Q&A’s: Christian Tryhorn On The Magic Of Mojo – Mojo Burning Festival 2020

Christian Tryhorn – Photo by Elizabeth Sharpe of Ummagummamumma – Live Music Photography

Interview by Shannon-Lee Sloane The Colourful Writer

Brisbane is truly blessed with some absolutely amazing live music festivals. But there is one that really brings the BURN; Mojo Burning! Hotter than the sun itself, Mojo’s main focus is on the Blues, Rock and Psych genres. Each year, festival goers are gifted with a mixed line up of bigger name bands as well as up and coming acts all rocking their hearts out for a day that celebrates and displays just how good live music really is. This year sees Mojo in its seventh year and the line up has been mixed up a little with the recent addition of thrash metal lords, King Parrot and non stop high energy punkers, Private Function. They join the amazing Kadavar and Steve Smyth along with many other high quality live acts, with 31 in total over three stages!

The man behind the Mojo magic is Beats Cartel and Mo’s Desert Clubhouse owner, guitarist from The Black Armada and guitarist and vocalist for Transvaal Diamond Syndicate and all round music industry legend, Christian Tryhorn. Christian took some time out of his busy schedule to answer some questions about Mojo Burning prepared by The Colourful Writer

Mojo Burning 2020 is almost here! This year there have been a few changes, including a new venue, can you tell us about Mojo 2020 and what we can expect from this years festival? 

Mojo 2020 is our biggest lineup yet featuring 3 overseas-based acts (Kadavar, Deville, Steve Smyth) and pretty much our favourite and available local and interstate bands within a Blues/Rock/Psych genre.  We lost our headliner Temples due to the Coronavirus situation which was tough a month out, but the show must go on so we pulled in 2 epic new headline tier bands in the form of King Parrot and Private Function.  Bit outside the box but ultimately vibes for days, should be a fun one.  The venue choice made sense after 7 years. We upgraded capacity and returned to our roots in the Valley, always best to be where the action goes down!

Outside of the epic bands we have our usual venue theming, bringing in projectors and props for a sweet psychedelic experience, always some crowd performer interaction, some live artworks going down, 3 stages and a sweet VIP platform plus a Mojo DJ afterparty.  Always a few surprises as well!

When did you first decide you wanted to create Mojo Burning Festival? What was the inspiration behind it? 

I spent a bunch of years on the roads of Australia touring solidly with my band Transvaal Diamond Syndicate.  What I came across were some of the best bands I had ever heard who basically had no national profile.  They weren’t getting J-play or getting the big festival slots, but they were bad ass. I felt that I could do something to bring together the somewhat underground genres of Blues, Rock, Psych and Stoner Rock.  It’s crazy that these genres and bands were/are not supported. It’s a constant struggle for so many of my buddies grinding out over many years. Mojo Burning was formed to pay homage to the grinders, to the most epic bands around who you won’t see on your television.  The first Mojo was in 2014, this will be our 7th year and our biggest yet.  I’ve taken the same ethos and over time grown the event and tried my best to help grow the scene.

Christian on stage – Photo by Elizabeth Sharpe – Ummagummamumma – Live Music Photography

Mojo is renowned for bringing top class acts, what do you look for in a band or performer when you are putting your line up together each year? 

Vibe of course!  With this particular event the band has to somewhat sit within a genre band of guitar-driven groove to a point, though we have broken the mould with King Parrot and Private Function‘s addition this year.  The band must be able to play their instruments, have a bit of buzz about them and be able to pull some people whilst putting on a sick live show.  We’ve never put anyone on a Mojo bill in 7 years who doesn’t fit this brief.  All killer no filler! You get value at Mojo from first band to last and the 28 other ones in between.  We’ve moved more towards bringing some solid internationals over with Nick Oliveri, 1000mods and Kadavar over the last 3 years to give the event and scene a bit of international profile.  Mojo is the best.  My favourite bands from all over the country, anyone who comes with an open mind is always turned on to some new acts each year, this stems from the live performance of the artists involved.

