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Wednesday, 19 October 2011 15:33

The Potbelleez

Taking No Prisoners

There's no hesitation when you ask Jonny Sonic of The Potbelleez what's going through his head when performing: “Fucking come on, have it!”

“We take no prisoners,” Jonny says. “If you like it, let’s go. If you don't, fuck off. We'll bloody give it a good shot.” The band is known for really connecting with audiences and for their antics on stage. Jonny recalls one show where he made the mistake of standing on two DJ tables only to find the wheels hadn't been locked off. “My left foot was on the left table, my right foot was on the right table, I tried to grab my laptop and these tables started falling apart. I did the splits, did a somersault head over heels, landed on my arse with my laptop in my lap and everyone started cheering.”

By the luck of the Irish he managed to pull it off with the audience thinking it was part of the set. “These days there's a lot less drinking going on but for the bigger gigs we have a bit of a hoopla now and again. We've definitely refocussed our energy into health and keeping strong and solid for the stage shows.”

They'll need their health, too, with more than 40 dates set between now and Christmas, including 600 Sounds. “I never could have imagined being this big and being in Australia. It's the most beautiful country I've ever been to and I've got an amazing lifestyle so we just work as hard as we can to keep that going now, but it's been an unbelievable journey up to this point.”

The journey is set to keep going, with shows around Australia, France, the UK, and Ireland coming up and the new single 'Feed Off Me' coming out. “It's a big rock / electro Potbelleez style track and we have a couple of the guys from The Vines playing the drums and bass on it.”

The new album has received glowing reviews that Jonny puts down to the time spent on it, compared to the rush of their first album. “For the second album Universal basically said, ‘take as long as you want, lock yourselves away, stop the gigs and hit us when you're ready’.”
The result? A better album, a hectic show schedule and just as much passion for what they do as ever.

The Potbelleez play 600 Sounds at Broadwater Parklands on Friday October 21.

Wednesday, 05 October 2011 12:27

Sarah Robertson

TRANSITION PERIOD

Sarah Robertson assures us she is a DJ that has done modelling and not the other way round.

“I haven't modelled for six months now, (modelling) has definitely taken a back seat,” she says.

So far this year Sarah has held a monthly DJ residency at Hong Kong club Republik, DJd at the Playboy Mansion for the Midsummer Night's Dream party, made it to the top 10 in the 'She Can DJ' competition and toured Thailand and China. “Hed Kandi in Macau was a really awesome crowd, it went from chilled-out funky house beats to some really banging house, sort of set out like a rave with the crowd and how massive it was. I liked that event a lot,” she recalls.

Sarah's been in high demand, keeping a busy schedule these last two years, all of which has taken its toll. “I'm quite used to being sick. I think I've flown 140 hours in the last four weeks so I've got to keep up my multivitamins that's for sure.”

Now she's back in Australia and looking forward to festival season, summer and Gold Coast beaches as well as producing new sounds. “I've been doing a lot in regards to producing while overseas and learning and getting ideas, now I'm going to have some time to sit down and do what I wanna do, start moving ahead.”

She has a strong musical base to start with, with 16 years of classical violin, 12 years practicing with the Queensland Youth Orchestra, and 9 years of musical theory - Sarah is actually a fully certified music teacher. “Now I'm looking at producing I think it will be evident; you will be able to see my classical music background through that, even talking of mixing live violin into a dance track for the right crowd.”
Though she hasn’t slowed down since arriving home, she certainly isn't looking to stop anytime soon.

“Basically I'm just touring nationwide. I am actually running over to India in about a month, and hopefully you'll see my first track released.”

SARAH ROBERTSON HEADLINES AT ZURI THIS FRIDAY, OCTOBER 7.

Wednesday, 28 September 2011 10:21

R3hab

Strictly Music

With a burgeoning international music career in the works, young Dutch producer/ DJ R3hab is a name you’ll be getting familiar with over the coming months. You can start this weekend when he plays The Ultimate Festival Afterparty.

Your tour dates look pretty hectic, a new city and country every couple of days. How do you keep up with it all?
Make sure to rest and off course a lot of sleeping in the airplane.

What are you like on tour; are you strictly business or do you take time to party?
It’s strictly music and having a good time. I love to DJ and for me it’s always about music and making new tracks.

You’ve risen to global acclaim rather quickly. Did you ever expect to get this far in such a short time?
Not really. I always dreamed about it but never expected it. The only thing I remember was in March when I started my first US gig. I was like ‘wow people go really wild on my music’ - that gave me the confidence to finish a lot of old stuff that I had lying around.

