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Wednesday, 04 August 2010 15:56

DJ Femme Interview

Female Fantastic

DJ Femme convinced Nick Skitz to give her the opportunity to work on a compilation album while juggling a full-time career with regular DJ work. Now the Adelaide local is headed north this Friday to play her first gig in Brisbane.

"We had a dinner in Sydney where I was fortunate enough to meet Nick. We had a chat over dinner and he opened the opportunity up to me. I was quite lucky to get that I think.

Femme has only been playing within the club scene for two years, but with her main room electro house/ Dutch house/ progressive house sound, she has already made a name for herself as one of the most sought after female DJs in the industry

"I've always been into the club scene. A lot of my best friends played in clubs so it's always been a big part of my life. I'd be going out, or working on the door or in the cloakroom, so it was a big part of my teenage life."

But Femme's musical influences don't stem just from her social group. She says music was a big part of her family life, with her father working as a DJ in England.

"I come from a musical background. I was in a band when I was at school, so I've grown up doing music. I'm not a rock band type of girl, but it sort of flowed into the music scene."

Such a passion for music doesn't leave Femme much time for anything else though.

"It's a really hard job to be honest, trying to juggle a pretty full-on career and DJing as well. It doesn't leave much time for yourself. I don't have much of a social life these days - I'm surprised I've got any friends left at the moment."

Friends or no friends, Femme has a hot musical career ahead of her. But she says just being able to play music is the most rewarding experience.

"If I wasn't DJing I'd be at home going through my music library and playing music constantly, which is what I used to do. I spend a lot of time on my computer, whether it's listening to music or sorting through music. For me it's all about playing music. The best part is to be able to play it out loud and not just in my bedroom."

And the negatives of a DJ lifestyle? "I drink too much!"


Wednesday, 16 June 2010 14:03

Sam La More Interview

More Than A Lot

He's the mastermind behind some of the noughties' most successful chart hits and has a musical genius for a brother. Sam La More is more than just your typical DJ. And that's all the better for him. Sam says being a DJ is not something he's ever been proud of.

“Being a DJ is something I'm deeply ashamed of, it's not something to aspire to. Everyone's a DJ, it's like 'Hi, I play other people's music and get paid to get drunk'. I studied for four years at university and wrote a thesis on artificial intelligence and here I am getting drunk with kids and playing other people's music, it's embarrassing. But at the same time, it's the best job I've ever had.”

As well as being exceptionally adept at remixing other people's music, Sam has produced tracks for the crème de la crème of today's pop scene, including Gwen Stefani and Black Eyed Peas. Though he says those stars crave adoration, it's his own brother who is most difficult to work with.

“Nick is so difficult. He and I have an intense relationship because we've known each other for a fair while and he tends to think he can get away with behaving however he likes. He knows I need him so he'll tend to exploit that, the little prick … But he's my brother and I'll always continue to work with him on some level.”

With a heart big enough to deal with a tantrum-prone little brother, it's no surprise Sam is doing his part to help those less fortunate, including his involvement in 'Wine Of Design', designing bottles of wine alongside other Australian artists to raise funds for the 'Make Poverty History' organisation.

“It's pretty emptying to just be playing gigs to kids on drugs, so it's quite nice sometimes to say 'hey, we live in a real world here where some people can't enjoy the benefits of techno'. I don't like people calling and asking for money, but I think it's a nice thing to be able to do, once you can afford to and then really dedicate yourself to it … It would be a nice way to shape the rest of my existence after being so gratuitous for the last few years.”


Wednesday, 09 June 2010 14:22

Dj Planbe Interview

Limited Time Only

A sexy French-Canadian accent, an extensive musical background and a love of Mozart combine to create DJ PlanBe, Brisbane's latest import. “I've always been in contact with music because all of my family have been playing music for a long time … they put me into piano lessons when I was six, I played violin, viola, bass guitar. I think being in a family that places such importance on music has given me good musical taste. I enjoy everything from classical to modern - Mozart, Bach.

I would go to an opera and enjoy it just as much as going to a club.”

It is exactly this musical heritage which has helped PlanBe (aka Felix Normandin) bring his fresh sound to local ears. “I think that the fact that I played all those instruments helps me to locate the sounds that I like in music. I love really deep melodies, I like music that makes me feel something. When I put on a Mozart CD or something, I just stand there and listen to it and it will give me inspiration for a lot of stuff. It helps me to define my sound a lot, it's given me a good ear for melodies and what works well together.”

After landing in Australia five months ago, PlanBe was quick to scoop the residency at Halo Lounge Bar for fear of losing touch with the electro/ tech sound. “I was DJing regularly in Montreal, so when I got to Brisbane I wanted to DJ sometimes, because it's bad not to play for a long time. You get rusty and being away from the scene and everything, you kind of fall back. You need to practice and I love to have that contact with music and I miss it when I don't do it.”

