Transformer – A Tribute to Lou Reed

Elisabeth Murdoch Hall

Indie-pop darling Gabriella Cohen and her collaborator and co-conspirator Kate “Babyshakes” Dillon assume the roles of musical directors for FOJAM’s headline event, in which hand-picked artists perform tributes to songs from Lou Reed’s iconic album ‘Transformer’.

Although Lou Reed declared the only religion that he observed was that of rock and roll, he was a formative figure amongst Jewish musicians in the downtown New York punk scene, alongside the likes of Joey and Tommy Ramone, Jonathan Richman, Lenny Kaye, Richard Hell and Blondie’s guitarist Chris Stein.

From Vicious to Goodnight Ladies, Australian performers will step into Reed’s shoes and follow his guiding light, song by song, in this tribute. Backed by an all-star band, performers include Chris Cohen, Alex Gow (Oh Mercy), Emily Lubitz (Tinpan Orange), Bella Venuti (IV League), Ryan Downey, Gabriella Cohen, Vivien Goldman, Spike Fuck and ARIA-winning post-punk legend Deborah Conway.

Elisabeth Murdoch Hall | 8:30pm (Evening) | 60 Mins


Gabriella Cohen – Musical Director

After first falling for Lou Reed as a 12-year-old, songwriter Gabriella Cohen feels honour-bound to pour herself into the task of reinterpreting Transformer alongside her collaborator Kate ‘Babyshakes’ Dillon. Cohen has captured the hearts of audiences at home in Melbourne and globally, thanks to the melodic and sensual approach she takes to writing and self-producing her music, including the recent record Pink Is The Colour Of Unconditional Love.

Kate ‘Babyshakes’ Dillon – Assistant Director 

Stepping into the role of Assistant Director of this tribute is Kate ‘Babyshakes’ Dillon. A multi-instrumentalist, producer and engineer, Babyshakes is the creative co-conspirator of Gabriella Cohen. When she’s not fronting her own experimental outfit Full Flower Moon Band, Babyshakes can be found performing solo using vivid visuals to enhance the full sensory experience of her music.

Chris Cohen 

Indie songwriting royalty Chris Cohen was formerly a member of the experimental noise outfit Deerhoof. After releasing two solo records, which serve as companion pieces, he changed course swiftly for his 2019 self-titled LP. A deeply personal record, it reflects on the freedom that comes from multi-generational secrets being laid bare, stripped of shame and guilt.

Deborah ConwayDeborah Conway

Conway has been a significant and eloquent contributor to Australian music for over 30 years. An ARIA-winning post-punk legend, she initially topped the charts with her first band, Do Re Mi. She achieved platinum sales with her first solo album, String of Pearls, and the 10 albums she’s released in collaboration with Willy Zygier have attracted critical acclaim.

Vivien GoldmanVivien Goldman

As punk in her performance as she is in her research, Vivien Goldman’s 2016 re-issue compilation RESOLUTIONARY introduced her early-‘80s post-punk recordings with The Flying Lizards and players from PiL, The Raincoats and The Slits to a new generation of fans.

Bella VenutiBella Venuti (IV League)

As frontperson of the indie-rock outfit IV Leage, Bella Venutti has honed her craft as a performer in both Melbourne’s local rock scene and the Australian festival circuit over the past few years. Embarking on a solo career, Bella will explore lush, dream pop-inspired solo soundscapes on the upcoming debut single released under the moniker prettything in coming months.

Emily LubitzEmily Lubitz

Best-known for being the singer and songwriter in critically acclaimed indie-folk band Tinpan Orange. She has also recorded and toured with her side project, We Two Thieves; appeared on ‘Rockwiz’; and been the voice of viral advertising campaign ‘Dumb Ways To Die’.

Ryan DowneyRyan Downey

A crooner at heart, Ryan Downey’s jaw-dropping voice earned him comparisons to Leonard Cohen and Bill Callahan following the release of his debut album. The perfectly constructed art-folk masterpiece, Running, was long-listed for the Australian Music Prize in 2018.

Spike FuckSpike Fuck

Gloriously undefinable, Spike Fuck revels in the pastiche of genres that existed long before she carved out her own. Dubbed “smackwave”, it blends late ’80s new-wave and late-’70s post-punk with a dash of singer-songwriter sensibilities. Throw in a dash of Las Vegas ballroom karaoke vocals for good measure, and you almost come close to capturing her singular style.

Alex GowAlex Gow

Songwriter, singer, arranger and producer behind Oh Mercy, the beloved Melbourne outfit that’s released five critically acclaimed albums in the past decade. Off-stage, Alex lectures the senior songwriters at The Australian College of the Arts, and is an accomplished Fine Art photographer.

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