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Upfront: Saatsuma

Keeping Melbourne Open

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Saatsuma are a band in focus for me, particularly in this later half of the year. It started with constant mentions of the band from a mutual friend, then the inescapable vision of their vocalist Memphis Kelly all over my timeline which led to me finally caving in and listening to their track ‘Floating’. And because I’ve got no chill, I would now like to stand on my hypothetical soapbox and very publicly state that yes, I am now a fan of Saatsuma and you should be too. Why? Because they write sick songs and, more importantly, because they’re WOKE.

Memphis Kelly isn’t Malibu Stacy or some new romantic poster girl and she probably never will be. As an empowered female in the Australian music industry and as a notable member of the Melbourne music community, Memphis stands for something. She stands for equality, creativity, and for supporting the community that supports her.

In light of the recent examples of global political divide (Sup, Donald Trump?) and more locally the fight to #KeepSydneyOpen (Sup, Mike Baird?), it is clear now more than ever that communities need to bind together to protect morale and to push back against the hierarchy and the patriarchy. We need art and music as an outlet for the youth to sustain liberal thinking. I stepped off my soapbox to get Memphis Kelly’s perspective on the importance of live music and why it is imperative that we are here for this.

ACCLAIM: What is unique about the Melbourne music community?

MEMPHIS: It’s diversity and (for the most part) it’s inclusivity of people of all genders, races, and musical backgrounds to express themselves creatively. This is obviously not the case everywhere in Melbourne, but is what I have seen and experienced from my very limited perspective.

A: Why is it important to belong to a community? How does having this support network help you thrive as a musician?

M: It’s so nice to have a safe space where you can connect with others and discuss ideas and share knowledge. I’m thankful for spaces that create and promote events for female and GNC artists – I find these communities, online and IRL, to be incredibly important as they help us to feel supported, safe, and valued within what can often be a very intimidating and male-dominated industry.

A: What do you love best about performing live?

M: It’s a feeling I can’t really describe because nothing else makes me feel the same way. Even if I’ve had a shitty day or feel sad or tired or whatever, regardless of what’s going on, I start performing and everything bad disappears. I always come off feeling renewed, exhilarated and supported. I’m so grateful to have music and live performance as an outlet.

A: There are a lot of venues, events, tours and festivals suffering in the market due to increased overheads and over saturation in a relatively small market. As an artist, how does this affect you directly? How do you think it affects us (as consumers of music)?

M: I think it can go either way. The increase in events and festivals in the market means there are more opportunities for artists to play, and therefore a greater range of music being discovered and enjoyed by consumers. However, it’s inevitable that many of these events and festivals will have to stop running to due the competitive market. This directly affects artists who are just starting out, as they often rely on these smaller, local events as a platform. And this creates a problem for the music scene in general, as without these events there is less diversity and less exposure of local music.

A: How important is it for everyone to make a conscious effort to be present at gigs and festivals?

M: Live music is such an integral part of the music industry, and I think it is often undervalued. I personally love going to see live music as it allows you to appreciate and experience it in a different way. It’s obviously incredibly important for the artists to have a live audience as well, as it’s a tough industry and sometimes you just really need to smash those ticket sales to be able to keep doing what you’re doing. So yeah, buy tickets to shows because you’re paying for a very cool experience and also helping to keep heaps of musos dreams alive. Win-win.

Here’s an exclusive look at Saatsuma performing their track ‘Breathless’ live:

Like what you see? Then come to these shows and be present in our community:

November 11 – Melbourne Music Week Imperium In Imperio @ 1000 £ Bend
November 17 – Melbourne Music Week ZOO: Live Music Safari @ Section 8 & Ferdydurke
November 18 – Melbourne Music Week Sol-Lux @ RMIT Chambers Courtyard
November 25-27 – Paradise Music Week @ Lake Mountain

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