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Friday, 31 August 2012 10:02

Britney Spears: The Cabaret

Britney Spears is a real person. No, seriously.

Christie Whelan Browne, who plays Britney Spears in the one woman cabaret, 'Britney Spears: The Cabaret' elaborates, “We’re trying to humanise this person who has been dehumanised by the tabloids. I hope people take away the knowledge that she is just a thirty-one-year- old woman with kids who is trying to live her life just like anybody else.”

She points out, “It’s more an exploration of fame and people we have seen in society at the peak of their fame, being as rich as you could want to be and things still aren’t working out. It’s an examination of everything we have seen from Britney in the tabloids but from Britney’s perspective. So it gives a little something different in the hope that the audience will walk away having a different opinion of celebrities and in particular Britney,” tells Christie (who is a self-proclaimed Britney fan).

The cabaret showcases Britney’s life in the eyes of the media, whilst performing some of her classics such as ‘Piece of Me’ and ‘Baby One More Time’.

“When you take her songs and strip them down to a voice and the piano, you actually realise that they are beautiful songs and they’re really well written. Her music is usually just viewed as bubblegum pop, but I think the show portrays how great her songs are.”

Christie has been working in theatre since high school and building a strong following, but her performance in 'Britney Spears: The Cabaret' is one of the performances that has catapulted her career. She’s been playing the character for three years and there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight. “We’ve been back to Melbourne three times and had three sell out shows. Each time we think it might be the last time, the show continues to be relevant and people continue to be interested in it.”

'Britney Spears: The Cabaret' plays at Stockholm Syndrome, Aug 31 - Sept 1.
Wednesday, 08 August 2012 15:06

The Harbinger: Theatre in Preview

La Boite Theatre is giving you the chance to bring out your inner child and imagination again with their latest puppet production, 'The Harbinger' by Dead Puppet Society.

Although let's be clear, there is nothing childlike about this puppet show,

“it’s definitely not recommended for children … it’s dark and mysterious. There’s a lot of weird stuff going on which is what I love because it is different. It’s not mainstream or what you would expect to go see in a theatre in Brisbane.

"It has a dark Tim Burtonesque quality and quirkiness”, explains Niki-J Price, one of the leading actors and puppeteers of the show who plays a male character named Young Albert.

“You have this old fella, the Harbinger, and a girl comes into his world and he is jolted to have flashbacks and memories of his past. It’s a love story but you see it falling apart in some places.”

'The Harbinger' puppet show is a live performance with elements of animation and stage trickery helping to tell the story. The puppeteers steer the show and Niki-J laughs and adds

“but we’re not trying to be ninjas and completely hidden. We are definitely there and we have a kind of persona, but not to pull focus at all away from the puppets.”

It's a dying artform and never really something that took off in Australia in the first place, this is Niki-J’s first experience with puppets, which she describes as “intense, we’ve never done this before and it’s learning a whole new skillset.”

Her biggest enjoyment being that she loves a challenge. “Not only do I have to be a character and the psychology emoting all that; I have to condense all that into this external object. The challenge for me is to keep absolutely still and channel all the emotion and energy so it comes through the puppet and not me.

"It’s a very different challenge as far as being an actual performer or actor, to condense everything to absolute stillness when you want to express yourself with your own hand but you have to channel that energy to your puppet. There isn’t a lot of puppetry in Australia, which is why I think this show has a lot of interest.”

The darkness of the show sets the mood for the audience and Niki-J says to “pack some tissues, you can expect a rollercoaster of emotions. You have moments where you want to cry, moments you want to vomit and moments that will make you laugh out loud.”

It's easy to get lost in the moment and forget the discussion is about theatre when Niki-J paints an enlightened view of what puppetry and the show has taught her about the human condition.

“If you see it as a blank canvas and then build from the text, the puppets’ journey highlights to me that everyone in this world is a blank canvas to begin with and our experiences just make us who we are.”

Enlightening as it may be for Niki-J, this show is sure to expand your imagination at the very least. She advises to “come in with no expectations and walk away having had an emotional journey.”'

The Harbinger' plays at La Boite Theatre from August 11 - September 1.
Wednesday, 08 August 2012 04:55

Katchafire: On The Road Again

They may call New Zealand home, but reggae band Katchafire tour so extensively that it’s safe to admit they’re men of many lands. Australia will become their home away from home next month with a four-week tour planned.

“The one thing I notice about crowds in Australia is that Kiwis and Aussies have this rivalry,” declares lead vocalist, Logan Bell, “but somehow the vibe and atmosphere in our shows unite the two and always electrify the vibe. It makes for an awesome night.”

‘On The Road’, the title of their latest album, is certainly fitting for Katchafire and their lifestyle, as it was recorded over a three year period while the band was touring.

“We took inspiration from wherever it would come on the road and missing home really helped to inspire some of the lyrics.”

The record takes the listener on a relaxing journey; even if you're a reggae novice, you can't help but feel your hips moving to the rhythm. The album’s latest single, ‘Irie’, is a die-hard love song.

“It's my wife's favourite song obviously, and she is the woman who features in the video … It definitely was kind of a soundtrack for my kids and the early part of their lives and being a young married couple.

"Just that whole transition, growing up and having responsibility. It's definitely an enriching thing.” Katchafire started out as a Bob Marley cover band. Bell credits their success to this.

“It was a great training ground to learn reggae music, playing songs by one of the greatest reggae artists/ composers that ever lived. It definitely rubs off and you learn a lot from that. I pay tribute to those early days; it's where a lot of the power comes from… The love of reggae music and Bob Marley songs helped to solidify us as a unit and give us a goal and a purpose to work towards.”

