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. (Links to the original questions are at the bottom of this page.)

Erkki Veltheim

26 April 2022

Ok, so it’s been a while in between drinks. But like all good things, or even great things(!), they are worth waiting for.

Every single time I ask someone to be a part of this series, there is always an element of trepidation – I am literally asking some of my heroes – people whom I hold high in my esteem – to answer some of the most… well, let’s say… odd questions (by way of being polite). These interviewees surely have much more interesting and important things they would rather talk about… but maybe that’s partially the point too.

Erkki Veltheim is someone I’ve known for literally decades. When I was at university, he was pointed out to me as a virtuosic violist, and yet, unlike most classically adept musicians, he would also appear on and off stage at various festivals over the years, tearing it up with the most outrageous improvisers, sometimes employing brain-melting pedals in his solos, conjuring up demons. 

I’ve been especially lucky to work with him on occasion, mostly when he has kindly agreed to play music I had written, or arranged for others. I know that I can ask him to play anything and he’ll smash it out of the park. He is a bit of a dark horse – a formidable musician and composer, some may only know part of his professional profile, which may already seem gargantuan to most, however his biography is much more diverse and far-reaching than most musicians I can name. I highly urge you to go seek out as much of his music as you can.

photo credit: Sabina Maselli

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

It’s a bit like finding out that the world was made in your image and you can just walk out onto the stage in the footsteps of convention. It’s a real challenge.

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

Is there such a thing as positive sexism? Like when people listen to you just because you’re a bloke? And you notice that the same people ignore someone else who’s not, even when they’ve got much more interesting things to say? 

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

There is a really strange idea these days that everyone should be heard and treated equally and that music shouldn’t just be a boys’ pissing contest. That’s quite a disturbing trend and I hope we can tell someone to do something about it. Could you do something about it please?

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

All the time! Apparently I’ve got a receding hairline and people are quite offended by it. They seem to think it implies a lack of youth and isn’t sexy. I’ve tried wearing hats to hide it but can’t find one big enough to fit on my head.

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

What? I’m a father? 

What’s your approach to improvisation?

I just want people to think that I’m really tough. That’s why I play the violin.

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

“Stop playing” — Scott Tinkler

Do you have a musical moment that really sticks out for you?

Realising once and for all that music is not a universal language, when the Australian Art Orchestra went to Ngukurr in Arnhem Land and we tried to play with the local musicians. It felt like we were imitating another language without any understanding of what we were saying. Music as a cultural expression might be universal, but to think that musicians from different traditions can play together and immediately come up with something that makes sense seems about as fanciful and arrogant as the idea of world peace. 

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

I’m learning to dance like a crab from a 2-year old.

If you want to check out more about Erkki, go here:



Paul Grabowsky

5 May 2021

One of the things about a being a bass player, is that you get to infiltrate all sorts of bands and social scenes the likes of which one might never otherwise be privy to. In sourcing willing subjects for these interviews, I’ve been calling on all sorts of friends I’ve met along the way and just seeing who will say yes, frankly. 

At times this brazen approach completely pays off. 

So, I am most honoured to introduce Paul Grabowsky (AO), who has graciously and generously given his time to answer some potentially outlandish questions. He has a prodigious performance history, had a jazz club named in his honour, and has won a plethora of awards (too numerous to mention here – check out his website for more info). 

He recently released a new album with Paul Kelly, which you should probably stick in your ears (not literally, of course). 


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

There are two very serious issues I have had to face. The first is hair loss, and the second is my insistence on the very great importance of every note I play.

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

I think jazz is considered essentially daggy music, played by men for men, many of whom shop at the same Target outlets. There is an unspoken but prevalent view that jazz musicians are therefore basically unattractive to attractive people of all genders. This lingering paranoia is a daily struggle.

Is jazz relevant?

If by relevant you mean, like, relevant, then I guess it must be. On the other hand, it isn’t.

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

By covering my deficiencies as a man in layers of hilarious and diversionary tactics, like talking about obscure historical facts. I taught my kids how to identify an alternate take, and the joys of living a truly harmolodic life. As a result, they usually claim not to know who I am, and I’m cool with that. My wife Margot has a rare condition caused by constant rolling of the eyes.

How do you decide what to wear on stage?

It’s easy when you have one outfit. Finally I call out to it and it wears me.

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

A generous, caring, fabulously wealthy aristocratic female.

What’s your approach to improvisation?

A full frontal assault on every aspect of music. No prisoners.

The last CD or vinyl album you bought was . . . 

I don’t know what you mean by these words. My phone is everything to me.

