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Wednesday, 25 July 2012 16:34

Sigur Ros: Beyond Borders

With the likes of Taylor Swift, Justin Bieber and Rhianna topping the latest Forbes list of highest-grossing young celebrities, the music sector has a lot to answer for in terms of international exports.

But in an industry where similarity is the cornerstone of acceptance and therefore, commercial viability, it would seem Icelandic four-piece, Sigur Rós, is an exception to the rule.

With a career spanning near on two decades, the band has maintained an international presence, while upholding musical integrity; operating in defiance of geographical boundaries and language barriers, not to mention the dreaded three-minute radio edit.

“It’s really quite funny because we never tried to be popular outside of Iceland,” explains bass guitarist Georg Holm. “In my opinion, we never tried to be popular at all. It just kind of happened. We’ve always sung in Icelandic and we like to play around with words a lot [referencing the band’s ‘made up’ language, Hopelandic], which makes it quite difficult to translate, so it was surprising to us that people around the world would be interested in what we do.

“If you think of any type of art, music has been especially misused for such a long time. I’ve never understood how you can write some music and because it might become popular and a radio station wants to play it, you have to edit it down. It’s just like someone saying to van Gogh or somebody who was not popular at the time, but quickly became popular: ‘This painting does not fit in my gallery; we need to cut half of it off’. It’s the same in some sense. It’s just bizarre.”

For Holm, the band’s sixth LP, ‘Valtari’, sits at the end of a long-running continuum. Maybe it’s the labour of love that lead to the album’s completion or perhaps the prospect of the band’s first real tour in four years, but Holm can’t help but get a little nostalgic.

“When we started talking about how we made this latest album, we realised that we actually started it such a long time ago and it’s been in some sort of strange progress ever since about 2006. Now if I sit down and I play it, I always find something that I’ll go like ‘wow, I didn’t remember that’ or ‘what is that?’ or ‘who did that?’ It’s very strange for me in that sense.

“I feel like ‘Valtari’ was the album we just had to finish. We had to put the punctuation at the end of the sentence and now we can move on. In many ways, it feels like we’re moving on but at the same time, this album has been like a culmination of everything we have done before,” he says.

“We started slowly rehearsing for the tour back in April, before we had even released the album, and it had been such a long time since the last tour that I think we were all a bit nervous just trying to remember how to play the songs.

“We’re all very confident right now though. In fact, we were rehearsing and going through some songs the other day and all of a sudden, realised that we had been playing for three-and-a-half hours. We thought ‘woah, we actually have too much music now’, but I guess that’s a nice situation to be in. Now we can pick out whatever we like to play.”

If the band’s recent rehearsal sessions are any indication, Australian audiences are in for a treat when Harvest Festival lands later this year.

“Three-and-a-half hours is definitely too long for a festival set. We’ll probably get kicked off the stage if we try to do that,” he muses.

“There will be 13 people on stage and if you’ve seen us before, then hopefully this will be something new. Kjartan [Sveinsson], our keyboard player, won’t be coming along, so it will be just the three of us [Jónsi Pór Birgisson, Orri Páll Dyrason and Holm] in the band, with two extra back-up players, six people in the strings section and a brass section. It’s like a big family.

“There will be a lot of stuff that we haven’t played in a long time and also, some newer stuff. It will be a good mix of music I think.”

In addition to a string of Australian shows in November, Sigur Rós will extend their live reach to the United States, Asia, the UK and wider Europe before the year is out. Having largely defined the world’s view of an “Icelandic sound” (not discounting the work of Björk, of course), the band’s international imprint often comes under much scrutiny in mother Iceland – a concept that is explored in Serious Feather’s documentary film ‘Iceland: Beyond Sigur Rós’.

Editor of The Reykjavík Grapevine and the film’s unofficial narrator, Haukur Magnússon, relays the struggle of many Icelandic musicians who are forced to live in the “ethereal” shadow of Sigur Rós.

“I read a lot of international reviews about Icelandic music,” Magnússon says. “For instance, I read a review [of Icelandic singer-songwriter Mugison]… and the guy was pretty much pissed off it didn’t sound like Sigur Rós. I’m like fuck you; we’re an entire country, man. You take your blues with your Sigur Rós.”

