The Ground Floor
Platform is a weekly night held at The Elephant & Wheelbarrow dedicated to giving local artists a leg-up in the music industry. Platformâ€™s host, Nathan Ward, describes the eventâ€™s beginnings.
â€œBasically Platform is the brainchild of Duncan, The Elephant & Wheelbarrow venue manager. It came about through him doing some digging with some agents and seeing where and what access young bands had to showcase and to develop themselves into professional artists. And he found pretty quickly that there wasnâ€™t a lot. So his idea was to start developing artists and quickly got Jack Daniels and Billy Hyde on board and asked me to host and run the night,â€ says Nathan.
The event involves unknown bands showcasing their talent every Tuesday night. After just four weeks, Platform is on the radar.
â€œItâ€™s snowballing. We just finished our first month. Tuesday just gone we had some unbelievable original artists come through; their names were Black Whiskey, Company Sin and Burn Down Hollywood, and all three pulled massive crowds, and in terms of their musicianship and showmanship, were unbelievable. Each week has really developed. Itâ€™s just gotten bigger and bigger. Weâ€™ve had two cover nights and one night of unplugged acoustics, and the Tuesday just gone was original bands.â€
Rather than treating the event as a competition, the creators consider it as a development program for emerging artists of all types.
â€œBasically we look at Platform as an introduction into the industry. The way weâ€™ve broken it up is into two basic categories; cover musicians and original artists. And then every format in between that; they can do solo, they can do duos, they can do dance. For the original artists theyâ€™re going through rounds to have the opportunity to play with the main headliners at The Elephant & Wheelbarrow. In the past it has been bands like Butterfingers and The Butterfly Effect. As opposed to a band competition, we look at it as a footstep into a career in the music industry.â€
As a professional musician himself, Nathanâ€™s input is industry-based as he provides bands with the appropriate contacts.
â€œPersonally, I go through industry contacts and point them in the right direction. Whether it be through agent contacts, management contacts, bio writers, helping them with street press, or helping them build a following. Whatever need be, Iâ€™m really on offer to answer any questions and help them in the right direction.â€
Nathan says the event has so far produced some incredible talent, and he is looking forward to seeing what the rest of Brisbane has to offer.
â€œEach week it never ceases to amaze me how many great young musicians there are out there and itâ€™s just a matter of tapping into it and giving them the opportunity to jump on stage and show you what they can do. Itâ€™s phenomenal actually, the raw talent is there and they just have to be pointed in the right direction.â€
Band competitions have been around for eons, but the Platform organisers believe there is a lack of support for rising musicians currently on offer.
â€œUnfortunately, the south-east Queensland music industry â€“ from the time that I started, which was back in the mid 90s â€“ has really shrunken and itâ€™s become ultra competitive. Bands donâ€™t seem to have the networks of helping each other out anymore.â€
Nathan says his career began with help from a supportive local scene and feels it is his duty to provide this for new musicians.
â€œI believe that all professional musicians making a living out of it, like myself, should put something back into it. I had guys when I started out that were just instrumental in helping me develop into a professional musician.
â€œAny bands that are ready to come in and play a 40-minute set, Iâ€™d just like to appeal to them, and give them the opportunity that I had as a younger kid, to come forward and have a crack.â€
With an event of such good intentions, Nathan felt the need to acknowledge the team behind Platform.
â€œQueensland does have an unbelievable amount of talent â€¦ and I canâ€™t thank The Elephant & Wheelbarrow enough for what theyâ€™re doing. Itâ€™s really comforting to know that thereâ€™s a venue and some management out there that see a bigger picture, and are willing to sink some of their own money into supporting that.â€
PLATFORM HAPPENS EVERY TUESDAY NIGHT AT THE ELEPHANT & WHEELBARROW.