Penny joined PBS filling in for Edd Fisher’s Tomorrowland and CC:DISCO!’s Smoke and Mirrors. When CC moved to Europe, she encouraged Penny to take over her slot.  Passing Notes debuted on PBS on International Women’s Day, 2019.

Passing Notes offers a diverse representation of the local electronic and dance music scene. It aims to build more meaning around the electronic and dance community in Melbourne, as well as being a platform for local and international artists. Penny runs her shows similarly to what you might hear on a night out at an electronic gig: opening with downtempo and ambient sounds and finishing up with higher energy dance music.

“I try to represent the diversity of the electronic and dance music scene in Melbourne, whether that be bands with electronic elements, showcasing interesting record labels releasing music old and new, or dance music more broadly. I think a big element is also using Passing Notes as a platform to have guests showcase what they’re inspired by. I think a lot of people think that electronic music is just club music, so I like the idea of being able to use Passing Notes as a platform to showcase what our community is really about.”

How Penny plans her show depends on what else she has on during her busy week. “I use my week to find music, and I use a few hours before the show on Friday to structure the show and find some additional interesting information. If I have a guest, I usually write a large statement about the artist on Thursday. I put a lot of work into writing about artists I have on the show, which I receive a lot of kind feedback on. I think that having your own writing style and making a connection between the artist, yourself and the reason why you’ve chosen them for your show, really increases your engagement.

Passing Notes guests include local artists who Penny knows from her ten plus years of involvement in Melbourne’s electronic and dance community, and international artists who are in town. One of her most memorable interviews was with Melbourne duo OK EG.

“When I invited them in we actually had some major technical difficulties in the studio that I was using, and I went into complete meltdown mode. I ended up having to postpone the interview to the week after, but it made it even more special, and they recorded a 45-minute live set for me which was magical.”

Penny’s impression of the local electronic and dance scene is that it’s absolutely thriving. “I think we are so lucky that even though we are far away from Europe or the States or bigger cities, where they seemingly have much bigger events, the events we have here are very much on par, or even more special, than some events that I would go to in other cities. I think that our scene is probably disproportionately large compared to the size of Melbourne. People are always doing so much great work.”

Penny is also positive about the support for female and gender diverse artists in the scene, although she recognises that more work needs to be done.

“I started DJing (as Pjenné) because there was a push towards having more gender diverse line-ups. I already had a connection to the scene and I wanted to inspire others to do so too. This is also another reason why being on radio each week is something that’s really important to me. There’s been quite significant progress in terms of having more female DJs on more underground line-ups to the point where now it seems second nature. That being said, diversity is a bit stagnant at the moment. We have all these fabulous female DJs but there are not many female producers, and that makes it really hard to play local music that isn’t made by men. We need to try to do more to inspire women to be making music. I think there are a lot of barriers to making electronic music. A lot of the gear is super expensive. And then there are all the underlying issues that are similar to other jobs that are male dominant, but I think that is one of the next steps forward. Also diversity in broader terms needs work. It doesn’t stop with including white women on line-ups!”

Penny presents Passing Notes every Friday from 8-10pm on PBS.

Article by Nichola Scurry, originally published in Easey Mag, May 2020