Sound States 2023 W.A. Music Mentorship Program Announces First Round of Mentors

Sound States 2023 W.A. Music Mentorship Program Announces First Round of Mentors

Alongside the announcement, we catch up with program founder Hayley-Jane Ayres to get the lowdown on this year’s edition of Sound States

Returning for its third year is Sound States, the W.A. music mentorship program that aims to provide early career artist managers and self-managed artists a space to build confidence and knowledge to cultivate their own thriving, independent career.

The Sound States program is a unique opportunity for emerging W.A. artists, delivering a DIY message and actively working against the idea of industry gatekeepers, instead focusing on successful independent career paths.

Over three days in April, 15 lucky mentors will join a wide range of guest speakers, with the first round of guests having just been announced. Among those sharing their knowledge will be Deena Lynch AKA Jaguar Jonze, Grace Newton-Wordsworth of the recent WAM-award winning Joan & The Giants as well as a range of venue music programmers, festival directors, artist managers, distribution representatives, and yours truly (see below for the full list).

With applications open until Sunday, February 26, we caught up with Sound States founder and recent Gold WAMi winner Hayley-Jane Ayres to find out more about this year’s program.

Sound States 2022

When did you have the original idea for Sound States? How did you make this idea a reality?

I went to this incredible program called The Seed Fund in early 2019 which is for mid-career artists and managers and thought "wow it would have been amazing to have this experience.... but also earlier in my journey". Then when COVID hit in 2020, many arvos at the pub were spent with other managers and artists while we all mourned our cancelled tours and release schedules but it also brought us all so much closer. We had such a lovely and inspiring community coming together in WA and it felt like more people needed to get in on the goodness. So with that extra time on my hands I put together Sound States!

What are the main aims/goals of the program?

When I started out I thought there were all these partnerships and people standing in my way of success; and that networking "done well" was networking my way up. But 10 years into my career I know that's all bullshit. You don't need an agent, a label, a manager... and the very best network you can have is the one immediately around you. The program aims to reinforce the DIY power, and remind participants how absolutely amazing the community is right here in WA. If we all help one another, we all become successful together!

Who is eligible to apply as a mentee?

Anyone based in WA who is over 18 and is managing (including self managing) an active music group or soloist. Those accepted into the program can attend for free, and if someone is regionally based we cover their flights and accoms!

What advice would you give to applicants?

A big part of the program is about goal setting and planning. We even have a question about goals in the application form. Get specific! If you're wanting to get on more festivals, which ones? If you want to get more streams on your music, set a realistic figure. We have an external panel of industry experts select the attendees and it's not necessarily the most established ones who get through; it tends to be those with a clear vision of what they want to achieve.

What can mentees expect from Sound States 2023?

Lots of connecting and sharing of ideas. My favourite thing about the program is everyone ends up being both a mentor and mentee. Everyone learns something new at some stage of the program and I'm sure this year will be no different with things always changing!

Which part of the program are you most excited for?

The session everyone seems to get the notepads out for is "The Big Gig". We talk about how to land festival slots and touring spots and then we queue the fun storytelling of all the mistakes (whether they be our own or someone else's) and hacks we've learned from our time in the industry. Overall there's a lot of amazing transparency from the mentors and it demystifies and humanises it all a bit more.

What are your dreams for the future of Sound States?

I would love Sound States to run as an annual program in Perth, but also be able to offer a roving version of the program to some regional centres to make it more accessible to people all over the state.


Follow Sound States: Instagram / Facebook

Sound States 2023 Speaker Bios

Deena Lynch Jaguar Jonze

Emerging as one of Australian music’s most important voices in recent years, Jaguar Jonze has blazed new trails when it comes to her visionary blend of art and pop as featured on her debut album, ‘BUNNY MODE’, while also featuring in The Australian's 100 Cultural Leaders 2022 List, Sunday Life's 25 Women Reshaping Australia and Vogue Australia’s 21 Women of 2021. She’s an artist who refuses to be silenced, and has used her voice and personal experience with iconic tenacity to advocate for dramatic systemic change in the music industry and tell powerful stories through art, music and fashion.

