Banff!! / Summer Tour!!

I’ve just returned from Canada, having undertaken a 5 week Songwriting Residency at the Banff Centre for Creativity and the Arts.  This was an amazing opportunity for me and I’ve had a spectacular time.  I went into the program with the goal of completing a new set of songs to record as my second album(!), and to make various new friends and connections with a view towards doing some international touring in 2018.

And I’m very pleased to say that I’ve been successful on both counts!  I’m very happy with the new material that I’ve written and am hugely excited about working with my band (AKA Jack the Drummer and Josh the Strummer) over the coming months to expand and develop the musical textures of the new songs.  Here’s a sneak preview of a new song featuring the superb talents of Toronto-based horn player Chelsea McBride:

As far as international touring goes, I’ll keep quiet for the moment but look forward to having something positive to announce in the new year  🙂

My next bout of touring will be somewhat closer to home.  This year I’ve had the huge pleasure of joining the wonderful jazz/folk artist Imogen Pemberton on cello.  You can check us out here:

We’ve gigged around Melbourne without venturing much further afield, but this December we’ll be taking the duo on the road, with myself presenting a sets of new material and old in support.  Many of these gigs will be quite intimate house concerts, so please do get in touch if you’d like tickets or further information!

Dec 2 – Phillip Island – House Concert – 7pm, $20
Dec 3 – Melbourne – Bar 303 – 7.30pm, $10 donation
Dec 6 – Canberra – The Front – 7.30pm, $10
Dec 7 – Goulburn – House Concert – 7pm, $10
Dec 8 – Katoomba – House Concert – 7pm, $10
Dec 9 – Katoomba – Hotel Blue – 6.30-8.30, Free!
Dec 10 – Sydney – Gasoline Pony – 4-6pm, Free!
Dec 12 – Newcastle – House Concert – 7pm, $10
Dec 14 – Armidale – Two Goats Cafe and Baa – 7pm
Dec 15 – Sawtell – House Concert – 7pm, $10
Dec 16 – Brisbane – House Concert – 7.30pm, $10
Dec 17 – Brisbane – Queen St Mall – 7.30pm, Free!
Dec 19 – Ballina – Old Quarter Coffee – 7.30pm

Would be wonderful to see some friendly faces along the road!

Finally, although my experience in Banff was an overwhelmingly amazing one (how could it not be with views like this:

wow!) my final week was tinged with sadness on learning that Terry Sloan, my former piano teacher, as well as mentor and good friend had passed away.  Terry was a hugely influential person in my life and that of many others with former students including Ben Bayl (conductor and former Organ Scholar at King’s College, Cambridge), Andrew Rumsey (internationally acclaimed concert pianist), Joce Moen (singer-songwriter and chanteuse) as well as my sister Holly Downes (double bass player extraordinaire).

That so many of his students have gone on to enjoy professional careers provides some idea of not only the excellence of his teaching but also his ability to inspire those around him.  He certainly instilled in me a great sense of musical possibility, encouraging me to write my first pieces of music as a teenager and has offered his warmth, encouragement as well as constructive criticism as I’ve developed my songwriting.  He’s going to be very much missed.

Anyway, thanks for your ongoing support!  Hopefully I’ll see you at a gig in the near future!


Tour Time!

So, since releasing ‘Ultraviolet’ last year (which can still be heard or acquired through Bandcamp, i-tunes or Spotify) I’ve taken some time out from music to pursue some of my other passions (running long distances, pottering about the kitchen, re-watching Buffy The Vampire Slayer, etc) as well as writing some new material.

Yes!  New songs!  And to help give the new material a new sound, I’ve enlisted a new group of likely suckers… I mean, talented instrumentalists.  They are Joshua Kreusler (electric guitar) and Jack Towers (drumkit) – here we all are:

Things are shaping up very well – and to solidify both the lineup and our new material, we’re hitting the road in July with dates in through NSW and the ACT.  Tickets are available here:

Anyway – as always, you may keep up with what I’m up to on Facebook or Instagram where I’ll be posting video and pictures in the run up to the gigs.  Look forward to seeing you at one!



‘Ultraviolet’ Now Available!

It’s out!  I’m hugely pleased to announce that my debut album ‘Ultraviolet‘ is now available to be heard – even purchased! – through Bandcampi-tunes, Spotify and myriad other online sources about which I know nothing.  I also have physical CDs complete with lyric sheet for those of you who value such things – they look like this:

CD Phot

I’m launching the album tonight at the venerable Melbourne institution The Wesley Anne – I was informed earlier that:

“Mate – perfect day for your album launch.  Would you even believe that today the sun is in Libra and the moon is in Gemini?  YOU have the sun in Libra and moon in Gemini – that’s what’s happening now!”

