We chat to the mastermind of the Oz Music Trading Cards

Photo by Annabelle McEwen

Sam McEwen is an illustrator, video producer and muso from Sydney. There’s a good chance you’ve come across his video production and animating for triple J, his voice on FBi or music with The S-Bends. Perhaps you may have even heard of his latest endeavour Oz Music Trading Cards. Its the latter of these that led us to catch up with McEwen to find out what was the inspiration and reasoning for OZMTCG, what does the future hold for them and when do the special edition foil wrapped knock off cards come out?

G’day Sam, with all this other stuff on your plate, how did you find time to conceive and launch OZMTCG?

Great question, sometimes I don’t even know. This started as a lockdown project when I had plenty of time on my hands, and since then, I’ve just made it work. Each card has a template which saves a bit of time, and I try to set up a whole week’s worth before the week starts. But yeah, as with most people, I had a lot of time during lockdown, and this was an idea I’ve had on the back burner for a while, so this is how I decided to waste my time. Time well spent I reckon! It’s been great finding bands through this to make cards for. I’ve actually discovered so many good artists with this which has been heaps of fun!

I heard there’s a potential game on the horizon. Any truth to these rumours? If so how will it work?

The rumours are true! It’s in the works. Without revealing too much, you’ll be pitting bands against each other to put on the best show possible. There’ll be an introduction to venue cards too, so any local venues that want to be immortalised on a card, let me know! It’ll be simple, and straight to the point. Hopefully the game will be ready by mid year. You’ll be able to use any cards you’ve picked up so far in the game, so make sure you get collecting!

What are the plans for the cards in the future? When can we expect Tazo-style band collectables?

I’ll be dropping a new batch of printed cards in the next month, so keep your eyes peeled. I’m also keen to work with more record labels on doing little runs with them, so stay tuned for that too! Tazos would be amazing. Someone get Smith’s on the line! 

You’ve illustrated a few music-inspired comics already, what’s the process like coming up with a story and drawing your friends?

Usually I just want to highlight a fun show I’ve been to or showcase some great bands. With any comic work, I’ll write a pretty rough script to start, lay down the pencils, go over them in ink, and then scan and colour it digitally. Then I’ll get them published somewhere! Usually I just self-publish in zines or do small print runs of things, but I’ve had stuff published in a few magazines and anthologies which is always really nice to be among good company (speaking of, check out Meet Me In The Pit, I’m in issues 2, but they’re all amazing and a great introduction to comics for music fans). After that, I hope my mates like it and I don’t offend anyone with the way I’ve drawn them. It’s always fun trying to figure out how to translate the sounds and energy of a live show into a flat, static medium. There’s been a few bands that I’ve done comics about who I don’t know personally that really dig them if I’m able to get a copy in their hands. Paul Kelly seemed pretty chuffed when I gave him a copy of the mini-comic I did about ‘Gossip’ which was pretty cool (sorry, I’ll pick up that name I’ve dropped). It’s always fun doing gig posters for mate’s bands as well. 

Any news from camp S-Bends?

We’ve had a few rehearsals since restrictions eased late last year, and have all been writing during lockdown, so we’ve got a few new songs simmering away. A few of us are breaking into the wedding circuit as well, playing at a wedding very soon for a mate that we went to high school with. That’s been really fun just learning a bunch of covers that’ll make all the oldies get up and dance. Hopefully no one breaks a hip. If you haven’t jumped on the S-Bends train yet, our mates at Stable Label can hook you up.