Adele. Beyoncé. Coley. A simple ABC of female musicians kicking proverbial backside.
Following a recent rebrand, Townsville’s Nicole ‘Coley’ Cross is scoring more goals than ever – with new music on the way, a music festival in the works, and a valuable mentorship setting her on the right trajectory for even bigger goals in the future. Nicole was recently named as one of eight inaugural participants in QMusic’s Women in Music program, which pairs aspiring female musicians with mentors in complementing fields.
“The Women in Music Mentorship is an opportunity provided by QMusic, leading the way in supporting and encouraging women in their participation, innovation and dedication to creating the music business of the future,” said Nicole.
“In my application I focused on my contribution to the music industry in Townsville as well as our aspirations for the future and the challenges we face day to day, focusing on my roles as Co-Founder of Neighbourhood Sessions and Neck of the Woods Music Festival.”
Neighbourhood Sessions, launched in January 2017, saw Nicole and her partner/fellow musician Sam Wright bring live original music to backyards, beaches, and other secret pop-up venues around the city. Neck of the Woods, launched later that same year, showcases some of Townsville and Australia’s emerging artists nestled among food trucks, campfires and audience members of all ages.
“I recently made the decision to focus on Neighbourhood Sessions and Neck of the Woods full time and leave my day job,” Nicole said.
“This mentorship will provide me with resources to inspire work in the music industry and improve my skills, as well as important networking opportunities with women in leadership roles in music and business in Queensland.”
The mentorship involves three mentoring sessions over the course of several months, before Nicole and the other mentees will have the opportunity to outline where they feel they would benefit from future investment to further advance their skills.
Nicole’s mentor is local businesswoman Jayne Arlett.
“I am so excited to meet Jayne! I was very happy to see my mentor was a fellow ‘Townsvillian,’” Nicole said.
“I hope to chat to Jayne about sustainability and long-term planning for Neck of the Woods and Neighbourhood Sessions as a business, to allow us to keep growing and continue to provide opportunities for local artists in Townsville and North Queensland.”
Jayne said having the chance to work with Nicole as part of the program was an exciting prospect for the local music industry.
“When I was approached by QMusic to work with women on the business side of the music industry, I jumped at the chance. Many people are great at the ‘technical’ (or in this case ‘artistic’) part of their business but don’t understand the nuts and bolts in the backend which is what is necessary to make it actually work – this is probably particularly true in the creative industries,” Jayne said.
“Women do business differently to men; there are different demands on women’s time and different skill sets, challenges and opportunities. If we want to pay more than just lip service to gender equality, we need to actively support more women to be successful in the industry – both front lining and behind the scenes. I’m excited to be partnered with Nicole in this QMusic program as she is making her mark both as a musician and as a music event manager.
“Growing the pool of musicians and music events in Townsville will go a long way to improving our talent further. We need to incubate and grow our music culture and provide a supportive creative hub to nurture our talent and provide support. The best thing we can do individually is to support venues and festivals that host local musicians and go along to gigs.”
Nicole agreed, saying her involvement in the Women in Music program would lead to growth for both Neighbourhood Sessions and Neck of the Woods.
“Networking is very important in the music industry and any industry really. This opportunity has partly contributed to my decision to make the music industry my sole focus, and I am feeling excited to keep pushing the limits with what we can achieve,” Nicole said. “I think this can only mean bigger and better things for Neighbourhood Sessions, Neighbourhood Productions and Neck of the Woods Music Festival.”
In the leadup to this year’s third annual Neck of the Woods Festival, Nicole has released more of her own original music.
“I released a single Sunday News, and my EP Bug on a Lamplight is set for release this April! I am super excited to share my music and start the new Coley project.
“I’ve been writing a lot in the past 12 months, and my new music is quite different from the music I put out under the ‘Nicole Cross’ project. My new songs are very sentimental and very focused on my family and day-to-day life.
“’Coley’ was my childhood nickname and only close family and best friends have really called me that. It feels really nice knowing that people who listen to my music will now know me as Coley – it’s almost like all of the people who come to a show or listen to my music are now part of my family in a way.”
Family and community are important to Nicole, and she feels that she and her local music industry peers are working together more closely than ever.
“This town has really proven to be so supportive and encouraging of live original music. The following we have built around our events has just made me so proud of our community for supporting original artists.
“We are breaking down boundaries and helping shift the mindset with cover gigs versus original gigs. I think people are starting to realise that going to an original show really gives you a special experience, an experience where an artist is sharing something really raw and intimate with their audience.
“There are a few key groups in Townsville doing some really cool things across all genres: Neighbourhood Sessions, Very Casual, Diffraction Collective, Purge Promotions, Empire Alternacade and Events, NQ Licensed Events, JCU Unibar, Townsville Folk Club, Blackout Events, Dalrymple Hotel and The Ville just to name a few. I think the scene here is continuing to build, and I am excited for the future of music in little old Townsville.”
Among that mix is a collection of talented women with every chance of being awarded a QMusic mentorship in years to come.
“There are some amazing female artists making some beautiful music in Townsville and North Queensland at the moment. My personal favourites are Matilda Duncan, KC and the Moonlight Band, KM, Greta Stanley (Cairns) and Maggie Slater (Cairns). There are many more – but damn these women make me proud to call North Queensland home!”
For more information on future QMusic Mentorship programs and funding rounds, visit qmusic.com.au. Coley’s latest single Sunday News is now available on Triple J Unearthed – for updates on the release of her EP, follow Coley on Facebook. Neck of the Woods Music Festival will return to Townsville’s Pinnacles on 29 June, with the lineup announced mid-March and tickets on sale from this Friday.