Musician-turned-producer Isabelle Reynaud is building the kind of music events she wants to see.
When Townsville City Council gave Isabelle free reign to produce a format for local musicians at this year’s North Australian Festival of the Arts (NAFA), she ran with the opportunity to bust a few moulds.
Isabelle is usually the musician looking for opportunities. She writes, produces and performs under her solo moniker Isadore, as well as being one half of disco-pop pair Comfort Royale. She is used to the hustle of an indie muso.
In piecing together her latest show, Get Popped!, Isabelle has had the chance to step to the other side of the equation.
“Get Popped! is my baby. I collaborated with Townsville City Council to put this event on and they have been generous sponsors, which is awesome because it means we can make it a free event for audiences and still get paid as artists,” Isabelle said.
“For me that was really important because I know the cost of seeing everything at NAFA can add up. Get Popped! is a younger vibe than some of the other performances and I believe if we really want to hit the younger demographic, we need to make this show free.”
Get Popped! will showcase an exciting array of locally-grown pop acts, headed by Melbourne-based 2020 National Indigenous Music Award winner, Kee’ahn.
“She’s originally from Townsville it has been a while since she’s played here, so I think that’ll be really cool,” Isabelle said of bringing Kee’ahn back to her hometown crowd.
The line-up also includes Comfort Royale, Winifred, Matilda Duncan and DJ Nate Swan in a four-hour mini-fest at Jezzine Barracks.
“There’s all these electronic artists in town, but none of us had stand-alone opportunities for NAFA because the pre-existing format meant you had to put your own show on and have a tent and self-promote. I did that under Isadore last NAFA, it just doesn’t really work for local music acts,” Isabelle said.
“I’ve kind of had to step up and say ‘This is the template we need for NAFA, this is what suits pop music more’ – one stage, a handful of acts, all doing 40-45mins each and you get people to come for the whole night, rather than coming for one hour-long show.
“I feel it’s important that we all prop each other up.
“It has been really interesting for me to be liaising with artists and providing opportunities for other people because I’m usually that person who wants opportunities provided to me. I’ve had some really lovely support in Townsville, so it was just my chance to give back a little bit.”
Isabelle said the experience of producing Get Popped! has prompted her to think carefully about providing greater representation for female and indigenous artists.
“Originally when I was programming the night, it was just going to be electronic music, but when I realised that I couldn’t even make half women, half men on the bill I changed my idea completely,” she said.
“I was like ‘Oh wait! This is what I always complain about and now here I am making the decisions – I can’t do that!’ I can’t have all men and one female act, that’s everything I stand against. I need to stay true to what I preach and when I’m actually the person making those decisions, I need to make those right decisions.
“I was like ‘Oh wait! This is what I always complain about … I can’t do that!’”
“I was willing to change the event to ensure there was equal representation, as well as indigenous representation. I was really passionate about that, and ended up changing the event to different types of pop music – so we’ve got singer-songwriter pop, disco-y pop, soul pop and we’ve got dark electronica pop.”
Ultimately, Isabelle said the response to the line-up has been incredibly positive.
“I feel like because I’ve put together this broad spectrum of pop music, we’re going to have different circles within the audience. Response is a hard thing to gauge without ticket sales, and there is so much going on in the city, so we will see how it pans out.”
Get Popped! will be held on 12 June 2022 as part of the North Australian Festival of the Arts.