Dystopia on community and showcasing a different side of music

Posted by Beat Magazine

“A lot of these acts deserve to be gaining more traction in terms of the audiences they have and the followings they have.”

Dystopia will soon bring together Australia’s best gothic/industrial/dark electronic acts, including Shiv-r, Coffin Carousel, SNUFF, and Zen Robotic. Beat had a chat to event producer and Zen Robotic’s lead vocalist Thom O’Leary, who was eager to discuss Dystopia’s lineup and how the event thrives upon the growth of the goth community in Melbourne.

“I think whoever comes to Dystopia will love it.  Even a lot of people who wouldn’t expect to love it will love it,” says O’Leary. “There’s Shiv-r, who are a world-class act. They were originally from New South Wales but they relocated to the UK where they were based for a while, and they had toured over 20 countries before deciding to come back and live in Australia again, so they’re Melbourne based now. They have an international reputation within the industrial scene.”

O’Leary continues to enthusiastically discuss the other acts, such as Coffin Carousel. ‘They’ve recently signed to a U.S label and they’ve been based in Melbourne for six or seven years. They released an album in October so they definitely look like they’re about to take off.

“DJ Lobotomy will also be doing some DJing in between the sets of the live acts, so he’ll definitely keep the vibe of the night going while we’re doing changeovers and later on in the night too,’ O’Leary says. “He’s even been a really good mentor to me because he’s organised a lot of these events. He’s been a really good help in terms of having someone to talk to.

“I’ve seen all these acts before and I say there are no weak links in the lineup,” O’Leary says. ‘They create really great music and really great performances and I think a lot of these acts deserve to be gaining more traction in terms of the audiences they have and the followings they have.”

O’Leary also highlights other events in the goth community, such as Deviate which shut down a few years ago and then New Order was created which has been running for three years. There’s also club events like Fang and Haunt that play industrial music with gothic vibes.

“A lot of those gigs are pretty much DJs playing that music,” he says. ‘I suppose there’s a bit of spread in that community into metal and punk, so a lot of the same people will get into black metal and death metal on one side, and then there’s a whole movement of post-punk music. The main thing that we showcase is dark electronic industrial. We don’t quite fit into metal, punk, or straight up electronic.

“This started out being a dark electronic industrial gig, but a couple of acts like Coffin Carousel and Katherine Hymer don’t really fit into that category. It’s not about trying to fit everyone into that category. Even my own band Zen Robotic is quite diverse in the material we have, but sometimes it’s good to touch on different scenes and communities and build relationships with people.”

O’Leary has also made the observation that goth nightclubs today don’t draw as much interest from people in the mainstream as they used to in the ‘90s.

“I think one of the things about the ‘90s is that it was a real heyday for that type of music. You had Nine Inch Nails, Marilyn Manson, and a lot more acts that were bigger in the mainstream scene,” he says. “It’s interesting because I found in recent times you don’t get many people at goth nightclubs like that.

“Part of people getting into scenes and communities is that often there’s something in the mainstream that will get them in. In the last five years there hasn’t been anything mainstream that’s got a lot of kids into this stuff. Our demographic does tend to be late 20s and 30s, and there’d be some people older than that.”

Nevertheless, O’Leary does acknowledge that Melbourne is a very diverse community that is accepting of all walks of life. Therefore, Dystopia will hopefully draw a range of different people. “We’ve all got our own acts and our own agendas,” O’Leary says. “The main thing is that we wanted to come together and put on an event that we hope is awesome.”

Dystopia will take over 24 Moons on Friday November 17, featuring Shiv-R, Coffin Carousel, Snuff, Zen Robotic, and more.

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Ronnie Winters On The Ten Year Anniversary Of Don’t You Fake It And What’s Next For The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus

Posted by Beat Magazine on 12/4/17.

US post hardcore rockers The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus will soon be jet-setting to Australia to celebrate the ten year anniversary of their debut album, Don’t You Fake It.

