All posts by Paul McBride

I am a writer and editor based in Brisbane, Australia.

Feature: Hayden Thorpe is feeling all the Metafeelings on Moondust For My Diamond

Photo: Hayden Thorpe Facebook

Hayden Thorpe isn’t one for pondering the simple things in life.

The 35-year-old Englishman, formerly of the now—defunct Kendal indie darlings Wild Beasts, is much more of a big-picture kind of guy.

As keen to explore the wonders of the minutest chemical reactions in the inner wirings of the mind as he is societal-level shifts in thinking and action, and the vast and unknown wonders of the universe and beyond, the multi-instrumentalist is nothing if not intriguing.

Second album Moondust for My Diamond, a smoothly enchanting 12-track collection of cerebral and propulsive pop featuring production by Nathan Jenkins – aka Bullion – is clear evidence of this. Thorpe’s interests, from science, religion, humanity, the cosmos, sex, temptation, and contemplation of the end of days drip from every pore, filling the record with big questions and the wonder and anxiety of the possibilities of the things we don’t know, poised just out of reach.

It’s enough to make one contemplate several aspects of life and existence, albeit set to a slick soundtrack that builds on the sonic palettes of 2019 debut album Diviner and last year’s Aerial Songs EP.

The tunes are charming and understated but it’s Thorpe’s lyrical themes that prove most beguiling. In Sirens of Titan, Kurt Vonnegut wrote, “Everyone now knows how to find the meaning of life within himself”, and Thorpe seems to have been on a grand Vonnegutian journey during the making of these songs. In fact, it’s not too much of a stretch to imagine him locking himself away in a dank library for months on end, devouring all manner of obscure texts on philosophy, science and theology, before channelling it all into something he can set his countertenor vocals to.

“I’m an obsessive person but I’m also a person who has fads,” he says. “So, if you combine those two things, you get obsessive fads, into which I entirely immerse myself in practice, writing or theory. It becomes almost carnivorous; I need to imbibe it, put it in myself, become it for a while. I think most of the richness of the words come from there. I’m speaking like it’s quite a brutal process, but it is if you go quite deeply.”

Take lead single ‘The Universe is Always Right’. Probably never before or ever again will references to genies escaping bottles, Excalibur being pulled from stone and ‘cosmic arrows’ be made in a pop song. And certainly not one on an album that sounds as necessary as this. It’s clear from almost the get-go that Thorpe’s influences are many and varied, and he has used them to make surely one of the best albums of 2021.

“For this record, I got interested in Eastern mysticism, yoga and alternative practices,” he says. “My other hobby is science and I realised there are a lot of overlaps between the ways Eastern mysticism sees the universe and how science sees the universe. The difference is science medicalises the body and our emotions, but Eastern mysticism doesn’t; it actually incorporates the body, the mind, and the sense of the universe. Perhaps that is what is lacking in our terminology and our language; this sense of something beyond and how to incorporate the beyond into our very being. What goes on in those language spaces are spells; people are casting spells, and I say that in a very functional way. Casting spells is just an alignment of words; it’s just placing things in order. If you put certain words in a certain order, it elicits a chemical response in the body. It’s a very extraordinary thing. I wonder why all our songs are about love and spirit. Well, actually, it’s that invisible matter that stitches everything together; we can’t quantify it, we just know how we build our reality.”

It was exploring this meeting point between science and religion that led Thorpe to investigate the phenomenon of psychedelic therapy and a pioneering project integrating music and psychedelic drugs; an experience which has found its way most clearly into tracks ‘Suspended Animation’ and ‘Metafeeling’.

“Therapists are using this software while someone is in an induced psychedelic state; probably through psilocybin,” he says. “Basically, musicians contributed to a soundscape that the patient is listening to. I sang and contributed vocals and got really interested in both the practice of how I sing for somebody in that state and what would I do and how to contribute. It made me reflect on what singing is and what making music is. I got interested in it through a seminal book by Michael Pollan, ‘How to Change Your Mind’. It’s so interesting because I think you should always judge a civilisation by its drugs. Capitalism is very much the cocaine society, which is really about enlarging the ego. Whereas, in past civilisations the mushroom or other psychedelics have been the central theme of their civilisation. It’s inverse; actually shrinking the ego or dismantling the sense of self. Maybe we’re at a frontier now; we’re realising we’re all going around being encouraged to be warriors in our own way, going forth and it’s a dog-eat-dog-type world. But it’s clear that is creating so much damage, and it’s not sustainable. Secondly, it fucks the natural world when you do that too. Paul Stamets is one of my hero mycologists and he always states that the earth has already provided the operating manual for how we understand the natural world, and he says it’s psilocybin. We think the human point of view is the ultimate point of view, but I really don’t think that’s the case, personally.”

While a cocktail of energies ooze from Moondust for My Diamond, ensuring it sounds like a record put together by an artist with a simple love for the craft of songwriting on one hand, the flip side of Thorpe’s expansive thinking means he’s never far away from tackling the next big topic.

“We’re living through a reckoning,” he says. “There is a grand narrative of our time, where growth, success and aspiration are somehow virtuous qualities, and that is failing us. That is not working, and I’m so excited about what the music sounds like on the other side of that. If you think about it, music has always been co-opted by power; hymns and church music has always been the property of the church and therefore they have the spiritual ownership over peoples’ lives. Now, when big business owns most of music and hedge fund managers are buying up Bob Dylan songs and all the rest of it, you have to ask what is the spiritual value of songs now? I’m so interested in what is the other side of this; what language and what ways can we speak of the world beyond our own inner story. The legend of our time is absolutely our own inner world. We’re all encouraged to broadcast our every emotion. Songwriters especially, we’re meant to wave the flag of our emotions so boldly, and that’s supposed to be our currency. After a while of doing this, I’m thinking I’m getting more interested in the flagpole than the flag. There’s something beyond that’s worth getting it.”

While Thorpe contents himself with pondering many of the existential questions in life, he’s also a realist, and understands that being able to find the time and headspace to write and record new music, never mind release an album, during a global pandemic and in the uncertainty of post-Brexit Britain, is an achievement in itself.

“I think this moment does feel like one of the more extreme frontiers of record-releasing, bearing everything in mind,” he says. “The sheer manpower and force of will to bring music out now is significant, so I’m really proud that the work has emerged as it has. I’m surprised by the album; it’s unlikely. It’s emerged in unexpected ways and brought me unforeseen adventures, and for that I’m grateful. In the UK there’s definitely a kind of crosshair going on with the Brexit situation for musicians and the pandemic; but also, just the cultural landscape; the value system in which music works now. It’s been transformed. The metrics by which people judge value means that it’s nothing other than bold and chaotic to follow your music into that black hole. I believe in songs; their potency, their ability to convert a magical substance within the body. It’s also an extraordinary thing to devote most of your waking hours to obtain a level of beauty. That’s not to be too high-minded; it’s a form of utmost expression and at its fullest realisation, a moment of beauty. The dissonance of a functional human being as well as someone who is entirely entangled with the machinery of making music is probably the challenge, but the more I make music in my life things get even simpler and you don’t need much at all if you have your devotions.”

His live band includes Frank Ocean’s bass player, Ben Reed, drummer Fabian Prynn, and saxophonist Chris Duffin, who, Thorpe says, will allow him to “live out all my Springsteen fantasies”. A tour of Europe and the UK is on the cards for early 2022.

“It’s been four years since I played with a band,” he says. “Our first gig was an extraordinary sensation to feel that music again. I really like the practicality and theoretical way of doing gigs, which is me and a laptop going around, but it doesn’t have that virility that I want. I’m going to go forward with this killer band, which is a fabulous thing to be doing. I really want to live this one out properly.”

If Moondust for My Diamond is any indication, it’s sure to be a hell of a trip.

For PopMatters

Feature: Sara Storer’s Golden Country

Source: Sara Storer Facebook

The past couple of years have been slow for so many musicians, but beloved Australian singer-songwriter Sara Storer has been quietly productive behind the scenes.

The multiple Golden Guitar-winner has been spending the time putting together a wealth of new material before her appearance at Groundwater Country Music Festival.

“I released my new album the year before COVID hit and managed to get a lot of my touring out of the way and get the album out there,” she says. “Then we moved to Darwin early in 2020 and that was the start of COVID, and of all places to have moved to, the territory is pretty damn good when it comes to lockdowns and everything else. While the music industry shut down and there wasn’t much work at all in 2020. But, for me, it was just good timing for me. So, I’ve been writing, and I’ve got enough for a new album. My focus will be on that for next year; to get in and record somewhere and get the new album out.”

The story of the 48-year-old Victorian’s seven albums follows the former teacher’s eventful life, and her next release is progressing steadily.

“Every album is a diary of where I am, how I’m feeling, and what’s going on in my life,” she says. “For this [upcoming] album, I moved back to the Territory, and we leased a little place out at Adelaide River, about an hour away from Darwin. We had a beautiful little cabin there and I did some songwriting out there. So, there are songs about being back in Darwin and what that brings to me personally. Also, just little stories I’ve heard along the way over the past couple of years. If I hear a story I’ll write it down, and that gives me a number of songs. I can write them, sing them, and record them and then not go back to them for a while. So, what I need to do now is look at what I’ve got and look at what works best as a collective, rather than just having bits and pieces here and there.

Storer does what feels natural to her; following a long line of Australian singer-songwriters telling real-life stories of real-life people and places.

“I grew up on a farm, so I have a bit of a soft spot for our people and our country,” she says. “Country music originated from people writing about people out working on the land and their stories, and I do like writing about our characters in the bush and this great country. As an Australian, I grew up listening to John Williamson and what I love about his work was that he sung about Australia with a lot of pride and used everyday Aussie slang from his world and put it into a song. Aussies can be pretty ‘ocker’ but it still sits beautifully to me, as that’s how we talk, that’s how we greet each other, and that’s our characters. So I like to try to be as descriptive as that in my music, about our beautiful place and, of course, singing with an Aussie accent is important, as it would be pretty silly if I was singing about, say Dubbo for example, in an American accent. Listening back to my earlier stuff, I sound very Australian. I do love the Aussie voice in a song and you have to be authentic; it works well with my songs, themes and subjects and it’s how I’ve always sung.”

Storer will play the upcoming Groundwater Country Music Festival, which runs from 12th to 14th November. The 2019 event saw 73,000 people descend on Broadbeach for the free three-day extravaganza of all things country. This year’s festival features 44 acts, including Adam Brand, Natalie Pearson, Troy Cassar-Daly, Caitlyn Shadbolt and many more.

