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Wednesday, 15 December 2010 14:18

The Beautiful Girls Interview

Finding Home

He’s the backbone of The Beautiful Girls with a humility that many in the music biz no longer possess. Refusing to let his life slip by on a tour bus, he spent a year in solitude composing the band’s latest record ‘Spooks’, finding inspiration and comfort in the small things in life – a sense of family and home. Ladies and gents, I give you Mat McHugh.

“Being at home you kind of look inward, it’s a deeper level than just touring around and giving your viewpoint on the world as you see it through the window of a tour van. ‘Spooks’ was a bit more centred around a sense of family and home which I always knew were important, but the more time you spend around it the more important you realise they are.”

The Beautiful Girls - now consisting of Mat, Paulie Bromley and Bruce Braybrooke – formed in 2000, appearing at a handful of open mic nights in their hometown Sydney before releasing their first EP in 2002.

It was what Mat calls an “accidental beginning”. He had studied design after leaving school, spending a year in India and New York where he could be seen busking on the streets. His plans to return to NYC after recording the demo were sidelined by its instant success.

“The demo cost $300 to make and sold 100,000 copies. I’m prepared at every second for it to end, I just wanna do stuff that comes from my heart so I’ve never gotten back to New York apart from the odd tour.”

Since those humble beginnings, The Beautiful Girls have gone from strength to strength, releasing four stellar records and establishing a loyal following both in Australia and around the world.

The band’s fans are always a consideration for Mat during the songwriting process. While he sees no point in churning out the same old sound, he tries to avoid alienating his fans by creating something too different.

“You have to stay faithful to what people know you for because they’re the people that at the end of the day are coming to shows and paying the bills. I feel like I owe our fans everything really because they’ve allowed me to have this life.”

His passion for music, particularly songwriting, was instilled in him by his late father.

“Dad was big into music and it was a bit of a pain in the arse really but he passed away when I was ten and I started getting more into it in a way because it was a connection between him and myself and I guess that was the reason I started connecting with it more.”

This year’s stint as a solo artist has seen Mat perform alongside the John Butler Trio at the historical Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, Tennessee, where the likes of Johnny Cash and Elvis Presley have performed.  

“We were playing 2,000 to 3,000-seat venues and I was playing onstage just by myself with a loop pedal and a guitar and standing up there naked pretty much. I was freaking when I first started that tour because I’d never done that and so to do that and kinda get comfortable in doing that I feel very proud doing that.”

Mat fitted his first solo album in the months between tours with the band, describing it as “just a little breather” he had.

“I didn’t want any expectations; I didn’t want to push it out ... I didn’t want to do any of the hard work we always do with Beautiful Girls stuff. I just wanted to put it out and see if people liked it and just go on a really mellow tour with my friends.

“The process of making that solo record was probably the most fun I’ve ever had making a record just because it was super easy and fun, no pressure. It was the opposite of the last Beautiful Girls record which we slaved over; the solo record was done in about three days.”

On the rare occasions Mat’s not playing music, you’ll find him hanging out at his home in Sydney or catching a few sets at the beach (he’s been surfing since he could walk). He dreams of one day getting a dog but for the time being is content with a summer tour with The Beautiful Girls next year followed by a solo tour of America in February, and then perhaps another solo record.

“It’s an absolutely blessed life.”

THE BEAUTIFUL GIRLS PERFORM AT THE GREAT NORTHERN, BYRON, JAN. 12-13, COOLANGATTA HOTEL JAN. 14, THE HI-FI JAN. 15 AND KINGS BEACH TAVERN, CALOUNDRA, JAN. 16.

Wednesday, 12 May 2010 04:59

West End Carnivale Interview

Morgyn QuinnA Feast For The Sense

The West End community is once again set to host the West End Carnivale, Brisbane's biggest masquerade party and a celebration of world music, local talent, circus freaks and all things weird and wonderful.

The brainchild behind it all, and also the organiser of eco festival Island Vibe, Morgyn Quinn drew inspiration for the event from Brazilian and Caribbean tradition.

"I experienced a carnivale in Trinidad and I liked elements of the Caribbean carnivale because I'm a big fan of reggae and such. The West End Carnivale is a marriage between Caribbean and Brazilian Carnivale, superimposed on our very own vibrant West End community."

