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INTERVIEW: Luen Jacobs, Hand Games

20 June 2013 | 3:45 pm | Hannah Galvin

Luen Jacobs is the head of the Hand Games - a Sydney collective bringing you mixtapes and parties. We thought it was time we'd have a quick chat with Luen!


They manage and book bands. They hold killer parties. They release a mixtape made up of brand new Aussie tracks monthly. They have a zine coming out. They are the HAND GAMES and we love them.

Only one year old, the small Sydney-based live music team came into effect in only March of last year, thanks to the legendary LUEN JACOBS; as she felt she needed to move onto something new from booking electronic and dance music acts.

From managing OISIMA (one of Adelaide's greatest beards) to releasing free mixtapes via Bandcamp, we thought it was time to have a chat with Luen about how she shares and sources such great and upcoming Australian talent through her small yet powerful collective, the Hand Games.

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What inspired you to start your work with Hand Games?

When the Hand Games concept started I was a venue booker for electronic/dance music but I started going to more live shows and decided that I wanted to start a new project for live Australian music. Any other Hand Games projects have developed after that first idea of throwing parties around Australia.

Judging by your monthly mixtapes, you seem to have a really good eye for finding super fun and talented Australian musicians, hailing from a range of different genres. How do you source these bands and artists?

Friends suggestions most of the time, gig posters - like if I see a band supporting someone I'm already a fan of I'll jump on their bandcamp or soundcloud and check out their releases. Going through playlists on local radio, FBi and 3RRR is good for that (Radiant on FBi rules), and then the usual blogs and fb/twitter. But it's always bandcamp, soundcloud and facebook as the final checkout.

On top of this, your current roster (consisting of Nakagin and Oisima) has proven to be full of talent. How did you discover these guys?

Nakagin I booked for a party in 2011 through a friend's suggestion (Mikey Carr), he played a really sweet set and I liked his music so I started helping him with some bookings. As for Oisima, my then intern/now part of Hand Games buddy (Marcus Thaine) showed him to me. I added one of his tracks to the Hand Games Mixtape #3 and was a fan from then on. I really liked his progression as an artist over the next few months and when I got in touch he was keen for a manger so we linked up.

Roughly how long does it take to prepare one mixtape?

I try not to include anything more than 2-3 months old so I keep an eye in who's releasing music all of the time, it's more of a constant project. But in the last week of every month I'll start to draft a new mix on bandcamp and then go for a music dig if we're short on content. So, about 7 days.

The Hand Games' Facebook page features a list of music reps' top five favourite bands of the month [including our very own editor Gabe Gleeson]. What are Luen's top five tracks for June?

I'm just going to give you my favourite tracks of today haha

New Beauty - Ann-Maree

Ta-ku - Night 17 (25 night's for Nujabes)

Mining Boom - Telecom

Elizabeth Rose - Throw Me To The Stars

Pond - Eye Pattern Blindness

Hand Games have very recently celebrated it's first birthday [congrats!] by throwing a series of parties along the East Coast. What was the highlight of these events?

The highlight, watching D.D Dumbo was pretty unreal. He was the first act on the last night of the tour in Melbourne and the room was filling up around me quicker than I expected like probably 150-200 people by the time he finished so I was in a good mood and he was killer. I remember singing along (trying to sing along) and taking like 15+ photos of him on my phone.

Out of all of the parties Hand Games has thrown, what has been the most memorable?

The Sydney mixtape launch/house party with all Sydney local bands. It was at my house and we had been drinking all afternoon and the place was packed, over 250 people in this tiny house and backyard. My roommates (3 guys at the time) where pretty drunk and didn't care. Nothing got broken so it was a good time. I let my friend Sissel dress me and I remember wearing some stupid big fluffy cream coat and cream skirt, cream everything all cream. It got so dirty.

You're just about to release your very own physical zine. What can we expect to find inside it?

A few interviews, Royal Headache and Bored Nothing, about 6 pages dedicated to Perth and it's musical community with an article from Nick Allbrook and some hip hop suggestions from Ta-ku, reviews and heaps of drawings done by musicians I like.

In your opinion, what's the best record you own from 2013 so far?

I've only bought one record as I moved back to Brisbane without my record player and haven't been buying vinyl since. It was Peak Twins 7" Steppin' Off and I love it lots and lots, I stuck it to my wall here with blue tac.

As for the best of 2013.. Couldn't name one. The TV Colours album that came out Monday is amazing Purple Skies, Toxic River but I haven't let it settle in yet. Howlin' by Jagwar Ma is great too.

Aside from the upcoming Oliver Tank and Oisima Double Single Launch, can we expect some more Hand Games parties in the near future?

Zine will have a launch tour in July, will be announced next week for Bris/Syd/Mel. A few other parties for August/September too.

Words by Hannah Galvin.