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Behind The Laneway 2019 Lineup

THE 2019 Laneway Festival line-up can best be described as a festival of firsts.

Joining headliners Gang Of Youths and Courtney Barnett are Laneway first-timers What So Not, Jorja Smith, Denzel Curry, DJDS, Smino, Masego, Clairo, Rex Orange County, KIAN, Charlie Collins, Ravyn Lenae, Mitski, Ruby Fields, Skegss, Middle Kids, A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie, Cosmo’s Midnight, and one of the breakout local stars of 2018 G Flip.

Since uploading her bedroom-recorded first single ‘About You’ to the triple j Unearthed page back in February, this drummer-for-hire turned solo artist has had a particularly surreal seven months. She played her first ever show at South By Southwest in March, amassed nearly 10-million Spotify streams, and now finds herself among some pretty big names on her first Laneway bill.

G Flip (aka Georgia Flipo) was one of the first acts locked in for the 2019 iteration of a festival that’s renowned for taking early booking risks.

“It’s one of those things where you look into your crystal ball, and you do take some educated guesses at times,” says head booker Travis Banko.

“When an act you love gets locked in, you do get a bit excited: you realise the potential and how good it can be for the festival.”

Another artist locked in early was Melbourne rock trio Camp Cope, who made a pretty big impact on stage and off in 2017. In addition to some unforgettable performances, they helped establish the festival’s anti-harassment hotline, 1800 LANEWAY.

“We were watching Cable Ties together at Melbourne [Laneway] and I just turned to them and asked whether they wanted to come back and play the festival in 2019,” Travis recalls. “Once we locked in them and Courtney [Barnett] we were just off to the races.”

To find out how a line-up like this comes together we arranged a roundtable last week with Travis and Dom O’Connor from the Laneway team, plus G Flip herself, who reveals how she quite literally pissed herself at the festival in 2014.

Suffice to say, she’s looking forward to some having some much cleaner fun as an artist in 2019.

How are you feeling about the line-up now as it stands, finally being able to look at it as a complete whole?
Travis: It’s a tough one, because you feel good about it internally because you don’t want to get ahead of yourselves. We feel like we’ve got a good balance of everything – whether that’s genre, gender, everything in between. In the past you get excited and maybe things don’t go exactly how you want. So everything’s tempered here at the moment, everyone’s trying to play it cool, but overall I think it feels pretty solid.

Dom: I will say there’s a bunch of stuff we were personally proud to get. I think there was a big focus this year on bringing stuff out that hadn’t been either in Australia or on Laneway before. So we tried to focus on that, but also a focus on different genres. We tried to get a lot more hip-hop than other years, so I was pretty happy with that as well.

Dom, which were the artists your were particularly excited about?
Dom: I’m really excited to see Jorja Smith. She’s someone we’ve loved for a really long time. We’re big fans in this office so when she was locked in we were pretty stoked about that. A Boogie wit da Hoodie has never been to Australia before, and that’s going to be really cool as well. Both of those artists are exclusive to the festival. It was cool getting artists that would only be playing this festival on their first visit to Australia. There’s not too many repeats this year. One I was really excited about was Parquet Courts, one of my all-time favourite bands. They haven’t done Laneway since 2014, so it was really exciting to get one back, especially with such a good new record [Wide Awake!]. I’m really keen on Mitski as well. That album [Be The Cowboy] is fantastic, we’ve been watching her for a while. We toured her 18 months ago and it went really well. It’ll be awesome seeing her on the festival.

G Flip: And also me! [Laughs]

Dom: G Flip is headlining, of course. [Laughter]

G, have you had a look at the lineup?

G Flip: I did about an hour ago. It was all very secretive, but I’m very stoked about it.

Did they make you sign an NDA?
G Flip: No, but I’m sure if I let peep of anything I’d probably disappear and won’t be playing … I actually had lunch with Joji [Malani] from Gang Of Youths yesterday and he let slip that he was playing, and I was like [whispers], “I am too.”

Travis: The more friends on the festival, the merrier. It’s going to be a fun couple of weeks.


Who were the standouts to you, G?
G Flip: Of course Gang Of Youths. I’m a massive fan, especially because I haven’t played that many festivals, but the festivals I have played the boys from Gang Of Youths are just so friendly. They’re just the nicest dudes ever. It’d be great to play with them. I’m a big fan of Jorja Smith, just slamming her songs for the past few months. When i was in the UK I saw her face on billboards everywhere. Also Baker Boy, I’ve never seen him live, but I love dancing and apparently he pulls out moves.

Dom: Lots of popping and lots of locking going on.

G Flip: I’m down for that. And also Skegss. My dad and my sister are big fans of Skegss.

Travis: Aaron, who manages Skegss, is in our office, and apparently they just landed an ARIA #2. So there’s a bit of commotion in the office right now.

