Australian sensation Somersault makes his debut this month on PIV. The last few years have been a whirlwind for this exciting Australian artist, from performing throughout Europe including ADE to signing tracks to Audiojack’s Gruuv, Ben Rau’s META and Kerri Chandler’s seminal MadTech.
Heavily influenced by jazzy house, UK Garage’s shuffling rhythms and rolling atmospheric techno, Somersault has come a long way from working as a session guitarist to commanding the stage at Rabbits Eat Lettuce, Subsonic and more, and gaining wide-spread industry support from everyone from Groove Armada to John Digweed via Laurent Garnier!
Ahead of his forthcoming release on PIV records, he's taken us on an extensive tour of the place he calls home, Sydney, Australia for a new City Guide.
Words and photos by Somersault
We all like a good drink, so where are the top spots to head to before a night out?
Sydney has a huge range of cheap, delicious BYO Asian restaurants where you can take in your own booze. Seabay Restaurant is a BYO Chinese dumpling place in the CBD that is very lively on a Friday or Saturday night. It’s often deafeningly noisy, full of revelers laying a nice foundation for a big night. They do delicious dumplings and their own handmade noodles. For me, there is no better start to a big evening.
Sydney has an awesome craft beer culture and there are multiple inner West breweries that all have their own unique atmosphere and varieties of piss (that’s Australian for alcohol). They all have a nice variety of brews and allow for a multi-beverage journey from lager, to pale ale, amber ale, IPA to stout. All of the beers are brewed on-site and they always offer some seasonal specialties. It’s easy to get carried away at these places so it’s probably a good thing that they all shut by 8 pm.
Sydney’s greatest asset is its beauty so the most enjoyable option for a pre-drink when the weather is on, which is most of the time, is to head outdoors. Camperdown Memorial Park is a great option for sunset drinks. There will always be a huge cross-section of inner-city subcultures drinking beer and eating food. The many beaches are also a great option, just pay attention to the signposted rules as Sydney has many when it comes to public drinking.
Where can you find the best clubs / late-night venues in town?
Sydney is not in a great place with its nighttime economy. Around 2010 the conservative government took aim at the thriving Sydney nightlife and made it impossible to run any late-night businesses. Once thriving nightlife areas have now been redeveloped as residential areas and the streets have become very quiet. Many businesses worked within the constricting laws and continued operating but hundreds of timeless venues have had to close their doors. With the pandemic closing all the businesses and no end to the lockdown in sight, things are looking rather bleak.
However, Sydney people love to party and awesome events will continue to happen. One of those is SASH, a long-running Sunday institution that holds a day party in the outdoor courtyard of the very old Greenwood hotel. The party then moves to Home nightclub on Darling Harbour, where the terrace room has the best view of any venue I’ve been to. The soundtrack is always groovy minimal house and over long weekends the parties go until midday on Monday.
Constraints on legal parties have created a strong underground resistance in the inner-city industrial areas. There are a bunch of crews who run lawless warehouse parties that operate on raver PLUR principles. I’ve found these parties are the closest you can get in Oz to wild, free European parties. Music is techno, ventilation is poor and vibes are high. You’ll need to be in the know to find out about them so try and make some friends as soon as you get to Sydney.
Brunches are a weekend staple, which spots stand out to you?
After your big night, you’ll be spoilt for options for recovery grub. Due to our abundance of fresh produce, we do brunch very, very well. We had a big wave of European immigrants in the 1950’s who brought espresso coffee with them and I will confidently claim that we now have the best coffee culture in the world. Pretty much any café you find will offer a delicious big, healthy brunch and banging coffee.
If you fancy something a little different, Shenkin is an Israeli café in Enmore. They offer vibrant dishes that are full of flavour and excellent at making you forget about your hangover. My favourite is their Shakshuka eggs with halloumi, aubergine, and pita bread.
Australia is a hugely multicultural place and every city has a big variety of food and culture that we can thank our immigrant population for. Our second big wave of modern immigration came during the Vietnam war, and we are lucky to now have an abundance of Vietnamese food. While perhaps unorthodox, my favourite recovery brunch option is Pho, Vietnamese noodle soup. All that medicinal broth and fresh herbs do wonders for a hangover and I usually like to get my fix at least once a week. I opt for a large vegetarian Pho with lots of fresh chilli and a Vietnamese iced coffee with sweetened condensed milk on the side. My favourite places to eat Pho are Cabramatta, Campsie, and Marrickville, which are long-standing Vietnamese communities.
Best dirty late-night street food option?
