WAAX and Mo'Ju interview one another, tease new albums ahead of A Carry 4 Coins
A Carry 4 Coins - a live show raising money for Black Rainbow - will be held in Brisbane this Friday, February 5th.
It's hard to know where to begin talking about A Carry 4 Coins, because the whole thing is amazing when it comes down to it. It's a fundraising live show launched last year by Point Blank Group (led by the ever-brilliant Miss Blanks), making a return this week in Brisbane with an entirely new lineup and an entirely new cause; the second edition of A Carry 4 Coins raising money for Black Rainbow - an organisation that tackles mental health and suicide prevention in the Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander LGBTQIA+ community - and transgender women of colour fundraising for gender affirmation surgery.
"We're plagued with the impacts of COVID-19 which has disproportionately affected Black, Indigenous, People of Colour, Poor people, LGBTIQA+ people, Disabled folk, Sex Workers, and many other people not represented and cared for on a social, governmental, or industrial level," says Miss Blanks in a quote accompanying the show's announcement. "I'm so excited for us to be launching A Carry 4 Coins 2021 and announce the annual event with many editions to come. It’s so important to us to help provide relief where possible so that as a community we can all feel supported, protected, seen, and heard."
This year, the event takes place at Brisbane's Fortitude Music Hall, with a lineup led by WAAX and Camp Cope; likely to be one of the only Australian shows this year for the latter act in particular, who over the last few years, have heightened their presence in international waters. Also on the lineup are some of Australia's most brilliant Indigenous and Torres Strait Islander musicians - Mo'Ju, Tia Gostelow and Emily Wurramara - while Sweater Curse and Pink Matter are also stepping up, partly to fill the gap left by Barkaa (who can no longer attend due to border closures).
Taking place this Friday, February 5th (that's tomorrow), the event features some of Australia's best musicians for one of the most important causes there are, and to raise a bit of awareness for the show and everything going on at the moment, we had WAAX's lead vocalist Maz DeVita and Mo'Ju interview one another ahead of the show's arrival. It's - as you could maybe expect - a brilliant chat that goes deep on everything from seal-feeding to the return of live music, while also giving them both a chance to tease forthcoming new material scheduled for this year.
We'll get to the chase and let you just dive straight into it, but you can grab tickets for A Carry 4 Coins here, and find the full lineup below:
WAAX's Maz Devita and Mo'Ju interview one another:
WAAX: Yo, how you doing?
Mo'Ju: I'm all right. How are you?
W: I'm okay. I am not envious of how things have gone down in Melbourne, because I think you're down there hey?
M: You know, it was really difficult. It was very challenging, but also I feel like I leaned into it and just made the best of the situation. And now look, I feel like we're pretty on top of it down here.
W: Have you played a gig yet? What have you been up to musically?
M: Yes, I actually, I played my first show in just over a year. I actually took three months off, right before the first lockdown. I was meant to start playing shows the week we got locked out, so my lockdown - kind of self-imposed - started three months before y'know, so yeah, I've had like a full like year and a bit off, and I just played a show here in Melbourne at the Sidney Myer Music Bowl with the Victorian Orchestra, which was just like-
W: Oh what?! That sounds so sick, what was that for?
M: It was just like the Summer Series that they do at the Music Bowl, which is kind of like - what do you guys have in Brizzy? The outdoor stage that you have?
M: Yeah, it's sort of the same kind of vibe. That was the setup and we did it with a full orchestra and it's just so nuts to hear your own songs arranged for an orchestra, and singing with musicians that are that good. I felt out of my depth.
W: That's insane. So did they learn like a whole set worth of songs?
M: Yeah, 90 minutes.
W: Oh my god, that would have been insane. Wow.
M: It was pretty crazy. How about you? You've been doing like quite a few shows, huh?
W: Yeah, well for us COVID - all that lockdown stuff - kind of eased up a bit earlier than you guys, so we had a bit [of touring] towards the end of the year. We jammed in like 15 shows in like three and a bit weeks, which was just crazy.
M: Yeah, because that's like a show every day.