G, how do you feel being a Laneway first-timer and have you experienced the festival as a punter in the past?
G Flip: I haven’t been to many festivals in my life, which is pretty crazy because I’m such a big music fan. But I seem to have spent all my money on music gear growing up, like a new interface or monitors. But I was lucky enough to have been to Laneway in 2014 because my sister bought me a ticket for my birthday. That was when Haim and CHVRCHES played.

Dom: Lorde. Everyone says that was one of our best, so it’s probably a good year to have gone to.

G Flip: I peed my pants twice that day. I didn’t want to leave. [Laughs]

Travis: I think I’d heard that story before. I love your music before, but that endeared me to you even more. Who is this fucking legend?

G Flip: I was a massive Haim fan and I was watching CHVRCHES. I had smashed like five bevys before I went into the crowd. I was like, “I have to see Haim.” So I was in the mosh and I was like, “Oh my god, these drinks are going straight through me.” [Laughs] It’s one of those things where if you leave you’re not going to be able to get back in. So I thought of this sick plan that if I pretend to faint then security will pull me out and surely they’ll have a toilet on the side? Then I could just sit there and watch on the side. But then they didn’t have a toilet, so I just sat on the grass and peed my pants. But I still got to watch Haim, and I was really close. [Laughter]

Dom: Laneway. So good you’ll pee your pants.

So it must be great to be an artist next year so you’ll have access to really good loos backstage.
Dom: That’s why you agreed to play the festival, right?

G Flip: I actually sent the boys an email and said, “I am only coming back if there are toilets.” [Laughs]

Dom: Her entire rider is just 40 portaloos.

G Flip: Forty portaloos, exactly.

Who will you be watching side of stage do you think?
G Flip: The few names I mentioned before: Gang Of Youths, Skegss, Jorja Smith. That’s if I’m allowed to be side of stage. Also I’m yet to see Camp Cope and Boogie. I’ve never heard of him before?

SKEGSS (FROM LEFT): TOBY CREGAN, BEN REED & JONNY LANI.

Travis: He’s a Bronx rapper, a streaming phenomenon. I think he’s doing like 10-million streams per month. He’s never been out here and still developing in a live sense, so I think he’s going to come out here and just smash it. I think Australia will fall in love with him.

Dom: G, can I recommend someone you’ll love? You should see Denzel Curry. It’ll be a huge vibe. He was one of the first dudes making SoundCloud rap like five years ago out of South Florida. He put out a record in July called Ta13oo, and it’s fucking great. I reckon that’ll be a highlight as well.

G Flip: Cool, good stuff.

Travis: He’s good mates with Billie Eilish so he’s got the right crew there.

G, this is your first Laneway as a performer. Is the fact that the line-up is stacked with first-timers appealing to you?
G Flip: Yeah. I just think overall having a festival that allows musicians that are up-and-coming and not that experienced, is pretty amazing. It’s so great we’ve been given that opportunity. And seeing our name on a bill with massive idols and massive bands next to us, it’s really uplifting. Not just for us up-and-coming artists but kids making music in their bedroom or young people in bands that are striving to be there. Seeing smaller acts like myself and KIAN, who just won [triple j] Unearthed High…

Travis: That kid is going to be a star. He’s all of 16 and that song [‘Waiting’] is an absolute belter.

G Flip: That song, oh my god.

Dom: I think it’s important to have acts of all different sizes on the festival. We put as much time and effort into thinking who is going to play those early slots as we do the headline slots. There’s no such thing as a slot that just gets giving away. We are just as stoked with some of the acts playing at 12pm as the ones playing at 10pm. We genuinely try to put care throughout the line-up.

It’s a pretty even split this year between local and international acts. Is that typical of Laneway lineups in the past and maybe a measure of how strong the local scene is?
Dom: Yeah, I think so. There are probably more locals this year than last year. But as you said, when there’s so many great locals that’d comfortably fit on an international standard festival next to international bands, it’s really a no brainer to book them. There are so many that we really loved this year. It’s awesome to see Courtney and Gang Of Youths playing in those closing spots because frankly they deserve it. They could go up against any international bands in those slots.

PHOTO: GIULIA MCGAURAN FOR LNWY

Travis: It’s pretty rare to get the opportunity to book the absolute cream of Australia’s crop. Obviously, we have G Flip here who is right at the forefront of the emerging next wave. But when you’ve got Gangs, Courtney, What So Not, Methyl Ethel, Cosmo’s Midnight, Camp Cope, Crooked Colours – all these bands are worth serious tickets and Australian audiences love supporting their own. We feel very privileged to have such a stacked Aussie bill this year.

When did you guys first see G play?
Travis: I saw her first show at South By Southwest [SXSW] actually.

G Flip: [Laughs] Oh wow.

Travis: I had heard the buzz and was lucky enough to be there at the time, standing there watching with G’s manager. You could see she was a star from early on. It was pretty amazing for a first ever show. She took SXSW by storm, and it’s been a pretty amazing year for you, really.

Impromptu case study here, but how long after G’s set at SXSW was she locked in? At what point do those conversations typically take place?
Travis: Pretty quickly. I think G was maybe the fourth act locked in. It’s one of those things where you look into your crystal ball, and you do take some educated guesses at times. But you also do see the storm coming for certain acts. We booked you in April. It was just after South By. We took that punt and got in early … Thankfully it was something that G also wanted to do.

