- Tiana Speter
AUSTRALIAN MUSIC WEEK FEATURE: Magpie Diaries
Now approaching its fifth year, the annual Australian Music Week will return to the sunny shores of Cronulla this November (6th-10th), with 150+ acts and a horde of industry heavyweights poised to celebrate and dissect the Aussie music industry.
Boasting a five-day programme of live showcases, panels and masterclass workshops, Australian Music Week comes armed as a non-genre specific music event for music lovers and tastemakers alike, with this year's event also featuring a keynote from American music industry legend, podcast and author Bob Lefsetz, as well as the recent epic announcement of Paul Kelly, Big Day Out co-founder Ken West and ARIA CEO Dan Rosen also joining the AMW festivities.
With over 150 acts from every corner of the musical realm lined up to take over Cronulla's local venues, there's something for everyone at this year's event. And in the lead-up to AMW kicking off, The Soundcheck's throwing down a little "getting to know you" feature with some of the incredible bands ready to rock and/or roll for the 2019 edition - and today we're chatting with folk king Matt "Magpie" Johnston from Magpie Diaries all things Aussie music, the industry and a secret about the sound of one hand clapping. Interview below.
WHAT MADE YOU DECIDE TO APPLY TO SHOWCASE AT AUSTRALIAN MUSIC WEEK? AND HOW KEEN ARE YOU TO JUMP ONSTAGE FOR THE SHOWCASES?
MAGPIE JOHNSTON: Australia needs events like this to bring the broader music community together. So we’re always keen to get behind those trying to make a positive contribution.
TELL US A BIT MORE ABOUT YOURSELF/YOUR BAND – WHAT’S THE “TOO LONG, DIDN’T READ” VERSION OF HOW YOU STARTED PLAYING MUSIC?
MAGPIE JOHNSTON: My brother taught me some songs on the guitar as a teenager. And then we started a 3 piece punk band called Footlong, me playing bass.. Writing songs and partying became a bit of a thing as we went through high school. Eventually I shifted to guitar and the band became known as Johnny Real & The Lovemakers. A few years out of high school I went travelling around the world and the band kinda pulled up for a bit. When I came home in 2004, I decided to start a music festival called The Gum Ball. That project kind of changed the game a bit. Time poor, it wasn’t until 2012 that the Magpie Diaries project became a thing, when I started to compile all my various stories and songs I’d been writing. 7 years later it’s a 5 piece band with my wife Jess on drums and some of my closest friends on accompanying instruments.
FROM YOUR PERSPECTIVE, WHY ARE EVENTS LIKE AUSTRALIAN MUSIC WEEK SO IMPORTANT TO THE AUSSIE MUSIC INDUSTRY?
MAGPIE JOHNSTON: Well I reckon, if all it amounts to is a beer and a yarn with someone with equal interests, than it’s a good thing! To incorporate other professionals from other parts of the world and create opportunities for furthering your career in the industry, well that’s just a bonus!
AND WHAT’S YOUR ULTIMATE GOAL FOR YOURSELF AND YOUR BAND IN THE MUSIC INDUSTRY? DO YOU FEEL LIKE THERE ARE ENOUGH OPPORTUNITIES AVAILABLE TO ACHIEVE THAT DREAM?
MAGPIE JOHNSTON: I’d love to take the band to other territories outside of Australia, but I think the primary goal is to continue creating music, building on our performance and enjoying playing.
WILL YOU BE HITTING UP SOME OF THE CONFERENCES THIS YEAR AT AMW? WHICH ONE/ONES ARE YOU MOST KEEN FOR?
MAGPIE JOHNSTON: Yeah I’m keen and will definitely check it all out when we get down there.
WHO IS YOUR CURRENT FAVOURITE AUSTRALIAN BAND/ARTIST?
MAGPIE JOHNSTON: I see so much talent getting about, not sure of a favourite.. maybe Lost Ragas? Since we also put festival line ups together we get a fair bit across our plate. But I’m most excited about the act im yet to meet!
AND FINALLY – WHAT’S ONE LITTLE KNOWN FACT ABOUT YOU OR YOUR BAND THAT YOU’RE WILLING TO SHARE WITH US TODAY?
MAGPIE JOHNSTON: I have the rare skill of being able to do an audible one hand clap.
MAGPIE DIARIES WILL BE SHOWCASING AT THIS YEAR'S AUSTRALIAN MUSIC WEEK, MORE INFO BELOW:
MAGPIE DIARIES - AUSTRALIAN MUSIC WEEK SHOWCASE
THURSDAY NOV 7 at El Sol w/ Earth Bloomers, Muka vhatti, Hill Town, The Barren Spinsters, Orange Passiona, Magnus
WHEN LOVE COMES (MAGPIE DIARIES)
FOR MORE MAGPIE DIARIES INFO HEAD HERE,
AND FOR ALL THINGS AUSTRALIAN MUSIC WEEK, HEAD HERE.
BY TIANA SPETER