The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus vocalist Ronnie Winter says the band has received nothing but great responses about the tour. “That’s the good thing about when we made the album,” Winter says. “It was basically a straightforward rock album with two guitars, bass, drums and vocals so it’s pretty easy to pull off live as we’ve been doing it for ten years.

“We’ve never done it all the way in the order we recorded it, without adding a bunch of other songs or taking some songs out of the album. We’ve never done it all the way through until this celebration, so it’s good fun. Everybody’s really been enjoying it and the vibe has been great.”

Winter’s favorite song from the album has changed over the years, but usually Your Guardian Angel tends to lead the way.

“We might not have played the whole album every tour, but we’ve always played a couple of songs from the album,” he says. “A lot of people know us for Face Down, and a lot of people that aren’t a fan of the band only know us for one song.

“If you’re a fan of the band, a lot of people like songs like YourGuardian Angel and Cat and Mouse.”
The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus always have fun touring different places, and Winter says the bands they tour with make being on the road that much more enjoyable.

“I’ve got a lot of friends in bands. We’re really good friends with Hawthorne Heights,” he says. “We’ve toured a lot, we’ve done a lot of different countries with them as well as Australia, that was a really good run.

“I really had fun touring with 30 Seconds to Mars, Jared [Leto] is a really nice guy, he even bought us lunch one time. Those are my two favourite bands.”

The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus are no strangers to Australian shores, and one of the main reasons they keep coming back is because the crowds are so great.

“It’s fun to do the ten year anniversary because we’re not trying to play anything other than that record,” he says. “You know we’re giving fans exactly what they want,” Winters says.

“Even when we play the new stuff over there; all the kids know the songs, they know all the singles, they’ve seen the videos, and that’s cool because not in every territory you go to that happens, so it’s fantastic and it really makes you want to keep going back.”

Winters says he feels great about heading over for the Australian tour. “Australia is a pretty beautiful country, and we always do our best to get out and see as much as we actually can over there. We’ve been there many times and have always had a good time.”

Right now they may be focusing on nostalgia, but that doesn’t mean that The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus aren’t always looking forward.

“We have the goal to continue to do things exactly the way we’ve been doing them, which is at our own pace, releasing music as we go,” he says. “We’re all a lot older now, we’re all dads and married and life has moved on but we’ve been given the opportunity to continue to make music for a career,” Winter says.

“As soon as we get back from this tour we’re starting production on our new album called The Awakening so I hope people like it. So far, it’s definitely a little bit heavier, but not heavy in a metal way; heavy in an honest way. A little dark, a little heavy.”

By Christine Tsimbis

The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus will celebrate ten years of Don’t You Fake It at Max Watt’s on Wednesday May 10 and Friday May 12 (sold out). Support comes from Young Lions

Honesty Is The Best Policy When It Comes To The Record Company

Posted by Beat Magazine on 1/3/17.

Los Angeles rock’n’roll trio The Record Company truly encapsulate the idea of creating authentic and raw music, and their honest approach reverberates through the hearts and minds of listeners.

Their most recent album Give It Back To You has been nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Blues Album, and the album’s first single Off The Ground scored top spot on radio stations throughout the country. Vocalist Chris Vos discusses the band’s musical journey and how it’s only strengthened their ever-growing bond.

“The thing that remains throughout any consistent era of rock’n’roll that I’ve cared about is honesty and the sound of music that sounds like somebody needs to play what they’re playing,” Vos says.

“For us, the way we feel and the way we sound our best is when we leave the human mistakes and elements in there, and not because we want to have mistakes but aren’t those sometimes the best parts? The flaws are the flavour of the whole thing, it’s like maybe you don’t sing in key completely the whole time and maybe you do.”

Vos discusses how Neil Young is a perfect example of integrity and honesty, since he has great depth as an artist and this is evident in his music.

“Neil Young had a quote where he said if he had to pick between two takes, one where he thought he sang perfectly, and one where he thought he sang with more emotion and vibe, he’s gonna go with the one with vibe,” Vos says. “Even if he feels like the other take was more perfect. I think that’s something that we’ve always tried to keep in mind, lessons like that.