Having recently stumbled upon the film himself, Holm is a little puzzled as to where his band fits into the grand scheme of things, but credits his homeland with a wealth of musical offerings nonetheless.

“I think in some ways, there are a lot of bands that are only trying to be popular in Iceland. They’re just playing their music and enjoying it. Having said that, I think there are also a bunch of bands here that should be heard outside of Iceland, but are not.”

And what of those glacial landscapes, hot water springs and magical auroras that are so readily referenced when speaking of Iceland’s musical exports? Well, Holm plays it down… although not entirely.

“I’m more inspired just by Reykjavík as a city, rather than the landscape. I love travelling around Iceland and I do it a lot, but I think music is more to do with who you are rather than where you are. It comes from within you; it doesn’t come from outside of you.

“I do love being a representative of Iceland anytime I go abroad. I do think it’s a magical place and everyone should visit Iceland – obviously, it’s quite spectacular. I love living here and I love the country, but even if I was to move to South Africa and live there for 20 years, I think I’d still be playing the same music – it wouldn’t change.

"I wouldn’t just wake up one day and start playing the steel marimbas,” he jokes. “It’s all about what you find within yourself, not outside of yourself. I think that’s the main part and more important than any landscape.”

SIGUR RÓS WILL PLAY HARVEST FESTIVAL, ALONGSIDE BECK, GRIZZLY BEAR AND THE DANDY WARHOLS, AT THE BRISBANE’S BOTANIC GARDENS ON NOVEMBER 18. ‘VALTARI’ IS OUT NOW.
Wednesday, 08 December 2010 11:11

Mystery Jets Interview

New Beginnings

For many adolescents, rebellion goes hand in hand with forming a band. However for Mystery Jets frontman Blaine Harrison, “to rebel would have been to study law”.

From an early age, Harrison was encouraged to explore his love of music. Crediting his musical upbringing to his father Henry, Harrison admits that his father's “natural progression” from mentor to bandmate may not have seemed so natural to others.

“It's never seemed odd to me, but I can see how it would seem odd to other people,” he says.  

“My father was a huge support and we actually got the band going when I was about nine or ten. I remember one Christmas and I knew I had a present and that it was either going to be a football or a guitar. It was a guitar and my fate was decided.”  

Along with Kai Fish, Kapil Trivedi and childhood friend William Rees, Harrison says Mystery Jets evolved into a band of “surrogate brothers”.   

“Me and Will met when we were in nursery school. We were just little tykes back then; maybe three or four years old.

“We are all very close and I think that has been the strength of the band. We do go back a long way and we're not just connected through music. There are lots of different experiences that we share together,” he says.

With Harrison's father taking a step back from touring duties, Mystery Jets is entering a new era and the boys are enjoying the perks along the way.

“It was kind of the end of the first chapter when he (Harrison's father) stopped touring with the band. Since then, we have evolved into something that is equally exciting I think. I guess I've seen it from both sides now and there's no better or worse, it's just different. I think there is a little bit more misbehaving on tour now. I guess we are making up for a bit of lost time,” he laughs.

In a case of art imitating life, Mystery Jets' latest instalment, 'Serotonin', remains consistent with the band's “coming of age” and willingness to explore new musical territories.

“I feel that the other albums were all working up to this point,” he explains. “To me, it feels complete as a record. I don't know if it's sort of like the conclusion to a trilogy, but it does kind of lead on from the previous record, 'Twenty One'.

“I guess it's like the flipside to the coin. 'Twenty One' was quite light and I think 'Serotonin' may be the underside to that; the repercussions of the themes that we were exploring on the last record. In a way, I think 'Serotonin' has kind of closed a chapter and set us up nicely for what we're going on to do next. I feel like we have opened up the door to go on and do something completely different.”

Regardless of which direction the wind blows, Harrison is solidly grounded in all things music.

“I find that when I don't have songs, I tend to work on production. There is no routine in this business, but I think that is one of the most exciting things about it. You get these moments of inspiration and you just have to feed off them,” he says.

“My experience is that the songs are kind of blowing around and you have to catch them. I feel that they already exist in some form, but you just need to look hard enough to find them or wait for them.”

