Items filtered by date: November 2013
Friday, 29 November 2013 14:25

Live Review: Mark Pradella

The Brisbane Jazz Club has drawn me once again in its low-key and dedicated way, to a night of sparkling and highly entertaining music from a highly skilled and devoted concert group, The Mark Pradella Band: with a bonus set from the Late Shift Big Band!  

Under the careful and concerted eye of Grant Mason, alongside the sweet and mellow vocal of Stephanie Dick, The Late Shift Big Band draws its 20 members from across the societal spectrum by a love of a crazed and dynamic facet of music — the J-word.  

Seemingly, the Late Shift sport the cojones to strive and diversify a repertoire to suit the modern palate, by way of exploring and elaborating on the more quirky and left-of-centered side of swing and Big Band music. The range and timbre of the standards and original compositions, be they the more energetic, flighty material or the sombre and more dulcet pieces, were of high quality and the group were enthused and attentive.

Keeping to Masons’ wishes and cues, yet unified in an eccentric ensemble, the impressive and ebullient brass and wind section of the Late Shift were shining and on the money, having drawn upon the maturity of experience and knowledge by way of the addition of the Mark Pradella Band into the backline.

Mark Pradella is a staple talent in these parts; with a mild twist to his playing, he has been enriching the musical mind of Brisbane’s youth for many years, performing with some of the most talented players in the area.

The Mark Pradella Band is an incarnation of the working-man’s group; keeping focus on the living aspect of music while retaining the love and the energy of your own performance and enjoyment.  

The group have a large and broadly defined repertoire, with many oddities and vagaries present, their arrangements were consciously of a more Latin and Motown/ groove aspect than a swing or concert band feel — hey! Electric wind instruments are the bomb.

The backline were enthusiastic and very keen, with an energy that belied the solemnity inherent to the group. Staid and laidback, more so, than required in my mind; the freedom from the constraints of the free sections can be drawn out and elaborated upon with barely the touch and effort required to keep to the form.

As above, so below and the adage has never been truer, as the members all continue to grow and evolve, even as they continue to help the young aspiring musicians of today to find their musical centre.  

The Late Shift and Mark Pradella bands have proven to us all, through the medium of the Brisbane Jazz Club, that there is vast room to breathe and enjoy the myriad and labyrinthine world of the J-word.

Published in Jazz/ Fusion
Wednesday, 27 November 2013 15:54

Good Vibrations: Director Interview

'Good Vibrations' is the critically lauded, unmissable chronicle of legendary Terri Hooley — a chaotic but charismatic optimist, instrumental in developing Belfast's independent rock scene.

Just as the troubles of 1970s Belfast threaten to take over his city, music-lover Terri Hooley opens a record shop called Good Vibrations.

Hooley discovers a growing voice of resistance in the city’s underground punk movement, and before long he finds himself establishing a record label and leading a new community as the so-called ‘godfather of punk’.

Starring Richard Dormer, Liam Cunningham, Dylan Moran and Jodie Whittaker and co-directed by Lisa Barros D'Sa and Glenn Leyburn, this is a vibrant, triumphant story that will have audiences cheering for more and one that Barros D'Sa is so proud of..

How did you get involved in the project?
The screenplay writers, Glenn Patterson and Colin Carberry, had the idea some years ago that the story of Terri and Good Vibrations would make a great film. But at that stage Terri was perhaps not quite ready to have his story told. We came on board some years later and we could see that here was a story not just about an extraordinary man living through extraordinary times but about something universal: youth and music and their power to resist and defy the darkest of times.

As the man who discovered The Undertones and Ireland's 'Godfather of Punk', Terri Hooley has had a huge influence on the Belfast music scene. Did you feel any pressure when you took on the challenge of telling his story?
Of course, it's always a big responsibility to tell the story of someone's life. We always knew that we didn't want this to be a hagiography - a great film character is a complex one, and Terri, like all of us, has his flaws, and there have been tough times in his life. We always wanted the film to be a celebration of what Terri achieved, both locally and in getting the voice and spirit of Belfast and Northern Ireland punk heard across the world.

With its focus on Northern Irish politics and the British punk scene, how do you think the film will go down with Australian audiences?
We never wanted to make this film only for a local, Northern Irish audience. As I've said above, we were attracted to the story for its very universal themes and we hoped that those would speak to audiences across the globe. To date we've been thrilled with how well 'Good Vibes' has chimed with audiences in countries from the US to the Czech Republic, Spain, Italy, the UK and South Korea, to name only a few! We really hope Australian audiences will find something in it they respond to as well. We also wanted to make a film with fantastic music and a lot of wit, comedy and warmth and we hope those elements will reach Australian audiences too.

