Alice Skye chats live streaming, activism and her experiences as an artist in 2020

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Alice Skye chats live streaming, activism and her experiences as an artist in 2020

Nobody knows this quite like Melbourne’s own Alice Skye, who felt the full brunt of the pandemic back in March when SXSW – a long-standing stepping stone for Australian artists to introduce their music to US audiences – was cancelled. Alice was supposed to be making her well-earned debut at the festival, and was all set to go until the world went straight into shut down. 


“A week before lockdown we were packing our bags for SXSW,” she says. “We were quite sad missing that opportunity. Hopefully we’ll get the chance to get overseas at some point.”


Despite the crushing nature of the situation, Skye has ensured her time stuck indoors hasn’t gone to waste. Since the outbreak of the pandemic, she’s featured on a number of streamed sessions, including the Victorian Government’s The Sound Of Music, ABC’s In Concert Together, NAIDOC 2020, Milk Records Virtual Residencies and most recently, the Arts Centre Melbourne’s new Vault Sessions series. 


This change to an ‘audience-less’ musical lifestyle has been relatively easy for Alice to adapt to, and although she feels somewhat comfortable without an audience, she agrees that it’s a strange feeling playing to no-one. 


“It’s kind of like an introvert’s dream,” she laughs. “I thought I’d love it, because I get so nervous on stage, but it’s hard. Pre-recording is hard, because you have to imagine the people watching it. Live streams on Instagram are better for that because you can get live reactions while you’re doing it. It’s all strange, but it’s nice to have the opportunity.”


Skye’s recent Vault Session and NAIDOC celebration performances were both shot at Melbourne’s Hamer Hall, which under normal circumstances, would be a dream come true for artists to play at. While there mightn’t have been any crowds to commemorate the occasion, Skye describes the shows as special nonetheless, with her Vault Sessions performance featuring some ornate stagecraft from a recent collaborator. 


“We wanted to create some kind of world to play in,” she says. “We had Triana Hernandez, who worked on our latest film clip (for ‘Grand Ideas’), come in and dress the stage.”


“Everyone seemed really excited to just be doing the job that they love and making that live music space. We were so lucky that we got to do it in such a beautiful venue, with great sound, and pretty lights” 



As is the case with many musicians across the globe, finding new ways to communicate and connect with their audiences is just one of the many ways they’ve have to modify in 2020. On top of her countless virtual gigs, Alice has been educating other in the community, recently featuring on a live virtual masterclass held by Briggs’ record label Bad Apples.


“It was part of this series of workshops” Skye says. “I did it with Jen Cloher, who produced my album, and Nick Huggins, who was the engineer, and we discussed about the process of recording a single to the releasing of a single. 


“I feel like I learned a lot. I love any opportunity to do those sorts of things. It’s a good way to reflect on what you do.” 


Skye also hints at her excitement about Cloher’s involvement in her upcoming record, noting the immense respect she has for the Melbourne icon. 


“I knew her from just seeing her around, but I met her properly when we were put on a panel about songwriting, and I just got along really well with her,” she says. “When I was asked to think about who I’d like to produce the next album, I really wanted a songwriter who I thought was amazing.” 


On top of seeing one of the biggest pandemics in recent history, 2020 has also witnessed immense social upheaval and racial unrest following the death of George Floyd in the US back in May. Being an artist so heavily connected and proud of her Indigenous roots, Skye’s take on the situation and the role music has had in it shines a light on the role artists can take in navigating such movements. 


“It’s tough, because it’s a really old and really long fight that people have been pushing for long before George Floyd’s death, but it’s been really interesting watching that unfold here,” she says. 


“Even with my very small following, I still want to do as much as I can to share information and talk about these things, but I do feel like people in the music industry have the opportunity to have people listen to them, and some people who have amazing things to say don’t have that following, and don’t get that attention. I think it’s important to talk about it and feel like people in the music industry usually get around these sorts of things. I hope it continues.” 


Along with fellow Indigenous artists who she is heavily connected with in the Australian music industry, Alice has been able to educate people on Indigenous issues and history. She notes the importance of figures like Neil Morris, who performs under the name DRMNGNOW and has been a crucial mouthpiece advocating for change on social media. 


“Locally you’ve got DRMNGNOW/Neil Morris, who speaks up always whilst also being an Aboriginal person himself, so also going through it, educating people,” she says. “I think it takes such an amount of strength, it’s so easy to get exhausted being online sharing things, he just does it relentlessly, and so well. I really look up to it.”



The Vault Sessions series by the Arts Centre continues with Ziggy Ramo, and Cash Savage And The Last Drinks. Get all the info here.