Music / Irregulars
Behind the Camera with Docklands Live
Words by James Lynch
All visual content provided by Docklands Live
Thursday 2nd November, 2017
Working under the idea that ‘music was made to be performed’, Docklands Live are an up and coming live music performance channel, catching some of Australia’s best local talent on film. So far they’ve released an eclectic array of masterfully produced in-studio performances, ranging from Peter Bibby’s swampy garage to Sail On! Sail On!’s explosive post-hardcore sounds, all the way to the disco funk of China Beach. Trouble Juice met with the Docklands Live crew in their waterside studio to find out what was going on.
On a warm Sunday evening, we headed deep into the Footscray Docklands to sit in on a session with Docklands Live. After a few wrong turns, we found ourselves at Inventions Studio, a decked out rehearsal and recording space, subtley tucked between a collection of rundown warehouses by the Docklands Cotton Mills. With the boys from Melbourne post-punk act Destrends out the front glamming up in preparation for their upcoming performance, we headed inside to find the Docklands Live crew eagerly setting up for tonight’s session.

While sporting a pretty modest crew of just two camera men (Mathias Dowle and Liam Jemmeson) and a single audio engineer (Ryan Fallis), the Docklands Live set up was far from unimpressive and their process smoothly flowing. Their beginnings were completely natural, as camera operator/producer/director Mathias explains. “Docklands Live started in early 2015. A friend of ours called Kit is a videographer, and had an idea to collaborate with our studio. We found there wasn’t anything else happening in Melbourne quite like what we had in mind. We met Liam through mutual friends and brought him on board. Kit eventually moved back to NZ, and after a bit of time away we decided to relaunch late 2016. So now, we have Ryan taking control of all the audio, Liam and myself, Mathias on the camera’s and then Liam does his magic with the editing. ”

Their home base, Inventions Studios, compromises of a large live room, filled with nice gear collected over years of sound work by Ryan. Once Destrends are set and ready to go, we head into the adjoining control room and watch Ryan at work as he records and mixes each take live. Outside, the boys shoot as Destrends burn through two cuts from their latest EP ‘Lousy Lover’. After a handful of takes at both tracks, everyone piles into the control room to listen back, and from all accounts, shit sounds good. Drummer Nathan laughs “it’s loose but it’s a live recording, that’s what it’s meant to sound like.” Considering Destrends are proving themselves to be one of the tightest acts performing at the moment I’m not sure if I would call it loose, but their session perfectly captured the visceral live energy of the band.

Storm the Sky
Sugar Teeth
As the crew begin to pack up, talk turns to the recent explosion of live performance film going on in Melbourne - what seemed like an empty market moments ago is suddenly booming. “Yeah, absolutely!” explains Mathias. “We found when we started there wasn’t anything else, but I guess everyone else saw that at the same time as us! It's good though, every crew has their own spin and style. For example, Hollow Everdaze, whom we filmed also did a video with Baked Goods - both are completely different videos and cater for different aspects of bands.” It’s positive the Docklands Live team have such a supportive view of what could essentially be received as competition, but their optimism really highlights one key point. With American stations KEXP and KCRW amongst others regularly nailing music performance videos, it’s important that our Australian music scene finally has a visual counterpart to compete with these heavyweights, in the same way our music does.

Finally, what’s next for Docklands Live? “Liam and Mathias are both doing a bit of travelling over the next few months, so we will quiet down for a bit. But we have a few things in store for next year which we hope come to fruition. It will be an exciting step forward if all falls into place!” We’ll just have to stay tuned to find out.

Destrends performing 'Waste Division'