC got the lowdown on three of the BPM’s current graduates.
TWELVE PAST MIDNIGHT
Bringing the fun back, Twelve Past Midnight blend blues, rock and pop, like a culmination of your entire music library in one convenient project.
The Gold Coast based four-piece comprise Queensland Music Award finalist Jordan Pineda (lead vocals), Ryan Brook (lead electric guitar), Alex Cremin (bass guitar) and Aidan Salvador (drums) and they’re quickly becoming known for stand-out performances at premiere venues like The Arts Centre Gold Coast, QPAC and NightQuarter.
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Your music channels a blend of genres. I guess all original music does. Can you tell me what kind of music your parents listened to when you were growing up? Did this have much impact on your own musical taste / journey?
Ryan: My earliest memory of music was when I was probably four sitting in the back of my Dad’s four wheel drive. I think it was Madonna or Dianna Ross playing on the radio at the time. Either way, I guess it was a fairly good introduction to 80’s pop because it has stayed with me ever since. New age bands like The 1975 that utilise similar techniques to 80’s pop artists really intrigue me and it can definitely be heard as an influence in our sound as Twelve Past Midnight.
Alex: My parents used to blast 90’s and early 00’s Rock and punk like the living end, good Charlotte and Blink – 182 which really gave me an affinity for the ‘angsty’ side of music.
You’ve performed at a heap of cool venues – including big stages like at NightQuarter. If you could perform on any stage in Australia – what would it be?
Alex: The Tivoli or The Triffid would be pretty amazing but Riverstage would be a personal goal.
Ryan: There’s so many I can think of but The Tivoli has always been number one on my list. I’ve seen all of my favourite artists there and to say I stood where they did would be pretty cool.
The Bachelor of Popular Music program gives emerging artists like you guys such a great footing in the music industry. Can you tell me about your experience there?
Jordan: I feel like it’s given us the real truth of what our industry looks like today. We’ve been privileged to play on so many stages, record so much of our own music and we’ve met so many mentors along the way who inspire and motivate us at every point. I think that’s what gives us the confidence to move forward with our music careers.
Now that you’ve graduated, what’s on the horizon?
Aidan: We’re expanding on our back catalogue currently as we continue to work throughout the year. We don’t want to give anything away just yet but we feel that 2017 is going to be a big year for us which is something we are all looking forward to.
Jordan: More music and more shows!
At just 21 years of age, Gold Coast’s Athena Joy is already turning heads. With subtle pop tones and an emotional, moody edge, she was named a finalist in the 2016 Queensland Music Awards and has played big stages such as City Sounds, Valley Rack It and NightQuarter.
The track which saw her make inroads in 2016, Blue was premiered by AAA Backstage and described as ‘hauntingly beautiful’. Airplay on triple j Unearthed and community radio stations followed. She’s since been busy in the studio recording tracks for a follow-up EP, due for release in early 2017.
Congratulations on being a finalist in the Queensland Music Awards. What impact did that have on your year?
It was the first song I’d done a proper planned release for so to have it be so well received was really rewarding. I feel like it’s helped me get inside the real music industry. No one really knew who I was before. Thanks to the Queensland Music Awards I’ve been able to play a lot of cool shows this year. I feel like I have a bit more legitimacy to my projects now and people are taking me more seriously.
You’ve got an EP due for release in early 2017, what can we expect?
The EP was inspired by the sound of my single Blue and really the journey of falling into and out of a relationship. I’m a perfectionist and I know how I want it to be so it’s taking a while to get it right but hopefully it’ll be worth it.
Having access to such high quality programs through the Bachelor of Popular Music must have a profound impact on your music career. What were the highlights of the course?
There are so many highlights for me it’s honestly so hard to summarise. I was accepted into a few courses after highschool but I know that not one of those other courses could have done for me what BPM has done. Before the course I honestly didn’t think of myself as a songwriter and didn’t really realise how much of a huge role that songwriting plays in my life. I write almost every single day (it’s my therapy), and it wasn’t until I met other musicians in the course and actually started working on my songwriting that I realised how rare that actually is.
In first year if you had told me I’d be pumping out 20 songs in ten hours for Immersion days or be spending time in Nashville working with professional songwriters, I would have probably laughed at you or cried (I don’t really know what’s worse). But these are things I’ve managed to do thanks to BPM.
Also the radly dedicated teachers who put up with me coming to their offices on virtually a weekly basis asking for help, second opinions, rants about life… definitely couldn’t have made it through without them.
Now that you’ve finished the degree, what’s on the horizon?
Well there will be another single and then the EP itself. I have a lot of things in the works and I’m excited to not do assignments and have the time to work on them more for the love of it and go about releasing them properly. Ultimately I want to travel the world playing shows, so that’s the big dream / end goal. I’m just gonna keep working until I get there.
Another Gold Coast finalist in the Queensland Music Awards, LIVVIA brings something unique to airwaves, already being likened to artists such as Lana Del Ray, Kimbra and Meg Mac.
With lyrics that linger long after the first listen, LIVVIA has performed at numerous festivals including Brisbane Festival and Bleach*. Developing a reputation for effortless vocal melodies and performances that demand your attention alongside enigmatic lyrics, LIVVIA’s songs are matched by a voice that is at once sultry and undeniably fierce.
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Your music has been likened to Lana Del Ray, Kimbra and Meg Mac, what sort of music did you listen to growing up?
I actually listened to a lot of Fleetwood Mac, Shania Twain and Stevie Nicks believe it or not. When I was younger my family moved a lot and went on a lot of road trips. It was during this time I remember listening to my Dad’s favorite bands in the car, singing along to some classic tracks which have continued to somehow influence my music today.
You recently travelled to Nashville to record with producer Trey Bruce. Can you tell me about that experience?
Writing with Trey is something that has opened my creative writing mind. It’s so hard to really capitalise on the entire experience, as I truly believe that it will be a number of months before the highlights and experiences of the trip sink in. What I do know is I am super pumped for 2017 and to let the year ahead speak on behalf of my experience in Nashville.
Now that you’ve finished the Bachelor Popular Music what’s on the horizon?
Early next year I’ll be releasing my debut EP, which is very exciting and overwhelming all at once. I’m planning on doing an east coast Queensland tour to begin with and then tour down into NSW as well. Next year is all about developing my brand as LIVVIA and getting all amongst the vibe that is happening here around Brisbane and the GC. I eventually see myself making the move overseas within the next two years or so. I’ve had such a small taste of what’s happening in the States, that it makes me eager to explore perhaps the scene in Europe and what’s happening over there.