Fashion designer and Melbourne nightlife mainstay Soju Gang is holding her second SorBaes festival this March, bringing some of Australia’s most exciting acts to one of Melbourne’s favourite venues.
Renowned across the city and beyond for her energetic party mixes and equally energetic style and personality, Soju Gang AKA Sky Thomas, is bringing back her all-ages mini-festival SorBaes for 2022, not only providing an important promotional boost to the struggling industry, but a booming platform to spotlight established and up-and-coming DJ’s and performers.
Billed as SorBaes: Double Dip, the event will return to Sidney Myer Music Bowl on Sunday, March 13 for its second-ever edition as part of the Live at the Bowl program, featuring six hours of DJ sets and performances from some of the finest talents in the city spanning RnB, hip hop, soul, house, and Afro Dancehall.
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Going in heavy with the flavour and number of acts, proud Gunai/Kurnai, Yorta Yorta and Wiradjuri woman Thomas, in collaboration with Footscray Community Arts (an independent creative precinct in Melbourne’s West), has curated a delicious lineup of wildly talented artists from only Melbourne’s, but Australia’s diverse, genre evolving music scene.
Performing this year is rapper and producer Baro Sura, APRA Award-winning artist Jerome Farah, the genre-defying Kira Puru, up and coming names such as Lay, Mulalo, Young Rorty; and DJ sets from Mirasia, Smilez, Soju Gang herself and Swerv. Leading the charge for SorBaes: Double Dip is 2021 breakthrough artist and Malyangapa and Barkindji musician BARKAA, who was originally slated to headline last year’s festival.
“Majority of the artists on the lineup are Melbourne-based, except for BARKAA, who is based in Sydney,” Thomas explains.
“We actually had Barkaa on the bill for last year and it was going to be her very first Melbourne show but because of COVID restrictions that unfortunately didn’t happen. We really wanted her again, she’s somebody to me who is just so enchanting, I want to listen to her, I want to hear everything she has to say and I just thought she would be an amazing asset to the event.”
Born Chloe Quayle, BARKAA has become a fresh but singularly undeniable voice since releasing her largely anticipated debut EP, Blak Matriarchy out via Bad Apples Music last year. From BARKAA, you’ll witness powerful manifestation, hard-hitting raps and upfront storytelling that celebrates generations of Blak women, motherhood and taking control of one’s life path.
Celebrated by GQ as “the new matriarch of Australian rap”, her place on the lineup is just the cherry on top of the so many great, powerful rappers and musicians we’ve got access to on a national level, especially here in Melbourne.
“This year I still wanted that focus on the BIPOC community like I did last year, but my main focus of this year’s event was about showcasing the talent in Melbourne, and the wider music community.
“With Melbourne been shut down for so long, the arts community really came to a halt, and I saw an opportunity for people to see what we have on offer around Melbourne; we have so many different cultural hubs in terms of music that you can get lost in.
“To me, all these artists have a lot of their own kind of flavour that they have to offer, which works with the theme of SorBaes. I picked these artists because I wanted to make sure that you weren’t getting the same thing from artists who sat in the same genre. I wanted it to be like ‘here’s what we have on offer here, here’s the amazing talent that we have, these are the people that you could potentially fall in love with and go into the future to support’, whether that’s going to their live shows or buying their EPs.
“I wanted to highlight that you don’t always have to pay big money to see international acts when we’ve just got so much raw talent right here.”
With this carefully curated lineup of wildly talented acts set to take over the community summer party, the community-minded Thomas is determined to help profile some of Australia’s best musicians in an accessible event for music lovers of all ages, creating greater representation for artists who have been historically excluded from mainstream arts and culture.
“It’s about not only creating space for BIPOC communities who have historically been left out of big events, spaces, cities and big towns, but it’s also about ensuring that we’re putting on events that are accessible as well; making sure that people who may not have the best access or don’t have the money to go to events all the time can attend. I want to make people feel and know that not only is it a space for them, but it’s for everybody else as well.
“And that’s the way I’ve always felt about community events; if they have this planned focus on being a community event, then make sure the community’s going to be able to show up.”
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Last year’s festival has proven a runaway success, giving Thomas the confidence to expand the event, not only in terms of the lineup but also with the space. Along with music to make you melt, punters will find a selection of quality food trucks, curated art spaces and market stalls on-site to add to your summer SorBaes experience.
“We’re going to set up a couple of different spaces across Sidney Myer Music Bowl because we want to utilise more of that space this year. Last year was quite rushed and we put the event together really quickly, so now we really want to use the space to benefit the event.
“I want people to be more engaged with the stage. There will be a space for you to stand, dance and hang out, but I want people to be able to move their eyes around the space so there will be some fun additions to help to that.”
While Thomas says the dream outcome of the event is that people find something new to fall in love with in terms of music and connect with the next generation of musicians, artists, DJs and performers, SorBaes is also committed to raising awareness of Black deaths in custody, partnering once again with The Dhadjowa Foundation. Founded by Sky’s cousin Apryl Day, daughter of the late Aunty Tanya Day, The Dhadjowa Foundation is an organisation that supports and amplifies the voices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families whose loved ones have died in custody.
“This year we’re partnering again with The Dhadjowa Foundation so that people have a greater understanding around black deaths in custody and to encourage people to give money or show support in any way they can,” she says.
“While I’m related to them [Aunty Tanya Day], but I’ve also lost family to death and custody as well and considering the rise in 2020 with the Black Lives Matter movement worldwide, it was to me really disheartening that at the time so many Australians were turning towards America and seeing all the issues that were happening around race over there while completely denying what was happening here.
“This all exists here. This is happening right at your front door. Now it’s time to take responsibility in being more aware of what’s happening in the city around you from day to day, rather than trying to understand and connect with things that are happening overseas. Obviously, we want to do that, but people are showing that solidarity with that overseas community and denying that same solidarity with First Nations and Black Communities here,” she explains.
With SorBaes working directly with The Dhadjowa Foundation – in the form of a stall at the festival and a portion of tickets sold going towards the foundation – Thomas is hoping to raise awareness on a local level about the disparity that BIPOC communities face here.
“People say that they have a dedication to wanting to do better. This is me offering you an opportunity to do so.”
The festival runs on Sunday, March 13 2022 from 4pm. Come double-dip in the Bowl for SorBaes 2022. Tickets can be purchased here.