Saray Turkish Restaurant is an institution in Enmore. All through the night there will be a big crowd of drunks out the front eating delicious doner kebabs, hot chips smothered in chilli sauce, salty gozleme, and, my favorite, pide. Every pide is made fresh to order; dough is rolled into a boat shape, stuffed with spinach and cheese, and roasted in a pizza oven. I’ll then walk home with a huge smile on my face while I wolf down my pide and hopefully not burn my tongue.
Where can we shop for records and music memorabilia in Sydney?
Something Else is a record store in Newtown which is the best place to get your house/techno vinyl. The owner, Dave, gets quality stock in from all over the place and you can even get a Club Mate while you dig. I’ve spent quite a lot of money at this place and highly recommend it.
For second-hand digging go to the Vintage Record in Annandale. They stock a big range of ’60s, ’70s, and '80s records and you’ll certainly find a gem or two if you go.
Sydney has a great live music scene and when the city is in full swing you can go out and see gigs every night of the week. My favorite place is Venue 505 in Surry Hills. The old venue was an old strip club that has become the hub for live jazz and funk in Sydney.
Your Sunday escape plan when you need to get away from it all?
We are very lucky in Sydney to have so much stunning natural beauty just outside of the city, a lot of which you can access by public transport. There’s nothing better to do in Sydney than pack some lunch and get amongst nature for the day.
An hour south of the city is our beautiful Royal National Park. If you’re feeling energetic you can walk the full 31kms from Otford to Bundeena which covers some of the nicest coastal scenery in Australia. There are lots of nice swimming spots and shorter walks on offer here and is one of my favourite places in all of Oz.
An hour west of the city is the Blue Mountains. The bordering mountain range played an integral role in Sydney’s history as crossing them to reach the fertile farmlands beyond was an unconquerable challenge for a long time for the early settlers. The local Aboriginals had been crossing them for millennia and were responsible for pioneering the route. Many settlers lost their lives attempting to traverse them and many more prisoners perished building the road that eventually crossed the range. Besides all the rich history, the blue mountains are stunning. Due to the eucalyptus trees, they do actually have an ethereal blue tinge. There are lots of walks through gorgeous bushland and you’ll definitely get some picturesque views. If you’ve got time, stop at the old pub in Blackheath.
Something everyone should do when visiting Sydney, but probably hasn’t?
It’s easy to get swept up in all the beauty and colorful multiculturalism in Sydney but it’s important to be mindful of the fact that this is where the white invasion began for the Aboriginal people. Thousands of tragic stories from the last 230 years stem from this moment and it’s important that all visitors acknowledge that they are on Aboriginal land and that modern Australia has a very dark history. Take some time to read about our history while you’re here.
Sydney has lots of art galleries and events to check out throughout the year.
The Art Gallery of NSW is the first one to check out. It has a big range of works from all different time periods and cultures. Having a look through the halls is a great way to get some different perspectives on life in Australia. I highly recommend the First Nation’s Peoples section.
There are several large-scale art events that happen in unconventional places, outside of art galleries. Sculptures By The Sea happens yearly in late October and hosts a big spread of works dotted along the coastline around Bondi. It’s quite entertaining watching the wardens trying to stop children from climbing all over the works.
The Biennale happens every two years in Autumn and brings a range of large-scale works to venues across the city. A sculpture exhibit is set up on Cockatoo Island, an ex-penal colony for convict repeat-offenders which then became a shipyard. It’s a stark contrast seeing all the beautiful works in such a brutal setting in the middle of the gorgeous harbor.
The inner city is peppered with astounding, constantly evolving street art. Go have a stroll around the back streets of Newtown and you’ll definitely find some good stuff painted over the walls of the uniform terrace houses.
Get out on the harbor on a boat. There’s a boat trip for every taste in Sydney. My favorite one I’ve done was a whale watching tour which left from Circular Quay and went out into the ocean to observe breaching humpback whales on their migratory paths. Majestic AF.
A track that reminds you of your childhood in the city?
Regurgitator - ! (The Song Formerly Known As)
Regurgitator are from Brisbane but nothing sums up my 90’s Sydney childhood better than this synth-rock banger. Tune still holds up really well.
What are other great exports that come from Sydney?
Chicken Salt – A wonderous chicken stock flavoured salt that we put on deep-fried things. You’ll love it.
Wine – I can’t vouch for all the wine that is exported overseas but there is some fantastic wine to be drunk here in Oz. Generally spending about $10 and up will get you something decent.
Leather boots – feel like a stockman and get yourself a pair of nice Blundstones. Great for work, the pub, and the bush.
A gift you can’t leave Sydney without taking home for friends?
A cheesy photo with the Sydney harbor bridge as a backdrop
Grab your copy here.