W: Yeah, pretty much. S we had to do like five Tivolis in a row because we were supposed to play one, but because of the capacity stuff and all that thing, we had to split all of the shows into that. And then we did a few shows in Byron, and we did a few shows in Sunshine Coast. So yeah, we started packing it in and it just went from zero to 100 really quickly, but all the shows were like seated and a bit awkward.
M: I can't imagine a seated audience for your set.
W: I know. It's quite interesting. I think we made the best of it, but we started having to think about other ways to engage, because also - I don't know if this was with you guys too - but like we weren't allowed to be within four meters of an audience member. In all of our shows, I love to get in the crowds so the fact that I couldn't do that was like, 'Okay, so what can I do?' We decided to decorate the stage more and do more things that made it a bit more visually exciting. So yeah, it's been interesting, and now we're starting to book a few festivals - just a few smaller ones.
M: I feel like everything's a bit of a soft commitment at the moment. Everything just feels like it can go either way right up until the last minute.
W: Yeah, literally. I think everyone's just like tiptoeing a little bit. We've been taking the time to work on our next album, which has been good and I think a lot of other musos did the same thing - spending the time making a record or something like that.
M: Yeah, I feel like there's gonna be so many albums getting dropped this year.
W: Yeah. 100%. Are you going to drop one?
M: I hope so. I've been writing heaps, I've got a lot of new material.
W: That's awesome.
M: Are you looking forward to the show?
W: Yeah, I can't wait. It's our first show of the year. The lineup's really sick and we get to see people from interstate as well and yeah, it will be nice to have a little reunion with everyone and raise some money for good cause. What about yourself?
M: Same, same. I mean I was definitely incentivized by the lineup. Like, there was part of me that was like, 'I'm not sure if I'm ready to get on a plane yet.' But then I saw the lineup and I was like, 'Man, this is gonna be sick. It's just gonna be such a good time.' You know, I love what these peoploe do - Point Blank, Miss Blanks - they're always doing really cool things, and just knowing that all the proceeds are going to support various communities and stuff is definitely a huge plus. It feels like after having a year off to kind of reprioritize and get some perspective on stuff, it does sort of feel like - I always want to try and do stuff like this - but it does feel like the community is super important right now.
W: 100%, I couldn't agree more. I can't wait. It's gonna be rad. Have you played the Fort Hall before? The Fortitude Music Hall?
M: Nah, I did hang out there at BIGSOUND party and I weirdly have spoken on a panel in there, but I haven't actually done a show. It's pretty amazing. I was actually gonna say this before the Tivoli is really special to do like five shows, and then so is the Fortitude Valley Hall - you guys have some incredible venues.
W: Yeah, we're getting there hey, it's really exciting. And I think we were really missing having a venue of that size right in the heart of the Valley, so it's been really cool. It's added a new dimension and new vibe to the valley, which has been really cool.
M: You're just ticking them off too.
W: Yeah. Just getting through it. It's a good time to be a muso in Brisbane. I have to say, it's quite nice. There's a lot of new places to play and a lot more people are going to gigs, which is exciting.
M: Not to mention, you guys have like pretty amazing weather.
W: Yeah, the weather is quite nice actually. It's quite good. It's pretty hot at the moment, though. Like it's actually unbearably hot. But the last few days haven't been too bad. Today's pretty hard.
M: How hot is it up there?
W: I don't know, I haven't been outside since this morning because it's just a nightmare. It's just like, humidity - waafs of it. Just straight up moisture just everywhere.
M: I mean, I kind of don't mind the humidity, but we did have like three days in a row of hitting that 40 degrees and then the next day, it's just like back down to like 19 degrees or something.
W: That's such a huge shift, oh Lord. But has it been a pretty hot summer in general?
M: It's been up and down. But you know, I got like desert people on one side and island people on the other side of my family so Melbourne isn't consistent enough for me.
W: Have you always been in Melbourne?
M: I grew up in Dubbo in New South Wales. I think it's a holiday destination now.
W: I personally haven't been but I've heard it's amazing.
