Items filtered by date: February 2013
Wednesday, 27 February 2013 02:11

Donovan Frankenreiter: Lord Of Folk

Hawaii-based singer-songwriter/ guitarist Donavon Frankenreiter is returning to Australia following the release of his fifth full-length album, ‘Start Livin’.

“It's so hard for me to talk about my own music,” Donavon laughs. “It was really fun making the record. I made it in seven days in my buddy Matt Grundy's studio. We went in there and recorded these nine songs. The process was really fun, it was real positive and I really enjoyed writing the songs over the past few years.

“You know, I was inspired by my family and travelling and stories that came out of my life last year. We really had a blast recording it, we did most of it live and then built off the tracks from there, and it was the first time I've really recorded a record in that way. Then finishing it all in seven days was great.”

Perhaps his most intimate record to date, the interplay between Donavon's warm vocal tones and whimsical guitar riffs effectively evokes the atmosphere of a tropical paradise. Among the collection of folk-laden songs lies the sombre ‘A.I.’, dedicated to Donavon's close friend, professional surfer Andy Irons, who passed away in 2010.

“We live in Kauai, so when I am home his presence there is so heavy. Being close to him and his family, there's never a moment that goes by that I don't think of him. ‘A.I.’ was really just a song that I felt like I had to write; it's a song about the feelings I had at the time. I took until about six months after he passed away before I could write it, but once I could it came together really quickly. It's one of the songs on the record that really wrote itself in a matter of moments.

“It helped me a lot. When I listen to that song it definitely helps me deal with my feelings, because we did a lot of travelling together and it might have been the closest I've ever been with anybody that has passed away in my life. Even though he was my age and a friend, I definitely idolised him. It's such a traumatic thing in the surfing world, that somebody that good and that young can pass away.”

Donavon Frankenreiter plays a free show at the Jubilee Hotel March 3 from 4.30pm.
Published in Reggae/ Roots
Wednesday, 20 February 2013 15:16

Brazil Film Festival: In Preview

The Brazil Film Festival brings to Australia the images, sounds, scents and flavours of Brazil through cinema. Now in its fourth year, the Festival is coming to Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide and bringing 11 of the best and most awarded Brazilian film productions. As well as cinema, the Festival also offers a wide range of cultural and artistic expressions — including music, dance, fine arts and food. Festival Director Andre Levy and Brisbane Festival manager Ana Cristina Moore share some ideas of what to expect.

Describe the Brazil Film Festival in 5 words?
Andre: Sensual, Exquisite, Passionate, Festive, BRAZIL!
Ana: Soulful, Independent, Open-minded, Contemporary, Diverse.

What is your role?
Ana: I am the Festival Manager in Brisbane and Social Sustainability coordinator nationally. Here in Brisbane I do a bit of everything from coordinating with the venues and suppliers to going to the local businesses to drop off marketing material. There is a great deal of multitasking.

What makes Brazilian film different to other countries?
Andre: Each country's cinema reflects its dreams, its values, its pains and its ambitions. Brazil's cinema is no different. For a while the Brazilian film industry concentrated on depicting the urban violence that afflicts the country. Now the industry is diversifying and portraying other aspects of Brazilian society. On this Festival's edition we have two films from Brazil's gaucho south, the drama 'Less than Nothing' and the road movie 'Last Road to the Beach'. We also have a beautiful documentary on the Amazon rainforest, 'Amazonia Eterna'. This also reflects Brazilians' growing concern with protecting the natural endowment of their country.
Ana: The complexity of the Brazilian society reflects on its cinematography. Further of being a country of continental proportions and the fifth most populated in the world, Brazil is a truly multicultural society — we have the largest Japanese colony outside Japan, the Italians and the Jewish communities are substantial as well. Plus we have more Lebanese nationals living in Brazil than in Lebanon and we have the largest population of Afro-descendants outside of Africa. There are country towns in South Brazil where the population only speak German and we've had French invasions and Dutch invasions. In this developing country, scared by poverty, slavery and violence, there is a fusion of cultures of no precedents. We are so mixed that is impossible to tell where some traditions come from.