“Those are the kind of artists that when you’re starting a band you want to learn as much about how they feel, what inspired them to be what they are, then maybe it’ll give you some inspiration to be honest yourself.”

The Record Company’s growing experience with songwriting has strengthened their vibe as a band, and their song craft has evolved as a result.

“It’s like a good relationship that’s actually working right, when it’s working right,” Vos says. “When you have a friendship or a significant other and you’re not a musician, it’s very similar to that. You know you don’t have to talk so much about what’s going on, because you know each other, you get it.

“It’s a very natural thing, you put out records, you put out songs and you start to ask ‘what did I like about what we did?’ ‘What would I like to do next?’ and the more you’re in the element of writing together, playing together, the stronger the bond.

“When you’re out there together, and you’re doing this thing all the time, the relationship is staying positive because you care about each other and you’re trying to do it right. You’re trying to do right by each other, you do change and evolve and your vision becomes very cemented together. You start to feel like you all are going in the same direction, and that’s a wonderful feeling.”

Vos is really looking forward to performing in Australia, since he’s always wanted to travel here but hasn’t yet been able to.

“I’ve never met an Australian that I didn’t like,” Vos says. “Every time I’ve ever met an Australian person, I always end up having the time of my life somehow.

“I feel that it’s very important to take in new experiences because there’s so much to learn from every corner. I don’t know the in’s and out’s of what the culture is truly like and I absolutely love getting inside a place and learning what the vibe is. I love the idea of getting to know how people see things, feel about things, what are the traditions around here. Those are the true rewards of travelling and getting to play.

“The only time you’re ever living is the moment you’re living, the past is gone and the future is not real, the present that you’re in is all you got, so wherever you’re at, you’ve got to be there completely.”

By Christine Tsimbis

The Record Company will perform at Byron Bay Bluesfest, running from Thursday April 13 – Monday April 17. They’ll headline Northcote Social Club on Thursday April 20.

Boy & Bear On Finding Satisfaction And Being Hungry For More

Posted by Beat Magazine on 15/2/17.

Boy & Bear are a force to be reckoned with; their 2011 debut Moonfire has won a whopping five ARIA awards and has also successfully landed three songs in triple j’s Hottest 100, and they’ve skyrocketed since, with their 2013 Harlequin Dream and 2015 Limit Of Love also hitting #1 on the ARIA charts.

 They’ve toured internationally and have recently finished a big Australia tour, and they’re now scheduled to perform at Melbourne’s new concert event A Weekend In The Gardens, which will come to life in March.

Drummer and vocalist Tim Hart is excited to play at A Weekend In The Gardens, since it’ll be one of the band’s first shows since they finished their Australia tour in December.

“I love playing outdoor events, especially where people are there for a specific reason,” Hart says. “It’s going to be great, it’s a nice time of year so it shouldn’t be hot, and I think there’ll be people on the grass with a couple of glasses of wine. Also, the boys are getting back together after a fairly long break, and when I say long, I mean a six-week break, which is long for us.”

Before their six-week break, Boy & Bear had an 11-week straight tour, jumping from their America dates straight into their Australia jaunt.

“We had a day off and then we were back on the road,” Hart says. “It was 11 weeks straight. To be honest I was pretty tired at the end of it but we love touring regionally in Australia; it was pretty fun.

“We had a few things going on; we had a gig at a local brewery in Sydney called the Akasha Brewing Company and we were giving all the money away to charity supporting regional funds. It was a bit different for us and it was an exciting tour with some great places, some places we’d never been before, most we’d had and it was nice getting out and reaching people who support our music.”

Boy & Bear began with three of its members going to university, while playing in separate bands and supporting each other at shows. They all clicked instantly while writing songs together and then united to become what they are today. Hart reminisces over the band’s musical journey and how it’s developed over the years.

“We make music more characteristic of us as people,” he says. “We grew up listening to music that was shown to us by our parents and then you go through the years of teenage angst and I think we probably reverted to the music we were brought up with.

“I don’t know if it was some sort of nostalgia or there was better songwriting or whatever it was, but you know that sort of ‘60s-‘70s pop music, and that’s what we started writing.  We just enjoy writing songs, stories and narratives that have good melodies and harmonies.

