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Wednesday, 29 February 2012 12:33

Des Bishop: Comedy In Preview

In the extremely unlikely event that you had been pondering what you would get if you mixed Ireland, America and England together, I have your answer: Des Bishop.

Born in England, with veins full of Irish blood then raised in America, comedian (and sometimes rap artist) Des Bishop is a rare fusion of cultures with one very whacked-out accent. “I have more of a New York accent than an Irish accent. I’m a hybrid; I’m like the Toyota Prius of comedy. People don’t know what to make of me really.”

With Bishop’s hybrid identity in tow, one might begin to wonder where this cultural crossover leaves him when tackling Australian audiences. “I find Australian and Irish crowds very similar, but Australian crowds are not as rowdy as Irish crowds. At my shows in Australia, the Irish people will be shouting out, getting involved. They’re usually a little bit pissed and love to heckle but not in a bad way, rather thinking it’s all part of the fun to just say stupid shit. The Australians will be like ‘this is Queensland man, what the fuck is going on here?’”

In an effort to get closer to his roots, Bishop even took to learning to speak Irish, giving him the tools to dish out quick-witted verbal servings in not one, but two languages. “I always thought it would be funny to learn Irish and do a gig in it. But I also wanted to see if it could maybe make me feel closer to Irish society. So all in all, I was just curious. Once I learnt it I became obsessed with it, I couldn’t believe the power of learning a language and how it makes you feel more connected to a place.”

While he can tick learning another language off his presumably hefty ‘to do’ list, Bishop has also starred in a number of television programs, written and performed plays and penned a memoir about his father — but stand up is his favourite drug of choice. “I don’t do drugs, but if doing my TV shows is like smoking weed, then stand up is like doing coke. It’s more intoxicating and exciting, but maybe also worse for my emotional stability.”

While Bishop is most at home in the glaring spotlight on a lonely stage built for one, he isn’t afraid to push the boundaries — he has even dabbled in the unlikely realm of hip hop music. “I did write a hip hop musical back in 2001 and it was fun, it was kind of historical and a lyrical satire about Irish society. I also wrote a rap about Australian history too. I am not going to release a hip hop album, but my next show is going to have some fun, audience-interaction, hip hop stuff.”

You might even hear some of his Irish hip hop in his new show ‘Des Bishop Likes To Bang’, along with some material that may make you squirm. “Well I am learning how to play the drums, so I am going to bring my drums along. Because the show is called ‘Des Bishop Likes To Bang’, which actually refers to the drums, it also gives me the freedom to talk a little bit about banging … and the things we don’t like to talk about in terms of sexual behaviour.”

However audience members beware, there may be some singing involved. “I am going to need some people in the audience to help me out with a song. We are going to make music together live on stage, we are going make some beats so I really want people that like singing to come to my show.”

DES BISHOP PERFORMS AT THE BRISBANE COMEDY FESTIVAL AT THE BRISBANE POWERHOUSE, MARCH 20 - 25.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012 12:08

The Edge: 21st Century Library

For most, the prospect of spending time in a library conjures a feeling of doom for the impending boredom that is to come.

However, if you were to walk down the yellow brick road to the technological and creative wonderland that is The Edge, your opinion of libraries would be drastically altered. Executive Manager of The Edge, Matthew Fallon, tells us why.

“It is a library, but it's not like your average library — it's a library for the 21st century … The Edge is a place for people who are 18-25 to come and experiment. It's something to inspire people to make something … It provides an opportunity for people to collaborate and share their skills and knowledge with each other.”

The creative space itself is laden with MacBook Pros that are hooked up to the latest software, along with a number of creative laboratories. The venue is also fitted out with a recording studio, an impressive auditorium that has hosted the likes of Regurgitator, Jungle Giants and Ball Park Music, along with study bays showcasing Brisbane City and the river, and a host of free Wi-Fi spots. Oh ... and zombies.

