On the Couch with Tom Dickins

Arts Review On the Couch Tom DickinsWho is Tom Dickins?
I am a singer-songwriter and the Publicity and Media Manager for The Butterfly Club – a small theatre and cocktail bar in the Melbourne CBD. My history with this venue runs deep: in 2007 the former owners of the venue saw me play at the Edinburgh Fringe and gave me my first Melbourne season. The venue supported the growth of my career as a performer through professional development opportunities and growing my audience over the subsequent years. I went on to have a very successful career touring Australia, the UK and US – all the while learning about the relationship between an artist, their audience and the media. Fast forward to 2015 and I spend my days helping other artists develop these relationships.

What would you do differently to what you do now?  
I would like to find a happy medium between my own working on my own creative projects and working with other artists. I am sure that there is a good balance between these two pursuits… but I’m not sure I’ve found it just yet.

Who inspires you and why?
I’m frequently inspired by the artists I get to work with. Artists who are presenting brave, personal and creative works. Works that take risks worth taking. A few examples would be Dave Sleswick – a dear friend, excellent producer and director that takes amazing works all around the world. Becky Lou – who’s show Shake was honest, authentic and brilliant (and she’s back during Fringe with Seen & Heard). Then there are people I don’t know – Courtney Barnett, an Aussie singer songwriter who is absolutely nailing it. I’m inspired by people who make honest and important work, regardless of the genre, and have the business nous to make it work for them in a practical sense.

What would you do to make a difference in the world?
My answers are twofold. 1: I would keep working in the independent arts scene to help people grow their audiences, profile and business accumen (yes, this is possible!) 2: Keep making songs that are windows. That people can see into their own lives with.

Favourite holiday destination and why?
Iceland. It is beautiful, they are progressive and friendly and when I was there I got to watch the sun set for three hours… too good.

When friends come to town, what attraction would you take then to, and why?
Well… this is self-serving, but The Butterfly Club, of course! We have wall-to-wall kitsch, cocktails aplenty and a swag of productions each week… And we are down a laneway. Beside which, during the Melbourne Fringe we have 8 shows on every night and they are exceptionally good!

What are you currently reading?
I’m reading Panic by David Marr. It’s a political essay on how successive governtments have wielded fear as a tool for political gain, and how the media has played along. It’s not a fun read, but an important one.

What are you currently listening to?
Jess Ribeiro: Kill It Yourself; Courtney Barnett: Sometimes I Sit & Think, Sometimes I Just Sit; and Father John Misty: I Love You, Honeybear.

Happiness is?
When hard work pays off. With our Fringe program being so massive, this has meant that every element, from first production meetings, to logistics, to tech requirements, to media planning has taken up a good portion of our last three months. I’m very happy to report that we have our highest ever level of pre-sales for the 22 shows. This is not just down to me, by any stretch of the imagination, but it is the result of working hard with a whole range of wonderful artists, to pull off something we didn’t know was possible. That is happiness!

What does the future hold for you?
After the mad three weeks of the festival I am going on a short tour up to Sydney to play two sold out shows of Jagged Little Pill (yes, the Alanis Morissette album) at The Newsagency with a bunch of excellent mates. The following night I’m doing my first solo Sydney gig in AAAAAAAAGES. Then it’s back to Melbourne to work on the remainder of the year, Midsumma and our comedy festival program. I’m also working with Motherboard Productions on Shimchong: Daughter Overboard at the Brisbane Powerhouse and currently in development for my next album. Then after that I’ll sleep… maybe…

Tom Dickins is a Melbourne based singer / songwriter who has shared the stage with the likes of Amanda Palmer, Neil Gaiman, Tim Minchin and Paul Kelly. After winning Best Cabaret at the 2011 Adelaide Fringe, he spent a few years on the road playing sold out shows in the UK and US.

Upon his return he broke Australian crowdfunding records for his debut solo record, A Brief Case Of Madness. He is currently working on a suite of new songs for the future. Tom also works as the Publicity and Media Manager at The Butterfly Club – a small theatre and cocktail bar in the Melbourne CBD. For more information, visit: www.thebutterflyclub.com for details.

Image: Tom Dickins

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