When it comes to the Gold Coast, Holy Holy’s Oscar is far from a grouch

You’d be forgiven if, like me, you thought there might be something more to guitarist-cum-producer Oscar Dawson working with quite the number of Gold Coast-linked acts over past years, with his fingerprints finding their way onto tour schedules, album releases, and collaborations all over our fair city.

In 2018, Gold Coast alt-pop sensation San Mei toured with Dawson’s band Holy Holy, Dawson produced and mixed Gold Coast release of the year winner Busby Marou’s 2019 ‘Over Drinking Over You’, and Eliza & the Delusionals relied on his steady mixing hand in 2018 for popular singles ‘Jackie’ and ‘Half Empty Girl’. While he claims to have enjoyed the odd holiday in the warmer climes of south-east Queensland, Dawson remembers commutes to Brisbane from Melbourne with the early days of Holy Holy.

“I used to come up all the time to play with Tim and the band, who were all mainly based in Brisbane. Sometimes I’d just stay longer to save money. I always thought of Gold Coast and Byron as one holiday destination. But it’s become really a regional centre and that’s driven a real sense of music culture which I love. But, frankly, I don’t think about artists based in Sydney like that and as the Gold Coast matures I imagine it will be the same; just another great musical centre in Australia.”

That being said, Dawson’s 2019 production work with Busby Marou and Holy Holy’s collaboration on Footstomp-managed Tia Gostelow’s new release ‘Always’ builds on a reputation that the Gold Coast and Queensland are producing music on the radar of music identities around the nation. And that will be critical if, as COVID constraints lift, a “momentary saturation” of live music hits the nation, as coinciding tour schedules recommence. Dawson is hopeful about that season.

“When it comes to live music I’ve always been a ‘the more the better’ kind of commentator. I guess the bigger risk might be more cancellations as promoters and managers think ‘let’s schedule it and hope for the best’ and then restrictions return. I do expect that there’s be lots of interesting live shows after this extended period of writing together remotely.”

Dawson expects many artists are doing the groundwork for new releases, writing and working on their sound, and he confesses that even much of Holy Holy’s material has always been produced in a “computer oriented” way. A sound or passage of music gets created and shared; that snapshot gets worked on and returned or shared with others, and when the stakeholders are satisfied with the outcome, it gets rehearsed based on the recording for future live performances. I ask Dawson if he has wisdom for Gold Coast musicians during this season and he graciously offers four pointers:

  1. Try to translate any live following you have into an online following;
  2. Take the opportunity with your band, and partners, to write and collaborate together on new material;
  3. Don’t pause releases during this period and don’t be afraid to get new stuff out; and
  4. Maybe try to come up with some special edition or merchandise packages that can generate new income for the band.

Dawson recalls his own younger years as he reflects on his advice, throwing in that Holy Holy expect to have new material out later in 2020.

“I remember buying a $180 Radiohead box-set back in the day because I just thought I had to have it. During a time like this, bands probably have to realise they might lose a few casual fans, but can leverage their committed fans with featured material or special gift items. Most importantly though, you can’t just stop making music because life, frankly, would just be too boring.”

IMAGE: Oscar playing with Holy Holy at Falls Festival 2019 (C) Danny Santangelo

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