Rob Snarski

A Coffee with Rob Snarski

Rob Snarski

Words and photographs by Matthew Thomson.

Matthew is a Melbourne based writer and photographer. His passion for photography sparked early on, when his father introduced him to an old Minolta X700 SLR. After buying his first DSLR at 15, Matthew was able to develop further in his later years of high school. Since graduating Matthew has spent time travelling, where his blog ‘Following My Feet’ highlighted his emerging talent as a young writer. Matthew now focuses in street, editorial and fashion, with his writing complementing each field. For further information about Matthew go to: www.matthewthomson.com.au

Sitting on the front verandah of his beautiful Mt Dandenong home, in the brisk morning air, listening to the whispers of the trees and the songs of the birds, I got a chance to talk with Rob Snarski about his recently debut solo album ‘Wounded Bird’, and the progression from his early Perth days.

“You can imagine in 1983 it was a very different scene in Australia… we didn’t have the internet… If you were going to sign to a label, you couldn’t really be based in Perth.”

Snarski’s music career started in WA with his brother Mark, in Chad’s Tree, however they soon moved across to Sydney to sign with label Hot Records, joining with the likes of The Triffids, The Laughing Clowns and The Benders.

“That was fantastic for us as kids…I was only 19”.

By 1989, he had moved back to Perth to start up the holiday band the Blackeyed Susans, a culmination of Chad’s Tree, The Triffids and Martha’s Vineyard.

“The idea was to play about 6 or 7 shows, record an LP…That was 1989…It’s now 2015 and I still play in a band called the Blackeyed Susans”. Over the years the Blackeyed Susans have toured globally, playing with the likes of Leonard Cohen, Johnny Cash, and Marianne Faithful.

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Snarski’s latest album was intended to be a follow up duo to his and Dan Luscombe’s 2004 works ‘There Is Nothing Here That Belongs To You’, however whilst driving home from a recording session Luscombe sprung on him that “this should be a solo record”.

“Initially I felt like punching him in the head, but in the end it was like a gift to me”.

Collaboration still remained important for Snarski and ‘Wounded Bird’, with Luscombe co-writing many of the songs, Shane O’Mara producing and Bruce Haymes, amongst others, adding his own touch. Even the financing was a holistic experience, with Snarski conducting Acoustic House Concerts as a way of crowdfunding the album.

“You have to be fairly open…You can’t walk into someone’s house and put on some sort of music persona… [however] it’s been a real joy”.

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However, ‘Wounded Bird’s’ production wasn’t completely smooth sailing, as a stolen computer and corrupt hard drives forced him to essentially start again on several songs.

“We had gotten about half way through, and things started to unravel.”

The album cover of ‘Wounded Bird’, a “bigified sparrow…resilient… [with] an arrow sticking through its heart” as Rob describes, was created by Melbourne artist Sandra Eterovic, and reflects the difficulties around the album and how they have been encompassed into the final product.

Fortunately, the end result is a poetic adventure through tumultuous landscapes.

Snarski himself, has been a resident of Mt Dandenong for several years, with it becoming a retreat; a reminder of his childhood neighbouring town of Araluen. However, he admits that the serenity of being enclosed by trees is unnerving in fire season.

Snarski plans to release another Blackeyed Susans album sometime in 2015/2016, with one more solo album, ‘a record of requests’, coming out around June.

Snarski has had a brilliant 10 months or so since the release of his debut solo album Wounded Bird. The record has been showered with accolades. He will be Live and local at Burrinja this Saturday, 2 May. For more info head to what’s on at burrinja.

For more information about Rob Snarski go to: www.robsnarski.com

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A day in the life of Genevieve Morris

Genevive Morris at Burrinja Genevive Morris at BurrinjaWurundjeri Plaque

Blog post and images by Jen Angel.

I met Gen a couple of years ago when her daughter started at my daughters school. Over those couple of years, our friendship has been growing and getting to know this genuinely funny, kind and beautiful person has been wonderful. Last year I was lucky enough to spend time with Gen backstage while she was in the play True Minds by Joanna Murray-Smith. I loved every minute of it. I have seen Gen with her theatre family, and it made me realise how different this world of hers is in comparison to the world I share with her here in our big garden in The Hills. Gen shares with us in this article how she and her family came to live in The Dandenong Ranges.

We’ve been happily living in Upwey since March 2010.

Prior to that, we’d lived in Thornbury, Brunswick, Sydney and West St Kilda.

In 2009 my Dad passed away and we spread his ashes in the Dandenong’s. He’d always had an affinity with the hills, whether he was working up here as a builder, or relaxing at a picnic ground with loved ones. I grew up in Knoxfield, so we weren’t far from the hills. Anyway, when we were driving through Upwey Tecoma and Belgrave on the way to scatter Dad’s ashes, my Partner commented on how beautiful this area was, and asked what the names of these suburbs were. He grew up in Perth you see, and although he’d lived in Melbourne for over 13 years by this stage, he’d not seen a great deal of the hills in that time. Once I told him the names of these places, he was asking me about real estate prices etc, and he was soon on the hunt for our first home that wasn’t a rental.

