Gabor Schablitzki, better known as Robag Wruhme, will headline the first smalltown, a new Melbourne party taking place at Brown Alley in September.
Schablitzki has been releasing music under a few different names for the past decade. As one of Germany's most prolific solo electronic artists, his quirky and warm productions have been put to wax on a number of labels, most notably for the likes of Soma, Pampa and Mute. Also appearing on the night will be techno producer Tommy Four Seven, who, since early '09, has been aligned with Frankfurt's no-nonsense CLR imprint, releasing his debut album through the label in March this year. The launch's international contingent is capped off by Guti, an artist that's spent the past four years crafting highly functional and driving tech house from his home base in Germany.
In a slight twist to the way entry to club events is usually sold, first-release tickets for the smalltown opening will be operating on a "pay-as-you-like" basis, where punters are able to choose the amount they pay for each purchase via the promoter's website.
In advance of the party's debut, we caught up with the smalltown promoter, Daniel Tuema, to chat about the new event series and how it fits into the Australian electronic music scene.
Tell us about the new brand, smalltown. Why was important to inject something new into the Australian electronic music scene?
Learning from the years of both good and bad experiences, it's important to create a innovative and refreshing event by looking at every way possible to create a unique experience for our customers. There are obviously limitations to creating a unique experience, but I love a challenge and am working hard to work out any way to do so. Most of the concepts, including "pay whatever you want" ticket prices, are not ground-breaking or new but they will be a unique concept for club events. Whether or not this approach will achieve the desired result is anyone's guess.
What kind of acts are you looking to book?
The basis of our music policy will always be quality underground electronic music. The artists will be current, cutting edge and relevant. We'll steer well clear of recycled, has-been DJs and producers touring for the sake of only earning a buck. Whether it be a debut tour or a tour to promote a new album or mix, the artist must have currency in today's market.
You've obviously seen both the Australian and Melbourne scene change over time. How do you think they differ these days, compared to past years?
At the moment, the level of competition is the highest I've ever seen. It's so important, even more so due to the refined taste of consumers, to provide an event that is unique. Even without the festival market being considered, there is a huge amount of events and tours occurring on a weekly basis. Consumers are easily bored of the same old formula, but passionate about supporting the new and different.
What are the future plans for smalltown? Is there anything in particular you’d like to have achieve within the next 12-18 months?
The ultimate long term plan is to run a festival, smalltown festival. Australia needs more festivals.
Finally, you’ve also started up another new, multi-faceted project, Novel. What’s on Novel's cards for the next year or so?
Novel is my new baby and the next year or so will be a good mix of doing what I know and taking chances on new concepts and ideas. Novel and smalltown will have a number of initiatives aimed at encouraging and developing the next generation of local producers, promoters, event managers and DJs. Our industry is top heavy with cynical, paranoid tyrants, so it's important for independent companies to share their experience and knowledge to the next generation.
The Australian market is saturated with tour agents and promoters, but there is still a huge amount of opportunity if you choose the right direction and have a unique approach.