Ten musicians from the Wheatbelt region have combined with WAM (West Australian Music) to record a compilation album of original tracks titled 'Demos From The Wheatbelt'.
Passionately committed to championing WA music, WAM is the peak industry body responsible for supporting and nurturing original, contemporary music in WA.
In March, the ten Wheatbelt artists travelled to Merredin to record their original songs. These ten tracks now form 'Demos From The Wheatbelt', the tenth iteration of WAM’s ‘Sounds Of’ and ‘Demos From’ regional recording projects.
“This is our second snapshot of what the Wheatbelt region sounds like and it is nothing short of impressive,” WAM’s Regional Officer Nigel Bird says. “I’m most excited to see, and hear, the reactions of people in the Wheatbelt to these ten songs created and recorded in their own backyard.”
With the 'Demos From The Wheatbelt' launch set for late August, the showcase concert will feature all ten musicians. “It's pretty much a three-and-a-half-hour concert, each artist will play about three or four songs – it's a showcase of a variety of talent.”
The artists who feature on the compilation and will be performing at Merredin are: Georgia McAlpine (Buntine), Gracie Stancic (Gwambygine), Hayden McGlinn (Lake Grace), Kelly Gardner (Gingin), Polly Medlen (Wagin), Refractory Road (Northam), Sue Munns (Beacon), Tim Beckingham (Wialki), Tom Caughey (Nukarni) and Primary Collective (Merredin).
“We do a call for interest through local media, community resource centres and word of mouth, real organic grassroots ways of getting out to communities,” Nigel adds.
“We have criteria [as to who we select]; we want to encourage gender equity, so we target five male and five female voices. We have an age demographic of 6 different groups: under 17, over 55 and then the 4 in-between that. We want that representation that music starts young and carries through with us all our lives.
“[We then target] genre and then experience; we try to uncover artists that may not have performed a gig before instead of bands that everyone already knows, and we try to engage local Indigenous artists as much as we can.”
The album was recorded at the iconic Cummins Theatre. “We have a mobile studio that has beefed up the past year or two; we try and choose an iconic location to record in, so when artists come in they really get that 'wow' effect.”
One of the oldest buildings in the Shire of Merredin, for 120-plus years Cummins Theatre has served as the creative heart of Merredin. “The Theatre opened in 1897. It's one of the oldest buildings in the region; it's just grand. It's heritage listed. AC/DC played their in 1973 and it's a place with great stories that was built for music.”
Nigel is full of praise for the local music scene. “We are left to our own devices, but there's a fantastic music scene; it just depends on the bands and their work ethic. But it'll continue to grow; Kevin Parker [Tame Impala] used to tour here along the Pilgrim region in 2005 and 2006 through the north-west of WA.”
Demos From The Wheatbelt launch takes place at Cummins Theatre (Merredin, WA) 30 August.