The Carnivale made its debut at the riverside grounds of the Souths Leagues Club last year and was heralded a huge success with more than 2,000 people in attendance. Plans for this year's event have been in the pipelines since January and will come to fruition this Saturday, May 15.

Running from midday to midnight, the day will feature a musical smorgasbord of more than 50 acts, including Melbourne funk band The Bamboos, and Sydneysiders Juke Baritone and the Swamp Dogs. Also making an appearance are blues and jazz sensations Mojo Juju and the Snake Oil Merchants, and Sunshine Sound System, one of New Zealand's tightest hip hop and funk outfits.

Joining these artists are local acts Laneous & the Family Yah, Dubmarine, Kingfisha, The Darky Roots, The View From Madeleine's Couch, The Woohoo Revue, Tibet To Timbuctoo, Blind Dog, The Rude, Paua, Truth Serum, LUVS, Juddah, Bessy Lou, Martini 66,Graffiti MCs and Happy Days.

DJs storming the Selecta Stage are 20,000 Leagues, Andy Dub, Apex, Basmati, Ben Osborne and Sunny Dread MC, Boxy Lucha, Cat Kid, Lao Mirador, Nick 1, Scuba D and the internationally-renowned electronic and breakbeat artist Opiuo. The Carnivale will also play host to circus, cabaret and visual performances by La Viola Vixen, Lola the Vamp, Briefs and many more. Vixen will star in a burlesque show that is expected to be bigger and better than ever, followed by the All Male Briefs who will close the festival with a burlesque show of their own.

The highlight of the West End Carnivale, however, will be the Carnivale parade, which will be led by the famed costumed dancers and percussion ensemble of Rio Rhythmics Latin Dance Academy. The parade will feature about 100 performers, including fire twirlers and roving performers. There are also rumours of unicorns.  

It is tradition for Carnivale-goers to come in masked or costumed gangs' and this year's festival will offer group discounts for those who come and add to the colour. There is also compilation CDs up for grabs for the first 200 masked marauders through the gates.

"The idea of dressing up is to break down the barriers between the audience and the performers." Quinn says, "to make them feel like they're part of it."

He said Carnivale-goers can expect the same colourful market scene as last year with an outside bar plus food and craft stalls. Workshops will also be run throughout the day. Quinn believes last year's event earned the Carnivale an excellent reputation and has high hopes for a similar turnout to this year's event.

"I think the word has now spread outside of West End. Last year everything was just on paper, I was pretty amazed at how good it looked when it was built. When everyone adds their artist's input you don't really know what to expect at the start, but the end product is always a lot more beautiful than you imagined. It's definitely a very colourful and friendly event suitable for all ages."

Join Brisbane's biggest masquerade party this Saturday at Davies Park on Jane Street, West End.

THE WEST END CARNIVALE WILL KICK OFF AT MIDDAY ON SATURDAY MAY 15 AT DAVIES PARK.

Wednesday, 26 May 2010 15:47

Benn Hopkins Interview

A Man On The Move

Benn Hopkins has his finger on the pulse of the international music scene, recently touring alongside the cream of dance music at the Miami Music Conference in the USA.He’s also resident DJ at Valley hotspot, Zuri Lounge. Born and bred in Brisbane, Benn has rubbed shoulders with some of the biggest names in the business and will play Ibiza and Europe later this year.

“The biggest DJs in the world are the nicest by far. The ones without the attitude are the ones that have gone far, the ones with attitude and who think they know everything don’t.

“They’re really humble, down to earth people once you get to the top and are from the original generation that was about DJing and playing music for people rather than DJing for the kudos it gets these days.”

Benn should know, having supported the likes of Andy Caldwell, Robert Owens, Jay-J, Groove Assassin, Random Soul, DJ Katch (Resin Dogs), Marques Wyatt and Nickodemus.

His career kicked off at Viva Nightclub where he promoted Barbarella’s and he’s since been involved in events such as Good Vibrations Festival and the Triple J Groove Train. He was one of the driving forces behind worldwide party, Sundae Brisbane and you also might have seen him spinning at the Belgian Beer Cafe, Press Club, GPO, and Alhambra Lounge.

