Cameron Undy of 505 in conversation with Miriam Zolin
When extempore editor Miriam Zolin received an email from jazz and improvised music venue 505 in early 2010 with news of a new venue—one that they could talk about in public—she contacted Cameron Undy and Kerri Glasscock immediately, asking if they could do a brief interview for the journal.
On the day, Miriam spoke only with Undy, but wife and business partner Glasscock has seen and approves of the result and we give you an excerpt from that interview.
Cameron: I come from the music area and Kerri comes from theatre. When she and I met a little over five years ago we both felt that there was an enormous lack of conducive environments to perform in. There was also a lack of venues where you could enjoy music or performances as an audience member. We both felt so strongly that we started looking for a space where we could rehearse and workshop new works and use it as a performance space, and that’s when we found the old 505 warehouse. We fell in love with the space—we thought it was fantastic—and we had a little launch night for it. We ended up with about 180 people on the opening night. I think that alone showed that what we felt was true for others as well. [laughs]
A lot of people were very, very excited about the idea of a space like that existing. There were other spaces around when we opened. They tended to be for the more ‘out there’ stuff, the really avant garde.
Miriam: And at first I thought that was what your space was about as well, probably because it was so hidden and only really known about by word of mouth.
Cameron: I think possibly many people did. But when they realised that we weren’t just doing this for the fringe-dwellers, it started off at around 30, 40, 50 people but by the end of that year it was up to 80, 90 and sometimes 100. The fringe-dwellers survive because they didn’t necessarily draw huge numbers; they would always gather in small groups and we kind of expected a bit the same.
Miriam: For many established venues, 30 or 40 is as much as they can expect on some nights.
Cameron: That’s right. It’s always been a struggle to pull audiences. It is definitely about the space. [pauses] The environment has to be right and with…
Miriam: Are you talking about acoustically or location, or…?
Cameron: Location and acoustics are very important, but also just the feeling. The feeling with the old warehouse was that you just walked into a room and you weren’t going in there to… [pause] There was no bar… there was no anything… there wasn’t even anywhere to sit. It was just ‘sit on the floor and listen to some music’. It was so blatant that people really did know that when they were going to 505 they were going to hear music. They weren’t going for any other reason. You can go to a lot of other jazz clubs… people go for the kind of romantic ideal… sit there drink a glass of wine…