Flipped Interviews

This is a series of interviews with outstanding male performers from the music scene in Melbourne, Australia. This series is conducted in good faith (with a good sense of humour) to illustrate how gender affects how we, as musicians, are treated. The questions I am asking all of my interviewees are genuine questions which I, or other female musicians, have been asked in interviews (and occasionally, at performances), but with their genders (and related elements) reversed make them more relevant to my current interviewees.

Sam Anning

3 January 2021

I met Sam many years ago back when international travel was not just a dream (like it is now), but a rite of passage many a-young jazz musician would take, to New York City. We were both in the Big Apple, soaking up the vivid NYC atmosphere, gigs, grit, beers and pizza. Quite ironic isn’t it, that one should travel across the planet, only to spend the time hanging out with another Aussie, but so it often goes. 

That was many years ago now, and since then Sam has built an impressive national (and international) profile as a bassist, composer and more lately, singer-songwriter. He has a new project called George & Ivy – go check it out if you can – I mean, projects led by bassists are generally the best ones, right? (This is in my completely unbiased opinion, of course…)

TM: What’s it like being a man in the music industry?

There’s a music industry?! Aren’t we part of building bridges and roads and stuff now? Being a man in the music industry is like being a man in anything else, it was mostly built by men for men, so it’s very comfortable and just the right height (although I do have to bend down a lot when I’m chopping vegetables).

What is it like not being the only man in the band?

Mainly annoying.

Why do you play so many instruments?

Because I’m not very good at one.

Does your hair ever get in the way when you perform?

It does. Sometimes my beard gets caught in the strings, but not in rehearsals of course.

Favourite holiday destination and why?

Um, Port Fairy. We got “stuck” there during lockdown and it was awesome!

Is there a player with a “signature sound” that you admire? Someone you idolized or enjoyed transcribing?

Almost all of my heroes with a “signature sound” are near impossible to distill into a transcription. The “signature” is exactly that which can’t be trans-anythinged (I’m not transcription-phobic, it’s just, you know).

If you could get on stage with anyone it would be . . . (And you would play?)

I would get on stage with Jacob Collier and restrain him.

What inspires you?

Really well written songs.

The last CD or vinyl album you bought was . . . (And your most recent downloads include …)

CD: 1/3 of 500 copies of Trio Kleine Ahnung – Laniakea

LP: Emma Donovan and The Putbacks – Crossover.

DL: Jade Talbot’s EP – You Feel Like. 

Tell me about what you’re working on at the moment.

Writing better songs.



Scott Tinkler

13 November 2020

I’ve known Scott Tinkler for many, many years. When I was growing up in Melbourne, he was one of the key performers in the scene, carving out and developing his sound and improvisational language whilst simultaneously leaving his musical fingerprint on the musicians and audiences here. 

I remember, when I was a teenager, hearing his angular, rhythmic language on the trumpet and I found it completely new and exciting – I’d never heard trumpet playing like that before. But this wouldn’t be the last time I would hear Tinkler rewrite the ways in which this instrument can be reimagined: hearing him play with Mark Simmonds’ incredible band, or performing a solo set a decade later at the Half-Bent Festival with outrageous dexterity and focus; and then again, years later, with Chiri, featuring the incredible Simon Barker (drums) and Korean Pansori singer Bae Il Dong (see this trio if ever you get the opportunity). 

He has toured all over the planet and recently relocated to an island off Tasmania, but he still comes up to the mainland to perform, luckily for us.

TM: Do you face any challenges as a man in the jazz world?

I won’t lie, it’s been difficult. The hardest thing is realising my privilege, something that honestly I think is almost impossible to really grasp. Sure, I might virtue signal that I mean well and not be directly sexist, but I’ll never know what it’s like to not be in that position, and that’s really tough for poor old me. The other thing is trying to not be a total dickhead and trouble maker (which of course is not gender limited), that, I have definitely failed in, but I have had some ridiculous fun.

