UON launches new education record label

Thursday, 8 March 2018

In a move set to disrupt the Australian music landscape, the University of Newcastle has today launched Baraya Records – a new-breed record label concept designed to create a new pipeline of emerging Australian musicians.

KLP opens the panel for the launch of Baraya Records

Offering aspiring artists the opportunity to fast track successful music careers, the label combines education with invaluable, real-world music industry exposure and mentorship.

University of Newcastle Head of School of Creative Industries, Professor Paul Egglestone, said the label could be a launch pad for emerging artists seeking the security of a commercial record label deal or a flourishing career as an independent artist.

“Our vision for this new-concept label is to cultivate an environment where artists can build promising careers before transitioning to a commercial label, or pursuing a career as a successful independent artist.

“This initiative is changing not only the face of music education but hopefully the broader music industry here in Australia and beyond.

“Silverchair started out as a group of Newcastle kids who met at school and got their first break by winning a national demo competition. We want to be that first break for other promising artists, and if Newcastle is anything to go by there is no shortage of talent or potential in Australia,” said Professor Egglestone.

Meaning ‘sing’ in the Gathang language, University of Newcastle Senior Music Lecturer, Dr Philip Matthias said Baraya was aimed at uncovering exciting new music through different genres, sounds and perspectives.

“Baraya Records is born out of a deep reverence to place and culture and the land in which we live. It’s an inclusive label that aims to build an understanding of our shared humanity in Australia,” said Dr Matthias.

Leah Armstrong, Director of the University of Newcastle’s Wollotuka Institute said the initiative was the exciting culmination of a rich and supportive relationship between Wollotuka and the School of Creative Industries.

“Baraya Records has a foundation of respect for Indigenous knowledges, traditions and contemporary cultural practices. Through music, we hope to bring together all Australians to share our pride in the unique cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

“Wollotuka is excited for the opportunities this innovative label will bring to create a culturally-inclusive, positive and empowering learning experience for all emerging artists,” Mrs Armstrong said.

Fast track to Industry

Baraya Records’ first solo artist is current Bachelor of Music student David Leha, from the Kamilaroi nation of Australia and the South Pacific nation of Tonga, whose track ‘Louder Than Words’ also launches today.

Mr Leha was weeks away from commencing a degree in environmental science when he made a last minute decision to study music, a decision he credits with having developed his vocal ability.

“As a student at the University of Newcastle I had formal singing lessons for the first time and this really helped me develop my voice.”

Mr Leha worked with Triple J host, producer, songwriter, vocalist and DJ, KLP to help produce the track.

“I gained a lot from the opportunity to work with KLP on ‘Louder Than Words’. She has her finger on the pulse and really understands how to apply a commercial formula to a track. She worked with me to restructure the song, bringing the strongest element to the front. She helped me change up the tempo and track length and even lends her voice to the harmonies on the track. I look forward to continuing to work with all the industry mentors, it’s been a real privilege so far,” said Mr Leha.

BMG Managing Director (Australia and NZ) and University of Newcastle alumnus, Heath Johns is another industry mentor associated with the label.

Mr Johns said the University-led record label was a unique offering that could ultimately position Newcastle as a key export of Australian music talent.

“I am fully supportive of the University of Newcastle’s plan to close the distance between the tertiary sector and the music industry.

“In a digitally-driven music landscape, the Baraya Records initiative will show students the practical steps necessary to take their music from bedroom studios to global stages and I’m excited to lend my support to not only help launch this exciting new phase at the University, but help the program grow and evolve in an ever-changing environment,” said Mr Johns.

An inclusive platform

In addition to solo artist, David Leha, the label launches with two choirs.

Project lead and University of Newcastle Music Lecturer, Mr Adam Manning, said the label had evolved from a desire to experiment with new sounds and feature exceptional talent that may not otherwise have published their music.

“Baraya Records is really committed to the development of Australia’s emerging music community at a grassroots level through music education, expertise and discovery.

“The University’s award winning choir Echology have collaborated with David Leha to produce a track called ‘Yanaya’. It features the incredibly unique meeting of a Western approach and Indigenous sound that really stops you in your tracks.”

BrainWaves, a choir of stroke survivors, will launch their track ‘Aphasia.’ Aphasia is a communication impairment that can affect an individual’s ability to speak or understand others’ speech and affects some of the choir members.

“BrainWaves, is an amazing group. Despite being unable to speak, people with Aphasia can still sing, which is just an incredible example of how transformational music can be.

“We are so delighted to be able to give these two choirs a platform to publish their unique and engaging tracks,” said Mr Manning.

Getting signed and future vision

The label expects to hold two submission periods per year where aspiring artists can put themselves forward for consideration by the label.

In its first year of operation, the label will invite submissions from University of Newcastle Bachelor of Music students, with a view to broadening the scope from 2019.

Professor Egglestone said the label would support artists toward the important first step of publishing their music.

“Studio time, track mastering, photo shoots and video clips are resources that are out of reach for many emerging artists but are vital in building a following and ultimately attracting the attention of a commercial label. That’s where Baraya Records will play a key role,” said Professor Egglestone.

Professor Egglestone said the longer term vision for the label was also to enable students across the gamut of the creative industries to ‘work’ under the label.

“Our ultimate goal is to create opportunities for students to learn by doing. They’ll run the label guided by expert mentors from the School and the music business. They’ll work across the School to collaborate with our students who’re training to be designers, animators, video producers, journalists and public relations professionals to pull together the total package an artist starting out in the music biz needs.

“They’ll have access to legal expertise, business coaches and develop their enterprise skills too whilst our growing connection with some great industry people will mean they also benefit from exposure to exciting, industry focused projects.”

“Last year our brilliant animation students created an animated version of a Justin Timberlake music video, which he shared on his Facebook page. We could produce similar work as a collaboration under the record label,” said Professor Egglestone.

Celebratory concert

To celebrate the launch, the University of Newcastle will tonight host a gig by the same name – Baraya, at The Cambridge from 8pm.

The gig features an 80 per cent Indigenous line-up, including Baraya Records artist David Leha, current students Kat Waria (performing as Waria) and Jacob Ridgeway, Chris Tamwoy and The Last Kinection.

The University of Newcastle hopes this will become an annual gig to mark the historic ‘first day’ of Baraya Records.