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a chat with Neu Hörizöns

Neu Hörizöns is a club night and label operating out of nipulana (Hobart). After stumbling upon one of their recent releases during a Bandcamp dive, I was immediately impressed by their considered and deliberate approach. Their inclusive ethos also struck a major chord with me, given that this inclusivity is a core principle of this very humble online mag and radio station. One of the head honchos of Neu Hörizöns, Jean de la Baptiste (Tom), was kind enough to walk me through their past, present and future.

DJ Dream Machine “Only You” E.P Cover [Design by Hinsby]

Neu Hörizöns is comprised of Jean de la Bapiste (Tom), Hinsby (Linden) and DJ Greenroom (Hector), all of whom grew up in nipulana/Hobart. Through the club night, which kicked off in late 2018, they’ve lured a considered range of deejays and producers across the strait, all the while still maintaining a focus on providing a platform for small and emerging local artists. The label arm of the operation, while still in its relative infancy, has already put out a number of excellent releases. From the sentimental, Ashanti and Sesame Street sampling breaks of DJ Dream Machine’s “Only U”, to the scintillating rave-NRG of GECKOGOBLIN’s “Environmental Catastrophe”. Most recently, NH bigwig Jean de la Baptiste’s very own “Estuariesrelease, which uses tightly programmed garage, breaks and house to explore Tom’s lived experience alongside the timtumili minanya/ River Derwent.

Praxis, October 2020

After spending their formative clubbing experiences at nipulana/Hobart institutions like the “Hazey Days” parties at the Grand Poobah, the founding three were inspired to start deejaying and eventually putting on events of their own. They were enabled and empowered in this process by the helpfulness and generosity of pre-eminent Hobart dance scene torch bearers such as Grand Poobah owner Juniper, and Hazey Daze founder Nathan (Bronze) Savage.

Tom explains; “The Grand Poobah and their owner Juniper have always been so welcoming to us, and accommodating of our vision for parties. We went from playing the occasional house party

or kick on, to playing private functions at the Poobah, to being asked to support the deejays

they’d bring down. It then got to the point where we had to start scratching that promoter

itch, and we turned to Nathan (Bronze Savage) for any and all advice."

The welcoming inclusivity of these early icons had the flow-on effect of instilling in the crew a “pay it forward” ethos, which greatly informs the way they operate as a party and label.

“this ethos stems from the serendipitous nature of us being gifted a platform by the Poobah on which we could start to express ourselves in a creative way. We’re certainly no technical experts, so why wouldn’t we pay forward this ethos that was afforded to us? And with everyone knowing everyone down here, inclusivity is a natural by-product.”

Beyond their efforts to encourage and affirm local talent, the parties have also played host to a number of domestic and international talents, such as Peach, Moxie, Francis Inferno Orchestra, Roza Terenzi and Nummer. Coming up quickly now to their second birthday, Tom rattled off an enviable series of highlights

Peach and Moxie at MONA, Nov 2019

"Francis Inferno Orchestra ripping out Roger Sanchez’s ‘Another Chance’ aboard one of

our boat parties on timtumili minanya/River Derwent will always be a top-tier moment.

Reaching capacity at Altar for the first time as Mama Snake belted out Alice DJ’s ‘Better Off

Alone’ was clutch. Playing in front of 1000 people at our In The Hanging Garden and Altar

precinct takeover featuring Peach and Moxie was also incredibly wild. And even now, as we

navigate pandemic restrictions, we’re finding new and exciting ways to expresses ourselves"

Although I’m sadly yet to attend one of Neu Hörizöns’ fabled parties, this welcoming and inclusive ethos shines bright through their online presence, as well as through all my correspondences with Tom.

Hinsby and Jean at Boat Party, March 2019. [Max Croswel]

The establishment of the Museum of Old and New Art (MONA), and later the Dark Mofo and Mona Foma extravaganzas naturally stand out as events of unfathomable importance to the development of Neu Hörizöns and the Tasmanian creative scene more widely. The “Mona Cabal”, as Tom termed it, brought a seismic shift within the Tasmanian art and creative world as it introduced into the city a diverse range of challenging contemporary art, and with it, a heightened sense of artistic awareness amongst Hobartanians.

"Within months, taking your children to see The Great Wall of Vagina or Cloaca Professional

became the norm, which is an incredible turnaround for a state that was the last in Australia

to decriminalise homosexuality."

