Words by Kavina.
For episode 6 of The Muso Podcast, we’re back for part 2 of our tale of two lads, or as it’s become quite apparent - two young and enthusiastic festival giants, and the empire they’ve built on this thing we lovingly call house music!
Mike Christidis and Fil Palermo, two co founders from the UNTITLED Group, have flexed some major live music feats in their young but large careers. They’ve brought us the likes of Beyond The Valley (BTV), Pitch Music & Arts Festival, Grapevine Gathering, Wildlands, and Ability fest, plus hundreds of landmark dance music events over the past seven years with still forever to go. You might remember them from their Anyway Nights series at the Palace Theatre, or not realised these guys were responsible if you were vibing to Solomon at The Wool Store, thinking “am I seriously doing this in a warehouse in Footscray right now?!”
Last episode we relived the whirlwind journey which took them from their first ever DJ and promo gigs (charmingly attained with fake I.Ds) to owning a club, turning to major festivals after the success of BTV, and then starting UNTITLED Group. We got a glimpse into their entrepreneurial style, how they met challenges along the way, and best of all, how they saw an opportunity to bring house music to Australia in a big way.
This episode we get a little deeper into the do’s and don’ts of running a festival, including all the learning curves which came with BTV. We get into why Pitch festival has such a perfect lineup (spoiler alert; it’s the date), and how the boys brought a European style dance festival - from it’s unique, left of field brand and programming, to life. The merging of underground artists like Maceo Plex, Sven Vath and Kiasmos amongst the likes of Floating Points and Mount Kimbie. We hear some stories about touring with the Wu-Tang Clan, and being dubbed honorary Wu members, the infamous Solomon ironing board set at the after party that would never end, and Ability Fest, a collaborative passion project with the Dylan Alcott Foundation.
The only way to end a never ending Solomon afterparty is to turn the power off. The pure joy of pulling off a festival regardless of the economic value, and getting to dance in a crowd to your favourite artists, once it’s all come together. For musicians, take the pressure off attempting to impress your peers around you. Do your best and do it uniquely, and the right promoters, peers, labels, etc. will notice, because they’re all on the lookout. The Benefits of embracing extra costs and complications, like pursuing big ideas and festival excellence by bringing stage design to the next level. Anything is possible, if you create a road for it, you’re guaranteed to find a way, like delving into your touring dreams by bringing hip hop legacy like the Wu-Tang Clan to Australian shores.