You’ve more than likely read Sose Fuamoli’s work at some point. As the Editor in Chief of Australian music publication The AU Review, Sose has written countless features, interviewed household names (or artists that are soon to be) as well as breaking news on our industry and the acts within it.
Take us through your career journey?
I started writing about bands and reviewing music when I was 19..so last year (laughs). I started out doing it at Uni, just so I didn’t have to pay to go to shows, and then realised I was kind of good at it. All of a sudden it kind of snowballed from there because I had bands and artists coming to me, asking if I could help them out with their press kits and all that sort of thing.
I started just as The South Australian Editor of The AU Review. When the company had a bit of a reshuffle around 2010/11, I took over management of the entire live music portion of our website. And then when we did another reshuffle and some people left/we brought more people on, I took over as the editor in chief, officially at the beginning of this year. So, essentially, doing the same thing but a different title.
did you do any tertiary study?
I did. I started off in a Media degree at the University of Adelaide, because I thought that’s how you would get into the media industry. It was great, but I realised really quickly that it wasn’t the area of the industry I wanted to be in. I dropped that, and I swapped into an Arts degree and I finished that in 2011. So, what I ended up studying was completely unrelated to what I do now, but at the same time, I wouldn’t have done it any other way because it taught me how to work under severe pressure, taught me about deadlines, and taught me decent time management, and working with a whole lot of different people – which is what I still do now. It wasn’t essential, but I’m glad that I did it, for sure.
What are some of the challenges you’ve faced in your career?
I think if you get into, well, this particular side of the industry when you’re quite young, it can be hard to deal with a lot of the responsibility, especially if it does snowball, like it did for me. I’m the sort of person who, back then, I was very, I suppose you could say, very inward looking a lot of the time. Like, even though I’d be writing about these artists, or talking with these artists and doing some pretty cool stuff, I was never open enough to promote it, or doing anything like that until people started telling me “you’re doing some really cool things. You should be embracing it.” That was a really big challenge – just because you never want to come across as looking conceited, or having pride mixed up with any type of ego, and I think there’s a lot of that in music at the moment. So, that was really off-putting for me when I first started, but it’s all about trying to find that balance, which I think I’ve found.
Also, it’s such an obvious one now, which sucks, but coming into it as a young woman, there still exists such a divide between how women are treated in this industry – as with a lot of industries, but in music in particular, that was a big challenge I faced early on, that I kind of just took … I just took it at the time and I didn’t do anything about it. But now that I’m a bit older and I am in a more senior role, I can see things starting to change a little bit.
But, those would probably be the biggest ones for me – just getting to a point where I was comfortable with myself, to be proud of the work I was doing. Also just trying to weave my way through while I’m still learning about different elements of the industry, and not screw it up. But it’s all a learning process, I’m still learning now, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s meant to be hard.
I want to talk about a particular series you put together which highlights diversity in the Australian music scene. our music scene is very white-washed, so this was a very important article. What inspired you to put it together, put it out there, and make sure the discussion was heard?
I came up with that idea, because I had a lot of friends who are making music who… They would grow up with so many different influences from their parents who weren’t Australian. I think in the first half of the series, I talked to Karina from High Tension, I talked to Thando, and a lot of these artists who, you know, have such a rich background. But, when it comes through in their music, there’s still this attitude that kind of like, “Oh, well we don’t really know what that sounds like, because it doesn’t sound like one thing, so we’re just gonna say it’s world music, or we’re gonna say it’s hip-hop,” when it’s not really hip-hop.
That inspired me to reach out to just mates, and just be like, “Okay, well what does being an artist who doesn’t fit a conventional mold of what is Australian, what does that mean to you now?” Because we’re in a state where music is being accessed by so many different people at such an alarmingly fast rate that it’s like, you know, to find the golden ore, that is very hard. It was just really interesting to hear these people’s stories that often times, they don’t get brought up in classic media form.
When I interviewed Kira Puru, it was the first time someone had asked her about her background and how that had influenced the music she’s making now, even though she was born here. It was really nice to engage with artists on that level, and just highlight the fact that we’ve got such a variety of cultural backgrounds in our own backyard. It should be acknowledged across the board regularly, as opposed to certain times of year when it deems itself to be cool enough. You know what I mean? It was probably one of the pieces that I enjoyed doing the most, because I got to pull so many different sorts of artists into one thing.
Reflecting on your career, has there been A project you’re really proud of?
The first time I went overseas for AU. The first time I did South by South West, that was a ridiculous, ridiculous trip, but I came away from that feeling like it was a moment where I could sit back and say, “Okay, I can do this,” – like, that’s really cool.
I think when we threw a party in Adelaide, where I’m based, for the publication’s fifth birthday a few years ago. I suppose being in more of an event manager position, which I’ve never done before… That was really cool just to see an event like that come together, and to see my local music scene rock up in support. Because often, you’re just stuck behind a laptop for most of it, or you’re at a show and you’re seeing people here and there, but to get everyone into one space, because they want to support you and they want to support live music as well. That was really special.
This interview is from the BIGSOUND Speed Date Series. Conducted at the 2016 event, I spent 10 minutes on the ground with industry figures – the #HumansOfMusic, you could say. Header photo by Michelle Grace Hunder.