Mace Francis

Mace Francis

The Music Mill

I have been a bit absent from this website recently, no blogs, no gig posts… bad website owner! The reason has been because it has been a crazy busy year… lots of gigs, teaching and fun projects including The Music Mill.

This has been a project that goes back a few years when I randomly met Makoto Oka at a bar in Japan called Bar Chit Chat. We got talking, over about 40 highballs, about music and our current projects. I spoke about my site-specific research and he talked about his Music Mill Project which used the old water wheels in Japan to power his automated sound sculpture. Since that time in 2014, I have been to Japan several times to help Makoto with his Music Mill and perform with it at two festivals in Ehime and Iwate Prefectures. Who says you can’t still meet nice men in bars? Haha!

What is The Music Mill? I hear you say…

The Music Mill is a solar powered sound sculpture made up of many automated musical instruments: glockenspiel, marimba, tuned pipes, snare drum, bass drum and cow bell. Each instrument is manually programmed through the use of pins and lift arms to create different melodies and rhythms. It is like a giant kids toy which brings joy to small and big kids! Here is a photo of th eone that has evolved over the years in Japan…

Why Make This?

I have been helping Makoto to create one in Japan over the last few years and now I would like to build one in Perth.

What I love about The Music Mill is the purely analogue way you create music with it. The whole process of the music making is visible – the motor turns the gears which lifts arms and beaters, which then hit instruments to create joyus sounds. While it makes music by itself it is also fun to play along with. Here is Makoto and myself playing along with the Japanese Music Mill at the Tobigamori Festival in Iwate Prefecture in Northern Japan.

I am looking to raise funds to help me build this beast! Your generous support will go to purchasing materials, instruments, specialist tools, expertise labour and flying Makoto out to Australia. I have set up a Go Fund Me page (below) and I would be super super thankful for any contributions as it will help make this dream machine come true.

If you are unable to give financially but are handy with building things, please make contact. I will need all the help I can get!

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Research Award

Hi. It has been quite a while since posting and so much has happened! 2015 & 2016 have been very kind to me and I hope the fun times continue!

I finally graduated for PhD studies – officially Dr Mace now. It was quite a journey and I learnt a lot, but boy I am glad that is over! The thesis is published online HERE and you can listen to the music I created as part of the project. A huge thank you to my supervisor Cat Hope for getting me through,  even if it was kicking and screaming sometimes!

I was also very honoured to be awarded the Faculty of Education and the Arts Research Medal for best Masters and PhD graduate of 2015. Super exciting! Not bad for a kid that almost failed year 12 English! Take that Belmont High School! I got to play dress ups to celebrate!

Now part of the funny hat club

Now part of the funny hat club



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2015 Art Music Award

It was both a surprise and an honour to find out that I was the recipient of the Jazz Work of the Year award at the 2015 APRA/AMCOS Art Music Awards for my recent MFO recording – Music For Average Photography. An absolute honour to be in the company of musical idols of mine, Paul Grabowski and Simon Barker as well as good friend Daniel Susnjar. I would like to thank APRA /AMCOS for the award an recognition of the hard work that went into the composition process and the recording. I would also like to say a huge thank you to the band for, again, bring my music to life and making the process so enjoyable!!! I love you guys!

APRA Award

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MFO 10th Birthday Year

It is hard to believe that MFO has been together for 10 years. We had our very first gig in April 2005 at the Lazy Susan Comedy Lounge – a small room with theatre seating and bean bags all over the floor. A great fun room where we played every month for almost a year. A great way to start the life of a new band.

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Photo from first gig at Lazy Susan’s

I am really proud that I have been able to keep the band actively playing, touring and recording over these 10 years. The longest we have gone without playing a gig was five moths, which happened just a few years ago while in the middle of my PhD. I guess I just lost track of time!

We celebrated our 10th birthday on April 30th 2015 at The Ellington Jazz Club. A super fun gig! The band played great and it was such a fun vibe!

MFO 10th 5MFO 10th 3

As it was my party, I made sure that I fulfilled a long time dream of playing trombone in a big band! I have a feeling I didn’t get the gig, but it was a lot of fun trying!


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Me struggling with the 2nd trombone part!

MFO 10th 4

Talking a whole lot of rubbish – no doubt!

It has all been such a blast! – the 4 national tours, the 6 CD recordings, the tons of original music and countless gigs. Each band member has bought their own unique voice to the band and steered it into a different direction – all the musicality, time and dedication has been incredible! I love you all. A special heart felt thank you goes to Ben Collins, Ricki Malet, Greg Brenton and Mark Sprogowski for sticking with the band the whole 10 years! Amazing! A dream come true! I feel so lucky to have you all as my musical family!

We will be continuing to celebrate throughout the year by performing on the first Thursday of the month at The Astor Lounge in Mt Lawley. The first one being on June 4th. Please come and celebrate with us!



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Music For Average Photography – CD Launch

Hi – It has been a long time coming but MFO is ready to release their 6th album called Music For Average Photography.

Music For Average Photography

We recorded this at the end of last year at Loop Studios with Kieran Kenderessy and with the help of our wonderful pozible supporters was able to create an album of new music which I am really proud of. The idea of creating 10 short “songs”, rather than a few epically long compositions is a departure from my usual composition aesthetic, but I really enjoyed the process of creating these shorter compositions and making sure I needed to say what I wanted in a shorter amount of time. Each piece, except 2, features a single soloist at their very best!

Each “song” is really different and was inspired the very average photographs which are featured in the CD booklet.