Why do you think there are so many males in the music industry?

Patriarchy. It’s not just the music industry that suffers this problem sadly, but there is a shift, and I surely welcome it. 

Do you think there’s a difference in terms of how men and women relate to improvisation?

There’s a difference in how various people relate to it, but I believe gender has fuck all, well, nothing, to do with it. 

If you weren’t a musician, what would you be? 

Mechanic. I was going to do an apprenticeship, but my parents told me I didn’t have to and that they would support me following up music as a ‘career’. So needless to say I followed that path. I still love working on cars, and in fact working with tools in general. 

Is there a player with a “signature sound” that you admire? Someone you idolized or enjoyed transcribing?

Clifford Brown and Freddie Hubbard were massive early influences for me. My first trumpet hero was Louis Armstrong, and I’ve since idolised others like Miles, Booker Little, Kenny Wheeler amongst others. From there many other players have heavily influenced, mentored and shaped me, especially Australian players like; John Rodgers, Ken Edie, Mark Simmonds, Ren Walters, Alan Brown, Sandy Evans, Ian Chaplin, Bernie McGann, Andrea Keller, Paul Grabowsky, Simon Barker, Phil Slater, fuck there’s so many heroes and they all have signature sounds. 

What’s your approach to improvisation?

Study rhythm and harmony intensely, write heaps of music and rehearse it intensely, develop a syntax with like minded people. Listen, oppose, compliment, agree, argue, take risks, be willing to not play, and then play hard. 

How do you be a musician and a father?

How do do you do a shit and a piss? I mean really, such a fucked question, sorry for those that have been asked this seriously. FFS, people ask stupid things don’t they. 

What is the best piece of creative advice you have received?

This might sound silly, but as a kid my parents gave me this dumb quote on a bit of wood to go on my shelf. “The best way to get something done is to begin”. This sickly phrase actually sits really well with me, and has totally been a call to action for me many times. For me creativity requires action. 

Tell me about what you’re working on at the moment.

Still renovating, finishing touches on the house and got a fair bit of painting left to do. There’s an old dairy on our property that we want to do up too as guest retreat. Heaps of maintenance too, grass cutting, gardening, planting trees to reforest a bit of land. Musically I’m working on another solo album, I’ve never released vinyl so planning a release for 2021 some time. Solo stuff is very challenging, I much prefer playing with people, also prefer listening to to people interact too, but having a solo practice does strengthen certain aspects of ones abilities. 



Harry James Angus

25 October 2020

Well, unless you’ve been in a coma for the last 20 years, you’ve probably heard of the Cat Empire and have a pretty good idea of who Harry Angus is. If you’ve been in the right place at the right time, you may have also heard his new project Struggle with Glory. The songs are outrageously good and Harry carves it up live with his vocal prowess, lyrical trumpet playing and general good vibes on stage (and in person). He is currently based in northern NSW next to our picturesque east coast, and (unlike our Victorian colleagues) is currently playing gigs up there with his new duo.

Go and see him if you get the chance. 

TM: What do you love about being a male jazz musician? What do you not love as much?

I love that I’m allowed to get really drunk at a gig every now and then, and completely stuff it up, and know I’ll still get booked next time.

I love that I can arrive at a rehearsal without having learned any of the material and I’ll probably get away with it.

I love that other people shake my hand (or elbow bump as the case may be) and introduce themselves to me by name when I meet them professionally or after a show.

One negative aspect of being a male jazz musician is that sometimes people will hire you just to fulfil a “quota” of males that they think they need to have in the group (usually 100% is the quota). I think people should be hired based on talent and merit rather than on the basis of their sex, and it kind of sucks when you realise you’re only in the group because you’re a bro.

Why do you think there are so many males in the music industry?

Growing up I remember seeing a lot of males in bands, on the TV and in film clips and stuff, and thinking, “if they can do that, I can do that!” I was heavily influenced by a lot of awesome males. If you look at the Rolling Stone polls from when I was a teenager, there were consistently about 90 male artists listed in the “100 Greatest Artists of All Time” so I guess that kind of indicated to me on some level that I would be probably have a better chance in the industry as a male.

