Rock Down providing the low down

In the current uncertain climate, one unfortunate thing is for certain. That many of us – not just in the entertainment industry – have had our livelihoods and social avenues stripped away from us suddenly.

Out of this mayhem has come many new ventures and fresh slants on existing formulas, both attempting to alleviate some of the pain and suffering while simultaneously offering hope and comfort to those affected.

One of these is the new weekly YouTube series from Phil Laverty titled Rock Down, a program following the lives of Australian artists trying to make sense of a strange new world that has been thrust into global change and how this disruption effects creating new music, art and performances.

“We meet with contemporary talented local artists,” Laverty explained, “and discuss their current state of play; explore their views, reactions, emotions and draw inspiration in a very dark time for the Australian music industry.

The idea came from a concept that myself and my co-producer Em Rox originally had in mind for a doco style music show, spotlighting an artist consisting of a relaxed chat about their world and finishing with a song performed live in my lounge room. With the new personal/social distancing laws coming into effect we knew this would eventually become an issue, so decided to take it to the artist in the comfort and familiarity of their own homes, back balconies and back yards.”

Such a project raises its own questions within the industry while attempting to provide some form of light at the end of what is becoming an increasingly dark tunnel.

“For anyone in our incredibly talented arts sector in this country we can all relate and agree that this is not a hobby,” Laverty continued. “It is our main source of income and way of life. Cultural and creative activity contributes over $111 billion dollars to the Australian economy – more than any airline, mine or football team. Like so many other fellow techs in the industry that suddenly had their year’s work ripped away from them before their jaws hit the floor, I was determined not to let the current situation cast a dark shadow on my creativity and instead make something that inspired hope through art.”

By showcasing known and unknown artists, Laverty says programmers have tried to create a festival type environment, whereby viewers are provided the opportunity to be introduced to up and coming artists, not just those in the mainstream. Artists featured (or to be featured) so far include Casey Barnes, Jacob Lee, Buttered Band, Greer Sullivan and Thomas Busby with a few surprises coming up that Laverty playfully teases.

“This first series has been keenly focused on singer/songwriter/musicians,” he said. “Series two is in development now and we are looking at widening the spectrum to include all forms of artistic expression.”

While each episode follows some semblance of structure, Laverty also defers to the spontaneity of people in the entertainment industry when it comes to content.

“It does have a structure,” he nodded. “The artists are asked a series of questions relating to the current situation that has levelled the arts sector and we explore their reactions & views. Each episode also features the “Lock Down – Low Dow 10” which is a series of 10 rapid-fire questions, which can be random, poignant and often comedic in response.”

With the industry facing upheaval like never before, Laverty admits that there is an element of the unknown surrounding the series, but hopes that people can find something positive to take from it.

“The doom and gloom energy ball appears to be loitering around more than usual at present,” he agreed, “and this particular subject matter is certainly discussed straight up but not dwelt upon. Mental health is a very important topic that always needs to be discussed. Positivity and hope almost instantly emulate from such pointy questioning we have found. From a negative almost always returns a positive. This rare insight into a more personal side of the artists gives the viewer a feeling that they are not alone in these crazy uncertain times and that many other artists are feeling the same way. The only way to move forward and through such times is to reach out to other artists for support and nurture with passion like never before and harness the creativity we all hold deep within.”

Weekly episodes can be viewed here tinyurl.com/RockDownYoutube

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