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Wednesday, 20 May 2009 14:28

Cutloose Interview 20.05.2009

Funk'n'scratch

With a slew of local shows upcoming and a debut album to promote, before he returns to the US next month, Cutloose is one busy man. Catching up with the icon of Brisbane’s hip hop, funk and soul scene, you soon learn that his musical career isn’t the only thing keeping him busy. “I just had great sex, that's why I was late for the interview. I’m walking around the house doing this interview in my undies,” Cutloose admits, his voice sporting the rich baritone of post coital confidence.

Brisbane local who moved to Los Angeles last year, Cutloose quickly carved a name for himself in California, impressing with his innovating mash-ups and some of his favourite old school dubstep.

His debut album, 'Cut', is now complete and ready to release, but first he’ll be showcasing the record to his home town, with a listening party this weekend. "I have always been a fan of hip hop, that sort of speed. So naturally having a love for the electronic side of things and the speed of hip hop, I wanted to push those two together, and this album is what has evolved out of it.”

With assistance from his record label, Cutloose has produced the album himself. "I am new to producing, I've only been doing heavy production for the last two years and there are sounds that I have in my head that I was having difficulty recreating, I've been listening to other artists and thinking 'that's a similar sound that I was going for' that it makes me go back and open up the file of the song I was producing, listen to them again with new ears, and that's when I started developing a little more, the intricate sounds of the song. These songs as a whole have developed over time.”

‘Cut’ came together in pieces, some produced in Brisbane, some in LA. “There are about four songs on the album that I made really quickly when I first got to LA. I made that in LA, I was really excited about everything, everything is new and fresh and I just had this idea and I was inspired and I made that song.”

Cutloose will be behind the decks this weekend, giving his home crowd a taste of his original productions. It will be a little bit more of the harder electro that I've been getting into and been playing out and about and the dubstep that I've really been enjoying at the moment as well. I've been a fan of dubstep for quite a few years, back in the late 90s early 2000s I was really enjoying a lot of UK dubstep and what not.

“Now that it has become a lot more popular commercially in some of the bigger clubs, I have a chance to be able to play some of the big tunes that I really like. It gives me that chance to play to a larger audience and little bit of schooling and little bit of check out this new sound if you haven't heard it yet.”

Cutloose has drawn on a long and diverse love of music for the creative process on ‘Cut’. “I want to make music like NWA made music. I want (to make) music like Wu Tang. I want to make music even like Quincy Jones did, I want to make stuff like The Cars did and Talking Heads. If I tied myself to one style, I would just break out again.”

Having played gigs internationally as well as taking in what the rest of the world has to offer, Cutloose is optimistic about the plight of the Australian DJ. We have the best of both worlds. We are able to draw from America's more hip hop, rock influences, and we get to draw from the more dance techno side of things from Europe.”

Catch Cutloose at Whatever Wednesdays at Uber May 20, Monastery May 22 and 'Homegrown' at Barsoma May 23. 'Cut' will be out soon on D-Fault Records.

Wednesday, 13 May 2009 15:13

Jaytech Interview

EVERYTHING IS OK

One of Canberra's finest young DJs is a mild mannered fella called Jimbo. When the sun goes down and people are getting sweaty on the dancefloor, it’s often because of Jimbo; but when he’s behind the decks, he’s called Jaytech.

Fresh from a hectic schedule of international gigs plugging his debut full length release, 'Everything is OK', Jaytech is proving himself as one of the slickest producers to come out of Oz this year. “I just got back from Indonesia, and the whole time I was there I was getting two or three hours sleep. I was stopping there for a couple of gigs on the way home from London,” Jaytech explains, despite feeling a little fuzzy from jetlag.

“I was playing at a beach festival; the whole thing is sponsored by Marlboro cigarettes, you've got Marlboro branding all over the party and between each of the DJs sets they played the Marlboro song and it’s like this little ‘Chariots Of Fire’ style anthem to remind everyone of the joys of smoking, that was really interesting being at a party like that. To mix out of the Marlboro song into my set was actually quite funny.”

Mixing marketing ditties into your set is one thing, but remixing, as Jaytech admits, can be a tough one for any DJ to tackle. “Working with a remix can possibly be the hardest thing to do as a producer because you have to incorporate other people’s sounds into your tracks and they are usually sounds that you wouldn't have come up with yourself, so that's always an interesting challenge for me working with other people’s sounds. But I think there are many different elements that go into a track that has club appeal.”

Jimbo is well versed in creating club-friendly tracks and he knows how important it is to stay true to his sound. “The best way to describe my sound is definitely melodic house, anything between house and trance music and it’s usually got some pretty uplifting melodies and chords in it and it tells a bit of a story as well.”

