The Penny Mint was lucky enough to be featured in issue 1 of Forever West, a new zine created by Gabby Bortolot of Rude Baby Records. To mark the launch of the zine, we turned the tables and asked Gabby a few questions of our own.

1. What is Rude Baby Records, and what does it mean to be ‘more rude less baby’?
Rude Baby Records is an artist management and booking business, we also produce a range of different events and community-based projects. ‘More rude less baby’ is about being unapologetically ambitious and creative in everything we do. Rude Baby is a two-person team, we’re passionate about working with and learning alongside up-and-coming artists and connecting them with new opportunities and networks.

2. How did the Forever West Zine project come about?
Forever West Zine is my first solo project under the Rude Baby Records umbrella. It is a research project that I’m also completing as part of my studies at RMIT University. In May this year, Rude Baby Records ran an IGTV series called ‘Rude Baby TV’, the response was incredible, in particular, we developed quite a large community of music industry networks who were operating in the west, just like us. I decided to take advantage of the unique COVID-19 climate we were facing and reach out to as many of these contacts as possible to get to know more about their music and operations. From that point, the project really took off and I decided to share my findings in a zine!

3. Who are some of the names (and faces!) we can see in the zine?
Forever West has over 26 brilliant contributors, we’ve got musicians, venue managers, directors, YouTubers, collectives, record labels and so many more! To name a few, we have interviews from Pride of our Footscray Community Bar, PANIA, Dead Family Pets Records, Yadiiiigg, and Eileen Grace!

Gabby (left) and Maddy, Rude Baby Records co-directors

4. To steal one of your questions: what is it like creating in the west of Melbourne? What makes it different?
I’ve asked this question to so many people over the past 10 weeks but haven’t yet stopped to ponder it myself! Hmm, I think creating in the west is unique in the sense that I think it’s special to come across others who are doing something in the same sphere that you are. Connecting with creative west-siders is different because there’s a mutual understanding of the environment, the west is quite spread out and can feel quite far from the city at times. I think the west has an evolving scene, especially in music, it’s being led by passionate musicians, venues, and industry people, and I’m really intrigued to see how it continues to grow over the next few years.

5. With COVID-19 and a recession threatening existing funding models we find ourselves at somewhat of crossroads in the arts community. How do you feel about the future of arts, especially in the west of Melbourne?
I can only speak from a music industry perspective but I can see the industry in an unprecedented period of change. Venues have been shut for over six months now and some may not be able to open again once live music starts up again. Most musicians haven’t had a paid gig in just about the same amount of time. I think the recovery of the music industry will be reliant on fresh ideas and perspectives especially from young people entering the industry. I think the recent live music grants awarded to many of our beloved venues will also be fundamental in the reopening of venues, which is crucial because, without them, artists, especially up-and-coming ones don’t have places to play. Looking to the west, specifically, I think this is a great opportunity for local artists to get out and play as many shows as they can, the closure of the borders for the foreseeable future is an opportunity for local acts to fill the lineups of festivals, headline the gigs on Friday and Saturday nights and really just get themselves out there. For people on the industry side, like myself, I think this is the perfect opportunity to be bold, take those ideas you’ve been pondering on for the last few months and action them, start that club night, establish your own zine, or, book your own gig. To sum it up I feel inspired and optimistic for the future of the arts community, I don’t think it’s going to be an easy road but I do think it’s going to be a rewarding one.

Issue 1 of Forever West Zine is available now via Rude Baby Records on Bandcamp. All profits from this issue support Pay The Rent.