MESS Launch Press Release

Tuesday March 1st 2016


A new not-for-profit vintage synthesiser workshop opening in Melbourne.
Moog 55 • EMS VCS3 • ARP 2600 • Prophet 10

Names and numbers to instil a sense of wonder and awe in even the most cynical electronic music aficionado. Now: what if we told you there was a place where all those instruments, and hundreds more, could not just be seen but plugged in, played, and experimented with?
On the outskirts of the Melbourne CBD, down a laneway, behind an unassuming door, a treasure trove of electronic music awaits. The instruments and synthesisers that fuelled the imagination of artists and innovators from Delia Derbyshire and Kraftwerk to Élaine Radigue and Aphex Twin await their newest operators.
Welcome to MESS, the Melbourne Electronic Sound Studio
The brainchild of Robin Fox and Byron Scullin, MESS is an independent not-for-profit organisation dedicated to supporting the creation of all forms of electronic sound and music, and centred on a unique collection of working electronic instruments, some of which are extremely rare.
“Some of the machines in the collection are only one of a few ever made, others are so expensive to own that they are beyond the reach of most people,” Scullin explains. “While a lot of these machines have been recreated in software, there is that ineffable, inspiring quality you experience when you physically interact with these machines, and that is something we want other people to be able to experience.”
MESS will offer two program seasons per year, in Autumn and Spring, and access will be available via membership. Memberships will be available from March 2016 and strictly limited to 500 people. The inaugural MESS autumn season will commence in April 2016.
The creators hope that access to MESS’ impressive collection and workshop sound studio will inspire a new generation of electronic musicians.
“We want the people who join MESS to reflect the full diversity of electronic music making in Melbourne and Australia,” Fox says. “Electronic sound embraces a wide array of genres and styles of music. Our hope is that MESS will become a melting pot of people, ideas and skills that will facilitate the creation of new music and sound. We want to make Melbourne a key city for electronic music now and into the future.”
MESS also houses a number of rare synthesisers designed and built in that very city, including the Pro-Case 6. One of only three ever produced in 1976 by the fledgling company Transaudio, it will be accessible to studio members.  
Some of the choice pieces are in the collection through the foresight of Keith Humble. A friend and advocate of composer Percy Grainger’s, Humble’s work as a composer and educator in Melbourne was instrumental in activating both the Melbourne and LaTrobe University electronic studios in the late 1960s and throughout the 1970’s. Humble’s personal collection forms part of the MESS collection, including an instrument called the EMS VCS-1, the prototype synthesiser that inspired the creation of the famous EMS VCS-3 & AKS, used by many pioneering artists such as Brian Eno, Pink Floyd, Jean Michel Jarre and many more.
Taking inspiration from the legendary electronic music workshop studios of the 1960s and 1970s such as the BBC Radiophonic Workshop and The EMS Studio in London, MESS seeks to lure members of the electronic music community out from an often sequestered landscape and encourage interaction, in a capsule environment, with a rich diversity of practice.
“We have both been making a wide variety of electronic music and sound for many years,” Fox says. “We have worked in lots of studios and institutions over that time, and it seemed to us that despite so many people making electronic music and sound, there weren’t many not-for-profit places dedicated to supporting this thriving community. Institutions, it seems, are either hard to access or expensive to attend, and sometimes both.”
“About the time we were thinking and chatting about these ideas we came into contact with two Melbourne musicians who each had very substantial and highly complementary synthesiser collections,” Scullin continues. “We met with both of them and chatted about the idea: a cross between a living museum and a synthesiser gym. A place where these old machines could be used to make new music, and give people access to things that they never knew existed, or never could think to own. Somewhere that made access to these machines and their stories available to all.”
Are you ready to make a MESS?

Please direct further media enquiries to Kellie-Jayne Chambers at MESS:
+61 3 9329 7177
+61 438 694 533

Web resolution images & info pack
Print resolution images & info pack

All images credited to Kristoffer Paulsen
Workshop 3 / 5 Blackwood Street
North Melbourne VIC
+61 3 9329 7177

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