“I’m so looking forward to it,” Storer says. “I got to play at a big event about a month ago, using a full band. It had been a long time since I’d done that, and I was nervous and excited, but gee, it was good to do that. It was so good to be back on stage with a full band, big, beautiful crowd, and everyone is just there to finally hear some music and do the festival thing again. I can only imagine Groundwater will be bigger and better than ever. I’ve got a really good feeling that it’s going to be a big success. I love music and country music and catching up with friends too.”

For Scenestr

Evangie: Deep and Meaningful

After more than a year since her last release, indie-rock up-and-comer Evangie is back and ready to lay it all on the line.

On new single, ‘Deep Down’, the Brisbane-based singer-songwriter, real name Jodie Sanderson, explores themes of loss and abandonment that come with unreciprocated affection.

“I find it easy to write about things that I’m going through and to write very personal lyrics,” she says. “For me, songwriting is a huge expression of my emotions and a really good way to talk about how I’m feeling. I really love honesty in lyrics; talking about deep topics.”

It’s this honesty and openness that, along with the ability to write a climactic rock anthem, has been the vehicle for Evangie to channel her stresses into something positive.

“I’ve struggled with my mental health during the whole pandemic period, so I kind of naturally took a bit of a break,” she says. “I’m still going through certain struggles, but it’s important for me for people to be aware of it and hopefully it encourages other people to speak out about it, even if they don’t want to specifically talk about what they’re struggling with. I’m very open about [mental health] with friends and family. I’ll always talk about it because I believe it’s important to talk about things I’m going through rather than keeping them inside. With my music, I went a bit MIA and it’s important that people know I’m still trying to work towards things and people’s support is really special to me.”

Like debut single ‘Japan’, released last year, ‘Deep Down’ begins as a driving, crisp pop gem before exploding into life with towering vocals and a hard-rocking, anthemic finish.

“I’m excited for it to be released,” she says. “We’ve had that song for a while so it’ll be good to have it out. I’m most proud of the lyrics; they’re my favourite thing about the single. ‘Deep Down’ is one of my favourite songs, lyrically, that I’ve written. I’m really happy about how the production worked out as well; it really captured the essence of the song. I recorded with Cody McWaters at Hunting Ground Studios. We just spent a few days in the studio recording a couple of songs. We worked together to transform it from just the instruments that we used into something with a lot more effects and sounds to make this huge soundscape. I always ask my band for feedback as well, which is really important to me as I want them all to love the song too. I definitely have ideas of what I want it to sounds like, but I’m so open to collaborating with my producer and band to do what’s best for the song.”

With significant milestones already under her belt, including reaching number one on the Triple J Unearthed indie and rock charts and being awarded ‘Best Overall Performance’ in Brisbane City Council’s Qube Effect, Evangie is looking forward to a bright musical future.

“We’re going to be doing some shows to celebrate the release,” she says. “There’s a show at the Tivoli coming up, which won through Qube Effect, and seeing where things go from there. We’re just going to release the single to see how it goes, and keep on writing and perfecting my sound.”

For Scenestr

The Killer Queen Experience: The Show Must Go On

Source: The Killer Queen Experience Facebook page

Calling all Good Old-Fashioned Lover Boys, Fat Bottomed Girls and Invisible Men of Brisbane: get ready to rock like it’s 1985 when The Killer Queen Experience returns to the Tivoli for one night only on Saturday 13th November.

The Queensland-based band, featuring John Blunt in the role of flamboyant frontman Freddie Mercury, has been a mainstay on the Australian and international scenes for two decades, perfecting the knack of celebrating the beloved British band’s legacy in style.

With a wealth of showbusiness experience under his belt, stepping into the yellow jacket came naturally to Blunt.

“I’ve always been a performer,” he says. “I’ve been involved in a lot of cover bands over the years. I worked at Movie World for several years; I performed the role of Roy Orbinson, Freddie Mercury and Elvis. In fact, I was the only male performer there who did three singing roles. From leaving there, I put together a show where myself and my band did a tribute to both Elvis and Queen, calling it ‘The King and Queen Show’. After a few years a lot of people said we did a great Elvis, but everybody does Elvis. So, we dropped Elvis and purely concentrated on doing Queen. We then started a full two-hour show with what we called Killer Queen.”

Getting into the mindset of one of the most admired and missed vocalists of all time has become a process all of its own for Blunt.

“I have a few rituals,” he says. “It’s basically all about getting into the changing room, looking into the mirror, putting on the make-up, realising what a fantastic team of musicians I have around me, and all of us falling into the groove. There’s laughter, there’s guitars. We go through harmonies, go through songs, and before you know it the costumes are on and I’m looking around the room, staring at what looks like Queen circa ’82 to ’85. Then I’m in full character and we’re ready to go on.”

After taking a COVID-related hit to its performing abilities over the past couple of years, the band has enjoyed a run of successful shows recently and is looking forward to rocking audiences all over Australia as soon as possible.

“We’ve been around for almost 20 years now,” Blunt says. “So we’re always getting contacted by promoters, venues and people putting on festivals. We’re always on the radar of people who are trying to put on shows; people who want to keep the industry going, even through the thickest of lockdowns. We’ve always been incredibly grateful for that, and I think that comes from being around for a long time and, without blowing my own trumpet, we definitely deliver the goods.”

The show is full of songs that fans have come to know and love since Queen’s formation in the early seventies, through to the end of the original line-up with Mercury’s death from complications related to AIDS in 1991.

“We used to think we were clever doing songs that were deep cuts,” Blunt says. “But when a paying audience member comes up after the show and says, ‘What was that song about spreading your wings?’ or ‘What was that about too much love will kill you?’, I’d find it interesting that they didn’t know those songs. We’ve now got a motto: stick to the hits. Two hours go by extremely quickly and we add new songs to the show. We don’t announce them on social media; people hear them when they turn up. We like to have little surprises here and there.”

So why see a tribute band playing songs of a group whose original line-up ended 30 years ago? It’s all in the way you approach it, Blunt says.

“These songs are the soundtracks of people’s lives,” Blunt says. “Tribute bands are able to bring back a little bit of that nostalgia. I’ve said this for 20 years: we know we’re not Queen. I don’t call myself Freddie Mercury or anything like that. What I want people to do is to come along and enjoy these wonderful songs that they got married to, celebrated their 21st birthdays to, danced to back in the ‘80s, and watched Queen on film clips and so forth. I want people to walk away thinking that they know that wasn’t Queen, but damn that was close, that was cool, and we enjoyed that. I’m always giving a little wink back to the audience to let them know that we on stage are having just as much fun as you guys are having. There’s only one Freddie Mercury; we’re not trying to replace him, and he doesn’t need our help to let his legacy live on. He’s practically immortal, so we’re just there having some fun with the crowd.”

For Scenestr

Exploring the attributes that influence the purchase of Indigenous art and souvenirs

Author’s note: this text is that of a recent PhD application, since withdrawn.

Overview

What attributes influence a consumers’ intention to purchase indigenous art and souvenirs? Research has suggested ‘perception of authenticity’ motivates some consumers to seek out and purchase such products. However, authenticity may relate to the marker/artist, aesthetics of the design, or material use. These attributes are identified through the extant literature in indigenous art and souvenirs. The purpose of this research project is to determine what influences perceptions of authenticity, leading to purchase intention.

1: Subject area under investigation

In the 2018-19 financial year, travel and tourism directly contributed over AU$2 trillion to the global economy, and over AU$60 billion to the Australian economy, or just over three per cent of the national GDP (Tourism Australia, 2020). “Material things have a particular value in the leisure and tourism markets as they are absolutely necessary for human agency and performativity in them” (Muecke and Wergin, 2014); as evidenced by the fact that shopping is the number one leisure activity performed by tourists (Wang et al. 2018), with 30 per cent to 33 per cent of overall travel expenses going to souvenirs (Swanson & Horridge, 2002).

Indigenous cultural tourism has had an important place in global and domestic tourism product offering and marketing activities for many decades (Ruhanen & Holder, 2019), and while demand for Indigenous souvenir and art products has been decreasing in Australia in the past 20 years (Tourism Australia, 2016), modern holiday travel offers tourists the appealing opportunity for self-definition and enhancement of social prestige through the collection and display of Indigenous souvenirs and art (Kuhn, 2020).

Today’s relative ease of travel, multitude of travel options, efficient production techniques and digital information exchange have brought consumers and the tourism goods and experiences they seek closer than ever before, but the collection of Indigenous souvenirs and cultural objects is not a recent phenomenon in Western culture. Despite Twain (1897) declaring, “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness”, many industrially- and technologically-advanced, colonialist nations believed that their successes in industry accorded their colonial ambition a natural authority, and it was therefore “their duty to spread their version of civilisation [and] in return, they would capture the wealth of the colonised lands” (Pascoe, 2014).

While global colonial powers were indulging in mass cultural appropriation as they expanded their empires, on the Grand Tours of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, decorative arts were gathered across continental Europe and transformed for commercial purposes far from their founding cultures. In 1874, glass designer Harry Powell sketched glass vessels from Italian, German, Dutch and French Renaissance art to produce copied designs to be sold in England (Franklin, 2018). Eighteenth-century English potter and glass-maker Josiah Wedgewood was similarly inspired by art souvenirs collected by tourists; copying the design of Roman glass cameos to be recreated and sold en masse (Franklin, 2018). Museums in Western cultures also have large collections of Indigenous objects: a Sámi ceremonial drum in the British Museum probably came to the British Isles already in the late 17th or early 18th century. The mere size indicates it might have been made for display and as a souvenir rather than as a sacred ritual artefact (Nordin & Ojala, 2017).

Today, with a greater complexity of consumer options comes a greater complexity of decision-making and evaluation, as goods and services are seen as commodities that offer “potential for conspicuous consumption and a leverage point for self-definition and self-consolidation in the social hierarchy (Boley et al., 2018). It is within this realm that the concept of consumer perceptions of authenticity and purchase intention should be explored.

Authenticity is an important dimension that consumers employ to evaluate goods and experiences. Since MacCannell (1973) first applied the concept of authenticity to tourism, the relationship has been explored to the extent that is now known that even children are aware of authenticity and value originals more than duplicates (Newman, 2019). The search for authenticity drives consumer preferences across a range of areas, including souvenirs, art, clothing, luxury goods, collectables, food, and everyday household items (Newman, 2019).

