Mushroom Music’s infamous Writers’ Bloc workshop returned to the peacefully isolated Gudsinki family holiday house in Mt. Macedon between October 1-October 6 2007. Five years since the last event, the lapse offered a Writers’ Bloc debut to a versatile selection of Mushroom’s new roster, creating some of the event’s most impressive, adventurous and well produced results to date.
The year’s guests included Jae Laffer (The Panics), Al Griggs (Red Riders), Nathan Hudson (Faker), Kav Temperly (Eskimo Joe), Lior, Josh Pyke, Sarah Kelly (theredsunband), Dan Kelly, Macromantics, RuCL, Adalita (Magic Dirt), Joe McKee (Snowman), J.P. Shilo, Lisa Miller, Charlie Owen, Geoff O’Connor (Sly Hats/Crayon Fields), Clare Bowditch, Greg Walker (Machine Translations), Pip Norman (TZU), Ash Grunwald, Andrew Guirguis (Kid Confucius), Rob Hezkial (Kid Confucius), Daniel San (Koolism), Katalyst, Owen Eszeki (Bit By Bats), Amaya Laucirica, Kit Warhurst (Rocket Science), Ashley Naylor (Even), Chris Altmann (The Vandas), Ben Windsor (After the Fall), Tom Lyngcoln (The Nation Blue) and Ruban Nielson (The Mint Chicks).
Each day eight writers arrived at the wonderland where they were paired off and instructed to undertake the daunting task of writing and demoing a song with their recently acquainted other halves before dark. Inspired by the vibrant green landscape and intoxicating clean country air, ideas streamed as each duo locked minds together and took full flight to create dense material that stretched far beyond your campfire song. One pair would spend the entire day locked in the electronic studio meticulously laying down beats, multi-instrumentation, edits and drenched overdubs. Meanwhile the other pairs would take a more haste approach straying and exploring the property’s nook and crannies – in front of the fire, by the pond, beneath the trees; crafting songs that were just as refined as the electronic works.
The workshop is an incredible exercise for all involved. It withdraws songwriters from their comfort zone and presents them with new challenges to grow from. The collaborative experience was relatively unknown to most, providing a perfect opportunity to explore new ideas, share experimental instrumentation and vocal techniques, trial different recording equipment and form relationships that last much long that their speed date. It’s also an ideal time for Mushroom to build closer bonds with its much appreciated talent, and vice versa.
The following testimonials and quotes share interesting insights from the writers’ perspective:
“(Initially) I was a little bit hesitant. The idea of revealing ones secrets to an absolute stranger didn’t particularly appeal to me at first. However, upon realising that I had very few secrets to share, and that I could perhaps steal someone else’s, someone far more gifted than I, I thought again.
It was an experience that I’ll forever hold dear to me. A holiday in the mountains of Victoria amongst supremely talented company and a seemingly endless supply of booze. I gained (or stole) a great deal from Adalita and J.P. Shilo. They both have very different approaches and methods to songwriting. But above all, by seeing others willingness to collaborate and learn gave me greater confidence in my own writing. A valuable lesson? I think yes.”
JOE MCKEE (SNOWMAN)
“The writers’ workshop was an amazing experience for me in an extraordinary house that could quite possibly be in a murder mystery tale. When you see it you’ll understand what I’m talking about.”
KAV TEMPERLY (ESKIMO JOE)
“(Dan Kelly and I) were both very dedicated to writing a good song, and it took all day and part of the night. We recorded last of the four groups but it fell together really nicely. I think our writing styles complimented each other’s very well – I write pretty simple, minimalist songs, and he’s all about melodic flourishes and complicated structures. It’s a beautiful setting for such things. The whole experience really cheered me up and I’d be quite happy to be part of it again.”
SARAH KELLY (THEREDSUNBAND)
“It would be great if we had a week. We could have a kind of musicians’ swingers party – all throw out keys into a bowl and see who we end up with.”
“Working with Al Griggs (Red Riders) was my first collaboration outside The Panics bubble and I really got into it. It’s definitely a brilliant idea to get strangers together and seeing what happens. I’d do it again for sure…just for the food!”
JAE LAFFER (THE PANICS)
“I hooked up with some great artists, both in musical collaboration and in conversation around the pool table. I got all sorts of little insights into the creative process of song writing, and most importantly made some artistic connections that have lasted well beyond the days up the mountain, including a full album collaboration with Ash Grunwald.”
PIP NORMAN (TZU)