With Australian dates marking the start of what is set to be a huge year for the band, Harrison says he’s looking forward to some “good times” in the midst of festival season.  

“It's going to be around Christmas and New Year and everyone's going to be feeling a little festive. They're going to be some pretty special shows,” he says. “We've always felt that Jets’ gigs should be like a celebration; like a party that everyone's invited to. You might leave missing a shoe or with your hair a bit crumpled, but I think that you will probably feel all the better for it.”

MYSTERY JETS PLAY THE HI-FI ON JAN 6.

Wednesday, 17 November 2010 12:38

The Temper Trap

Modern Temperament

Recognised as one of the finest debut albums in recent years, ‘Conditions’ propelled Melbourne’s The Temper Trap from virtual obscurity to major stages across the globe. Now, more than a year after the release, ‘Conditions Remixed’ sees the band exploring new musical horizons and breathing life into its much-loved body of work.

Since forming in 2005, The Temper Trap has garnered attention and respect from a diverse range of audiences, possibly the most unexpected being the host of dance producers scrambling to remix the band’s predominantly rock-based tracks. Following in the colossal footsteps of Bloc Party and Phoenix, The Temper Trap made the decision to release a remix album after hearing reinterpretations of the singles from ‘Conditions’.

As the industry becomes more dance oriented, drummer Toby Dundas maintains that ‘Conditions Remixed’ was more of a natural progression than a calculated effort to keep pace.

“We had already heard some great mixes of the singles and thought it would be really interesting to see how some of the more subtle album tracks came up remixed,” Dundas says. “We were very impressed with the quality and decided to release it as a remix album. We also just liked the idea of mixing a few tracks to give the songs a different bend.”

Opening with Sister Bliss and Rollo’s adaptation of 'Love Lost', ‘Conditions Remixed’ takes on a number of musical styles. While presented as one offering, Dundas says the album was never intended to play as a set of ten cohesive tracks.

“We certainly did not want the same feel through the whole body of mixes,” he explains. “We made a list of artists whose mixes we liked and approached them. Others approached us because they felt like particular tracks connected with them. There are some pretty big names on there, but the songs that came up the most for me were by the more unknown artists – namely, BretonLabs’ mix and rapping on ‘Drum Song’,” he says.

“As a band, we all have very eclectic tastes in music, so in many ways ‘Conditions Remixed’ is a reflection of that. Even when we were writing ‘Conditions’, there was no main writer. All four of us contributed so that the songs didn't end up sounding exactly the same. There's always a lot of different influences coming to the table, which has kind of worked out well for us so far.”

At the point where most bands would be winding down from promo and touring duties, The Temper Trap – also consisting of Dougy Mandagi, Lorenzo Sillitto and Jonathon Aherne – is bracing for a second wave. Dundas says his band mates are equally surprised by the extended shelf life of ‘Conditions’.  
“Some of the songs on there were written up to three years ago, so it’s weird to think that people may be hearing them for the first time. It’s not easy to stay relevant in music these days, so if people are still discovering our music, then that’s fantastic,” he says.

While bringing clout to the tracks on ‘Conditions Remixed’, dance music heavyweights like Peter, Bjorn & John, The Count and Fool's Gold effectively endorse The Temper Trap’s music to a new market of potential fans.   “It’s probably too early to say, but there has been loads of interest in the remix album from around the world. It is a good sign to see that people are interested to hear what Rusko or Peter, Bjorn & John have done to one of our songs.
“With that said though, there may be some music purists out there who might hate these new versions. For now, we are just hoping that people will see another side to what we have created.”

Determined to build an international following, The Temper Trap has unashamedly gained exposure through a range of mainstream media – from placement in the film ‘500 Days Of Summer’ to commercials for Chrysler and Coke.  “We’re open to most stuff,” Dundas says. “TV and film have really come on board as great supporters of new music, so it’s cool that we have been able to be a part of that shift in the way that people are exposed to music.”
But not all of the changes associated with increased exposure have been positive.

“There's definitely a stigma that comes with using music in advertisements and mainstream culture. It’s a bit of a double-edged sword on some levels. I mean we started as a little unknown act out of Melbourne, just cutting our teeth at the smaller venues around town. Like most bands, we hoped that we might get a break or two and most of us never imagined the break would be this big. We've rolled with the punches and done our best to keep up,” he says.