So that bodes well!  Tickets are still available here:

September 23 – Melbourne, Wesley Anne, w/ Jess Locke

While folks up in NSW and the ACT will have to wait a couple of weeks:

October 16 – Katoomba, Hotel Blue, w/ Hinterlandt

October 20 – Sydney, Django Bar, w/ Hollie Matthew

October 21 – Canberra, Smith’s Alternative, w/ Hinterlandt

Finally, I had some chats with music rag The Music a week or so ago, which was turned into this rather lovely article.

In any case, happy listening!


‘Never Let Me Go’ out now!

I’m super happy to announce that ‘Never Let Me Go’, the first single from ‘Ultraviolet’ is now available via streaming or free download.  You can take it on play dates, walks in the park, indulge in a touch of slap and tickle… you can even LISTEN to it! Which can be done here:





It’s also available on Soundcloud, and I’m really thrilled that the lovely folks at venerable Melbourne institution 3RRR are seeing fit to give the song a spin today, while a music video will see the light of day next week.


In other matters, there are still tickets available for the launch on September 23 at Melbourne’s Wesley Anne so grab a pre-sale while you still can!

Ultraviolet DONE! One month to launch

It’s done!  ‘Ultraviolet’ will be released into the world on September 23 and can be pre-ordered here.  




I’ll be releasing the first single ‘Never Let Me Go’ on August 31 with a video to follow.

Gigs!  For the ‘Ultraviolet’ launch tour, I’ll have the very good fortune to be joined by Holly Downes on double bass and Chris Stone on violin, without whom the record would not be nearly as musically lush and polished as I hope you’ll find it.  Meanwhile, those of you in Sydney and Canberra will also have the benefit of hearing Robin Stone on drums, whose work grounds the whole thing.


Pre-sale tickets are available now and will save you a few dollars at the door!


September 22 – Wonthaggi, Wonthaggi Band Room, w/ Jake Amy


September 23 – Melbourne, Wesley Anne, w/ Jess Locke


October 16 – Katoomba, Hotel Blue, w/ Hinterlandt


October 20 – Sydney, Django Bar, w/ Hollie Matthew


October 21 – Canberra, Smith’s Alternative, w/ Hinterlandt


That just about covers it.  HUGE thank you to my Pozible supporters for helping make this album happen – this has been possibly the craziest, most difficult and most rewarding year I’ve yet had the pleasure of living through.  Thank you for being a part of it  🙂


Hopefully I’ll be seeing you in person in the very near future!

Recording done!


Happy 2016!  A very brief update to say:

a) a massive thank you to those of you who dug deep to support me in my Pozible campaign!  Thanks to you, I not only managed to reach my target, but to exceed it by a very healthy margin.  Here’s a dove sending some peace vibes your way:

b) Great success!  In any case, over the last three months I’ve spent the majority of the resultant swag, working with a range of collaborators, including drummer Robin Stone and the wonderful members of instrumental art-folk trio, The String Contingent – my (darling) sister Holly Downes (double bass), her hirsute partner Chris Stone (violin) and their Hibernian friend Graham McLeod (electric guitar).  I worked with the latter over an intensive four day period to get their parts written, which culminated in an impromptu recital to a choice selection of neighbours:

Then we recorded everything in another four days.  Amazing.

c) Final stage: I spent the first week of January sitting at my Mum’s place outside Sydney listening to the rain come down and writing backing vocals, before getting together last week with the inestimable Brian Campeau at The Plex studio in my former haunt of St Peters to lay down the vocals.  Here’s Brian modelling mid-recording snacks:

File 31-01-2016, 12 49 49
Gross.  I was lucky enough to also have some ace guests come and sing the aforementioned BVs – Brian did a bit, Sydney chantreuse Elana Stone (All Our Exes Live In Texas) lent her lungs to one song, while Shalane Connors of alt-folk duo Siskin River provided the lush backing vocals on five more.  I’m feeling really lucky about the last – her voice has given everything a warm glow.

And… that’s how you record an album!  Job done.  Or job begun – I dropped off the tracks to be mixed by the safe hands of Dax Liniere of Puzzle Factory Sound Studios in Canberra on my way back down to Melbourne, where you currently find me reclining.

Am in the process of organising some gigs that will be revealed at the appropriate moment – in the meantime:



Time to see what’s Pozible


photo (C) Brian Rosenberg of A Lizard’s View

To business – I quietly launched a crowdfunding campaign a couple of days ago to raise money to record my debut album ‘ultraviolet’.

