A new cultural innovation is aiming to reduce feelings of community disconnection in lockdown. Katoomba's Willem Hendriksen has carefully assembled a unique way for Blue Mountains citizens to access local music, through the development of a large playlist collection called Sounds Of Our Towns. They are presented by his music, media, and events facilitation team, Retro Rehash, which began as a community radio show in 2014. This latest initiative has already received the support of local business owners, members of council, and our Federal MP, Susan Templeman, who described the playlists as "a great idea".
Initially released on September 27, the wide-ranging music collections are categorised into a wild variety of genres, including rock, folk, hip hop, and electronica. Some future playlists that are already being assembled focus on female artists, and experimental styles. They are compiled from a vast collection of recognised, emerging, and underground artists who occupy or have associations with the Blue Mountains. This includes acts such as The Angels and Mental As Anything, even Roxy Music.
The ultimate aim of the playlists is to keep locals immersed in the sounds of their region. A secondary goal is to engage local businesses to promote the playlists to tourists, drawing further international attention to a music scene that could be appreciated more.
Blue Mountains City Council's cultural development coordinator, Katrina Noorbergen, expressed her support for the project, describing it as "a fantastic initiative".
"I would really encourage [people] to listen in, share, and help reignite audience appetite," she said.
Local businesses can contact Retro Rehash via their website or social media if they'd like a promotional sticker embedded with their customised Three Sisters-shaped QR code, designed by Design Heroes' Mark Alston.
"Willem has a beautiful community-minded approach," Alston stated.
"Bringing musicians and listeners together in times like this is something worthwhile."
Listeners can scan the code to access the website's playlist collection, available on Spotify, YouTube, and iTunes. Local artists can send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org if they have a song on one of these platforms that could be featured on a playlist. The complete Retro Rehash website will be launched in October.
Costs for the project were covered by sponsorship from Katoomba's tool library, Toolo, whose founder Justin Morrissey describes the project as "a great way to provide new audiences for the musicians in our community who have been experiencing massive upheaval due to cancelled gigs."
By creating an opportunity for strengthening community, Sounds Of Our Towns can only grow from here.