I Oh You
“If you build it, they will come,” was Jim Morrison’s advice to Wayne and Garth in Wayne’s World 2 when the pair were seeking the key to putting on a successful music festival. We all know the intention of that adage is to promote the idea that if you offer something of quality, then people will likely flock to it. But the reality is that, in Melbourne’s current glut of quality live acts, it’s not just about booking great bands, you need to offer something else to heighten the experience to keep punters coming in droves.
“I think it is not enough just have good live bands. Everyone is tight and can play their songs – the standard of Australian music is very high so what we are offering is the opportunity to add something else to the live experience… That is, interactive for the crowd and will really get them talking about the experience after they leave.” So explains Johann Ponniah who, along with Tim O’Keefe, Daniel Tramonte and Mick Panetta, runs Melbourne-based record label and music event organisation company I OH YOU.
In just on 12 months I OH YOU has established itself as a leader in innovative label (and party) ideas as well as general band promotion through its work with bands like Neon Love, Howl and Philadelphia Grand Jury (Philly Js). Ponniah elaborates on the brand’s origins and its meteoric rise.
“About this time last year we got final notice for our gas bill and it was like ‘pay or get disconnected’ and so we all sort of put our heads together and thought ‘there is no way we can actually get the money together in such a short time’, so we came up with an idea to raise the money by having a party,” states the mild mannered 21 year old who is sitting in the Beat magazine boardroom politely sipping on a hideously burnt coffee in between his sentences.
He goes on, “at the same time our friends Comic Sans and Neon Love were touring and their only Melbourne show got pulled – Comic Sans are from Brisbane and Neon Love are from Ballarat – so we kind of approached them about a week out of from the date we had planned the party and said ‘why don’t we have the show in our backyard?’
“They agreed and we put the party up on Facebook making it this thing called I OH YOU because it kind of related to the gas bill and I OH YOU is actually the name of a Neon Love demo that was never released.”
With the power of Facebook and the luck of having an interstate tour without a venue the first I OH YOU party was a resounding success, with over 200 punters donating $10 towards the house’s gas bill… So, less than a month later, they decided to have another party, this time featuring Ballarat band Howl, who at the time were on their way to being Triple J’s latest love children. Ponniah explains that this party’s uber success was the reason for the I OH YOU party to move out of the backyard. “We knew after that party that if we didn’t move the I OH YOU parties away from the house we’d get kicked out either by the council and our landlord!”
By the time this party rolled around, the guys had decided that they were going to start a record label called I OH YOU to manage the bands Neon Love and Howl. But the gentlemen still had one more punk-arse guerrilla-style party to hold before they moved upwards and onwards to the warehouses where currently most I OH YOU events are held.
“For the next I OH YOU party we found a space under a bridge on the Yarra river with a large patch of dirt and a rock climbing wall, so we had the party under there,” smiles Ponniah. The actual location of that event last year is on the city side of the river where Punt road crosses the river.
“Part of the reason for having that party when we did was because we didn’t get Golden Plains tickets so we had it on the same weekend as compensation. We had The Cairos and Neon Love playing,” he smiles.
“After 5 hours the party was shut down by the cops. The way we got caught was by the water police,” laments Ponniah.
Since that party, I OH YOU have moved their parties to warehouses, with the main warehouse location being on Simmons street in South Yarra – just near the Jam Factory. Ponniah excitedly elaborates on the upcoming I OH YOU event at this site, their biggest to date.
“Our next party is on February 5 and is going to be a really big, two warehouse party in South Yarra,” he grins. “The way it is going to work is that we are going to put a big double-decker bus at the front of that laneway so people will have to walk through the back door of the bus, go through the bus, give their tickets to a girl sitting in the drivers seat to walk out the front door to the laneway that will allow access to both warehouses.”
That’s shit hot. There’s nothing that spells Melbourne quite like an overdue gas bill spiking creativity in how to present bands. Buckle up.
If you have any indie cred whatsoever you will be at the next I OH YOU party this Saturday February 5 that is featuring Foals DJs, Yeasayer DJs, Two Door Cinema Club DJs, DZ (live), Goldfields (live), Ships Piano (live), Naysayer & Gilsun and Street Party DJs. It is happening on Simmons street South Yarra – look for the double-decker bus.