M: Yeah, look, there's not much to do there. We do have an incredible zoo. I actually have played at the Dubbo Zoo, played at Taronga Zoo in Sydney, I have played at the Melbourne zoo, and I have played at The Zoo in Brisbane, but not the actual zoo, just like the venue The Zoo, but I feel like we kind of played the Zoo.
W: How are you getting all these random Zoo gigs?
M: I don't know. I think I'm just lucky like that.
W: Do you get a tour? Do you get to meet any of the animals?
M: Taronga Zoo in Sydney did take us - we got to go and meet one of the seals and watch a whole like, private seal show.
W: Oh, what? I've heard seals are really cute to meet, and they let you pet them?
M: I patted the seal! Can't remember the name, but I do feel that we really bonded.
W: Oh, that's so cute. If you could please put in a good word that would be really nice, because I want to pat a seal and I haven't had a chance to do that yet.
M: You don't have seals at The Zoo in the valley?
W: No, we don't. What do we have at The Zoo in the valley? Anything?
M: The valley in itself can be a bit of a zoo sometimes.
W: Yeah, that's it. The Zoo as a venue now is looking pretty cool as well. I don't know if you've been recently, but it's been recently renovated and it's looking really rad. I think it's the longest going venue in Brisbane, I'm pretty sure.
M: What are you planning for the show?
W: I don't know. We just started rehearsing again for this year and so I think we're just excited to play and just work a big stage again. It's just such a massive stage. So I guess we're just gonna run around heaps and just have a really nice time. It'd be the first show that we've played that people can stand up at which is really exciting. Like I said before, we've just been doing those seated shows so it's gonna be so fucking rad. What about you?
M: I'm just gonna stand as still as possible; you do all the running back and forth. I was thinking about running back and forth, but now that you've said that, I feel like I need to bring something entirely different.
W: Yeah, it's important that we develop dynamics.
M: But seriously, I guess it's all been a little bit up in the air as to what kind of a performance I'm going to be able to do because, obviously, the borders have been closed between New South Wales and Queensland and my brother, Stevie, who plays drums, lives in Sydney. So he's been like red-zoned, and it was looking like he couldn't come but I think the borders might be opening up, so if he comes then we can give a little bit more of like an energetic set - something a little bit more exciting - but if he can't come then I'll probably just like get a bit moody on you all because I'll be on my own. It's kind of nice to have the option to go in either away, but I feel like it's gonna have a little bit of a party atmosphere, so I'm hoping that Stevie can make it.
W: Would you have drums and yourself? Do you have like any other players in the band?
M: I mean, it's quite modular these days, like what we just did with the orchestra was like drums and we use like SPD and all that. So it's kind of a hybrid electronic and acoustic drum kit, and then myself vocals and guitar. Then another good friend of ours, Lewis Coleman, was playing bass and synth, but he usually plays keys with us. Then, we have another guy that plays bass, but he was also stuck on the other side of the border. It's actually really cool that we've just like learned to adapt to whatever scenario. So sometimes it's like a four-piece and then sometimes it's a two-piece, just drums and guitar - which I kind of like - and then we use elements of like pads and samples and a little bit of track if we want to have like electronic stuff from the track from the album in the mix. Depending on the show, we can expand to be like four of us. It's taken years to get it to that point where it can really adapt to any scenario, but I feel like Stevie and I are like the main two.
W: Yeah, that's so sick that you can just literally look at any gig and be like, 'okay, we can do this formation for this gig, this formation for this gig.' That's so rad. It's so different to us where there's like five people at every gig and there shall be two guitars, one bass, and drums and vocals.
M: I feel like that came off to like six years or something of touring an eight-piece band around the country and just going, 'that's enough'. It was so much fun, but it was also just like, logistically a nightmare.
W: Oh my lord, that would have cost so much money.
M: Oh, and headaches. As a reaction to that, when that band broke up, I just thought 'I'm just gonna keep it simple, and I'm gonna keep it adjustable to like any scenario,' which is really cool, because I don't know what it's like in Brisbane but in Melbourne, it sort of feels like everybody plays in a million bands. You rehearse and you rehearse and you rehearse, and then you call your guys up and you're like, 'hey, we've got this show.' And they're like, 'I just got booked for a tour!' It can get like tricky like that, but because it's so adaptable you know it keeps it fresh too because you don't know what show you're gonna get.
