INTERVIEW: Perth International Arts Festival

Published on, Nov 2016

Why You Need To Leave Your Comfort Zone During PIAF

“What’s the thing that makes you want to make a discovery?” Perth International Arts Festival contemporary music program associate Clara Iaccarino asks Daniel Cribb.

It’s a question she used to frame this year’s eclectic line-up, and as an artist manager herself – one that’s frequently racking up new stamps on her passport (heading to South America in the coming weeks with Sounds Austalia) – she’s in a unique position to try to expose punters to new sounds, and potentially even their favourite new act.

The PIAF contemporary music program returns Chevron Festival Gardens for 21 nights from 10 Feb, boasting talent from across the globe and featuring headliners Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats, Kurt Vile and more alongside a handful of lesser-known acts who might become favourites after their festival visit. “Jambinai and Aristophanes are the dark horses of the festival. It’s very unlikely that the average person would have heard of them, but when you check them out your mind blows pretty quickly – they’re the winners to back,” Iaccarino enthuses.

The thing that makes PIAF so unique is the comprehensive nature of each individual aspect of the program, with film, arts and music often colliding and introducing lovers of one format to another. Last year’s bill saw Kate Miller-Heidke lead the world premiere of The Rabbits, which resulted in a wealth of music fans flocking to Heath Ledger Theatre night after night for a theatrical experience and potentially return to that side of the program this year. “I think people have a few prejudiced ideas about what theatre means; there are stereotypical notions of what theatre might involve.

“The big piece we’ve got this year that’s contemporary music but not in the Chevron Festival Gardens is a piece called Flit and it’s got a lot of musicians that people would love – there’s Dominic Aitchison from Mogwai, there’s Adrian Utley from Portishead, Martin Green from Lau — and they’re combining to put on this contemporary music performance which has crazy animation. It’s the perfect example of a great collaboration of all the art forms.”

It’s all about risk when it comes to picking PIAF shows as a punter – stepping out of your comfort zone and trying something new. “If you are taking a gamble and testing what is, in fact, your thing, it’s a cheap risk,” Iaccarino says.

The same prejudices exist around “world music”, which is another barrier that PIAF looks to tear down. “I’ve never been much of a lover of Top 40 radio,” Iaccarino tells. “For me, that all sounds the same, and so tapping out to dig a little deeper has been an attraction to me as a music lover. I kind of wanted to mix that up a little bit and not be bound by what those traditional definitions might be, but look at world music meaning a post-rock band from South Korea, as opposed to an African 12-piece.

“For the most part, I think people will really be pleased with pushing their boundaries a little; I really hope people want to push themselves a little further and really ask themselves what is their thing because they might not even know what that is.”

Check out the PIAF website for all the details.