In early August I kicked off this project with a long-distance interview with Arthur Tanzi, managing director of Foreign Brothers and creative producer at Footscray Community Arts Centre. Located in Europe at the time, Arthur and I sat down over zoom to discuss his various roles throughout the creative industries, especially those located west of Melbourne.
Photo by Gianna Rizzo
When and how did you get involved with Footscray Community Arts Centre?
Arthur started an events coordinator role with Footscray Community Arts Centre in 2015, which later lead to him becoming creative producer - for contemporary music for the centre.
What prompted you to start Foreign Brothers?
In 2011, Foreign Brothers formed within a group of friends working at a restaurant together. Coming to Australia from different places, and being “foreign”, Arthur says, the name made sense. With a variety of different interests and skills such as DJing, promoting, photography, and organisation, they formed Foreign Brothers and started putting together music events across the city.
Tell us a bit about FLOW Festival.
FLOW Festival ran in December 2019 at the Footscray Community Arts Centre. The festival, produced by Foreign Brothers combined some of Melbourne’s best local talent including soul, jazz and hip hop artists such as KAIIT, Baro & the Baz Richie Sextet and The Public Opinion Afro Orchestra alongside national (Milan Ring, Flex Mami) and international artists (Digable Planets). The festival aimed to feature a range of artists, food vendors and creatives with “a strong connection to the west”, says Arthur.
What kind of events do Foreign Brothers run?
Foreign Brothers started as a community-based collective promoting local artists and musicians from around Melbourne which evolved into a touring, management and festival promotion company.They run a variety of different events with a musical focus on afrobeat, soul, jazz and hip-hop. Foreign Brothers have also run a series of wildly popular roller jams, including one during Melbourne Music Week, 2015. The roller jams incorporate the nostalgia of the disco era with a backdrop of Foreign Brothers curated funk, soul and hip-hop artists.
What’s it like operating in the west of Melbourne? What makes it different?
Footscray is “rapidly changing,” Arthur explains, “for so long the area has been associated with being really far from the city when in reality it’s only a couple of train stations away”. Operating in Footscray, Arthur talks about the mix of the existing diverse and new populations moving to the area due to the development boom of the past years.. Arthur says, “we are paying attention to how the suburb continues to change and the impact it will have on different communities within the next 10 years”.
Who are some of your favourite local artists at the moment?
From Footscray specifically, Arthur lists Hancoq, the Ethiopian Jazz Scene including Solomon Sisay, Daniel Atlaw and The Jazmaris, Skomes, SO.Crates and Good Luck Omen.
Photo by Duncographic