It’s true many musicians today could relate their career experiences to these lyrics written by Bryan Ferry in 1982. In a time of industry upheaval many modern musicians well may wonder, surely there is more than this
On Thursday 10 December MC Trey hosted a group of Western Sydney based musicians at ICE for a relaxed and friendly forum. More Than This was about maintaining sustainable careers while still sating their passions for music. Jacinta Tobin, widely respected musician and cultural producer, set the tone for the evening with her moving Welcome to Country, bringing her wisdom around the ancient importance of using music to share knowledge.
Preserving ancient wisdoms has been the daily for Richard Petkovic through his work with the Sydney Sacred Music Festival. As he put it, the music profession is not necessarily about making money. If you can find ways to sustain your practice financially then you will find something even more nourishing through music. By giving to community the artist can come to receive ten fold in return.
This is also the attitude of Zehrish Narea, one third of the Hip Hop crew Soul Benefits. For such a young artist he has enjoyed extraordinary success and has shared the stage with some of the worlds biggest Pop and Hip Hop acts such as Katie Perry and Naughty By Nature. Throughout his career he has maintained his connection to the community, seeing his youth work around Mt Druitt as critical to his success in the commercial arena. He supports the community because it’s the community that supports him.
From the new comer to the veteran – Charles Lomu has been a stalwart of the Hip Hop for youth engagement scene for over 10 years. At More Than This he shared some insightful stories from his personal experiences as a musician. This included the importance in maintaining ownership and integrity as well as the darker side of the industry and the ease in getting duped. In his most recent endeavor he has created a garage barbershop that aims to provide a place of support for men in the community, combining his love for music with practical skills that can earn a consistent wage.
The prevailing theme for the evening – acknowledging the hardships in being a musician today whilst recognising there’s something beautiful that comes from the challenge. More Than This reflects a growing scene of musicians who use their skills to improve lives and contribute to the social fabric at the grass roots level. We may still feel a little unsure of our futures, “Fallen leaves in the night,” some might say, but we can take confidence in knowing that a community development based approach to music is having positive impacts and can be a sustainable career pathway.
Words by Christian Tancred.
Photos by Brendan O’Connell.