Earlier this week, Bigsound announced a major change to the beloved Australian music industry event. Maggie Collins, the Executive Programmer for Bigsound, is getting some help in 2019.

As reported in TIOTom Larkin of VV Management and Shihad fame will join the Bigsound team as conference programmer, while Melody Forghani of independent artist management and publicity company twnty three and Tim Shiel of triple j are going to be Bigsound Festival co-programmers.

TIO sat down with Maggie Collins shortly after the news broke for an upcoming One Year Later podcast episode, and she was understandably thrilled.

“Tom Larkin is just one of the most level-headed guys I know,” she said. “[He’s] a really good connecter and educator of people. He has a very strong focus on mental health, which has become one of the things that is more and more important here at Bigsound.

“He also has done a lot of great work with a lot of independent artists,” she added. “Anyone that’s a bit of all all-rounder is always going to fit in at Bigsound.”

Tom Larkin is one of the new players announced for the 2019 Bigsound programming team
Tom Larkin

Collins said that both Tim Shiel and Melody Forghani, who will be helping to program next year’s festival element, have “incredible music taste.”

“Both of them are all-rounders as well. Tim is a presenter at Double J, has a record label, is a musician himself. Melody does PR, is a manager as well, and is hugely respected within the scene,” she enthused.

Collins said the selection process wasn’t conducted lightly. Both Shiel and Forghani were asked to send the organisers some of the bands they would program.

“Melody in particular sent us a list of all these acts that even I didn’t know,” Collins laughs. “I was like ‘What’s this? I thought I was across all of this. Dammit Melody, you’re so cool!'”

While the first team meeting hasn’t quite happened yet – an apposite truth considering Bigsound 2018 is well and truly still underway – all three of the new programmers have an unparalleled grasp on the event following years of attending and taking part in the conference.

What’s been made very clear in the announcement of a team of programmers though, is not only its signalling of how the conference and festival is growing, but also how demanding the role of programmer is.

“This has been needed for so long,” said Collins. “This job is way too big for one person. […] The conference and the live aspect, they both have to be done at the same time and they’re both very big projects.

“It all bottlenecks around this deadline zone,” she added. “And with Bigsound growing so much over the years – and it’s going to continue to grow – it’s just not going to be feasible with one person. If it continued [this way] one year we’ll rock up and there will be no keynotes because they weren’t booked in because we ran out of time,” she joked.

Collins said the expansion adds a whole other element to what Bigsound can now offer:

“It’s about having three other brains and ears on everything,” she said. “And all of their connections, their music tastes and their knowledge spread out not just to the rest of the country, but to the rest of the world.

“Bigsound is on the map now, on the international conference and festival stage, and I think we’re going to need all of these people and these brilliant minds to stretch out and make the most of that knowledge.”

Bigsound 2018 has been slated as one of the best yet, check out some of our coverage here, and here, and here.