Being a resident in the heart of Maroons territory, DJ PlanBe is adamant in his support of the mighty cane toads. “I have to go for Queensland, come on, I live in Brisbane. It's funny for me, being from Canada I don't see the sports that you have here. People get really crazy for State of Origin, I don't understand it, it's pretty big but I don't know why.”


Wednesday, 08 December 2010 13:13

Mind Over Matter Interview

A Matter Of Time

They’re friends and tour buddies of Aussie hip hop megastars Bliss n Eso, earned a nomination for Jmag’s Album of the Year and have sold out venues across Australia.

But according to MC Smiles Again, being friends with that other rap duo doesn’t mean they give you much preparation time, especially when it comes to laying down tracks. “It was a huge thing for us to be on their record, we were extremely excited for the opportunity … but we thought there was no way it was going to happen, the album was going to be out in five weeks or something like that. Then they sent us through the beat and were like ‘alright we need this back tomorrow’. We were like ‘thanks for heaps of notice’, but we had to write it and record it in just over a day. What could we do? We were really keen to be on it and they needed it done quickly.”

As well as working on Bliss n Eso’s latest studio project, Smiles Again and his creative comrade, Willow, have been putting together their second LP, ‘Just Like Fireworks’. Smiles says the new album is of a much higher standard than their previous releases. “We’ve evolved massively. In the last year and a half we’ve done so much experimenting with our voices and different flows and rhythms, especially with word play. Our earlier stuff, when I listen to that now we come across as two keen Sydney rap dudes, but now I feel we’re making a much higher quality level of music.”

The charismatic kids recorded ‘Just Like Fireworks’ in their new, ‘pimped out’, studio in Smiles' Sydney home. The album features industry heavyweights such as Pigeon John, Jon Reichardt, Saving Grace and mixing mastermind, Matik. Smiles says the duo took their time putting the tracks together. ‘It’s been a long freaking process making this album. We moved the studio to my place and spent a few thousand on it, pimping it out real good. It’s been a really cool recording environment, there’s no time limit, we don’t have to worry about other people and stuff like that, we can just do our own thing.”

Doing their own thing has been a way of life for Willow and the self-described 'pretty positive' Smiles, who got his name after freezing in a battle at the tender age of 15. “It was kind of my first stage appearance and it was a big deal to me. I got up there, spat my first two bars and then just froze. I took that pretty hard for a while but time heals all wounds and I got over it and looked on the brighter side.”

Choking is all in the past for this Sydney duo now. They've blasted a niche for themselves within the Aussie hip hop scene with their energetic live performances and tongue-in-cheek lyrics, making many in the music biz stand up and take notice. But Smiles says that despite all the opportunities, their recent tour with the Bliss n Eso boys stands out the most.

“The tour was pretty freaking fun. Those guys know how to party and we think we do too, so it’s a pretty good match there. Our sounds complement each other too, they’re not too distant. I thought it made for a really nice line up. The after party was just ridiculous at every place, that was what everyone looked forward to. The show itself is amazing, a huge rush.”

And if you thought you'd heard the name ‘Mind Over Matter' before, you have. Smiles says the boys decided to stick with the age-old saying after alternative names turned to rubbish.

“Willow actually thought of it during high school and it was a lot better than the names I was coming up with. A lot of people, whenever we tell them the name of our hip hop group they’re like ‘I think I’ve heard of that’, we just think, ‘no you’ve probably heard of the saying mind over matter’. I actually came up with The Butterfly Effect, which came out around the same time as the group The Butterfly Effect. I also thought of another one which sounds like an electrical company or something, Synergy. They were pretty rubbish so we decided to run with Mind Over Matter.”


Wednesday, 20 October 2010 09:50

Ladi6 Interview

Dancing Queen

2010 has produced Queensland’s wettest spring ever, which, to some, would seem like a bad omen for the Island Vibe festival. But if Straddie happens to be rained out, New Zealand’s finest soul sister, Ladi6, has her own solution. “We'll breakdance? If it's rained out we'll just carry on and get the party started. We'll party in the rain.”

As a divinely talented vocalist and MC, Ladi6 (or Karoline Tamati) is no stranger to spontaneity and unusual circumstances. Her second album, 'The Liberation of', was thrown together in Berlin with only two months left on her visa. “It was so hectic. In the beginning it was alright because you never feel like you're under any time pressure when you start a project like that. But by the last two weeks when we were also packing and trying to get ready to come home to New Zealand it was such a fucking headache. It was unbelievably hard.”

After a combination of no sleep and a super-creative atmosphere, Ladi6 and her musical partner in crime, Parks, managed to complete the record. But not before a complete overhaul of material.

