In the wake of the COVID-19 global pandemic, life as know it has grinded to a halt. While the economy tanks, businesses close and medical services fear overloading, the arts community has also been left by the wayside.
This year was meant to be a milestone instalment for Western Sydney’s premier HipHop and culture event 4ESydney. Faced with imminent cancellations, the group rallied and pressed on, transferring the majority of their program to the digital livestreaming world.
We spoke with festival founder and artist manager Vyvienne Abla about her 18 year history in the music industry, her passion for HipHop and her vision for the unique and diverse festival.
Hi Vyv! Fill us in, are you from Western Sydney originally?
I was born in Westmead, lived and went to school in the Shire, which presented its own challenges being Lebanese and growing up in a predominately white anglo-saxon community. But from the age of 16 I spent most of my time hanging out and working in Western Sydney. Mainly Bankstown, Lidcombe, Auburn, Granville and Parramatta.
Why do you think it has become such a focal point for arts and creativity recently?
The lack of infrastructure and support over the years and the need to constantly fight to simply exist, forces you to develop your own narrative and pathway in order to survive.
This often leads to the birth of thriving creative communities that are exciting and full of life. Western Sydney often gets dismissed or underestimated, but in the end, is where the magic transpires and is the place to be.
For those of us living and working in the area this isn’t anything new. Western Sydney is, and has always been, full of such richness, culture and diverse communities that the amount of talent and creativity being birthed out of the region is no surprise. We’ve just now hit a point that it’s undeniable and ‘outsiders’ or ‘industry’ can no longer pretend that we don’t exist, the spotlight has shifted and is fixated on the west.
The amount of talent and creativity being birthed out of Western Sydney is no surprise. [The creativity] has just now hit a point that it’s undeniable,
and ‘outsiders’ or ‘industry’ can no longer pretend
that we don’t exist.
Could you share a brief history of 4ESydney?
The 4Elements HipHop Project (4ESydney) was a concept that’s been inside my head since the age of 15. I’ve always wanted to create a space utilising HipHop and music culture. I want to give back to others what music gave me, but within a fun, safe and productive environment. I believe that music is the most powerful tool in the world and can be used to create a positive change in every individual’s life – regardless of who you are.
All in all my vision is to educate and inspire individuals through the use of music and its culture.
What made you guys decide to stream digitally rather than cancel or postpone? I think it’s really cool, and you may even potentially reach a wider audience now!
The more things that shutdown, the higher the need for us to continue grows. We want to make sure artists, industry, community and youth still have something to engage with, connect too and be inspired by.
One way or another, we will adapt, unite and do what we need to do to make things happen.
The 4ESydney team are working overtime to transform our bigger events, redesigning them to be interactive and live streamed right to your screen!
With over 100 artists and professionals booked and scheduled for 4ESydney 2020, over the next few days we accept the challenge of endeavouring to lessen the blow by attempting to minimise as many artist cancellations, if and where possible.
In true HipHop form WE CAN’T STOP AND WON’T STOP, we aim to share the ‘real’ epidemic which is the insane talent being birthed out of Western Sydney, and Australia as a whole, and infect the world with the strength of music and art across the global in these trying times.
What excites you most about being involved with 4ESydney?
I love the community and family it continues to build and develop each year. It’s truly for the community by the community, we use our voice, our artform, our culture to amplify the right voices, to educate and spread knowledge on what’s actually happening on the streets and within our communities. 4ESydney showcases authentic Australian and global narratives and truths to the masses, in a medium and dialogue that’s honest and unapologetic.
4ESydney is streaming live this weekend with more artist announcements and full line-up announcements on Monday throughout the month of April. The following months will also feature a rolling program of DJs, seminars, performances and more. Check out their website for more info.