“We had a 'Zombie Environment Apocalypse' that we did as part of our games programming. That was an alternative reality game, or real world game, where we had people camping for 36 hours in our building or on the roof around the Cultural Precinct. It was their job to survive the 36 hours and learn some new skills, battle zombies, battle militia and generally try and get by in an urban, post-apocalyptic landscape.”

If you are not an avid gamer the opportunities for amusement at The Edge are still endless. “There is nothing like this in Australia and very little like it in the world. I guess we are plugging a gap by providing access to the tools of creation for people; it represents kind of a change of what libraries are about.”

While your local library might generate notions of little old librarians with moon shaped spectacles, along with the dreaded persecution for late book returns, you will find no such thing at The Edge, which is annexed to the State Library Of Queensland. “Traditionally libraries are places to go and look at information, for us we are a place to go and make something. It's a philosophical shift to a make-place, a place for creativity.”

In-step with their wacky and progressive nature, the folks at The Edge will kick off their second birthday with something a little different, including advanced paper plane making workshops. “We are doing fifty workshops in six hours. There will also be exhibitions, emerging local artists and bands performing, along with a giant birthday present being taken across the river. There will also be a suitcase rummage, so people have a chance to sell things that they have made.”

THE EDGE CELEBRATES ITS SECOND BIRTHDAY AT THE CULTURAL CENTRE AT STANLEY PLACE IN SOUTH BANK SATURDAY FEBRUARY 25.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012 12:05

Slam Day

Time To Protest

There’s nothing like a peaceful rally to exert some harmless anarchist frustration. It’s even more satisfying when it’s for a worthy cause.

In the case of 2010’s SLAM Rally, which has now gathered enough momentum to become SLAM Day, you can even ‘dance-out’ your irritation. Co-founder Helen Marcou explains. “We want to raise awareness about the value of live music and how important it is, how it’s the soundtrack to everyone’s lives. It’s a chance for the music community (to) come out and recognise each other, and celebrate how fantastic we are.”

Starting with small rallies throughout Victoria demonstrating against Victorian Liquor Licensing policies, the movement soon escalated to 20,000 passionate people gathering to support Australian live music and its venues. “From our perspective it is an awareness campaign,” says Eskimo Joe’s guitarist Stu Macleod. “Linking violence to live music is ridiculous. I think festivals are taking precedence these days over single gigs, and while I love playing festivals, it’s still important to also have the magic of a live intimate gig.”

It’s not just Eskimo Joe who are getting onboard as ambassadors. The next SLAM Day is open to any artist, and for those of us slightly less musically talented, you can attend the gig of anyone supporting the movement.

“Any artists can become involved in the event,” Marcou says. “All they have to do is play a gig in a venue on February 23. They just need to register on the SLAM website and they will be part of the whole national movement … The government needs to see the great social, economical and cultural benefits that live music brings to the wellbeing of Australians.”

“Everyone pays their dues,” Macleod says. “If it wasn’t for all the venues that we loved playing at along the years we might not be here. There are great venues going by the wayside, I think Australia needs to give a little more respect and support to artists and struggling musicians.”

SLAM DAY IS HELD NATIONALLY ON FEBRUARY 23. slamrally.org

Wednesday, 30 November 2011 14:13

Protonica

Deep, Psychedelic and Spacey

“We like it deep, psychedelic and spacey.”

Protonica are, of course, talking about music. The European DJs, aka best friends Piet Kaempfer and Ralf Dietze, have been blending throbbing progressive trance and psychedelic beats ever since they met in 2003. “I was presenting my own electronic show at an independent radio station in Germany when Piet sent in a couple of DJ mixes,” Ralf says. “A few weeks later we met and after a chat and some drinks we started producing beats till the early hours.”

The connection for the pair was instant and still very much present today. “It's cool,” Ralf continues, “that somehow after eight years the spirit of that first meeting is still alive.”