While it can be argued that authenticity is a social construct, and consumer perceptions of authenticity are shaped by the “social and cultural conditions under which the product was produced” (Littrell et al., 1993), or “projected onto toured objects by tourists or tourism producers in terms of their imagery, expectations, preference, beliefs, powers, etc.” (Newman, 2019), the creation of authenticity is vital to tourism as a device that prompts desire and the production of value.

In its simplest form, the souvenir is a reminder of a tourist’s experience of a place (Wilkins, 2011) or can be part of an authentic experience that also comes through such activities as eating food prepared in traditional ways or experiencing local people’s lifestyles (Yi et al., 2017). However; the intentions behind souvenir purchase can be much more complex and varied. To achieve success in tourism retailing, retailers must understand tourists and meet their needs in terms of the attributes consumers attach to objects to be convinced enough to purchase them as physical reminders of the place or places they have visited. Studies have explored these attached attributes and the way in which items are marketed to meet expectations, finding that the most important attributes of souvenirs are often appealing colours and design, workmanship or techniques of high quality, being able to display the item in the home, cost, making a good gift, the inclusion of a name, design, or representation of the place visited (Amaro et al, 2020), workmanship, sensuous appreciation, cultural linkage and ease of handling (Plant et al, 2019, Hu and Hong, 2007).

Why all of this matters is that the outcomes of these motivations, behaviours and choices – good or bad, intentional or unintentional – have wide-reaching and long-lasting consequences for entire cultures and peoples. Despite the fact that the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples declares that Indigenous peoples have the “right to maintain, control, protect and develop their cultural heritage”, “to maintain, control, protect and develop their intellectual property over such cultural heritage”; and the “right to the dignity and diversity of their cultures”; to further advance their economic and social conditions including employment (Australian Human Rights Commission, 2012), consumers’ search for perceived authenticity in the tourism souvenir and art markets has meant that many Indigenous cultures have been exploited and undermined, with negative outcomes for Indigenous peoples in Australia and worldwide. In some cases, legal action has had to be taken to address this exploitation, although it has similarly been the case that cultural and ethical issues or concerns around the production and marketing of Indigenous objects have been overlooked compared to factors related to legislative compliance (Plant et al, 2019).

A recent Federal Government Inquiry ended up with legal proceedings being brought against a well-known souvenir distributor who was found to have been mislabelling products to deceive consumers attempting to make ethical purchases (Plant et al, 2019). The products at the centre of the case were represented to be ‘associated with Australian Aboriginal Art’ and using words in the labels including ‘Aboriginal Art, ‘genuine’, and ‘Australia’ (Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, 2018) . Several products were featured in the case including loose boomerangs, boxed boomerangs, bull-roarers, didgeridoos and message stones.

Choices made at the individual consumer level have macro-level ramifications.

2: What do we currently know. What is the latest research from leading academic journals telling us about this area?

Indigenous souvenirs and art are emotional and affective objects that often embody knowledge, meanings, skills and identity (Kuhn, 2020). In Australia and many other places, Indigenous art is centred on storytelling; Australian Aboriginal people use art to chronicle and convey knowledge of their land, events and beliefs, and to pass on information to preserve their culture (Williams & Biggemann, 2020). Indigenous souvenirs and artworks are items which can symbolise and materialise the consumer’s experience; they have “the ability to ‘absorb’ tourists’ narratives and express individual travel experience to social others [and] induce conversations about travel experience in a social setting” (Kuhn, 2020).

Historically, the collection of Indigenous materials has been a mechanism of colonial power; with objectives ranging from posthumous retribution for the purported wrongs of a person or group to the collection of souvenirs, curios and trophies (Prictor et al, 2020). This collection of knowledge about cultures and environments regarded as “other” (Whittle, 2016) – knowledge which Said (1978) described as being “reinforced by colonial encounter as well as by the widespread interest in the alien and unusual” – is a legacy presenting many complex challenges today. Many Indigenous peoples’ cultures, stories and traditions have become “spaces of competing values, requiring stakeholders to engage in a complex weighing up of priorities” (Prictor et al., 2020).

In today’s consumer markets, questions of authenticity, identity and Indigenous heritage weave through everything that we know about this subject, as consumers’ desire to see, experience, know and own Indigenous souvenirs and art can be driven by the need for perceived ‘authentic’ interactions with places and cultures (Franklin, 2018).

The most important product attributes for consumers of Indigenous souvenirs and art are authenticity and a tie between product and the local areas (Trivedi et al., 2020). Various definitions of authenticity linked to this subject matter include terms like uniqueness, genuineness, cultural and history integrity, artistry, as well as aesthetics and use of souvenir. Authentic souvenirs should have a distinct characteristic difficult to find in tourists’ everyday lives (Trivedi et al., 2020).

Authenticity can be “projected onto toured objects by tourists or tourism producers in terms of their imagery, expectations, preference, beliefs, powers, etc.” (Newman, 2019) in three main ways: historical authenticity, categorical authenticity and values authenticity (Newman, 2019. Historical authenticity relates to the perception of the object embodying the physical essence of some valued source, categorical authenticity relates to whether the object or experience conforms to the required qualities of a particular category or type, and values authenticity relates to whether the object or experience reflects a deep, essential value.

At the micro level, such objects, as self-representative symbols, “must be noticed by others, they must characteristically evoke certain specifiable reactions from others, and they must be in control of the individual in order to be effective vehicles for self-expression” (Kuhn, 2020), as “souvenirs and commodified arts or handicrafts are directly and indirectly tied to notions of ethnicity, gender, authenticity, and cultural heritage” (King, 2016).

While it is perhaps the multifaceted capabilities that consumers associate with Indigenous objects that enable them to animate them with “affects and emotions, feelings of remembrance, affection, appreciation and loss” (Haldrup, 2017), it can also be argued that, for an individual consumer, the acquisition of Indigenous souvenirs or art has become a simplified affair. Consumers’ perception of an Indigenous object is specifically grounded in the visuality of it with less concern associated with authenticity in design. Many consumers perceive “contemporary design combined with Indigenous markers to be more authentic than traditional design” (Xie et al., 2012) as the “apparent traditionalism of Aboriginal souvenirs does not determine the degree of authenticity” (Xie et al., 2012). While an anthropologist will tend to explore what an Indigenous object, for example, a totem pole, means, to most tourists totem poles are “usually perceived as exotic undifferentiated structures; they serve to mark out spaces to which tourists are guided in order to spend money” (King, 2016), as well as providing something to photograph, as a record of their engagement with ‘otherness’ (King, 2016).

Similarly, it has been found that a consumer’s nationality and level of familiarity with the culture from which they are purchasing a souvenir or art piece can heavily affect perceptions of authenticity based on simply on an object’s appearance (Elomba & Yun, 2017). Using pictorial analysis, a study applied six attributes of souvenir authenticity: material, presentation, features, image, feelings, and spirit or interpretation to tourists in South Korea, finding that the most effective marketing methods should involve souvenir suppliers focussing on “the overall appearance and image of souvenirs … considering these six characteristics of souvenirs’ authenticity” (Elomba & Yun, 2017).

The subcategory of existential authenticity, focussing on individuals’ emotions actions, has been explored, with a heavy focus on hosts’ and guests’ interpretations of place and space (Yi et al., 2016). Wang (1999) argued that existential authenticity is a state of mind that enables an individual to feel free, within certain environments, to engage in activities they would normally avoid because of their social roles. Some tourists may encounter local artisans or craftspeople and local craftwork and folk art, and become consumers of these experiences, objects or activities, which are not experienced by tourists in their daily lives but are associated with tourist excursions. Experiencing these things away from their natural environment and social rules allows them to be “true to themselves and not to be rigidly constrained by their social roles” (Yi et al. 2017)

Consumers’ perceptions of authenticity have a major role to play in how Indigenous souvenirs and art produced for, and interact with, the demands of the tourism industry and the compulsion to transform them into local, national and international commodities. The consumption of Indigenous souvenirs and art should be explored from two perspectives: the tourist’s or consumer’s perspective, which is that souvenirs are “tangible objects or intangible experiences that are symbolic reminders of an event or experience” (Sthapit, 2018) and the supplier’s perspective, which is that souvenirs are “tourism commodities that can be found in souvenir shops and handicraft markets” (Sthapit, 2018). Retailers can “establish product authenticity by simply making tourists recognize that a souvenir is hand-made locally which has an impact on souvenir buying intentions and sales representatives should not pressure tourists to buy, but spend time explaining the item’s history and truthfully describe the item’s value” (Trivedi et al., 2020).

It is “apparent that such items provide evidence of the conspicuous side of tourism consumption” (Kuhn, 2020) as attitudes toward and willingness to sell mass-produced souvenirs are more typical of souvenir vendors because of limited business resources (Soukhathammavong & Park, 2018). Challenges exist, in particular, due to a fierce competition between local souvenir producers and international traders in many local markets (King, 2016), bringing about the potential of unethical practices in souvenir and art production, as well as consumption. Consumers can consciously indulge in ethical and unethical purchasing behaviour, and that they “often compensate for unethical choices by making ethical choices later on (and vice versa)” (Gregory-Smith, 2013). Indeed, there is a bulk of evidence that sustainable travelling is not an “all or nothing” matter (Passafaro, 2019), but some consumers can display a greater or lesser commitment to the green cause. The definition of customer-perceived value describes as “an exchange between total perceived benefits the consumer receives and sacrifices in quality and the price the customer makes to obtain a good or service” (Wang et al., 2018).

This “deception and decoupling from social sustainability relating to human rights and the cultural paradigm from a production perspective” (Plant et. al, 2019) and unethical choices made by individual consumers can have many negative outcomes for Indigenous businesses and individuals seeking to enter the souvenir or art industry as a means of economic inclusion (Plant et al., 2019). The development of nomenclature for deception relating to ethical production and consumption within supply chain literature “demonstrates its prevalence in contemporary business” (Dadush, 2018). Green-washing and blue-washing (Dadush, 2018) describes “the practice of misleading consumers by misrepresenting the degree to which a product or service is environmentally (green) or socially (blue) sustainable” (Dadush, 2018).

Tourists’ behaviour depends on the intensity of the experiences sought or gained Yankholmes and McKercher (2015) and there is a distinct relationship between souvenir shopping and travel experience (Kong & Chang, 2016). Consumer perception and knowledge of the authenticity of Indigenous objects tends to correlate with figures showing numbers of tourists who wished to experience an Indigenous tourism experience (Pabel et al., 2017). A study showed that “a majority (77.5%) of Indigenous artefacts were purchased by visitors who did not participate in an Indigenous tourism activity” (Pabel et al., 2017). These findings have important and potentially wide-reaching implications for the development of future Indigenous tourism and shopping experiences as the context in which a product was purchased increases its perceived value (Weaver, 2013).

