Ava Nunan | April 6, 2021
Held in the pristine Otway Hinterlands, Meadow Music Festival is renowned for its intimate feel and local talents. Radio Fodder spoke to Cameron Wade, Meadow’s co-founder, about operating during an unpredictable year.
Meadow has humble origins, beginning as a festival-esque 21st birthday party for Cam. His brother continued the trend for his 21st birthday the following year.
“We were playing in bands at the time, and we had a lot of friends in bands,” Cam said. “After [my brother’s] birthday party we had no more siblings with 21st’s to celebrate. We wanted to keep doing it, and it just turned into a festival at that point.”
The diverse genres curated by Meadow reflects their roots. Cam and the Meadow team build the festival line-ups from their own most-played artists.
“When we started, it was just mates’ bands… [now], it’s a bit of a process. We start with bands we really want to get on… then sort of plug the gaps.”
“If I was to have a Spotify playlist, it’s what you’d find in my playlist.”
Considering the behind-the-scenes work that goes into running a festival, showcasing his favourite talents is what has kept Cam motivated.
“I don’t know how anyone could do this if [not working with] bands they loved… it really helps you pull through some of the mundane planning permission tasks and permits we need to do.” “It’s really inspiring and helps us keep going.”
Due to Coronavirus restrictions, Meadow 2020 was cancelled only days before it was planned to go ahead. Cam was on his way to a friend’s wedding when he realised he’d have to drop a whole years work.
“I was sitting at the airport starting to get pretty nervous about [COVID]… we saw an announcement come on TV that gatherings were going to be restricted to 500 people… within days [it was lowered] to 50 or 20 people,” Cam said.
“I knew pretty well when I was sitting in the airport that it was pretty much it for us.”
“I don’t think I’ll ever forget that moment… going off to celebrate something with my closest friends, and at the same time a year’s work is being pulled out from underneath me.”
The following months were tough on both the Meadow team and the music industry as a whole.
“Meadow is something we do on the side. For us, we had day jobs, so we were okay… [but] for a lot of people in the music industry this is all they’re doing. There was no lifeline and no one coming out providing industry assistance packages until… September or October, when we saw the RISE fund and Creative Vic recovery fund,” he said.
“That’s already enough time for businesses to have shut their doors or accrued a huge amount of debt.”
Despite this, Meadow is pulling through as planned for 2021. In addition, the festival is offering live-streaming tickets to accommodate covid restrictions; this initiative was supported by RISE and Creative Victoria.
“When we made those submissions for assistance, we didn’t really know the environment we’d be [operating] the festival in. There was a good chance we’d only be able to operate with 300 tickets, which wasn’t sustainable for us… We were looking for ways to bolster the revenue stream to get bands paid, supplies paid.”
Cam says that now restrictions are lifted, the broader public can support their local music scene by heading out on a Friday and soaking up some live tunes – especially emerging artists!
“A lot of people who had big plans of having a big breakout year in 2020 might have invested quite a lot in that… that totally fell over. So, I think the best thing people can be doing is getting behind those bands and making sure we’re selling out their shows and supporting them… the same goes for festivals.”
Meadow Festival will be held from 23rd-25th of April. Get your tickets to check out King Gizzard, Angie McMahon, Close Counters, Surprise Chef, and plenty more hot local talent here.