“We’re friends, we’re passionate, and we’re music lovers,” Hart said, when asked to describe Boy & Bear as a band. “I think that’s what’s held us together all this time, you know, in February it will be eight years of being a band.

“A lot of bands break up because they’re searching for I don’t know what, maybe they’re searching for fame or money and I think that’s one of the great things about our band, there’s not a whole lot of any of those things, we’re satisfied with what we have but at the same time we’re hungry to create and to write albums. We love playing shows and that’s what we do as a band.”

Hart discusses his future goals with Boy & Bear, which are to write the best possible albums they can.

“I think there are no guarantees in life, but especially in the creative industry, you’re trying to produce your best work all the time,” he says. “Because you know there’s no guarantee that people would want to listen to our music.

“We’re still really hungry to write great albums and I’m not saying that we have achieved that yet but that’s what we’re going to be aiming to do in the next couple of years.”

Boy & Bear will perform at A Weekend In The Gardens at Royal Botanic Gardens on Saturday March 11.

Fire Monkey

Posted by Milk Bar Mag on 6/12/16.

Mapping Melbourne 2016 will feature an exciting set of performances that will explore the theme of Asia and identity, which will consist of visual art, live art, contemporary dance, music, public programs and unique multidisciplinary collaborations.

One of the events includes Fire Monkey, a collaborative performance curated by Singapore-based Asian dance laboratory Arts Fission and Melbourne-based choreographer and dancer Victoria Chiu. Milk Bar Mag had a chat to Angela Liong, the artistic director of Fire Monkey, all about the idea processes behind the performance and how it effectively encapsulates the theme of the festival.

‘The title came up during our early discussion between Victoria and myself,’ says Angela. ‘Since 2016 is the Year of Monkey under the element of Fire, according to the Chinese lunar calendar, hence the name Fire Monkey offers a vivid imagery with strong cultural colours that provides much possibilities for creative exploration.’

Angela mentions that the monkey is an important figure in Asian mythologies: ‘It appears in many folklores as well as epics and legends like the Indian’s Ramayana, which has influence on the socio-folkoric traditions of Southeast Asia, and the Chinese’s Journey to the West, which has influence on folk religions and mythologies in East Asia.’

The concept of Fire Monkey also derives from the element of fire; Angela states that ‘the element comprises fire’s duality of life and death and qualities of destruction and benevolence. Fire is a universal myth that exists in all cultures.’

But in this performance, Fire Monkey may not be referring to a literal monkey figure: ‘The title alludes to a certain life force and dynamics encompassing our modern world,’ Angela says. ‘As a performance creation,Fire Monkey references the various folkloric influences but it also connects to the increasing sense of anxiety and uncertainty that people everywhere are feeling.’

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She continues: ‘The performance is presented in many short dance segments that sometimes take place simultaneously at the Arts Centre Melbourne lawn. The format is like traditional street theatre with dancers in modern urban garbs.’

‘Live music performances (comprising percussion instruments of East and West) will also support the dance. There is no fixed seats and audience are encouraged to move around freely to catch performers up-close-and-personal.’

Angela discusses how Fire Monkey will best encapsulate the Asian Australian identity: ‘I hope Fire Monkeyhelps to bring on a distinct Asian perspective that can add to the rich dimension of the Asian Australian identity.’

She continues: ‘Along the way, I also hope this can contribute to the cultural mapping process and enables Melbourne to merge as one of the truly magnanimous cosmopolitans – a liveable city of the new century.’

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Collaborating with Victoria Chiu has been a very interesting experience for Angela: ‘She brings on a strong Australian artistic temperament but also a subtle Asian-ness due to her heritage. She is open-minded and direct in her actions and response, but at the same time she brings on a faintly familiar air when we communicate with each other.’

Being a Skype-based collaboration, Angela acknowledges that the virtual communication can be limiting and awkward, particularly since the key members are visceral and tactile performing artists. But the long distance collaboration also requires a strong dose of trust and respect: ‘This is what exchange of cultures is all about: a leap of faith, openness to examine differences and willingness and resourcefulness to tackle arising challenges.’

