Words by Dina Amin
Photography by Kim Lajoie
Remember when you were a kid and you’d throw birthday parties at joints like Sidetracked and Insportz? Remember how fun that was? No parents (temporarily), fleeting autonomy and an abundance of red Fanta. Well, Rubix Warehouse owner and manager Tanya El-Gamal also remembers. In fact the whole inspiration behind her Brunswick venue came from a desire to revive “childhood vibes.” While you won’t find any sand, laser tag or semi-operable ghost trains, Rubix will still have you whetting your childhood appetite with lights and Super Mario wall features. A massive multi-purpose play space and social hub, Rubix is a musician’s mecca.
Built by the community for the community, Rubix has crafted a huge brand new stage and has converted old production studios into extra venue space —facilitating live bands and larger acts. Along with the addition of the new stage, the Rubix wet dream also includes rehearsal spaces, recording options, venue hire, private party exclusivity, photo/video studio, in-house audio engineers, web developers and graphic designers, on-call photographers and videographers and most importantly, comfy couches and a well-stocked bar.
Originally from Sydney and with a background in MCing, artist management and youth work El-Gamal – better known in the hip hop scene as Jamima Jonez – made the move from Alice Springs to Melbourne in 2009, determined to find a warehouse for the sole purpose of turning it into a social, creative hub for musicians, music lovers and youth.
“I grew up imagining my perfect happy place and I guess Rubix is my attempt of creating it. It’s a bonus that it makes so many other people happy too,” El-Gamal explains.
After a lot of trial and error El-Gamal found her perfect warehouse. The Brunswick space was originally called Tetris Studios, the recording studios themselves being the main action. “There were thirteen studios — I rented them all out. We were recording a lot of hip-hop; collaborations were coming left, right and centre.”
In early 2013 – after securing a liquor licence – Tetris became Rubix — the warehouse had now become much more than a recording studio. Where Tetris had been a metaphor for concepts falling into place and connecting people, Rubix was the finished product. Everything was complete.
After the liquor license had been put into effect El-Gamal re-launched the warehouse as a live venue, hosting a wide selection of gigs, DJ nights, comedy galas and private functions.
Today the recording and rehearsal spaces are still operating with four private production studios remaining, working harmoniously alongside the Kiss FM studios.
Pre-gig, acts can practise in the jam room and rehearsal spaces, with the option of audio/video recording.
“The rehearsal spaces are eight layers thick, so drummers really love it as a drum room.
“It makes a perfect second room for parties too,” El-Gamal adds.
At the moment Rubix is offering an exciting promotion — free venue hire. The promo expires June 20 and is applicable for promoters who can pull a guest list of over 100 people.
“We really want to support the local artists as well, and we know how hard it is to get gigs and to get people to come. If people are honest and say ‘we might only get 50 people,’ we’ll line them up with another band who are also struggling to promise 50+,” El-Gamal explains.
Unlike a lot of other venues where you might come across a pushy/controlling venue manager Rubix are unique in their approach.
“People like the fact that when they hire a venue for a private function — it’s theirs. A lot of other venues — they might just give them a section, but being able to offer exclusive venue hire…people seem to love.”
And being an artist yourself is conducive to running a venue. “Being a hip-hop artist and a manager myself I’ve run a lot of shows and done a lot of tours. I know the different aspects of putting an event together so I don’t just deal with people as a venue owner. I’ll go that extra length to make sure the artists are happy, to make sure the artist manager has all the correct information they need. I know what they need, so I can do it. If a manager forgets to ask for it (info) I’ll send it through.
“People are sick of dealing with venues where the managers are so anal and everything is so hard. We aim to please and we want to make sure everyone’s happy and when they walk away, they have nothing but good things to say.”
So if you need to perform, record, rehearse or shoot a video, Rubix Warehouse has you covered.
Rubix Warehouse can be found at 36 Phoenix Street, Brunswick.
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