Colour Of Whispers
There are some terrific Australian owned venues in Second Life right now - each with its own unique atmosphere and vibe. This month I visited one of the originals - Colour Of Whispers - and talked to popular and highly respected owner Whisper Ampan in what turned out to be a wonderfully frank and detailed account of her Second Life experiences.
Michael: Hi Whisp - thank you soo much for taking time out to do this interview with Toggle For Music.
First up - You come over as a sane, balanced kind of individual - how on earth did you get involved in the crazy world of Second Life?
Whisp: When I joined there had been some media coverage regarding Sl..both of it's sins and it's creativity..I was tempted by both!
Michael: In your early SL days did you plan - or even envisage - owning a successful music venue ?
Whisp: No..although after 6 months in sl I had discovered the live music scene and started hosting at a venue called Secrets.
Michael: So how did it happen?
Whisp: Bright Oh ( Performer in SL) had some previous venues that melded Art with Live music. The live music was mainly confined to his band SOAR performing. I was an avid fan and had hosted Bright /SOAR at other venues. In 2011 Bright asked me to managed his third iteration of The Colour Factory. He gave me free rein in who I booked and what I did. I absolutely loved The Colour Factory (I was manager for TCF 3 and TCF4). The venues themselves were completely unique and still would be today. ScarIetti IavaI was the designer and resident artist. Throw in Bright's own creative flair and quirkiness and you get a magical environment that held the unexpected.
It was one of the first venues in Secondlife to have both Art exhibits and live music. The Vision statement was: THE COLOUR FACTORY:
Where music and art combine, wash over each other, clash, collide, inspire, provoke, soothe and entwine in ways that shouldn't be defined.
Our aim was to establish a community of performers and fans that support and encourage each other. A place that is filled with energy and creativity. TCF is to be a place of experimentation, learning, mentoring collaboration,and imagination!
And that's what we did. I take great pride that we were able to kick start many performers careers and supprt so many. We were one of the first Venues to do so in a mentoring and encouragement capacity. We allowed for rehearsal spaces, coaching on performances and just impromptu jam times.
I will forever be grateful to Bright for giving me the opportunity.
Michael: So here you are now - so tell me all about Colour of Whispers now please.
Whisp: After 5 years managing TCF we decided to close it. It was a really sad day for us, but the memories we have are wonderful.
I decided to open my own venue and called it Colour of Whispers as a nod to my Colour Factory roots. I had always preferred outdoor venues so decided to make it very Australian in theme. Classy Patton and Scuzzi Jetcity helped me build my little billabong. Ryon Hancroft and Sarehnity remodelled the venue for me in 2019 and I loved its aussie bush feel. In 2020 I moved sims and did the build myself. I like the sloping audience area and the stage set over the billabong. I am not a fan of dance pads. I prefer people to chose where they want to stand and if they join a hud or not or use their own or the intans.
I took what I had learned running TCF and supported talented new singers as well popular ones on the grid. My aim was to have a place where the audience was as important as the performer. By this I mean I wanted a place people felt relaxed and there is interaction and a sense of fun. A welcoming place, A place that you can get to know each other and interact with the performer as well as the crowd. For performers I believe I am very supportive of them; understanding of RL influences that may impact if they can perform, gratitude that they share their talents, I try my best to get a decent audience for them and pay a decent fee.
Michael: You know the Second Life live music industry inside out by now. Do you feel it is in a healthy state at this moment in time ? If you could do one thing to improve it - what would it be?
Whisp: I do believe it is healthy.. The talent truly astounds me. It evolves and there is a great standard out there.
After being in Live music for over 11 years, particularly the early morning scene. I realise the available audience is much smaller, as is the pool of performers. This has advantages and disadvantages. Its a wonderful community. Friendly and supportive. The disadvantage is, it can only support a limited number of venues, if you do not want the audience to dwindled to 7 or 8 people because it's split. Fortunately, most venues who run at that time recognise this and we work together to balance out. It really does impact when 3 or 4 venues run at the same time. It's so disheartening to see an audience of 5 or 6 for a performer. To avoid this it takes collaboration from venue owners and the performers too. I know this is a sticky issue for some. It's not me wanting a monopoly, its about staggering the events to one or two venues during the time slots so that the smaller audiences that are around in those hours are spread evenly and help the performer and the venue in being viable. It's unique to those early hours. I have seen venues come and go based on the schedules of events across those hours. Yes, a performer has every right to perform when they want, but with that decision comes the impact that can have on other performers on at the same time.
Michael: High points and low points ?
Whisp: High points are after 5 years of CoW and 5 of TCF I am still loving Live music! I believe CoW has a good reputation in the live music scene for hosting quality performers and providing a friendly atmosphere. I love it when a performer says CoW it their Favourite/one of their favourite venues or when a patron says that. I Love those energetic times of animated local chat, lots of laughter and of course great music!! I only run in the early morning hours and the music community then is smaller and more intimate. There is a real sense of community.
I love the fact that many of the early morning venue owners/managers visit each other's events. It helps build that sense of community and we do reach out to each other. To me it is really important that I support other venues and my singers at different venues, after all, I am not just here for CoW, I am here for the live music!
No really low points. Perhaps minor frustrations. I feel so disappointed for the performer if the crowd is small or rumours get started without knowing the facts.
Michael: So conversely what would you say irks you the most ? (aside from annoying interviewers)
Whisp: I know there is often a debate in regards to "track" singers versus musicians. I am on the side that the voice is an instrument and therefore just as valid as a talent. Some backing tracks are better than some people's musical talent and therefore actually improves the performance. Add in the backing vocals and a variety of instruments it can really transform the feeling of the song. I am not saying here I like backing tracks over someone playing an instrument...I admire those musicians. I am just saying I do not feel track singers have a lesser talent or appeal. However, I will say those singers who throw in a few or all originals really get my respect. I absolutely love to hear originals.
The relationship between Venues and performers is symbiotic. Both need each other, both as important as the other. If you tip the performer you should tip the venue equally. Venue owners usually have to put their own money into running it: Tier, fees for the performers, the build, dances, intans, etc. We don't make a profit and we do it because we love it. Performers have costs too I know and that's why I consider it a symbiotic partnership.
Michael: At Toggle For Music we are now a few months into our crusade, with our website / blog, to promote SL live music in any way we can. Could you give us any advice on ways we could improve what we do?
Whisp: You are doing a fantastic job!! I cannot think of anything more to suggest other than keeping it dynamic and fresh.
Michael: Thank you!