She continues: ‘But I actually like these attributes that are the integral and organic parts of the artistic process which lead up to the final presentation. We didn’t come together and just present a show, we have to communicate and learn about each other first before the show is a reality.’

Angela hopes that the audience will enjoy the neo-folkloric approach of Fire Monkey, as well as soaking up the fun of immersive street theatre style from the dance and music presentations. ‘Most of all, I truly hope the audience will recognize how enabling arts and culture are to bridge communication beyond all differences,’ she says.

Fire Monkey – Mapping Melbourne 2016
Arts Centre Melbourne Lawn, 100 St Kilda Road, Melbourne
Thursday December 1 – Saturday December 17
multiculturalarts.com.au/event/fire-monkey

The Road To Stockholm

Posted by Milk Bar Mag on 28/11/16.

Soul singer Jessica Papst has been busy creating the ultimate Eurovision spectacle of a show, titled The Road To Stockholm. Filled with brewing tensions and glitzy Eurovision glamour, the cabaret is about two rivals who realise they need to work together to save their crashing musical careers. The only way for them to actually redeem their places in the spotlight is to seize victory at the 2017 Eurovision Song Contest in Stockholm. Milk Bar Mag had a chat to Jess about how she conceptualised the show with comic piano man Matt and what inspired her to start singing in the first place.

‘There are times I don’t understand where these things come from, but that’s fine,’ Jess says. ‘Matt and I worked together for a few years on and off, he’s been living in Melbourne for a lot longer than I have; I’ve only been here for a year. But we’ve both come from Queensland, and we’ve viewed a few shows up there that required us to be sort of European characters and we enjoyed that process so much.’

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Jess also mentions that her being a big Eurovision fan also led to the show idea: ‘It’s absolutely amazing and absolutely ridiculous and just brings me so much joy.’ Her love for Eurovision led her to reflect over her love for ‘90s pop music, and how it has become the new retro today. ‘It’s like I’ve seen this all before in variations and it’s made me start listening to a lot of that ‘90s music again and I was like, “Oh my God, I love this stuff!” There’s a lot of European bands, like disco-y kind of bands that came out of that time, and then I was like, “Oh ‘90s music, ‘90s bands, ‘90s European bands, Eurovision!”’

From a very young age, Jess was always singing and listening to lots of different music: ‘I spent a lot of time singing in the car on family road trips and I enjoyed it, and so when you’re a kid and you like something, I think you keep doing it. I used to sing at home too and I used to get the study hours to go by listening to the nightly Top 40 radio shows and learning all the words to things. I even spent Maths class in Year 11 writing out the lyrics to songs rather than studying.’

‘It’s always been very important to me, even if I wasn’t fully aware of its impact back then, and as I got older I went into acting and teaching first, but then started doing musicals in my really early 20s, and then I kept singing.’

She continues: ‘I think because I’ve had so much to do with music from such a young age, I have a very wide understanding of different musical styles and trends. I’ve got a little library in my brain where I’m like, “Oh that’s funny!” “That song’s kind of the same thing” “Oh we’re talking about this song!” So this is my obscene kind of time-wasting in my childhood.’

‘I think music, particularly music you’ve grow up with, not only is connected to a soundtrack in your childhood, but you learn how music speaks to you because you’re listening to it so often because you have the time to when you’re a little bit younger,’ Jess says. ‘And as we get older, we attach emotions to times and people and places to music.’

Jess discusses how she loves working with Matt: ‘He’s just like 10,000 bundles of energy, so even if I’m having a tired day, I’m like “Okay we’re on! It’s time!” and he’s such a great comic writer and it’s like with our powers combined we are Captain Eurovision.’

She continues: ‘We both love this music and Eurovision and I love all the outfits and the crazy amounts of technical kind of stuff that goes into it. In The Road To Stockholm, Boris and Lenka’s journey isn’t without difficulties because he’s Russian and she’s Ukrainian and they’re forced to work together to save both of their careers. So they’ve got a whole lot of their own pride and ego at stake as well as everything else. It’s about them trying to figure out how they’re going to work together, if they’re going to work together and how it’s all going to end up. With certain amounts of spicy sub-plots, it is going to be very interesting!”