We didn’t look for too long before we found the place that we now call home. There was much more bang for your buck up here in the hills in comparison to the areas we’d lived in prior to that. And the sense of community was evident pretty early on in our hunt for the right place. Locals seemed to be really familiar with one another down at the shops etc. There was a sense of a shared history in Upwey which doesn’t necessarily exist in suburbs closer into town, as the demographic seems to change more rapidly there than up here. Not that it’s a negative thing for an area to change it’s make up often, but there’s something kind of nice and “old school” about people knowing who each other are a bit more here.

Genevive Morris in the Hills Genevive Morris in the Hills Genevive Morris in the hills Genevive Morris enjoying the scenery

When we first moved here I was in a series of ads for the ANZ that were quite popular. It was kind of hard to just be out and about doing day to day things anonymously without being recognized from the ads. This was fine and understandable (sometimes annoying), and in a way it was probably an easier way to start to get to know people – being a newcomer to the area and all. It opened up a conversation which then made a connection, which then lead to ongoing connections, which for the most part would then become friendships or relationships of mutual respect. It’s meant that I and my family were now becoming a part of this community, and the longer that time goes on the fact that I’m sometimes on the telly becomes less and less important, but conversations about the kids and local and global issues are of more interest to other community members and me.

One thing that did strike me as odd when we first moved up here was that the area wasn’t as multi cultural as I’d been used too. This seemed (and still does to a certain extent) slightly unusual, and a bit 1950s Australia or something. I can understand, with how the winters can be up here – not to mention all of the critters and creepy crawlies we get etc, that this could be a deterrent to some cultures (especially from warmer climates or built up cities), but I feel it’s a bit of a shame from a selfish point of view not to have that cultural exchange as readily up here as I’d had in the past.

Who knows what the future holds??

Genevive Morris at work

Photos by Jen Angel to see more go to her blog A day in the life of everyday people.

Justine Walsh – a musical journey

Post by Zoe Amber.

Earlier this week Zoe Amber spent a few hours hanging out with Justine Walsh in Sherbrooke Forest. Armed with her camera, Zoe was able to capture a beautiful series of photographs that equally tributes the beauty of the fern laden environment, and the infectious free spirit of local musician Justine Walsh.

Zoe: How does where you grew up and where you live now affect your music?

Justine: Well I grew up in the hills just east of Perth, constantly having nature around me and being able to get out into it whenever I liked was wonderful. Especially as a teenager living in a full house, it was necessary for me to get my space and time to myself. There were quite a few creative types up in the hills, so the friends I made helped inspire my art and music making.

Zoe: What kinds of ideas and things are you working on (musically speaking) at the moment?

Justine: At the moment I am exploring how to flesh out the bones of many years’ worth of songs I’ve written. It has taken me a long time to put energy into my own songs and not just let them sit in a book anymore, and I have some very talented and special friends who are helping me on that journey. I’ve also been collaborating with some producer friends, and am very excited by the outcome… 2014 is going to be a big one! I am also looking forward to the Belgrave Buskers Festival that is only a few weeks away.

Zoe: For those readers who haven’t been to the Belgrave Buskers Festival before, what is it all about?

Justine: The festival has been running since 2012. It is a melting pot of local music that happens throughout various venues in Belgrave.  The best way to find out more is to come along on February 22nd from about 11am. The festival is a great celebration of live music and strengthens the network among emerging and established artists and industry professionals.

Zoe: What other budding artists do you love?

Justine: To be honest I am really bad at looking for new music, so most of the time I rely on what my friends provide me… And often it is their own music! So I guess Mulder, Owen Rabbit (who is one half of Mulder), Nia Black, Harmony Byrne, Ella Ruby… also some bands & artists I have met through tiffany bishop COLLECTIVE such as Disasterama and Connor Blake.

Zoe: What are your plans for the Belgrave Buskers Festival this year?

Justine: I am applying to perform and also to busk on the main street. I put on a poetry night at last year’s event and it went great but I think it has all happened so fast this year that there’s no time to promote or organize. Just going to take it easy and enjoy the day.

Zoe: Are you a full time musician or do you have a 9 to 5 job as well?

Justine: I am a full time artist. I play at least 1 gig every week and have various other artistic pursuits… it can be hard at times but it is a labour of love.

Zoe: What has been your best performance experience so far?

Justine: Oh, I don’t know… performing at Sooki has been quite incredible! I have played a few gigs there and they’ve all been awesome – there’s something magic about that place. Also performing at End of the Line festival last year was phenomenal. I got up on stage with Mulder during their set too which made me really happy!

