Work Redux #011: Montana

July 11, 2022

DJ & Music enthusiast hailing from Perth, Western Australia. Curator for the Perth devoted mix series ‘Personal Space’ & host of Skylab Radio show ‘Melting Moments’.

“You can usually find me on my days off sitting in my backyard under the sun listening to music & sipping on filter coffee. The type of music I tend to gravitate towards will usually contain elements of soulfulness, tenderness, emotion & a touch of obscurity. I am constantly fascinated in how music can travel through decades of time, particularly music which would have almost been lost otherwise, to reach & touch someone, who is completely displaced from it’s original context. When feelings of nostalgia wash over me whilst listening to specific songs, sometimes even songs I’m hearing for the first time, that’s one of my favourite things about music, the power & emotional control it can have over someone, a deep unexplainable connection." - Montana

Let's go back to the beginning: what is one of your earliest musical memories?

I’d have to give a nod to my parents for all of my early music memories. I don’t think there was ever a silent moment in the home or the car, whether it be CDs playing on the CD stack, vinyl on the record player, or Rage (music programming show) on a Saturday morning. I particularly remember Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, Joni Mitchell & various late 90s downtempo compilation CDs like Cafe Del Mar, Buddha Bar etc.

What would have been on your mixtape growing up?

Probably a lot of 90s downtempo chill out classics, and a splash of Spice Girls.

Did you grow up in a musical family, or did you study music at all?

My mum played guitar and my brother tried his hand at guitar for a bit too. I started playing piano at age seven but I abandoned my practice at around age fifteen. Recently, I’ve begun playing a little bit here and there on an old Casiotone my friend gifted me for my birthday last year. Music was, and still is, a huge part of my family.

Perth is known for an incredibly rich and diverse musical scene. What has your own musical experience in Perth been like?

I think the reason why I’m still in Perth is a testament to the music scene here. It is super close knit and extremely supportive. It doesn’t feel like we’re all competing against each other. When I first started DJing I was given opportunities that I deemed myself as unworthy or not good enough for, but these people pushed me to believe and stay true to myself, which I will always treasure about this place. In regards to the diversity, it’s true. There are so many little subculture pockets and scenes going on here which helps to make the scene so diverse and different, but because we are a smaller city we try not to step on each other’s toes, like having two similar gigs on the same night for example. Probably also helps that we don’t exactly have a plethora of venues at our disposal too.

Do you play any instruments or have any gear that you are particularly fond of?

I loosely play piano, but am yet to acquire some gear that I am fond of. I’d love to get a drum machine and a synth.

Can you tell us a bit about your other projects, the "Personal Space" mix series and your show "Melting Moments"?

Personal Space” is a community dedicated and focused mix series revolving around people from the city. I invite a person into my house with a bunch of other close friends and record the mix. The concept and ethos is loosely based around music that is inherently personal to the selector, music that you may play around your house when by yourself; a glimmer and insight into music that has shaped that person in one way or another.

Melting Moments” is a semi-regular music show on Skylab Radio. The show’s ethos is really not too dissimilar from the “Personal Space” idea: music spanning across different genres and styles of folk, new wave, post punk, Italo, alt pop and so on, with an emphasis of music from the past.

Now, let's dive into your mix. It's very smooth and seamless, drifting through different soundscapes, genres, and even languages. I wonder, how do you put together a mix? Is it calculated or more free-flowing and improvisatory?

Thanks for the kind words! I guess you could say it is a balance of semi-calculation, but also a lot of improv as well. I tend to think of mixes as a form of storytelling, particularly of a place or time or where I may be in my life. I like to inject quite a lot of emotive music into my mixes which allows for a sort of therapy and reflective process.

When coupling tracks, are you listening for sonic connections or, like you said, trying to tell a story through sound?

Perhaps a bit of both, as coupling tracks that sound harmonious side by side is super important for a nice flowing mix, but I am definitely trying to tell a story too! It’s fascinating to me: weaving music together that can complement each other, but also communicate ideas, thoughts and emotions.

For me, the key to your mix came early in a lyric that goes "You've probably heard this song before." There's a semblance of familiarity in your song choices, but it's fleeting, giving way instead to the unexpected and obscure. Do you endeavour to find songs and artists that are off the beaten path, or is this just indicative of your musical curiosity?

It’s a great sentiment, that lyric! As with any love story and heartbreak song, it seems to be the most common thread between lyricism and music, perhaps because singing about personal, but also universally shared experiences, makes this form of storytelling so relatable to so many people. However, each song remains unique.

In regards to the way I approach looking for music and artists, I think I am inherently just a curious person. I like digging out music that may have been left forgotten otherwise, and by doing so giving it new life and meaning, especially in the context of my own life. It’s exciting to constantly be expanding my world of music knowledge and understanding by way of the unknown and unfamiliar.

I found the mix to be very peaceful and conducive to focus. What are some choices you made that helped make this mix perfect for listening while working?

I first compiled the songs into a playlist and started playing it whilst I was doing mundane type tasks around the house, or driving, or relaxing at home. I wanted to make it as unobtrusive and comforting as possible, letting it just wash over you. You don’t realize when it started or ended, but rather it’s just been happening around you.

Is the process of creating a mix also a process of self-discovery, or do you know where a mix will end up?

Lots of self-discovery, yes! Also self-reflection too. I have a rough idea of beginning, middle, and end, often coming to a sort of conclusion or realization at the end – I guess in the same way a story does. But I leave lots of room to see where it may go or end up, just like life. You can plan as much as you like, but unplanned and unpredictable things will always find a way to squeeze in, making life (and mixes) that much more exciting, and leaving you guessing where it may take you next.

Work Redux is a collection of mixes made to be listened to while working. We work closely with local and international DJs to assemble thoughtful music that will carry members throughout their day and introduce them to new sounds. East Room is a shared workspace company providing design-forward office solutions, authentic programming and a diverse community to established companies and enterprising freelancers. We explore art, design, music, and entrepreneurship, visit our news & stories page to read more.