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HOOPLA SESSIONS Meet the stars bringing a slice of Fairbridge to Freo


Long-beloved WA music and arts event Fairbridge Festival is bringing a slice of its annual experience to Fremantle this winter. Going down at Freo.Social on the last Sunday of June, July and August, The Hoopla Sessions is a new series of triple-bill concerts which gives audiences the chance to revel in new and upcoming WA bands, witness refined and beautiful songcraft, and dance to the energetic vibes of world, funk, jazz, and soul. Tickets are on sale now to its first edition this Sunday, June 26, featuring party starters Odette Mercy & Her Soul Atomics, singer-songwriter Anna Schneider and newly-formed group of Perth’s most acclaimed musicians, Reubenali. BRAYDEN EDWARDS caught up with this weekend’s Hoopla stars to find out what we can expect from their performances, their favourite Fairbridge memories and more.


Odette Mercy & Her Soul Atomics

Answered by Jon Fernandes

If Hoopla Sessions are bringing a ’magical slice’ of Fairbridge to Freo, how would you describe the ’taste’ of Fairbridge Festival in your own words?

The Hoopla Sessions are a chance to get your Fairbridge Festival fix! That wonderful community of like-minded souls getting lost in the sounds and rhythms of expertly curated music. That wonderful connection to place, music and, above all, people.

And how about your own upcoming set at Hoopla Sessions? What can we look forward to? 

Odette Mercy & Her Soul Atomics will be playing a set of songs for the mind, body, and soul. Definitely dance floor bangers but with a couple of moments to get your breath and perhaps reflect a little.  

Who else out of the acts playing Hoopla Sessions do you think we shouldn’t miss and why?

I’d say check out The Liquid Project as this will be one of the last times you get to see them with their current line-up. Great dance floor-oriented tracks and a fun band to watch!

What is your favourite memory of Fairbridge Festival?

A few of my favourite memories of Fairbridge are headlining a couple of the big stages in 2017 and playing to some awesome crowds. I still bump into random strangers, although no one is a stranger at Fairbridge, who remember those gigs! 

There was also the power going out during our first show in 2015 and our sax player, trumpeter and drummer jamming on one of our songs to the delight of our audience and the rest of us! The show truly ‘went on.’ 

Plus there was my impromptu blues harp lesson with Phil Wiggins in 2017 – my three favourite things; learning, peated whisky and sweet tones.

And your favourite thing about being in Fremantle?

My favourite thing about being in Fremantle is all the old buildings and the real sense of history you get. Also the salty sea air: “aaaaarrrrrgh.”


Reubenali (Lucky Oceans, Ben Vanderwal & Alistair Peel)

Answered by Lucky Oceans

What can we look forward to at your upcoming set at The Hoopla Sessions?

The first ever performance of a multi-generational trio doing some rarely heard Lucky Oceans compositions including The Bell, which, when sung by Jessie Gordon, was an unforgettable moment of Fairbridge Festival. A group of some of Perth, and Australia’s, finest musicians, finding the secret linkages between jazz and folk.

Who else out of the acts playing Hoopla Sessions do you think we shouldn’t miss and why?

The Brownley Family. This Aboriginal Goldfields based group has created the most vibrant Gospel music I have ever heard in Australia. 

What is your favourite memory of Fairbridge Festival?

I love the jam sessions.  There was one on a veranda one year where our best bluegrass musicians were jamming with great Sarod player Prashekh Borkar. Another year, a six-hour Gypsy Jazz jam with George Washingmachine and his sons Stephen and Arthur Washington.

 And your favourite thing about being in Fremantle?

The wealth of old buildings, the village vibe and the plethora of cool places to play and hear music.


Anna Schneider

If Hoopla Sessions are bringing a ’magical slice’ of Fairbridge to Freo, how would you describe the ‘taste’ of Fairbridge Festival in your own words?

What I’ve always admired about Fairbridge is the eclectic and inclusive nature of the music that is brought together by the festival. It all comes down to just really good enjoyable music. Whether it’s music that moves you with words, through feelings and emotion or physically with tight grooves and strong musicianship.

Fairbridge is unequalled in its ability to bring people together and share in a smorgasbord of new and upcoming music. The Hoopla Sessions are just that. Three fantastic nights and as you say ‘magical slices’ of the eclectic Fairbridge we all love as artists and festival goers, where you turn up with the notion of a guaranteed good time and walk away with a handful of new favourite artists. 

And how about your own upcoming set at Hoopla Sessions? What can we look forward to? 

For the upcoming set at Hoopla Sessions, you can look forward to an authentic and crafted set of originals that carry the sentiments of self-reflection, ageing and how we interact with the people in our lives. Accompanied by the lovely people I call my band – Jay Cernohorsky, Cass Evans-Ocharern and Kye Murray – we are looking forward to giving you the full Fairbridge Festival set we’ve been aching to play. 

Who else out of the acts playing Hoopla Sessions do you think we shouldn’t miss and why?

One of the wonderful things about the Hoopla Sessions, is you practically don’t have to miss any of the artists. With a month in between each show, you’ll get the chance to soak up the fine selection of live WA music. I can’t ever go past a set from Claudie Joy and The Joy Boys though. Claudia is enchanting in every way with lyrics that shine as lucidly as the music that carries them. 

And your favourite thing about being in Fremantle? 

As a born and raised Perth hills girl, Fremantle has always felt to me like a colourful cultural centre rich in lively people, art, and music. Throw it in with the smell of the coast at proximity and the Freo Doctor as the sun sinks into the water, Fremantle can feel so distant from the day to day of Perth life. The little escape you sometimes just need.

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