Music For Humans
We live in an increasingly globalised world, and itâ€™s time we became wiser to it. With their recent album, Blue King Brown are taking charge of our education.
Ever the impassioned voice of human equality, frontwoman Natalie Paâ€™apaâ€™a talks about the philosophy that inspired 2010's â€˜Worldwize Part 1 â€“ North & Southâ€™ release.
â€œIt was inspired by something called a medicine wheel, which is part of Native American philosophy. Itâ€™s basically a circle with a line from north to south and one from east to west. The circle is about acknowledging people from all four directions, irrelevant of race, religion, colour and creed. Furthermore each point represents mental health, spiritual health, physical health and emotional health â€“ just well-being and things like that.
â€œI feel as though Native American philosophy really aligns with my own, and acknowledging the four directions is really what inspired the album.â€
As a reflection of this inspiration, the band drew on music from abroad during the writing and recording processes for â€˜Worldwize Part 1â€™.
â€œAt the time we were just starting to get out and tour the world internationally, and we had been to Jamaica to record the vocals for the album. There was some definite inspiration from Jamaican artists, and more of that urban sounding reggae as opposed to the really rootsy, acoustic reggae. We went for more of the dancehall driven stuff, and urban sounds in that vein from other parts of the world.â€
To achieve a reggae sound with more urban appeal, plenty of time was spent on production than ever before, tweaking sounds to create full and unique tracks.
â€œWe really learned how to get the sounds we wanted. That process took us a lot longer than on our first album, â€˜Stand Upâ€™. You can hear the difference in it because â€˜Stand Upâ€™ was recorded live and pretty much finished in the studio. On â€˜Worldwize...â€™ we did a lot more post-production â€“ we spent a lot more time adding beats to the live drumming, incorporating this diverse range of sounds into the creation of each song, and enhancing each beat or rhythm or vocal melody or horn melody.â€
With a poignant world philosophy and a mix of international sounds, Blue King Brown are a musical reflection of an increasingly globalised world. Natalie admits her own views have much to do with the message behind the music.
â€œItâ€™s really inspired by my views that we are part of a global community as human beings. Of course we consider ourselves Australian or American, or as part of the country that we live in, but we also need to remember that we all share this one home called Earth â€“ thereâ€™s only one planet like it. It stems from wanting to remind people of our human connection to each other and to our planet, and to really keep that in mind when we go about our business. Itâ€™s important to be mindful of what does and doesnâ€™t damage our global community, our environment and our planet.â€
According to Natalie, thereâ€™s no better way to remind people of their connections than through music.
â€œMusic is just such a positive way to connect with people, it really doesnâ€™t matter whether you speak the language or not. Itâ€™s something that human beings have always and will always connect with, and I think itâ€™s deeper than that we just like music â€“ itâ€™s a spiritual thing that we need as human beings to really live. I donâ€™t think any of us could live without music, whether youâ€™re a musician or not.â€
While she agrees that playing and touring music for its own benefit is an admirable achievement for any artist, only a fool would suggest to this ardent humanist that political messages should be kept separate.
â€œWho could say that music and politics should be kept separate? Thatâ€™s like putting a boundary on someoneâ€™s creative inspiration. You wouldnâ€™t say that to Bob Marley, you wouldnâ€™t say that to Bob Dylan, you wouldnâ€™t say that to Rage Against The Machine. You canâ€™t really say that. I mean you can say it, but you canâ€™t back it up. You would never really put that sort of boundary on someoneâ€™s music â€“ thatâ€™s ridiculous.
â€œI definitely feel as though Iâ€™ve been inspired myself, even when I was younger and wasnâ€™t even playing music. Music inspires everyone whether youâ€™re a musician or not. Personally, those artists I mentioned have all inspired me not just as a musician but also as a human, and I think that is important. I donâ€™t think all musicians have to do it, but if they really feel passionate about the future and their communities then thatâ€™s what they should do. Also, artists who experience social and political unrest in their world, they need a way to speak about it and a way to sing about it and a way to feel about it.â€
Inspired as a human, Natalie found that as a musician she couldnâ€™t help but express her views and opinions when there was a crowd of open eyes and ears in front of her.
â€œWhen I first realised that I was on stage and I had a microphone, I was like â€˜well I have this opportunity to say something and sing something that is important to meâ€™, and I took that opportunity â€“ Iâ€™m the sort person who would do that.
â€œItâ€™s great to be invited to events and invited to be a fair trade ambassador and invited to community fundraisers, I feel really honoured that they would want me or Blue King Brown to come and give energy and give some love and raise awareness with them.
â€œWeâ€™ve worked with numerous organisations, and continue to do so â€“ we want to do what we can to help. We became involved in with the Body Shop to help raise awareness about the child sex trafficking thatâ€™s occurring throughout Asia. When you hear these stories about children who are been trafficked, youâ€™re just like â€˜of course I will do whatever I can to try and stop that!â€™ Itâ€™s a very simple human reaction to want to help.â€
With the voice of reggae spreading both locally and internationally, Blue King Brown are looking forward to stepping out of the studio this month to spread some more love and awareness.
â€œWeâ€™ve constantly heard these great reviews of Island Vibe. Weâ€™ve always wanted to go but it has never worked out timing-wise. But this year, I guess the planets have aligned and weâ€™re coming. Itâ€™s so good that we have more and more roots and reggae-orientated festivals â€“ this sort of culture is coming more into the mainstream in Australia. Itâ€™s a really positive thing and we like to support it.â€
Blue King Brown will play Island Vibe, Home Beach, Minjerribah North Stradbroke Island, October 28-30. islandvibe.com.au