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Wednesday, 25 January 2012 13:26

Andy C

Sound Boy

Alongside Goldie and Grooverider, the UK’s Andy C is a drum & bass institution, some would say almost a brand.

Our phone chat finds Andy friendly and relaxed thanks to several weeks “just chilling” in Western Australia post Stereosonic, gearing up for a monster Australian tour.

“It’s beautiful mate, just been recharging the batteries after the New Year. It’s lovely to be able to hang out and enjoy the weather and just soak it all up. I’ve been coming here ten years, I know I love Australia, but up until now I’ve just been coming out to play the parties and heading home again. It’s great to be able to relax and enjoy the lifestyle. It’s so different from Essex, trust me.”

The birth (and subsequent death) of dubstep has breathed fresh life into all forms of brokenbeat music, something Andy is well aware of.

“For someone that’s so involved in the music, like myself, I don’t really notice waves of things going and coming back because I’m so deep in it. But all of a sudden I’ve been playing on a lot of multi-genre line-ups, and the parties have been going crazy. There’s a really nice unifying vibe now, whereas a couple of years ago, things were much more segregated and tribal. A house head wouldn’t listen to drum & bass, whereas now, there’s just a general love for electronic bass music right around the world. It’s opened up a lot of new minds and a lot of possibility, and the crowds feed off that.”

A flat out DJ schedule, running RAM Records and looking after artists like Chase And Status has meant Andy has less time for his own productions in recent years, but the rewards of watching careers blossom has been worth the sacrifice.

“You sign them, you nurture them, you A&R them, and as you’ve seen with certain artists, they fly. It’s just so satisfying when that happens. That’s the idea of signing people in the first place. You’re really helping them to forge their own path, and that’s definitely happened over the past few years ... Especially Chase And Status, they started out with white labels, struggling to sell a thousand copies, and then last year, we sold half-a-million albums. It’s crazy.”

Andy C plays The Met on Australia Day, Thursday January 26.

Wednesday, 07 December 2011 12:31

A. Skillz

Talks Thongs

In the world of ghetto funk and banging party breaks, few do it better than Adam ‘A. Skillz’ Mills.

Can we kick off the interview by being cheeky and asking when THE HELL can we expect a full-length, solo artist release from you?

It’s coming out same time as it always has been … SOON! But seriously the whole concept of releasing music has changed a fair bit. There’s a lot to say about just giving tracks away now days, BUT yes, I am planning on releasing my album next year. I have gathered some very talented vocalists who the general public won’t know and some collabs with some familiar names too.

There was a huge difference in sound, tempo and vibe between ‘Tricka Technology’, your hugely popular collab with Krafty Kuts, and your following solo releases. What is A. Skillz’ true sound?

My heart is in the funk/ feel good hip hip/ party breaks. ‘Tricka Technology’  was the best representation of my sound at the time, but at the time, that’s all I WAS doing, ‘making it!’ I wasn’t playing any significant gigs apart from at my local pub or earlier warm-ups for other DJs. After a few years playing more headline sets, I started needing my tracks to really bang! I couldn’t always play funky hip hop beats all night, but still love that sound and tempo so I just started injecting a bit more bite in my production to try and keep the energy of the night going.

Over the years you’ve spent a decent chunk of time in Australia – how many trips now?

I’m not sure how many times I’ve been over, this is maybe my sixth trip. I love the Australian way, you guys are so laidback — I don’t think I’ve met a stressed out Australian ... I still smile when you Aussies talk about ‘thongs’ — first time they were mentioned was a weird conversation until I realised we were talking about what us Brits refer to as ‘flip flops’.

A. Skillz plays Blah Blah Blah at the South Bank Cultural Forecourt Dec 28. adicts.com.au

Wednesday, 09 September 2009 16:38

La La Loco Interview

Don’t You Know They’re Loco?

It’s like the theory behind the new Vegemite spread - taking something that’s already great and making it better. This is exactly what Brisbane audiences can expect when a fourtet of local vixens from La La Parlour and Latin nine-piece Miguel collide to create something bigger than the sum of their parts.

Miguel’s vocalist and trumpet player Michael Rogers is on the line, itching to talk about their upcoming collaborative shows with Brisbane’s favourite parlour ladies as part of The Carnival’s Edge.

“I can’t wait actually. The rehearsals have just been out of control. It’s kitsch mixed with big band sounds mixed with a little bit of wrongness actually. The girls are so cheeky, it’s hard to describe,” he says with a genuine laugh. “There are elements of naughtiness all through it but it’s also very cute. We’re having a ball. The girls are interacting with the band a lot, and the whole thing is a lot of fun.”

Collaborations can take a while to get cooking sometimes - has it been difficult to generate that kind of chemistry quickly?