3: What don’t we know (gaps). At the end of such journals, academics will speak of current limitations or future research direction. What are these?

While research into the meanings and values behind souvenirs and consumer purchase intention has increased in recent years, the specifics of self-expression through souvenirs have not been extensively investigated (Kuhn, 2020). The research findings of “touristic self-presentation through souvenirs in this study is limited to interpretations of young, Western students and cannot be unequivocally applied to the larger population of tourists” (Kuhn, 2020). The reflective process or the “active construction of self-messages by the tourist” have not been analysed in great detail (Kuhn, 2020).

Many studies focus on tourists’ personal reflections on what their purchases tell other people about themselves, but only involving souvenirs or artwork willing to be displayed in the home or in another place where it is visually noticed. It is important that all souvenir purchase is actively reflected upon, not just the objects that reflect how a consumer’s behaviour is “noticed and valuated by social others” (Kuhn, 2020).

Tourism literature, in exploring the individual marketing aspects that affect consumer buying intention, including product attributes, store attributes and souvenir attributes, have done little to investigate the impact of how the relationships between multiple attributes at once affect consumer perceptions (Wang et al., 2018). Passafaro (2019) points out that there is no universally accepted method of conceptualizing and investigating attitudes, noting that social psychologists “have been working hard to disentangle the many possible determinants of individual and group behaviour … [including] … values, world views, norms, identity, traits and others, all of which researchers should learn to distinguish”. One of the most challenging issues in attitude research is the controversial relationship with behaviour (Passafaro, 2019).

A majority of domestic and international tourists want relatively inexpensive, urban activities; this particularly applies to mainstream, tour group-operated package holidays and similar types of travel. Other types of tourism, such as adventure, art, cultural and environmental tourism “attract far smaller numbers of visitors; but these are the types of tourist attractions run by Indigenous operators” (Langton, 2018). There is a need to better understand the factors preventing greater numbers of people participating in Indigenous tourism activities. As the “majority (77.5%) of Indigenous artefacts [are] purchased by visitors who did not participate in an Indigenous tourism activity” (Pabel et al., 2017), and thus driving the “deception and decoupling from social sustainability relating to human rights and the cultural paradigm from a production perspective” (Plant et. al, 2019), we need to better understand just what is preventing them from participating in Indigenous tourism. It would not be surprising if “embodied cognition” proved a fruitful line of investigation for understanding the attitude–behaviour gap in ethical tourism as well (Oleksy & Wnuk 2016, Passafaro, 2019).

Existing studies “have yet to fully uncover the reasons for the low market appeal of Indigenous tourism” (Ruhanen & Holder, 2019). In recent years, criticism has been levelled at government agencies from a range of sources for “over-promising” (Ruhanen et al., 2015) in terms of the benefits of tourism and creating expectations which have not lived up to consumer demand. The results of this has damaged Indigenous peoples’ abilities to develop and maintain tourism businesses (Ruhanen et al., 2015). At the same time, a study found that between 60% and 80% of international visitors “who were either interested in experiencing or had experienced an Indigenous tourism product believed they had been exposed to very little advertising” (Ruhanen et al., 2015). Understanding non-visitors image and perceptions of Indigenous people and Indigenous tourism is an important first step and data collection methods such as psycho-physiological techniques may be the best way to move forward in this space (Ruhanen & Holder, 2019). There may be a case for “focusing on image recovery and reputation management of Indigenous tourism” (Ruhanen & Holder, 2019).

A way of looking at how cultural stories are represented in marketing realms could be through the lens of story marketing. Story marketing is an area that has not been widely explored in relation to this area and may contribute to attitude–behaviour incongruence caused by conflict among the various attitude components (cognitive, affective, and behavioural) (Passafaro, 2019). Story marketing is a marketing strategy that requires the creation of a brand experience through a variety of methods, including audio, visual and immersive storytelling “whereby the customer becomes the centre of the story to drive profitable engagement” (The Business of Story, 2020). Aspects of story marketing, including informativeness, credibility and entertainment positively influence the perception of authenticity of the place of origin of a souvenir or artwork, and thus the marketability of a product (Trivedi et al., 2020). Story marketing positively influences the purchase intentions of products such as wine, however; as an independent variable, it has not been examined in the context of buying cultural products (Trivedi et al., 2020). Hence, if a marketer wishes to create a positioning strategy for cultural products, they should frame it by using the medium of story marketing (Trivedi et al, 2020). This is an avenue for further research that could be useful. There is a need to “develop the scale of story marketing since the existing scale of story marketing is very ambiguous in nature” (Li, 2014).

As with many decisions made for and about Indigenous peoples, stories and cultures, in Australia in particular, conclusions are often drawn without the involvement, input and expertise of Indigenous peoples. This needs to change. Many studies in this subject area have been quite severely limited due to the nature of their research design and data collection (Wang et al., 2018, Amaro et al., 2020, Deng et al., 2020), with the lack of cross-validation of structural relationships in other cultures and other settings. Convenience sampling is often undertaken, with respondents being a “young and homogeneous group”, and therefore with opinions not necessarily representative of the overall population (Wang et al., 2018), or conclusions drawn from samples that are geographically limited to one location (Amaro et al., 2020).

Similarly, the role played by Indigenous peoples in the development of culturally appropriate manufacturing, marketing and sustainability practices is generally minor. Plant et al. (2019) explored this to a certain extent, highlighting “where Indigenous people should be involved in the development chain for other non-Indigenous firms selling like-for-like products so as to avoid infringing on human rights as it relates to commodification of culture”, but knowledge of this area could benefit from more research and exploration. A good example is the case of the inuksuk; an Inuit stone cairn “appropriated as a signifier of ‘Canadianness’ for the Vancouver 2010 Olympics and repeatedly commodified for souvenirs and tourism campaigns, which features in the ‘An Amazing Gift’ commercial, along with the ecstatic, smiling face of an Inuit woman, as a kind of Indigenous ‘stamp of approval’” (Dean & Failler, 2019). The advert would suggest that Indigenous people appreciate token gestures of inclusion within the colonial nation, despite historic and ongoing dispossession and social degradation they have faced. Is this true or a total façade?

4: How will the research fill these gaps?

The protection of Indigenous people’s heritages and cultures is a human right and the realm of the protection and strengthening of Indigenous cultural rights is an area “still ripe for meaningful exploration and achievement” (Roy, 2015). Therefore, this work will be focussed on this idea, covering three main areas of exploration:

(a) To explore consumers’ perceptions of the authenticity of Indigenous objects as a reflection or projection of self and the categorisation or grouping of consumers by retailers and manufacturers as a result

Buying souvenirs is important to tourists as tangible evidence of their travel experience (Cho & Lee, 2012), with global sales annually in the billions of dollars. Purchasing behaviour differs depending on whether consumers buy an item for themselves or for another person (Kim & Littrell, 2001) and tourists’ personal characteristics are significant factors in their intentions to buy souvenirs.

There is a growing literature in psychology which suggests that consumers are highly attuned to whether their choices and behaviours are aligned to their true self (Newman, 2019, Wood et al., 2008). The relationship between perceptions of authenticity, purchase intention and self-perception has not been studied in any detail; the suggestion exists that “a person seeking self-authenticity may be less concerned about the historical accuracy of an object or experience and may instead attend to the way in which the object or experience makes them feel” (Newman, 2019). This study will explore this, as a more detailed consideration of the cultural background of respondents in data collection techniques is required (Cho & Lee, 2012).

Cultural identities are “created from, and shaped by, values that are defined by a sense of self” (Prictor et al., 2020), and it is important to explore whether decisions being made about the purchase of Indigenous souvenirs and art reflect sincere choices true to one’s self, or are they simply socially-scripted responses influenced by a number of values rooted in a person’s cultural identity, background or social norms (Newman, 2019). Indeed, the “characteristics of individuals who are prototypical of a social group or category is of crucial relevance for understanding other people’s willingness to act like them” (Passafaro, 2019). How these characteristics could be related to self-expression and their relevance to consumption of Indigenous objects is worthy of examination.

To build on previous studies in this area and add to the knowledge, data needs to be collected and analysed from several international sources, providing a wide-reaching dataset to avoid the implications that come with convenience sampling and conclusions being drawn based on sampling from homogeneous group[s] (Wang et al., 2018) or samples that are geographically limited (Amaro et al., 2020). This study will address this issue using contemporary communication and data collection techniques covering a number of territories, and, to explore the way Indigenous objects are marketed and retailed based on perceived audience characteristics, the “six characteristics of souvenirs’ authenticity”, as described by Elomba & Yun (2017).

(b) To explore the barriers that prevent tourists within and to Australia from undertaking an Indigenous experience, including how, and the extent to which, Indigenous tourism experiences are marketed to audiences domestically and abroad and the effect(s), and how these barriers affect consumer perceptions of authenticity

Australia is home to world-class Indigenous tourism experiences and has the unique ability for visitors to experience Indigenous culture and authentic products made by Indigenous communities. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander tourism is an important and iconic part of the Australian tourism offering. It is essential to attracting new and return visitors to Queensland and ensuring participation of Indigenous Australians in the tourism industry (Department of Innovation and Tourism Development, 2020).

Indigenous people involved in tourism and related markets generally have a positive view of the industry and confidence in their products to exceed consumer expectations (Ruhanen et al., 2015), but there have been conflicting reports regarding this (Buultjens & Gale, 2013, Ruhanen et al., 2015). Reported demand has not translated into visitor and income flows for Indigenous people involved in these markets, so where is the money going? For Indigenous people operating tourism businesses around Australia, or aspiring to, there is a clear need for a better understanding of visitor perceptions (Ruhanen & Holder, 2019).

Academic studies have shown that, for the awareness of Indigenous experiences, there is “little difference between international and domestic respondents: domestic respondents had slightly higher awareness levels (21%), citing Indigenous tourism as an experience option available in Australia only marginally more often than international visitors (18%)” (Ruhanen et al., 2015), but not a great deal has been researched at government level. A lack of focused research has resulted in public sector strategies that have been “developed for growing Indigenous tourism in Australia, are not underpinned and developed with explicit empirical evidence but rather with assumptions” (Yugambeh Museum, 2003).

Tourists have a desire for authentic experiences and tourism “has the potential to foster existential authenticity and that existential authenticity is experience-oriented” (Newman, 2019), and those who seek authentic experiences in authentic settings and meaningful interactions with residents are encouraged – when these desires are fulfilled – “to travel more, stay longer in the places they visit, and take part in more activities compared to other tourists” (Tussyadiah & Pesonen, 2015).

