The Hot Seat: Stephen Pavlovic

Published in The Music Network


Stephen Pavlovic is founder of the hugely successful Sydney- based record label, touring company and international brand, Modular. This year, “Pav” added to his CV the title of curator for the VIVID Live programme. TMN caught up with the music man just hours before VIVID Live kicked off.

Pav, can you give me an idea of what goes into this event?

An incredible amount of patience, government funding, luck and all the planets aligning themselves. The reality is, a lot of energy has gone into it, and a lot of people have worked hard on it over the past four months. As curator, my job is probably the easiest. I get the nice end of it. Of course it was a big honour to get a tap on the shoulder. To be asked to curate at such an iconic building, well, it was an exciting, proud, honouring experience.

Have you been losing hair or going grey in the build-up?

I don’t lose hair or go grey over anything. When things get hot in the kitchen, I tend to sleep more. I have a beautiful ability to just sleep it out. Then when I get up I feel better about it all. I just believe that everything I do is going to be good. I go about what I believe in, that something good is going to happen to me today.

How did you pull off the coup of booking The Cure?

That’s the one thing that required the most patience. It took a long time. I got in touch with Robert Smith, who looks after the Cure’s affairs himself. The actual concept they wanted took time to take shape and we weren’t able to get them to commit in time for when we wanted to announce the festival. I figured, let’s just throw out any imposed deadlines and this thing will work itself out if it’s meant to be. Everyone was up for it, so we just had to be patient and work through all the details. If it happened the day before the show, then great. It’s still a good result.

And there’s a rumour of the Cure signing with Modular?

(Laughs). I think that’s just a bunch of bored people at a website (making it up).

When the bill was announced, you took some flack about booking a number of Modular acts. What’s your response to that?

If someone invited me to a kids’ party and I brought someone else’s kid, they’d think it was pretty fucking strange. Look, if anyone wants to assume I wouldn’t book some of my artists on the bill – artists that were relevant – then you’d be tripping. I’d say the majority of the lineup isn’t on the Modular roster. Modular hasn’t signed the Odd Future, Spiritualized, Bat for Lashes, The Crystal Ark, Yo Gabba Gabba, Sonny Rollins, Hypnotic Brass Ensemble. I’d say, “Look at the scoreboard and weep.” That’s what I was told to say when I was playing football and people were crapping on you. Point to the scoreboard, and keep yourself focused on what you’re there to do. I was paid to do the job, I’ve done it very well.

Yo Gabba Gabba was an interesting choice. Is that booking a sign of your fatherhood?

No, it’s a sign of my misspent youth that I can still find something like that so appealing. They have great pop songs with great messages, like Party In My Tummy and Don’t Bite Your Friends. Most kids TV is insipid. But it’s great that there is something you can enjoy with your child.

There’s a huge buzz on OFWGKTA (Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All). Was it tricky booking an act with floating membership, with some youngsters in the group?

Nah, they were the first band we booked and signed up to VIVID. It’s all about timing and I was in the right place at the right time I made the right call to the right person and it was done and dusted in no time flat. To make that phone call now, you’d be in the ring with everybody else. But at the time, I was ahead of the curve.

You’ve signed Sneaky Sound System to Modular. Do you have big plans for them?

Their new album is awesome. I asked Angus (McDonald) for a copy, I put it in my car and I listened to it over and over. The planets aligned and we were on the same page at the right time. I don’t intellectualise about what I do, and how I do it. If I like something then I have an overwhelming need to want to share it with people.

You told me some years ago the Avalanches had recorded a second album, but they’d scrapped it. Is there any news on that long-awaited second album?

We are on the home stretch. Most of the album is there, it just needs some tweaking to the production elements. But the structure and songs are all done. We’ll probably see a song from it this year. The reason they’re DJing at VIVID is because they’ve been in the studio for 10 years, so to speak. But they’re finished, and they’re celebrating. And they’re going to have a little party to celebrate finishing it. The next stage will see the album go to someone to mix. And then we’ll probably drop a song later this year, and the album early next year.

Is there a new Ladyhawke album coming?

Pip is really close. The album is pretty much done. We’re looking at dropping a song in the last quarter of this year.

What’s your final word on VIVID Live?

Don’t let the lights go out.

The third annual VIVID Live at the Sydney Opera House began May 27 and concludes June 5.

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