G, do you remember where you were when you found out Laneway was interested? And how quickly did it happen from there?
G Flip: It feels like so long ago now. I remember my manager Dan being like, really casually, “Hey G, do you want to play Laneway?” And I was just looking at him, jaw on the floor. This was pretty early on. ‘About You’ was going well and there was a lot of hype around the show, but I remember thinking, “That is so far in advance. Will I still be alive then? That’s so far away.” All throughout high school, all my friends would be planning on going to Laneway together and it was such a talking point among my school mates and uni mates. And then having these guys wanting me to play is such an honour. It’s so cool. It just shows the power of hard work and belief. It’s amazing and I hope other people making music in their bedroom and working really hard at their craft that stuff like this can happen.

 

"I think he [A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie] is going to come out here and just smash it. I think Australia will fall in love with him."

G, a lot of people have described Laneway as a school camp vibe on tour. Is there anyone on the line-up that you can see yourself being BFFs with at the end of the tour?
G Flip: Ooooh, I’d like to have a bevy with the Skegss boys. We wear pretty similar clothes.

Dom: It’d be more than one bevy with the Skegss boys.

G Flip: A slab each?

Travis: One will turn into about 20.

Travis: They’re good lads the Skegss boys, but they can put a few away.

G Flip: So can G Flip! [Laughter]

What are you most looking forward to about playing?
G Flip: Just travelling with everyone and that school camp vibe, seeing the same people and forming relationships and friendships, rather than just playing the one show and bailing out. The community of it – I love that stuff.

Dom: It’s generally the highlight of the festival, seeing acts from disparate backgrounds and scenes becoming friends and getting to know each other. There have been so many great collaborations. I’m not going to take credit for Laneway starting them, but King Krule and Earl Sweatshirt collaborating five years ago. There have been so many things like that where they’ve just been hanging out on the tour together, and it’s just come from that.

PHOTOS: LANEWAY FESTIVAL/SUPPLIED

G Flip: I’m really excited about that.

G, any plans to go full Peking Duk and having a fireworks and lighting extravaganza for your Laneway bow, or will it be pretty similar to your live show now?
G Flip: I think the first thing I want to do in terms of the stage is to get my drum kit a drum riser. I’ve built this drum LED that makes my drum kit come to life. He’s got a little face and his name is Jeromo. Sometimes people can’t see him because he’s at the same floor level. But the first stage thing I want to do is get him elevated a bit more. I’ve also just bought a keytar. It’s sitting in my bedroom – I’m on tour at the moment – but I think a keytar solo needs to happen at some point in my career.

Travis: I feel like a G Flip keytar solo during What So Not could go down pretty well.

G Flip: That would be sick. Maybe the keytar will feature if I get my skills up. I’ve actually never played a keytar before. It’s just become a new obsession with me.

Is Jeromo based on good old St Jerome [co-founder Jerome Borazio] from Laneway Festival?
G Flip: There might be a slight correlation there, maybe.

Travis: Maybe cousins?

Dom: We have to get a photo of Jerome and Jeromo.

I think he needs an Instagram page.
G-Flip: I actually have one ready to go, we just need more content.

Dom and Trav, who was the first act you locked in for Laneway 2018?
Travis: Camp Cope.

The last one?
Travis: Rex Orange County.

 

"I think it’s important to have acts of all different sizes on the festival. We put as much time and effort into thinking who is going to play those early slots as we do the headline slots."

Is Laneway typically booked by locking in some artists that you book the festival around?
You have your budget concerns so you want to lock in your bigger acts first ideally. G Flip and Camp Cope were two acts we knew we wanted to book very early on. I remember seeing them last year. We were watching Cable Ties together at Melbourne [Laneway] and I just turned to them and asked whether they wanted to come back and play the festival in 2019. They were like, “Send us the offer, make it happen.” They were already talking to Courtney about playing … We were able to lock in both acts [early] and so we were incredibly stoked. Those acts are no brainers. They’re just on the dream list and we targeted them early on.

Is there a Laneway office ritual for when an act gets locked in?
Dom: [Laughs] Trav usually just pumps his fists and says, “Fuck yeah.”

Travis: A good one was Rex Orange County, the last act we booked. We were all quite excited about it. Word came through about 9.30 on a Wednesday night. I was just at home with my girlfriend. We had just finished dinner and we put on ‘Loving Is Easy’ and danced around the house. That was a good one. You always have those little moments, especially if it’s an important act you’ve been chasing for a while. There is emotion in it even though you try and take the emotion out, especially when acts don’t work out. You don’t want to get too attached because you do have these grand visions … If that doesn’t happen you need to quickly move on. But when an act you love gets locked in, you do get a bit excited: you realise the potential and how good it can be for the festival.

Dom: I will say we have made loose plans to kick around the footy after the announcement happens.

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