“I don't know if every musician does this, but we certainly do underestimate the time it takes to do post-production stuff and just the last little detail-y bits and pieces. We went through a period of not liking heaps of the stuff in the songs and wanting to completely change them, but only having like three days to do it and it was just so fucked up. But we wanted that challenge. We went into it knowing that was going to happen and I think we came out pretty good, the album is pretty sweet. But of course I'd say that, I made it.”

The 'pretty sweet' album is a natural progression from Ladi6's debut, and was inspired by the chaotic lifestyle and creative atmosphere that came from touring Europe and the UK. But Ladi6 says though she tried to make it more of a party album, some of her soulful, emotive side still shines through, at least, according to her friends.

“We took two months to make it from beginning to end and I suppose each song is more connected to one another. It's definitely more of a punchier sound but it also deals with the same writing style and themes I had on 'Time Is Not Much'. A lot of people who have heard it have said it's still quite heavy and emotive, which I thought was weird because I really tried to make it more of a party album. What I think of it is different to what everyone else hears when they listen to it.”

Punchy is an understatement when describing this lady. Nominated for four Pacific Music Awards in 2009, Ladi6 took home the 'Best Female Artist' award for 'Time Is Not Much', and has been described as 'one to watch' by London's Metro Magazine. But Ladi6 says her family's background would make anything but music strange for her.

“Music is a major thing for us. My family raised us all to sing and dance and it was always featured heavily at all of our family gatherings - Christmas and birthdays and things like that. It was always a natural thing to sing and perform.”

Music does run through the veins. Ladi6's cousin is one of Aotearoa's finest male musicians. How many dudes you know flow like this? Scribe. “We were in a band together when we first moved to Auckland, which would have been around 2002-3. It's not unusual that I'll pop up on his sets or he'll pop up on mine. Whenever we're in the same town together and I have a show, he'd most likely be there if he wasn't busy. We're really close.”


Wednesday, 29 September 2010 14:41

Spit Syndicate Interview

Starting Something

As a couple of lads with a shared interest in music, friends and graffiti, Spit Syndicate have come a long way since their Sydney high school days.

With two albums and an ARIA nomination under their belt, they are currently on the road with hip hop megastars Cypress Hill. But one half of the dynamic duo, Jimmy Nice, says it's all part of the job.

"The shows are a little different to the shows we've been doing of late, just because it wasn't our own show and we haven't really played the support slot for a bit. It's humbling and it has a different vibe with the people not all being there to see you. Our job as a support act is to loosen everyone up and get a good vibe in the room, so everyone is loose by the time Cypress gets on."

After their first album, ‘Towards The Light’ earned them a stack of well-deserved praise from the Australian music industry, Jimmy and co-spitter Nick Lupi took a mini-hiatus before exploding back onto the scene with their second record, 'Exile'. Jimmy says 'Exile' moves on from the 'teenagey' sounds of their first release, instead focusing on notions of escape and travel, with a few love songs thrown in for good measure.

"The first time we were kind of feeling our way ‘round and this time it was all a lot easier. It was a more cohesive album. I guess you can put that down to us growing as songwriters and individuals. But also because we had Adit onboard. If you have a producer handling a good chunk of the beats there's going to be that common thread. I think that's what we missed out on the first album."

With a talent for mixing catchy melodies with rich textures and lyrical genius, Spit Syndicate have created opportunities to play alongside some of the world's biggest acts, including Xzibit and Ice Cube. But Jimmy says the night they supported Lupe Fiasco was the best of all.

"I think it's different when you're supporting someone you listen to everyday and go to for inspiration. That's no disrespect to acts like Xzibit, but more so Lupe has had an influence on our music so it meant a lot to be able to play our music before his. He's an amazing artist so it was an honour to share the space with him."


Wednesday, 18 August 2010 10:12

Desmond Cheese Interview

Ripe and Ready

One is a medical student halfway through his second year of university; the other drives a yoghurt delivery truck as a day job. Together, they are Desmond Cheese.

Robin Kaye, aka Desmond Bagely, says he and friend, Andrew McKinnon, (Makcheese) came together six months ago after both producing material individually. The result was a thrilling combination of Makcheese's extensive hip hop influences and Desmond's more mainstream rock, jazz and blues background.

“We basically spent about six months making instrumental hip hop and it got really creative. We had a hell of a lot of fun doing it and now the collaborative wheels are turning. We've started playing with a live drummer, we've got a bunch of MCs and I'm playing a lot more guitar and stuff live. It's kind of become this all-in musical love fest happening on stage.”

Such a love fest is amplified by the boys' desire to create solely instrumental tracks, allowing other musicians the freedom to experiment and remix their tunes.

