h

Chapel off Chapel's Summer Sessions boast an eclectic lineup in an iconic Melbourne venue

If you’re a true music-minded Melburnian, chances are you’ve attended a gig or show at one of the city’s most treasured cultural institutions, Chapel Off Chapel. 

  • }

If you’ve been, you’ll never forget it; the intimate atmosphere, the state-of-the-art acoustics, and the beautiful stained glass window set behind the stage all combine to make Chapel Off Chapel an alternative oasis for emerging and established artists alike.

With that in mind, the venue’s Marketing & Producer Liaison Officer Ibrahim Mustafa is bringing back Chapel Off Chapel's Summer Sessions for the fourth time. Mustafa is a living legend among the Melbourne music scene, having spent over a decade booking gigs and curating lineups for Chapel Off Chapel. He previously worked in London, where he worked with The Place Theatre and was mainly responsible for marketing, production, and accidentally feeding Rickey Gervais raw lemons instead of the requested oranges.

“I thought they were oranges. [Gervais] literally cut one up and ate it before he realised I’d accidentally left lemons in his greenroom, so … I’m not the only one who was fooled.”

With a background as solid as his, it’s no surprise that Mustafa holds a whole lot of pride and enthusiasm about the coming summer’s lineup.

“I love to search for emerging talent, and then also bring back the larger names that are growing or have grown. The best part of the job is when I come out of a night and get goosebumps, I feel like I’m on a natural high. Seeing something amazing in such an intimate space.”

2019’s Summer Sessions will be treading new territory with a larger lineup and longer running period, spanning January and February. 

“Usually there are about five acts, but next year we’re having ten. So that’s a new step for us, and just heightens the excitement, really,” says Mustafa.

While always a great platform from which emerging artists can spring into the mainstream, it’s not too hard to spot a couple of very welcome repeat offenders; namely, Thando – one of the original performers in the series.

“When I first met Thando, she was up-and-coming, but now she’s just blown up. She’s doing all of these festivals, and her fan base in America is so big. She’s been with us for four years and her performances are just … wow,” he says. “She gives 200% and her confidence is unreal; she was an amazing performer then, but just now she’s just amazing.”

The lineup is dense with talent overall, and you can see why Mustafa is so excited about his creation. A majority of the artists are independent, and as such are stoked to play in such a renowned and influential space as Chapel Off Chapel. Additionally, the variation between genres and atmospheres is huge; diversity is exemplified when you juxtapose Sex on Toast’s hard-edged and improvisational ‘80s funk-swing with Jess & Matt’s Sydney-born guitar hooks and harmonies.

When asked about hitting that ever-elusive sweet spot between booking emerging artists and also nabbing the bigger names, Mustafa took his time to articulate the decision process.

“It’s definitely one of the hardest parts of the process, but it’s also super rewarding to head out and see gigs and find bands to approach,” he says.

“I love to see the emerging musicians make their mark, and to see them grow in the space. But then, with established artists like Matt Doll, having seen him and been in an intimate space with him, I already know that he can command the Chapel. Everyone learns, that’s the great thing; even when Coldplay or the Foo Fighters came in, they leave having learnt something new about themselves and their performance.” 

Chapel Off Chapel’s Summer Sessions get underway on Friday January 11 with Jordie Lane and run until Saturday February 23 where Matt Doll will round out proceedings. Head to the Chapel Off Chapel website for more information.