sydney's ‘bad’ festival is flipping the script with incredible music from under-heard voices
"We want to make a memorable night where people are just like, 'what the fuck was that?'"
BAD is not your ordinary festival. The one-night event at Sydney's Factory Floor is a delicious mix of boundary-pushing music and art curated by Greta Balog, Gina Karlikoff and Danielle Karlikoff. The three dreamt up the project in response to the ongoing criticism around a lack of diversity in Australian music festival lineups. At the moment, we're averaging a dismal rate around one-in-nine acts playing at festivals including a woman, gender non-conforming or queer person. Luckily BAD is looking to flip the script and showcase a new wave of under-heard voices. Among the loaded line up are heroes Chunyun (Rainbow Chan), Angie and HTML Flowers as well as a bunch of new favourites.
i-D are excited to be partnering with the team on a rad night of tunes and art from some super-talented kids. In the lead up, we spoke to the organisers about how it all came together and why, sometimes, it's good to be bad.
Hey guys, so how did this come about. Had you done anything like it before?
Gina: No! We actually met the day before we decided to do this. We just got talking about music and posters and stuff and decided we should do things our way rather than just complaining and complying with things. We've all been in line-ups and played at different events, so it's just a way of doing our own thing.
You seriously knew each other for one day before taking this on?
Greta: Gina and Danielle started following me on Instagram and pretty much a week later we realised we were all in Melbourne so we just met up, had a conversation over some drinks and realised that we should start this event. We met and formed the idea in the exact same week.
The power of Instagram! So a lot of focus has been around balancing the representation of women on line-ups without being tokenistic. How have you approached that?
Greta: I think it's pretty interesting. We don't want this to be all about an all-girl line-up because it's not. We want it to be about diversity — that's what I like to fight for and we all share that value. Yes it's run by girls, so we're naturally going to choose people we are friends with or we admire, but it wasn't exactly an active decision to try to change these statistics. It has come out as a by-product, as a result of the people we know and the circles we interact with. There are more girls on this line-up than guys which in itself is a cool thing because there aren't many line-ups like that.
So it wasn't originally a direct statement about the industry?
Greta: It's definitely inherent because we stand for it. There are a lot of things in music and art right now that revolve around "girls only" things. We want to make it clear we don't stand for that. We stand for different acts and celebrating people who haven't had the chance to play much before. For example: one of the bands on our line-up is Dispossessed. They're based in Sydney and all their members are Indigenous and involved in social activism. They're mostly men but are doing something different and they embody something that doesn't get a lot of voice in Sydney.
Danielle: It's more than a gender fight. Our political stance is more for a wide-ranging line-up and perspective rather than just a gender argument.
These statistics speak volumes about a larger issue that obviously extends beyond just music and art. How do you see events like this as being able to have a larger impact?
Danielle: It's a great way to make an impression in our community. Evenings and events are the main way that people come together and the way statements and ideas are made and explored. It's the way of seeing and doing what we want in a constructive way where people can be involved.
Greta: I think musicians also have the responsibility to send out a particular message. We want to basically give all the people in the line-up a mega-phone to say what they stand for and what they believe in. Dispossessed are into Indigenous rights which is awesome, while HTML flowers deals with a lot of personal struggles which he talks about in his music.
Gina: To me the personal and the political are intertwined. Everyday we make decisions that are based on where you stand and where you think. Us putting together this event is an expression of what we want to see in the wider-world with people that we believe in.
What do you ultimately hope to achieve with BAD?
Gina: We want to make a memorable night where people are just like "what the fuck was that?"
Gina: Basically we just want people to have fun and get loose!
Text Kasumi Borczyk