7 February 2016
NSW entered the world electronic music scene with a bang. Well, less of a bang, more of a sample. It was 1971 where in a large house overlooking Sydney Harbour, two men created the Fairlight CMI. It was the first commercially available sampling synthesizer, which became a staple tool for musicians the world over, ushering in a new electronic sound, embraced equally by underground sound artists and world-renowned pop musicians. Jean-Michel Jarre, Scritti Politti, Depeche Mode, Michael Jackson, and David Bowie all used the Fairlight CMI.
Since this flying start, electronic music has held a place in NSW. While we might not be producing world-changing equipment anymore, our input to the worldwide electronic music scene never waned.
It was when rave culture hit the state in the early 80s, brought over on the same flights as young Brits seeking warmer weather that the scene really expanded. Now we’re producing internationally regarded artists, starting our own genres and holding huge festivals devoted to EDM, techno, and every other style falling under the banner of ‘Electronic Music’.
We’ll take a look at the lay of the land and identify some key players in NSW’s electronic music scene.
Founded in the inner-city suburb of Redfern in 2004, Future Classic has grown to be one of the country’s most important record labels. Not limited to releasing tracks from locally and internationally recognised artists like Flume and Jagwar Ma, they also run a design studio and promote parties.
A staple of the Sydney dance scene, ‘The Laundry’ has been the favoured dance floor for local and international DJs, producers and electronic acts for almost two decades. The booths here have seen the likes of Groove Armada, Sasha and Gui Boratto. They’ve also placed in DJ Mag’s poll of the top hundred clubs in the world.
Touring agency and artist managers, Astral People have contributed so much to Sydney’s music scene in a relatively short space of time. Opening their doors in 2011, they represent and tour some of the country’s biggest acts, not the least of which is Jonti, an artist signed to iconic Californian label, Stones Throw. The early months of 2016 will see them throwing a bunch of parties at the National Art School in Sydney’s Inner West featuring Julio Bashmore, Nightmares On Wax, Touch Sensitive, and a host of other artists.
Since 2002, on New Years Day, The Domain in Sydney’s CBD has hosted Field Day, the city’s favourite dance music festival. Each year the line up features the biggest names in electronic music. Justice, Martin Solveig, Chromeo, Felix Da Housecat, Calvin Harris and Public Enemy have all taken stage at Field Day.
From Sydney’s Northern Beaches comes Flume. By crafting electronic music from layered layering beats, instruments, samples, and vocals, Flume creates evocative music that sits somewhere between R&B and dubstep. Signed to Future Classic, he’s a regular fixture at festivals and venues around NSW.
Aptly titled, The Record Store in Darlinghurst has been supplying Sydney’s DJs seven days a week for over a decade. There’s something for everyone, covering genres from dubstep, through to hip-hop, funk and soul. They also sell all the machinery a DJ could need, like turntables, needles and cartridges.