As a music biopic, the the soundtrack to the film is important. Was it difficult to choose the tracks and secure the rights?
Hugely important! We're so proud of David Holmes and Keefus Green's fantastic soundtrack which has recently been released by Ace Records and chosen as Rough Trade's compilation of the year, 2013. David's own encyclopaedic knowledge of music and eclectic taste reflect Terri's own; this was never going to be a soundtrack with just punk music on it.

'Good Vibrations' is screening as part of this year's British Film Festival from Nov 27-Dec 8.

Published in Film
Wednesday, 27 November 2013 15:50

The Nutcracker: Ballet In Preview

Embarking on a magical journey to the Kingdom Of Sweets to meet the Sugar Plum Fairy, Nutcracker Alec Roberts prepares to dance his way into our hearts.

“For me it's a lot about music and what I respond to. I really like the 'Snow Pas' which is the scene where the Prince and the Snow Queen do a dance together. The music and choreography just moulds so well and I was fortunate enough to understudy that role and I really love it. Another scene is the ‘Grand Pas’ at the end where Sugar Plum and her Cavalier dance together, Tchaikovsky's music is so beautiful — it's stunning.

“Also because it is [set during] Christmas time I think that lends massive appeal. The ballet is so encompassing of such a variety of target audiences, everyone is going to enjoy it. So the choice was a no-brainer really.”

Performed on myriad occasions by ballet companies all over the world, the everlasting spark of imagination makes 'The Nutcracker' a timeless classic. “Ben Stevenson's version is regarded as one of the best in the world and it's not been [performed] in Australia yet. There are certainly a lot of magical tricks — without giving too much away – it's elaborate.”

An ethereal symphony, extravagant set and costumes designed to sparkle transform the stage into a transcendental masterpiece. “There has been many a costume fitting for all of us, there are just so many costumes! There is so much detail in them and it's a colourful production — it's not bland by any means. It's Christmas themed so it is joyful.”

Chasing perfection is a constant struggle for dancers, and Alec says he’s learning to balance perfectionism with just letting go and enjoying. “There has been a lot of practice involved in the Nutcracker role, especially because there is a lot of sword fighting. So it was interesting being new to having to fence and learning fencing skills and then cutting over to doing an hour of dancing.”

'The Nutcracker' will be performed at QPAC December 5-21.

Published in Ballet
Wednesday, 27 November 2013 15:46

Up Late: California Design 1930-1965

Stuart Vokes designs dream homes for a living — the spaces that make us feel human and safe — and is the next speaker at QAG's Up Late 'California Design 1930–1965: Living In A Modern Way' exhibition.

“It's really just simple things that we find attractive and comfortable because we're human. I guess in a way, architecture can be a scholarship on humanity.

"If nothing more we can rely on the fact that there are things that humans find innately beautiful and pleasing that are cross-cultural and cross-generational. So what we're trying to do is find something that sits within that realm that isn't necessarily something that is super rhetorical or esoteric.”

Vokes owns his own architecture practice, 'Owen and Vokes and Peters', where the small number of stuff all work to make a dream house a reality. “For pragmatic reasons we run projects independently with one or two other people in the office. But because it's an open plan studio there's a constant dialogue and sharing, and critiquing of each other's work.”

The Queensland Art Gallery is currently promoting its California Design exhibition with a series of speakers with different design perspectives featured during the Up Late sessions.

Vokes himself will provide an architectural perspective to provide a context from which to critique and analyse the exhibit, a “cute hypothesis”, as Vokes refers to it, that underscores the ethos behind the work he does at Owen and Vokes and Peters. “It's not really based on any academic research, more on my own experiences. It's kind of a simplification of the local industry, a little hypothesis all Queensland architects that make houses can be divided into those who are inspired by or influenced by Marcel Brauer who was coming from the East Coast, or those who are influenced by Richard Neutra who was working in California.”

Vokes maintains that the principle role of architecture is to mediate between humans and nature. He will be speaking about how each designer focuses on the importance of nature when designing a space, but from differing perspectives that can help us better understand how nature influences and interacts with our daily lives. “There's a lot to learn about making buildings from places we find in nature that are innately comfortable and offer a certain level of amenity or a certain situation that can be replicated in build form such as a cave (which is a perfect analogy for a safe haven or a comfortable room in a building). Or standing on the edge of the cliff could be translated immediately to standing in an elevated room or a rooftop space — on the edge of the city.”