Why do you play so many instruments?

Haha I know right? I guess I’m just that kind of guy, you know, I was never into playing footy and all those typical guy things, I would rather sit inside and make up songs on the piano. I was always a real Momma’s boy.

So, how do you be a musician and a father?

Nobody has ever asked me that before! Sorry I don’t really understand the question. Luckily my wife Emily Lubitz has supported me to keep doing all the touring I was doing before we had kids. She is a musician too, but she doesn’t tour as much as she used to.

Favourite holiday destination and why?

Wilson’s Promontory. I just love the way you can immerse yourself in nature there, and walk through landscapes relatively untouched by western development.

What is it like to be a man playing brass?

I think it’s easier to know what to wear. We brass males have a strict standard-issue uniform of black shirt with lint on it, black pants with lint on them, and black Doc Martens or black ASICS-Gel sneakers. I think it’s harder for the women to know what to wear. Also, you’re supposed to drink a lot of beer which can be challenging at first but you get used to it.

Is there a player with a “signature sound” that you admire? Someone you idolized or enjoyed transcribing?

Louis Armstrong. For me the trumpet is such a joyous instrument and he plays it that way. He wrote the book really. Plus I like that his approach to soloing is so intertwined with melody and song, which was typical of the era but also appeals to me much more these days than the concept of the big, performative SOLO in capitals.

If you could get on stage with anyone it would be . . .

Right now: Freyja Hooper, the drummer I’m actually getting on stage with. We have been working on a duo project and it’s really getting interesting. I wouldn’t want to get on stage with anyone I hadn’t practised with. 

Tell me about what you’re working on at the moment.

OK, more about the duo project. Freyja plays drums, I play piano and sing. I also attempt to play trumpet and accompany myself on the piano. That’s still a bit of a gimmick but hopefully I can transcend the gimmicky stage eventually. Piano and drums is a great combo, a very full and detailed sound and a lot of questions to be asked and answered about how to make arrangements interesting and how to make it feel good. We were inspired by a video of Nina Simone live at Ronnie Scott’s with a piano/drummer duo.

You can find Harry’s album Struggle with Glory here:


Go check it out. It’s really great.



James Bowers

15 October 2020

I’m stoked to have James Bowers as the first interviewee for the Flipped Series. James plays with a massive variety of kick-ass bands, including Sex on Toast and The Vaudeville Smash, as well as being my bandmate in Harriett Allcroft’s group. He has been introduced on stage as a wunderkind (or something like that, if memory serves … ummm … you had to be there), but this doesn’t do justice to the experience of seeing him perform live.

I absolutely recommend it.

He also recently recorded his first trio album in Japan, which should be out very soon…

TM: What’s it like being a man in the music industry?

On the whole, it’s been pretty good. Whilst I certainly do have my share of punters coming up to me after shows and expecting me to care about whatever topic they’ve decided we are now going to talk about, it’s probably better than the common alternative that women face of that same bloke giving me a full, unprompted critique of my personal appearance. So, I guess that’s good. It’s also pretty nice having crew/tech not just assume I have no idea what I’m doing. Yeah, overall it’s a decent experience.

Do you think there’s a problem with male representation in jazz?

Yeah, look. It sort of seems that way, hey?

Does your hair ever get in the way when you perform?

Currently, not at all because I’m not really performing at the moment. If I was, it still wouldn’t. I used to have a really stupid long fringe and whilst that definitely did get in my face while I was playing it never got in the way of anything apart from me not looking like a fool… It’s almost as though the people who ask these types of questions…. Look, never mind.

Is jazz relevant?

