Jessie Parker of Custom Made Touring & Artist Representation is, like many music industry workers, a wearer of multiple hats. She manages bands such as The Jezabels and exciting newcomers Ecca Vandal, acts as a venue booker, studies Entertainment Law, is a social media whiz…and sometimes, she even sources jumpsuits for artists’ stage shows.
Read about her action-packed week leading up to and during megafestival Splendour in the Grass, below!
I work at Custom Made Touring & Artist Representation as an adult human. We manage The Jezabels, and Ecca Vandal, as well as booking two venues on the campus of the University of Sydney – Manning & Hermann’s Bar.
Day to day, my role is quite varied, but in short, our bands rely on me to make sure that all of their touring logistics are organised, as well as looking after publicity schedules, online content, and brand development. For the venue bookings, I liaise with the promoters to organise contracts, set up ticketing and promotion, along with marketing, advancing the gig, and corresponding with the venue and production managers to coordinate a smooth rollout.
Exercise happened this morning. My Vitamin D levels have been waning of late, and with the sporadic appearance of sunshine in Melbourne, I decided to get out and soak up a few rays. On Mondays, I don’t go in to the office as it’s currently set aside for study. I’m attempting to complete an Entertainment Law course at Melbourne University, and with an impending exam, the motivation to study is slowly building. This morning however, I discover that my talent for procrastinating is one part of my Arts Degree that has been retained. After rearranging our pantry, changing the broken light bulbs, and baking banana bread, I decide it’s time to put the final touches on Ecca Vandal’s band outfits for their Splendour in the Grass debut this weekend. We’ve sourced some epic black Dickies jumpsuits with hoods, which needed some alterations. I finish off the day sweating it out at yoga, then scanning through emails to make sure no one is yelling at me.
I spend the morning staring intently at my Mac, giving my fingers a workout on the keyboard and adding to the potential arthritis in my left digit from the incessant scrolling on the mouse. I settle the shows from the weekend, then search through the internet vortex for any news about our bands – #eccavandal, #thejezabels. I look after social media for both bands, and get excited by exponential graphs on the Insights page. Ecca is playing a show this week, so we’re bombarding her pages to increase her social presence and inform the masses of when and where she’s playing. We’re also moving office at the end of the week, so I start to clear out my desk. I wouldn’t say I need an Oprah Winfrey special, but I can be a bit of a hoarder when it comes to filing – you never know when that venue contract from March 2013 might suddenly be needed.
We also have a couple of shows announcing at Manning and Hermann’s Bars this week, so I check in with the promoters, and the legends at Oztix to make sure everything is set up for people to purchase their tickets (support live music!). In the evening, I head out to Ecca’s rehearsal to drop off the jumpsuits. It seems I’ve done somewhat of a decent job on them after the enthusiastic reception and the promise that they’re now going to wear them everywhere(!).
I have a chat to the wonderful folks over at Dew Process (Ecca Vandal recently signed on the dotted line!) about social media strategy for the week, upcoming artwork for the new single, and start going through her promo schedule for Splendour. I also look over all our travel plans for the weekend. Need to make sure planes, vans, sound, and beds are all in place for Ecca, as well as CW Stoneking, who we also work with.
I then put some time into the electronic mail-outs for both the venues in Sydney which involves looking through what’s announcing, or coming up over the next week, putting the newsletters together, and scheduling them to send out to our database.
Get in early and start packing up the office, seeing as today will be my last day there. Check-in with the staff at the venues and make sure they have everything they need for the shows over the weekend. Our Artist pack for Splendour arrives just in time, along with some exciting goodies for Ecca, so I end up carrying far more than my hand-luggage allowance through airport security. Only just make the flight due to using up all the blue tubs at the screening machine, push a child out the way (accidentally), and jump on the plane up to the Gold Coast. By the time we get to our hotel it’s close to midnight, so we all call it in to get ready for the show tomorrow… not very rock n’ roll, really!
