Sianne van Abkoude talks Extended Family's 2nd Birthday

Words by Lucy Regter
Photos by Mariah Anzil

One of the many beauties of this fine city is the inclusivity and support within our creative community. We have the liberty of being a part of something still small enough to be familiar, interconnected and thriving. We’re an intertwined network that just wanna share our friend’s (and occasionally our own) talents, which is partly where the inspiration for Extended Family originated. In what is possibly the best descriptor of Adelaide’s music scene, Extended Family was created two years ago by illustrator/graphic designer Sianne van Abkoude, who I had the opportunity to sit down with to learn more about what makes this project tick.

To understand the core of Extended Family, you have to go back to when you first started developing your music taste. Usually, this is our early/mid-teens. A cringe-fest for all of us, but do you remember feeling that barrier between 15 year-old you and the local music scene? Too young to go to a bar for a gig on your own, or simply not knowing the ways you could be getting involved? Growing up in a small town in the middle of nowhere, Sianne knows this disconnect better than most, and says that the concept of online music sessions were pivotal in encouraging the feeling of being apart of something, despite not physically being there.

After making the move to Adelaide years later, and finding her place within the creative community, Sianne soon found what the scene needed.

"I’d been hanging out with a beautiful group of misfits for a couple of years, and wanted to find a means to contribute to the music scene which was giving me so much. There was just such a strong community of people around me and not many avenues to share it. A lot of them were making incredible music, but didn’t have demos, and were nowhere near recording actual releases, and even further away from affording touring. This was a way of giving them a platform to share what they were doing."

In April 2015 Extended Family was born, and a month later their first official live session was posted. From there, the family has continued to grow, reaching interstate musicians and bringing the music straight to the viewer via YouTube.

"I think showcasing musicians like this is likeable because it’s honest," responds Sianne as to why the live sessions are so successful. "It’s bare-bones, and it’s quick and dirty, and it gets the point across. Here are our friends, this is what they look like and sound like when they play songs in a backyard, or a bar, or a laneway."

This format also allows continuous trial-and-error for Sianne, who in the past had never worked with video, "I’m always making mistakes, it’s pretty humbling to say the least. There’s no budget, there’s rarely much time. We just have to own the fuck-ups and keep moving."

And to keep moving is to keep extending. "It’s important to me to showcase good local music and to bring in something new with great interstate bands too. It’s all about giving bands here a chance to play with great bands from other places, and giving interstate bands an easy in," which ultimately resulted in the Extended Family live shows. 

For those unfamiliar with the live shows, I asked Sianne how they differ from any other local gig. Her response was that they simply feel like a family, but one you'd chose. 

"I met a lot of the people I spent all my time with in 2013, and they were already like a little family then. Just a group of incredibly inclusive and supportive people that love live music and love their friends, and maybe love beer too much too."

Sianne admits that at the shows, the divide between the band and the "fans" truly breaks down — the punters are as much involved as the musicians are in creating a communal space for people to enjoy the music. The gigs have spanned across The Grace Emily, laundromats, and house shows, but their unquestionable home is the Crown & Anchor, which accommodates the Extended Fam energy the best. 

Fast approaching is Extended Family's 2nd Birthday Show. The line-up boasts four interstate acts (Foley, The Flying So High-Os, Squid Fishing, Ruby Markwell) to join Bec Stevens, The Brothers Goon, No Oaths and Stranger Things Have Happened — a bill that Sianne doesn't pretend isn't hard to choose, having filmed with over 40 artists in the live sessions. "In the end, what we have is some interstate old favourites that have been around since the start, a couple of excellent new musicians, including one making their Adelaide debut, and four great local bands that we all love."

With six months in the making, and hardly an overall profit, these gigs are a testament to how important exposing local music is for Sianne and the family. Joined by Lachy Bruce since the beginning, plus a rotating cast of people that make this thing turn, she's in good company for the future, planning on "better videos, better plans, a bigger family." 

Tickets for The Extended Family Birthday Show are on sale now via stickytickets.com.

With every pre-sale ticket purchased you'll receive a free playlist of live Extended Family tracks from each of the acts playing, including unreleased live versions of songs by Bec Stevens and Foley.

Watch more Extended Family on their website here.