Nicky Bomba's Oxygen Workshops

Subscribe to Forte Magazine

Nicky Bomba's Oxygen Workshops

It’s safe to say that as the conductor of the Melbourne Ska Orchestra, the founder of the calypso-driven outfit Bustamento, and a highly successful solo project, Nicky Bomba is a man who wears many hats (in fact I’ll wager that he is single-handedly responsible for the return of the fedora – no one wears them better). But aside from his many musical endeavours, Nicky is a brother to fellow bandmates Michael and Danielle (aka Mama Kin), best mate and business partner to Joe Camilleri, brother-in-law to John Butler, and a doting dad – and now, thanks to Oxygen College in Geelong, Bomba can add teacher and mentor to that list.
In two different workshops on the same evening Bomba will share a wealth of knowledge that can only come from over 30 years experience in the music industry – nothing is off limits. “I plan to include everything from my experience as a musician – becoming a band manager, working as a songwriter and recording artist, learning to produce and starting a record label. There are so many different facets of the record industry,” Bomba says.
“There’s a lot to talk about and it’s exciting because it’s constantly changing and evolving. When I started out everything was on vinyl – that’s all there was!” he laughs. “Times have changed a lot.
“It’s gone from that to Spotify and all these streaming programs, making it really difficult for the artist to make a living,” he continues. “So the only way of making a living nowadays is playing live. There used to be support structures within record companies to enable the artist to spend time song writing and working on an album – but now a lot of those structures are gone. So what do you do? Do you think on your feet and work something out? I want to open up a debate.”
Bomba devoted his life to his passion, and has opened up about his chosen career path on many occasions. “I’d been playing music every weekend with my family since I was six years old. But it wasn’t until I was about 16 that I got to the point where I had to ask myself, ‘Do I actually WANT to do this?’ What to do in the future was constantly on my mind, but one day I thought, ‘No more! I’m going to pursue music’. So I up and left school to head out on tour and finished up year 11 by correspondence. I wrote my first song on that tour,” he says proudly, “and my musical journey started there.”
Fast forward roughly 35 years, and Nicky Bomba has become one of the country’s most in-demand and respected musicians. However, he’s the first to point out that he hasn’t got it all figured out.
“I’m the eternal student and I like the fact that I don’t know everything and I’m still learning. For example, I personally haven’t had a hit record. Sure I’ve played on many and I’ve toured with bands like John Butler and Killing Heidi who have had major success – but I can’t say that I’ve had a number one hit single, that I’ve written and achieved everything I want to achieve. If I had, I’d move to the Bahamas and live under an umbrella and play the ukulele,” he grins. “I believe my next song is going to be my best song. You have to maintain that inner desire to continue, and that’s some of what I’ll cover in the workshop, but really I’m just looking forward to having a good old banter with everyone.”
Written by Natalie Rogers
When & Where: Music Industry Workshop, Oxygen College – November 4 @ 6pm & Song Writing Workshop, Oxygen College – November 4 @ 7.20pm