We chat with Carly Roberts, the head honcho of Sydney clubbing institution Picnic about five years of great clubbing in the lead up to the brand's fifth birthday celebrations this Easter long weekend with Ivan Smagghe, Pachanga Boys and Superpitcher.
Pulse: You've toured some pretty epic acts over the five years. Any that stand out as being particularly amazing? Where do i start without playing favourites!? In all honesty every tour is a stand out experience. Working with The Revenge for the whole time has been pretty amazing, watching him grow and add 6th Borough Project (his project with Craig Smith!) to our relationship has been amazing! Felix Dickinson is amazing and i think his last tour was years of hard work paying off. Touring Harvey & Garth was next level and I hope to work with them again soon! Red Rack'em has been amazing to work with and watch get bigger and better - we now have him as Hot Coins too (you must check out his new album 'Geek Emotions'!). I have to say though Andrew Weatherall is one of the best humans i've ever worked with. His commitment, appreciation, story telling, youthful enthusiasm, positive attitude and phenomenal DJ skills left me in awe of life. That allowed me to tour Ivan and that's working out wonderfully so far! Darshan Jesrani & Daniel Wang earlier this were also both stand out high.
Around about when Picnic started up (or perhaps a little earlier) Australia began seeing a lot more DJs and acts touring at a rate that it had ever previously experienced. What do you feel this can be attributed to? Did dance music just become more popular, or were there suddenly more promoters such as yourself deciding to book acts? Probably a combination of both those things. I think Australia has been on the rise for some time with more people liking, playing, promoting, making and then dancing to and enjoying fucking killer good music! It's because of the people that came before us and took risks, like Mad Racket etc and of course global trends. Regardless of the 'whys' it makes me feel confident that there are so many great people doing so much great stuff. We're all better off in that environment!
On that note, being a promoter in Sydney nowadays must be tough business - constantly going up against other parties in such a small scene. How do you take this into account with putting on parties? Trying not to book parties on the same date is obviously a way of avoiding this (ie communicating!) - it's not always an option though so i'd say the answer here is to work as hard as you can at making what you do unique and great...that's your best bet to survive! That's what i'm trying to achieve. And plus, you know what they say about healthy competition.
Over the years, how do you think Sydney has changed for the better? What about for the worse? Not really one to focus on the worse - in my mind Sydney has always had a pretty awesome nightlife and music scene, but for me personally the big changes over the years have been an acceptance in being able to be a musically diverse DJ and the rise (and reign!) of female DJs. That is amazing! I've never understood why it was such a mans' game because to me music reaction is so emotionally driven. It seemed weird there were hardly any other girls. Not now - I think being a male DJ is a greater handicap! (JOKES!!!)
Picnic has often leaned towards booking house and disco acts, though there's been quite a few techno artists along the way, too. Were you ever worried that touring lots of different types of DJs might alienate your crowd, or did you trust that Picnic regulars are pretty open minded? Never. I trust the Picnic regulars and my own judgement. I also trust the story of music over time. This is all part of the puzzle of the kind of music we are into. It's not a stretch to join the dots, you know what I mean? That's what Picnic was always meant to be about. I think for a while it got pigeon holed as just a disco party but it's always meant to be a platform for amazing music that most likely makes you dance like a maniac. But yeah, you're not going to come and hear music so fast and hard it'll make you vomit! Not twice, anyway.
You've got Ivan Smagghe playing this long weekend. Why did you choose him to tour? I've been trying to tour him for a few years! He works with Andrew Weatherall and they trust me so that trust was extended from Ivan's people.
And then Superpitcher is playing Picnic's 5th Birthday. What can we expect at the birthday bash? FUN! FUN! Heaps of fun. Amazing drink specials. The brilliantly tasty Santa Barbara food and not surprisingly some the best music you heard this weekend - doesn't matter how long it is.
Any other highlights from over the years you'd like to share? Yes Andy Webb! I couldn't run Picnic without him and that is a massive highlight for a few years now.
What's on the horizon for Picnic? The sun and sky! The moon and stars. Some fuck off parties.