Can you please tell us about the Spotted Mallard, and what you feel it contributes to the Melbourne live music scene?
We are a big fat hats off and nod in the direction of places like the Continental. We want the night to be a complete experience for all the senses. You hear incredible music. You eat quality food. You drink quality booze. No standing in a black hole propping your elbow on your hip and experiencing the uncomfortable stance of standing with nothing to lean on for 2 hours. We are a one spot stop. Imagine your favourite bands playing in your lounge room (where you never cook, clean, or do dishes) and that is kinda what we are after. That is pretty friggin cool.
Describe a day in the life of Samanda Black!
Open eyes, make coffee, work. Close eyes and plan the next day – repeat.
How did you get your start in the music industry – what is your story of how you got to where you are today?
It’s a senseless round about accident. As in it makes no sense. Even to me! I burnt my hand off with cheap sparklers in February 2003 (by mistake!), landed in India late to design for my clothing label – yaddah yaddah yaddah – I designed and opened a bar in Jaipur, ta BLU`. As well as being an opened air bar, we did monthly art exhibitions, supported live music acts and accidentally starting a small Jaipur Music Festival coinciding with the bars birthday – now 13 years old!!! Fast track to 2012 and I moved back to Melbourne after 10 years in India to open a bar with Max. He didn’t tell me he had always wanted to run a kick arse music venue, so I am an absolute product of “SShhhhh don’t tell her. She’ll figure it out soon enough…”
What made you decide to run a live music venue or did it happen accidentally?
I reckon above covers that!
What advice would you give someone wanting to run their own venue? Did you receive any advice when you first started?
Venue or music venue? If music venue, don’t. I honestly believe there is absolutely no more room in Melbourne for more music venues. There are already too many and in some ways they enhance each other, but mainly they dilute everything as we remain a tiny, tiny pond. Add a ke-trillion festivals and laneway gigs and talent, customer bases, affordability – everything is getting stretched real thin.
If venue – have a plan and see clearly in your mind exactly who your customer is. They can change, grown up, marry, divorce, travel, return, have a bang out, meltdown, reinvent, whatever, but know who they are.
“One must constantly and continually dust off, think laterally and take a chance.”
If given the chance, what would you change about the current Australian music industry?
I am not in the “scene” so I am not qualified, but I do despair for small local groups trying to get their name out. Some of the talent is extraordinary – but only a handful go the whole hog. That is largely luck I fear. Hard work is essential, but getting over that barbed wire, electric fence to success is some crazy understanding of wire cutters and electrics.
Have you had to overcome any challenges or adversity in your career, and if so how did you approach them?
Many and not well. But one must constantly and continually dust off, think laterally and take a chance. I admire those that stay the course and grow and prosper in a lineage way – but you know, I just thought it would be fun for shits and giggles to make it all as hard as possible.
What advice would you give to your 18yo self?
You were right. Next time tell your 30 and 40 year old self to fuck off.
What is your favourite gig you’ve been to ever and why?
Oh dear that is a toss up of two, but I will go with Ravi Shankar and Anouska Shankar in a drab hall in Jaipur. The way she looked at her father, and the way they played together was something extraordinary. As in – extra-ordinary!
“Watch who you get to represent you. If they don’t care about you as an artist, tell them to stick it.”
Do you feel that higher education is necessary to work in the music industry?
Higher education is necessary for any vocation. You don’t always need it, but it certainly does not hurt.
What tips would you give an artist trying to succeed in Australia? Is there a certain route they should take in order to get more bookings and shows?
Watch who you get to represent you. If they don’t care about you as an artist, tell them to stick it. Work hard, tour well. Be professional and for the love of god – give a show. Perform! Engage with your audience. Sell your music. Tell a story if relevant, but don’t bore people because it is important to you. Watch Steve Poltz over and over. Perform.
Who are you role models in the industry whether they be international/Australian?
And every owner of every institution this town has ever known.
Top 3 artists to watch right now?
What is your go-to karaoke song?
I was told not to sing when I was 11 and apart from a tragic BOG performance at a wedding, I do not sing. I am more of a “go to dancer” and Michael Jackson ABC is the one that gets me every time if I have enough orange whips under my belt.