“Not really - I’ve worked with some of the girls before on some other shows. We’ve known about each other for a while and I’ve seen them at our shows a lot, and we’ve gone to see them in their stand-alone shows, so when the idea came up, it was such an obvious fit. It hasn’t been difficult at all - even the way the different personalities have come together works really well. We’re all bound together by this love of 1950’s kitsch - it’s just perfect.”

Kitsch means different things to different people - what elements of 50s kitsch appeal to both groups?

“Hollywood glamour and the big band sound that came out of that era, with Marilyn Monroe, Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra. That and smoky jazz rooms. Along those lines - but with four burlesque chorus girls we’ve slightly gone off the track a bit. From their point of view, it’s glamorous costumes and 50’s cocktail dresses and the music reflects that era. We’re a nine-piece and a lot of what we do is designed to emulate the great music of that era.

“There’s a lot of schtick going on between us. Their performance starts as ‘wink-wink-nudge-nudge’, and then rolls from what might be perceived as innocent into something totally - it’s hard to describe - it’s like chorus girls gone wrong sorta thing. It’s very funny.”

While the show is going to be tightly choreographed, there will be room for some improvisation on the night, with both acts taking cues from one another and playing things up to the hilt, something that Michael admits “scares him slightly”.

“We’re doing some old standards like Dean Martin’s ‘Sway’ and ‘Hooray For Hollywood’ as well as some Miguel originals that are very much in that style. It’s a Latin show as well as a burlesque with a good splash of Hollywood kitsch, with the whole thing going slightly awry at times.

“We expect the whole of Brisbane to come,” he says without a hint of irony, but then goes on to explain himself well. “Our demographic seems to stretch from 16-year-olds right through to people in their 70s. It doesn’t really favour one more than the other. And while the show is going to be naughty, it’s not something you would be ashamed to take your grandmother to.

“It’s more cheeky than naughty.”

La La Loco plays The Carnival’s Edge in the Cultural Forecourt at South Bank September 17-23 from 9:30pm (excluding Monday). Go to www.brisbanefestival.com.au for details.

Wednesday, 12 May 2010 09:56

Tame Impala Interview

That Golden Sound

When you were 20, did you have a clue what you wanted? Kevin Parker does; more than most people twice his age, the wunderkind behind psychedelic WA fuzz-rock sensations Tame Impala knows exactly what sort of sound he wants to pull.

He wrote, recorded and produced every single note played on Impala’s brilliant, shimmering debut album, ‘Innerspeaker’, set for release later this month, and a quick chat reveals the extent of his self-belief and sheer determination to do things his way.

“I feel a lot better about the album than when we were making it, definitely,” he opens. “Now I can listen to it as a whole thing rather than just various fragments of songs. I would pay any amount of money to be able to hear it again for the first time. It’s so hard to listen to songs imagining that you’re listening to them for the first time. I’m really happy with it. You just have to go by what friends of yours think, people who’s musical opinion you trust. When you’re making it, you put all this effort into making a particular part of it really massive and big, meanwhile it might be just something that goes over everyone’s head.

“I get a massive kick when someone listens to the album and picks up on the small things you put into it - little drum fills or whatever - small things you really hope people will hear. If people listen to it and just say ‘Oh, it’s all like Cream’, then...”

When it comes to recording all the parts, Kevin explains that rather than some sense of Kim Jong-il-esque desire for omnipotent control, Tame Impala is his baby, and that the other band members each have their own creative outlets, and, more importantly, that this has been the way of it from the start.

“I don’t feel guilty, because everyone else in the band has their own recording project as well. Like, Nick and Jay have their own band that they front, and that’s their creative outlet. We all have many different bands - for example, I play in a couple of other bands that my friends are in, and in those bands, those guys are the leaders, I’m just some hired gun. Tame Impala is not by any means the most important, or the biggest, or the one that’s most talked about - it’s just another band.

“The intention is that the album will sound much more cohesive. If you want something to sound a particular way and you want someone else to play it, there’s only so much that you can communicate with them through language. If you play the bass part, and you do a little lick in one spot, then you go over and play drums over the top, then you know every single millimetre of the bass part while you’re playing drums and you can make it infinitely more interpretive on each instrument and aim for more cohesion, I guess.”

One listen to ‘Innerspeaker’ proves this theory completely - there is a cohesion at play rarely heard in the modern era; each instrument is well-placed and there is a sense of sympathy of sound rather than various creative people competing to make their individual parts stand out.

“Jay and I and Nick and Dom have an amazing musical communication - we can talk about things honestly. I think our communication’s better than it was a year ago, we’re a lot more on the same page now. The next album’s going to be a lot more collaborative, but for this one, I was more uptight and sacred about how things were going to sound, and I didn’t want any outside influence coming in and ruining it. I’m a lot more chilled out now,” he laughs.

