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Parties by Duncan

With an appreciation for creation, Duncan Jake's music blog has shifted the capital's cultural landscape, MARK SAWA writes.

It’s an amorphous brand that many would have seen and heard of across Canberra’s cultural landscape but don’t quite know what it is.

The brainchild of a rural boy that came to the territory in 2004, Party By Jake has become a marker for diverse music events in the capital. Duncan Jake grew up in the small town of Culcairn near the NSW/Victorian border. He was 19 years old when he moved to Canberra but it would be another five years before he would dip his toe into the local music scene by managing a band and organising a DJ competition.

“It was a really good experience to get into the music industry that way,’’ Jake says.

In 2010 he embarked on creating some music events with a difference to Canberra, starting with the Heartbeat series.

“It was the very first event series that I put on,’’ Jake says. “It involved getting independent clothing labels to sponsor the event so that we could provide them with a cross-promotional opportunity. They gave us some merchandise to give away at the party and they got their business exposed to a nice crowd of music loving people who like to party.’’

After the Heartbeat events was a host of pop-up party ideas to introduce further diversification into the music scene. At some point things metamorphosed into what is now known as Party By Jake and the online campaign kicked off. “People don’t really know what Party By Jake is but the blogs and the social media is the most easily identifiable thing because it is accessible,’’ Jake says.


“It is one of those intangible things that people see around.”

For Jake, Party By Jake is an expression of the things that he really loves.

“It’s centered around music but it is not just music,’’ he says. “There is a little bit of a tagline that comes with Party By Jake in that it is music, it is people and it is party.”

An advertising and marketing student at the University of Canberra, he has managed to turn an idea that has gained traction as a culture brand in the capital into something more than just a hobby.

The blog itself has been running for about two years, which Jake says is pretty late to start a music blog in the grand scheme of blogging. Nevertheless it has provided an outlet to showcase the music they wanted to bring in.

“I love lots of different music but you can’t present that everywhere in Canberra,’’ he says. “It is not sustainable. You do need to spend money to put on a show and you do need to make sure that you are not constantly losing money just to put on something that you love. The blog was a way to support as much music as possible.’’

Encouraging people to venture out and try something new is not easy. Jake found many hurdles to be overcome in the music culture as people got hung up on identifying themselves with particular genres at the expense of a broader musical experience.

“There are all these barriers between different types of music culture and there are barriers to the reasons why people don’t listen to this or that music. But it is still music so why can’t you listen to it if it is good music?

“A characteristic of the blog is that we only talk about what we like. We’re not going to rubbish a track or an artist or waste time on talking about something we don’t like. What’s the point?

“There is so much out there to find that you can enjoy so why would you waste time on dwelling on things that you don’t like. Everyone has things they don’t like, I have things I don’t like, but I’d rather spend time talking about the things I do like.”

There is no five-year-plan or corporate strategy for this humming musical and cultural venture but Jake is determined to maintain the spirit of Party By Jake in whatever he does.

“In terms of myself and where my career is going I’d always like to have some sort of connection with the music world,’’ Jake says. “As long as there is a creative or an imaginative side of what I’m doing I’ll be happy.”