Two hothouses of local talent, Astral People and Yours and Owls, are coming together this New Years for a very special event. Last Dance, held in a converted warehouse space in the south coast town of Bulli will see these two promoting powerhouses combine for what looks like a New Year’s party unlike any other. To see how things are shaping up we spoke with Tom from Astral People and Ben from Yours and Owls to hear about how Wollongong is reshaping live music, their best NYE and some pretty exciting details of what’s to come this New Years.
BYO: Thanks for taking the time to chat with us at Backyard Opera!
Tom: I'm actually in my backyard now. Had a bit of a celebration last night so didn't go to work, just working from the backyard today
BYO: The 21st century work place.
Tom: Yeah I wish it was, I'd rather actually be here than in the office everyday but it's all good.
BYO: What does getting out of Sydney and putting on a party in Bulli offer that other parties in the past haven't been able to do?
Ben: It's about inviting these guys down, doing something different.
Tom: Yeah exactly, we've just always wanted to throw a bit of a party, get out of Sydney. It just feels like a bit of a getaway which we all kind of need at the same time, and just have a bit of a crazy party, so we're pretty excited for it.
BYO: How did Astral and Yours and Owls come together? What was the moment of meeting up and deciding to put this on?
Tom: We've always worked with Ben and the Yours and Owls crew, through our managed artists playing their festivals and over the years coming across each other. We've been talking about doing this for a couple of years and this year we were able to get our dream line up and decided to pull the trigger really.
Ben: I think as well the idea might also have spawned from [when] we did a New Year’s Eve party a couple of years ago and I think that the Astral crew came down, discovered the beach and had a spiritual experience with the sunrise on New Year’s morning so I think that was kind of an inspiration as well, to do that again.
BYO: There’s so much energy coming out of the south coast right now. Ben, from your perspective, what's driving this creative efflorescence?
Ben: I think it's the people who live here, we started doing stuff maybe ten years ago and we were not nearly the first people doing it, there's always been a core crew here. Our whole drive is that if we wanted to go to something, we'd have to go to Sydney and then you'd have to get the train and have to get home at six o clock in the morning and it's a disgusting train ride for an hour and a half in the morning home so we kind of started going alright, couldn't be bothered doing that anymore, let's do our own stuff and try to just make it happen here. We've done stuff and all our friends have done stuff and the community drives each other. I think everyone's getting inspired by each other and everyone's really supportive as well, which is nice, there's no competitive thing and I feel like that just creates a way more vibrant sort of community.
BYO: From your perspective Tom, seeing this develop, has that changed the way you think about putting on events in Sydney?
Tom: It’s such an eye opener. Our first intern was actually from Wollongong, Chris Barker who ran Parkside out of Wollongong, and it was just amazing watching a party like that which is kind of underground house, techno, disco, soul whatever and just seeing how many people flock to that. Seeing a thousand kids rock up to see two underground DJs really blew our minds. A lot of these shows [in Wollongong] are pulling stronger numbers than what you'd be doing in other capital cities like Perth [or] Brisbane so it's definitely felt like it's added a whole other leg on all the tours we do. Five years ago we didn't exactly have this.
BYO: People talk about the distance it takes to get people from Melbourne to Sydney to Brisbane but I guess once you have somewhere like Wollongong close to Sydney or Newcastle as well, does that mean you can bring in different kinds of acts or do things you wouldn't have been able to do in the past?
Tom: Just with international artists we've been able to build much stronger offers. This is kind of how it works in the US in the UK, you shouldn’t have to travel a thousand kilometres between each city. When we're touring in America, we're travelling sometimes an hour and a half or two hours in a car to the next city and we'll still play a packed out show, whereas before you couldn't really do that. Back in the pub rock days they were doing that quite a bit, all the big strong live music in the suburbs. These days it feels that you've got Newcastle or Wollongong, the kids are just hungry for it now.
BYO: You were saying this was your dream line up, how were you able to link up with Motor City Drum Ensemble and the rest of the acts as well?
Tom: We were only going to do this party if we could get this hectic line up and then the stars just aligned and we got lucky and every single act we wanted like Motor City Drum Ensemble, Moxie, Mall Grab, all of this kind of fell into place perfectly. We definitely got lucky and were definitely in the right place at the right time because we were going to try and hopefully do this same event last year but we just couldn't get that sort of line up. It's been selling quite fast, everyone is keen to get in, so I guess it's working.
BYO: What goes into putting on a New Year’s Eve party, anything special we should be looking out for?
Ben: You need to get a mirror ball.
Tom: I think people are going to be pretty surprised by it all because we've got two stages, one indoors and one outdoor, which I don't think many people know yet. We're going to make sure it looks amazing too, and we've got world class sound as well. We're getting the best sound system you’re probably going to hear in Sydney or south of Sydney so expect really great sound.
BYO: What's been the best New Year’s parties you've both been to?
Tom: Ben's party a few years ago in Wollongong. Hands down the best party I've been to. They had Jamie XX playing and then after we all went to the beach, swimming and hanging out watching the sun come up until about 9am or something. It was the best euphoric night and morning I've had I think.
Ben: That one was pretty special. We were working as well, so not ideal, but yeah it was pretty magic for sure. I think the good ones are the ones when you're with all the right people, when you're with your close friends and whether that's a house party or a festival it's about who you're with.
Tickets for Last Dance are selling quick. First release entries have sold out but there are still some second release allocation available. Full line up and info at http://lastdance.co/