Making music at a distance drives global demand for Cairns creative

11 March 2021

Tristan Barton launched his music career from Cairns because he loved the lifestyle.

Now the choice has delivered his biggest year yet' as the pandemic sent demand for remote composing skyrocketing.

The CQUniversity Bachelor of Music alumnus said his recent projects included international ad campaigns' and even a documentary project about COVID-19 in Shanghai.

And most recently' he's also contributed music for CQUniversity's new podcast How to Change a Life' a series showcasing other CQUni people creating success on unique career paths.

"Last year was my busiest year to date' which I know really went against the norm for musicians and how the pandemic affected the industry'" Mr Barton said.

"But because a lot of my music is used online' for social media' film and tv' that stuff never stops – and it actually got busier because there was so much more demand for screen content during lockdown."

"I'm used to working remotely' and suddenly restrictions meant a lot of production houses could only use composers working remotely – so I was already set up for what they needed."

For the COVID-19 documentary' Mr Barton worked with Shanghai-based producers Campfire Stories who were locked down from March 2020' and started work just as Australian restrictions came into force.

The documentary' Covid: Our Lockdown in Shanghai' has screened globally on the Smithsonian Channel.

Covid: Our Lockdown in Shanghai Trailer from Campfire Stories on Vimeo.

Mr Barton graduated from CQUni Mackay's Central Queensland Conservatorium of Music in 2011' and lived and worked across Australia and in Japan and Europe before settling in Cairns.

"Being in regional Australia never been a downside' I think it's benefitted me'" he said.

"I like to have a lot of space to think' and I'd grow up in Cairns for a period of my life – so now I can literally go for a two minute walk down the street and I'm in the rainforest!

"It's great to decompress and come back with a fresh perspective."

Mr Barton credits his early university experience with digital media for putting him on the path to remote music production' as well as inspiration from CQUni lecturer Graham Jesse.

"Studying with (saxophonist and lecturer) Graham Jesse' I researched a lot about his career' and that opened my eyes to how much you can diversify – you can be a player' a composer' an engineer' a producer' a business manager!" he said.

Mr Barton has previously worked with global superstar Usher' composted music for the 50th Anniversary Celebration of the Special Olympics' and created music for brands including Audi' Mercedes and Tiffany and Co.

He got his start by publishing compositions on stock music websites like Artlist and Music Vine' which has taken his music all over the world.

"It gets used a hell of a lot' and 80 per cent of the time I have no idea where!" he said.

"I'm used to it now' but the first time was a shock – my partner was watching music videos on YouTube and suddenly I heard one of my tracks' and it was an ad for Panadol!"

That was three years ago' and now Mr Barton is more certain than ever he's made the right choice staying in Cairns for his career.

"I reckon artists should live where they want to live' not where they think they need to live'" he said.