The month (13-20 November) sees the return of Melbourne Music Week, one of mod exciting and progressive events on Australia’s cultural calendar. Featuring something for everyone, from the simple pub gig, to jailhouse rock to experimental other worldly experiences – MMW’s diversity is what makes the week so special.

One particular show we’re excited about is Swell, a multi-sensory immersion into music. Swell blends music with unexpected art and design elements to create an evocative soundscape adventure, having reinvented basement spaces including the plant room, kitchen and toilets to create a truly unique soundscape adventure.

Each room will host a completely different experience, the result being a completely immersive, experimental music event with an anything-goes vibe. We caught up with Janenne Willis the creator of Swell to find out a little more about this fascinating project and what she thinks live music gigs should look like.

What Swell Is

“Swell is all about reimagining what live music experiences can be through art and design. We flip the idea of stage and audience on its head, taking artists and audiences alike, out of their comfort zones.”

The Concept & Creation

“The idea was one I had for a long time. One of those nigglers that wouldn’t go away and increasingly took over my brain space. Then as serendipity would have it I had the chance to research it whilst travelling around the world for another project a few years back. I couldn’t find anything like it. I did however garner much enthusiasm from people and started collecting collaborators I really admired. That was the beginning, then it just built in momentum.

So many art forms have reinvented themselves in recent times, circus, theatre, dance, etc. And while there has been much innovation when it comes to the music from a digital perspective, the format of most live music shows remains the same. The concept came from a gnawing wonder about what could be if there was a mash up between live music, interior architecture and cross form art.”

Janenne’s Creative History

“Through my work I’m lucky enough to be around new art (across all art forms) that is edgy and ambitious plus a huge range of contemporary creative people. I also have a personal passion for discovering new music. I think an ever present love for seeking out new art and music is evident in the content of the show. But perhaps less obvious (and just as interesting) is the impact that the world I roll around in has had on the way the project comes together.

The creative process is iterative, site sensitive  and a real collaborative effort. Over 80 incredible people gather and disperse around the project as needed. It’s really humbling and exciting and we couldn’t do any of it without each other.”

The Line Up

“The secret line up is genre diverse. Everything from heavy beats – to pop – to world – to guitar based roots and blues – to poetic and heavenly vocals, and all kinds of in between fusions (for want of a better word!). You can find our line up from last year revealed on our Facebook page for a taste of the diversity. This year we’re also adding live performers from other art forms like dance and poetry.”

How It Could Influence Future Live Performances

“I’ve always hoped to provoke a conversation that spurs artists to reimagine their own live shows. After all, live is at the heart of artist income amidst the impact of the digital revolution on album sales. We learnt a lot from our experience creating the show in season one and are taking it one step further again this time.”

The Venue: The Royal Women’s Hospital

“It’s Deeply fascinating. An on occasion when I’ve been there alone, a tad spooky to be frank. We’re working in the space at the moment planning and building the show.

Taking over half of the basement, the side that is akin to a wonderland of everything you can begin to image beneath an old hospital; consulting rooms, an old plant, toilets, kitchen, janitors closet and more. It’s my dream site to create Swell within really! And sitting directly alongside Melbourne Music Week’s main stage area.”

What To Expect

“Melbourne has an insatiable appetite for the new and Swell is all about that. Come if you’re curious! We don’t want to spoil the experience so can’t reveal all the details, but I can perhaps tease one of twelve spaces in our labyrinth of rooms….imagine a 15 minute heaving party in a decommissioned boiler room adorn with giant weather balloons. Featuring Melbourne best party makers, props and disco, yoga, fantasy style contemporary dance.”

Upcoming Swell Events

Swell
Supported by Eventbrite
Co-presented with Undercurrent
12pm – 3pm
FREE

Swell LIVE
Co-presented with Undercurrent
5:30pm – 8pm
Full $39 + BF
Concession $29 + BF

More info at the Melbourne Music Week website