The line up is outstanding yet again this year and you’ve also got the underground band pathway for band’s aspiring to hit the Mojo stage, a wonderful initiative to discover some upcoming bands that fit the genre of Mojo, how has that been going? Have you discovered some new upcoming bands that have blown you away? 

It’s often hard for me now to get out and about and simply catch a gig, see who’s playing in the scene around the country.  It was easy when I was in a band on the road, harder when you move into management/bookings etc, the biz never sleeps. So the Mojo pathways are an amazing opportunity for the Mojo crew plus the punter to catch who’s doing their thing well at the local level.  Simply so many rad bands around and yes we get blown away every live pathway series.  The next crop is good and deserves to be heard.  Ella Vice won our Brisbane pathway this year in a tough final along with Handful of Helmet taking out our Gold Coast pathway.  You’ll see both of them at this year’s Burn!  Previous winners include bands like Street Pieces, Stoker, Blue Savannah, Rinser and more who have all moved up a few notches.

Live music is something we love and support with all our hearts here at Good Call Live. What does live music mean to you? How important is it to support live music? 

Live music is my life!  From playing in bands, to watching my favourite acts to now setting up a business where I can be surrounded by live music and it’s pursuit is a dream come true.  Fuck it’s hard work and the money earn vs time outlay and stress is pretty average, but the feeling that live music gives to so many is unparalleled. My passion is to see potential and help that potential be realised.  I don’t like the business hierarchy and ego of it all, the vibe is on the streets watching your favourite bands, supporting your buddies, heading to festivals and maybe getting up on stage yourself to jam out. It’s a feel good exercise that’s rewarding on so many levels and the perks are pretty solid!

The support of live music is so important.  With the addition of Spotify and Youtube, the increasing of licensing policing, the break down of many iconic Australian venues, a high cost of living, the multitude of new media options available like Netflix etc, we are at a really critical time for live music.  The masses are either at home or watching cover soloists play ‘Horses’ in the corner of 75% of pubs and loving it week after week. The unfortunate reality is that live music IS still relatively underground. People are stuck in time vortexes dropping massive coin on bands that were good 20-40 years ago and are now past their prime in a host of ‘reunion’ tours.  Who’s supporting the bands coming up from the gutter? The whole national youth model is moving towards a Florida RNB/hip hop vibe ultimately..? Live bands need your support. Go pay to see them (usually it’s only $10-20!), buy their album if you dig the sound, wear their shirt. The undiscovered bands of today are the new music of tomorrow. Shit… starting to rant haha apologies.  Bottom line… get to this year’s Mojo Burning March 28 in the Valley and have yourself a damn fine time.  Satisfaction guaranteed!

Beats Cartel, Stone & Wood and Jameson Irish Whiskey Presents


Woolly Mammoth Mane Stage/Ivory Tusk BRISBANE Saturday March 28



And in alphabetical order:
Astrodeath (NSW) 
Battesnake (NSW)    
 The Black Armada (QLD)
Blue Savannah Underworld (QLD)
Boing Boing (QLD)
Born Lion (NSW)
Ella Vice (QLD)
The Ezra Lee Show (NSW)
Fight Ibis (QLD)
Fuzz Toads (WA)
A Gazillion Angry Mexicans (VIC)
Giant Dwarf (WA)
Gus (QLD)
Handful of Helmet (QLD)
Hobo Magic (QLD)
Mage (WA)
Magenta Voyeur (QLD)
Marshall and the Fro (NSW)
Minnie Marks (NSW)
Pseudo Mind Hive (VIC)
Rick Dangerous & The Silkie Bantams (NSW)
The Royal Artillery (QLD)
Smoking Martha (QLD)
Space Carbonara (NSW)
Victor Bravo (QLD)
Zong (QLD)

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