W: Yeah, that's so sick that I love that. But yeah, oh my god, eight-piece rehearsals would have been a nightmare as well. Oh my god, like getting everyone together.
M: It was just slow to get things done, because it can like very quickly descend into like a lot of goofing around. It's like herding cats.
W: It's almost getting there for us, like we're all just living different lives. There's five of us; five different schedules - it's always been such juggle. There are not many five-piece bands going these days as much, especially keeping it going as long as we have, and so it's always is a bit of a battle to logistically get shit done, but it's always really fun and we've tried to look at doing like SPD pads and things like that, but I don't know, it hasn't really crept into our sound, But I think for this next record we want to have a little more like electronic sounds and things like that. I feel like our last record was rock and now we're like, keen to go and try some different stuff depending on what kind of producer we end up working with.
M: That's exciting. I'm keen to hear that. I feel like every time I make a record, I can't help myself. But I just have to experiment with different sounds and evolve a thing into something. But I also love that you guys are just a five-piece band and you are who you are. Like, it's like, 'these are the members of the band' and there's something really special about that. Bands like that don't happen as much these days and I think that's cool.
W: Yeah, thanks. I mean, it's gotten rarer and rarer just because it's logistically so hard, but also, it's taken a really long time to get to this point as well. Like, getting the right members, you know, everyone getting along. We've gone through a fair few lineup changes and things like that to get to what I feel is the golden era of our band now which is so sick, because like, everyone's having a nice time. There's no like crap going on. Don't have to stress about - everyone really, really fits into the mould really nicely. So thank God, because I don't know, there have been so many times where this band should have imploded but hasn't some reason it just doesn't die.
M: Right? That's special. I just listened to this podcast about The Grateful Dead. I've never been like a Grateful Dead fan or anything like that, I didn't know that much about them. But they are really interesting because they just outlived so many bands. It just seems like against all odds.
W: All the odds are stacked against you. Like you look at bands like U2 or whatever and I'm just like, 'how you still together after that many years?' Like you went through your whole like life chapters with these people, it's just insane. Because over the years, families get involved, people start having kids, people start getting married. Our drummer had a kid a couple of years ago, which was like amazing, but again, you're going through chapters of life with people and there's a lot of factors that start coming in and trying to keep that together and holding it together takes work.
M: I guess that's one of the benefits in playing with my sibling. We can't really sack each other?
W: Have you guys been playing together the whole time that you've been doing this?
M: On and off. He is actually a scientist by day. So there are times when he's like had to prioritize his day job because apparently like it's a big deal. He works in environmental science - we need people like him to be doing their jobs. He always comes back around; he can't stay away for too long, because he's got the bug like the rest of us, you know? It's really cool.
M: This show that we're doing next week is a fundraiser as I was mentioning before, and the proceeds are going to Black Rainbow, and also to members of the trans community for gender affirmation surgeries, which I think is really dope. I think this is a really cool thing, too. It's an incredibly important thing to get behind and I don't know, there's a lot of things going on right now and I think that as musicians, I think it's really important for us to be platforming conversations around this kind of stuff and donating our time giving back to the community in that way. I just wanted to know how you feel about that and if you feel like this kind of stuff is important to you.
W: Yeah, 100% I feel honoured that I was asked to play first and foremost because it's just nice to be able to do whatever I can for those communities and we've always been so happy to jump aboard any kind of charity-type event as well. I'm just excited to be a part of it. I love anything that Sian does, as well and everything that Point Blank do is amazing. These communities need support, they need to be seen to be, to be heard, and it's just really exciting to highlight that through such a strong powerful show. Everyone in the band is super, super excited. I just think it's just like a really, really good cause.
