Pitchfork senior editor Jessica Hopper delivered an emotional keynote address about sexism and the marginalisation of women in the music industry that at one point saw her (and much of the audience) fighting back tears as she recounted the mental, physical and sexual abuse suffered by many women at the hands of men. As the speech reached its conclusion she listed a series of ways the industry can help combat the issue, including "Don't ask R Kelly to cameo on your album", "Don't ask Chris Brown to appear on your awards shows", "Post signs in your venues that there's a zero tolerance harassment policy, and follow it up" and "When women tell you their experiences, believe them."
Hopper reading from her new book, The First Collection of Criticism by a Living Female Rock Critic, in April 2015 at Chicago's Murray-Green Library:
As part of her address, Hopper disclosed that Massachusetts rockers Speedy Ortiz have set up a "help hotline" for people to contact if they're being harassed or feeling unsafe at their shows. Should they receive a message the band will work with security at the venue to help get the fan out of harm's way. They've already been approached by several other acts looking to replicate the idea.
Kicking off the day's proceedings with his keynote address was rapper and activist Brother Ali, who strode onstage and greeted the audience in Arabic before delivering a passionate speech about the art and origins of hip-hop while also bringing into the discussion the world of Islam, "just because it's important to me but I think there's a lot of overlap between hip-hop and Islam". At one point he reflected on the time when, as a 13-year-old, he met New York rapper KRS-One, who "gave me the instruction and the assignment to read the autobiography of Malcolm X. And that," he said, "was the first full book I had read at that point, which unfolded this great journey".
I Know Leopard
Long before I Know Leopard came to be the band we know them as today, frontman Luke O'Loughlin and guitarist Todd Andrews played in a post-high school act in Adelaide which formed for the sole reason of playing Andrews' birthday. "We just did some stupid songs, some really dumb rock & roll songs," the guitarist explained. "We played an impromptu version of 'I Believe A Thing Called Love' [by The Darkness]. Luke didn't know it, I think, I just started playing it. That was pretty much the cover." "We actually did try to do a rock & roll version of Vanessa Carlton's 'A Thousand Miles'," laughed O'Loughlin. "That was a good idea!" "I don't think we quite pulled it off," added Andrews, "but the idea was there."
After three nights of wandering the streets of Fortitude Valley, watching myriad acts from every genre play to full houses of passionate, enthusiastic fans and members of the music industry, the local scene is clearly as rich with talent and potential than at any time in history. Be it grizzled veterans such as Cosmic Psychos taking a wrecking ball to The New Globe Theatre on Night One, 17-year-old songstress JOY. debuting new material in front of a packed Brightside or Victorian rapper Philly proving why he's so highly regarded at The Flying Cock on Night Two, BIGSOUND traversed almost the entire sonic spectrum of Australian music in 2015, giving us every reason to be excited about the music this country is producing.
Case in point: Polish Club. The Sydney duo may not be very well known yet, but judging by the amount of industry personnel checking out their performances over the two nights (both national and international) all that's about to change. And righty so – the duo's brand of Sixties-inflected-soul-meets-The-Strokes-on-speed is wildly exciting, and frontman Novak's voice a thing to behold.
The Polish Club
Top Photo: Darts