“Moving to London was an adventure for us and we felt that we would have a greater opportunity to take our music further by moving to the northern hemisphere. I think that mainstream promotion is more accepted in the UK actually. It’s becoming more and more common and allows people to discover new music through different forms. So yeah, I know there are a lot of people who still have a negative attitude towards that approach, but I think that it is something that is gradually changing to be a positive thing.”

For those waiting to hear The Temper Trap’s new material, Dundas says the band plans to release the follow-up to ‘Conditions’ late next year.  “We’re excited about the prospect of writing a new album,” he says. “We’ve worked on a few songs already that are showing some promise and it will be great to get back into a more creative headspace after concentrating on performance for so long.”

Following the band’s recent success at the ARIA Awards, Dundas says the last year has been a complete whirlwind for all involved.  “To even play at Glastonbury or Lollapalooza was a dream, but to pull big audiences was pretty special. Splendour was also a highlight. We've seen loads of the world and met people from all walks of life and that has been quite amazing. We've all had a pretty awesome time overall - loads of laughs and moments that will 'stay on tour', as they say.”

‘CONDITIONS REMIXED’ IS OUT NOW ON LIBERATION MUSIC.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010 10:42

Ingrid Michaelson

Tangled Web

Since being discovered online, Ingrid Michaelson has become one of the most downloaded artists in the business. Aptly labelled the 'Queen of Myspace', Michaelson considers the power of the world wide web: friend or foe?  “I was found by a licensing company on Myspace,” Michaelson explains. “Within two months of working with them, I found my first placement on 'Grey's Anatomy'. “When I got my start, there weren't all that many people on Myspace, so I guess I got lucky.”

Michaelson admits that it is increasingly hard for artists to cut through online clutter, but maintains that social media and blogging sites provide modern-day artists with invaluable tools to kick-start their careers. “The internet has become so inundated with new artists that you can't even find anybody anymore, but I think you can use the likes of Myspace, Facebook and Twitter to kind of form a united front,” she says.

“I think it's important to make a direct connection with fans to ensure that they are going to be interested in finding out more about you. “Twitter is great because it is very non-committal, but people still have a real feeling that it is coming from the artist directly. If I had Twitter when I was growing up, I would have written to Luke Perry every day. I had a weird obsession with Luke Perry, it was pretty pathetic.” 

With four albums to her name, Michaelson says the benefits of online opportunity and exposure are often counteracted by the adverse impact of music piracy.
“The internet is equally good and bad for the industry. Without technology I wouldn't be where I am today, but music piracy has definitely affected the music world and made it very difficult to make a living as an artist. It's a double-edged sword,” she says.

While her songs play like personal entries in a musical diary, Michaelson is quick to reject the idea of having sacrificed privacy for the sake of her art.
“I'm not saying anything specific; I'm just talking about love. I feel that everything I talk about has been experienced by everyone else,” she says.  “I find that the meaning of my songs change as I keep playing them. I wrote one song a long time ago and I can't help but apply it to my life right now. I actually enjoy it more now than I used to because it's almost like I was writing about my life in the future. I didn't have then what I have now.”

Having spent the better part of the last three years on the road, Michaelson has built a solid reputation for her melody-driven live shows and relentless-yet-endearing on-stage banter. But for Michaelson, practice does not make perfect.  "Every audience is different," she says. "New York is a weird one, because even though it's my hometown, the crowd is pretty hard to win over. I like that though. It is much more rewarding to win over those tough audiences."  
While honoured to have a collection of adored "crowd favourites" to call her own, Michaelson says her live shows are often plagued with songs she has played in excess of "500 times".

"It can be a really mundane task to play those songs over and over again, but I have to remind myself to think about how to best connect with the audience. When I sing my music, I can't be thinking about why I wrote the song or what it means to me, because when I sing it five days a week, the words won't help me so much. It becomes more about painting a picture with my voice and about keeping the music fresh for new audiences," she says.

