Musicians growing careers in Canberra

“It’s been really nice to be directly involved in making a difference to the city I’ve grown up loving.”

Joel Tyrrell is one-fifth of the internationally successful Canberra band, Hands Like Houses. The band has 2 top 10 ARIA albums and multiple worldwide sold-out tours. They perform at international festivals beside some of the biggest names in music, and they still call Canberra home.

Hands Like Houses will soon release its first Australian-recorded EP. The band recorded 4 albums and 2 EPs overseas.  

Hands Like Houses band image
Hands Like Houses

Joel is also a program manager with MusicACT, which is all about musicians growing their careers in Canberra, something he knows a lot about.

Supporting local musicians

Eager to put the power into artists’ hands, Joel gives Canberra musicians an insight into the global music industry through Music ACT. He’s creating a program here based on real-world techniques, advocating for policy change to support live music venues. “It’s been really nice to be directly involved in making a difference to the city I’ve grown up loving,” he explains. “It’s a beautiful bunch of people rallying together to continue making Canberra a lively city.”

Joel believes Canberra is in a unique position to help musicians build relationships that further their careers. Our close-knit arts and music community help build this. “It doesn’t have a lot of venues and hubs. Because of that, it forces musicians to build more relationships. Building those connections is more realistic and achievable here. I’ve always enjoyed Canberra for that reason,” he says.

Like visual artist, Kirsty Rea, Joel appreciates how much easier it is to support your peers in Canberra. “It’s easier for the community to get behind each other because everything’s within reach.”

City vibe, community feel

For Joel, the big attraction of Canberra is that it’s a welcoming community surrounded by beautiful bush and rivers.

“One thing that’s similar for all of us in the band,” Joel explains, “is that Canberra, even though it has a small community, does have the feel of a city. We’ve got a nightlife here. There are always things to do.”

A lot of this activity happens outside. “Drive 20 minutes,” he explains, “and you can swim in a river somewhere or go bushwalking in Molonglo Gorge. You can head out to Booroomba Rocks, or any of those places where you can feel removed from the city.” 

He knows a lot of young people who’ve moved to Canberra to study. “Everyone I know has found it quite easy to slip into nice little friendship groups and communities,” he explains. He thinks this happens easily here because of our close population.

“There’s a lot to love about living here,” he says.

“We’re expanding as a band and moving into some pretty special spaces,” Joel explains. “And we’re excited to be able to spend a bit of downtime in Canberra, away from the madness.”

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