AS co-founder of Hot Dub Wine Machine, Tom Lowndes reckons if something goes wrong, it’s all on him.
Not only is he involved in organising the festival - he’s the headline act.
The Sydney-based DJ is better known as electro-cinematic spinner Hot Dub Time Machine. He created his audio-visual concept of “dancing through the decades” (playing remixed songs from the ‘50s until now) in 2011, testing it at comedy and fringe events for a few years before going mainstream.
“I’d been DJ-ing for a long time, I first started in 2002 but I was never very good at it,” Lowndes said. “I could never stick to one type of music, I liked playing The Beatles and Beyonce, or the theme to Full House.
“I got a weird niche in comedy festivals where I’d play with or around comedians. But I wanted to make my own show, so I did. I made this thing called Hot Dub Time Machine, which lended itself to something a little more cinematic.”
A former sound designer for TV shows such as McLeod's Daughters and Underbelly, Lowndes’ show took off, and he went with it - playing big-name festivals across the UK.
But such was the popularity of his generation-crossing set, he and his management decided to take on the scene themselves, constructing the Wine Machine run of outdoor festivals.
The festival made its Hunter Valley debut at Hope Estate last year and the reception was striking. Over 12,500 people packed the venue in what was an almost-instantly recognisable sure-to-be-back event.
“We did over 46,000 tickets [across five festivals] to Wine Machine last year,” Lowndes said. “We actually did the first one at the end of 2016, me and my manager were arguing about whether it would work.
“He said we needed to take the show outside, but I remember thinking ‘kids don’t want to go to a vineyard, this is a dumb idea.’
“He did it and sold 2000 tickets in 24 hours. It turns out that young people do want to go and have a party at vineyards and they are really awesome places to have a festival.”
The Kite String Tangle and Touch Sensitive are the relatively fresh acts on Wine Machine’s 2018 card, but it’s electro-pop group Sneaky Sound System who are the intriguing inclusion.
“They’ve been around forever, but until you see Connie [Mitchell] sing you don’t realise what it’s like...she’s got to be one of the best vocalists in Australia. Their songs really resonate with a huge amount of people.”
Hot Dub Wine Machine is on at Hope Estate on March 10.