For Vokes, a home tells a story and the most challenging and important part of the job is finding the story for the home, which involves both the client's relationship with nature, but also their relationship with themelves. “It's all about storytelling. Many of our clients share stories of their lives and it's with storytelling that we actually find the greatest seeds of an idea.”

Stuart Vokes speaks at The Queensland Art Gallery Friday November 29. 'Up Late: California Design 1930-1965: Living In A Modern Way' exhibition runs until February 9, 2014.

Published in Events Arts
Wednesday, 27 November 2013 15:33

Valley Fiesta: Live Review

The sky is grey over Fortitude Valley and the humidity is thick. Heat is radiating off the pavement and the three drinks tents are never anything but packed.

Click here for photos from Valley Fiesta.

It’s a late Friday afternoon and the annual Valley Fiesta is in full swing. A DJ heavy line-up on Friday sets the mood for the festival with vivacious energy and an infectious enthusiasm for the weekend ahead takes hold. The Gatling Gun and Young Franco are particular highlights with their ability to get the crowd hyped and buzzing with cool, calculated ease.

Saturday afternoon starts with The Cairos playing under a sizzling sun. It’s hard rock for the indie generation, with a kick drum that vibrates in your chest and guitar solos that rattle your retinas. Their set is youthful and energetic and leaves the crowd smiling.

Andy Bull very nearly didn’t make it to Valley Fiesta, and he’s missing a band member. Neither setback seems to have any impact on his set, however. as it’s quite possibly the best performance of the Saturday bill. Weaving between new and old material, his incredible falsetto is in fine form leaving me with goosebumps in the warm summer air. Current single, ‘Baby I Am Nobody Now’, has the crowd so hyped that when he finishes his set with a raucous ‘Keep On Running’ everyone goes a little bit crazy.

The unrelenting rain cut Saturday’s line-up short, however Architecture In Helsinki performed a spectacular a capella version of their latest single, ‘Dream A Little Crazy’. Dressed in fluorescent colours and grinning the whole time, they managed to lift the spirits of everyone around them; it was a fantastic finish.

After more persistent rain Sunday, Cub Sport finally took the stage to close out Valley Fiesta for the year. With big build-ups to catchy choruses, their early Arcade Fire-esque sounding indie pop goes down an absolute treat with groups of teenagers and families alike.

Despite the always-unpredictable Brisbane summer weather, Valley Fiesta was once again a highlight of the local musical calendar.

Click here for more photos from Valley Fiesta.

Published in Events Music
Wednesday, 27 November 2013 15:28

Eric Prydz: No Safety Net

Electro-dance artist Eric Prydz may be afraid of flying, but that won’t stop him visiting Australia for the first time ever as a Future Music Festival headliner.

“I've been to a lot of other places, but I haven't been to Australia. So that alone is a pretty good reason to finally come and do this tour with Future.”

This run of Australian dates will see Eric unveil the EPIC (Eric Prydz In Concert) touring experience for the first time down under. “Well EPIC was a live show we started working on a few years back and we started out doing it in the UK. It wasn't really something that we toured with, it's bigger than a jumbo jet, it's a massive structure, a lot of holograms and projection mapping.

“I did the EPIC 2.0 as we call it — which is the updated version — which is technically so much more advanced and logistically it's now tourable. So we just did two shows in New York and one in LA. It's kind of hard to explain, but anyone who wants to know what it's like can probably go on YouTube and check it out. It's really cool.“

When it comes to the live performance, don’t expect a pre-synced show from Eric. Rather, this man enjoys performing without the aid of a safety net. “I just think it's more fun. A lot of these big production shows that people do now are all pre-synced, because they need to sync with the fireworks, the cannon, the visuals, the lasers and the this and the that. It’s basically what everybody does — they have everything pre-programmed and they go and press play, which I'm absolutely fine with. I don't really care if it's really hard for them to produce what's coming out of the speakers or not. I only care about what I see.

“But for us as a team doing EPIC, we just thought it would be so much more fun and challenging for ourselves. And it's also going to be more fun for the people that come and see it because each show is going to be unique. More like when you do a normal club set, when you go and take the night as it comes.”