Any surprises tucked up your sleeve?
Ana: Of course, this will not only be a film festival but also a cultural experience and it is the chance to understand a bit of this complex country. We will have a discussion panel chaired by Mara Bun from Green Cross Australia with our goal to trace a parallel between Brazil and Australia and to show that in fact we face very similar issues regarding sustainable development and indigenous rights. We want people not only to watch a movie we want to make them think.

What makes a good film?
Andre: What makes a good wine? There are technical requirements, of course, but at the end of the day, a good wine is a wine you like. A good film is a film you like.
Ana: Soul

Who are some Brazilian filmmakers that we should keep our eyes on?
Andre:  Brazil's top cinema brass include...
Walter Salles ('Motorcycle Diaries', 'On the Road', 'Central Station')
Fernando Meirelles ('City of God', 'Blindness', 'The Constant Gardener')
Hector Babenco ('Carandiru', 'At Play in the Fields of The Lord')
José Padilha ('Elite Squad I and II')
The Festival brings the best of the new crop, especially...
Afonso Poyart ('Two Rabbits')
Jose Henrique Fonseca ('Heleno')
Márcio de Lemos ('Imperfect Love')
Belisario Franca ('Amazônia Eterna')

Why should audiences come along rather than staying at home on their couch?
Ana: We will have it all from classical music to street-style carnival. We have a great selection of movies and good Brazilian movies are still really hard to access in Australia. If you miss one of our movies, it is very unlikely you will have the chance to rent it from your nearest video shop.

Anything else readers should know?
Ana: Brisbane has been taken over by commercial cinemas, when you go and watch one of our movies you are contributing to keep one of the few independent cinema theatres in Brisbane. Brazil Film Festival does not have the sponsorship and government support of the major international film festivals. Thanks to places like Schonell Theatre we can keep independent film festivals like this one alive.

The Brazil Film Festival Runs Feb 23 – March 3 At The Schonell Cinemas. 

Published in Film
This year’s Alliance Française French Film Festival will feature 43 of the most entertaining movies and documentaries, across 8 categories: love, art, cinema, suspense, tales from our past, stories beyond fiction, inspiring women and laughter.

Artistic Director, Emmanuelle Denavit-Feller explains the significance of the FFF in Australia. 

“It's a very big task, because it's not only one of the biggest film festivals in Australia, it's also the biggest French film festival outside of France.”

Emmanuelle, who selected the 43 films to be showcased, says the importance of the festival is showing the Australian audience the diversity of French cinema.

“We have had two great achievements with this festival. First of all is the audience; second of all is the audience being 80 percent Australian. Which is very important to us, because the idea is to really show to the Australian people here what French cinema is. We have 43 movies [this year], and we would like to show the wide range of French cinema.”

Ask Emmanuelle what her favourite film at this year’s festival is and she'll be quick to express her love for all of the films and documentaries. She says each film brings its own unique aspect to the festival, making it hard to choose.
“That's a very difficult question for me,” she says with a laugh. “I have several movies that I really liked, and of course I can say I like 43 of them, but I particularly liked 'Looking For Hortense' and also 'The Dandelions'.”

Though Emmanuelle did miss out on some of her selections. “[One of] the biggest difficulties is that sometimes you can't have all of the movies [you want] ... It's a disappointment that sometimes, something that you would really like to have, you can't get. I won’t call it a difficulty, but the challenge of being Artistic Director is sometimes you have to get the right movies all together and make them work together.”

The Alliance Francaise French Film Festival will be held at The Palace Barracks Cinemas And Palace Centro Cinemas from March 14 until April 4.
Published in Film
Wednesday, 20 February 2013 15:00

Expressions Dance Company

Two of Australia’s most exciting emerging choreographers, Leisel Zink and Lucas Jervies, will each create a new dance work with the full support of Expressions Dance Company in its brand new initiative 'Propel (the next step)'.

