Here's a strange oxymoron for you: Sydney venues are closing left right and centre and the city's music scene is flourishing. A small community of DIY artists and labels has been leading a resurgence of smart underground music in the New South Wales capital through house shows and private parties and unusual, small-run pressings of new records. One such label is Sydney's Dinosaur City Records, who, over the past couple of years, have been quietly releasing some of Australia’s best indie rock, from Cody Munro Moore’s weirdo new wave fantasy Perfume Nightmare to curios like Phanosland’s For The Lovers EP and this year’s excellent Spike Vincent record. Two years on from when they started, Dinosaur City founders Cody Munro Moore and Jordanne Chant, have built a small but solid scene of prolific and well-loved (if not entirely well-known) Sydney artists around them.
To celebrate two years of their label, Chant and Munro Moore are releasing the third Dinosaur City Records Mixtape, a 23-track compilation of some of Australia’s best and brightest DIY musicians. The tape is diverse in genre––moving from abstract, icy coldwave to fiery hardcore punk and touching on everything in-between––but, somehow, unified; it feels analogous to other wonderful, stylistically disparate compilations like Efficient Space’s 2016 compilation Sky Girl or Flying Nun’s Greatest Bits album from a few years back. Highlights of the mixtape include dreamy shoegaze-pop from Boat Show’s Ali Flintoff (Denise Le Menice); a raw, distorted cut from Sydney punks Nasho; and “In 2 It”, a hypnotic, minimal cut from Body Type’s Annabel Blackman (using the name Solo Career, natch).
Elsewhere on the tape, you can find new music from Melbourne band No Local, Cody Munro Moore, Tuffence Meringue (Sophie from Body Type’s solo project), Real Love and e4444e. Listen to the tape (and read our interview with Dinosaur City’s Jordanne Chant and Cody Munro Moore) below.
Noisey: Why did you start Dinosaur City?
Cody Munro Moore: To see and make sure that people in the future remember and appreciate what’s happening in music at this moment in time. When I was a kid I wanted to be an archaeologist, but maybe that was a Hollywood dream. I don’t think I’d have the patience.
Jordanne Chant: I didn’t start Dinosaur City, but I started contributing to the label in late 2016. Cody invited me to a meeting at the pub with a couple of others. It was my birthday and I had the day off work. I think I mostly went because I felt like a beer. Cody and I have been in the same circles for many years and have similar interests and ideas. I liked what Dinosaur City was doing and felt that I had something to contribute, so figured why not... At the time I didn’t really understand what that would go on to mean or how much work it would involve (heaps), but we’ve done some pretty cool things even in a small amount of time, and there are more exciting things to come!
What place do you think Dinosaur City has in Sydney’s scene?
CMM: There are five million people living in Sydney right now. If we bring out even just a few of the stories that people are wanting to tell, then I think that’s cool. We went to the Parramatta Live and Local music festival a few weeks back, and getting the ferry from Circular Quay to the centre of the City of Parramatta was eye-opening, because even after eight years living in Sydney I wasn’t aware why Parramatta had existed until then. It’s where the saltwater of the Harbour meets the freshwater of the Blue Mountains. Music can work in the same way – there’s always something for you to discover.
JC: Sydney acts are producing some of the best music in Australia right now, and I believe as a label, through our mixtapes, shows and full releases, we’re helping artists and the Sydney scene as a whole get the attention it deserves.
This mixtape features a heap of artists from all around Australia. How do you go about curating what goes on the tape?
JC: Most of the acts on the tape are friends, or friends of friends. Some artists, we approached, and others approached us, or had friends approach us saying “I know a band with a great track coming out soon that I think you might like for your tape!” In the past, our tapes have featured mostly Sydney acts, but this one features artists from Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and even New York and L.A. I started the tape with a theme in mind, but the theme sort of got lost when we received a couple of great (last minute) tracks people had recorded specifically for the compilation, which didn’t necessarily fit in with that theme but deserved a place on the tape nonetheless.
CMM: I suppose you meet somewhere, have a good time and get along, then it could be 20 minutes or three months later and that person surprises you with a song they’ve worked on, and that is a really exciting thing to be a part of.
What have you learned in two years of running Dinosaur City?
JC: A lot! Especially in the past year since the label started properly releasing music outside of SoundCloud. Learning to efficiently plan release timelines and successfully pitch for press are big (and important) ones. Cody and I looked at one of the first press releases we sent as a label, last night and had a bit of a laugh. We’ve definitely gotten better at that stuff.
CMM: Patience with releasing music is something I’ve always had trouble with. As musicians, we can have this desire to drop our music as soon as we’ve received the masters, but realistically, release timelines can sometimes take as long as the writing and recording progress. The internet conveys information quicker than we can comprehend, but it’s naive to think it’s always going somewhere that anyone will ever find them.
What’s your favourite track on the compilation?
JC: I’ve listened to the tape from start to finish at least thirty times, and still find this a really difficult question to answer. The compilation covers a pretty wide range of genres and to me there are many standout tracks. Bourgeoise Earth’s
“Cockroach” was one of the first to really stand out to me. Nick Griffith (Bourgeoise Earth) has a knack for writing simple, catchy pop songs, and this track is a great example of that.
CMM: I think Tuffence Meringue’s “Tender” and Solo Project’s “In 2 It” are two of my favourites. Listening to the two back-to-back, there’s this strange entanglement between the two. They’re both similar and unique at the same time. Maybe it’s their time spent writing together in Body Type, or maybe I’m just imagining it. If I could remember the Latin names of the clouds, I’d say they are both from the same sky, but sit happily in their own altitude, as unique shapes and forms.
Why do you keep putting these mixtapes out? What’s the goal?
JC: While a lot of the artists on the compilation have played in bands and released music before, some have not had the courage to do so independently with these projects. I think our mixtapes have given a lot of artists confidence to put out great music that might have otherwise stayed on their laptop. I also think the tapes are a nice way of showcasing a diverse mix of brilliant music that’s being made at the moment. While this compilation is made up of mostly unreleased music (which was initially our goal), there are a couple of tracks on there that are already out (like Nasho’s “Candid Streets” and Mezko’s “For Now”), but I think as a young label it works as a moodboard of music that we like and feel deserves to be heard by a wider audience.
Speaking of, our friends at Burger Records are putting the tape out in the States, which is cool. I’m glad the artists on the tape are having their music reach new fans not only here in Australia but in the USA and beyond.
CMM: Again it’s a great way to bring a lot of people together that wouldn’t have normally worked together or even met. It’s nice to see people from different parts of the same city or from different sides of the world come together and appreciate each other.
Why a mixtape and not some other project?
CMM: It’s a form that’s really social and I like to think of the process of the mixtape being just that.
JC: Other projects will come!
What’s next for the label?
JC: A tape launch on Saturday at Marrickville Bowlo featuring a bunch of artists from the compilation. Some exciting things to follow include Navy Gangs’ debut album, Greenwave Beth’s EP, People in Agony, and an EP by FRANK which I can’t wait to get out.
CMM: Stay busy, because busy is good.
Listen to Dinosaur City Mixtape #3:
DCR are launching their tape this Saturday at the Marrickville Bowlo. Info here.