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Something special in the air for those about to lock

Culture

There’s something in the air – or Up in the Airlock, to be more accurate – that will offer a ray of hope to Queensland musicians struggling to have their voices and compositions heard during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Musician Ian Haug, who owns Samford Valley’s Airlock Studios, has fast-tracked plans to produce and release the Up in the Airlock sessions, a web-based series that will showcase acts as they play 15-45-minute sets in a studio environment that aims to capture the intimacy, personality and warts-and-all nuance of a live show.

“We’ve been planning this for about a year,” the former Powderfinger member and current guitarist for The Church told InQueensland. “We shot a pilot for this last June or July and we’ve just been trying to get all the ducks in a row and with the CV-19 thing, it was like ‘let’s do it now’, so, we’ve just brought it forward a bit.”

Haug said he now planned to have the first episode ready to release online early next month.

“We were nearly ready to go, we were going to be releasing it in May anyway and it’s going to be an ongoing thing, like a monthly or couple of times a month thing.

Haug was quick to give assurances that those participating in UITA would be abiding by all appropriate social-distancing and hygiene regulations.

Despite these precautions, Haug said production would be on hold until social isolation restrictions ease.  But he said they have a few sessions already filmed, with plans to air the first episode on April 9.

Haug said he had drawn inspiration from popular, long-running international web-based musical recording programs such as US National Public Radio Music’s Tiny Desk Concerts and Seattle radio station KEXP’s live-to-air recordings.

“It will be somewhere in the middle of those sorts of ones, that’s what we’ll be going for, they’re kind of the benchmark of quality and production, I think, and obviously they get huge audiences.

“When international acts start touring again, I hope that it becomes part of the touring calendar.  The same as when [The Church] tour to Seattle, we put KEXP on out day sheet, that’s the thing that people want to do.”

UITA will be produced and directed by Natalie Sim and Alex Flamsteed from boutique Brisbane film production company MTMM (Method to My Madness), with promotional support from digital distribution and music services company Gyrostream.

“There’s not many opportunities you get as a band to perform your whole set in a world-class studio and have it recorded and filmed at the same time,” MTMM producer and director said in the first posting to UITA’s YouTube channel.

“I think the facility we have here and the crew and stuff we have to produce this can make a product that’s better than some of the references we’ve seen online,” Airlock Studios producer and manager Steve Kempnick added.

Haug said he had spoken to representatives from Support Act, and the music industry charity had “encouraged me to look after our small village, in a sense, and to try to support the people actually doing this”.

“If people can’t keep their own businesses afloat, then it’s all going to go away.  If it turns out a lot of people are donating money, we’ll be donating it where it’s needed but primarily, to get this up off the ground, it will be going to the people involved.

“There will be a button to push to donate but we’re thinking of getting it so people can actually donate to the band playing, so it’s like a tip jar, almost, so the band and production is covered by that.

“That’s all I can do at this stage.  If the bands keep going and the interest in bands keeps going throughout this whole thing it’s going to be busy when everyone comes back on deck.

“If the Government does the right thing and people who are struggling can be supported, then that’s all we can hope for – we’ve just got to help each other.”

Haug said there would also be interviews with the artists performing as part of the series, and he said he planned on a more casual approach than traditional sit-down interviews.

“Maybe I can be cooking something on the barbie and having a chat – cooking a few veggie burgers for the bands.  At this time, I’ll probably be talking about how they feel about everything that’s going on but it’s just a bit of positivity in amongst everything, I guess.

“There will be some interaction with the band, too, so you’ll be able to log on as the performance is happening to be able to talk to the band.”

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