Yes and no. If you mean “Is music informed by Jazz music throughout the last century or so relevant to certain people?” Yeah, absolutely. If you mean “Is any kind of jazz music at all interesting or enjoyable to the majority of people?” Sadly, probably not. I say sadly not because I want people to like the things I like, I just think it speaks to a general ironing out of the kinks in a lot of art forms. Music used to be so much stranger and harder to grasp, or at least that sort of music was a little more in the mainstream.

If you were an animal, what would you be?

Great question…. I think I’d be a dog. No specific breed requirements but greyhounds always look like they understand some quite profound things about the world so it would be interesting to see if that’s true.

What’s the secret to a great relationship?

(there is no secret, just don’t be a shitcunt and be with someone you like)

How do you decide what to wear on stage?

So glad you asked. On the day of the gig I generally leaf through the worksheet or communications and work out how little I can modify my current outfit to comply with the requirements. If this looks terrible, I will continue modifying my outfit until it looks acceptable.
If I’m deciding what to wear I try to wear something that projects the kind of energy I want to be contributing to the music that night.

What inspires you?

When people do things that they are really proud of. When I have good ideas. Awesome artists. Dogs.

Tell me about what you’re working on at the moment.

I’m actually filling up my days with pretty full time work on an exciting new project, tentatively titled “not completely losing my mind and falling in to a deep depression during COVID”. It’s going ok.

I’ve got my debut trio album coming out hopefully January next year pending the ability to do a launch show, so give us a follow on the old socials to hear more about that:




The questions for these interviews are actual questions which female musicians have been asked, either in published interviews, or occasionally, in person.

To make these interviews work for male subjects, the questions have been flipped, but below you’ll find the source of the original questions, plus the online link (if there is one).

What do you love about being a female jazz musician? What do you not love as much?

Do you think we have a specific role or responsibility as female brass players? How do you incorporate that (or not) into your own life as a musician?


Have you experienced sexism within the music industry and, if so, in what ways?


Do you think there’s a difference in terms of how men and women relate to improvisation? 

What do you think it will take for there to be equality within jazz?

Tell me the story behind a piece I wouldn’t know just by listening to it. 


If you weren’t a musician, what would you be?


Why do you play so many instruments?

Is jazz relevant?

Where is your kid while you’re on tour?

What is it like to be a woman playing brass?

So, how do you be a musician and a mother?

Do you often get comments about what you should wear/your appearance on stage?


What’s it like being a woman in the music industry?

http://What’s it like being a woman in the music industry? https://lipmag.com/arts/interview-xani-kolac-the-twoks/

If you could get on stage with anyone it would be . . . (And you would play?)

The last CD or vinyl album you bought was . . . (And your most recent downloads include . . .)


Does your hair ever get in the way when you perform?

[Anonymous source] Melbourne

What’s your approach to improvisation?

Where do you get your inspiration from?


What inspires you?

http://What inspires you? http://australianjazz.net/2019/12/tamara-murphy-spirograph-studies/

Why is the drums your favourite instrument? Female musicians are mostly vocalists and it is pretty rare to come across a female double bass player, drummer or trumpetist.

What did your parents think about it? Parents very fond of classical music think maybe more in terms of a piano as an adequate instrument for their daughter I would assume.


Is there a player with a “signature sound” that you admire? Someone you idolized or enjoyed transcribing?


You’re one of the still relatively few female bandleaders. What is your take on the role of women in jazz?


Do you face any challenges as a woman in the jazz world?


Esperanza, I just wanted to ask you too, how you feel sexism has impacted your career specifically as a bassist?


What are your top five favorite albums with female bandleaders?


What advice would you give women who want to enter your side of the industry?

What do you think is the most pressing issue women in the music industry face in your region?


If you could work with any other female artist, who would she be?

How do you use your music to embody feminism and empower other women?


In your career have you experienced episodes of sexism, or where you felt you were disrespected because of your gender?

Music festivals around the world have come under fire recently for the lack of female artists on line-ups. What are your thoughts on the gender equality situation in today’s music industry, and how female artists are portrayed in the media?


How do you decide what to wear on stage?