With a new album set for release next year, Michaelson says she is grateful for the support she has received from Australian fans.  “The whole concept of people buying my music is amazing, especially when they live so far away. I feel lucky and excited to get out to Australia, although I really don't believe that anyone is going to be at the shows and I probably won't until I actually get there.”

INGRID MICHAELSON WILL PLAY THE GLOBE THEATRE ON FRIDAY NOV 12.

Wednesday, 25 August 2010 11:49

Mr Rascal Interview

Power Residency

Once upon a time, you would find Christian Duell in a tree-house busily penning songs. Four years and 2.5 releases later, Duell is out of the tree and fronting successful folk collective Mr Rascal.

Your latest release, ‘My, What A Big Black Cloud’ was written, recorded and completed in a month. What was behind that decision, and would you ever attempt it again?
This was part of a challenge originating in the US that takes place every November called 'National Solo Album In A Month'. Three other musician friends and I agreed to do it in November 2008, and set up a blog and an album launch date in the first week in December to spur ourselves on. It just so happened that this was one of the most significant months of my life and the album came together quite spontaneously and naturally as a result.

The album seems to play through like a personal diary. Do you struggle making your private life public through music?
No, not really. I think it’s the most healthy thing any person could do. My songs are not exactly getting played in elevators all over the world so I don't particularly feel self-conscious about writing in a personal way.

The ever-changing Mr Rascal line-up has evolved into a more permanent core of musicians. What does this more consistent line-up bring to your overall dynamic?
Having a permanent line-up has allowed us to grow tighter as a live band and allowed us five creative minds to provide input into the songs.

You have the Brisbane Powerhouse Friday night residency in September; what can punters expect from the band throughout the residency?
Well, as I've been overseas, we haven't played a show for over four months so we are really itching to play live and breathe new energy into our songs. I've also been writing while I was away so we'll definitely be experimenting with a few new songs. Playing a residency is a great opportunity because it allows you the chance to get comfortable with the venue and the gear and really hone in on what you're doing. So the first couple of shows we're planning to experiment with some new stuff and arrangements and then finish with the full lineup of guest musicians in the last week.

You can catch Mr Rascal each Friday night throughout September at the Brisbane Powerhouse.

Wednesday, 30 June 2010 15:22

Moses Gunn Collective Interview

Sticking To Their Guns

Amid the mess and sweat of a music festival, four friends posed as a band to receive VIP treatment and free drinks. Two years later, Moses Gunn Collective is set to release their debut album.

The band has matured quickly, with frontman Aidan Moore describing their music as "new wave-psychedelic-soul", a sound that is well represented on 'Stars Fall'.

"The album is a document of where we're at musically. We've basically modelled the album off one of our live sets, because that's the order we felt had the best overall feel," Moore explains.

"We were going to pull a couple of the stronger songs forward in the mix, but decided against that because we really wanted to make a whole album, rather than just individual songs."

Recorded across the early months of 2010 by well-respected engineer and producer Jamie Trevaskis, the album features ten tracks which range from "love ballads to murder ballads".

"There is this love/ death song called 'Surf's Up (Diamonds)'. It's in a cheesy rock format which tricks people into thinking it's a pop song, but it's really about these people killing each other," Moore muses.

Moses Gunn Collective - which also includes Alex Mitchell, Josh Cat and Samuel Sargent - can only be admired in their decision to let the music form naturally, even if by doing so, they sacrifice radio sensibility. Eight-minute epic 'Kid Python' and five-minute 'Get Gone' stand testament to this.

"We just let the songs play themselves out. We don't want to pull them back or chop bits off them; that goes against what we believe in musically. We were thinking of using 'Get Gone' as the single, but people said we should cut it and we really didn't want to. We wanted the album to represent the music we love to make, rather than just being something that can be marketed and sold ... which hopefully it will be anyway," Moore laughs.

Having accumulated a loyal fan base through constant gigging on the Brisbane circuit, the boys are looking forward to playing their new tracks at the 'Stars Fall' launch.

"We'll paint our faces, get dressed up in some freaky outfits and put on a whole performance. We put everything into our shows and I think people feed off that; they give you energy and you give them energy. Basically, we just like to go as hard as we can."

MOSES GUNN COLLECTIVE WILL LAUNCH ‘STARS FALL’ AT THE GLOBE ON FRI JUL 9.

