“I loved the music and wanted to relive the experience again and again, which is why I never left the home for a gig without some kind of camera.”
Anthony La has got to be one of the major faces of the music industry in the west at this moment in time. Whether he’s behind the camera at a gig, working with an artist at Exude Group, or even down at Pride of our Footscray on a Friday night, Anthony is always there to support local emerging talent and we were lucky enough to chat with him for issue two.
Anthony! Hello and thanks for chatting with Forever West! Tell us about yourself.
My pleasure — always happy to be involved with the westside creatives! I’ve been working as a westside creative myself — just being one of those guys who can’t sit still and spends time trying to find cool things to do in life. Whether that means playing hockey or listening to music, or watching a gig, depends on the day! Music only really became a bit more of my passion in recent years — listening to, not playing, mind. It started when I met local musician Reuben Cumming (of Honey Bucket fame), who invited me along to basically every musical performance he ever did. I loved the music and wanted to relive the experience again and again, which is why I never left the home for a gig without some kind of camera. Eventually I’d meet other bands from the west and beyond.
We catch you at a lot of gigs, usually behind the camera, capturing some amazing photos, can you tell us about your most memorable gig?
I’m at gigs so often that the gig that stays at the top of my mind is in constant flux! Staying on #1 now is a gig thrown by a non-west band (scandalous, I know) called Parkville, who we’ve also booked at Pride of our Footscray. They aren’t your conventional band you’d see at Pride, with a very skilled violinist being part of its draw, and wonderfully soft, well-composed tracks to boot — even Come Around, a beautiful folk-pop song literally about having a hangover. Their cover rendition of Gimme Gimme (a song I would never actually listen to) actually won’t leave my head.
You also work for the west-based business, Exude Group, can you tell us a bit about Exude and what kind of work you do there?
Everything but the kitchen sink when it comes to Exude! I initially came across Exude Group’s founder Shaemus when he started managing one of the bands I basically had followed and photographed up to that point, and eventually did much of the photography and media for Exude bands since. I also do the websites for Exude, largely the programming behind the sites (there’s a bit there!) as well as the sites for all our artists. I partly manage the socials and make them look great, and I’ve recently taken up listening for and booking out great bands at Pride of our Footscray as well, to really punch in the idea of making Pride the west’s premiere music venue. (I realise this is pushing sales-pitch territory, so I’ll leave Pride at that!)
Who are some of your favourite west-based musicians at the moment?
My tastes are hyper-focussed on our small westside bands, I guess! I fell in love with Redferrie’s music well before our business even snapped them up — there’s a lot to like about their indie-rock style, and their songs are, for the lack of a better term, absolutely phat. Jayris and Carpal Tunnel Band are amazing, too — it’s gotta be the punky, rocky energy paired with the amazing, rough voice of James Ayris. I gotta give some love to Bowlos as well, from Bill Burns’ wonderfully dry delivery of each song, that slight Aussie twang, to the grooves, to how a lot of it feels like it’s recalling a westside life experience, to the fact I know all its members fairly well.
And finally, what do you think is the best thing about operating in the west of Melbourne and what makes it different?
Melbourne’s west feels like it has plenty of untapped potential in the entertainment. You know the north has some of the biggest congregations of singer-songwriters and they’ve recently become a big spot for bands. The south and east had their chances too. Now it’s time for the west to get a big share of that diversity! Being a part of the west side’s music scene makes me feel like I’m part of those making a big difference, whether it’s by photographing it and helping musicians get videos of their performances, or booking them in their very first gig at Pride. Speaking on that too, there’s a real thrill to booking artists who have never been to the west before, and knowing they come to this side and absolutely love is something you really love to hear. And being relatively progressive, the west is pretty good at embracing a lot of the seismic shifts in the community, and I think that sets it apart from the rest of Melbourne. It was amazingly quick at falling in love with a bar that embraces diversity, after all!