Kali on Maximum Joy & manifesting your dreams
“I literally had – I’m not even joking – I had written on a piece of paper next to my bed for like six months that I want to do a festival. Manifesting it.
“The opportunity came up and it was really short notice. It was really big, and I was just like, well this is what I want to do. You’ve got to start somewhere.”
Kali is of course talking about Maximum Joy, an epic one day dance launched by her in 2018 through her touring and events company, Picnic. If you’re a frequenter of Sydney’s electronic music underground, chances are you’ve either been to a Picnic party or been a dancer at one of Kali’s sets.
Aside from Picnic, Kali has also been responsible for the transformation of Harpoon Harry’s. What was just another pub in Surry Hills has now flourished into a fully-fledged cultural hub. I strongly believe that Harry’s is one of few places you can head to in Sydney and regardless of who is DJing, you’ll have a good time. Going on three years at the venue, this year alone has seen her host acts like Lone, Project Pablo, Moxie, Madteo, Seb Wildblood and Mike Simonetti, furthering the venue’s consistency.
Maximum Joy kicked off last year at the Kings Cross Hotel. With only three and a half weeks to put together the first one day event, it was exactly what Kali had hoped for.
This year, the party will be moving over to the Factory Theatre in Marrickville.
“I think one thing that I didn’t really forecast was how the lockouts had affected areas like Kings Cross and how little people knew about a venue like the Kings Cross Hotel. I think it was a deterrent for some people unfortunately.
“The Factory felt like the right choice. I’ve been super excited to hold it there. Really excited.”
This year’s lineup will see a whole range of locals and internationals take to the venue, including CC:Disco!, Mama Snake, Tornado Wallace, Young Marco and more.
On the local side of things, Kali’s nabbed a solid bunch of selectors that are literally engrained in Picnic’s DNA.
Tornado Wallace first performed for Picnic around 10 years ago, replacing Omar S at his cancelled Picnic show. He continued to play at Picnic parties, with a One Night Stand party remaining memorable to Kali.
“Those first parties were cheap – even the warehouses – his fee was cheap, it was all still really stressful though. It’s funny thinking back to that; it was the beginning of both of our careers in many respects. We grew together so much in the beginning years of us working together.”
At a later One Night Stand, Adi Toohey asked to intern at Picnic. “She accidentally pressed stop on the CD player while Tornado Wallace was DJing – that’s how baby she was when she first started. Now, she wipes the floor with me. I think she’s phenomenal, a perfect human and we have long history I’m proud of.”
Ben Fester, DJ Earl Grey, Hybrid Man and Kali herself are also on the bill, rounding out a lineup that truly reflects a diverse slice of our underground.
Maximum Joy 2019 is going to be Kali’s biggest yet. It comes off the back of a year where Harry’s continues to thrive and her expertise as a promoter continues to grow.
Her focus is on creating spaces where DJs and dancers have an equal playing field. One where the setup is good enough for the DJ to be the absolute best that they can be, and in turn, allowing for the dancers to be the best that they can be. A balancing act, of sorts.
The lighting and room setups are key in creating this equilibrium.
“Blake Hull-Moody from Echo Flats is doing lights in one of the rooms – he did the Heavenly room last year at Maximum Joy with Sleep D and Kuniyuki – he’s really talented. Then there’s Mikaela and Carla from Tszuj. They’re doing this brilliant projection mapping installation on the main stage, so that’s really great. Then there’s this guy called Mahlo who I personally don’t know, but he was recommended by Blake. I’ve seen examples of his work and he’s wild.”
“Picnic has always been about the music and people coming for the music and I’ve always been really proud of that.”
Picnic also co-hosted the huge Club Called Rhonda party at The Lansdowne back in August.
“Obviously a big part of the Rhonda heritage is the pansexual identity. The brief that they gave of the party that they wanted to put on in Sydney really opened my eyes up to having more performers and more hosts and having that be more wild.
“Maximum Joy this year, is the first time that I’ve maybe got to have that bigger scope of a really wide range of people, like people of different sexual and gender identities and that really being part of the lineup in a bigger way.”
Kali’s vision has remained consistent over the years. To bring together dancers and DJs through one commonality: music.
“All of this magic comes from these blacked out rooms, good lighting and good sound with DJs that are committed to taking people on a journey. Hopefully that’s Maximum Joy.”
Maximum Joy is taking place this Sunday, December 1st at the Factory Theatre in Marrickville. Tickets are on fourth release for $99 + BF. Nab those here.
Photo by Jordan Munns at the Sydney Opera House
Words by CAITLIN MEDCALF