Nestled in the picturesque landscapes of Trentham East, Shady Cottage is the latest festival to entwine itself between music, arts and the aroma of sweet-smelling eucalyptus trees. Celebrating creativity and undeniable leisure, the two-night event approaches Melbourne’s bustling creative scene and places it into perspective. Welcoming a truly communal camping experience, the festival penchants itself as an intimate affair; tickets limited to 500, while showcase artists and patrons are invited for activities, live art installations and morning yoga sessions.
With Melbourne’s finest upcoming and established curators billed on the line-up – including Andras & Oscar, GL, Ara Koufax, Leisure Suite and Alice Ivy to name a few – the team at Shady Cottage have been quietly slaving away with preparation on the sidelines. But who exactly are Shady Cottage?
Coming together first as friends and secondly as inspired creatives, the now event organiser Will Clancy (22), creative director Nick Bond (21) and artist liaison Tim Koren (21) launched their serious lovechild after one wild night in 2015. Wanting recreate the atmosphere, the rest of Shady Cottage’s history is theirs to tell.
Where did the concept for Shady Cottage begin?
Will: Shady Cottage spawned from our friend’s 21st, which was held at the same time last year on the Shady Cottage grounds. We had all our friends’ bands play and there was a real festival atmosphere to it, so we started thinking about doing it for real almost immediately.
What compelled you to come together and kickstart your own music festival?
Nick: It just felt like an opportunity to be creative in an entirely new capacity. We’re all musicians, so we’re all trying to avoid real jobs like the plague. So when Clancy came to me with the concept, I had so many ideas for who should play and how it should look and I just thought, “Hey, why not just pretend this is my job?”
Tim: There seemed to be a real opening in the market for something like this too. With a lot of large festivals beginning to fold, there is definitely going to be a rise in boutique camping festivals. We want ours to showcase the best that Melbourne has to offer.
With the event set on a private property, your story sounds similar to the early beginnings of Australia’s established Falls Festival. Have your passions come together to decide on the ultimate goal?
Will: Falls is an amazing festival with a massive legacy. I’m not too familiar with their origin story, though I’m sure they probably couldn’t have predicted where they’ve ended up today. For us, we’re focussing so hard on making this year successful that it’s hard to look too far ahead. There are some core values that we hold to do with the artists and image of Shady Cottage that I’m sure we’ll try and hold onto for the future.
What is Shady Cottage passionate about sharing and celebrating in terms of music, arts and culture?
Nick: Shady Cottage is an unashamedly Melbourne festival. As Melbournians, we have so much amazing musical and visually creative talent at our disposal that feels almost obligatory to try and share that with as many people as humanly possible. Couple that with the amazing natural scenery and landscapes that are available on Melbourne’s doorstep and you have the fundamental basis for Shady Cottage.
With its first installation due in April, what can we expect to experience across the three days?
Tim: We have such a diverse line-up at Shady Cottage. It was quite a fun challenge to schedule them all in such a way that made sense for us and for the punter.
Will: Friday starts in the arvo and goes reasonably late; Saturday is our big day. There’s a late morning yoga session and music starting at midday. We have some live (and some not-so-live) art running through the day with the music wrapping up in the wee hours of night. Sunday is a total R+R day. We encourage punters to take their time and leave feeling fresh for their journey home.
Are there any visual artists you’re proud to support?
Nick: Yeah, there’s going to be some great visual artists at Shady Cottage. Melbourne artist Sophia D’urso will be creating a piece from scratch on the Saturday afternoon. Beyond that, the Lucifers Monocle guys are exhibiting works from various artists including (but not limited to) Holly Terry, Torika Taylor, Jarrad Danby, Jean René Vauzelle, Jimmy Haywood, Andy Copolov, George Dowling [pictured below], and Basil Papoutsidis.
With live art installations happening across the entire festival, is interactivity an important part of Shady Cottage’s ethos?
Nick: Absolutely. It’s very important to us that the Shady Cottage experience is not merely a “watching” one. Guests of the festival will have many opportunities to engage with the art around them and hopefully contribute to the atmosphere just as much as any of the performers.
Sharing a handful of different genres and creatives, how did you approach curating your line-up?
Tim: We allowed ourselves to be quite selfish when selecting our artists. A lot of the acts on the line-up are our favourite bands and DJs from Melbourne. Thankfully we each have quite diverse tastes, so we’ve managed to assemble quite a broad spectrum of different musical styles.
Will: Hot tip: Broadway Sounds will knock everyone’s socks off! Early favourite for best on ground.
Music has been slowly returning to nature over the last couple of years, with events like Hills Are Alive and Meredith celebrating the power of a music festival’s setting. Are there any elements in nature and respecting the land that have inspired Shady Cottage’s aesthetic vision?
Nick: Mother Nature has taken quite a prominent role in the spirit of Shady Cottage. I think respecting the land, in our case, has to do with appreciating the opportunity it can give you. Last year it provided an amazing setting for a farm party, but for Shady Cottage, we’ve really focussed on using elements of the natural environment to our advantage. We think people will appreciate the way we’ve incorporated some of the existing land features and flora into the structure of our festival.
Does the experience of live music change in an outdoor environment?
Nick: In some ways it does. Aesthetically there’s obviously much more to see and smell and feel. Very early on, we decided against any kind of structural marquee, to ensure the sun or the night sky or the trees would be on full display for the audience and the performers.
What are you hoping people will experience and remember from their first Shady Cottage?
Will: As much as possible, really. There’s going to be so much to do that, at the very least, they’ll have witnessed some of the best music that Melbourne has to offer.