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Both Jess and Matt have put in their best efforts to create some of the most iconic sounding Eurovision tracks: ‘There’s appropriated lyrics, there’s songs as you know them and there’s a couple of originals as well so it’s going to be a fun time. We hope that everyone comes, buys two drinks and walks in with them and sits down and pisses themselves laughing for an hour, like that would be ideal.”

As for Jess’ future goals, she just wants to do what she loves without having to work other jobs to fund her passion: ‘There are some people in the industry whose purpose is to be famous, like that’s what they want out of their career. I have never wanted to be famous, I have always wanted to be able to do what I love and not have 16 jobs to make it work.’

She continues: ‘I just want to be able to do this and give it all my attention and not have to do a whole bunch of other things, so ideally my career would be in a way that I could do a whole variety of different things, like I love writing, performing, choreographing and directing, and it would be the best to be able to fill my week with creative stuff and be able to live off that.’

The Road To Stockholm
The Butterfly Club, 5 Carson Place, Melbourne
Wednesday December 7 – Sunday December 11, 7pm (6pm on Friday)
thebutterflyclub.com/show/the-road-to-stockholm

Who Is Fitzy Fox?

Posted by Milk Bar Mag on 15/9/16

Melbourne based author and primary school teacher Amelia Trompf is set to release her new children’s book Who Is Fitzy Fox? in October through Little Steps Publishing. It’s about a furry animal who is on a journey to discover his identity in the world, which draws to both children and adults who are on their own journeys of self-discovery. Milk Bar Magazine had a chat to Amelia all about her journey from teaching to writing, as well as the idea processes behind Who Is Fitzy Fox?

Although Amelia currently teaches adults, she used to be a primary school teacher, and she used to write stories all the time for her students. ‘I just think it’s such a good way of connecting with kids and they love it,’ she says. However, she then moved to Scotland with her husband around 5 to 6 years ago. ‘I wasn’t working, so I was just looking for part-time work and I suddenly had lots of time on my hands. I got creative and did some things I always wanted to do and then it was actually a really good opportunity.’

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This creative idea came from these children’s books that are on sale only in Scotland. They’re calledMorningside Maisie and are set in Edinburgh. ‘I just thought “Melbourne doesn’t have a book for Melbourne kids”, so I really wanted to write, and because I used to live in Fitzroy, I thought “yep, kids in Fitzroy need a story” so yeah and then it happened really quickly after that.’

Amelia wrote the draft really quickly, since she felt as though it was in her and then it just came out. ‘It’s all about belonging and feeling like you’re special and celebrating being unique.’ She also discusses how her teaching background has influenced her creation of this novel. ‘I think it gave me an understanding of kids and things I’ve wanted to share with kids, and particular students I’ve had over the years who have needed a bit of a boost in self-esteem and have felt a bit lost. I guess I was thinking about them when I was writing it, and yeah definitely having a background in teaching certainly helps.’

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One of the most important themes in Who Is Fitzy Fox is the sense of belonging. ‘So I guess on one level, I hope for local kids that they can enjoy having a book set in their home, their area and kind of understand that having a sense of belonging and belonging to your community is really important. But universally, the most important themes I think are understanding that sometimes if you have a problem, you have to put a bit of effort into trying to solve it. There are answers out there and there are people asking for help, which is really important.’

There is also the valuable concept that we all have to remember: we are all special. ‘It’s also understanding that we are all really really special and all unique and there’s only one of us. I think most people go through a time in their life where they’re unsure who they are or where they fit in and kids in particular, in the playground and stuff, there’s always doubts about things,’ Amelia says. For instance, there’s a line at the end of the book, which is directed to Fitzy: ‘I wouldn’t care if you were a fox or a dog, I’d love you exactly the same’, and Amelia expands on that quote by emphasising how important it is for us to know who we are and where we fit in. ‘We also have someone in our life who says ‘you know “I just love you anyway”; that unconditional love, and I know not all kids feel it, but yeah I think it is a really important message.’