Signed to Modular, and with the world expecting big things, Parker surprised a lot of people by going against the status quo, which suggests that the only way to go is to spend mega-bucks with a super-producer from LA. Instead, Parker’s indulgence came in the form of working with Dave Fridman (Flaming Lips) in upstate New York on the mixing of the album.

“Working with Dave was a massive learning experience. He was the only guy I would have accepted, besides myself. That was a complete fantasy, a dream. He’s a quiet guy. He’s quite normal, but when he gets behind the mixing desk, the sounds he pulls are something that a madman would be happy with.”


Tame Impala play Surfers Beer Garden Thursday May 13 and The Tivoli May 14. ‘Innerspeaker’ is out through Modular on May 21.

Wednesday, 21 April 2010 13:09

Bertie Blackman Interview

Curiouser And Curiouser

A quick chat with Bertie Blackman on the release of ‘Secrets And Lies Remixed’ reveals her to be darkly quirky, impish and as complexly delightful as her music.

2009 was a big year for Ms. Blackman - among other achievements, ‘Secrets And Lies’, her biggest step forward as far as electronic experimentation was concerned, won an ARIA for ‘Best Independent Release’.

“Just completing that record was huge,” she says when asked about a clear highlight for the year. “Making a record is a lot like giving birth - you put absolutely everything you have into it, your soul, heart and sweat and blood. When it’s out of my hands it’s a really odd feeling and I have to shut up a little bit.

“The process of writing is what I love, it’s my favourite part of what I do, so I always cherish that and sink my fangs in when I’m working.”

Bertie recently handed ‘Secrets And Lies’ over to a bunch of (generally) lesser-known producers to tweak her work - what does she think of the results, and were there any big surprises?

“I wanted it to be underground and more indicative of where I started with the record. James Weir from Forum 5, a Melbourne DJ, helped me put it together. It’s not really my world, so I handed the project over a bit. It’s been a little treat to put out to groove along to, to have sex to ... whatever people want to do with it,” she giggles. “I might even go and have sex on a dancefloor to it! You should do it - you have sex to it and let me know how it goes.”

One listen to Blackman’s lyrics and it’s impossible to miss the ever-present animal imagery - vicious, feeding sharks and clawing birds of prey litter her songs, and it seems that Bertie likes to attach human characteristics to the animal world. Or possibly vice-versa.

“In my imagination, people don’t exist, they are all creatures. I also don’t want you to think I have a sick, weird animal fetish. I don’t, like, have sex with sharks or anything like that. You’d probably die. I’m a curious creature and I guess I’m a bit childlike in the way I approach things, I use a lot of imagination in my work. Probably, subconsicously, the sharks are various parts of the music industry, things like that.”

Bertie Blackman plays the Surfers Paradise Festival, Surfers Paradise Beach, on Sunday May 2. This is a free event.

Wednesday, 05 August 2009 12:58

James Grehan : Interview

Q Song Awards

On the eve of Q Music's annual Q Song awards, Scene caught up with Gold Coast-based songwriter and multiple winner at last year's awards to talk about writing tunes.

Wednesday, 21 April 2010 14:11

Yolanda Be Cool and D-Cup Interview

They No Speak ...

Love it or hate it, you cannot move without hearing ‘We No Speak Americano’ at the moment - Scene catches up with the creators of this musical beast to talk a bit of shit.

Wednesday, 17 March 2010 13:40

B430 Interview

Do This Then Die

As a thirty-something, pen-pushing, beer-gutted child owner, there are plenty of things I wish I’d done before I hit 30 - most of them sexual, some involving travel.

Exuberant Gen Y host Billy Russel doesn’t yet have those regrets, and neither need you provided you watch Channel V’s latest installment of B430 - essential shit to do before hitting the big three-oh.

“It is a good job - a fantastic job. I do four days a week in the office, which can involve going out and doing interviews, we do a daily chart show - most of the time I’m researching, watching new (film) clips, news and heading out on location filming stuff. Every single thing we do revolves around music to some extent, and that’s exactly why the gig is so fantastic,” says Billy.

“When I got the phone call to say I had the job, I could barely walk. I was in a complete state of shock. To have someone tell you that you will be waking up every day knowing that a job in music is yours - it’s not a feeling that everybody gets to experience. My body reacted accordingly and I could barely walk mate!”

We’d better talk about the actual show for a second - Billy’s first (and so far only) assignment for B430 has been a dash to the powder-laden snowfields of Niseko, Japan.

“I was lucky there was so much powder, because I’ve never actually snowboarded before, so I constantly fell on my ass through the whole filming. 

“I loved how different Japan was to home - we spoke to a Fugu chef, and they cook the most dangerous fish in the world every night - he was just such a character, he was telling us how he used to be a Sumo wrestler - the people in Japan are just the best and they’re what makes it special.”

