New Wave: Sound is back for its second year at the Seymour Centre as part of Vivid Sydney. The music-infused arts program this year showcases some of Australia’s most talented experimental, electronic and contemporary classical musicians in innovative discourse with film and visuals – sure to blow the lid off the underground music scene.
Composer, producer and director Andrew Batt-Rawden is the curator of New Wave: Sound, and explains the importance of such creative experimentation. “Mozart was controversial in his day,” he says. “Stravinsky had walkouts and riots, but perhaps that was due to the skanky choreography. Unfortunately we don’t have any of that at our show.”
Instead, the program will explore and experiment with technology, including in a triple-projector laser extravaganza by audio-visual artist Robin Fox.
“Certainly the Robin Fox RGB Laser Show is a glimpse into the current technology that is absolutely leading and cutting-edge, and potentially will be totally normal in the future,” says Batt-Rawden. “It’s a continuum of creativity. What is considered to be highly experimental today, tomorrow will be very popular.”
The birth of New Wave: Sound is a fascinating one, and despite its experimental mission statement, it has garnered a great deal of support thus far.
“I’d been producing contemporary classical art music and experimental electronica for about five or six years before then with a company called Chronology Arts, which I co-founded in 2007,” says Batt-Rawden. “We were the resident company at the Seymour Centre. They wanted to be involved in Vivid and they made a pitch to have a program and were successful. They thought that they should approach me because I have a little bit more experience with experimental music. So I put together a program, for which we won Australia Council funding and that was last year. This year we got funding again for the program, which is awesome.”
When it comes to experimental music, it’s hardly surprising that the audience members and their reactions to the program can be quite eclectic. “There was a bit of a divide in the crowd last year. There are some people who are used to going to contemporary classical music, so they’re used to the etiquette of, you don’t speak, you listen attentively, and you clap politely. But then there were other people who thought it was more like one of those electronica gigs where you’re jumping around dancing, and potentially having some other condiments at the bar.” He laughs. “So it was interesting to get the different perspectives happening at the same gig.”
When quizzed about his choice to include an abundance of up-and-coming artists on this year’s program, particularly when there were such mixed reactions last year, Batt-Rawden explains: “There were some really popular acts and some that weren’t so popular. But I think you get that with experimentalism and when you’re working with unknown artists. But the reason why I program them is because I truly believe they should be known. These artists are fantastic because most of them are homegrown talent.”
Fans of last year’s program can look forward to this year being just as inspired. “This year’s program is a little bit different to last year’s in that I’d say that the hardcore contemporary classical component would come from the marimba program with Claire Edwards. We’re also presenting Collarbones again with Synergy Percussion and getting them to interact in an interesting way. So we’ve got these classical percussionists with some young electropop experimental composers, and I hope the results are going to be amazing.”