The Jezabels’ Hayley Mary talks Wildwood Festival and the plebiscite

Perennial Aussie indie-rockers The Jezabels will round out their hectic 2017 tour schedule with a coveted support slot on Midnight Oil‘s first tour in decades.

Before hitting the sold out arenas, though, they’ll make a stop at Port Macquarie’s Cassegrain Winery for the annual Wildwood Music Festival. Now in it’s fourth year, the Wildwood line-up will include such names as British India, Sahara Beck, The Hard Aches and Alex The Astronaut.

Music Insight caught up with The Jezabels’ frontwoman Hayley Mary in the lead up to their Wildwood appearance on October 1, and asked her take on the state of Australia’s festival scene in the post-Big-Day-Out era.

“People can be really fatalistic. There’s always talk of things being over all the time. It’s always the end of an era,” she laughed.

“It’s like everything in music. Bands get big, then they get too big and disappear. A festival gets too big, and there’s always a new festival coming up to replace them. It’s a life-cycle.”

The rise of the boutique festival has seen packed stadiums give way to intimate gatherings in recent years, and Mary noted that with the reduced scale came a greater focus on curation and atmosphere.

“There’s a better vibe at the smaller, grass roots festivals. People can see acts that are up their alley, rather than going to a bigger, more homogeneous festival.”

It’s not always stadiums and festival stages for The Jezabels, who reminded the world that they can still handle a pub gig during their remarkable seven-night stint at Sydney’s iconic Lansdowne Hotel. As Mary recalled, there was a statement behind the spectacle.

There’s a better vibe at the smaller, grass roots festivals. People can see acts that are up their alley, rather than going to a bigger, more homogeneous festival.

“The live music scene in Sydney has been perceived as unhealthy for a while now, because of things like the lockout laws, and venues closing down,” she said.

“We wanted to have a tone of celebration, rather than a sad angle about how there’s nowhere to play, and nothing going on. I’m not saying there aren’t systemic issues that need to be addressed, but there are also a bunch of great bands playing, and plenty of things to do.

“So, this was done in the spirit of keeping Sydney open. We thought [the shows] were a good way of collaborating with a local venue that’s resisting the movement to close off Sydney’s live scene.”

Not content affecting change only in the music industry, Mary has also been an outspoken opponent of bullying, and weighed in on how we can protect the vast number of young Australians that have been marginalised by the upcoming same-sex marriage plebiscite.

“There are a great deal of trolls on the other side, and I know from personal experience how terrible it is to be victimised by trolls.

“The only thing we can do is rally around a positive voice, and speak out in support of it. I think we need to speak loudly about it, so that teenagers who might be gay, bisexual or transgender can feel like they’re not alone.

“It’s a bit disappointing that it’s gotten to this stage. Our government should have shown some leadership and settled this issue a long time ago.”

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