Not one to rest on his laurels, Jaytech, despite only just returning from an exhaustive world tour, has already found time to get back in the studio. “The last eight months, after the album release, I've been travelling around the world and playing lots of parties basically. But now I'm back in the studio for the next couple of months working on another release, so I'm hoping to have that finished by the end of June.”

Releasing ‘Everything is OK’ as his own self-produced album has given Jaytech an opportunity to showcase material that wouldn't have survived as a single. “Doing this album has been really good for me. It’s meant I have been able to release some down-tech, chillout style tracks and other styles that I don't usually get to put out on a day to day basis because they won’t really fit by themselves as singles in their own right.”

Advances in technology has meant dance music production is now more accessible to a larger cross section of people. “Since the introduction of newer versions of Logic and Ableton Live software, all these much better sound engines, (home production) has sort of just taken off. Now there are so many places you can go to learn how to produce dance music, and the way that's changed the music is that people are falling into these predictable patterns of production. Someone will write a track and they'll put down a riff or a method of production that's already in place and they'll elaborate on it just a little bit, and so that's the way things are moving forward now.”

Catch Jaytech at Planet Nightclub May 15. 'Everything is OK' is available thru Stomp/ Anjunabeats.

Wednesday, 26 August 2009 15:16

Rumpus TV: Interview

Look At My Face!

Beaming their signal into the national consciousness with a jam-packed schedule of local bands, culture and other assorted crunchy bits, Emcyte and Stylesy, local heroes of QCTV and West End, are gearing up for the second season of locally produced Rumpus TV.

Based out of West End mecca/watering hole Rumpus Room, Rumpus TV’s first season was met with critical acclaim amongst learned academics and barflies alike. Emcyte takes us through a blow by blow account of what's on the bill for season two.

“Thinking back I remember with the initial speech with the producers I really didn't expect them to give me a go,” remembers Emcyte. “I had only been working in and around the station (QCTV) for a couple of months and I was surprised how quickly it came together, I really had to think on my feet.”

The show is a laidback and loyal look at cultural happenings in and around West End. “We are pretty into the music scene, last year we had a tattoo artist on and some other stuff, basically anyone that's being creative and is standing on their own, doing what they love, and being successful at it, that is interesting to us and that's something we look forward to showcasing more on the show this season. That could be painters, or graph artists or whatever it may be we'd be keen to have a chat to them.”

Surprised and humbled by the greenlight for season two, Emcyte and Stylesy are looking to continue their quest to put local music on the map.

“We are going keep it pretty similar from last year, similar sort of format. We focus a lot on local bands and local people and also DJs and personalities, festivals. My background is in music, I play in a local band, Schoolfight, and I know how hard it is to get exposure, especially if you're a young band new to the business. Basically we try and get local acts that are good, and just give them a little bit of help and a little bit of exposure via the show.”

Rumpus TV is in the enviable position of searching out the new and fascinating in the abstract, crusty, soon to be gentrified West End.

“West End is such a vibrant and artistic area,” totes Emcyte, “such a small place there is so much music going on in this suburb. Coming from Cairns, everything is so spread out, there is one or two venues tops, that have live music whereas West End, The Valley, Brisbane in general it’s happening everywhere, and so many different styles too; you got your hard edge rock dudes, to your really cool reggae stuff and hip hop.”

The new season promises to champion the work of local artists. “We encourage bands to contact us via the email, if they see the show we encourage them to send us their CD and their promotional stuff. If they have gigs coming up we've got a 'What's On' segment at the end of the show where we can advertise what's happening on the weekend, whose playing where and that kind of stuff.”

As well as hunting down local bands to showcase, Emcyte and Stylesy love getting out amongst the people for some good old fashioned chats.

“Street Talk is one of the bigger segments and it’s one of the ones that Stylesy and I enjoy the most. It never ceases to amaze me what kind of freaks are out there. We tend to do West End quite a bit, and the Valley of course, which is always choka block full of freaks.”

With a full season under their belts, Emycte says the show is full steam ahead with plenty of weird culture and crrrazy antics on offer for viewers.

“It was a massive learning curve for both of us, and we feel this year we are better equipped and we are ready to destroy it. This year we have the Shifty crew, Butterz and Slinky they’re going to be our DJs throughout the ten weeks, basically we have them live in the studio with us playing some tasty tracks, and the first band to feature in the new season will be local hard rockers The Hits.”

Season Two of Rumpus TV airs from 9pm September 3 on QCTV. Season One can be viewed on YouTube.

Thursday, 12 August 2010 10:29

Chocolate Strings Interview

Time To Get Festivus

The days are getting longer, and warmer, and the festival vibe is un-curling from its winter hidey-hole. Those of us who care enough scratch together what its worth to get out of the rat race and head for the hills.


