Event Review: BIGSOUND Day One (10.09.13)

The official start of BIGSOUND today marked the beginning of the conference, showcases, parties and live music. Now in its 12th year, BIGSOUND 2013 has already offered plenty of musical food for thought to delegates who have travelled from all over the country and beyond to meet in Brisbane and 'talk shop.' The highlight of the day's forums and workshops was a keynote speech and Q&A (hosted by Julia Zemiro) with homegrown music legend, Nick Cave, who provided an entertaining insight into the music industry and his career via video link.

The conference began with the inaugural BIGSOUND Music+Design forum, the day was devoted to bringing all design disciplines together to experience the latest developments in the industry through the lens of music. Romy Willing, the programmer of Music+Design, said of the event, "design has played a critical role in some of the biggest shifts and disruptions in the music world, so it was equally important to provide a venue for the music industry to stay abreast of the latest innovations and developments in design".

The day included discussions on a wide range of topics from visual design and music videos, to live music experiences and DIY tips. Unsurprisingly, 'money' was the overriding theme that found its way into every Q and A session and panel discussion. Delegates were repeatedly told that in times of uncertainty it becomes harder and riskier to finance, or justify financing music projects. Not that this means no one should be taking those risks or pursuing a project, the message from presenters was clear; you have to be clever. Utilising all of the readily-available technology platforms, effectively developing a brand and generally persevering were key pieces of advice dispensed throughout the day.

During a panel on 'Visual Identity', director and screen writer, Natasha Pincus, talked about the importance of giving your designers time to come up with concepts, particularly when on a budget. Known for creating the famous video for Gotye's "Somebody That I Used To Know", Pincus told the audience that Wally De Backer (aka Gotye) showed her the song in it's earliest stages, before even Kimbra had come onboard. Not all people working in the field of music design have such a personal relationship however, as Jack White's graphic designer, Rob Jones revealed. "We've been working together for ten years but never met or talked, everything has been done through email," he said.

Members of DIY bands such as Regurgitator and Hard-Ons got together to talk about the struggles and benefits of doing everything by yourself. Ray Ahn of Hard-Ons entertained the crowd with a humorous retelling of his plot to undermine the weakest member in the early days of the band and then take his place. Delegates continued to arrive over the course of the day and attendance at the forums and workshops was constantly on the rise. By the time Nick Cave dialled into the conference, the room was absolutely packed - no one wanted to miss this.

Nick Cave is presently in Brighton, UK however, thanks to the wonders of technology, Julia Zemiro was able to welcome him to BIGSOUND 2013 with relative ease. Although the Skype link became tenuous at times, it performed surprisingly well overall, projecting a large and grainy image of a casually nonchalant Cave onto the backdrop behind Zemiro. For the next hour, Cave gave the audience some colourful insights into his music, life and mind. Zemiro may have had the microphone, but Cave was definitely the one in charge of the interview. At times, he spoke quite candidly, particularly when discussing the writing and filming of his movie, The Proposition. "I didn't understand how to write a script, but I knew how to tell a story," he said. At its best, the interview was informative and entertaining, however there were also instances when Cave appeared to give a very measured performance, only giving the audience exactly what he wanted them to see. "Rock stars early on have a need to be something they're not, and the good ones are those who have given themselves to the process," said Cave toward the end of the videolink.

As the official speaker panels for the day ended, delegates split in all directions for showcases, unofficial meetings and a plethora of other events - there's certainly the sense that the party has only just begun.