Hello is a new series dedicated to unearthing and introducing you to some of our countries unique and wonderful creative spaces/homes.
I was lucky enough to go around one summer afternoon to Eastmint, which just happens to be up the street from me in Northcote, and meet Esala (unfortunately the others weren't around) who made me in a gin and tonic and showed me around. Captivated by the space, I took a roll of film and asked Eastmint to tell me a bit about the place and what happens there:
"Space is like gold in a city. Space to perfect your art, craft and to host this fragile music is a rare and wonderful opportunity.
We fell into renting the space that became Eastmint. Already well acquainted with Eastment Street through years of knowing the community there and attending iconic events such as the billy cart Derby plus gigs and theatre shows put on by friends dwelling in nearby warehouses, we knew Eastment St has long been a creative hub.
Over the years we were so lucky to be part of the thriving Melbourne underground music scene, playing at outsider venues such as the warehouses of now US based Four Larks theatre, early Alberts Basement gigs, shows on the banks of the Merri Creek under the Queens Parade bridge, house gigs in share-houses, disused milk bars and in-use carparks. All the unconventional pockets that creatives take-over and foster with their own visions. These are the refuges for those on the creative fringe. It seemed so natural to host our own music events given that the space had fallen into our hands.
Living at Eastmint can be challenging, especially during the winter months. Usually the gigs wind up and we settle in next to the pot-belly stove to survive as best we can. What keeps us here is the space; rehearsals/ gigs/ theatre - the creative possibilities. But the nature of such a space is also what makes it challenging; the lack of walls and enclosed areas makes it difficult to have warmth or privacy. It's a trade-off. If we built into the warehouse we would lose the openness that enables all the wonderful creative things that happen here. We are aware of how rare it is to have such a vast open space in the heart of Northcote. A tenuous lease ensures urgency and necessity to utilise the warehouse while it exists as such, an active acknowledgment of the apartments creeping up from the southern end of the street.
Eastmint gig highlights include Grand Salvo (solo and with ensemble), The Orbweavers, Mick Turner, Sean M Whelan, Oliver Mann, Oren Ambarchi, The Spheres, Nick Tsiavos & Deborah Keyser, Amplifier Machine, Winternationale, True Strength, On Diamond / Lisa Salvo, Seth Rees, Tall Shores, Hello Satellites, Prudence Rees Lee, Yffer and Tariro Mavondo. We’ve seen pretty much all of our favorite Melbourne artists here and it is such a thrill to watch them from your bedroom.
The kind of music we love seeing and promoting does not often work in pubs and venues that are standing room only. Eastmint offers seating, food and an environment of quietude so that the audience has the best chance to engage what can be challenging material. We usually curate the gigs include a range of genres from contemporary classical, experimental and avant-garde pop. We have found that if you give people the opportunity to experience music outside of their usual choices they can find it stimulating in a whole new way, broadening their conception of what it is to explore sound, create, perform and compose. We are extremely passionate about providing a space and platform for this kind of music, willing to endure the never ending dust, rats and lack of hot water for the opportunity to foster what we hope might become, at least for a moment, a musical institution.
Eastmint Records grew organically out of the live events and is dedicated releasing the kind of music we were hosting. Musician and good friend Lisa Salvo (On Diamond) suggested we all start a label and we were easily persuaded! There's so much fantastic, weird and truly original music being made in Melbourne which is not deemed commercially viable and is not easily placed inside a conventional musical genre. We aim to extend the reach of this music outside of the Melbourne bubble. We also offer distribution (by bicycle, carbon neutral!) of artists’ physical releases and keep tabs on sales. Meetings are usually on a Monday so we can wander down the end of the road to the NSC for Monday Night Mass, which has become an almost religious ritual.So far under Eastmint we have released three albums; Lisa Salvo’s ‘I could have been a castle’ LP, Cold Hands Warm Heart self-titled LP and True Strength self-titled Cassette. In 2017 we are super excited to be releasing the third album from Hello Satellites ‘Bright Face’, and also launching and distributing the A Thousand Tones compilation.
Follow Eastmint & Eastmint Records over here.