While you’re there, keep your ears to the ground for Chocolate Strings, who are planning to run amok all over this season’s festival circuit. “We are definitely staying in the dancing vibe,” reassures drummer Kasper Skou, aka K-Pops. “We are still reggae based, I wouldn’t say we are straight reggae, far from it, but it’s reggae-based tunes. It’s a bit gypsy, there are some ska numbers, more dub.”

The Strings are reshaping their sound now they’re back in the studio and dealing with a reshuffling of members.

”We are getting ready to go back into the studio. We got a bunch of new songs that we are working on, and lots of out of town gigs, really, that’s what we have been focusing on. We have had a couple of new additions and changes in the band. We have some more songwriters as well.”

The follow-up to their debut album, ‘Carnival’, will be a reflection of the changing face of the band, with newcomers and the old guard melding well together for a fresh sound. Long time face and voice of the band, Ofa Fanaika, has welcomed her cousin Nia (The Warrior Princess) to the fold to add to the vocal power of the group.

The newish lineup are busying themselves to play all summer long, including a stop off at south east Queensland’s latest festival shin dig, BAM! Festival.

“We do like those kinds of festivals, there seems to be more and more coming these days, which is great,” Kasper says. “I think the 24-hour concept is great, especially with these kinds of festivals, not just doofs and stuff like that. The lineup is pretty interesting. We are always happy playing alongside Barons of Tang, they are good bunch of kids. Anarchist Duck are playing, Truth Serum, the Winnie Coopers, and I’m keen to see Dallas Frasca again.”

The music at Bam! is set to run from 3pm Friday October 8 until 2.30am Monday October 11 non-stop, with circus performers and other sonic and visual treats to keep even the hardiest festival-goer appeased. Chocolate Strings will be representing a very diverse, and quite distinct, reggae sound alongside gypsy deathcore, old time blues and straight-up punk.

But Pacific Island culture has a huge influence on the Chocolate Strings sound, which can be see seen most obviously through the heritage of the vocal lineup. Ofa and Nia are from Tonga, and Nikkie McWalters hails from Papua New Guinea.

“It just comes through. We all love it. Especially the voice, it’s the three voices that drive the band in my opinion. It’s pretty hard being drummer at the back, and listening to those voices and trying to concentrate at the same time.

“We were down in Nimbin on the weekend, and we didn’t leave the pub for three days. All we did was sit up on the balcony and write songs. It was Nikkie, Nia and Ofa just using their voices, just the range of different songs and genres. It’s just in their blood I guess.”

These roots have led the band to explore the idea of sharing their music with remote and indigenous communities.

“We are in talks with Zennith; we are thinking about getting us and them, and Iwantja Band from Alice Springs and doing a touring circuit in regional areas and all through the Northern Territory. Jeremy from Iwantja has been talking to us about heading out there, because they love reggae out there, and just music in general. It would be great to get out there to introduce them to a different style of music.”

When they are at home, the band is in West End, a mecca for the strange-yet-wonderful folks of Brisbane. The band will often be found, in one incarnation or another, doing their thing at any number of the local haunts.

“West End is just amazing, it’s a really good arts hub, it lets you be free to do what you want. The bands and the venues and the people that are there, we wouldn’t be here without the help from Paul Watson, Dubmarine, Upsteppers, Morgs (Morgyn Quinn) from Rudekat - they took us in under their wings when we were a three-piece. The support from the venues too: Lock N Load, the Joynt. Tongue n Groove back in the day. It’s just a great place.”

Catch Chocolate Strings at BAM! Festival at Ivory’s Rock (45-minute trip out of Brisbane) October 8-10.

Wednesday, 31 March 2010 15:23

Rainman Interview

The Storm is Brewing

There are a chosen few among us who look the world dead in the eyes and cover the ground in ‘white, phlegmy truth’. For Brisbane’s hip hop fraternity, that truth comes from Rainman.


Wednesday, 09 December 2009 10:15

Naughty By Nature Interview

Back!

Standing high atop a career spanning 20 years, hip hop trio Naughty By Nature are back in the studio serving up their reunion album ‘Anthem Inc’. It’s been a while coming, with production, a clothing label and even TV acting taking the front seat for the trio. But now, Treach, Vin Rock and DJ Kay Gee are back together and they’re bringing their brand new album down under.

The group formed in East Orange, New Jersey, which at the time was known to locals as ‘Illtown’. Since 1989 they’ve won a Grammy, their work has been named among the top 100 hip hop singles of all time – they were even referenced on ‘Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air’.

But as Vin explains, the music industry was a different world then. â€œIt was a whole different level, the way the music industry worked. Y’know, back then it was all about signing to a label; like right now, it’s more about doing (it) independently, you have to have a buzz about yourself before a label will want to even sign you, so it’s more like doing it yourself now. We have been around the industry; we (have) definitely lived a different life since being in the industry; I think we pull from experience, we pull skill and talent that evolves (over time) and we apply it and translate it into music.”

