Nearly two years of work by two Melbourne artists, photographer Michelle Grace Hunder and filmmaker Claudia Sangiorgi Dalimore, has culminated in the powerful, multifaceted Her Sound, Her Story. It’s a project created as a response to the conversation observed surrounding women in the Australian music industry, documenting more than 40 female artists who have, or are, defining Australian music. Spanning singers, rappers, journalists, radio personalities, ethnicities, genres and sexual identities, the project is comprised of a photographic portrait series and a documentary series, and launched as a concert on Friday night, concomitantly launching Melbourne Music Week.
The evening opened with a set of dark pop tinged R&B from NYNE, with haunting synth and powerful, haunting vocals echoing across the gilded halls of the State Library of Victoria. The crowd was buzzing; an ephemeral energy of sisterhood. Mojo Juju followed, giving shout out to all the girls in Australian music for ‘repping hard’, her hollow blues covering “Hotline Bling”. I never knew Drake could be so emotionally charged.
Danielle Caruana, also known as the mischevious Mama Kin, introduced proceedings to the evening, and straight away stressed the importance of the c-word. Community, that is. And celebrating; inspiring the next generation of women. A video montage, snippets of some of the amazing women included in the Her Sound, Her Story project resonated with the commentary that women have traditionally worked together – the evening being a testament to that. From this point, the community amongst the women of music industry was conveyed with artists coming and going, joining one another in song.
Elizabeth Rose, resplendent in a chiffon wondergown serenaded the audience, followed by Airling taking the stage, along with a ‘killer queen band’ of Melbourne female musicians. Airling’s performance of her collab with Japanese Wallpaper, “Forces”, was a striking live performance, along with a cover of Big Scary’s “Mix Tape”. Ella Hooper then took to the stage, showing exactly why she’s such a revered artist.
Mama Kin’s daughter joined her for a cover of Kasey Chambers’ “Am I Not Pretty Enough”; haunting harmonies and a whole lot of love emanated from the pair. Mama Kin was suitably dorky, proclaiming it to be ‘the coolest moment ever’, and hugging her daughter in front of the sold out room.
Vera Blue graced the stage before Julia Stone, shyly introducing her as one of her inspirations to start writing music. It’s things like this, displays of vulnerability and power, used in unison that make women such amazing artists.
If you haven’t heard Montaigne perform live yet, immediately get onto rectifying that mistake. That powerful, magnetic voice that powers through her tracks? Infinitely more captivating live.
The enigmatic Ecca Vandal cheekily snuck up to cover a Killing Heidi track, with a shout out to Ella – this was one of the best covers that I’ve ever seen. With chants of F/E/M/A/L/E, Sampa the Great closed the evening in an undeniable demonstration of bad-assery. Sure, that’s a verb now- unless there’s a better word you could think of to describe the culmination of Sampa and Ecca on stage together.
The females of the Australian music industry are perhaps the real gems of this industry, this evening confirming that, flaunting it to the entirety of Melbourne Music Week. It’s starting to feel within our reach, where it wouldn’t be out of the ordinary, or a special event, for an evening’s set to be all women. Let Her Sound, Her Story be a testament to the magic that happens when women gather together. The flavour of the future of music is undeniably female.
Her Sound, Her Story is airing throughout the week, with the photographic portrait series showing until November 23rd at Emporium Melbourne (287 Lonsdale Street).
Lead image: Melissa Cowan Photography.