Featured artists - ABC Pool

Blog: Featured Contributor Datson Hughes

When we think "Datson" we think of that quirky little car from the 70s that you could fit 50 people in, run for ever on two bucks, and it never, ever died. When we think of "Hughes" we picture a colourful palette that's a useful tool to produce a wonderful visual painting. So maybe it's only natural that when you combine those two thoughts, you produce a quirky, colourful workhorse that's capable of artistic brilliance! Perhaps that was also the thinking behind Datson Hughes ? Geoffrey Datson and Annette Hughes are one of Pool's most creative duos! So that's why we thought we'd find out a little bit more about who "DATSON+HUGHES" really are and what their involvement in Pool is.
What’s your day job?
We like to think that our day job is our various artistic pursuits - Geoffrey is a poet, composer and musician, and I'm an author, singer and songwriter but really we farm beef and trees. Mostly, they look after themselves, giving us enough spare time for our projects. The other added bonus is that the environment finds its way back into our work. Geoffrey does the on-farm work, and I do the off-farm gig, picking up whatever paid work is available.
About six years ago we moved from Sydney where Geoffrey was working at his music in a tiny studio in a vast noisy warehouse in Surry Hills, and I was working as a literary agent. Though we were working at the epicentre of art and culture, we found that we couldn't actually afford to leave the warehouse. When that realisation set in, that we were really economic prisoners of the city, we took the opportunity to move to Geoff's father's farm in South East Queensland to help out. The move was the subject of my book  "Art Life Chooks"  published in 2008.
On Pool you’ve contributed a lot of great audio and music. What can you tell us about your background and musical interests?
Geoffrey has been making music & the instruments it's played on for 38 years. Early experiments with reel to reel recording continue augmented now with digital technology. The music making is more like a nervous compulsion than any attempt to make a commercial product. His intention is to build a soundscape or sonic set in which to place the dramatic action conveyed in his words. A lot more like short opera than straight forward song. The work has evolved from early youthful adventures into pop and punk forms in bands Surfside6 (70s and recently included in the Inner City Sound compile of the Sydney punk scene by Clint Walker) and Samurai Trash (80s) in Sydney & Fred in New York (later 80s). His work in Belle du Soir is included in the recent M Squared compile of the inner city Sydney new music scene of the early 80s.
I had also been in bands in my misspent youth in Brisbane during the 70s but gave my Suzy Quatro fantasies away for motherhood and a career in arts management. When I met Geoffrey 10 years ago, I was completely taken by his sound - I'd never heard anything like his music and recognised, as poolie Belledamai  did in one of her comments on an early post; "he's not amateur good...not commercial good...just good.." I found my voice again in his studio and we began collaborating not only on making music, but also showcasing the work and in 2000 we set up our indy label, Stickylabel .
Since making the move to the country, the strangest thing has happened. Geoff's formerly sophisticated, layered electronica has morphed into much more sparse, pared back and acoustic arrangements using his handmade instruments. We have begun rehearsing the recent works and find that they work beautifully live with just the two of us. We are currently working up to the release of a double album of past and present work - a musical memoir entitled Then, and Then. It's going to be launched at the forthcoming Reality Bites Literary nonficiton festival up on the Sunshine Coast on Sat 31 July. It's free, so if you're a local poolie, come along to the performance !
How did you find out about Pool?
I think it was first mentioned on Radio National. When I tried to sign up I didn't have a browser that could deal with it, but the idea was so intriguing that after driving poor John Jacobs  nuts with my inane tech questions, I gave up and bought a new computer.
What do you like and what don’t you like about Pool?
What's not to like? And it looks so gorgeous! For some reason, no matter what images people upload, that blue works. A brilliant piece of design.
For artists like us, parallel to the mainstream and not physically in any particular 'scene', I can't tell you what a boon it is to be able to post new work and receive feedback from others whose work we can immediately check out to see where their commentary is coming from, and in the process find like minds we'd never have found otherwise. The fact that the content is monitored and pointed to by producers, that there is an avenue for broadcast on air and the opportunity to respond to the call outs are the most valuable aspects of Pool. It is a win win situation for the artists and the ABC - we keep sending in our content because the reward, although not financial is nevertheless tangible.
Thanks Datson / Hughes. It's great to know more about both of you!

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