Eric Prydz plays Future Music Festival at the RNA Showgrounds March 1.

Published in Electronic
Wednesday, 27 November 2013 15:22

DJ Hoppa: Rocking The Show

DJ Hoppa’s music influences range far and wide, with his mother being a cellist and his father a trumpet player.

But it was hip hop that spoke to him. “It was just something that was just pure fun in the beginning. My homie John had turntables in the garage. He had one a capella record and then he had a beat on another record, and he was just mixing them together. To me – that was just crazy. I've always played music, but to manipulate it and remix it live like that was just super fun. It just caught me. It's just being young – hip hop just speaks to you.”

A resident of California, DJ Hoppa has ties to Australia’s hip hop scene via local royalty Bliss N Eso. “I heard about them through the internet; I produced this song for them called 'Up Jumped The Boogie' [off 2006 LP, ‘Day Of The Dog’]. And that was my first link to Australia, that was some years ago.

"I kept in touch with them and always stayed on top of their music and always dug their beat — I felt like Australia was really good at keeping the culture of hip hop very true ... Just more conscious of the beats and the lyrics than the gimmicks and the money stuff.”

Headed down under with fellow Californian rapper Hopsin, Hoppa says the two grew up in the same neighbourhood, but never knew each other until their manager intervened. “It's a trip. Our mums live in the same neighbourhood, like blocks from each other, but we've never known each other. I didn't know him until our manager Dane approached me to go on tour with Hop. It was only going to be a couple of shows, one small tour, but the energy – we have a really good dynamic on stage, like I feel like I can read his cues really well. We just know how to control the pace of the show really well. That's like the foundation of everything – the show.

“We've been on the road together so much that we just see each other all the time. Now it's just like, ‘Let's kill it man, let's get to work!’ We just rock the show.”

DJ Hoppa supports Hopsin at The Tempo December 13 as well as the Surfers Paradise Beergarden December 16.

Published in Urban
Wednesday, 27 November 2013 15:13

Mbezzel: Back With A Vengeance

Untamed and unashamed, hip hop artist Mbezzel is putting on one hell of a show.

“I was having a few drinks and came up with the name for the show, 'Hell's Kitchen',” says the local hip hop artist. “It's been used before but there's something about it that suits our style. It wouldn't suit if it was called 'Candy Land' or something like that.”

Ready and waiting with uncompromising lyrics and a chainsaw tongue, Mbezzel is committed to dropping his sharp sound on a new audience. “I got a taste for the stage. When I came back [from Sydney last month], all I wanted was a [local] gig but I found out in Brisbane you can't just play a set, you have to put on a whole night. So I met the boys and we were all keen. It took a lot of phone calls and a couple of emails but when we got the venue, we were thrilled,” he says.  

Although at times his music can be explicit, passionate and chaotic, Mbezzel also displays a calmer side to his music. “I think it's important to keep it real, but I'm going to tone it down a couple of notches so that I can reach a wider audience — but I'll keep the same themes and feelings in the music. I've got two young daughters and I'm doing this so they can be proud of their dad one day.”

Developing his sound is an organic process, starting with the bassline before layering beats and writing lyrics to give a harder edge to his tracks. “I like to freestyle but if I'm working on an album track where I've paid a bit of money for the beat or a clip, I'll put a lot more time into those.”

Influenced by artists such as Dilated Peoples and local hip hop act Lazy Grey, Mbezzel found his musical home with hip hop. “Hip hop speaks from the soul; it's raw, it's real and it's been around for 30 years and it's still going strong. I don't think I've made my best rap yet. I've started recording, making clips and my album's coming out at the start of next year, so the best is yet to come.”

Mbezzel plays Hell’s Kitchen alongside Doomzday Dreamers and Def Men Walking at The Trans Hotel December 7.

Published in Urban
Wednesday, 27 November 2013 15:04

Chasm: Digital Only

Releasing a series of four back-to-back EPs over the course of a year sounds like a lot of hard work – but Chasm seems to be taking it all in his stride.

The Sydney-based hip hop producer has just dropped ‘Day Turns To Night’, his third instalment in the series of four digital only EPs released this year through Obese Records.

The EP sees him adopting an entirely new production process, moving away from traditional samples to focus on an ambient electronic sound. “I decided to flip things up a bit,” he explains. “I mean for most of my Chasm releases and my hip hop stuff it’s been heavily sample-based, you know. It’s always been samples really. So for this one I wanted to do something different, so it’s sample free and I didn’t use any rappers, only vocalists. I just wanted to go down a different path.”

