During Melbourne’s long COVID lockdown, Australian Institute of Music staff member Matt Amy assembled a coterie of alumni students from AIM to create a lockdown-made cover of John Farnham classic “You’re The Voice.” Their message: Stay connected. Don’t live in silence. Keep going. Composer Matt shares the story of the project below.
Why did you choose this song? What does it mean to you and the group?
In 2020, during the big two month lock down in Melbourne, everyone was recording and putting out iso videos (like this one) of tunes that were good, but didn’t necessarily carry a message with the song. As an arranger, my work dried up like everyone else’s and I was desperate to create something new.
My initial idea was to put together an alumni Big Band and put out a song by Ennio Morricone as a dedication, however after a discussion with Josh Kyle it was decided that we do “You’re the Voice” with alumni from Melbourne. I decided that the arrangement had to be huge, and different to every other version out there. Besides a heavy metal and a jazz choir acapella version, every other recording I listened to resembled the original – so, I hand picked the singers and instrumentalists, and wrote the arrangement with each individual in mind and in a style that I thought they (and everyone who listens to it) would dig.
What was the most special aspect of the whole experience?
Connecting and collaborating with former students was special when putting this project together. As an educator, there’s nothing better than watching the musical growth of a student from when they first enter the doors of AIM to when they then graduate. Putting a difficult arrangement like this in front of these former students with no opportunity to get in the same room to work on parts and with only a guide MP3 to record against means that they have to put everything they’ve learnt (and then some) into practice to get the best result possible. Listening to the individual parts and hearing the accuracy in the performance as they arrived blew me away, however, I didn’t expect anything different.
Beyond this project, how did the AIM community stay connected throughout lockdown?
The internet is a wonderful thing, Zoom and Teams also helps, but the people working at AIM are truly the best in the business. We’ve had online Trivia organised by Tracee Hutchinson and Cassie Daly, hosted by Brian Nankervis (also known by his stage name as Raymond J. Bartholomeuz), we’ve had special online Zoom events showcasing ensemble performances and graduating that were all done in iso, and of course we still had classes and workshops.
What advice can you provide to the music community of Sydney, whilst they face their first long lockdown?
The best advice I can give is to stay connected, keep yourself busy and keep your head up. Lockdown fatigue is a thing, and it’s very easy to get lost in our thoughts to the point where motivation diminishes and goals are lost (believe me, I know!). Staying involved in classes – even if it’s just one class, becoming involved in these type of recording projects, or even organising your own will help make the days go faster and creates purpose. Make sure you organise some Zoom hang outs with friends, the best time I had last year was catching up with friends (and family) over Zoom and before we knew it we were still talking at 2am. Stay connected, don’t live in silence, keep going!
John Farnham “You’re The Voice” AIM Lockdown Cover: Credits
Voice – Harriet Allcroft
Voice – Jasmyne Middleton
Voice – Ashleigh Kennedy
Voice – Alex Smirneos
Voice – Sean Donehue
Voice – Sean Hutton
Trumpet – Jason Sandercock
Trumpet – Jade Kerber
Alto Sax/Keyboard – Bridget Sharp
Trombone – Luc Weiner
Trombone – Connor McIndoe
Guitar – Tim Chilman
Guitar – Zac Robertson
Keyboard – Caleb Fortuin
Bass – Sean Close
Drums – Brooke Custerson
Percussion – David Ulucay
Voice Over Bit – Sean Hutton
Audio Mix – Jade Kerber & Matt Amy
Music Arrangement & Video Edit – Matt Amy