A fixture on Aussie TV sets for over a decade, Julia Zemiro (host of RocKwiz, former host of Eurovision, and her own family tree-inspired Home Delivery) knows a thing or two about Australian music and being a woman on TV, (as well as being your fantasy pub trivia team-member). She chats to us ahead of RocKwiz’s national live tour.
By Mia Abrahams
On the changes she’s seen in the Australian music industry in the 12 years she has been hosting RocKwiz.
When the show first went to air back in 2005, it would have been almost unimaginable that an artist like Courtney Barnett could have such a huge impact internationally as a self-financed independent artist. The impact of social media has helped pave the way for artists to have a belief that their work is comparable to anything out there.
As far as what has stayed the same, there’s still an ageism that exists, particularly towards female artists… It’s as if there’s a use by date in music, and you could say the same for acting.
And as that rare species of bird, the Female MC on TV, I will keep pushing to get work and be seen as long as I can. I want to see more women over 40 on my screens and stages. The public do too.
On taking RocKwiz Live on the road.
The wonderful thing about Rockwiz for me is that the producers, Brian, the band and crew are now family. Truly. So going on the road and performing is like a wonderful working holiday. We enjoy our down time together at breakfast, in the big bus, in planes travelling from town to town, catching up, sharing stories, doing the show and then having a drink and a sing after the show in one of our hotel rooms.
We love making the TV show but there’s greater freedom on stage on tour. We can be cheekier, take more time, and explore all the magnificent theatres around the country. The show on stage is louder, bigger, there’s way more music and yet it’s just like it is on TV: the desks, the lectern, the chandelier, the red velvet backdrop, Dugald, the extended Band, Brian and I.
And of course 4 magnificent contestants from the audience who just ALWAYS know their stuff.
On the uncertain future funding of SBS and the ABC.
Most of my TV career has played out on SBS and the ABC. They are my favourite places to work because real people with strong ideas surround me. The Arts have alway been a place for self-expression and accepting difference. It’s also the place we turn to for inspiration, excitement, laughter, storytelling- be it music, film, dance, art, comedy, TV, writing. I would argue that both stations (be it TV or radio) make excellent programs that reflect all these aspects of the Arts.
…I would add that news, current affairs and science programs on both channels are outstanding. Why you would want to take away more funding from this? We need more, not less.
On where she’d go if she starred in her own episode of Home Delivery (Zemiro’s ABC show in which she people down memory lane to see how their past has shaped them).
We came out from France on a big ocean liner when I was two in 1970. My dad took over the Home Cooking restaurant in Bondi road and we lived above it. My mum was a language teacher at high school.
I would love to go back into that backyard, that kitchen, and my bedroom overlooking Bondi Rd. Luckily I could walk to my local school and by absolute chance, and this really is a great gift, that primary school Wellington St, had a little all-French speaking, reading, talking school within it. It was like going to school in France, then at recess and lunch we would join all the Aussie kids in the play ground. I became bilingual very quickly.
I would love to walk down those corridors.
On her dream lineup for The Espy’s big (fantasy) reopening music festival.
Act1- Kate Bush for my teenage self and all the feelings she brings as a warm up;
Act 2- Bowie takes over to blow your mind, make you think and take you through all the decades of fine work he produced that are touchstones in all our lives,
Act 3- Segue into some weirdness and abandon into other worldly places with Björk,
Act 4- And finish up with all the sex and dancing Prince can conjur.
Read the rest of issue 7:
(Digital art: Nina Abrahams)