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10 Aug 2017

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A sound love of life

From a young age, local Southbank percussionist Kaylie Melville said she had been fascinated by sound.

“My primary school had this xylophone band that would play the Australian national anthem at assemblies,” she said. “I had this bizarre obsession with being in it and just thought it was the coolest thing, which tells you a bit about the sort of kid I was!”

And as she told Southbank Local News, the fascination hadn’t wavered. She said she still enjoyed discovering new sounds wherever she could…even at the hardware store!

“I now spend a bizarre amount of time at Bunnings looking for objects that make sounds and the staff get really excited when you say I need a metal sheet that can bend in such a way! The hunting for sound thing is really interesting.”

Born and raised in Perth, Kaylie first began playing percussion when she was 10 and her passion for music performance ultimately led her to study in a range of genres at a specialist musical high school.

Kaylie said she moved to Melbourne six years ago to study at the University of Melbourne’s Conservatorium of Music (MCM) and quickly found home in amongst Southbank’s vibrant arts precinct.

“You’re so surrounded by art here, if you’re having one of those practice days where you’re not feeling terribly inspired you just go for a wander and there’s going to be something interesting happening,” she said.

“We’re incredibly lucky in this area to be so immersed in art it’s just on your doorstep.”

In her six years as a Southbanker, Kaylie’s extraordinary musical talents have seen her perform and participate in productions, festivals and courses both in Australia and overseas.

However, she said a major catalyst for much of her success had been discovering the innovative work of Speak Percussion – an internationally acclaimed leader in experimental and contemporary classical music.

Having worked with Speak professionally for the past three years, Kaylie has been an integral part of helping the group continue its efforts in redefining the potential of percussion.

“I remember the first time I saw Speak and I was just so excited by what they were doing,” she said. “They play a fair bit of fairly heavy virtuosic existing repertoire for percussionists but they also make a lot of their own work.”

“A lot of it is also with objects that you wouldn’t normally look at as instruments, which is a lot of what we’re doing in this show.”

Her next performance with Speak Percussion, Assembly Operation, manufactures high quality sounds by crunching and grinding low worth goods ranging from electronic toys and traditional objects to packaging and paper!

“It’s taking this kind of simple everyday object and really testing what you can do with it sonically and I just find it so satisfying on so many levels,” she said.

“It’s kind of that intellectual challenge of what can be done with this thing that I see all of the time but never thought of as an instrument. It’s also just because the sounds are so beautiful.”

Alongside fellow Speak Percussion performers Eugene Ughetti and Matthias Schack-Arnott, the show will see collaboration with performance maker Clare Britton and visual artists Cyrus Tang and Jia Jia Chen.

Conjuring surreal reflections on mass production through a series of dark video sequences and minimalistic set design, Kaylie said the engaging 50-minute show would have a strong visual element to complement the amazing sounds.

Kaylie will perform with Speak Percussion for Assembly Operation from September 5 to 9 at Arts House, 521 Queensberry Street, North Melbourne. For bookings and more information visit


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