We will be launching this album soon…

December 7th / The Astor Lounge / 7pm

Tickets at the Door $10/20

Doors Open at 6pm – General Admission

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MFO 9th Birthday Gig

MFO will be celebrating our 9th birthday in style at the PS Art Space in Fremantle on May 22nd.  On the night we will be joined guitarist Tim Jago who used play in the band until he moved to Miami for further study and general awesomeness – he is just visiting from the USA for a short time.  It will be great to get out some of the charts that Tim used play on – What About Jed?, Jelly Belly etc.  There might even be a guitar shred battle between Tim and Harry!

We will also be joined by new Perth jazz/rock band – FAT SPARROW featuring Luke Minness, Ricki Malet, Harry Winton, Karl Floreson and Greg Brenton.  Their debut gig at The Ellington the other night was so great!

We are all looking forward to this one!  Don’t forget the door prizes!

MFO_Fat Sparrow gig Poster

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The Redcoats

Here is the Redcoats live version of Wolf Like Me with my horn arrangement mixed very quietly under the band.  It is a pretty cool song!  Enjoy

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Silent film with live sound track

On Saturday night Ricki Malet (trumpet), Greg Brenton (drums) and myself (guitar) were part of a night called Cinematic Scores IV hosted by Parenthesis Records at the PS Art Space in Fremantle.  What a great space!  The three of us improvised a soundtrack to the 1929 surrealist film “Un Chien Andalou” by Luis Bunuel and Salvador Dali – such an odd film.  See below to check out the outcome from the nigh.  We had fun and hope to do something like that again.

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WAYJO 2014 Program Launch

We launched our 2014 program last night at The Ellington Jazz Club.  How very exciting!  It is so good to finally be able to officially share our plans for this year.  Highlights of the program kick start off this Monday Feb 10th) at the Perth Concert Hall playing Duke Ellington’s Sacred Music with the Cape Town Opera Chorus as part of the Perth International Arts Festival.  TICKETS HERE.  We then have internationally renowned composer/trombonist Ed Neumeister join us on April 10th & 11th – two nights at The Ellington.

We will perform this years composers in residence (Elliott Hughes & Tim Newhouse) music at the Perth International Jazz Festival on the weekend of May 9-11.  We will be joined by John Morrison & Jacki Cooper (SYD) as well as a swag of local singers on August 16th at The Astor Theatre.  We will finish the year off with Duke Ellington’s Nutcracker Suite on November 8th & 9th at the lovely Quarry Amphitheatre.

As well as the performance highlights we have 2 international exchange programs with Showa University of Music in Japan and the University of Graz in Austria.  There will be improvisation and composition workshops, national and interstate tours and the new Young Women in Jazz Program in partnership with SIMA.

What a year we have planned – and that’s not even all of it!  If you want to keep up to date with WAYJO – visit and sign up to the mailing list.  In the mean time check out our 2014 program on line and mark these dates down in your diary.

Adam with his beloved programs

Adam with his beloved programs

Hope to see you at a gig soon.

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It’s been a while!

It has been a while since my last blog and a bit has happened.  The silly season has come and gone and we are now into February – how the hell did that happen?

Since my last blog I have done some travelling.  I was in Graz, Austria around the end of November last year, just after the nonet tour.  This was part of an exchange between WAYJO and the Kunstuniverstitat Graz.  I visited for 10 days to check out the university facilities, meet the staff, do some teaching and performed a concert of my music with the Graz Composers Orchestra.  They have amazing staff and the students are at a high level, especially the composition students – how could you go wrong with Ed Partyka, Ed Neumeister and Mike Abene on staff?

The concert with the Graz Composers Orchestra was great fun.  We only got 1 rehearsal but the band were great and so it was not problem.  I got pretty nervous at the start of the concert because Carla Bley, Steve Swallow, Mike Abene and Ed Neumiester were all in the audience.  Good times, especially for a big band nerd like me.


Carla Bley and Steve Swallow were at the Uni during the same time I was there (nicely timed, thanks Ed).  It was so great to be able to sit in rehearsals, workshops and watch their gigs.  What beautiful, kind, giving people.  The round table discussions were really insightful.  Lesson learnt – write music every day!

After getting back from Graz it was time for my PhD recital.  I performed 3 pieces that I have been working on.  This went really well and the ensemble was great.  They really helped me out with their commitment and enthusiasm to play.  It is such a pleasure to have great musical friends.  Now the recital is done it is time to write the thesis.  I am getting there but it feels like the more I do, the more I realise how much I still have to do.  A bit at a time and I will get there – right?

Christmas and New Years was awesome – hanging with my Perth family – the Sherwoods.  We have a mad Christmas day tradition and then Gab and I chill out big time on Boxing Day.  It was then off to Yallingup for about 10 days to relax and prep fro the next few months of thesis writing (and other things).

Mid January I had a whirl wind trip to Japan, as part of another exchange program we are setting up with WAYJO.  2 days in Tokyo to meet with the staff at Showa University and the sponosors of the exchange (ALNG).  It was such a quick visit but I still managed to see a bit of the city and eat some amazing food.  Check this vegan sushi plate out!


So now I am back on track, writing thesis and preparing for a big WAYJO concert coming up on Monday Feb 10th.  We are performing Duke Ellington’s Sacred Music with the Cape Town Opera Chorus at the Perth Concert Hall as part of the Perth International Arts Festival.  It will be huge!  So excited!  If you are interested – TICKETS HERE.

There you have it – a brief catch up of the last few months – now we are back on track.  Thanks for reading.  Speak soon


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