How does it feel to keep getting listed in Beatport’s charts and have Afrojack refer to you as one of his label’s biggest talents?
Honoured. Afrojack is a great talent and being charted in Beatport has always been a dream.

You’ve remixed for a lot of big name artists like Lady GaGa, Ne-Yo, Jennifer Lopez, Snoop Dog and David Guetta. Is that ever daunting?
I love to do remixes; when I hear vocals I get inspired. But it’s a big honour that you can take the vocals of Lady Gaga or Jennifer Lopez and do a complete new production that they use on shows like '’So You Think You Can Dance’.

In terms of producing, how do you decide who to work with? Do you ever turn anyone down because you feel their sound isn’t right for yours?
I don't really turn people down. I mean, if you have a good idea and I have the feeling I can add elements to make the idea better (then) I will work with you. But the biggest problem is time, but I have some interesting collabs coming up.

R3hab headlines Electric Playground’s Ultimate Festival Afterparty this Saturday, October 1.

Wednesday, 28 September 2011 10:18

Tonite Only

Continuous Holiday

As Groove Terminator, Simon Lewicki has built a solid reputation within the Australian dance community for quality productions and performances. Now Simon has returned to his other project, Tonite Only, with producer Sam La More.

You’ve just finished the ‘We Run The Nite’ tour. What was the response like from the punters?
Thee response has been amazing; thanks for asking.

How do you normally handle the end of a tour? Is it difficult to adjust back to normality of everyday life?
Keep the party going always.

You have a performance at 600 Sounds upcoming next month; not the normal event you'd play. Are you a revhead?
Anywhere there is a crowd ready to give it up, we will be there.

Simon Lewicki the car driver; what's your style like behind the wheel?
Get the f*** out of my way.

The 600 Sounds bill is pretty eclectic: Potbelleez, Bliss N Eso, Eskimo Joe, Simple Minds. Do you enjoy events that aren't the same genre for six straight hours?
Simple Minds are playing! Holy moly. How cool!

What summer plans do Sam and yourself have for Tonite Only - is festival season looking good?
Lots of Tonite Only shows coming up, and whenever we can we will both fit in some solo shows.

We're told you guys are adding more of a visual element to the live show; what can you tell us about that?
We have a visual element to our show.

You guys have said via Facebook that you’ve just handed in the new single. Fill us in more please.
It’s the logical follow up to ‘We Run The Nite’. We’ve been working on several tracks at once and this one seems to be the best one to put out next. You’ll know it when you hear it.

You’ve been DJing and producing since the late ‘80s, what keeps you going and still performing after so long?
I have a Dorian Gray type portrait in my attic.

Do you have any plans to go solo as Grove Terminator again?
I have a few GT collabs on the boil as well as Sam with his solo output. But both our focus is on Tonite Only.

What do you usually do with yourself outside of the nightclubs, festivals and sound studios? How do you relax when you’re not on tour?
Touring is like a holiday. What’s there to holiday from?

Tonite Only play 600 Sounds as part of the Armor All Gold Coast 600 October 21-23. goldcoast600.com.au

Wednesday, 07 September 2011 15:19

The Land Of Yes And The Land Of No

DANCE IN PREVIEW

Sydney Dance Company director and choreographer Rafael Bonachela is looking forward to premiering in Brisbane for the first time after two years in Australia.

“Brisbane was the first city that I visited when I moved here so there’s a nice connection there,” Rafael said. Featuring as part of the Brisbane Festival 2011, ‘The Land Of Yes And The Land Of No’ interprets the signs and symbols of everyday life into a sensuous dance. Rafael has always been interested in street signs as he travelled through the UK, Europe and Australia. “I loved how they changed from country to country, there’s something really visually powerful about that, because they are instructions and they are commands and they’re telling you what to do,” he said. “I have always been interested in signage and the power it holds. Signs say a lot with very little.”

Each sign featured in the production is uniquely conveyed to represent the meaning, memories and emotions that it inspires. “One example would be ‘one way’. We decided that ‘one way’ was optimistic because one way is uncomplicated. You’re just going down the highway, or you’re cruising Australia and there is one road and there are no distractions. It is just forward, optimistic, happy and uncomplicated.”

When he first brought everyone together in the research stage, Rafael knew that there was the chance that an obscure concept like this may meet some problems, particularly as he had never actually worked on a whole piece with theatre composer Ezio Bosso before. “It could have been a disaster, it could have been that we never actually connected. Yet from the word go he really responded to the way that we responded - to the dance, to ideas,” Rafael recalls. “We just clicked.”

The music and the dancing work together from a slow, calm start, and build up to a dramatic frenzy for the finale. “It’s music that has a lot of emotion, it’s music that touches you at an emotional level and that’s something that I’m not scared of either.” He shows no fear of delving into a number of emotional themes surrounding how people interact, portrayed as a duet on the concept of speed limits and how different they are to each member of a relationship.

“In relationships you meet someone and after a while they sometimes go, ‘we’re going at different speeds here. You’re going too fast for me or you’re going too slow’.”
Speaking of relationships, after two years with the Sydney Dance Company, Rafael has developed a relationship with his dancers and has an understanding of what they are capable of. “I know these dancers very well now. The relationship has gone a step ahead because I haven’t left it where it was, because I know how this person responds and I’m gonna push it.”

Rafael has toured this performance through the UK and Europe in 2010 but this time he has increased the cast and worked on lots of new scenes to utilise the extra dancers. “I’m a different person two years on and I think I’ve learnt much more about choreography so I can look at things that I did then and go ‘oh god why didn’t I think of this before’ or ‘this can actually make that better or different’.”

When asked if he misses dancing now that he is on the production side of performance arts, he doesn’t hesitate in his response. “I don’t actually. I think it’s simply because even when I was a professional dancer and I was choreographing, I never had a wish to choreograph for myself.”
Usually when a dancer starts choreographing they do around ten solos for themselves before they start choreographing others. Rafael didn’t wait though, skipping straight to choreographing for other dancers. “I’m quite happy being on the other side.”

The Sydney Dance Company already has two productions lined up for next year that they only announced last week. One in which involves them collaborating with the Australian Chamber Orchestra. With all this in the works, it doesn’t look like Rafael will get any time off soon, but he doesn’t seem concerned. “No rest but it’s exciting so it’s good.”

As part of the Brisbane Festival 2011, ‘The Land Of Yes And The Land Of No’ runs at the Playhouse, QPAC from September 28 - October 1.

Wednesday, 07 September 2011 14:35

O-Shen

Salty Beats    

A native of Papua New Guinea who now resides in the United States, O-Shen blends an exotic mix of R&B, hip hop and traditional PNG tribal music that is backboned by reggae.

You’ve performed in Australia quite a bit, what memories do you have here? It’s always a good vibe with high energy. I guess there are a lot of Pacific Islanders down there who miss their home and have a lot of pride for their paradise culture.

Your new album, ‘Saltwater Messenger’, is out now. What did you learn from your previous five albums that you brought to the making of this one?
Every recording is always a learning experience, and I always hope to keep growing as an artist. It was my first album recorded entirely in the US.

The album raises a number of political and social issues. What’s the significance of the title, ‘Saltwater Messenger’?
Ya, there’s a few subjects I touch upon that aren't often sung about, like bullying among kids, human trafficking, and rainforest preservation. ‘Saltwater Messenger’ is just what I am. I live my life in and around the water whenever possible and I report what I observe inside and outside of the Pacific Islands. 

You worked with Jamaican group Third World lately; has their music had much of an influence on the new album?
I did a song with their lead singer Bunny Rugs about four years ago on my ‘1 Rebel’ album. Third World are reggae legends, so they’re definitely one of my many influences since way back. It was a pleasure and honour having him on the album.

You’ve mentioned in the past that you want to promote PNG to the world, are you worried that it may lose more of its culture if more attention and tourism is drawn to it?
PNG is already losing its culture and being brainwashed by TV, so tourism won't change that. It’s losing its culture because of lack of pride in things ‘traditional’, and obsession with all things ‘western’.  Tourism will give Papua New Guineans a good reason to preserve their culture and natural environment, because that’s what foreigners want to see when they come to PNG, not the filthy, rubbish filled, polluted streets of Port Moresby.

O-Shen plays the Hi-Fi Sunday September 11.

Wednesday, 31 August 2011 16:01

No Man’s Land

Theatre in Preview 

In this production of Harold Pinter’s ‘No Man’s Land’, Steven Rooke plays a manipulative servant working for an old writer who is teetering on the edge of sanity.

The audience is going to be in awe of the language and writing alone Steven says. “Some may walk out not knowing exactly what happens, but no one's going to walk out indifferent to it, everyone’s going to have an opinion and it’s going to be one of those plays that people talk about for days and days.”

As Hirst (John Gaden), desperately struggles to sort through what is real and what is memory in the later years of life, he is manipulated by his two young assistants who are trying to use whatever they can of his money and power. In this performance of mental turmoil, an old friend (played by Peter Carroll), comes to his aid and attempts to help him recapture what he has lost.