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As for Amelia, her writing journey has increased her confidence. ‘I was always confident as a teacher, in my ability to teach kids, but in terms of sort of putting myself out there, I was always safe. I always kept myself pretty safe; the idea of networking was just terrifying before, and it’s still a bit scary, but I’ve just become much more confident in just saying “I’m an author and I’ve done this”’, she says.

‘I’m happy within myself that I’ve achieved one of my lifelong dreams and produced this book that’s beautiful, but also the other thing is I just had so much fun working with other people. Working with the illustrator and the publisher was just amazing, that collaboration, yeah I’ve had that with teaching but I’ve never worked on a project and really collaborated.’

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If Amelia could describe herself in three words, she would use “passionate”, “hard-working” and “creative”. One random fact about her is that she originally grew up in a farm, and she expands on the significance of it. ‘It’s something that’s very important about me and who I am. I used to work a lot on a farm with my dad like all through uni holidays and stuff and I’m a country person that lives in Melbourne. I love Melbourne and I don’t ever want to leave it, but half of my heart is still in the country and it’s definitely shaped me with the ability to work hard. I mean, I hate to imply that if you grow up in the city you don’t work hard because that’s not what I mean at all, but for me it definitely has given me that ability to keep pushing.’

I asked Amelia whether she’d like to travel anywhere in the world, and she tells me that she’s done so much travelling in the last 20 years that she’d be really happy to stay in Melbourne for a while. However, she absolutely loves Edinburgh because that’s where she wrote her story and happened to meet the illustrator of her book, Jennifer Bruce. ‘I enrolled in one of her courses, she’s an artist and she was running workshops. She was teaching a course on drawing with the right side of the brain and she’s an amazing artist. She helped me develop some illustrations for the book, like initial ones just to help me develop the character in my mind,’ she says enthusiastically. ‘When I had to find a professional illustrator, I thought of her because she already knew the story and I knew she was amazing. So I think the fact that that all happened in Edinburgh; I feel like if I didn’t live there, this whole story might not have existed. So for me it’s such a special place and I made lovely friends and it’s a really happy place. I’d love to go back, when I can bear to put my toddler on an aeroplane.’

As for Amelia’s future goals, she really wants to write the sequel to Who Is Fitzy Fox? She’s already done the draft, but she wants to get it shaped into a good manuscript. ‘That’s hopefully going to happen in the next few months after I’ve done all this marketing and stuff, so that’s probably number one. But I also want to focus on my teaching career; that’s my first passion I guess, and I’m teaching adults English as an additional language so that’s a new area for me, so there’s a lot to learn.’

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She discusses how she did her second school visit with the book, and she was reading it to the kids. They did an activity afterwards, which she thought was really fun. ‘They actually reminded me of why I wrote the story, because I hadn’t really had that feedback from kids. I’d love to get back into more primary school teaching as well, as well as continuing to share the book with kids.’

For aspiring writers, Amelia has a few helpful ideas. ‘Well I’d say if you’ve got a story that you want to send off to publishers and have spent so much time polishing your manuscript, and once it gets to a point where you think it’s ready, don’t put off sending it. I put it off for quite a while; I kept on coming up with all these excuses and I didn’t know how to write the cover letter and I ended up getting help. There’s lots of places where you can get help polishing your manuscript and if they give you the confidence to send it, then I say definitely do it.’

Amelia also reassures people not to feel discouraged if their story doesn’t get the recognition that they think it deserves. ‘When you send your book to publishers, you’re waiting for feedback, but I think if you love your story don’t be too disheartened or don’t think your story isn’t worthy. I think as humans we’re naturally storytellers and we’ve all got something to say – it can be a bit intimidating, the whole world of books and people. If you love your story, there’s other ways of getting stories out there rather than traditional publishing.’

Who Is Fitzy Fox?
Available online now and in bookstores from Friday September 23
fitzyfox.com