Please tell us your story! How did you get to where you are today? 

It’s a pretty long story! My working life path has been a series of one thing organically leading to another, and exploring different opportunities.

I started working in clubs when I was still at school and through my late teens as a performer/dancer. This led to the local “street press” of the day asking if I’d be interested in writing a column/editing a weekly section about the street/club/fashion culture in Meanjin/Brisbane at the time (early/mid-’90s). Through this time I was involved with putting on some parties, club nights and events too.

I moved to Sydney in the late ’90s, connected with a great crew of Kiwis and ended up teaming up with one of them to launch the Australian edition of a NZ magazine called Remix. (At the time, it was a glossy newsstand mag devoted to electronic and dance music culture, with a cover mounted mix CD with every issue). As one of the editorial leads, it was my task to curate the DJ to mix the cover CD for the launch edition and to coordinate/produce some kind of launch event. I’d recently stumbled across an exceptionally talented DJ called Kid Kenobi (Jesse) and selected him to do the mix. The magazine had very little budget for a launch event, but we secured support from a sponsor (shoutout Carhartt) and did an Australia/New Zealand tour of launch parties for the magazine with Kid Kenobi.

Following that tour, Jesse and I continued working together as an artist and manager team. I knew absolutely nothing about artist management, but knew amazing talent, how to look after people, how to build relationships and how to organise “stuff”. So I threw myself in the deep end with no floaties. We worked together for more than ten years and in that time he toured Australia, many continents of the globe, played so many amazing festivals, headlined iconic clubs here and abroad, released multiple mix compilations, won awards and got an ARIA nomination for his first ever single release. It was a really great wave that we rode together. We were both young, green and courageous in seizing all the moments. Our working relationship ran its course, but he’s still one of my dearest friends today.

By 2008, I’d grown my artist roster and one of the bands had a DJ called Sampology (Sam) as the turntablist in their live show. Separately to this band, Sam had been working on his solo projects and asked me if I would be interested in managing him. I still work with Sam today both on his solo projects, his other project Middle Name Dance Band, and his label Middle Name Records. I am incredibly proud of everything he has done and achieved – especially his beautiful album Regrowth that he released last year. If you haven’t listened to it – do. It’s an album that no matter how insane or crazy the world feels, this music makes you feel like you’ve had a massage, a swim in the ocean, a walk in nature and a meditation, and that everything is going to be OK.

In 2010 I had a random offer of a contract working as music director for a hotel group in Asia. It was a role based in Bali. My first reaction when it was offered was that I couldn’t live in Bali because I had a business in Australia. The client asked me to try it for three months and see if I could manage the back and forth. So I tried it. I lived there for almost five years and feel very lucky to have experienced different parts of Asia and mostly living in Indonesia amongst the beautiful local people in Bali. It was a very special time in life.

While based in Bali, Tim and Neil that owned InTheMix (leading electronic and dance music online media outlet at the time) were launching a conference called EMC (Electronic Music Conference). Knowing I was based in Asia, they asked me to curate a delegation of industry guests from Asia to bring to Australia to be speakers at EMC. I worked on EMC for the next five years on a contract basis starting as a Programmer leading to Executive Producer. In 2017, InTheMix had closed and was now Junkee, and Junkee was acquired by oOH! Media. EMC didn’t make much sense to where the Junkee business was heading, so I took over and setup Electronic Music Conference Pty Ltd. I am still Director and Executive Producer today and work with a small but amazing team.

In 2016, EMC brought a man called Mirik Milan to Australia as one of the headline speakers. He was Amsterdam and the world’s first “Night Mayor” at the time. And at the time, Sydney was two years deep into those lockout laws (kinda like a lockdown, without the pandemic). So Mirik was a very apt speaker for that moment. We hit it off in the week he was here and we ended that week knowing that we would work on something else together. We’d discussed an idea for a conference type event that focussed on the nighttime economy and in 2017, with the support of a City Of Sydney grant, we launched Global Cities After Dark. We held our fifth edition in Western Sydney last November.

In 2020, as weird as it felt starting a new company that year, Mirik, Lutz Leichsenring from Berlin and I started VibeLab Asia Pacific – the APAC arm to the company Mirik and Lutz founded three years ago. VibeLab is a purpose driven advocacy, consultancy and research agency. It is a magnet for people around the world who are passionate about working towards the goal of brilliant, exciting, safe and fun nightlife. There is always an interesting project at VibeLab – and often many at once. In recent times VibeLab has been working on the Global Nighttime Recovery Plan – a worldwide collaboration of more than 90 nightlife pioneers and academics. We’ve also recently concluded a fascinating research project in the Middle East.

Apart from my three businesses, today I am also a part of the MusicNSW board, the Association of Artist Managers (AAM) board and the NSW 24-Hour Economy Advisory Group.

