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Feedback Loop — Jerry Poon

In our series ‘Feedback Loop’ we talk to musicians, artists and DJs from across the globe about their record bag and their first experiences using the nuraphone. This week we speak with Jerry Poon, curator of The Operatives, and Melbourne Music Week's closing party with Warp Records' Mark Pritchard, British rapper Nadia Rose and USA's electronic music producer EPROM, as we celebrate our partnership with our hometown festival MMW.

Few promoters or DJs have helped shaped Melbourne’s ever-evolving music scene quite like Jerry Poon, the founder and director of The Operatives. The musical collective has done it all — from fostering a passionate community of Australian artists to touring international acts and throughout have helped pave the way for the next generation of music-lovers — evoking new elements of technology to make performances groundbreaking and inspiring countless musicians. An essential part of promoting new music to Australia, with an ear for the future, Jerry Poon was the perfect tastemaker to test out the nuraphones' capabilities in new ways and tell us about curating a music business for 14 years — 

To be honest I began with a level of skepticism after hearing about the nuraphone, but I have to admit, as soon as I swapped over the from 'neutral' to 'personalised' I was blown away. I've been an early adopter and advocate since, for sure.

Your go-to headphone test track
  • I love using Opiuo tracks to test a rig and sound check but of late I pop on Kromestar and Om Unit’s Solar Cycle. Just a nice smooth range of beats and bass, super rounded.
1st song you played on the nuraphone  
  • I actually listened to Eprom — Hurricane as the first track. I did want to see where the front row could go, and with the lord of the analog bass, I died slightly from the satisfaction.
The first of your own tracks you listened to on the nuraphone
  • RAF – An unreleased Idle Minds Workshop (Hooves and Myself) tune featuring my younger Brother Raphael Poon (a classically trained Opera singer) — Erica Tuccieri On Flute, and a lot of Amens and Bass. Tough but beautiful.
Your favourite song to relax on flights/tour with  
  • Mark Pritchard certainly if its on an ambient tip, Flying Lotus and old soul, new soul are my relaxing go-tos.
The track you always play to rescue a dance floor  
  • It could range from a prodigy remix to deadline by Digital, or a J Robb edit, Mr Carmack's beats, Sensei - Troyboi... Local jams with Billy Davis, Jordan Dennis, Silentjay, Amin Payne, Sean Deans, Hooves, Raptorhandz, and so many more…. ButI love to finish with Spottiottidopalicous – Outkast.
The song that has had the most rewinds  
  • Some jungle tunes will always stand the test of time: Babylon – Splash
One track you’d recommend the nura community listen to on the nuraphone  
  • Dimlite – Roos a Dedication
The track you play to show off your eclectic tastes with  
  • Arca – Anoche or something from The Heliocentrics, I think in a set that goes for more than 2 hours you’re going to hear me play something from a vast range of genres, love it all!

“Back in 2004 I started conceptualising The Operatives,” Jerry says, speaking on his evolution from a running a monthly night to Australia wide events that span hip-hop, electronic, techno and everything in between. “It stood for a lot of stuff that I wanted to be when I was younger — live quite a covert, underground life but still impact changes through culture.”  

 

“I’d found myself appointed as a booker for Red Bull Music Academy, the participants included Flying Lotus, Aloe Blacc, Skream and the lectures were Mark Pritchard, Waajeed, Benji B. Being in an environment like that, with people who were so experienced and pioneers of various sounds, opened my eyes to the diversity of good music and what went into an event on that scale. Some nights we were running three shows, literally ran off our feet with no sleep – but there’s no complaints – it was life changing. It was even fun to get the participants to push your car when it broke down - which it did quite often.”

 

After the success of the first RBMA, Jerry was encouraged to promote a emerging sound. “When we were doing a lot of the ‘beats stuff’ to begin with, there weren't really many people doing it – in fact, there wasn’t anyone else doing it in Australia. But there were people in each city trying to build it and broaden horizons and the development nationally helped — without that initial network it wouldn’t have been viable to do it. Looking at the diversity of artists now, the growth has been exponential — other promoters and events could be looked upon as competition, but they’re part of the development of the culture.”

Of course, running events focused on a new style of music in a city known for it’s interesting weather has not been without setbacks. Jerry laughingly recalls handing out ponchos at a storming Melbourne Music Week event with Gaslamp Killer and The Upbeats show’s underground venue actually flooded. But after early events were drawing up to two hundred people, there was a break-through when a show featuring Flying Lotus at the Hi-Fi bar sold out in two days. “We had to do a second show and sold that out too. Thousands of people for acts, which I felt, were still extremely underground. We’d been pushing the sound for years and that show was a turn-around in the business and my faith in what the music actually was.”

 

Ever since, Jerry and The Operatives have carved out a reputation for promoting some of the most forward-thinking musicians from around the globe with events that focus on the visual and community experience as much as the sound. Let Them Eat Cake festival, formed by The Operatives and other Melbourne-based promoters have allowed them to platform local talent to the level usually reserved for international bookings and Jerry, now working alongside the city council, has helped encourage the emerging cultural scene with events such as Melbourne Music Week. For those interested in staring their own events, and dedicated to promotion, Jerry offers some advice — “You have to know that not everything is going to be a major success and roll with the punches. But if you stick to what you do – whatever the music might be – if you are passionate about it to your core, you’ll reap the rewards. For me, it only took ten years.”

Celebrate the power of local music alongside nura at Melbourne Music Week's closing party, this Saturday — tickets available here. Catch The Operatives' showcase at iconic laneway venue Section 8 on Thursday for free, and hear pioneering artists at their 14th birthday party with LTJ Bukem, Om Unit and more on Dec 23rd.

— nura is Melbourne Music Week's Offical 2018 Event Partner. Find out more info at mmw.melbourne.vic.gov.au

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