“We were really serious about making (the album) instrumental, it's nine tracks of just all-instrumental, you could call it hip hop, but it moves through a few different genres. It's awesome because if you release something instrumental then it's out there and people can do whatever they want with it, whereas if you record it and release it with a rap on it then it's that way forever.”

The ‘Fame And Fortune’ LP is the first release from Desmond Cheese, and Robin says the creative process was both lighthearted and extremely intimate.

“It got really silly. Towards the end of making the CD we had this kind of telepathic communication thing going on. We'd listen back to what we'd laid down and he'd look at me and go 'Should we?' and I'd be like, 'Yes'. And then one of us would do the thing that we were both thinking about - adding a bit of reverb or changing some effect. It became quite intimate.“

This intimacy is founded in a shared appreciation of music, eclectic taste in conversation and a recent fascination with French composer, Claude Debussy.

“We've both listened to a lot of music and we've both got a thing for Debussy at the moment. It's been a lot of fun just sharing music with Cheese, we both really appreciate music in general, so just kicking back and listening to different sounds is really fun.”

Counting former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd as a fan, Desmond Cheese are fast making waves on the Brisbane music scene. With influences ranging from Frank Zappa and Bob Marley to traditional Indian tunes, the boys bring gusts of fresh air to each gig.

“I have a bit of a love affair with India. Some of the sounds you can catch as a sample while you're there are just outrageous. One of the tracks on the album is an Indian bamboo flute solo that I sampled. Sounds like that just add a certain flavour to the music that you can't really get anywhere else.”

Though their music is purely instrumental, Robin explains that evolving their sound means inviting local MCs and producers to join their creative process. With no boundaries as to who they will work with, the boys leave the door open for endless possibilities.

“We have absolutely no interest in making any money, unless whatever, but we just want to be making music. It's really exciting when you get an email saying 'I'm a Sunny Coast MC and I'm really keen to make some beats', that's what it's all about. So if there's any bamboo flute or banjo players around who want to collaborate with instrumental hip hop, just get in touch.”

But be warned, creating music with Desmond Cheese may result in wearing spectacular costumes, which are sometimes compulsory for their gigs. Not that they mind.

“We're playing at Manifest on the Saturday night and we're quite set on wearing outrageous costumes. The other night, Freddy, one of the guys who does mixing for us, bought this huge handlebar moustache. It was massive, about half a foot long down the side of his face. He's kind of balding and has got a shaved head and he stuck it on his forehead, and it looked absolutely hilarious. So I imagine there'll be possibly pirate gear, or possibly we might dress up as very old men. Who knows?”


Wednesday, 07 July 2010 16:00

Flygirl Tee Interview

Apple Bottomed Babe

She might not wear boots with fur, but she does wear apple bottom jeans, and when Flygirl Tee is behind the decks, everybody gets low, low, low. She's the latest recruit for T-Pain's Nappy Boys DJs, and has made a name for herself as one of the best female hip hop DJs in Australia, but Flygirl Tee still manages to keep her feet on the ground.

Wednesday, 12 May 2010 15:11

Beth Yen Interview

Briti- Licious

British ex-pat Beth Yen, with her cheeky smile and signature sounds, is the newest, sexiest, next-big-thing on the Oz house scene. 

Since leaving England four years ago Beth has made her name as a resident DJ with Sydney-based Hed Kandi, performing alongside well-established international and local DJs, and according to her, she hasn't looked back.

“I was travelling, like a lot of Brits. They get sick of the weather and go 'there's got to be more to life than this miserable state of affairs’. So I went travelling for a year. Sydney was my second to last stop, I fell in love with the people, the weather, and I know all the Brits live in Bondi. I wanted to live here so I found a way to stay.”

And we're glad she did. This natural music maker has an instinctual talent for reading crowds - making sure the dancing doesn't stop, no matter where she plays.

“I think as a DJ it's about performing and entertaining people. At the end of the day, people go out for a good time and sometimes you may not play the sound you want but you can't be egotistical and say ‘Hey, this is what I'm going to play. This is the set list.' It's about reading people and giving people what they want. I'm a bit of a people pleaser I guess.”

After performing major gigs including the 30th Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, as well as rocking out in some of Sydney's hottest venues, Beth says heading to Brisbane for the first time is new and exciting.

“What I'm looking forward to the most is rocking it at the venue, and maybe getting in a bit of shopping. I've never actually been to Brisbane, but I love shopping. Especially for t-shirts and sneakers.”

If you've never heard her sounds before, expect an eclectic mix of soulful, disco, funk and tech influences all thrown into the house mix.  

“I'm not afraid to play a track that's older, that was a 1970s disco track, and drop it in the middle of the set … I like to keep that real good party vibe and keep it interesting.”

And of Beth Yen herself, expect: “A passionate and driven person, who loves life and partying.”


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