Since the group’s inception, they’ve been serving up feel-good hip hop that proudly represents where they come from. â€œThere is always going to be the ghetto, there is always gonna be hard times, there is always going to be good times, and we just basically put our music and our talent together just to make feel-good music. Whether it’s to hold your head up high, whether it’s political, whether it’s social, whether it’s party, we were always known for making those anthems, and that’s why we just keep on with that agenda.”

Naughty By Nature will grace Australian shores to play the Good Vibrations festival tour next February. â€œWe have heard about it, but our manager Rebecca Foster, she has been out there before, and she politicked with the promoters to really get us out there, so we are definitely excited to be doing it. We hear it’s one of the biggest festivals out there.“

As experienced showman, the trio promise a lively set laced with new material. “Naughty always bangs with a high-energy show. What we look forward to the most is giving ‘em new music, some of these tracks off the upcoming ‘Anthem Inc’ album. And we pride ourselves on introducing songs that you never heard on the internet or radio or video before, and really rockin’ the crowd with it.”

Back together after attending to their respective projects meant NBN were able to approach the reunion recording with fresh musical muscle.“Since doing Naughty By Nature, Kay Gee has gone onto to R&B projects, he has been working with a lot of different musicians, traditional songwriters. Treach and I, we have been writing with different rappers - young guns, young hungry guys, they keep Treach on his toes. So it’s kinda like bringing all of that experience back to the table, it’s like a Naughty By Nature on steroids because you know what you’re workin’ with now.”

Over two decades in the biz, Treach, Vin and Kay Gee have come to understand the power of hip hop to express the sentiments of a misunderstood and mythologised culture. â€œIf it weren’t for hip hop music, you got a lot of kids that are in the suburbs who have a certain perception of the ghetto, you know? Their parents may have schooled them ... (but) basically hip hop music is the ghetto kids explaining their story, explaining their conditions. It gave the rest of the people in America insights into our neighbourhood and our culture and the kind of people we are.”

Hip hop has become a vehicle for the storytelling of many people that wouldn’t otherwise have the chance to express themselves, and where they come from. â€œThe prime example is NWA. When they were saying ‘f#@k the police’ and all of that stuff, people wondered why they were saying that stuff. You can listen to their record and find out and they really opened everybody to what was really going on in LA, with the gangs, with the police brutality.”


Naughty By Nature will perform at Good Vibrations, at the Gold Coast Parklands, February 20.

Wednesday, 10 June 2009 15:33

Nine High : Interview

Miles Ahead
Melbourne-based hip hop trio Nine High have the storm clouds gathering with their mix of lumpy beats and prolific lyricism. Now a long way from their beginnings in Slough, UK, Aussie punters are devouring their upbeat brand of socially-conscious, tongue-in-cheek hip hop.

After a long and meticulous production process, their debut album is pressed and ready for the feeding trough. “We've got a load of tracks we could have used,” says Fraksha, “but you don't want to put out a load of crap, coz people don't forget that, y’know. I'd rather put one good album out than three shit ones.”

With a mammoth back catalogue of lyrics, Fraksha, Felony and Scotty have sifted through the pile to make sure their debut record boasted only the best of their rhymes. “If you look around you there is always something you can write about, whether it's something that relates to you personally or something to someone a million miles away. There is always something happening out in the world, there are always going to be things that piss you off.”

Even though the Nine High crew have earned the love and respect of the hip hop scene, they are eager to ensure their tracks have mass appeal. “One thing we have strived to do from day one, is play gigs to rock crowds or play gigs to university students, or retro crowds, there is nothing worse sometimes than playing to a hip hop crowd ‘cause a lot of the time they just stand there with a screwed-up face, standing in the corner with their hoods up, and there's no girls there!”

Their self-titled debut album shows the temper and balance of a crew that are staying true to themselves, but also showing the punters a good time. “It’s party music, but it's not on a level that isn't cheapening ourselves. We aren't thug rappers, but we have been around that shit and we aren't party rappers full stop, but we are around that shit. We are a part of all facets of hip hop and I think we can appeal to all those.”

In their adopted home of Melbourne, the boys are mighty impressed with the booming Australian hip hop scene.“There is always politics and back stabbers in any scene, but the whole industry over here seems miles ahead. The business side of it, the support and the record label, they're a lot more professional.”

‘Nine High’ is available now through TAOS.

Wednesday, 02 February 2011 13:02

Reggae For Recovery Review

Brisbane Riverstage Sun. Jan. 30

With festival season in full swing, some of Brisbane’s most beloved summer events are taking the chance to lend a hand to our recently submerged city.

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