FOR almost a year now, independent musicians in Melbourne have been playing to packed houses in a monthly acoustic showcase called The Limelight, at the hip Miss Libertine on Franklin St in the city.
Begun by Full Valve Entertainment’s (FVE) founders Lionel “Nigel Nobody” Kho and Kevin “Broken Scar” Teh, the gigs have provided a platform for local indie talent to road test their music and develop their craft.
It’s a grassroots approach to music, a subversion of an industry that has had little time for nurturing raw talent and prized only the lucky handful with that big break.
More than 40 artistes both local and from overseas have performed at The Limelight since last October, including local maverick guitarist Tim McMillan, Singaporean singer-songwriter and Idol contestant Daphne Khoo, and Malaysian chart topping band Scene at the Movies.
Lionel and Kevin describe FVE as a “community” of independent musicians and music lovers.
“Music in itself is a form of expression, and it is pointless without having someone to share it with,” Lionel said.
“In order for it to thrive, there must be a platform, and we were trying to provide just that.
“So instead of looking up organisers for gigs that would let us play, we organised one for ourselves,” he said.
Their passion and determination is palpable.
After a successful first show in Fitzroy, the pair was dealt an unexpected blow when the venue lost its license and closed down.
Undefeated, they coolly walked into Miss Libertine, booking the venue for their next show.
And the rest, as they say, is history.
The FVE team has doubled since, with the arrival of singer-songwriter Asami Koike and student-cum-radio presenter Giulia Tan. And in addition to the monthly Limelight shows, FVE now have their own podcasts and weekly radio show on SYN 90.7 FM.
Spending an afternoon with Lionel, Kevin, Asami and Giulia, it’s evident how different the four personalities are, but it is exactly this diversity that has stood them in good stead to conquer giants.
Their greatest achievement was “overcoming natural social barriers to achieve something that we all have a common goal for”, Lionel said.
“How did it happen that I met Kevin randomly… to meeting Asami and Giulia… and now running monthly gigs and having a radio show… in 12 months? Something clicked, it’s about the right people.”
Lionel is the visionary leader, Kevin the realist and perfectionist, Asami the positive supporter, and Giulia the energy and life of the party.
Kevin said, “When we have a task at hand, we tackle it in our individual ways, but although we may handle things different, we end up on the same page.”
Kevin works as a sound engineer and leads the team “backstage”, handling the finer details that Lionel, with his eye on the bigger picture, sometimes overlooks.
Asami takes care of event management, while Giulia handles publicity for FVE and the production of their radio show.
The cornerstone, said Lionel, was the desire to support independent music.
“We started it because we want to play music. It was never about being famous.
“If ever any of us lose sight of this, the castle comes down,” he said.
The four have mighty plans, to cross media platforms from radio, to television and the internet with their music.
It could take them as long as 20 years to achieve, but the four are prepared to go the long haul for their dreams.
“The future is an exciting but daunting thing, but it’s one of the things in life we would love to be able to achieve,” Lionel said.