The year of Indigenous Tourism – now extended to 2021 because of the COVID pandemic – is part of the Department of Innovation and Tourism Development’s “commitment to supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders to take charge of their economic futures” (Department of Innovation and Tourism Development, 2020). Despite this, there exists an urgent requirement to further investigate whether “low levels of awareness and demand for Indigenous tourism in Australia is a result of general indifference to the product or if they are a result of inadequate and/ or ineffective marketing and promotion strategies” (Ruhanen et al., 2015). This research will fill that gap and explore how barriers to participation affect consumer perceptions of authenticity in Indigenous objects as a result.

(c) To explore the extent to which Indigenous peoples are involved in decision-making roles in the Australian souvenir and art markets, and the likely effects on increased Indigenous representation on consumers’ perceptions of authenticity

“Opportunities abound to make a difference, but they may need to evolve from changes in generational attitudes and approaches” (Roy, 2015). The correct approach to research of this kind would involve “seeking information from primary sources by Indigenous peoples first, followed by reviewing both primary and secondary sources by non-Indigenous peoples” (Roy, 2015, Martin, 2003). This would ensure that it recognizes Indigenous people’s world views, honours their social values, emphasizes the contexts in which they live, and privileges the Indigenous voice and experience (Roy, 2015).

Professor Marcia Langton (2018) writes that the benefits of tourism to Indigenous people are many, especially in rural and remote areas of Australia where there are fewer economic opportunities. Tourism businesses are a “pathway for local families to enjoy the benefits of their unparalleled ancestral heritage” (Langton, 2018); thus Indigenous people have “established cultural and natural tourism businesses and opened up their country for tourists with a great energy, determination and a love of sharing the beauty of their culture” (Langton, 2018). Local tourism projects offer Indigenous people opportunities to work on their own country with their own family, while education their young family members about their country, stories and traditions; ensuring their cultures are sustained into the future.

However, existing studies “have yet to fully uncover the reasons for the low market appeal of Indigenous tourism” (Ruhanen & Holder, 2019). Ruhanen and Holder (2019) call for “an alternative lens and approach [that] could shed better insights into the issues of low market appeal for Indigenous tourism in Australia” and including Indigenous viewpoints from primary sources can be a rarity in academic studies.

With this in mind, it is important to explore how and where Indigenous people should be involved in the development chain to avoid infringing on human and cultural rights as it relates to commodification of culture and the potential effects this will have on consumers’ perceptions of authenticity. This work will seek and analyse data from primary sources as First Nations voices must be heard and included in this study if it is to be considered a useful contribution to public knowledge.

5: What is the research question/s under investigation?

There will be three research questions:

1: To what extent do consumers’ reflections or perceptions of self affect their perceptions of authenticity of Indigenous souvenirs and art, and how does this affect the categorisation or grouping of consumers by suppliers and retailers as a result?

2: What are the barriers preventing consumers from undertaking authentic Indigenous tourism and cultural experiences, and to what extent do they have an effect on perceptions of authenticity of Indigenous souvenirs and art?

3: To what extent would a greater level of Indigenous decision-making in the Australian souvenir and art markets affect consumer perceptions of authenticity and purchase intention?

6: What are the managerial problems?

The managerial problems include working out how to persuade consumers to seek a more authentic Indigenous souvenir or art purchase, how do we ensure a greater percentage of consumers are exposed to the possibilities of experiencing Indigenous tourism, and how can we involve a greater number of Indigenous people in decision-making in the mainstream Indigenous souvenir and art industries.

Previous studies have proved adept at predicting and explaining human behaviour (Ma et al., 2018, Giampetri et al., 2018), but others show that purchase intention has no effect whatsoever on consumer behaviour (Deng, 2015, Meitiana et al., 2019). There is no universally accepted “standard way of conceptualizing and investigating attitudes” (Passafaro, 2019), and attitudes alone cannot explain all human behaviour, nor individual or partial behaviour in all circumstances. Behaviour and attitudes can be influenced by a combination of values, world views, social norms, identity, personal traits and others: all of which researchers need to learn to distinguish (Passafaro, 2019). Future studies of this kind require a “more detailed consideration of the cultural background of respondents” (Cho & Lee, 2012), with more attention paid to the cultural background of consumers, especially in global markets.

Other problems can affect data collection, including the lack of control of researchers in respondents’ entering data into a questionnaire or similar device can cause misinterpretation or a lack of understanding, resulting in data validity problems and a weakening of the data. We do not reflect upon how we present ourselves in each and every moment of our lives (Kuhn, 2020) and often are not comfortable in doing so as a result. Researchers must work closely with respondents to surveys, questionnaires and other forms of data collection so that attitudes and behaviour can be measured accurately (Meitiana et al., 2019).

Studies have also described (Sthapit, 2017, Ruhanen & Holder, 2020) that the collection of data in the post-holiday stage, relying on consumers’ memories many weeks or months after their interaction with the Indigenous souvenir and art markets, results in “a complex process in which correlated information from what consumers knew before an actual experience and what they learned afterwards becomes integrated to create an alternate memory of product experience” (Bartlett, 1932, Sthapit, 2017). Data must be collected much closer to the point of interaction, if not at the point of interaction.

Similarly – and this issue could apply to several areas of this research – Ruhanen & Holder (2020) found that respondents to questionnaires “may have been hesitant to articulate broader barriers pertaining to otherwise culturally sensitivity issues relating to Indigenous peoples and/or communities.” Respondents may have felt compelled to appear to be more ‘politically correct’ and therefore not entirely honest about their true feelings or perceptions of Indigenous peoples, cultures and objects, and this can skew the results in this area. Offering the option of anonymity when supplying data could help counteract this potential problem. Additionally, many current studies have used data from small, homogeneous group of young tourists (Kuhn, 2020), and further research into other cohorts could expose additional data useful to this research.

Self-expression through souvenirs is “deeply entangled with subjective meanings and values attached to the travel experience” (Kuhn, 2020). In tourism, people “interact routinely with a wide range of objects and material environments; they bring their gendered, racialized and aged bodies into play when performing leisure and tourism” (Haldrup & Larsen, 2006). People actively represent what is of personal value to them and, if a trip is not considered special or noteworthy, souvenirs are rarely displayed or discussed (Kuhn, 2020). Research should go beyond current studies by investigating consumers’ perception of their social environment and to what extent self-messages reach their intended audiences. This would be a good starting point for the examination of prestige effects of tourist experiences and how they affect the Indigenous souvenir and art markets.

A surface-level investigation on the categorisation or grouping of consumers by suppliers and retailers shows that “souvenir stores offer a unique and large assortment of souvenirs to visitors” (Sthapit, 2017) to cover all potential markets and maximise profit. While one of the preferred attributes when choosing Indigenous souvenirs or artwork is uniqueness, it is likely that more choice is “always good” (Sthapit, 2017) and the idea that a greater amount choice can be harmful is incorrect. Industry managers should focus on distribution channels and accessibility to meet the needs of mass consumers, while also offering souvenirs that are “authentic to represent the local heritage and unique culture of the community” (Wang et. al, 2018). This area is open to further investigation.

Research in social sciences has been conventionally defined as discovering a generalisable truth based on systematic data interpretation (Snow et al., 2016, Smith, 2012) and many existing studies aim for the replication of results via experimentation and often undervalue participant contributions to studies. Indigenous research should reflect a “value-based convergence of researcher, participant, socio-political, and environmental values on research process and outcome” (Kovach, 2009). It should thus be a process of coming together to “contribute to the welfare of a community, a moral and political activity” (Snow et al., 2016). Many Indigenous communities develop shared ways of knowing guided by how they view the world, themselves, and the connection between the two (Snow et al., 2016), and, in acknowledging the limits of existing literature in reflecting Indigenous culture and of the presence of libraries and similar institutions as colonising structures (Roy, 2015), it will be important to conduct primary research by collecting data directly from Indigenous sources. There is an important requirement to “prioritise First Peoples’ governance and decision making, while recognizing that systemic and institutional bias still exists to limit First Peoples’ ability to exercise these rights” (Prictor et al., 2020).

7: What theory/theories do you plan to use to guide your study and explain such behaviours? There are plenty of cross overs between psych theory and consumer behaviour.

A large amount of research has been conducted on souvenir and art types purchased, but much more is needed in the area of purchasing Indigenous souvenirs and art in the tourism realm (Meitiana et al., 2019). The Theory of Planned Behaviour has shaped psychological theorising and can be applied in relation to predicting an individual’s intention to engage in a particular behaviour at a specific time and place. It proposes that “volitional human behaviour is a function of the intention to perform the behaviour and perceived behavioural control” (Sniehotta et al., 2014). Intention is proposed to be a function of attitudes towards the behaviour, subjective norm and perceived behavioural control. The key component to this model is behavioural intent; “behavioural intentions are influenced by the attitude about the likelihood that the behaviour will have the expected outcome and the subjective evaluation of the risks and benefits of that outcome” (Boston University, online).

Consumers decide whether they intend to continue with a purchase based on information available to them (Pappas, 2016). Positive consumer activities in tourism markets are influenced by the attitudes of consumers about the authenticity of souvenir and art products (Yu & Littrell, 2003), and attitudes towards authenticity have a notable effect on purchase intention (Cho & Lee, 2013). Recent research has found that the attitude toward authenticity and attitude toward aesthetics “had a significant effect on the purchasing intention which then will be realized in a real buying behaviour” (Meitiana et al., 2019). Indeed, attitudes to entire cultures can help to predict purchase intention.

The Fogg Behaviour Model asserts that for a person to perform a behaviour, they must be “sufficiently motivated, have the ability to perform the behaviour, and be triggered to perform the behaviour” (Fogg, 2009). The model states that the consumer only takes action when particular criteria are met, suggesting that consumers are motivated by behaviours that may increase or sustain their social acceptance among peers, among other factors. This aligns with the idea that objects such as Indigenous souvenirs and art “must be noticed by others; they must characteristically evoke certain specifiable reactions from others, and they must be in control of the individual in order to be effective vehicles for self-expression” (Kuhn, 2020),

It may be necessary to use several other theories to guide the research, including Self-Perception Theory, Action Identification Theory and Reasoned Action Theory. Self-Perception Theory suggests that individuals “come to know their own attitudes, emotions, and other internal states partially by inferring them from observations of their own overt behaviour and/or the circumstances in which this behaviour occurs” (Bem, 1972). Action Identification Theory is a “system of principles explaining how people’s thoughts of what they are doing relate to what they do” (Vallacher & Wegner, 2011) and Reasoned Action Theory a model for behaviour prediction stating that the best predictor of people’s behaviour in any situation is behaviour intention (Hennessy et al., 2012). These theories could be used, when individuals have no previously established attitudes to Indigenous souvenirs and art, to guide conclusions related to what cause current attitudes or perceptions to come about.

