Who, what when and where.
Who, what when and where.
MESS is the Melbourne Electronic Sound Studio, a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to the preservation, support and promotion of all forms of electronic music making. The center of MESS is the collection of over 300 electronic sound and music machines which are made available to our members.
The key aims of MESS are:
MESS is directed by Robin Fox and Byron Scullin. We have a highly glamorous and talented team including a General Manager, Studio Manager, and Development Manager who keep the organisation and Studio moving and growing, along with Studio Supervisors who help our members use the machines in the collection. We also have a nebulous cloud of genius synth technicians who we call on to maintain the machines in the collection.
The best way to become involved with MESS is to become a member. You can also support us via a donation. Currently we don’t have any formal arrangement for volunteer assistance but we’re hoping to add a volunteer program in the future. To stay in touch, follow us on your preferred social media sitch (bottom of the page), or join the mailing list.
Depending on how long you’re in town, the 1 Month Membership might also be a good option for you.
We also run weekly workshops which you can attend. They fill up fast so be sure to book in advance.
Yes! MESS is for the curious and the keen to learn and experiment. You’re more than welcome to dive right in once you’re a member. We’ll have people working in the studio to offer some basic guidance and support. We can also point members in the direction of some literature and online media to get them going.
The Studio is open most weeks of the year from Wednesday to Sunday. We are open from 1pm-10pm on weekdays and Saturdays and Sundays from 1pm-5pm depending on bookings. Days are divided into 4 hour sessions, the afternoon session is from 1pm-5pm and the evening session is from 6pm-10pm.
Currently, only members and their guests, and casual users can attend MESS via a session booking. Please don’t show up to the studio unannounced and expect to get in – we have limited capacity, even for our members. We hope in the future to have visiting hours for guests and you can always contact us to arrange a time to pay a visit to the studio.
Yes, MESS is open to donations of machines, equipment and parts. However, due to space limitations and our already substantial collection, we will be selective in what we are able to take. If we can’t take your donation, we may well be able to put you in touch with a place that will.
MESS is not a synth repair service and our priority is to maintain our own machines for our members. In future we plan to expand MESS by offering a public workshop facility as well as education and training on how to maintain, repair and build their own machines. We are calling this program MESS Schematic, but it’s a few years away from getting off the ground.
Right now the answer to this is no, unfortunately. Administering interns and work experience people actually takes a bit of time and effort to make it a worthwhile experience for everyone, so we’re currently not able to take on people in this capacity. We’re pretty busy working at growing MESS and making it better. We hope to offer intern placements in the near future.
More about the machines in the collection.
The MESS collection is made up from several privately held collections that are being made available to MESS members and as a part of MESS projects. As an organisation one of the big things that MESS oversees is the process and requirements involved in giving people access to the machines. If you are a collector and would like to get involved in supporting MESS – get in touch.
MESS does not currently have the means to house and grant access to the entire collection. We wish we did! Instead we rotate the machines available at MESS. We hope in the future to have a way for MESS Members to have an influence on what machines will be made available. In the long term our plan is to make as many machines as possible available to our members.
It’s important to note that membership to MESS does not grant members the right to access any machine in the collection as they wish – access is limited to what is in the studio. It is possible for members to request specific machines for special projects, but this can only be done via application, and is at the discretion of the MESS directors and/or the collectors.
Unfortunately, no. MESS has a complex set of arrangements regarding the housing, storage and care of the collection which preclude us from allowing the machines to leave the studio. There are rare and exceptional cases where we might support specific projects with unique access to certain pieces in the collection. If you think this might apply to your project you can contact us to discuss it, but only if you are a member.
How do you become a member and how do memberships work?
Anyone 18 years or over can become MESS member.
MESS membership is the only way to access to the MESS collection of instruments housed in the member studio. It will also get you discounted access to select MESS courses, events and content. It’s our aim to continually add as much value as we can to MESS memberships as we grow and expand.
MESS is a not for profit organisation. All money raised goes towards MESS running costs and programming. We aim to keep our membership updated with our financial status.
At this stage memberships are limited to individuals but members can bring a single guest to their sessions. We hope to introduce group memberships at some point in the future.
Of course! At the moment your financial support would be most helpful. You can donate here. From time to time we may also need volunteer assistance. In this case we would call out via social media and our mailing list for your help.
Yes! The primary aim of membership is to provide physical access to the instruments in the collection, but if you’re only visiting Melbourne for a short time we also offer Single Session Passes and Starter Passes.
If you are not planning to use the studio at all you can still feel free to support the organisation by donating to MESS.
