'Now Sound: Melbourne’s Listening' showcases how rich and powerful our music culture is

"Melbourne is the centre of the universe." 

A brash sentiment, perhaps, but one that rang true for the 90 minutes following its utterance, at the very least. Proclaimed by Kirin J Callinan in the opening moments of Now Sound: Melbourne’s Listening, the notion set the tone for the documentary whose primary focus is Melbourne’s rich music culture and the power of its orbit.

The first feature-length film from KEWL Studios – the Melbourne production house spearheaded by the brains behind the film Tobias Willis and Marcus Rimondini – Now Sound serves as a stellar debut. Though an ambitious subject to unpack, the documentary beautifully pulls apart the threads which, weaved together, create the fabric of Melbourne’s music community.

Refreshing in the breadth of its approach, the documentary sweeps a wide selection of genres and artists as well as incorporating everything from community radio and local live music venues to underground music communities and independent record labels in order to emphasise the importance of the communal spirit that makes Melbourne’s music scene what it is.

Through interviews with local musicians, independent label owners, community radio presenters, boutique festival founders, live music venue owners and the likes, the documentary explores the multitude of avenues through which music is celebrated and shared in the Melbourne region and the obstacles each of these outlets continue to face as a result of government pressure and financial strain.

In addition to gleaning the perspectives of those working behind the scenes in various areas of the music industry, the film also avoids idling on one particular idea of an artist when it comes to representing those at the forefront of the music scene, bringing forth a number of characters of all calibres to ensure the voices of Indigenous and culturally diverse artists and female, gender non-conforming, and LGBTIQ artists are given equal opportunity to be heard.

Through highlighting issues such as changing laws and gentrification, Now Sound makes it abundantly clear that the thriving music scene for which Melbourne is renowned is under constant threat, though it’s the passion of those championing the scene as well as every gig-going music lover that gives us the upper hand in the battle.

The soundtrack is impeccable, featuring a huge slab of homegrown talent, both through studio recordings and the live footage incorporated into the film, shining a light on a multitude of sub-genres and underground artists as well as those you’re most definitely familiar with.

Stretching from 2016 until today, Now Sound: Melbourne’s Listening showcases what is happening right now while simultaneously reflecting Melbourne’s historical roots and looking forward, providing a clear picture of how institutions within the community have arisen and what the future looks like for them.

Now Sound is equal parts entertaining and informative, brimming with so much heart that it will have you instantly wanting to run down to your local record store or music venue to show your support amongst your fellow music community members. While Melbourne may not be the centre of the universe, it’s safe to say that Melbourne gravitates around music.