Wednesday, 23 June 2010 09:51

Free Energy Interview

Onward And Upward

Birthed from an unsightly band breakup, Free Energy have joined forces with LCD Soundsystem’s James Murphy on their debut album. When one door closes, another door opens - just ask frontman Paul Sprangers.

Propelled by carbonated guitars and rhythmic cowbell, the opening track of Free Energy's debut album, 'Stuck On Nothing', declares: “we're gonna start a new life, and see how it goes” - which is exactly what Sprangers and guitarist Scott Wells did when they left Minnesota indie band Hockey Night.

“When the band ended, Scott and I just kept writing and working on stuff like we always had. At the time, we didn't know what would happen; we didn't have a live band, a band name, a producer or anything. Free Energy definitely evolved from the Hockey Night days - the mistakes we made, the lessons we learnt and the experience we gained,” Sprangers says.

The band - which also includes Evan Wells, Geoff Bucknum and Nicholas Shuminsky - was named Free Energy after the debut single of the same name. Sprangers humorously discusses other tracks from the album with “band name potential”.

“We were actually thinking of calling the band Bad Stuff for a while,” Sprangers laughs. “The message of Free Energy pretty much sums up everything we're about, which is basically that you are always free to do whatever you want to do.”

Having recently signed with DFA Records, Free Energy may seem somewhat out of place amongst the disco-heavy label lineup.

“I guess our relationship with DFA could seem a bit weird - not to us or to anybody on the label, but probably to outside observers. It makes sense to me though, because they totally get what we're doing. As a label, they have aspirations to tell a story with the music they put out and they want to have a spectrum of different acts,” Sprangers says.  

Free Energy strive to challenge the norm and break free of typical rock stereotypes, something that was evident in their decision to recruit dance music heavyweight, and DFA label owner, James Murphy to produce 'Stuck On Nothing'.

“I swear to God that no one else could have produced this album - I honestly mean that. James is awesome; he is a complete music fanatic and insists on everything sounding good. He totally deserves all the accolades he gets,” Sprangers explains.

“If we had a producer who typically worked with rock bands all the time, it just wouldn't have been the same - he would have tried doing all the same by-the-textbook shit. James definitely brought a fresh approach to our music. He pushed us, but I think we're better for it.”

Sprangers, an aptly labelled pop-timist, says there is a lot of positivity in the music, with the band further describing 'Stuck On Nothing' as "one giant stack of Get Out of Jail Free cards". Snippets of glam, power pop, bubblegum and arena rock all filter into the mix and reflect the circuitous path the lads took through modern music to arrive at the Free Energy sound.

"We make exactly what we want to hear and are not concerned with being cool or sticking to whatever is popular at the time. When we were younger, we listened to punk and a lot of 80s and 90s indie bands; we would see a verse/ chorus/ verse progression and feel like we had to defy it in some way. Now I listen to old-man rock with big driving choruses, and that is okay - it took me a long time to realise that though."

While forced to deal with genre-related criticism and the preconceived opinions of audiences and critics alike, it would seem that Sprangers is frustrated, yet unaffected.

"It's a shame that people are so quick to disregard something just because it is popular or accessible. I have seen people call our music 'corny' and 'cheesy', but I think we are all at a point in our lives that we are old enough to not give a shit what people think," he says.

"We have been getting a great response to the songs at our live shows - actually, a better response than what we have been getting with 'Stuck On Nothing'. People hear the album and think that we're a bunch of stupid dicks, but then they come out to a show and see that we are sincere and passionate about what we do."

As they approach the half-way mark of an intensive six-week tour of the US with Mates of State, the Free Energy boys show no sign of slowing pace.

“We're working on stuff for the next album and already have a lot of new material. We're huge fans of AC/DC and can't wait to get out to Australia.”

‘STUCK ON NOTHING’ IS OUT NOW THROUGH EMI MUSIC.

Wednesday, 02 June 2010 14:19

Nouvelle Vague Interview

Under The Covers

Not your average ‘cover band’, Nouvelle Vague is renowned for superb song choice, supreme reinvention, and a revolving cast of beautiful chanteuses. Frenchmen Marc Collin and Olivier Libaux formed Nouvelle Vague in 2004 “for fun”.