The membership studio is a long semi-underground shared workshop space. At one end we house the machines (on shelving and at workstations for the larger machines) and a communal bench/work area. At the other end are “hot desks” where people can set up and work with the machines and their recording set-ups. 12 bookings is the maximum capacity per session.
Okay – this answer is on the long side, so strap in.
It’s important to know that the member studio is an open plan shared space and has a maximum capacity for 12 bookings per session (this number is currently subject to change due to social disctancing requirements). When members make a session booking they nominate a date, time and machine they would like to work with. This machine is then reserved for their session.
MESS has been designed around the way the majority of people make electronic music today – that is using a laptop and audio interface. So when members come to a session we expect that most will bring their own headphones and laptop set-up. Members can also bring a handheld recording device (like a Zoom, or phone with a recording input) or some other form of portable recording set-up. We will have a limited number of small audio consoles to assist people who will need some kind of mixer to use with their device.
Upon arrival members check in with the studio supervisor to confirm their booking and be signed in. Members then remove any large hand/wrist jewelry as well as wash their hands. Why? A lot of the machines in the collection while old, are in superb condition and we want to keep them that way. So a scratch from the edge of a chunky ring, or the dirt and corrosion that can accumulate from hands is something we want to avoid. This little ritual is also designed to remind members that using these machines is something special, and we all play a part in keeping them in great working condition.
The studio supervisor carries the machine (members help with heavier machines) from the shelves to a desk in the space, or in the case of the larger machines, helps to get set-up at a workstation. Many machines will also come with a little kit of specific cables and accessories needed to use them. There are also plenty of generic cables (both signal and data) for members to use. We also have physical or virtual copies of manuals for all the devices in the studio. The virtual manuals are stored on the MESS server which members are able to access, along with a wealth of other resources relating to electronic sound and music.
Members are then free to work away for their 4 hour session. We recommend recording everything for the entire time people work, so they never miss a sound. When the session is finished, the machine, it’s kit and cables are packed away with the supervisor confirming everything is returned correctly to it’s place. The supervisor can also fill out a report sheet if for some reason the machine appeared to not be functioning correctly.
We understand that the 2nd law of thermodynamic is totally a thing. If you use stuff, stuff will wear out and get broken. If you’re treating the machine well and with respect and something strange happens, just call over the studio supervisor and they will help you out. We have a whole deal about reporting and fixing problems – it’s something we’ve planned for. In this case you won’t be responsible for any problems that occur from regular use.
However, some people can be real idiots. You know the kind? They treat other people’s stuff in a disrespectful way and then don’t acknowledge it when you point it out to them. And they say stuff like, “I can’t help that the 2nd law of thermodynamic is totally a thing!” even though they were slamming a slider, or working that knob a little too vigorously. If you’re like us, you totally want to give people like this a wide berth.
If you are one of these people and the studio supervisor sees that you’re not treating a machine with respect then you can probably expect some punitive measures. Better read those terms and conditions – because people like that will get the door, for good.
Once you have purchased a Membership or Studio Pass there are no additional fees to book a studio session.
Each session is fixed at 4 hours and is charged at a flat rate. See below (“Can I book multiple sessions in a row? Can I block book weekly sessions.”) for information on multiple session bookings.
Generally no, unless you have a compelling reason and have talked to us first about it. For example, some members might live out of town and want to hit MESS for the day. No problem, just give us a heads up and we’ll make sure your booking will stay.
Members are able to select one machine from a list when they book their session.
Yes, you just can’t book more than one machine. Part of the fun is using odd combinations of machines. By booking one you can secure your central tool for the session but all other unbooked machines will be available to you.
Yes, check out “How does the studio work?” for more details.
Tough question, thanks for asking. Generally, yes. We’re not going to go through some process of making all our members sign some boring contracts obliging them to give us a cut of their eventual success. Chill, lawyers. Maybe it’s a #1 hit, maybe it’s a soundtrack to a huge game or film. If you make it big and MESS played a part, all we ask is that you don’t forget us. We figure that if you love what we’re doing and we play a part in you doing something great, that you’ll be happy to put something back into MESS to keep it awesome and make it better. We built MESS on the fact that we all got to where we are because of good people cutting us a break and giving us a hand. In summary, all we ask is that you think about it and do the right thing.
Check out, “How does the studio work?”.
MESS members can bring one guest with them per session subject to our maximum capacity. If all 12 members booking in a session want to bring a guest we may have a problem. This guest will have to be working with the member that bought them. Guests cannot set-up and work on their own – that is a privilege for members only. Members are responsible for their guests as per the membership terms and agreements. This means that the actions of guests at MESS will effect your membership status if something untoward happens. Bring your granny, she’ll love it.