I threw myself in the deep end with no floaties.

Tell us about your role with EMC, what does your day-to-day entail?

No day is identical as myself and EMC’s team work in a very reactive space. Conferences and festivals are a reflection of cultural movements and business changes, so there are always moving parts and new concepts, trends, challenges, industry disruptions and developments to understand. Myself and my team have to be engaged with what’s going on, both on and beneath the surface to deliver experiences that are relevant and valuable to our patrons and our partners.

The consistent things that do happen every day is morning without phones until my daughter is at school. After that, over my essential morning coffee, I’ll read what happened in the world overnight and the temperature check in Australian media. I’ll then head out for a walk or do some morning exercise before my team meeting each day at 10am.

Between EMC, VibeLab and the artists I work with, project plans and timelines are a big part of my day to day. With the exception of a release day for the artists I work with, I steer clear of meetings for ‘Quiet Fridays’. I’ll spend that day reviewing the status of all the various projects I’m working on reporting amongst our team, contractors and collaborators. I really enjoy Friday’s weekly reports – it’s a great way to celebrate what’s been achieved that week and to flag anything that needs to be prioritised in the next week.

What is the best piece of life advice you’ve ever received?

Sleep on it.

Where do you live and what is the current musical landscape like there?

I live on the Northern Beaches in Sydney. It’s a gorgeous part of the world with incredible beaches and nature in abundance. There’s many great Australian artists born and bred in this area of Sydney – Flume, Winston Surfshirt, George Maple, What So Not, CXLOE, Ocean Alley, Angus & Julia Stone are a handful of the prominent artists that grew up here.

There’s a great creative scene organically growing in Brookvale at present which is about five mins from my home. A creative cluster of new live music venues, craft breweries, galleries all activating with a strong sense of community and collaboration. There’s also a good underground scene here – you have to know to know, but it’s here.

What has been your proudest achievement so far?

I don’t hang my hat on one achievement. My path has been a long and winding one, and I remind myself to pause, reflect, acknowledge learnings and celebrate the good moments. Thankfully, I have enjoyed many of those.

Most recently, as an artist manager, I was immensely proud of Sampology’s album Regrowth which he released last year. In every way and every day, he creates and works with integrity. I have been proud of Sam on so many occasions over the last decade and a half, but I was really blown away by that beautiful body of work.

I have felt pride in my work at EMC this past year or so. It has been really hard slog in many periods, but to survive and even grow a little in the last couple of years I think is a miracle/testament to not only my hard work, but also the work of the brilliant, kind-hearted and smart people in EMC’s team. I also feel proud of the work VibeLab does. It is purpose driven and always internationally collaborative. I am so happy that my professional path crossed with Mirik and Lutz (my business partners in VibeLab). Our relationship defies that myth that ‘there’s no friends in business’. There are indeed friends in business, you just have to choose to work with good, honest people.

Who are your role models in the industry, be they international or Australian?

I don’t really call anyone a ‘role model’, but there’s many incredible women in this industry that I have huge respect for, whether near and dear to me, or from afar – Leanne de Souza, Emily Collins, Ishil Ihtiyar, Helen Marcou, Kirsty Rivers, Julia Robinson, Aroha Harawira, Em Nicol, Cath Haridy, Millie Millgate, Bonnie Dalton, Sahara Herald, Morwenna Collett, Ali Tomoana, Nina Agzarian, Anna Lunoe, Sarah Hamilton, Vyvienne Abla, Denise Foley, Charlotte Abroms, Maggie Collins, Hollee Hibbo … and, of course, the women I have been fortunate to work closely with at EMC – Pip Dalton, Krystel Diola and Belinda Raeburn. I could go on and on about incredible women in this industry. I say this as fact, not as an emotional statement – the industry is a much better place when women are leading it.

Who are your top three ‘artists to watch’?

Sampology, of course – he is one of the most gifted and multi-faceted artists in this country. As well as his other project Middle Name Dance Band. There’s a lot of incredible new music coming this year and some very exciting live projects in the second half of the year.

dameeeela – I think she is amazing on many fronts, and if her debut release this past month is anything to go by, there is a very bright path ahead for this special artist.

Allysha Joy – I’m such a fan of anything Allysha does. Besides THAT voice, I love how she earnestly uses her voice to interrogate important and very real issues. I’m also in awe of the various projects she juggles. Being quite the juggler myself, she’s very impressive.

You’ll never regret a swim, no matter how cold it is. Even better if its in the ocean. A salt water dip will always make you feel better about life.

If you could work alongside an Australian artist that you have yet to work with, which artist would that be?

Besides my role in artist management, through EMC I experience working with a variety of artists at different stages of their career. I don’t have my eye on any specific artist that I would love to work with, because frankly, I’m already working with them – whether permanently or on a collaborative project. I’m endlessly grateful that I have these opportunities to work with so many artists and their teams.