8: What do you see as the theoretical and managerial contributions?

The reflective process or the “active construction of self-messages by the tourist” have not been analysed in great detail (Kuhn, 2020) and a “more detailed consideration of the cultural background of respondents” (Cho & Lee, 2012) is required in future research relating to this subject matter, which this study will include, while building on knowledge of how the relationships between multiple attributes at once affect consumer perceptions (Wang et al., 2018) of Indigenous souvenirs and art.

Existing studies “have yet to fully uncover the reasons for the low market appeal of Indigenous tourism” (Ruhanen & Holder, 2019) and there is a need to better understand the factors preventing greater numbers of people participating in Indigenous tourism activities and the effects participation or lack thereof has on perceptions of authenticity of Indigenous souvenirs and art. This study will add to this knowledge, while fulfilling the need to “develop the scale of story marketing since the existing scale of story marketing is very ambiguous in nature” (Li, 2014).

As an extension to this, the research will examine the relatively minor role played by Indigenous peoples in culturally appropriate manufacturing, marketing and sustainability practices in the Indigenous souvenir and art industries and the resulting impacts on perceptions of authenticity and consumer purchase intention – most especially in Australia. Plant et al. (2019) have explored this to a certain extent, highlighting “where Indigenous people should be involved in the development chain for other non-Indigenous firms selling like-for-like products so as to avoid infringing on human rights as it relates to commodification of culture” (Plant et al, 2019). There is an important requirement to “prioritise First Peoples’ governance and decision making, while recognizing that systemic and institutional bias still exists to limit First Peoples’ ability to exercise these rights” (Prictor et al., 2020); and the role played by Indigenous peoples in the development of culturally appropriate souvenirs and art, and the likely effects on consumer perceptions of authenticity as a result, could benefit from further research and exploration.

There are several limitations of the Theory of Planned Behaviour, including assumptions that the person has the opportunities to perform the desired behaviour and that behaviours will not change over time (Meitiana et al., 2019). It does not account for other influencing factors including fear, mood or past experience, nor does take into account environmental or economic factors (Meitiana et al., 2019). The timeframe between intent and action is also not addressed. This research will address each of these limitations with a wide-reaching, exhaustive data set and analysis.

9: How many studies are you planning? For PhD, generally two or three.

Three studies will be undertaken, with one study aligned to each of the three research questions under investigation.

The first will take a primary, quantitative research approach to explore the extent that consumers’ reflections or perceptions of self affect their perceptions of authenticity of Indigenous souvenirs and art, and how this may affect the categorisation or grouping of consumers by suppliers and retailers as a result.

For the second study, relating to the second research question, a combination of primary, quantitative research and user-generated content analysis will be undertaken to explore the relationship between consumption of Indigenous souvenirs and art and willingness to partake in an Indigenous tourism experience. As a research tool, UGC has been found to be a “highly suitable data source for tourism studies with academic, industry and market researchers increasingly adopting the approach to study travel-related decision-making purchases (Ruhanen & Holder, 2019). A distinction will be made between tourists who took part in an Indigenous tourism experience and those who did not.

A similar combined-method approach will be taken to the third study, relating to the third research question, in order to examine to what extent a greater level of Indigenous decision-making in the Australian souvenir and art markets could affect consumer perceptions of authenticity and purchase intention. Data collection will involve working with Indigenous people in Australia, through focus groups, discussions and interviews, using a proven community research and user-testing methodology. All interviews and discussions will be informal and semi-structured, allowing participants to generate ideas, concepts and feedback, as well as expressing opinions openly and freely. It is important that participants are able to pursue their own priorities in their terms and using their words (Kitzinger & Barbour, 1999). By allowing these interactions to be flexible and fluid in nature, participants are encouraged to express a wide range of attitudes (Waterton & Wynne, 1999).

10: What methodology do you propose? Experimental, qualitative, quantitative, etc.

The research methods will include quantitative methods, user-generated content analysis, and small focus groups, discussions and interviews, as described above; all designed to maximise data collection.

The first and second studies will include questionnaires designed to measure all relevant variables using a Likert scale and allow for a wide range of input from the sample audience, whose personal characteristics will also be recorded, including sex, age, nationality, geographical location, education level, income level, and others. The relationship or relationships between the variables proposed will be measured and tested using Partial Least Square (PLS) (Meitiana et al., 2019), with data drawn from consumers of Indigenous souvenirs and art who have purchased an object or objects in the three months prior to data collection occurring. A sample size of 100 people in PLS is considered appropriate (Hair et al., 2014), but this study will seek to double this figure.

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Tex Perkins: Up Late for Rock ‘n’ Roll

tex perkins scenestr paul mcbride live music brisbane australia GOMA

Tex Perkins is arguably one of the hardest working people in Australian music, and a true survivor at that.

As a member of Beasts of Bourbon, The Cruel Sea, Tex, Don and Charlie, The Fat Rubber Band and others, as well as a finger in the pies of the acting, writing and presenting worlds, Perkins has been working practically non-stop since the early-’80s. Having had many guises over the years; from hard-drinking rocker, Johnny Cash in his ‘The Man in Black’ show, or member of a bonafide Australian super group, as well as simultaneously juggling family life and personal relationships, Perkins isn’t going to be held back by the roadblocks of recent months.

The enigmatic singer-songwriter will be continuing his decades-long relationship with Australian music-lovers when he appears at the Queensland Gallery of Modern Art’s ‘Up Late’ series on 20th March as Tex Perkins & Friends; an ensemble including Jez Mead, Lucie Thorne and Christian Pyle.

The latest edition of the popular series is part of GOMA’s ‘The Motorcycle: Design, Art, Desire’ exhibition, which examines the ground-breaking designs that shaped one of the most iconic vehicles and features 100 of the greatest motorcycles ever assembled. Included in the outdoor celebration, which runs for two nights at the Maiwar Green at South Bank, are Indigenous rapper and musician JK-47, Brisbane punk/grunge outfit VOIID, and DJs Eamon Sandwith, Paolo and Patience Hodgson. Throw in GOMA’s top-notch bars and food service and you’ve got a veritable smorgasbord of delights.

Added to this, Perkins’ year is looking as busy as ever, with appearances pencilled in at Byron Bay Bluesfest in early April and the Gympie Music Muster in late August, and a string of club shows lined up, among others.

But being a rock ‘n’ roll survivor inevitably takes its toll and doesn’t come without its scars. The past couple of years have seen the loss of some of Perkins’ closest friends in the music world, including the Beasts of Bourbon’s bassists Brian Henry Cooper and guitarist Spencer P. Jones, who both passed away from cancer at the ages of just 55 and 61, respectively, and put an end to the much-loved band forever.

Then came COVID, but, not one to stand still or take time out, Perkins put together ‘The Show’; an online concert series recorded and staged not in the pubs and hotels of urban and rural Australia, but in a shed on his country New South Wales property. With the help of family and friends offering expertise in equipment use and setup, recording and editing, the series kept the ever-busy Perkins from getting restless before the re-introduction of the live music show towards the end of 2020.

Now, fresh from lockdown and with a number of shows with Matt Walker under his belt, including a recent show at Kings Beach Tavern on the Sunshine Coast which a Scenestr reviewer described as “ultra-solid”, Perkins is back in the game. It’s a timely return to a natural habitat for the Fender-toting guitar-slinger.

If quality rock and roll performed by one of Australia’s most experienced and respected industry veterans in a moon-lit urban setting is your thing, this one can’t be missed.

Catch Tex Perkins & Friends at GOMA’s ‘Up Late’, Saturday 20th March at 9pm. Tickets via GOMA.

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Cut Copy Poster Exhibition: A Personal Journey for one of Brisbane’s Finest

Image: Leif Ekstrom

The late ’70s and ’80s was a landmark era for Brisbane’s music and youth cultures; and the creative, subversive and DIY nature of the scene is now on display in an immersive and revealing exhibition at the State Library of Queensland.

‘Cut Copy: Brisbane Music Posters 1977-87’ is a collection of over 350 rare, handmade music posters that came together from attics and half-forgotten storage boxes after an inspired hunt by John Willsteed.

For Willsteed, formerly a member of The Go-Betweens and currently guitarist with Halfway and a Senior Lecturer at QUT, the collection involves not only a journey into the history of Brisbane’s music scene, but of his younger self and legacy.

“I have a lot of first-hand knowledge around these posters,” Willsteed says. “I designed some of them, I printed some of them, and I knew all the other people who designed and printed them. It wasn’t a very big scene and everybody knew everybody else. So, maybe this is the last opportunity to grab information from all these people and stick it onto these objects before we all sail off into the west like the elves.”

After a determined search, items came flooding in from around Queensland and further afield, with some from as far away as Spain.

“I had this idea that I would try and collect as many posters as I could; from people that I knew from the ‘scene’, for want of a better way of describing it,” Willsteed says. “I also realised that these people are in their sixties, their kids are growing up, they’ve been hanging on to stuff for a really long time as it was an important part of their youth. Maybe, though it was time to get rid of it and I really wanted them to get rid of it in a place where people would look after it and people could access it forever instead of stuffing it into a wheelie bin or skip. I put a word out on Facebook and collected about 350 items from maybe 20 people. I then spent a summer getting all the relevant details around it and building a database; who the artists and venues were and things like that. Often, posters don’t have a lot on them; many don’t have the year or month and they’ll just have ‘Friday 16th’ at some hall somewhere.”

While the collection will be a trip down a possibly hazy and fun memory lane for many, it also tells important stories about the political and social landscapes of the time.

“We were all on the dole and it was a really creative, productive time,” Willsteed says. “The political times are reflected really obviously, as some posters have images of Joh Bjelke-Petersen and Russ Hinze. Some of them are fundraising gigs, called dances in those days, for campaigns against nuclear power or for people who were paying fines for being arrested in street marches, which were banned in Queensland at the time. The government was anti-youth and used to bust up these dances a lot. The posters also track the existence of bands and venues of the time. 4ZZZ was a force in the late-’70s and became a really important feature of the live music landscape. They booked a lot of international bands and put local bands on those bills. At the same time, there was not much middle ground [between genres] and there were a lot of independent shows in small halls; some still exist and some don’t.”