Emma Adams The Bird / Mojo’s Bar / Chipped Polish Management

Emma Adams (she/her) is the Music Programmer for Perth (Boorloo) live music venue The Bird and Local Programmer for Mojos Bar, Freo (Waylyup). Hailing from Harvey in WA’s South West, Emma started her musical life working the bar at the Prince of Wales Hotel, Bunbury where she got sucked up in the live music. She moved to Perth (Boorloo) in 2010 where she started managing rock band Big Orange in which she also plays synth. Immersing herself in the music scene whilst doing a diploma in music business, Emma steered Big Orange through various member changes, regional tours, the release of multiple singles and their debut Album, scoring the band national & international radio play, festival spots, sync deals and national support opportunities. Her artist management roster has since expanded to include Anesu, Gia Como and Cosy under 'Chipped Polish Management'. Emma also spent some years in a casino coordinating shows and tending to artists such as Tex Perkins, Gene Simmons, TLC, Fat Man Scoop amongst many others - She even lent her keyboard stand to Prince once…

Grace Newton-Wordsworth Joan & The Giants

Grace Newton-Wordsworth is a multi-disciplinary creative, passionate about inclusivity. She fronts and manages the indie-pop band Joan & The Giants who have become a staple in WA music, earning multiple award nominations on an international scale and most recently winning 'Best Lyrics' at the 2022 WA Music Awards. The band have embarked on multiple packed out WA tours, headlining shows and festivals. Outside of Joan; Grace is an acting coach, director and music mentor, who has most recently been awarded The Propel Youth Arts 'WA Creative Contribution' Award and been nominated for the 2022 WA Young Person of the Year.

Jocelle Koh Asia Pop Weekly / Believe

The founder of media platform Asian Pop Weekly and Label Distribution Leader with Believe's Singapore/Malaysia team, Jocelle discovered her passion for Asian music through an upbringing divided between time spent in Singapore and Australia. Her thirst for knowledge and passion for bridging gaps has informed all she does today. As a music industry professional who has dabbled in everything from journalism to digital distribution to radio, she wears a lot of hats; all in the name of bringing the music she loves to those who find it foreign.

Kristy Gastelow Kadence Group / Lovely Records

Director of Kadence Group, offering Artist Management, Music Business Mentoring and Grant Writing Services and Managing Director of Lovely Records, with a roster of artists including AODHAN, BUSBY MAROU and TIA GOSTELOW. Kristy has held senior management positions in various fields across Corporate, Government, and Non-Profit. She’s managed teams, budgets, training, government contracts, events and sponsorship deals from education and training to finance, business development to youth work. Kristy is a proud recipient of the 2021 APRA Lighthouse Award, Australia Day Award for Community Development and nominated for Young Business Person of the Year for Queensland's AIM Awards.

Phaedra Watts Nannup Music Festival

Phaedra Watts is the Festival Director of The Nannup Music Festival, a much loved “music lovers” festival, which has grown to be a recognised and appreciated event on Australia’s music calendar. Phaedra is passionate about community, culture and creativity and is supportive of all ways that these can be enhanced or experienced for all and it’s easy to see this reflected in the festival’s diverse and exciting programming year after year. Phaedra has worked with Skinnyfish Music: as coordinator of Mowanjum Festival and stage manager at Barunga festival. In 2017, Phaedra received the Golden WAMi Award for her incredible contribution to the WA Music Industry.

Ruby-Jean McCabe Sunroom / BIGSOUND Festival

After completing a Bachelor of Music Business Management at JMC in 2014, Ruby began working at booking & management agency Bluebeard Music. Over her time working at Bluebeard, Ruby was booking agent for The Zoo, Black Bear Lodge, Eat Street Markets, The Milk Factory & Cardigan Bar. Ruby is currently the Co-Director of management and events company Sunroom with long-time collaborator Dom Miller. Sunroom's current management roster consists of Asha Jefferies, Bugs, Flamingo Blonde, Hope D, sweater curse and VOIID. She is also the Co-Programmer of BIGSOUND Festival and GOMA Up Late. Ruby also previously worked for national artist booking agency New World Artists as an assistant agent and as the Volunteer Coordinator for Laneway Brisbane.

Sara Visser SAS Artist Management

Class of 2021 alumni and now returning as a Sound States mentor, Sara is an independent manager working with electronic artists such as Christopher Coe (producer & Awesome Soundwave label founder), Natalie Blüme and more. Fresh from an extensive European tour with Chris and Carl Cox (yes, the King of Techno!) encompassing an 8-week residency at DC10 Ibiza, Madrid, Torremolinos, Manchester, Leeds, Wembley Arena and in the mighty Ziggo Dome for Awakenings during ADE, Sara can hopefully shed some insight into the mad electronic scene from the perspective of artist manager, and artist liaison on tour.

Will Backler Pilerats / Will Hear

Will has spent over a decade in the W.A. music industry as a DJ, broadcaster, audio engineer and radio music & program director. He still DJ’s and produces/mixes music (when he has the time), and currently works as the Editor of local music media outlet Pilerats, as well as running his own music publicity company, Will Hear. Being on both sides of the pitching fence is a great place to be, leading to insights and understanding of both the content and publicity worlds.

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