Justine will be playing at Sooki Lounge on the night of the Buskers Festival Saturday 22nd February supporting Matt Dwyer’s Little Big Band. To find out more about Justine Walsh click here or listen to her music here.

Behind the Ink – The extended version

Jamin drawing 2

Post by Amy Middleton.

Writing the article about the Last Frontier Tattoo Shop for the current issue of Hillsecene Maga’zine’ was possibly one of the most rewarding writing experiences I have had. Not only was I able to spend time with a creative virtuoso (Jamin Swaneveld), and share some of what I came to understand of the tattoo industry with our lovely Hillscene readers, but I was also afforded the opportunity to meet Elaine Pullum. Elaine photographed the tattoo shop for the article and I simply couldn’t resist sharing more of her photographs than what the printed article had space for.

Elaine works from Turnpike Studio in Olinda and her primary practise is in sculpture. The themes in her work centre on our understanding and treatment of animals. You will have the opportunity to see more of Elaine’s work and to meet her in person at this year’s Dandenong Ranges Open Studios program in May. In the meantime Elaine can be contacted via email, elaine.pullum@bigpond.com.

Cabinet 1 top shelfCabinet 1 top shelf detailPlum Last-Frontier-collage1Last-Frontier-collage3 Interior with Chair detail Last-Frontier-collage2 Feet and snakesCabinet 2 Crone and birdCabinet 1 bottom shelfSlime green

“Is honesty the best policy?”

Post by Zoë-Amber Preston.

Abandoned honesty shop caravan

Having grown up in the Dandenong Ranges, I often find myself surrounded by kind-hearted, honest people. As you drive along our rolling hills you may notice that there are those who share their home-grown goods with love and trust by using the ‘honesty box’ system. An honesty box allows you to take part in a community tradition of sharing. It is also a unique opportunity to try out local food; free of chemicals and filled with love.

A few weekends ago, my Dad and I explored the lovely streets of the hills looking for honesty boxes. We had some trouble at first, because a few of the boxes that had been recommended to us had been abandoned. I wondered what had caused them to close. Was this the result of thievery or troubles looking after the store, or perhaps the change in seasons or environment had prompted their closing.

After stopping for lunch in Emerald we hit the road again with great determination. We were pleasantly surprised to find plenty of honesty boxes that people have spent so much time looking after. To me, honesty boxes really reflect the feeling of spring. I love the sunny weather, bright colours, and fantastic feeling when you buy a bunch of flowers or a delicious treat that was made by the local community.

Sweet eez oranges

Hancock’s Daffodils

I chose to photograph honesty boxes because they are something that people don’t often take notice of.  Seeing one on the side of the road always makes me curious to see what is being sold. I thought it would be a good opportunity to discover more of the hills and appreciate how some people put so much of their time into them. Dad and I had a fantastic day exploring the hills and finding out more about our charming community!

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Zoë-Amber Preston is a creative young artist and writer living in the hills. She has had an article published in Hillscene magazine and spends a lot of her time drawing and taking photos in her lovely forest home.

To see some of her art visit her Facebook page: Zoe Amber Photography and Drawing

Glengower farm

Ruccis Circus comes to town

Zac-and-circusruccis

Amy Middleton from Burrinja talks to Darren Clarke about running away with the circus.

Upwey-based photographer Darren Clarke takes photographs because it enables him to stop and look at the beauty in the world. Darren recently spent an evening at Burrinja photographing some of the talented members of Ruccis Circus who took part in the Burrinja Circus Festival in September. In an interview with Darren, he offered the following insight into his practise.

How did you first get into photography?
I have always been creative and involved in some form of art.  I used to airbrush portraits, but when my son came along I found I didn’t have the time or space to do that anymore. It was during this  time that my father-in-law gave me a camera so I could start capturing those special family memories, that was about 6 years ago and I don’t think a day has passed without me taking a photo since then.

What do you look for in subject matter and Why?
I take photos of many different subjects, for various reasons but it depends on my mood at the time. I enjoy photographing Ruccis Circus and capturing a sense of fun. They are always having such a great time it’s not hard to find a smile; the only tricky bit is capturing some of the action shots.

How long have you been working with Ruccis Circus?
I first started taking photos for Ruccis about 4 months ago. After taking a lot of landscape shots I wanted to gain experience photographing people and Anna volunteered her students, they have quickly turned into one of my favourite subjects. Ruccis is such a fun place, the people, the atmosphere, the colour and movement. After all… who doesn’t love the Circus! As a kid I used to dream of running away and joining a circus, and now I get to get close to the action by taking photographs.

To see more of Darren’s’ photography go to…www.facebook.com/D.Clarke.Photography

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