The dance works form the second in a series of platforms created by EDC Artistic Director Natalie Weir to help emerging, independent choreographers create new pieces.
Presented since 2010, the first series 'Launch Pad' saw rising stars, including Mr Jervies and Ms Zink, create a 10-minute piece with two company dancers.

For  'Propel (the next step)' they will each develop a new, 30-minute work for the full EDC ensemble.

Fresh from the success of her performance 'fifteen' at Brisbane Festival 2012, Leisel’s piece 'Synapse' will look at body language in communication.

Intrigued by the energy a certain posture or gesture can give and the difficulties experienced when communicating and connecting with others, Leisel will collaborate with Mike Willmett, of Triple J Unearthed band My Fiction, to create a soundscape for 'Synapse'. Audience members can get involved with the creative process online at as the two choreographers blog about rehearsals, post photos of the dancers in the studio and share their thoughts and ideas as they develop. Leisel explains more:

What's your greatest inspiration as a choreographer?
I am inspired by artists that respond to the complicated world that we live in.

How has the experience been working with EDC?
It is an absolute honour to work with these dancers — they are so highly skilled it seems the possibilities are endless. I’ve found them to be incredibly open and willing to jump into the beautiful mess of a choreographic process.

Do you like to direct your dancers or allow them freedom to interpret your choreography? 
As a choreographer, I enjoy seeing how each new individual moulds and shapes my own choreography so I like to meet the dancers half way. I give a direction, they interpret it, then I bounce off their interpretation and so on and so forth. However, I am a perfectionist! It may have been choreographed on your external body, however when performed, it has to come from somewhere honest.

What can we expect next week, when 'Propel' opens?
I am still not certain of what the overall work will look like. It is nerve-wracking not having a set structure, but you also have no limits and you give the work permission to go new places you didn't think it would go. 

What’s next for you?
I am beginning a solo work where I will be collaborating with a psychology researcher in the investigation of 'love'. I am usually either inside a work as a performer, or sitting outside a work as a choreographer, so I believe combining the two in the creation of a solo work will be incredibly challenging for me.

'Propel (The Next Step)' is on at The Bille Brown Studio from February 28 – March 2.
Published in Dance
Wednesday, 20 February 2013 14:54

Bliss N Eso: Still Flying

In 2013, Australian hip hop is better placed than ever. Moving forward in leaps and bounds names like Bliss N Eso have legitimised the genre locally — made the industry count.

No doubt, artists, producers and MCs alike are doing things for the scene that have never been done before. Albums are being delivered thick and fast, and their music is brimming with brilliant and focused material. Production continues to impress and push boundaries while stage performances are as frenetic and kickin' as ever.

But it’s not all about the bright lights of the show; social consciousness is high on the list of priorities particularly for the Bliss N Eso crew. So much so that it has changed their entire outlook and perspective. The profoundness of a trip to Africa some years ago manipulated their social fabric - to the point that their hunger to connect, to please, to deliver is now more paramount than ever. “Basically we're always about broadening out the landscape of what our work should feel like,” MC Bliss says. “We're dropping the conscious shit and keeping our lyrics fresh; we've been digging in the crates and producing music.”

The boys preach this profound notion that by 'creating your own path' as it were, you reach a destination never found by following directions.

“We wanted to allow our minds to venture out of our own neighbourhood. Years ago, we spent some time in Portland, Oregon and in Whistler, Canada. We hooked up with this crew who reminded us of the old Wu-Tang. They call themselves the Sandcastle Crew; they live in a basement they call the sandpit! It's an entire mindset. That's what we're striving for.”

Their ‘Flying Colours’ album of 2008 — which cemented the crew in all their glory — was a triumph in the Australian hip hop scene. The LP spent forever in the ARIA charts, which gives you some idea of the reach it had across our toasted continent.

“We decided that our motto was going to be like if you give, then you get back! We went on a trip to Africa and lived in mud huts and worked with people far worse off than ourselves. It changed our perspective and helped pull the wool back from over our eyes. We're not conspiracy theory freaks, but when we realised that radio and TV wasn't telling us what we needed to know, we went to find out. The saddest thing about walking away from there was that it was very intense. We all had our moments where we'd just sit in the car and sob. It makes you want to try and stand up to things like that.”

A year later, the ‘Running On Air’ album — while taking them in a slightly different direction — still moved fans and critics alike. But none of this matters to the boys, who are still about putting us on the map in the most profound way possible.

“We might get in trouble for this, but really from the beginning, Australian hip hop needed to be called hip hop — just to allow the kids to step up and grab that microphone with courage. Because we're not American we're not going to be talking about the same stuff that they are talking about. We needed people to get up and be proud to be Australian and talk about Australia. And cats are getting up and being proud of being Aussie. Now the music is straight up hip hop — we've earnt it with stompin' shows from Adelaide to Darwin. It's on a world scale and we're doing hip hop music — not Australian hip hop.”

The Bliss N Eso tale is a legacy of royalty. But the lads are just stoked that it has taken them this far. “We hope that all the young kids come out to see our shows. You'll get to see some old schoolers doing their thing.” And the fact that they're sharing top billing alongside artists like Nas sort of helps make the point, too.

Bliss N Eso Headline The Movement, curated in association with Nas, at The Brisbane Riverstage Sunday April 28.

Published in Urban
Wednesday, 20 February 2013 14:38

7 Bit Hero: Playing The Hero

This year’s Garage Gamer event will feature a unique interactive musical gaming experience with the launch of the debut EP from pop-bit band, 7-Bit Hero.

Turning the classic sounds of retro computer games into catchy pop songs, commonly known as ‘chiptunes’, 7-Bit Hero will take audiences on an audio-visual adventure that the crowd controls with their smart phones.

“Basically, we’ve simplified games to a point where they’re kind of like the mini-games that you play on Mario Party,” says composer, keyboardist and vocalist, Hans van Vliet. “You play them against everyone else in the crowd, but those mini games also tell a story that supports the songs so the whole thing comes together.

“At Garage Gamer, you bring your iPhone or Android phone along and we will sit there and install something on it and it will basically convert your iPhone into a joystick which will then real time interface with what’s happening on our screen … it’s really seamless; it’s a really simplified, just one-button-mashing concept.”

Hans says while the idea is simple and accessible, this show is just the beginning of what he hopes to achieve by converging computer chip-based music, gaming technology and performance. 

“We haven’t gone for really over the top stuff but it’s a roadmap for where we want to take it [that] we’re really excited about,” he says. “In this first instance, there’s a lot of heart and feeling and metaphors through it so although the first single is very happy and upbeat, it has a very sombre message to it; then when you come to our show you experience the twists and turns within it.”

He also hopes 7-Bit Hero will help to change the perception of gaming as an introverted and socially-exclusive activity, to something that can help people connect with one another.  

“It’s really extroverted too; one of the biggest things we wanted to challenge was that when you mention this to people they think it’s really introverted technology. It’s a celebration of people’s skills and talents; the images are displayed behind us so you actually look through us and just above us to interact.”     

7-Bit Hero Performs At The State Library Of Queensland As Part Of Garage Gamer Saturday March 2.
Published in Electronic
Wednesday, 20 February 2013 14:32

Huxley: Busy Bee

No newcomer to music, Huxley is nevertheless emerging as one of Europe’s most exciting house producers following a breakout 2012.

Singles including ‘Box Clever’ and ‘Let It Go’ caught the attention of some of the scene’s biggest names following their release on credible labels 20:20 Vision and Hypercolor. While Huxley was already a noted DJ and producer of UK garage, these and other cuts on Tsuba saw his profile skyrocket.

A subsequent compilation on reputable UK house imprint 1Trax followed, and then so too did the gigs, with the so-called ‘Big Thing From Tring’, Hertfordshire, now preparing for his first major Australian tour.

“It was pretty crazy,” recalls Huxley of 2012. “I don’t think I was expecting just how busy you get once you start to breakthrough. Before I was doing one or two gigs a week and spending the rest of the week getting down and making music.

“Last year, as soon as ‘Let It Go’ came out, my gigs just became every weekend, twice a weekend. It was brilliant; I loved every minute of it.”

Now in early 2013, Huxley is facing a challenge most DJ/ producers would kill to experience: how to juggle a jam-packed touring schedule with the studio time needed to act on the numerous remix offers coming his way.

At last count, he wasn’t doing too bad; recent remixes of Nottingham five piece Crazy P’s ‘Heartbreaker’ and of Pirupa’s 2012 Ibiza tune ‘Party Non-Stop’ have been well-received. Like fellow underground new-breed Maya Jane Coles — whose star has risen to the point of being booked to play Coachella — Huxley is managing to keep his credibility while exploring the possibilities that a raised profile presents.

“I try not to make it change the way I look at making music. I think once you start doing that maybe your music starts to suffer a bit because you’re always looking for that next big thing. I’ve always taken time with my work anyway, and I’ve thrown away more than I’ve released … now, the problem, more than pressure or anything, is getting time to sit down and actually work on music.”

Huxley Plays Skyroom Sunday February 24.
Published in Electronic
Wednesday, 20 February 2013 14:27

Robert Cray: Strong Persuader

One of America’s finest blues guitarists, Robert Cray, is heading down under next month for the blues tour of a lifetime.

Despite a career spanning over three decades, five Grammy Awards (and fifteen nominations), the honour of having not one, but two signature Robert Cray Stratocaster guitars made by Fender, and collaborating with the likes of Eric Clapton, John Lee Hooker, Albert Collins and Stevie Ray Vaughan, Robert Cray's humble nature is evident through his soft spoken and sincere tone.

The ‘It's Blues Time!’ tour features performances from Cray, Taj Mahal and Shuggie Otis in one night of bluesy basslines and soulful solos.

“We got booked for Bluesfest, which we've played a couple of times before,” Robert explains. “I'm really excited to see Shuggie Otis because I've never seen him perform before, so hopefully I get the opportunity, and also with Taj Mahal. We run across Taj quite a bit and they're always great.”

In 2011, Robert was inducted into the Blues Foundation's Hall Of Fame, an honour bestowed upon musicians that have significantly contributed to blues music.

“It was pretty cool, but unexpected; usually you have to be a lot older. I had to give my speech after listening to countless others be very humourous and witty with their speeches; and I'm not much of a speech writer. If I don't have my guitar in my hand, I'm just terrible at a microphone. So what I had written out just went into the trash. I got up there and didn't know what to do, I was shaking so badly. I basically got off stage as quick as I could.”

Last year saw the release of ‘Nothing But Love’, the Robert Cray Band's first studio album since 2009. The album peaked at number two on the US Blues chart and was voted Album Of The Year by Guitarist Magazine.

Robert Cray performs At Bluesfest at Tyagarah Tea Tree Farm March 28 Until April 1. Robert also has a Side Show at Tivoli March 26.

Published in Rock
Wednesday, 20 February 2013 14:21

The Darkness: Back With A Bang

Reformed, refreshed, and rehabilitated, English glam-rockers The Darkness are heading to these shores for a run of shows with legendary rocker Joan Jett.

Coming off the back of album number three and an extensive tour supporting Lady GaGa, guitarist Dan Hawkins is looking ahead to the shows down under.

“Expect really loud sounds played through Marshall amplifiers, running about on stage, guitar solos, and great songs; a rock & roll party basically,” he says. “If you're up for having a couple of beers and taking your mind off work, then come along.”

Having left their rock & roll excesses behind, the band have found a new lease of life which has seen their shows take on another dimension.

“I think we're a lot more energetic than we were before. We used to hide behind a massive light show and giant inflatable breasts and stuff like that. We never used to move from our spots as we were just getting over our hangovers. That's all been well documented over the last couple of years, but we pretty much hit the ground running at a show these days. We're in the zone now where we don't give a flying fuck, so anything can happen at a Darkness show.”
Sharing a bill with the 'Queen of Rock & Roll' is something Hawkins is looking forward to.

“Touring with Joan Jett is going to be amazing,” he says. “We've not met her before, and she just adds so much glamour to the show; it's going to be quite the event. It just reads like a great gig.”
The band's new and improved lifestyle has had plenty of other creative benefits.

“We've been writing on the road, which has never happened before, mainly due to massive hangovers all the time. It's not going to be a long wait before the next album comes out. We can't keep our fans waiting, and obviously we lost a lot of fans when we split up. We've written quite a few songs already and we're really excited about it.”

The Darkness play Brisbane Riverstage Thursday April 4.
Published in Rock
Wednesday, 20 February 2013 14:15

Grinspoon: Family First

Grinspoon have spent the last 16 years pummelling audiences in Australia and overseas with their own unique brand of Aussie rock. With the release of their eighth full length album, ‘Black Rabbits’, they’re hitting the road once again.

“This is a big year, this tour is huge; we started with the Big Day Out, and we’re going through until the end of April; we’re really looking forward to playing some of our own shows so we can play a lot more from the new album,” bass player Joe Hansen says. “Festivals are incredible. There’s just so many people, it’s such a buzz, and you get to play on the big stage to a crowd of people who we might not normally get, but at the same time, when we play a festival we tend to play a greatest hits set; if we play a bunch of obscure stuff that people don’t recognise, they’ll wander off.”

Touring can be tough when you have a family waiting at home, and with no more than three years separating each of their albums since 1997, the band has spent a large chunk of the past sixteen years either in the studio or on the road.
“It depends on the tour and how much time we have between shows, but when we can, we bring our family with us — on this tour at the Big Day Out I had my wife and two kids come along, and they had a ball. They loved it! It’s awesome to have them see what we do... they don’t really know any other life, it’s not abnormal for them to see us play to 50,000 people.”

A current trend for bands who’ve been around the block a couple of times is to tour full-album shows. So, is Grinspoon ready to move in this direction?

“I don’t think we’ll be doing that any time soon,” declares Joe, “but I’m really looking forward to playing stuff from the new album though. Coming up to the ‘Black Rabbits’ tour we’re going to play a bunch more of the new stuff, and older songs that aren’t as well known — with our own shows we can delve into that territory.”

Growing up together as a band will bring you closer, but the boys in Grinspoon come across as more of a family than a band.

“These guys ARE my family, we’ve gone through everything together — we’ve watched each other get married and have kids.”

But like any family, there’s bound to be the odd disagreement from time to time.

“Some of our arguments can last for months,” Hansen says of the disputes within the band. “Because we all live in different towns, a lot of our communication is by email, and when you argue in emails it’s very different to when you argue in person. You tend to lose a lot of the meaning. But we always have a laugh about it afterwards.”

One subject many bands can’t agree on, no matter how long they’ve been together, is whether to change their sound for the next album.

“I love our older stuff,” admits Hansen. “When we’re writing new songs or putting together a new album I’m always leaning towards the older, heavier sound, and the others are always like, ‘Joe, you’re so predictable!’. Normally it’s two of us [who] want to go one way and the other two want to go in a different direction ... We always come up with a good mix though, and Phil is the singer, he needs to express himself.”

‘Black Rabbits’ is a big step for Grinspoon. The album paints a more mature picture of the band, and is a long way from their first album, ‘Guide To Better Living’, but it’s still 100 percent Grinspoon.
“It’s branching out, but not too far. It’s always difficult with change, we just hope we can please ourselves, but also please our fans.”

Grinspoon play the Tivoli March 15 before returning to The Cooly April 21.
Published in Rock
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