What does the rest of 2022 hold for you? Anything exciting you can tell us about?

On the management side, Sampology is about to release Regrowth Rearranged on various dates between the end of February and April. It’s a special collaborative release with replays and remixes of tracks from his Regrowth album from a number of bands and producers from Naarm and Chicago. As with everything Sam does, it’s a clever and wonderful vision for this release project and as always he’s the connecting the dots between the funk/jazz/soul world and the club/dance world beautifully. Middle Name Dance Band are also releasing more new music mid year. Both Sam and Middle Name Dance Band are heading to UK/Europe in Q3 for some exciting shows.

EMC is holding its first conference in more than two years on 5 April. It’s a one-day conference and we have spent a lot of time curating not only the conference program but also giving as much love to the curation of social experiences at the conference. It’s been a red hot minute since the electronic and dance music communities have been able to gather in one place together, so making the most of the time spent with like-minded peers is as important as the delivery of the various conference sessions.

VibeLab is currently working on a project in partnership with MusicNSW that is a series of industry planning meetings between the music industry associations and the very important individuals that drive the music culture, and drive change in NSW. It’s a four month project that is focused on preparing ourselves in NSW for the road ahead, the inevitable further curveballs and working with an aligned industry to take risks and adapt to the changed landscape.

VibeLab is also planning the next edition of Global Cities After Dark, which is really, really exciting but I can’t share more than that right now. 🙂

On a personal side, I am planning multiple holidays this year. Both family holidays and an adults only trip for my husband and I. We’ve been starved of getaways since 2020 and I’ve worked hard enough constantly through this pandemic to treat myself to some decent downtime this year.

Do you have any activities that you do for self-care that are non-negotiable?

The basics like mani/pedis, facials and infrared saunas give me switch off time that’s purely about my own time, treating myself. I do Pilates each week with an excellent practitioner on the Northern Beaches. It’s essential given the amount of time I spend working on a computer. Regular morning walks by the beach near my home before I start work for the day gives me a clear head and positive perspective.

You don’t have to go to every industry thing. Listen to your body and your mind, and if you need time for you – take it. The world keeps spinning.

How do you make sure you’re looking after yourself when things get really hard?

I keep my weekends sacred, so in the most intense moments I do my best to remain present and take each day at a time – knowing that I can switch off on the weekend. I’m also totally OK to tap out of things if I need to. You don’t have to be on every Zoom. You don’t have to go to every industry thing. Listen to your body and your mind, and if you need time for you – take it. The world keeps spinning.

How firm are you with boundaries between work/life balance and how do you try to enforce them?

I’ve definitely become better at this with age. I used to be terrible at this. I still don’t know if I would call it a balance, it’s more of a juggle. With a lot of my work requiring international dialogue it’s pretty standard to have calls during the week after hours to match different time zones. I’m very firm with my weekends. There’s a lot of cliche Northern Beaches Mum stuff on a Saturday like soccer, singing and swimming lessons with my daughter. Sunday is complete relaxation and my husband and I usually don’t make plans on Sundays so we can do what the day presents to us – whether that’s a family bike ride around the lake, a day spent by the pool or just pottering around our home.

Any tips for a quick ‘pick me up’ if you’re having a shitty day?

You’ll never regret a swim, no matter how cold it is. Even better if its in the ocean. A salt water dip will always make you feel better about life.

What was a source of inspiration during the pandemic for you?

People’s honesty. Many ‘colleague’ type relationships have become closer. I have personally experienced a lot more of people wearing their hearts on their sleeve, sharing fears, more proactively supporting each other.

People’s curiosity has also inspired me. Many have had time to really think deeply about the ways we do business, the ways we conduct ourselves and have had the time to interrogate the question “can we do what we do in a better way?”. I’m excited to see the outcomes of those probes as we continue to emerge from this shit show of the past couple of years.

What was a source of concern during the pandemic?

The mental wellbeing of people in the electronic and dance music, part of the live music industry. It is a fact that these individuals and businesses are the first to be restricted and the very last to reopen fully. More recently, I have been particularly concerned about artists and operators that fall in the more ‘micro business’ bracket. For these businesses and people, there was no work from late December until recently and zero financial help. It has been very concerning and something that has kept me up at night.

What is your go-to Karaoke song?

When Ding Dong Dang was open in Sydney, my friend Bree and I used to frequent that place A LOT. Some months, too much. It was one of those karaoke places that gave you a score out of 100 after you sang each song. It became like a sport for us, regularly rocking into Ding Dong Dang to see if we could beat our personal best.

My go-to song is George Michael’s Kissing A Fool – 100 points every time. RIP George and Ding Dong Dang, I miss you!