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

A translation of Finnegan’s Wake into English. Not as easy as it sounds.

Paul Grabowsky’s website – go take a look:


Angus Leslie

5 March 2021

I normally write a few words about each of these excellent humans who have graciously given their time to be a part of this series as by way of introduction… However, with Angus Leslie, I feel like my words will somehow be an injustice. I don’t know if anyone can really describe or introduce him and truly give a sense of what it is like to be around him or see him perform – and I mean this with the utmost respect. There are a lot of facets to his presence as a performer, and frankly, all of them are worth beholding live if you possibly can. So, all I can say is: go and see him. Also, do some research. There are some of his projects linked below and yet, I know for sure that he has more up his sleeve which are not part of that list. They are all excellent. 

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

It’s OK. I’m a pretty small man and I sometimes wonder what it would be like to be a bigger man. Like Nick Pietsch.

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

I have before but not all that much. Some of the things I hear slung at my female muso friends regularly about that kind of thing are absolute garbage. Tiresome horse shit. The only person who gets to choose what you look like at any point in life is you, especially when you’re doing something as personal as performing!

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

Lots of reasons. “Boys club” mentality that excludes all else. A general societal imbalance. Also there is a machismo to certain genres of music that definitely… I dunno… kinda sucks? For example I have close female friends who say might love Slayer and then metal dudes are like incredulous that that might be a possibility. It’s complex and I don’t really have a definitive answer to that question I guess but I will say that I cherish all of my working relationships and friendships with female musicians, managers, curators, venue bookers ect.. a whole hell of a lot!

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

The thing that sticks out for me is being the guitarist for the brilliant Tanzer for a coupla years and witnessing some of the vile treatment she received from moronic male sound engineers, industry people and musicians along the way. Once we played at the now dead Fitzroy Tiki Bar “ The Lu Wow” and the sound guy was such a sexist, condescending prick to Tanzer that I wished I could have poisoned his Ribena. Not sure if he was drinking Ribena by the way but it seems like it would be the most enjoyable drink to poison. I’ve also been around bands my whole life (my parents had a kinda happening act in the 90’s!) My mum was the singer and dealt with all manner of bollocks. She also used to host the 80’s music TV show “Night Moves” and when Devo were rude to her in an interview, she called them “sexist bastards” on the show the week after. She’s a legend.

Favourite holiday destination and why?

Honestly the last holiday I went on was to L.A. and I kinda fell in love with the place a bit! Was hoping to get back there soon but that might be less possible in these trying times, both with COVID and everything else that has been going on in the USA of late. Los Angeles is a very unique, odd and inspiring place. Guess it wasn’t really a holiday though cos I was trying to write a new album for Sex on Toast in my motel. I find it hard to stop working and have a real “holiday” in some ways.

Do you have a musical moment that really sticks out for you?

I tossed up between a few things here but one I’d say sticks out a lot is being onstage with both Mike Patton and Bär McKinnon from Mr. Bungle, a band who kinda changed my life musically. I was the 21 year old guitarist in Bär’s band Umlaut were doing our only proper live version of ‘Atlas Face’ that featured Mike on the album. I did most of the background vocals at the front with Patton. Afterwards he told me my backing vocal work was “perfect” and it made me want to take myself much more seriously as a singer.

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

Cool question! Zappa’s tune ‘Waka Jawaka” features a guitar solo by FZ that was improvised and then transcribed for a strange little wall of brass overdubs by then trumpet player Sal Marquez. Sal was a very underrated member of Frank’s early 70’s bands and was the original lead vocalist on “Father O’Blivion” in live shows that can be heard in 73-era bootlegs. FZ fired him shortly after for asking for per diems.

Where do you get your inspiration?

Often from very strong emotions that I’m feeling that later become songs or pieces.

The last CD or vinyl album you bought was . . .

Prince’s Sign O’ The Times compact disc box set and incredible accompanying book.

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

The last project I just finished up is a record for a mysterious, unlisted figure named Electric Self. I have worked closely on the production for the first EP that is kind of dystopian concept album in two parts. It is a long form, science fiction-type movie for your ears. Electric Self plays 90% of the instruments and writes it all and I have been helping facilitate the vision with a bit help from the drumming of Rama Parwata, and the bass playing of Luke “Hodgo” Hodgson. It will be out on cassette this year on 56k and my own Tonay records with an accompanying lyric sheet and ‘script’ so you can read along with the story. The physical script will be so small that it will only be viewable with a magnifying glass!

Self really digs snails.

If you want to check out Angus Leslie further, here are some links:

Sex on Toast


Angus Leslie


Electric Self


Electric Self

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?