Meet DIY powerhouse Mulgara

Photo by Mikhaila Jurkiewicz. 

Canberra hosts some pretty special festivals – but none as unique as No Front Fences. Organised by the collective Mulgara, the festival kicks-off for the third time this weekend, from Friday 15th March to Sunday 17th.

The line-up brings together local talent like Video Breezy and Hedy Blaazer, and interstate friends including Sydney’s Mere Women and Melbourne’s Girl Germs. (Defs check out Mulgara’s Instagram for a more detailed breakdown of the lineup.) Alongside the music you can see other capital creatives: photographers, jewellery makers and fashion stalls included. The team took some time out of their hectic pre-festy schedule to discuss bringing NFF 2019 to life, what DIY means to them and why Canberra rocks.

Mulgara are Benedicte O’Leary Rutherford, Phoebe O’Leary Rutherford, Amy Coughlan, Jim Marchet, and Cameron Byers.

No Front Fences 2019 is just around the corner. Could you describe the emotional journey the Mulgara DIY team experience in the lead up to the festival? How are you feeling right now?

Mulgara: Planning the festival is always a bit of a roller coaster. There is the initial ambition and excitement, thinking of all the dream bands we could ask to play. Then there’s thinking of more realistic bands to play, and searching for new and up and coming acts.

Right now we are at the stressful and manic stage of the planning process, trying to get everything done on time! But we can’t wait until next Friday to share all our hard work with you all.

What are some key things you have learnt from organising the festival over the past few years?

We have learned how important it is to consider diversity and inclusivity at every step of the planning process. 16 out of 17 acts this year have non-male identifying members and we are really proud of that!

We’re also learning a lot about navigating social media’s algorithms and how to best promote an event. We have noticed over the past few years it has become a lot harder to promote events organically as social media websites make sponsored content a priority. As a self-funded DIY organisation, we are trying to resist the lure of sponsored media while still spreading our message, and this can be very challenging.

What unique qualities does Canberra’s DIY community have in comparison to other cities?

The term DIY gets thrown around pretty loosely these days. We believe DIY means building and sustaining a music community without playing by conventional music industry rules. It is also about sourcing what you need from your local community and learning to use what’s around you to create something that has more heart in it than it would otherwise.

Canberra has a smaller scene than other capital cities in Australia, which we think cultivates a stronger community atmosphere and encourages people to work together.

Have the creators of Mulgara found inspiration in other DIY communities?

Yes, we took a lot of inspiration from other Australian collectives and events such as  Blackwire Records, Lacklustre Records, Doonside (House Warming Collective), Lesstalk Records, Poison City Records, Sub-Pars, and so many more.

What are some positive things you’re seeing in the Canberra music scene more broadly at the moment?

Very exciting to see new bands popping up all the time, and to see our old favourites branching out and making their mark on the wider Australian music community.

When one googles “No front fences Canberra,” the search results include some delightful if sometimes heated discussions about how there are no front fences in Canberran suburbs. Is the name a nod to this Canberran eccentricity?

Huge if true, and oh baby it is true.

Weekend passes are $30 and buying tickets for each event comes to $35 plus booking fee. Was the low price point something that was deliberated over?

We didn’t have to deliberate over the price, because keeping it affordable has always been a priority for us.

Do you have any tips for folks who might want to start their own DIY projects but unsure about where to start or are doubting their expertise?

Yep, just DO IT (yourself). We set out to do this so we could create what we wanted to see in the Canberra music community. If you see something that you think should change, or could be better, go out and give it a go!

Finally, what would you say to convince any folks umming and ahhing about getting their tickets? (For the…. fencesitters, you could say. I’m so sorry.)

We are really proud of this years line up. We’ve hand picked some of the best bands in the country – this is not one to be missed.

Weekend passes have officially sold out for No Front Fences but you can still get tickets for individual shows here. Stay in the loop with Mulgara happenings here. 

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