Museum of Old and New Art (MONA), [Lindsay Johnson]

This unlikely confluence of bohemian, experimental creativity and laidback small town vibes afford Hobartanains a unique lifestyle, which is seen by Tom as one of the biggest pull factors the city has going for it.

"Hobart became a destination for young creatives looking for that sea change. These creatives then get involved in the scene, and it created this positive feedback loop or multiplying effect, where the free exchange of ideas and culture became paired with the natural laidback environment."

Published in The Mercury, 2019

Much like how my bedroom light attracts scores of giant, scary moths, the magnetism of the MONA canal sees hordes of Melbournians, decked out in trench coats and black beanies, descending en masse to nipulana/Hobart. This phenomenon has led to the city being sometimes cheekily referred to as Cold Ibiza, a term coined by Bronze Savage. Beyond both existing as exotic party islands for mainlanders, Ibiza and Tasmania may not appear to share many similarities. After all, the David Guetta residences, turquoise seas and Orlando Bloom vs Justin Bieber dust ups of Ibiza are quite different to the natty wines, jarring noise recitals and bitter winds that one would likely take in at Dark Mofo.

The author in Hobart, July 2019 [Susannah Illic]

After reflecting on the comparison, however, I came to the realisation that the similarities between the two islands can be felt through the incredibly unique combination of lifestyle characteristics that they both offer. In its pre Ryan Air heyday, Ibiza was popular with free-thinkin creative types, and was known in equal parts for its unbridled hedonism, laid back feel and beautiful natural environment. Away from the competitiveness and stress of the big cities, artists were able to broaden their horizons and make connections with a range of people who they otherwise might never have. This open-mindedness was reflected in the musical palette of early Balearic clubs, such as Cafe Del Mar, where deejays like DJ Alfredo and Phil Mison would spin a painfully eclectic range of music, somehow connecting the dots between Pink Floyd, The Woodentops and Stevie Wonder.

Glorys Reggae Party, Ibiza 1978 [test pressing]

This open-minded free-for-all is also, Tom reckons, reflected in the creative circles of Hobart.

“It’s clichéd to say that everyone knows everyone in Tassie, but it’s really not that far from the truth. The punks know the bush doofers who know the ravers, in this pretention-less and open-minded milieu.”

Francis Inferno Orchestra boat party, November 2018

The natural beauty of both islands is also an incredibly important part of their appeal. Nature has an innate ability to inform the creative process, combine this with a free-thinkin creative scene and it's not hard to see why cities like nipulana/Hobart are fertile breeding grounds for arts and music

Estuaries Launch serenity, October 2020

The important relationship between Tassie’s natural environment and its artists and musicians can be felt on the latest Neu Hörizöns release, Jean de la Baptistes’s “Estauries”, which arrived on October 30. The COVID-led cessation of their event capabilities, while challenging, allowed the crew to channel extra time and attention into the label, as well as their own production. The timtumili minanya/River Derwent, which flows almost 200 kilometres from its source in Lake St Clair to its end in Storm Bay, proved to be a vital source of inspiration for Tom in the writing and production of the “Estauries” Release.

Sunrise over the Derwent

“Naturally, I was drawn to using the Derwent River estuary, which flows through Hobart, and

the wider natural environments that envelop the city, as literal and figurative inspirations

for tracks on the release. An estuary, where fresh water meets the sea, a confluence of

ideas, the nature of changing states as mountain ice melts and follows timeless tracts out to

sea, its functionality as a life source for a fragile ecosystem on an incredibly fragile planet… I

would hope each track, either through a title, feel, groove or attitude, sums up being

surrounded by such an awe-inspiring natural environment!”

The author fishing the Moyne River estuary, Port Fairy July 2020, [Ivy Rose]

As an avid fisherman, I am somewhat familiar with estuary environments, having long cherished them for the dynamic and fertile fishing grounds that they provide. I hope that this knowledge gave me something on an insight into the estuarine qualities of the release. The way the release weaves through different genres, while still maintaining a sense of cohesion, mimics the flow of the river through the rugged Tasmanian landscapes. The way too that forceful kick drums collide with blissful synth arpeggios, evokes that “two worlds collide” confluence of the oceans water with the brackish estuary.

Although the harsh realities of 2020 have made it very hard for a lot of us to express ourselves in the regular ways, group us like Neu Hörizöns have shown that with a bit of creative manoeuvring, it is possible to adapt, survive and even thrive during these less than ideal times.

Jean at Praxis, September 2019

To keep up with Neu Hörizöns and everything they do, you can follow them here, here, here, and here.

Written by Josh Pryor

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