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#25 - Kelly-Dawn Hellmrich (Camp Cope)

Sydney Opera House

A kitchen in Melbourne's Footscray provided the humble origins for Camp Cope's Kelly-Dawn Hellmrich, Georgia Maq and Sarah Thompson. Since joining forces in 2015, the trio haven't wasted a second of their time in the spotlight, using their newfound influence to launch the #ItTakesOne campaign. Aimed at stopping harassment of women at live music gigs, Kelly-Dawn Hellmrich has said of the project: “We have a platform now where people listen to us so we want to give back to other people who don’t have a stage to speak on.”

Kelly-Dawn Hemrich with Camp Cope live
Camp Cope at Vivid Live 2017 Image: Daniel Boud

Learning to play

"I've been playing music for as long as I can remember, my dad's a musician so he played guitar my whole life ... I was begging him to teach me and I had to wait until my hands were big enough to fit around the neck of the guitar. He wouldn't let me play until then, and I think I was about ten. I just wanted to be like him. I just wanted to play, and then he made me learn five songs on my guitar before he bought me my own. So I had to sit down and practise every day."

"And then he bought me my own guitar, he bought me a Fender Squier. I started playing and he was like, 'You aren't a guitarist, you're a bass player.' And I was like, 'I don't want to play bass, that's boring! I want to shred and I want to move around on stage! And be, you know, the main person.' And he's like 'Yeah, but you're a bass player'. And then for my 13th birthday he got me a bass and I wasn't too happy about it, but then at high school ... I just completely fell in love with it. Because I don't know, there's something really beautiful about bass guitar. It is understated and you fill the space and that's my favourite thing. Like, as a bass player, you just find the space in the music and then you look what it needs and yes, yeah, I completely fell in love. And he's right, I am a bass player."

Living above Blackwire Records

"I used to go to Blackwire in my school uniform. I'd catch a train from Blacktown, which is like an hour away, into the city to go there, and it was just so special in the way that it just welcomed everyone who didn't fit in anywhere else. In some way, in Sydney there are a lot of the venues are very… you know, they're very fancy. Like they're very, I don't know, cool. Blackwire was the opposite of that. And it was definitely a family and if you loved music and you were a good person, then you were welcome. It didn't matter where you were from, whatever age you were, whatever style of music you liked, you were welcome there, and there was always a space for you."

"People would be in five bands together and they'd all play Blackwire. You know, you could get someone who was playing three sets in one night in three different bands with someone else who was in a band with another person and it was all this beautiful big family. I had the pleasure of living upstairs there for a while. It was great. Just being able to walk downstairs and seeing the same people everywhere. You could always bring new people as well, it was really special. And it's over now but I don't doubt that there's more things happening and there's people like me who are going to do their own things as well."

Blackwire records
Image: lizzienagydraws (Instagram)
Camp Cope Vivid Poster

On sticking to your DIY roots

"I think it's really important for us to remain independent and to be DIY. I guess to make a statement for women to be like: you can do this. I think for us that's really important. So as women, we're managing ourselves, we're our own agent. We like doing everything ourselves to show that we can, and to show other people that we can. And regardless of gender, you can do it, you don't need big labels, you don't need fancy people that have worked in the industry for so long, you can really do it yourself if you believe in what you do and you work hard."

"I think the more that people know that we're independent and won't take any crap from anyone, the easier it's actually getting. Because people are now becoming more aware. We're very vocal that we're independent and that we look after ourselves. So now we get people calling us about shows or talking to us about shows directly. So that's easier in that sense, they sort of know what we're about.

"... we have each other. It does get stressful but we all take care of each other. And our physical and mental health comes before anything else. And that's a pact that we made together at the very beginning, and it still runs true."


"In Brisbane we had our first lot of really big audiences outside of our hometown and lots of people we didn't know. And things started to get a bit rough, you could see, looking down people were looking uncomfortable, people were pushing. There were people jumping on top of people and so Georgia just called out immediately. I was looking at Thommo and Thommo was looking at Georgia and we were just like 'We've got to stop this, this looks terrible. This is not what we're about.' And then we called it out and got that person removed and it was actually the audience around them showing us that they were uncomfortable. The audience around them was turning around and yelling at these people, mostly women turning around and being to these men, 'Stop, you know, you are making us super uncomfortable.' They drew our attention and then we could help them and then get that person removed and then everyone had a good time once they were gone."

"And then when we talked about it, we were like, we're super vocal about safety at shows. We obviously have a very feminist agenda, what makes him think if, that that's okay at our show. If this is happening with us, it's got to be happening everywhere. If it's happening here, then it's definitely everywhere. It's not heavy shows, it's everywhere. And then that's what sparked the conversation and we started talking about what we could do to make safer spaces."

“If this is happening with us, it's got to be happening everywhere.”

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