After recording this track, I'd been dreaming of doing a DIY music video for it. My original idea was pretty simple, video a bunch of skaters down at Fitzroy Bowl interspersed with point of view shots from the skateboard in the different locations the character in the song sings about. After scoping out a few skateparks I realised pretty quickly that asking another skateboarder to do tricks for you on camera, for your own purposes, is a little bit like someone coming to your gig and asking to record them for a project they have no idea about nor connection too... it's not cool, and really puts someone on the spot.
During a visit to the bowl a young BMX dude of about 12 saw me with my skateboard and said “So are you gonna have a skate?”. I explained I used to skate here as a kid and haven’t done so in about 15 years. To this he replied “Ohhhhh, that’s cool! You should just do it, just drop in. You’ll remember how!” And so I did, and it was amazing! That was the beginning of me learning to skate the bowl again. I’m not great skater by any stretch of the imagination, nor was I when I was a kid, but that doesn’t matter. So this video in a way has turned into a document of me learning to skateboard again at 30 years of age, and why not! You gotta do it while you still can.
Aside from this, there are deeper issues, that Fitzroy Bowl touches upon. There are other elements, in between the lines of the story, that are hard to express in words. The spaces where this story takes place I know well, the primary school (North Fitzroy Primary School) in the story is my primary school, Edinburgh Gardens is somewhere we did sports days, I learnt to play tennis there, it's where we had Carols By Candlelight each year, we marched through it when our school protested the closure of the Fitzroy Pool in 1998.
All Nations Park was constructed when I was at Northcote High School and part of the push for Darebin Council to build a skate park there. My boyfriend and I were both skaters and we met at that skatepark. I worked at Kmart in Northcote Plaza (behind All Nations Park) for a few years after High School.
I was working the cash registers the night Tyler Cassidy was shot dead by police in All Nations Skate Park. I saw him walk into the store, and saw him walk out with the two kitchen knifes. Shortly after there was a lock down at the store. Once we were allowed to leave through the back, I asked a police officer what was happening, he said "Well, it's just about as bad as it gets over there" in a solemn voice.
It was only later I found out Tyler lived less that 100m from me, basically at the end of my street. It still think about his death every time I drive past the plaza and the skate park.
Fitzroy Bowl is about a lot of things, the loss of friendship, the feeling of powerlessness and distress you feel when you're unable to help or have any control over a situation. The way we as adults distance ourselves from situations that are uncomfortable. How disadvantage, poverty and family violence are intertwined and have huge implications on lives of children in those situations. It impacts on their health (mental and physical), their education, their working lives and their lives as parents. As a teacher I feel so sad and angry when I hear discourse in the media about educational outcomes for children being about 'hard work'.
It doesn't feel like I wrote the song anymore, it feels like I am the singer of this song, and that the song has a life and message of its own.
Thanks to the musicians who performed on this song, Justin Bernasconi (electric guitar), Ben Franz (bass) and Justin Olsson (drums), and to Jeff Lang for producing it.
This video was shot by Justin Bernasconi and myself on iPhone, and edited my myself on the humble program iMovie.
Thanks for reading x
Here's my new song 'Fitzroy Bowl’. I'll be launching it at The Spotted Mallard on Thur 15 Feb with my band! You can buy tix here ➡️https://goo.gl/A2jKGb
There are so many songwriters in Melbourne pushing their boundaries and creating new and exciting work, feel so lucky to live in such a supportive and vibrant music community!
Thanks to all the Radio DJ's who've given 'Fitzroy Bowl' a spin, Crispi at Radio City Radio Show on PBS FM, Timmy Thorpe at Vital Bits (RRR), Myles at 5 Feet High And Rising on PBS FM, Tony at On The Blower (RRR), Vinny at The Outpost 2ser FM - Real Radio and Knecki on ROOTS N ALL
Community radio is such a massive part of the music scene in Melbs, they help us get our music out there and spruke our gigs. But they're also the best place for discovering new music - both local and international... at least that's how I feel anyhow!
Set between All Nations Park (Northcote) and EdinburghGardens (NorthFitzroy), ‘Fitzroy Bowl’ is the story of two children from different socio-economic backgrounds who form a bond through their mutual love of skateboarding. The song explores the kindness and compassion of children, whist reflecting on social privilege, disadvantage, and the isolation experienced by those who are failed by the system and fall through the cracks.
I spent lots of time at Fitzy Bowl through Grade 4/5/6 at Nth Fitzroy Primary School. Pretty much always the only girl back in those days. Skateboarding dissolves boundaries between people - young and old. There’s an incredible skate culture here in Melbourne and I really can’t wait for governments to finally acknowledge this and give it the recognition it deserves ... They could start with putting some night lights up at Fitzy, and by integrating skateable structures into urban design - rather than capping ledges and stairs so they can’t be skated.
The State and Local Government in Victoria and Melbourne did a total backflip on the Melbourne Music scene once they had a report to show what it was worth in dollar terms... it’s kind of disappointing that bureaucrats can’t see the cultural and social value in things until they’re presented in $$$$ signs. Rant over.
Hope you enjoy the new song.
Shared many stories at Fitzroy Bowl
Edinburgh Gardens, both 9 years old
Hung out in the grandstand at every game
Skating and footy, those were our days
You lived in the high rise up Brunswick St
Your Mum had schitzed out on bad LSD
She was always too freaked out to get you to school
So you jumped on your board, rode on down that hill
Your Dad moved back in, you just had to go
He smashed up your stuff, wasn’t safe to go home
I begged my folks to take you in
We can’t interfere son it’s just one of those things
A few months went by, you were hardly at school
I heard you’d been fostered near Clifton Hill
You weren’t at the bowl, you weren’t at the game
Did we drift apart or did you drift away
Last time I saw you was in All Nations Park
Collecting those soft drink cans after dark
Pushin’ your trolley down Merri Parade
Past Rushall Station to where the homeless stay
But they don’t understand you, avert their gaze
Just an angry young man a tattoo on your face
You’ll never tell ‘em what you’ve been through
Cause men don’t talk, boys don’t cry
Trucks on the coping, skate hard or
Men don’t talk, boys don’t cry
Trucks on the coping drop in and fly
Cat – Vocals, Acoustic Guitar
Justin Bernasconi – Electric Guitars
Ben Franz – Bass
Justin Olsson – Drums
Professional procrastinator. Drummer, swimmer, runner, rider.