M: Black Rainbow - for the people that are maybe potentially reading this that don't know - is like an organization or a resource for the First Nations LGBTIQA+ community, and they work in suicide prevention and stuff like that. I just feel like nothing like that existed when I was a kid growing up in regional Australia as a First Nations queer. I don't know, when I saw about what they do and heard about it, I was like 'people need to know about this.' I'm so excited for this thing to exist, and I 100% really want to do whatever I can to be involved and all of that. It's really interesting that I guess we've come around to having these conversations really openly - really publicly - which is cool. Because when I started playing music, I remember being told by industry people that the musical I'm writing is too political and it's really alienating. We've now flipped that conversation to musicians really kind of stepping into the forefront of a lot of these conversations and like, raising awareness for these things. So I think it's really important that we do this kind of stuff.
W: 100%. I'm just so stoked to be a part of this. I'm stoked to be an ally. I'm so glad that this exists. We're obviously seeing so much more diversity come through the music scene now, which is really exciting and while there's definitely a ways to go, I totally agree: An event like this would not have existed when we started out. It's amazing to see how far it's all coming. It's an exciting time.
M: What're your plans for 2021?
W: We are overdue to put something out. Last year, we didn't really put anything of our own out. We did a bunch of random things, but we haven't really put out our own music since 2019, so I'm really excited to do that, and I think we've got a bit of touring plan, but again, everyone's tiptoeing around it. So I mean, sure, hopefully it happens. It's also just national touring, because I don't know what international stuff is doing - I don't know if that's even going to be possible; they were saying that's it's not till at least 2022 that they're gonna let us leave the country or whatever. So yeah hopefully some national touring but definitely want to put out a record. What about you? How's your 2021 shaping up?
M: Same, I think. I want to start releasing new music. It's been a minute. Native Tongue, that album came out in 2018 and I did a little like side project thing - the Ghost Town EP that I did with Joelistics - that came out at the end of 2019. I'm very attached to that project, but I feel like it because it was collaborative, it's not entirely mine. I am just excited to do something that is mine and I mean, it's still collaborative, though. I've been working with lots of different people on this recording.
W: Have you been working with new producers that you haven't necessarily have worked with in the past?
M: Yes and no. I've actually been writing a little bit and working with Milan Ring. She's amazing. You should totally check her out. I've also mostly been working with Henry Jenkins and Lewis Coleman who have both been on again off again band members of mine. They both played on the last record, but it's the first time we've kind of collaborated in a songwriting and production sense, you know?
W: That's so exciting.
M: Yeah, it's really cool. It's really exciting. It's funny being in isolation, but like collaborating with people, I don't know, you guys probably were able to get into rooms together but we did a lot of this kind of scenario: zooming and talking on the phone and bouncing files back and forth and all that and so I feel like that's kind of imbued into like the songwriting somehow. It kind of takes on this whole other flavour of like the 2020 madness.
W: I did a couple of Zoom writing sessions and things like that and I'm getting a little more used to it, but I guess it's just how it is. We did a session as well with this producer from DC, and he like, literally engineered the session by taking control of our Logic. Have you experienced that?
M: I've done that once before. It's pretty trippy.
W: It's so trippy. Yeah, it's rad. That was really interesting. So I mean, if anything, it's made room for more options, in terms of working with people.
M: Don't you think that as musicians or the music industry, we've always been so good at adapting with technology, and we always been so resilient? We just always embrace technology and move through the times. From making music on our laptops to like the way that streaming works and then also in situations like, in isolation, live streaming shows and working remotely. I feel like we've all developed this skill set over this last 12 months. That is probably just going to be something that we now have in our toolkit, like forever.
W: Yeah, 100%. I don't think that things are going to revert to the way they were; I think this is just the new normal for us and I totally agree. I love how music has its way of adapting to literally any situation, like it just keeps going. The train keeps going. We're still out here doing our best and hopefully, the government can like, I don't know, help us a bit more but anyway.
M: Hey, it's been real awesome to chat with you. We totally didn't even talk about this, but we kind of did a song together.
W: We did the INXS cover for The Sound?! That's right. I completely spaced on that.
M: And it was dope. I really enjoyed it. You did an incredible job. I felt really intimidated to sing the song after I've heard your version.
W: It was oh my god. It was so fun. That actually was great.
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