Name: Sarah Raynor (aka Sera Marie)
Hustle: Founder & Managing Director at The Industrique, DJ and Drum n Bass Producer
Drinking: An espresso martini from the bar at The Industrique
Eating: Parma and chips at Howler
On the speakers: Amoss for DnB, Maksim Dark for Techno
Running one of the largest event venues in Melbourne solely is no mean feat, especially when a pandemic drops the moment you open the doors. Despite all the challenges, Sarah Raynor AKA Sera Marie has successfully battled through….….you can’t help but admire her determination – this girl is relentless.
I recently caught up with Sarah who filled us in on her journey, spoke about her recent success in securing a late licence and gave us an insight as to what lies ahead, as her juggernaut of a venue, The Industrique, continues to rise.
“It’s not been easy, to say the least,” says Sarah.
“I’d worked for a year solid to get licensing and planning approvals. Then Covid hit”.
Although the timing seemed catastrophic – it was in some ways, bittersweet. With an open floor space of 1,400sqm, inclusive of two outdoor areas, the venue could still operate at its full capacity during Covid while social distancing restrictions were in place. It turned out to be a lifeline for the live music industry – you could say, The Industrique came along at the perfect time.
“I had to hustle my way through, but in the end it was the size of the place that kept it on its feet,” says Sarah.
“It’s big and versatile, even when we couldn’t host events, there was a lot of other things it could be used for – car storage, workshops – I even turned it into a gym”.
And let’s not forget, the venue provides a facility not just for live music….
“We do film shoots, corporate and private functions, weddings, bucks parties, kids parties with activities like mini go-karts, bouncy castles, animal shows and miniature pony rides – the venue is really versatile, we can host anything.”
Obtaining a late licence
Despite the venue having a flawless two years of operations, the late licence didn’t come easy and Sarah had to fight hard to get it, pursuing the matter go all the way through to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT).
“Obtaining a 3am licence was the final bucket list item for the venue,” she says.
“It is now complete – the venue is everything I wanted it to be.”
“The decision means I can now essentially double my booking capacity, as it provides more opportunities for live music on Friday nights. Previously, with a 1am close, this wasn’t a viable option for promoters or punters”.
“I was very grateful and relieved, that VCAT really took the time to gain a proper understanding of the nature of the venue, how it operates and to recognise the support its facility provides to live music and the arts in Victoria.”
The decision is a good thing not just for the venue, but also for the Victorian live music industry as a whole.
“It’s really gratifying to know that when challenges like this are faced with local government, there are higher powers that will hear you out and (as demonstrated in this case) show support for the live music industry.”
The future is bright
The Industrique responded to a huge gap in the market. Melbourne had been crying out for a big, open, versatile space for large capacity events. The former engineering factory is the perfect space both in size and location. Another huge feature that makes The Industrique unique, is the sound. The entire warehouse has been acoustically treated, creating a rare and unique sound experience.
“My passion and drive is music and sound quality is our top priority here,” says Sarah.
“The acoustic treatment was a game changer. People rarely experience live music in a big open warehouse with quality sound. We have barely even scraped the surface of the venue’s potential.”
It’s already proving a magnet for international headliners. …
“It’s great to be able to finally start hosting internationals and we have a lot of big acts coming up over the next few months. Andy C was the first of many. It was such a good gig, I finally felt that we were where we should be. Everyone came out of the woodwork, people I’ve not seen for years – old school and new – it was surreal as for so long it never seemed like that would happen again. Everyone was here, together, re-connected and unified.”
Sarah accredits one of the main reasons that The Industrique successfully survived the pandemic to the dedication and loyalty of the Melbourne music community.
“All this work and effort would be meaningless if it wasn’t for the passion and support of the Melbourne music scene. If I wasn’t surrounded by a community who really appreciated the venue and what it provides, The Industrique certainly would not be in the position it is today, and I am very grateful for that.”
The appreciation for the venue is demonstrated in the nature of the patrons.
“We have such good crowds come here. In our two years of operations, never have we had any bad incidents, the patrons are always a pleasure to host – it’s always a good vibe.”
Sarah acknowledges that techno is especially strong in Melbourne, with The Industrique hosting sold out events all consisting of local lineups week upon week while international travel was closed.
“The festival crews are massive contributors to the strength of the scene. I love hosting the festival launch parties and after parties – seeing them come in and set up the space with their own unique creations. They are all tight bonded crews, with strong, loyal followings and I love that – it really defines our industry.”
The Industrique, with its top-notch production, provides the ideal setup for live bands, and recently hosted some of Australia’s own, such as Mildlife and Dune Rats.
“It’s a privilege hosting live bands – the presence and experience of live instruments is something very special. I can’t wait to have more live bands coming through.”
It’s hard to believe that Sarah’s first ever gig was only in 2016 at the old Grumpys in Fitzroy when she first came over to live in Melbourne from her hometown, Wellington, New Zealand.
She quickly made a name for herself DJing and soon went on to producing dark n techy drum and bass, setting up her own label SubSine Records and having her first track signed to one of her favorite labels, Citrus Records, last year.
But ever evolving, Sarah took the downtime in the pandemic to try something new.
“DnB will always be my no 1, but having hosted so much techno during the pandemic, I learned more about the genre and so during lockdown, started mixing it. My first set as my techno alias – Sistamatic, was at Esoteric, playing at the Bushtechno stage. I’ve never been so nervous before a set – but once I was up there and engaged with the crowd – I had the time of my life!”
In her illustrious career, Sarah had a lot of fun touring not only interstate – but around the world, including gigs for Undergroundarea DnB in Bologna, Italy, playing alongside Ant TC1 at the Outlook Festival launch party, as well as Frankfurt for Drumbule DnB. Nobody could speak English, but she managed to get by on the universal language of DnB.
As we signed off the interview, I asked Sarah, if there was anything she couldn’t do. Thus far, I wasn’t sure if anything was beyond her.
“I can’t cook,” she admits.
“I’m really bad in the kitchen. And the other thing is, as my parents have told me from a very young age – I simply just cannot sit still!”
Having had so many battles to win, challenges to face and hills to conquer, there’s definitely been no time to cook – or be static, for Sarah.
“I can see why not many people embark on the journey of setting up a new live music venue. The planning requirements and building regulations make it near impossible to achieve, especially for a small business. It’s such a long, tough, complex road. Nothing could prepare you for it. This has been the biggest challenge of my life and I’ve sacrificed everything to get this venue to this point.”