TheVine story: ‘Tram Sessions’, March 2012

A feature story for TheVine looking at Tram Sessions, a Melbourne public music project developed by Nicklas Wallberg and Carl Malmsten. The idea is simple: get bands and musicians onto Melbourne’s iconic trams. So far, Passenger, Amanda Palmer, Lanie Lane, Georgia Fair and Ben Kweller have all taken part. Excerpt below.

The daily commute has always seemed a touch more civilised in Melbourne. It’s the people of course – more attractive than the Sydney competition, sweetersmelling than their Brisbane brethren – and partly the city itself: it helps when a lot of the places you might be getting off are actually pretty nice. Perhaps most of all, though, it’s the trams. Spacious, quiet and quick, they’re the Rolls Royce of Australia’s public transport system.

At least that’s the way Nicklas Wallberg and Carl Malmsten saw it when they were a couple of graduate communications students casting around for a not-for-profit project to sink their teeth into. “It was just about finding an appropriate concept,” Wallberg explains. “We toyed with a few different things before hitting upon this idea of matching bands with trams.”

Perhaps it’s simply another case of an outsider seeing things more clearly than the natives. Wallberg and Malmsten are a couple of Swedes who met in Australia whilst on study-exchange.  They actually came up with Tram Sessions when relaxing at Malmsten’s parents’ villa during a three-week visit back home. “We were sitting around the kitchen table, thinking about it, and it just came to us relatively easily. But then the more we got into it, the more excited we got.”

The idea’s not totally original. Wallberg admits to being inspired by Black Cab Sessions in London, as well as the Take-Away Shows on La Blogothèque in Paris, both of which feature artists performing outside of their typical comfort zone of stages, meaty amplification and meatier security. But Tram Sessions is arguably the concept’s natural conclusion. “I think the acoustics are actually great on a tram to begin with,” Wallberg says, “which really surprised me in the beginning. But also, I think it gives the right amount of people, so you can get a bit of a crowd and atmosphere in there. And that’s the big difference with Tram Sessions compared to some of those other great projects: the interaction with people – these people who have no idea what’s going on.”

For the full article, visit TheVine. Photo credit: Busra.

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