It’s a pretty exciting project, as I’ve opted to collaborate with some of the people I care most about, bringing together 5 members of 3 different musical families for the first time, with my sister Holly on double bass, Graham McLeod on electric guitar and Holl’s partner Chris Stone on violin, who together form instrumental art-folk trio The String Contingent, with Chris’ brother Robin of metal outfit Norse on drums.

My thought is that the result will be a genre-bending extravaganza that will trip the boundaries between chamber pop, metal and the experimental margins of folk. Amazing!

The five of us will be writing the instrumental parts in early November, while Holly, Chris and Graham are not otherwise engaged with TSC shenanigans. Recording will follow over summer, while mixing will be provided by the wonderful Dax Liniere of Puzzle Factory Sound Studios, who also provided mixing and post-production on my EP.

I’m feeling somewhat overwhelmed at just how well the campaign is going already, though there’s a way to go yet.  It certainly bodes well for the rest!

Meanwhile, Melbourne’s Fringe Festival kicks off this week, where I’ll be putting the songs through their final paces before recording.  Exciting times!

– reading The Rehearsal by Eleanor Catton
– listening to Compassion, Symphony of Song by Nigel Westlake + Lior
– musing on the psychotic horror that leads people to seek refuge and the sleights of hand that lead some people to offer it.

baby, it’s cold outside

Been a while!  Has been a full-on year thus far, filled with upheaval, turmoil and tumult.  Without going into more detail than necessary, I find myself staying in Melbourne at present, enjoying all the perks of readily available 24-hour ramen, cold-filtered coffee and Antarctic winds that the city can provide.  Hell, Melbourne itself wasn’t cold enough for me, so I ended up finding myself a job on Phillip Island, teaching piano to penguins.  Fun times.

Random bits and pieces:

Paul Cosgrove of Radio Blue Mountains put together a rather lovely review of at the end…  Paul, flattery will get you everywhere!

My buddy Tony (who incidentally performs as New$hoes) put this together:

Oliver Downes - New$hoes
Some fun gigs have happened over the last few months both in Sydney and Melbourne – and there’s some more good ones in the works, most immediately on Monday 3rd August at The Retreat in Brunswick where I’ll be going set for a set with folk songstress Mandy Connell.  I’ll also be making a couple of appearances at Coburg’s Woodlands Hotel on the 16th and 23rd.  Shall list further gigs over on the events page as they materialise… Including a VERY exciting run of shows in September which I can’t announce yet.

Lastly, go read this.  All makes the incomprehensible crystal clear.

alive enough to give a little more

One day I’ll look back and think ‘wowee!  I survived February 2015!  I can do anytheeeengzz!’  Right now however, feel akin to the shipwreck survivor awakening battered, sunburnt and bruised on a cannibal inhabited island with no hope of rescue, let alone access to decent late-night Lebanese takeaway.  Epic.

That’s enough bitching though – had mega-funtimes up at BAT ATTACK in the Leard State Forest a couple of weeks ago – compadre Nic Cassey took the following which I rather like –

oliver downes horizontal

On the back of Bat Attack, I was asked whether I was interested in performing at an upcoming fundraiser to help send two indigenous elders to the World Social Forum in Tunis to speak about Straya’s completely unproblematic and A-OK treatment of its indigenous people human rights fail.  There’s a very fun line-up, should be excellent – from the organisers:

FREEDOM RIDERS- Provocalz n Felon

14th MARCH, 6pm- Midnight
Addison Road Community Centre
142 Addison Road, Marrickville
$20 waged, $15 unwaged o.n.o
There’ll be food, local homebrew, campaign connections and the beats! 
Aunty Hazel and Aunty Jenny Munro will travel to the World Social Forum in late March to expose the apartheid crimes of the Australian government to the world!! See details here:

Come along to this fundraiser to help raise the travel expenses for the Aunties so their voices can be heard in the international arena!

The World Social Forum will see hundreds of social movements from across the globe come together and strategise how to build international solidarity in the fight against the crimes of colonialism, neoliberalism and capitalism.

With growing grass-roots movements inside Australia like the Freedom Movement and the Grandmothers Against Removals, international solidarity and awareness will be crucial to intensifying pressure on the government to heed to the demands of grass-roots Aboriginal people.

Spread the word! Find the event on Facebook at
and send this email through your networks!

If you can’t come to the fundraiser, please make a donation into the account below and make sure to title it ‘WSF’. We need to raise around $5000 so every little bit helps!!

Account Name: GMAR NSW
BSB number: 633 000
Account number: 153 568 613

See the demands of the national movement against Stolen Generations here:

See the demands of the national Freedom Movement here:

Yeah – gonna be rad.  And now: