Ben Wright Smith reflects on his time as the Australia Council’s Nashville resident

20 November 2015

The Australia Council has a number of International Residences to help Australian artists expand their artistic practice, develop market opportunities as well as provide a valuable cultural exchange and networking experience.

Australia Council supported residencies are available in Berlin, London, Paris, the United States, Rome and Helsinki in a number of artforms, including a three-month songwriters’ residency in Nashville.

The benefits of residencies most cited by artists are providing time and resources for reflection and experimentation, and building networks with other artists and industry professionals that is only possible through a residency.  Residencies can also have flow-on effects, such as invitations to perform, exhibit and publish work.

Melbourne folk rock musician Ben Wright Smith was the most recent recipient of the Nashville residency.

He said there were many highlights during the residency, including being mentored by the program’s facilitator, Australian producer Mark Moffatt.

“To be working with Mark, recording and writing new stuff was great, but also just being in such a vibrant place and play tunes with the locals was amazing too,” Mr Wright Smith said.

“The countless gigs I saw while there too helped me to explore new sounds and ideas that I wanted to put forward into my own music.”

He said the residency had helped his career in many ways, including developing new music.

“Having the space and time to play so much definitely improved us all in the band, not to mention having Mark there to help me develop these ideas while showing me around town.”

Mr Wright Smith said the advice he would give to potential applicants was to be yourself.

“A lot of people would think that the Nashville scene is primarily country, but it really isn’t.  Most of the bands there play all sorts of music, from punk to soul, so I wouldn’t be deterred if you think that your music doesn’t fit into some kind of country aesthetic.”

Applications for Australia Council international residencies close on 1 December.  

Apply here: http://www.australiacouncil.gov.au/funding/new-grants-model/international-residencies/ 

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