Fans of his work are certainly in for something different. A refreshing playlist featuring sultry vocals from some of Australia’s best, including Jane Tyrrell (The Herd), Daniel Misfud and Momo (Diafrix). “I’ve been listening to a lot of UK beat music like Burial, all that kind of darker garage style stuff. I’ve been influenced from looking outside of what I normally would do and finding something a bit different.”

Since signing with Obese, Chasm has recorded three full-length albums as well as producing a number of releases for fellow Obese artists. “I guess with the EP series, it’s just me trying to keep it interesting for myself. The last couple of things I’ve done have felt like a lot of work. Putting together a whole body of work like that was a big effort. So I thought it could be cool just to do a digital only; do it as a series and just collaborate with one specific artist or a couple of artists for each EP. I guess it’s just the simplicity of it. By making it digital-only, it’s a more limited release and it just keeps things simple.”

A background playing in bands and messing around with synths means Chasm was able to play nearly every beat on the EP. “It’s a mix of me playing all the synth basslines and pads and stuff. I think I played guitar on a couple of the tracks, so yeah, it’s all produced by me! Basically I was playing in bands and stuff for years, and then got into producing. The last band I was in, we had a sampler and a couple of Moog synths, so I was just messing around with them and became interested in programs and the sequence of music. From there I just started making beats on software and found some hardware gear that I liked, such as the MPC.”

Messing around with beats soon turned into an enviable career for any hip hop producer. "I released my first EP on a label from Melbourne called Awakenings and then signed with Obese.”

Chasm currently holds no plans to tour, as work on the EP series won’t be complete until ‘Summer’, the fourth instalment comes out. “The fourth EP will be with an English rapper called Blak Twang. We are releasing the first single off that before the end of the year and then the EP will come out in February. I probably won’t tour. I think with this series it’s just a little studio project, so I’m not really getting out on the road with it.”

Despite being a “little studio project”, it’s definitely a series worth checking out. A fresh take on the traditional recording method, coming at you in easily digestible bite sized chunks that are sure to make it onto a lot of seasonal playlists. It’s music for sweet backyard summer vibing.

‘The Day Turns To Night’ EP is available digitally here.

Published in Urban
Wednesday, 27 November 2013 15:00

Trichotomy: Birthday Boy

As a band named after a mathematical concept, surely this trendy jazz trio are wizards with numbers?

“I would say no,” Trichotomy pianist Sean Foran says. While maths may not be their strong suit, Sean’s quick to add further insight into the band and the interesting theory behind their name. “It's a balance thing, you know, it's not a one person leading thing. It's really balanced and that's what we think is an important, critical aspect to the music.”

After releasing then touring their last album, 'Fact Finding Mission', for the past year, Trichotomy will play their final show in Brisbane this December. Taking a trip down memory lane, the performance will consist of old favourites, as well as tracks from 'Fact Finding Mission'. “[Touring the album] was a nice way to keep the spirit of it alive for a longer time, which we thought was really nice because we spent so much time making it.

“This is the last show for the year which is pretty exciting. We'll be playing a bunch of old stuff alongside some of the stuff on the latest album, so it'll be a varied range of material. It's gonna be a very special show and we're gonna really try and traverse the catalogue. And it'll be my birthday, which is fab!” Sean beams with delight. “We're gonna have cake – we definitely need to have cake.”

When it came time to explore certain musical elements with ‘Fact Finding Mission’, Sean admits they did travel a less conservative path than previous recordings. “I don't know if there's an overall theme – there's always a sense of playfulness and fun to the music that we create, and there are different collaborations that move outside of our usual sound. It seems to be moving outside of contemporary jazz and bringing in more collective influences which, for us, is really fun, and hopefully when people listen to it, it sounds fresh.”

Another important element with Trichotomy is melody, as Sean explains. “I think that melody is such an important thing – having a melody that's strong and that people can follow. There are ups and downs, and twists and turns and if that's not there, it just kind of gets boring. So having that strong melody is important so that people can then paint their own picture.”

As an instrumental ensemble, Sean says the trio have managed to have fun creating “bizarre and zany” music videos. “It's always about what's crazy and fun and different. There's that sense of fun and we want it to be really enjoyable — almost like a mini movie.”

Trichotomy play The Box, West End, Sunday December 15 — from 6pm.

Published in Jazz/ Fusion
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