But fame was never on the agenda. “We never really sat down and thought about our success, it's just what we love to do and we kind of naturally gravitated to each other and got it started.”

Katchafire identify themselves as an all-Maori band, but Bell explains their culture doesn’t have a major influence on their music.

“We don't think a lot about trying to get our culture in the music, but I guess we just naturally let it come through … We do feel a lot of responsibility to uphold our culture and perpetuate our culture as positively as we can.”

The band’s global adventures are a constant, with Katchafire’s following spreading to such far flung places as Brazil.

“We've recently completed our second tour of Brazil. It's a very interesting place and we were very surprised to see a huge fan base in Brazil. Our average attendance for each show was three or four thousand which totally blew us away … I guess through the Internet and YouTube, people from all over the world have been able to hear about us.”

Funnily enough, Bell sees their success as an upside to music piracy. “We wouldn't be so [well] known if it wasn't for illegal downloading and sharing, so I guess there is an upside,” Bell jokes.

So what can you expect from Katchafire this time ‘round?

“We really work on bringing a set that a majority of fans and people have never seen before. We've definitely been honing the set and it's bit of a best of all four albums. I can't wait for this Aussie tour, it's going to be one of our biggest Aussie tours to date, even non reggae lovers will get to our shows. Combined with the boys going hard and giving everything, it's sure to be magic.”

Katchafire play the Hi-Fi Aug. 31, Reggaetown Festival (Cairns) Sept. 1, Kings Beach Tavern Sept. 6 and Southport RSL Sept. 7.
Wednesday, 25 July 2012 17:08

Illy: More Traditional Sounding

Illy credits ‘race’ and ‘lifestyle’ as the major differences between our hip hop scene and that of America and New Zealand.

Now, after two successful albums, Illy describes his latest record, 'Bring It Back', as a passion project and something he's wanted to pursue for a while.

“It's more traditional sounding instead of the style I've come to be known for [and] it's definitely more of a collaborative release than anything I've done up until now. I'm quite keen to see how it's going to go down with everybody.”

Illy remains humble when he explains he “can't take all the credit for this album as a lot of hands have been on deck to help create it”.

Fellow MCs Thundamentals, Reason and Pez helped to realise his idea for this record, while some of the beats were supplied by Trials from Funkoars as well as One Above.

“I hope [the fans] like it. It's definitely a different side of me as an MC and I'm confident that I've done a good job. They'll be hearing something a little bit different to what they'd expect of an Illy record, which is exciting but also a little anxiety inducing as well.”

With Australian hip hop really beginning to bloom over the last five years, Illy is one of the new breed helping to shape the local style, setting it apart from the commercial American urban market.

“On [the] surface level, Aussie hip hop is a predominantly white and suburban culture. The people making it aren't from poverty stricken backgrounds and I think that plays into the differences.

I think the experiences we have as Australians are different than a lot of the experiences of black America or New Zealand. It's different because everyone is being true to themselves.”

With a national tour starting next month, Illy says punters can expect a live show “with a lot of energy. It's basically an entirely new set with over half the set being brand new tracks, which I'm psyched about.”

Illy plays Tomba’s, Toowoomba, Aug. 9, The Zoo Aug. 10 and Great Northern, Byron, Aug. 11. He returns to Brisbane for Sprung Festival at the RNA Showgrounds November 10.
Wednesday, 18 July 2012 13:51

Dan & Hannah Acfield: Siblings in Harmony

Gotye has described Hannah Acfield’s voice as “an expressive voice that engages you instantly”.

Now she, and her equally talented brother Dan, are taking breaks from their respective solo careers to focus on making music together. It's been a long time coming for Dan and Hannah, with a sibling collaboration having always being on the cards. “Because we're siblings and we've played music together for so long, when we collaborate it just seems normal. What we come up with together always seems really natural,” Dan says.

It may be natural now, but Dan says it wasn't always easy. When Hannah and he moved to Brisbane from Rockhampton to pursue their music education, they tried then to write songs together. However, Dan describes it as “a bit of a bad mix at the time. I was a dominant songwriter and Hannah wasn't afraid to tell me off.”
But since then, now living in different cities, they've recognised their collaborative talent by implementing a set of rules for when they write songs together, which brings out the best in them.

Not the first brother/ sister duo to write music together, they inevitably expect comparisons to the likes of Angus & Julia Stone. But Dan welcomes the comparisons, stating he simply “hopes people will like our music”.Dan & Hannah Acfield will be performing their new material as well as a few of their solo numbers with a few shows locally before heading south to perform in Melbourne.

“We both recognise that together, we tend to be better,” Dan says. And with that in mind, they’re set to release an EP in November with more extensive touring to follow. It appears this dynamic duo are the yin to each other's yang and the best is yet to come.

Dan & Hannah Acfield play The Loft, Gold Coast, July 20, Sol Bar, Coolum, July 21 and the Dowse Bar, July 22 .

Thursday, 14 June 2012 16:15

Streaming: QUT's 100 Songs

A little over three weeks ago, QUT’s Gasworks Studio completed a massive musical conquest by recording 100 songs in 100 hours, with over 70 local artists involved.

The first 40 tracks from the QUT 100 Songs project ― including songs from such artists as Big Strong Brute, Tape/Off and Drawn From Bees ― are now available to stream here.

The projects co-director, Professor Phil Graham says: "100 Songs lets us look at new models of doing business and creating real music with real artists and showing that locking musicians and other creatives in a room for 100 hours can result in some amazing music."

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