Wednesday, 31 July 2013 20:16

Shapeshifter: Take It Easy Bro

Beneath the name 'Shapeshifter' lies an unexpected puzzle.

Did the band called themselves 'Shapeshifter' because they're unable to keep still, or does their style keep changing because their name is 'Shapeshifter'? In reality it's a stupid question and one I'm glad I didn't put to P Digsss when chatting to him on the phone.

Given that drum & bass is their craft, the New Zealand outfit can't help but feel the changes that have swept over the audio landscape since their 1999 inception. After mentioning Shapeshifter to a friend of mine the response was, "You can do Drum & Bass live? That's amazing!"

It's really not, although the gentlemen from Shapeshifter certainly are. Poised to drop their latest LP 'Delta' on ear-shaped orifices across the globe, the band still seem surprisingly nonchalant about what they do. Maybe that's the Berlin Effect coming to fruition.

"We decided to live in Berlin for the summer ‘cause it's winter over here but it's still warm over there, you know? It's a really beautiful place. Everywhere there's really amazing art, music, I think it started to impact on us. I mean, I don't know if there was a direct impact on the album. We always approach every album a little differently. It's about trying to make something different, and we always try to do that. But, you know, we also try to find a little bit of inspiration from our surroundings as well."

About half of 'Delta' was ultimately recorded in Berlin, and it will be up to the audience to decide if the European endeavour has left a lasting impact on the final product. Perhaps the release's three lead singles contain a clue — 'Monarch', 'Diamond Trade' and 'Gravity' each showcase Shapeshifter coming from a different angle, as if the band shattered apart before reinventing itself each time. The result is as startling as it is satisfying. I suggest to Digsss that that's why Shapeshifter chose the tracks as singles, and he laughs for quite a while.

"Why pick any song! Well, cause they're three songs on the album, you know? Seriously though, I guess we wanted to show the different sides to ('Delta')... you take those songs, particularly ‘Diamond Trade’, I think, and you can really see the sort of different approaches that we've taken on this LP, you know? Plus we've got some killer videos for those tracks in the works."

The jovialness of Digsss is disarming; it's very hard not to be put at ease by the constant laughter that echoes down the phone line. Not everyone feels that way, though. After opening for Tool, Shapeshifter were left feeling a little bemused, if not bewildered. Few things seem to phase the band, and while they certainly don't view the experience in a negative light, Tool perhaps aren't remembered for the best reasons. Never has a frontman been so aptly described by his band name.

"When we opened for Tool, we never saw Maynard. It was funny, dude. And apparently before he would go anywhere his people would tell everyone not to look at him, like not to make direct eye contact with him. No one was supposed to look at him. But actually we met up with the guys from his band, they came up to us after a show and started chatting to us and asking us stuff... they were some of the nicest guys I've met."

‘Delta’ is out now. Shapeshifter play The Hi-Fi on Saturday August 10.

Published in Electronic
Saturday, 27 July 2013 00:00

Shapeshifter Tickets

With their fifth studio album, ‘Delta’, recently debuting at number one in New Zealand, Shapeshifter are about to hit the road once again, bringing their live show back to Australia, and they’ll be bringing the best local electronic talent with them.

The Brisbane show will include rising electronic star Kilter — the moniker of young Sydney beat architect Ned East, who’s sound is reminiscent of J Dilla and Madlib and was recently signed to etcetc (home of PNAU).

To win one of three double passes to Shapeshifter’s show at the Hi-Fi Saturday August 10 This is competition has closed.
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1. Winners will be drawn at random at 12pm Monday 5th August at Level 2, 192-210 Brunswick Street, Fortitude Valley. [Winners drawn]
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Published in Competition
Wednesday, 26 May 2010 05:21

The Red Eyes Interview

The Red EyesDuty Calls

It started as a jam session, solidified as a 12-piece and is now down to seven multi-instrumental musicians.

The Red Eyes exude talent, and according to guitarist and creative mind, Damien Charles, it's all organic. "I thought it would be great to have a live band. I knew a lot of musicians so I roped in heaps of different people.

The first ever drummer and guitarist were Redford and Sam from Shapeshifter. But every week there were different musicians and we'd just jam out and I would dub mix it and what have you."

Fate intervened when El Witeri, a reggae vocalist and ex-flatmate arrived in Melbourne and went knocking on Charles' door.

"We lost contact when I came over here after a few years. Then he just turned up on my doorstep one day. He found me and said he'd come to do music - he'd sold up everything in New Zealand to come over to Melbourne to try and find me and do music. It just so happened that I thought he'd slot into The Red Eyes perfectly."

What resulted was a growing fan base, a move to a bigger venue, offers to play at some of Australia's most well known festivals and reviews describing them as Melbourne's 'reggae/ dub monster band'.

"We never rehearsed, we'd just improvise, but gradually the line-up consolidated into people that were keen to do it all the time. We got offers to play at festivals, like the Bellingen Global Carnival, so we thought we should release something. We actually started rehearsing songs and made our first couple of records."

Those rehearsals and records have led them to 2010 and 'Red Army', an outgoing, politically minded mix of soulful lyrics and intricate programming with the energy of a live show.  The album also features The Red Eyes' only recorded cover - 'I Get Wild/ Wild Gravity' by Talking Heads.

"We've always chucked songs we like into the live sets and I wanted to make this album more like a live set, especially the first half of it. (I Get Wild/ Wild Gravity) is a song we've been doing live for about a year or so, we really like it, it's a cool song."


Published in Reggae/ Roots


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