With such a variety of items on display, the collection holds treasure for every music fan to find.

“There’s a great XTC poster from the early ’80s advertising them playing at Cloudland,” Willsteed says. “As a band that doesn’t tour internationally any more at a venue that doesn’t exist any more, that’s pretty special. There were a few things of mine that I didn’t have copies of that I was surprised to see again. There’s something about the individual nature of them that’s very soothing.

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Live review – The Stress of Leisure – Lefty’s Music Hall, Brisbane – 19/11/20

The Stress of Leisure Lefty's Brisbane 2020

It was a good night for an art-rock hootenanny as Brisbane’s The Stress of Leisure successfully launched their new album, ‘Faux Wave’, before an amped-up audience at Lefty’s.

With COVID restrictions eased just days ago, there was a palpable relief and optimism in the air as ales were sunk, memories of distant gig-going were reawakened, and heads were nodded in time to the quartet’s unique brand of jittery, unconventional and fun sound.

Given much of the lyrical content of the songs to be found on ‘Faux Wave’, with song titles including ‘Non-Expertise is Killing Me’, ‘Banker on TV’ and ‘Beat the Tension’, one could be forgiven for thinking this is The Stress of Leisure’s ‘lockdown’ album. This couldn’t be farther from the case.

Indeed, the entire album was recorded in February, just before everyday reality spiralled sharply into the realm of shitshow; possibly making The Stress of Leisure the soothsayers of a generation or simply fortuitous peddlers of exactly the right kind of musical vibe suited to these *cliché warning* unprecedented times.

The show was almost a straightforward run-through of ‘Faux Wave’ from start to finish, with additional tracks including oldie-but-goodie ‘Sex Time’, ‘Thought You Were Young’ and ‘Pulled Pork’; the latter of which frontman Ian Powne declares a work of “genius”, as it’s one of the only songs to tackle “politics, nationalism and pork-barrelling”; not to mention getting shouted at him “any time he walks around New Farm”.

‘Non-Expertise is Killing Me’ is dedicated to “Donald over in the States”, while latest single ‘Banker on TV’ and a gloriously ramshackle cover of The Clash’s ‘Lost in the Supermarket’ round off a solid hour of off-kilter rock and pop; leaving an audience riding high on the crest of a wave of ‘faux’; whatever that may be.

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Live review: Sleaford Mods + The Chats – The Triffid, Brisbane – 12/3/20

Sleaford Mods Brisbane 2020

Midweek apathy, a relentless downpour and the scourge of lingering pandemic panic weren’t nearly enough to dampen the spirits at Sleaford Mods’ debut Brisbane appearance on Thursday night (12th March).

The English duo, touring Australia for the first time since their 2007 inception, left nothing in the tank after what must be one of the most brutal, hard-hitting, entertaining and darkly funny performances of recent times in these parts.

Speaking of entertaining and funny, Eamon and Josh from Sunshine Coast slackers The Chats provide a solid support slot, even though they do almost nothing of worth other than hit ‘play’ on a playlist, crack a few tins and sit in front of quizzical audience grinning from ear to ear. The award for the most laidback DJ set of all time has just been given.

the chats sleaford mods brisbane

For Sleaford Mods’ Andrew Fearn and Jason Williamson, not much, it seems, is laidback, although they’re not above taking the piss out of themselves with as much venom as they attack the ruling classes, austerity politics and pop culture.

Opening with ‘The Committee’, ‘McFlurry’ and ‘Fizzy’, Fearn nods and bops behind his laptop that teeters on a battered, old stool, while Williamson vents spleen, sends spittle sprays for seemingly impossible distances, and contorts his body in tune with the tunes while flitting between ranting, rapping and preaching – all liberally sprinkled with a plethora of c-bombs and truth bombs in equal measure.

It’s the no-bullshit nature of the duo’s act, full spectrum of emotions witnessed onstage, badass beats pumped forth by Fearn’s laptop, and utterly acerbic and absorbing vocal and physical performances by Williamson that makes a Sleaford Mods gig a truly unique and necessary experience in 2020.

Through ‘Kebab Spider’, ‘TCR’, ‘Reef of Grief’ and ‘Jobseeker’, the pace doesn’t let up, and the diverse Triffid audience laps it up from beginning to end.

Williamson’s lyrics and mannerisms provide many of the highlights, and while Sleaford Mods may be too riddled with complexities and contradictions to be the heroes we need in 2020, anything that gets Brisbane dancing on a cold and rainy Thursday evening is worth the price of a ticket alone. Ten out of ten: should visit again.

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Feature interview: Boy and Bear are bouncing back

Boy and Bear Paul McBride Scenestr interview

Four years spent coming to terms with a debilitating illness hasn’t dampened Boy and Bear frontman Dave Hoskings’ lust for life as the band return home for a national tour.

After a much-publicised struggle with chronic dysbiosis – a microbial imbalance in the gut – Hoskings is enjoying playing and touring as much as ever, despite the journey towards fourth album ‘Suck on Light’ being a tough one.

“Life’s really good,” he says. “[The album] felt like a long time coming and when I listen to it, I’m still happy with it. I think we were able to produce something that we’re really proud of it, and it’s nice to be on this end of the cycle with the record, and we’re thinking about touring and travel. It feels good to be back.”

Hoskings’ accompanying diagnosis of anxiety and depression was also overcome as the multi-ARIA-award-winning band got back to business.

“At the back end of the last record I had kind of fallen to pieces,” Hoskings says. “I had to work out what the hell was going on and that took a bit of time. I’ve been a pretty open book about the whole thing and I’ve come a really long way. I’ve still got some challenges and I’ve still got a way to go, but that’s still moving in the right direction and I just have to stay patient and keep seeing the really effective doctors that I’m seeing. The main thing is that I’m much more comfortable and my functionality is much better. I’m up and I’m working and I’m surfing a bit, so that’s really good.”

The Sydney five-piece will play The Drop festival in Noosa, Newcastle, Manly, Coolangatta, Torquay and Busselton, and a slew of regional and metropolitan shows starting 29 February and ending in May with the completion of their 65-date world tour.

“Touring is going really great,” Hoskings says, “We love playing in Australia, but the world is a really big place and we want to embrace the scope of that – being able to travel, play in festivals and try to compete in these markets is really fun. North America has been great. We haven’t been back to Europe for a little while, but sales have been really strong for this tour, which is kind of heartening, I guess. We’ve been out of the game for a while and you never know whether people might have moved on, but it feels like our core fanbase is really solid. It still feels really odd, in a nice way, that people on the other side of the world who speak a different language are still embracing what we do. We get to travel over there, play and sell out some gigs, which is amazing.”

A love for touring regional areas was established early in the indie-rockers’ eleven-year career.

“Our early years were much more ‘adrenaline’, more excitement and much more partying,” Hoskings says. “Now, we want to pace ourselves a bit. We still love getting up on stage and playing, but the difficult part is all the travel and the lack of sleep and things like that. Each one of us has our own routine and we generally know what we’re getting ourselves into. We do a bit of prep and we feel pretty good about it. If you don’t do the regional shows, you’ve only really got five or six gigs in Australia, in terms of capital cities. But right from the start, we had a discussion with our management and it was definitely something we wanted to do. It’s not always easy touring regional Australia. It has its challenges, but it’s been a really rewarding thing making that decision early, so there are crowds and audiences that are used to us coming. That’s been really good for us, and it feels like people are just welcoming and enjoying the fact we’ve made the effort to get out of the major cities, although we’re hitting Brisbane at the Fortitude Music Hall. That should be really cool; I’ve heard so many great things about the venue.”

‘Suck on Light’ was recorded in Nashville and features themes of overcoming hardships and emerging from the other side with a smile.

“We decided we wanted to work with Collin Depuis and he was based in Nashville,” Hoskings says. “So, it was either we head there or we get him to come to us. Nashville is probably just got the edge on a lot of studios around Australia. There are plenty of great players if you need them and really good musical resources – it’s just a really effective place to record. We would definitely succumb to the fact that we’ve got one foot firmly planted in pop music and, I think, with good pop music, when you dig underneath it, there more complicated things going on. I think that some songs take time and certain things can take a while. But you also don’t want to lose that musical instinct and energy that can come. The whole recording took us about six weeks, so not an extremely long time, but not banging it out either. It can be a bit of a time warp in the studio from 10am to 7pm and you don’t know where the day went. We did try to get out of the studio once a week – even to just chuck a Frisbee around or get on the bikes.”

With a new lease on life and his health conditions under control, Hoskings has been productive.

“I’ve been kind of noodling around with stuff,” he says. “I had some demos, so I set up a file on my computer which just said ‘album five’. I took a photo and sent it to the boys just as a little motivation, I guess. I’ll try to build a body of work over a period of time and I’m already thinking about the fifth record.”

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Live review: TOOL + Author & Punisher – Brisbane Entertainment Centre, Brisbane – 20/2/20

tool brisbane entertainment centre 2020 maynard james keenan
Image: Scenestr © Charlyn Cameron

The anticipation and tension in the air was palpable in and around the mosquito and hot chip haven that is the Brisbane Entertainment Centre as the mighty, genre-skipping rockers Tool made their first visit to the town in seven years in support of their highly anticipated fifth album, ‘Fear Inoculum’.

Support came in the form of a brutal and demanding performance by Author & Punisher, also known as San Diegan solo artist Tristan Shone, who delivered a punishing and absorbing set of pounding, industrial drones as the male-dominated, heavily lubricated audience poured into the sold-out, 13,500-capacity venue.

Reports from the quartet’s Sydney and Perth shows spoke of visual spectaculars, a strict camera ban, and a band musically at the peak of its powers, and this show didn’t disappoint on any of those fronts.

Behind blinds surrounding the edge of the stage, the foursome took their spots to an intense outpouring of emotion, kicking off with ‘Fear Inoculum’; the lead single from the album of the same name. It was a special moment for a Brisbane audience who had waited years to see their heroes once more, and it showed.

Singer Maynard James Keenan began as he meant to go on, on a raised platform behind and to the side of Danny Carey’s drum kit, surveying his domain with menace and anticipation, crouching for the most part with his mohawk and punk getup visible as a silhouette against the searing visuals. Bassist Justin Chancellor twisted and twitched as he delivered thundering notes to leave ears ringing for days, while Adam Jones was the epitome of cool as he reeled off the riffs.

