Words by Dina Amin
Photography by Metallic Jelly
An iconic Melbourne hub, Loop Project Space & Bar is ground-zero for the Melbourne beats scene, offering cutting edge audio-visual performances and avant-garde exhibitions. Loop’s project manager and band booker Clare Presser emphasises how accessible the venue is, not just for heavyweights, but for novices as well.
An eclectic little venue planted right in the heart of the Melbourne CBD, Loop always has something amazing on. Predominantly an electronic-focused space, Loop offers various monthly and quarterly workshops, meetings and freestyle jams. A monthly event, Gear Shift is an opportunity for people to bring in their instruments of choice and strut their stuff in a structured electronic jam. A free event open to people of varying skill sets, Gear Shift will be temporarily put on hold while the organisers look for more funding. Only last month, Loop held a couple of workshops including the Melbourne producers workshop and the Melbourne gig workshop, opportunities for locals to meet other locals, chat about music and generate ideas.
“We’ve also got CDR, which is where people come in and submit their tracks. We play the tracks in the background and everyone sort of networks and has a chat, it’s free entry too.
“It’s all local talent, you can meet all the other local producers. We had something a couple of weeks ago, a workshop that was based in and around music videos. They had a lot of music directors come in and they encouraged musicians and people who wanted to do music video production to come, in the hope that people could meet up with others and hopefully generate some work out of it.”
As these events have been extremely popular in the past, Presser hopes that organisers will continue to book Loop for workshops and jam sessions.
As one of Melbourne’s favourite audio-visual venues, performing with a visual aspect is a pre-requisite at Loop, whether you’re a band or a DJ. The huge screens in the front and back room are what distinguishes Loop from a lot of other Melbourne venues.
“We are one of the few venues that allows VJs to really strut their stuff. We don’t tend to have lasers or smoke machines or anything that gets in the way of the screens. The way that the room is set up enables everyone to get a good look at both screens,” Presser explains.
“The visuals really do lift an evening and make it feel less like a house party and more like a club. When performing, some people have cut together visuals and put them on a DVD that they have run, as opposed to having a visual mixer. This is fine, but as an audience member you can really tell the difference between something that’s been matched to the music and something that’s just a nice screen in the background.”
Presser encourages DJs and VJs of all levels and backgrounds to approach her for a gig. “Amateur isn’t a dirty word here…all the DJs play really interesting stuff…Wednesdays and Thursdays are usually more experimental. We have a night on Fridays that does sort of slow soul, R&B, 45s and dancehall. We have people doing fun disco classics, house and then more gospel-style beats. Our Saturday nights are more club-oriented: harder techno, trance, deep house.”
What about hip-hop? “We have had hip-hop here, we certainly want to have more hip-hop, actually we’d love to get some more hip-hop in.” Hint hint…
The equipment at Loop is industry level, with Technics Turntables (BYO needles) and Pioneer CDJ-2000s available.
“People sometimes do bring stuff in, but our stuff is pretty good and it will all be set up for you before you start. We have other extra mixes if people need and we’ve got stuff for Ableton Live.”
What about band booking? Presser confirms that Loop does book bands, however due to the liquor license agreement, bands need to be acoustic or semi-acoustic.
“We had a jazz-trio come in about six months ago. It’s just not going to work if they’re a metal band. We’ve had people perform that have had an electronic element, like guitars that have been looped, stuff like that…we’re perfectly willing to give anyone a go.”
When approaching Loop, artists should provide Presser with a short and sweet sample of their music. “You’ll be surprised how many people don’t offer samples. They just tell me, ‘oh we kind of play R&B, experimental stuff’ and I’ll be like ‘that’s fairly broad, do you want to reel that back in for me?”‘
Also, make sure your sample is tight and brief. “I do not have an hour and a half. If it’s a good short, punchy, ten minute set, that would be delightful. Streaming is perfectly fine. One of the best ones that I got was an actual YouTube clip of a private party. They (the artists) had a house party and it literally looked like the best party I’ve ever seen and I went ‘okay, well I’m booking these guys because clearly the people there are having a fantastic time,’ and they have been one of the most successful events of the year.”
It’s all about personality for Presser, hence the reason why she won’t turn away from someone who is just starting out. They have to create a mood, a vibe and they have to be passionate.
Presser also asks that an artist be realistic about the number of people they’re going to bring to the event, as she doesn’t want to have to hire more security guards than needed.
“I need to know how many people you’re going to bring. Be realistic, don’t tell me it will be 150 and then only 50 turn up. If you tell me it’s 50 people then I know that you really need some help with your promotion…we do assist in promoting but it’s essentially posters in the venue, social media, that kind of thing.”
Unfortunately Loop doesn’t have a live engineer for performances, but they do have an in-house tech for a bit of peace of mind. “If you book a night, we ask people to come in and do a tech-check on the Monday the week prior to see if there’s going to be any issues with any of the equipment or set up.”
And if you feel like taking a break from the music side of things, Loop also showcases independent film nights in the backroom, along with cult classics and art exhibitions.
Keep up to date with Loop’s events via www.looponline.com.au/