The art of Gen Y bashing seems to be quite prominent throughout mainstream media - what would Billy say to those who paint his generation as a pack of whining underachievers?

“I think the ‘lazy’ tag is particularly unfair. I can only speak for myself, and I’m a firm believer that it’s not a good idea to generalise about an entire generation. I’ll be 24 in a couple of weeks, and there are teenagers who are now considered Generation X who I’m wondering about. But I like to think it is my passion and dedication to this gig that got me where I am.”

B430 kicks off on Channel V on Thursday March 18 at 7:30pm.

Wednesday, 10 March 2010 09:52

Pioneer cdj-2000 Interview

A Watershed Moment

There’s hype, and then there’s HYPE! And never before has so much hyperbole surrounded an innovation in the DJing world - the Pioneer CDJ-2000 has well and truly landed, ruffling feathers and changing the way a lot of jocks think about music, let alone approach their sets.

The CDJ-2000 is, seemingly, the complete package; Pioneer has taken heed of DJs desire to functionally combine hardware and software into one sexy-as-hell unit. Multi-media compatibility, the ability to link up to four CDJ-2000s and work them from a single USB stick, the ability to pre-prepare cue points and sets to a level previously unimaginable, a large, colour display screen, audiophile sound quality, needle-search function plus Rekordbox and more - let’s just say that genuine innovation has rarely come in so many forms in a single, fairly future-proof device.

The potential is, if not limitless, certainly mind-boggling.

Who better to speak to regarding this development than Collee Chappel: loveable rogue, staunch Pioneer man for more than 15 years, and someone who’s been involved with more DJs than Paris Hilton in his time at the company. He’s seen it all since the introduction of the CDJ 500, and is better positioned than just about anyone to discuss this amazing piece of kit.

As the result of four years of research, collaboration and constant development, I’m interested to know how closely Pioneer work with DJs through these stages.

“Very closely because the DJs are the most important ingredient in the mix of development, even as far back as the development of the original CDJ 500 back in 1994 - we had people like Roger Sanchez and Paul Oakenfold working with us on development, to name just a few,” says Collee.

“We have a very close alignment with our ambassadors. Our local ambassadors (including Grant Smilie, Stafford Brothers and many others) bring so much to the table that we constantly put them in touch with Japan. It’s a very important mix - no product will go out, even in a test stage, without being looked at extensively by both the global and local guys. Phil K has been instrumental in a lot of early development with both our decks and our mixers. He was doing things on some of the products that the Japanese weren’t even aware of.”

Ask any avid vinyl-lover about the Pioneer CDJ series and they’ll mumble into their food-stained beards about the killing of their ‘precious, their sweet precious’ - interesting then, that Pioneer designed the CDJ to stand alongside the Technics 1200.

“We never intended to emulate vinyl. I guess the thing that set it off was a national campaign with the CDJ 1000 where we ran posters saying ‘start de-vinylisation’,” Collee laughs.

“Those posters got ripped off walls, spraypainted, taken out of Sanity stores ... the thing is, Pioneer has never tried to emulate the turntable. Our players don’t have a spinning platter - every other product that copied us tried to emulate vinyl. If anything, Pioneer gear sat side-by-side with the Technics 1200s - the 500s were designed to sit above the mixer or next to the turntable.

“The death of vinyl? I don’t believe it’s dead to the purists. The hip hop community still backs vinyl - I still listen to vinyl at home, and most of it is freshly pressed stuff. For portability, though, how can lugging crates or bags of vinyl around compare to carrying a USB stick or a sound card? Why would you?”

So how has the CDJ-2000 being received in the clubs and by DJs?

“Initially the price point was always going to be a concern, but once the riders started coming through from the internationals ... put it this way; clubs will sit back and say ‘Oh, we’ve got a Mk3, we don’t need anything else’, but what’s happening is that once people get hold of it, they just demand to use them. I looked at the Future Music Festival DJ rider, and they needed four stages with the new CDJ-2000s - the Mk 3s are just not acceptable. In 30 years, they’ll still be running. They’re like the Technics 1200s - they’re super tough, and will be the industry standard for years to come.

“The culture for DJing, however, remains no different from rock n roll; guy gets rig, gets gig, meets girls, gets laid, gets paid and spends it all on sharp jeans, kicks, T-shirts and ... whatever.”

The Pioneer CDJ-2000 is available now from Lightsounds, 2/72 McLachlan St Fortitude Valley and Store DJ 71, Brunswick Street Fortitude Valley.

Wednesday, 03 March 2010 14:52

Science Project Interview

We Are Scientists

Local beatsmiths Science Project are turning out some damn fine dirty, low-end, glitchy dubstep - we catch up with Jad on the eve of their Gaslamp Killer support to talk about life, bass and getting older.

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