Six years and three albums later, their unique take on punk and new wave gems of the 80s continues to generate mass recognition worldwide - not only from fans, but from the original artists themselves.

“Marc and I grew up with punk and new wave music,” Olivier begins. “We were teenagers in the 80s, listening to every new record and band. We have great respect for this music and wanted to cover punk and new wave music in a different way,” Libaux says.

Having reworked many cult classics, including Joy Division's 'Love Will Tear Us Apart', Nouvelle Vague's easy listening versions of punk staples are often seen as somewhat sacrilegious.

“People would say 'you can't touch that song; you can't touch that band', but we were true fans of the music and felt that we would not destroy it. We took it very seriously. We were worried that the music would be forgotten, so we felt it was time to do something.”

Libaux says Nouvelle Vague's success is greatly dependent upon young female vocalists who breathe new life into the songs.

“We work with female singers aged around 25 years old. When we recorded the first album, Marc and I discovered that these girls were absolutely not concerned with punk and new wave music - they were simply too young in the 80s to appreciate it. Most of the girls have not heard the original versions, so they approach bands like Joy Division and Dead Kennedys without any fear or hesitation,” Libaux says.  

“We also have a lot of young people at our shows who don't know that our songs are covered, so that puts us in a weird position.”

Having visited Australia five times within the last six years, Libaux has developed a certain affinity with Australian music.  

“Nick Cave is one of the greatest singer/ songwriters in the world. I also love The Church, The Apartments and The Saints. We met Chris Bailey and worked with him - it was great,” he says.

As the interview comes to a close, Libaux's endearing excitement for the upcoming tour cannot be contained.

“Viva Australia … long live Australia!”


NOUVELLE VAGUE WILL PLAY THE BRISBANE POWERHOUSE ON MONDAY JUNE 14 FOR SO FRENCHY SO CHIC.

Wednesday, 19 May 2010 14:12

Sarah Archer Interview

Pop By Name, Not By Nature

Having signed to EMI Publishing in early 2009, Sarah Archer is finally beginning to reap the rewards of a musical pursuit that has spanned a lifetime. “I've been singing since I was really little. I started off doing those terrible talent quests and all that kind of stuff,” Sarah says.

Wednesday, 17 November 2010 15:21

Femi Kuti

Merchant Of Change

Femi Kuti is renowned for the power and positivity of his music. After more than 20 years in the business, he remains focused on one fundamental goal.

“I truly want change. I wish there was love everywhere and that there were no problems,” Femi says. “I use my music to fight for a better life for the people of Africa. I report corruption to the rest of the world so people can understand the gravity and the extent of the corruption that is going on.”

Femi credits his musical upbringing to his father, and Afrobeat pioneer, Fela Kuti. Having joined his father’s 40-piece band at the tender age of 12, Femi rose to international prominence in 1985 when he stepped in to replace Fela who had been arrested and jailed on a false charge.

“Whether I like it or not, my father passed a lot on to me,” he says. “In Africa, the child is always groomed to take over from the father. I was psychologically prepared to take over and when he was arrested, it was like ‘oh, the day has finally come’. “I was about 22 when I took over. I had my own life that I wanted to live, so I had to forget about my life and keep the integrity of my father’s thing going until he was released.”

While in no way resenting his upbringing, Femi hopes for a “brighter future” for his son Mede Kuti. Now with his own 16-piece band, The Positive Force, Femi says he would love to see Mede continue the family legacy, but only by choice.

“I’m making sure that when he finishes school he can do what he likes. I’m sure that he will want to follow in the same direction as me and my father, but I don’t want him to have the kind of hard life that I had.”

As he prepares for an extensive tour taking in France, England, Germany and Brazil, Femi says he is looking forward to bringing his life-affirming set to Australian audiences.

“While I don’t particularly like the word ambassador, I want to take my music everywhere. A lot of people will never get to see my band in Nigeria, so taking my music to Australia is a major breakthrough for me. As a band, we want to show the love and beauty of Africa through music and bring about change for our people.”

FEMI KUTI AND THE POSITIVE FORCE PLAY THE BRISBANE POWERHOUSE NOV 23.

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