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An interview with Shannon O'Riley - Sound Technician / Community Organiser

July 11, 2018

Tell us about yourself in your own words.

I hate these questions. I’m Shannon and I’m a sound technician and I work at The Red Rattler. That’s how everyone knows me anyway.


Tell us about your involvement in The Red Rattler.

The way I got involved is I was a part of a girls group on facebook and we were putting on a festival and the only way I could really be of assistance was to use my skills as a sound tech. Then, one of the other girls who previously worked at The Red Rattler shimmied me in and so I did that show and they loved me so they kept me.


What have been some of your favourite shows to work on?

Camp Cope definitely, that was the highlight of my year because I worked so hard on that show. The Garden Sessions, because they’re like my little child. Deaf Cult! Hot Tears and Erica Freas. Lots of Tara Jayne shows - One Brick Today shows - Agatha! That was a great show. That’s just off the top of my head, I can’t even remember them all because they all merge into one. I think Miles Away that was a pretty good show too.


Tell us a little bit more about the Garden Sessions

So The Garden Sessions were born out of the death of Black Wire actually, funnily enough. I just wanted to create a space where people could come and perform but I also wanted to have the diversity of Black Wire because Black Wire was never solely a one directional space, to me it was like multidimensional, it had so many things going on. I wanted to create a space that was like that where people could come and just hang out on a Sunday afternoon cause I would always go to Black Wire on a Sunday afternoon. I just wanted to do something positive out of something so negative.

What do you find is the biggest obstacle you face in your job as a sound technician?

I really hate it when people come in and they think they know absolutely everything about everything when in reality they don’t know much at all and they’ve been a band for 3 seconds. That really gets under my skin and I would never let it show but I feel it. I just feel all the feels.


How long have you been doing sound for?

10 years. I’ve been around too, I’ve done theatre, I’ve done TV, I do live sound, I’ve worked in recording studios. You may not have heard of me but I’ve been around.

What’s the most rewarding aspect of your job here?

When you pull off shows like Camp Cope that you haven’t been able to talk about for 9 months and then you can finally tell people and it sells out in a day and you’re still pumping it. Then the show comes and it all goes in a whirlwind and everything just runs super smoothly and everyone just has a good time. That’s what it always boils down to, it doesn’t matter if I’ve had a shit night, as long as everyone else in the room has had a good night, then it’s considered a win.


What was your involvement in the Camp Cope show?

I booked the show, set the show up. They have their own touring tech which is so fine because a lot of bands do, so I just mixed the local support and then their other tech took over but that was good because it enabled me to actually mingle and have a good time. I usually just get so stuck and so focused on what I have to do that I just look sad all the time. I’m not sad, I’m just focused. So it enabled me to put a smile on my face and walk around and make sure people were having a good time.

Do you book a lot of shows then?

I book a lot of shows that sell out. Not to toot my own horn. The small shows that I book are the Garden Sessions - for my friends. When it comes to booking the Rat, usually I get bigger acts that I’ve seen and screamed at at a show or something to come and play and then they get in contact and they come and play here.


Are you a point of contact for people wanting to book shows at the Rattler or do you reach out and make that happen yourself?

Sometimes I reach out if it’s a really good band that I think would really fit in this space. I reached out to Sad Grrls Club and now they’re here. Sometimes they come to me. I get emails and facebook messages - a lot of facebook messages. I think that’s just how business is done these days. Lots of 10pm phone calls.


Tell us about the other people involved in the Rattler collective

Well there are Steph, Sammy and I who book shows, we have a volunteer security guard who everyone knows, there’s also a board of directors - majority of them are women and queer and are really amazing and they give us the direction which we’re going in. Then we have a maintenance lady and she is amazing and she literally fixes anything - I don’t know how she does it. There’s a cleaner that we have. So everyone sort of has a specific role but we also all work together so if someone can’t do something, someone else will pick up the slack. It’s just a machine.


Do you spend a lot of your time at the Rattler? Do you work elsewhere as well?

I work at Beatdisc sometimes doing sound. I actually mixed Camp Cope at Beatdisc. I did Jess Locke and I did Jeff Rosenstock there. Whenever Pete sends me a message and I’ve got the night free I go there. Other venues sporadically like Channel 7, Sydney Town Hall, Musical Theatre Societies, Bankstown art centre. Done a whole bunch of stuff. My main gig is doing sound here.


What is the best piece of advice you could give to young women and queer folk who want to make art or music or do sound or just be seen and heard?

Just do it. I think I spent so long being really anxious about things and really holding back and one day I was just like fuck it, and I did it, and it was just the best thing I’ve ever done. You’ve just gotta do it. Even if you walk out of a show with just one new friend, it all just makes it worth it. That’s where it starts.


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