The seemingly fearless Tomás Ford opens up 2019 with his first Crap Music Rave Party for the year on January 12 at Mojos.
“I don't know if I'm fearless,” he says. “I just really don't mind failing, apologising or looking like an idiot. It's a big part of my work. I'm constantly trying things out with audiences that don't work, but once I've got a room warmed up and ready to play with me, I find there's not much to be scared of.”
No doubt the room will be filled this Saturday, as Ford continues to forge ahead with his life's journey into awkwardness. Entertaining awkwardness, to be sure.
"Iif you haven't been to a Crap Rave before, I basically do everything I can to be the biggest dork in the room and get everyone to go nuts to the best worst music ever. But! I am leveling things up for this tour, starting from this date. It's taken a bunch of behind-the-scenes work, but I'll be debuting a new video setup that'll feature a bunch of animation I've been working on. Lots of textas and bright colours. It's come out looking amazing - still crap enough to work with the vibe, but I think it's gonna add a whole new level to the show.
"Plus this gig is at Mojo's, which is going to turn into an absolute disco cesspit for the night. I've seen it happen and it will happen again.
Ford says that his raves have been getting a new lease of life in the last six months, something that excites him for the year ahead.
“I've been trying lots of variations on them and new concepts and it's really sharpened me up as an idiot,” he notes. “Whatever the thing is that I do in that show, I'm in my prime with it at the moment, so come and see it before I start some kind of slow downward spiral (laughs).”
In other news, some things have changed. Ford has been a fixture at Fringe World for many years now, however 2019 marks the first season that he does not feature in the adventures. That's unusual...
"It already feels weird," he admits. "Fringe has been a big part of my identity from its start here and usually I'd be working my ass off this time of year on whatever new show, production projects and venue programs I was doing. I got burned quite badly last year; my wife and I ran a pop-up venue at the Rosemount called The Fxxk Yxu, which was this huge immersive space with a program full of acts who share my particular kinda high stakes weirdness.
"I was stunned by the program we were able to get together, 'cos all my dream acts for it said yes. I flew people in, they got amazing reviews... but, yeah, it got a bit lost in the haze of the festival. The weirdness I'd already had was doubled up by Noodle Palace imploding - I'd been driving that up until 2016, and I'm still mates with a lot of the acts we had in. So I ended up having to talk some mates through some pretty rough times. After a few years of increasingly gross experiences, I thought it was time to step away for a bit.
"I'll be doing a few spots, I'm playing a lot as part of Dali Land's Surrealist Salon and I've got shows happening during festival time, but yeah. A year off feels healthy.
"That coincided with me trying to get away from fringe festivals a bit in general - they're not made for weirdos to keep being weird, and I'd started to feel a bit like they were cramping my performance style. They're essentially a free market economics way of looking at the arts - hyper-competitive, very expensive and ticket sales are their top metric of success. I got to a point where I could either cut the edges off of my act and play broad or to double down and embrace being a cult idiot. I chose the latter. Which is a harder path, but it's already radder than trying to fit into a box I don't fit in."
Looking back, Ford feels that 2018 was a year of planning and administration
"There's still quite a bit of that for the first part of the year," he says, "but holy crap do I have some super big things just about ready to rock.
My huge mega project is Normal Place, which is a 'Netflix For Weirdos' - we've got an initial crowdfunding thing about to start, and once it's up and running we're gonna direct it in a Proper Startup Funding direction. Which is amazing - it's one of those things that simultaneously feels like a culmination of the behind-the-scenes part of my work and... I dunno... fucking terrifying new territory.
"Chase!, my spy thriller web series that has been in development and that I have been saying is 'coming out this year' since... what... 2006? That is actually coming out this year. I'm reworking the live show so that I can present it in cinemas, trying that out with a couple of one-offs in Adelaide. Once I can get that to work, I'm going to thrash cinemas with that show.
This month is all about Ford's release with ex-Perthite, Alex Elbery, Wake In Fright.
"I put that out late last year and people loved it, but I hit a big learning curve on releasing it myself. It was a good way to iron out some things, but there's a track on that called Opulence that could have some radio legs on it. Which is not something I've thought about many of my tracks, so I'm going to take a second stab at releasing that. That's a four-part video series too, which is near-on ready to roll. Oh, and there's an EP called Contemporary Breakdance Classics, which does what it says on the box, and a greatest hits set. And I'm producing an EP for cabaret wunderkind Jamie Mykaela, too.
"Oh, and I'm off on tour with Crap Music Rave Party through the first quarter of the year, and my new club night Nightclub Scene From... is going to build up in Perth and Melbourne, which is really exciting 'cos it's a whole different style of clowning for me. Aghhhh. And hopefully I'll get a few big tours on the live music circuit, that's a big thing for this coming year. And I'm finally going to Malaysia to do some shows and collaborate with a bunch of folks, but I can't talk about that properly yet."
That's a whole lot to download and Ford knows it. Then again that's always been the drill.
"It's nice to spew all that out because having been stuck in admin mode for the last few months, it was starting to feel a bit static," says. "But oh God what have I done? That is too much stuff!
"I can't wait."
Tickets, please - www.facebook.com/events/341261923330156/