Benn has been resident DJ at Zuri for six months and enjoys the intimacy of the venue. “[The crowd at Zuri] is an older crowd who are looking for something different rather than the kids only into electro. They actually want to experience a night that isn’t forcefed to them with generic hits.”

Highlights of his career so far include an encounter with soul and house vocalist, Lisa Shaw, when he was involved in events with Zero Hour. “So I’m driving through Byron Bay with Lisa Shaw and she starts singing along to the radio, which is something you don’t expect to happen because she is so huge. You’ve got one of the best female vocalists in house ever in a normal situation singing along to the radio. That was a strange experience, but a cool one.”

CATCH BENN HOPKINS AT ZURI LOUNGE EVERY FRIDAY AND SATURDAY NIGHT.

Wednesday, 05 May 2010 14:55

DJ Playmate Interview

Hear This Kitten Purr

DJ Playmate is one to watch out for with addictive beats and mixes of dirty, funky and rocking house that will knock your socks off.

Monica Cook, aka DJ Playmate, will be sexing it up at Zuri this week with the funky, big room tunes that earned her the title of 2009 Pioneer Pro DJ.

“Sometimes I have to pinch myself because I never saw myself going in this direction. I guess when you find something that you’re good at you’ve just gotta roll with it – that’s what I’m doing now.”

Hailing from rural New South Wales, the self-confessed “country girl” took to the turntables almost a decade ago while modelling in New York and has been carving up dancefloors ever since.

“My main goal whenever I’m playing a gig is to get people moving and dancing regardless of whether they’re straight or drunk.”

She favours dirty, funky house with nice basslines and vocal elements, always treating herself to a glass of champers before and after a set. “I like my Verve most definitely, but I’m still happy with Moet (laughs) I’m not picky.”

She dubbed herself ‘DJ Playmate’ after being inspired by a Wheels and Dollbaby shirt she found while rummaging through her wardrobe one day. “People remember it; it’s a playful name with a bit of sexiness about it. That’s how I like to portray myself, not just as an artist but my personality as well.”

On cutting it in a predominantly man’s world, DJ Playmate keeps her head in the game. “People assume that we (female DJs) only get gigs because of the way we look but at the same time it motivates me even more to ensure I have complete focus and concentration on what I’m trying to do, which is a good set and a great performance.

“I want people to walk away really impressed and loving what they hear. I never want to lose that because that was the reason I started DJing in the first place – because I love my music and the effect it has on people.”

Playmate drew inspiration from UK dance music ambassador Pete Tong when first starting out and has since been influenced by the sounds of Dimitri From Paris, Chicago DJ Marshall Jefferson and champion of techno, Carl Cox.

She’s rocked the top clubs in Australia and Indonesia, making her festival debut at this year’s Future Music Festival where she performed alongside Australian and international artists such as David Guetta, The Prodigy, Eric Morillo and fellow Pioneer DJ ambassadors, The Stafford Brothers.

Playmate also teamed up with DJ Dave (PACHA Miami) for the Horizontal New Year’s Eve party on Gili Island in Bali and has made appearances at event circuits for Redbull, SLAM Festival and the infamous eastern suburbs parties at the Darling Point Road Mansion. In preparing for a gig, she likes to get a feel for the crowd before mixing it up.

“I always have my hit list of songs I want to play but you just never know until you’re actually there and can read a crowd. I’m prepared but I’m not prepared at the same time.”

Playmate uses her skills in marketing and advertising to promote herself, a career she sidelined to focus on her music. She hopes to produce in the future and will be jetsetting to Jakarta later this year to represent Australia in the Asian Digital Battle as part of her responsibilities as a Pioneer DJ ambassador.

DJ PLAYMATE WILL BE PLAYING UP WITH RESIDENT DJS BENN HOPKINS AND MATT KITSHON ON FRIDAY MAY 7 AT ZURI.

Wednesday, 07 July 2010 15:57

The Crate Creeps Interview

Cream Of The Crop

A year in the making, ‘It’s About That Time’ is the highly anticipated debut album of Brisbane’s own production duo, The Crate Creeps. Likeminded producers and childhood buddies DJ Butcher and Tommy Illfiga have incorporated a stellar line-up which  includes Suffa of Aussie hip hop sensations the Hilltop Hoods, the Funkoars’ Trials and internationally-acclaimed DJs Terntable Jediz.  

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