“Hey Brisbane,” said Keenan. “Heard you’ve had a bit of flooding recently. Being so near the ocean and all. Yeah, whatever.”

The setlist remained similar to the band’s two Australian shows thus far, with ‘Ænema’, ‘Parabola’, ‘Schism’, ‘Pneuma’ and ‘7empest’ featuring as part of a relentless wall of sound that the audience lapped up every second of. Almost as entertaining as the show was the venue’s security team’s eagerness and enthusiasm to jump on anyone using their phone, even if not taking photos, and issue a sternly worded warning or eject them from the centre, as signage and PA announcements repeatedly warned of the perils of using video recording equipment at any stage of the occasion.

It didn’t matter, though, as, following surely one of the most intense aural assaults of recent times, hordes of sweaty, black-t-shirt- and cargo short-wearing fans left the Entertainment Centre, hopeful to not have to wait so damn long for next time.

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Feature interview: Sleaford Mods’ Deep Discontent

Sleaford Mods Paul McBride interview 2020

At first glance, Sleaford Mods might seem easy to pigeonhole, but scratch just below the surface and there’s a seething mass of contradictions and complexities ripe for discovery.

The English duo of vocalist Jason Williamson and musician Andrew Fearn has been aggressively yet cleverly ripping apart the ruling classes, societal norms and austerity-era politics across 13 years and 11 albums, but not everything is as simple as it seems, Williamson says.

“I’m wary of the fact that I don’t have to struggle any more, so sometimes I feel that I’m not the person to ask about frontline politics,” he says. “I personally don’t want to repeat myself on each album by saying how shit everything is, do you know what I mean? At the same time, I want to talk about how shit it is, but you can’t just talk about things in a clichéd manner, because that’s just fucking rude. These things are serious; they affect people. You have to talk about things like that in ways that people will feel. I’m not talking about some fucking bolshy, middle-class audience that just wants to hear you say ‘fuck whoever’, but real fucking connection with misery. It’s a bit of a tightrope; you’ve really got to think about it.”

Embittered rants about unemployment, working life, human rights, pop culture and capitalism layered over punk/hip hop sounds are the duo’s bread and butter. Williamson is hyper-aware of the power of words and forthright about his process of getting his lyrics to the right place.

“I just make sure I’m checking myself because it’s easy to fall down the cliché trap,” he says. “It’s easy to be lazy. If you’re talking about a situation you’ve experienced or a feeling or somebody you don’t like, it’s important to dress that with something that is as potent as how you feel about that subject. [Writing is] cathartic to a certain degree, but I can be a very resentful person, a very bitter person, or full of self-doubt. I’m never fucking happy really [laughs]. You could see me as a successful singer in a successful band, but I’m never content about it. I feel good about myself a lot of the time, but, at the same time, I get pissed off and take things personally when things don’t change. It’s swings and roundabouts, innit?”

Williamson, who has been teetotal for over three years, and Fearn are making their first visit to Australia to play WOMADelaide and a run of shows starting 29 February in Wollongong.

“It was always something we wanted to do but just weren’t in a position before,” Williamson says. “I don’t want to sound like a complete idiot, but, in the past, we would have been literally paying to come over and we’d have no money to take back. We were a grassroots band and we came up together. We were doing it on our own and didn’t really connect with the proper industry until later. It feels like the time spent in Australia will be put to good use, although I can’t fucking be doing with wankers on drugs in my face, talking shit [laughs].”

Wankers aside, Williamson is keen to connect with audiences here, and isn’t worried about his often bleak, UK-centric subject matter resonating with fans in the southern hemisphere.

“People get the gist, do you know what I mean?,” he says. “The music speaks for itself. It’s kind of a universal feeling you get from listening to it. Yeah, the lyrics are a bit alienating, I guess, but, generally speaking, it’s a sound that’s familiar with people. It carries a lot of aspects of sounds that have gone before, but it’s also got a modern, new approach to it as well. Nobody really sounds or operates like us. We’re kind of on our own.”

For Mixdown Magazine

Feature interview: A hell of a trip with Kikagaku Moyo

kikagaku moyo paul mcbride interview

From busking outside train stations and having to pay to play in Tokyo’s live music venues to becoming a leading light for Asian music internationally, Japanese psych-rockers Kikagaku Moyo have come a long way since their 2012 conception.

The band, whose name translates as ‘geometric patterns’, has toured non-stop, released four albums and two EPs, and spawned a record label in drummer Go Kurasawa’s and guitarist Tomo Katsurada’s co-run Guruguru Brain.

Much of that success was down to early push and pull factors that saw them leave their homeland and discover new communities and audiences abroad, Kurasawa explains.

“When we started, people were beginning to care more about music outside of where they were,” he says. “At that time in Japan, media would see you as either a Japanese band or a foreign band; different things were expected from domestic and international bands. There was a tendency at the time for Asian bands to be like American bands; to sing in perfect English and those kind of pressures. But we’re not from L.A. and I like being different. Also, in Japan at that time, bands had to pay to play, whereas in Australia we found you could get paid, even if it was gas money or dinner money. So, we thought, ‘let’s go to Australia’. It gave us confidence quickly after our first show in Melbourne.”

Guruguru Brain – founded in 2014 – is a major focus for Kurasawa and Katsurada this year, as the label seeks to expand into new territories and make connections internationally; albeit with a focus grounded by a DIY approach and communal aesthetic.

“It’s nice to feel that we’re supporting the community,” Kurasawa says. “This is something I see in Australia because, geographically, it’s so hard to tour in America, so the community has to support each other. That’s kind of what we are trying to do for the Asian music community. This is a big mission for us; even more than the band. The band is nice; hanging out, playing music with friends and touring, but we’re also trying to focus on the label, so we’re meeting new bands from Taiwan and some others. I look for originality and identity in the music. It’s interesting that a garage band from Taiwan can be so original but you can hear influences from, say, New York or Chicago. You can connect over feelings that maybe we grew up listening to the same types of music.”

Kikagaku Moyo’s mind-bending sounds range from hard-rocking psych to mellow, sitar-drenched folk and much more in between, and every live experience is a very different beast, with about 20 to 30 per cent of the show being improvised. The band will tour New Zealand and Australia beginning 28 February, with a show at the Croxton Bandroom on 4 March.

“Every day we change the setlist and we have songs that can change and become improvs,” Kurasawa says. “We just kind of have to see what we feel, and it depends on how the song is affected by the atmosphere and the audience setting etc. This will be our third time touring Australia. The first time we came was in 2013 when we had just started the band, so it’s really nice to come back to where it all started in terms of touring. Last time we played Gizzfest, we connected with lots of audiences and other bands. It’s a very nostalgic and special place for us. I think we are going to stay in Japan after this Australian tour to do some writing. We will record this year and hopefully [a new record] will be finished this year. Since we are self-releasing we can do it any time we want. There is no pressure.”

For Mixdown

Feature Interview: Dune Rats

Dune Rats 2019

New album. New tour. Same debauchery. Dune Rats are back, baby.

If ever a band lived every day like tomorrow was the apocalypse, it’s the Brisbane trio, who are almost as well known for their off-stage antics as for their catchy garage rock and punk gems.

Being a bunch of hot messes hasn’t held them back, though. In fact, it’s probably still their biggest catalyst as they hurtle towards their tenth year together. Just maybe, however, there are hints the band are growing up in ways not even they might have expected.

Set for release in January, third album, ‘Hurry Up and Wait’ steps into new territory for the group, says bassist Brett Jansch.

“Nobody is Peter Pan and stays young forever,” he says. “Because we write together, we want to write about things we actually give a shit about, and when you get a little bit older, your life is changing. Not everyone wants to hear another song about cocaine and Scott Greens and shit, you know what I mean? I like when albums by bands I love are different and they take it in a new direction.”

The band avoided difficult-second-album-syndrome with the wild success of ‘The Kids Will Know It’s Bullshit’, which hit number one in the ARIA charts upon its January 2017 release, but such a lofty achievement isn’t taken too seriously in the Dune Rats camp.

“Different album, different things,” Jansch says. “It was rad that that album went to number one, but let’s see how this one goes. I think the songs are way better on this one that the last one. That’s not to say the last one was shit, but it’s just the evolution of the band and not trying to fall back on the same way to write a tune or the same things to write about. We’re pretty psyched. It’s taken a long time; we finished recording at the end of January this year and I’m fucking psyched about how it turned out.”

The band took time out to record with long-time friend and collaborator James Tidswell of Violent Soho on production duties.

“It was probably one of the most laid-back recordings we’ve ever done,” Jansch says. “We wrote the songs pretty quickly, then when we went to record, we went to the Grove, which is a studio at the Central Coast in New South Wales. It’s a place where you live there and record there as well, so we were constantly churning the album over and getting it done, while we were having beers and shit. It was a very pleasurable recording experience.”

With a large and loyal following built from years of criss-crossing Australia and putting in serious mileage overseas, the band is in a solid position to capitalise with ‘Hurry Up and Wait’, set for release on 31st January via Ratbag Records.

The record pays homage to the group’s whirlwind touring life and associated excesses, among other strange and wonderful tales.

And while they may be a little older they aren’t necessarily that much wiser, recently telling triple j of the story behind latest single ‘Crazy’ being one of the excess and indulgence they have become (in)famous for.

“’Crazy’ is one of our heavier songs that we wrote over in LA when we were surrounded by a lot of excess,” singer Danny Beaus said. “Everyone is doing anything and everything because it’s available, whether it’s taking drugs, eating shitty food or being surrounded by technology. All this stuff at the end of the day, whilst awesome at the time, doesn’t leave you any better off even if it feels that way in the moment. We didn’t set out to make a big album, or a polished album, or an album about partying because the last one did alright, or an album not about partying because we want to get away from that. It’s just writing about different stuff in our lives. It was always just going to be Dunies.”

Following a European jaunt, the trio are hitting the road for an Australia tour starting in February, taking in Perth, Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne with support from Ruby Fields, Northern Beaches indie-rockers Dear Seattle, and Wollongong three-piece Totty.

“[Europe has] been a blast; such a good time,” Jansch says. “It hasn’t been that real relentless touring like in the past when we’ve done 30 shows in two months in the UK or the States. We’ve kind of just been blagging through cities we’ve loved and the shows have been really, really fun. [Back home], I hope people can get they and check out Totty, and stay the whole night. The whole night will be full of enjoyable music and good times, and stepping up into venues of that size will be awesome for us. Hopefully that means 3000 people having a good time, so I hope it’s a great place for people to get loose and sing along.”

For Scenestr