Waking up near the ocean is such a novelty, and I usually jump at any excuse to wander around without shoes on. I was a little ambitious and decided to wade out into the chilly water… only to discover that apparently this stretch of ocean is more of a ‘surfing beach’. I returned slightly defeated with pants full of sand. We scramble into the van and head on site, check in with the Artist Liaison team and wander through to the green room. While Ecca is prepping for the stage I coat my boots in mud, make my way out to drop our guest tickets off and collect our sound guy who has just arrived. After dropping off a bunch of 7”s that Ecca will be signing later in the day, I squelch back towards the Artist area. Ecca’s playing the second slot on the main stage, and a youthful exuberance emanates through the crowd that has built up at the early hour. The show was amazing – it’s overwhelmingly exciting to see her and the band up on that giant stage, I raced around taking photos like an excited baby giraffe chasing a butterfly.
Afterwards we go back and get ready for the afternoon’s press. The total babes at Sticks & Stones Agency are keen to sit down for a chat. Their unique interview style and incredible style in general makes me feel slightly inadequate, but nonetheless gets us pumped for potential future collaborations. Next up is Channel V, and after a quick interview we inhale some delicious fried chicken before heading across to the signing at the Plus One Records tent. Ecca signs her first butt and I slip over on the one piece of flat ground within the whole festival site. After the signing, we wander across to Tkay Maidza’s set at the Mix-up stage. There are Dinosaur ponchos involved and I want one. I head out and watch some of Death Cab for Cutie – be still, my angsty, beating heart. We then all head over and check out American guitar lord Ryan Adams and his arcade game stage set-up. It’s pouring with rain and the adrenaline of the day is wearing off, so we listen to a bit of Mark Ronson – his horns section inspires me to buy a trumpet on Ebay in the hopes that one day I’ll be good enough to be part of his crew. We end up streaming the rest of his set on Triple J during the ride home.
Overcast morning, beach stroll–holy shit–whales! There are humpback whales just chilling off the coast! We head onsite at a much more relaxed pace compared to yesterday and check out a bunch of bands including Dune Rats, the vocal prodigy that is Meg Mac, Swedish beauty Elliphant, the Smith Street Band – ace backdrop guys, Nick Allbrook’s one-legged dance moves (aka Pond), Dandy Warhols, The Wombats, and the effervescent Florence.
In between there’s plenty of chats, Strummer cocktails, and more fried chicken. It’s seriously lovely to be able to actually hang out with people you email / talk to on the phone regularly but oft-times don’t see in person because of everyone’s busy schedules or distant locations.
Day three, I feel like a seasoned veteran, and don’t really remember a time before the mud. It poured with rain on the way in but by midday the sun was out and the Bulldozers charged in to remove the swamp in front of the Amphitheatre stage during the first half of Bad / Dreems’ set. The boys persevered though and had everyone jumping around madly, ignoring the security guards attempts to hold them back. We watch a man try his luck tobogganing down the Amphitheatre hill on top of a bin lid and consumed our first Bloody Mary of the day before heading off to catch sets from Holy Holy, Oh Mercy, and Last Dinosaurs. I then spent some time pondering how it is that CW Stoneking manages to keep his white suit so clean, before groovin’ along to GL, followed by Kitty, Daisy & Lewis, and Alpine. We rounded out the night with Jamie T, Tame Impala, and the incomparable Blur, and then squelched our way up the hill to the mythical Tackleshack for some after-party fun.
Walking through an empty festival site in the early hours of the morning, I shuddered at the amount of mess left behind, and silently praised the wonderful elves who manage to put this whole thing together. Right as we were driving out of the site, Ecca Vandal’s single, White Flag, blasted through the stereo on Triple J… it was totally our Tiny Dancer moment, and I’m sure even Cameron Crowe couldn’t have written a more perfect ending to the week.
Watching artists grow and succeed, meeting amazing, inspirational people, and convincing my parents that going to a festival is ‘part of my job.’
Work / sleep balance. The day after too many whiskeys (that’s probably not-industry specific though.)
Words of Wisdom
Don’t assume anything, get excited by everything, and don’t create boundaries around your role, you won’t get anywhere if you’re an, “Oh, that’s not my job” kind of person. Be open, be kind, and always back yourself.