The relationship between Steven’s character and the two older gentlemen is ambiguous at best, he says you get the subtle idea there is something else going on other than just friendship. “I wouldn't want to be tackling this play with anyone other than Michael Gow; he has obviously a lot of experience with language and things like that.”

Steven worked with director Michael Gow back in 2008 in Heiner Müller’s ‘Anatomy Titus Fall Of Rome’. “Similarly I don't think that was a play that would have been possible without someone like Michael Gow directing because it was again very language based. But he had a clear vision for it and I think we managed to pull it off”.

Harold Pinter’s ‘No Man’s Land’, first produced in 1975, is a production that tends to yield new meanings with each portrayal of the complex script. In this production the meaning will come through the director and what his cast make of it. “We're not going for any specific meaning, we're just trying to find the moments. You can't play too much of the back stories or try and have this other life off the stage, you just have to concentrate on what's going on in the moment and who's trying to get what out of who at each particular point in time.”

Brisbane actor Andrew Buchanan will play alongside Steven as the other servant. This will be the first time the two actors have worked together on stage and Steven looks forward to working with someone with so many years of experience.  “It's nice being in a production where you know that everyone is right on top of their game and has a wealth of experience behind them that they can draw on at any moment - there's a large amount of trust in the room and playfulness.”

It was the experience of fellow cast members that initially drew him to this production. He recalls that the biggest highlight so far is still his first read. “That very first morning sitting down and listening to the interpretation of the way John Gaden and Peter Carroll approached their characters and their immediate understanding of emphasis and stresses on particular words, just to see these guys who have been doing it for years and years and years have an immediate respect for the script and the work they were going to have to do over the rehearsal period.”

While the script is challenging, ‘No Man’s Land’ has never been performed in Australia before which gives the cast a bit of room for differing interpretations. “There's a little bit of freedom - in that we can put our take on it without worrying that people might be comparing it to other productions they've seen.”

In looking back over the last few years of theatre Steven considers himself fairly lucky in terms of the people he’s worked with and the parts he’s played. “I've never done a show just for the money or just because I need to because I have to pay the bills. I've always been proud of the work that I've been involved in.”

But it’s the friends he’s made each time that have been most important. “You have a bunch of brand new friends every couple of months, yet those relationships end up lasting for a very long time.” He’ll be spending a lot of time with this new bunch of friends as ‘No Man’s Land’ will be performing right through to mid-December as they spend the last six weeks at the Sydney Opera House.

‘NO MAN’S LAND’ PLAYS AT THE BILLE BROWN STUDIO SEPTEMBER 19 - OCTOBER 22

Wednesday, 24 August 2011 13:05

DJ Katch

Island Hopping   

Involved with hip hop for 28 years, DJ Katch is still as active within the scene as he was three decades ago.

Touring with New Zealand artist Mihirangi, travelling interstate for shows, providing international support for hip hop acts, teaching DJing, and working on the new Resin Dogs album, he’s looking forward to spending some down time at the upcoming Island Vibe festival. “I’m gonna go for the three days instead of sticking around Brisbane and DJing all the time,” Katch says.

Last year’s Island Vibe won a Greener Festival Award (one of eight Australian festivals) for its efforts to maintain sustainability in the area. “You’re using electricity to do your sets and stuff, hard for sustainability. But that’s all good, it’s great that those awards are going out, that people are getting recognition for trying to do things.”

Katch’s band, Resin Dogs, is also playing at Sprung Festival, the biggest all Aussie hip hop festival - it’s a long way from where hip hop was when he started out in the ‘80s. “There wasn’t even an outlet for hip hop so thinking there was going to be a festival to play on was out of the picture. It's about time because it seems like the industry, they grab a hold of the dance music and stuff and when it comes to hip hop they only get a certain sort of hip hop and not include everything. There's more to hip hop than just Aussie dudes doing rap.”

When he’s not preparing for upcoming festival slots, Katch is readying himself for any number of other appearances. “I regularly play at Rumpus Room in West End, Kerbside and La Rouge in Fortitude Valley; I get flown interstate every month or two to do shows, I work at Butter Beats Records in the city selling vinyl. I recently played for Mos Def, Lyrics Born, Del The Funky Homosapien.”

The new Resin Dogs album is still in the works and will include both local and international artists. With a release date still to be confirmed, Katch isn’t coy in when punters can expect the record to drop: “We’re trying to outlast Dr Dre with his detox I think”.

DJ Katch plays Island Vibe October 28-30. Resin Dogs play Sprung Festival, at the Brisbane Riverstage, October 15.

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