Music is something that’s been ever present in the duo's lives. For Piet, it was playing the piano as a child that fuelled this passion. “I was more taken by the synthetic sounds I heard from early techno tracks, though. I saved up to buy my first Roland synthesizer to experiment with the wide range of possible sounds. For me, trying to create new sounds that people haven't heard before is still my motivation.”

The DJs have brought their breed of “pure progressive trance with a touch of psychedelic” to a number of festivals including a set at Earth Frequency in 2012. “We’re looking forward to our first tour of Australia. At festivals it's a lot of fun to play to a packed dancefloor; the capacity of a club is limited. The sprit of the festival carries over to the crowd and of course to us.”

Over their years, Piet and Ralf have noticed the influence of digital media in DJing.  “In recent years, the transition towards digital media could be seen. The possibility of producing tracks or DJing is now available to everyone and tracks can be purchased easily and inexpensively. Unfortunately, this comes at the expense of the individuality and uniqueness of the tracks and artists. “(But) the new possibilities are great when you know how to use them. We don't miss the old times.”

Protonica play Earth Frequency, at Landcrusier Park, Sunshine Coast, February 17-20. earthfrequency.com.au

Wednesday, 23 November 2011 10:04

Roller Derby

Dreaming

If the idea of girls in skirts play-fighting with fluffy pillows is your idea of an awesome time, you probably won’t handle a night at the Roller Derby.

These ladies take it to the next level as they battle it out on the roller circuit, bruised body parts, ‘jammers’ and all. “There are a lot of rules involved in the game; it’s a very technical sport,” Northern Brisbane Rollers captain Annabelle Lector says. “The first time you watch it you think ‘oh yeah there’s girls in hot pants knocking each other over, that’s kind of cool’, but when you actually follow the sport there is so many little technical things to notice.”

Even though the sport is fiercely competitive, the teams are pretty chilled out once they get off the track. “Some of my best friends are on opposing teams and we smash each other every time we hit the track,” opposing captain of the Sun State Roller Girls, Slawta Dawta says. “You always congratulate that lethal hit that lays you out, even if you can't breathe.”

After seeing some of the magnificent smack-downs, it’s hard to believe the girls all get along; then again, according to Slawta Dawta, roller derby isn’t any ordinary sport. “The roller derby isn't average in any way. Intense would be a more fitting word … We encourage our league members to have fun while challenging their physical limits. There are so many aspects of our league that enrich and empower women in life and the sporting arena.” 

Both Queensland teams are gearing up for the battle of a lifetime, and hoping to stay in one piece, as they play Seattle’s notoriously fast Rat City Rollergirls. “Get ready to see some of the most intense roller derby ever played in Brisbane. Rat City has some of the world's best and we are all looking forward to this amazing opportunity to play against them.”

Echoing Slawta Dawta’s sentiments, Annabelle Lector adds: “It’s going to be a very strategic game, lots of big hits and lots of fast jammers, it will be very exciting.”

CATCH THE NORTHERN BRISBANE ROLLERS AND THE SUN STATE ROLLER GIRLS WHEN THEY PLAY SEATTLE’S RAT CITY ROLLERGIRLS AT THE BRISBANE CONVENTION CENTRE NOVEMBER 26.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011 14:33

Tropicarnage Cup

Rugby On Roller-Skates

Complete with fishnet stockings, stellar roller-skates and some pretty fierce padding, the Northern Brisbane Rollers are some pretty fearless ladies.

Hectic costumes and gnarly injuries aside, the team started out as a group of friends getting amongst this old-school sport. “I read about the roller derby on the internet and thought it sounded very interesting, but it was a pretty underground thing in Brisbane… It was a group of women who met at a skating rink, saw something happening in America and thought we can do that here. The rest is history… We all work really hard to make it happen.”

That’s team captain Annabelle Lector, 'Silence Of Lambs' pun intended, explaining the origins of the Rollers, but what exactly is roller derby? “It’s kind of like rugby on roller-skates, expect without a ball. You do have to be pretty fearless to get out there… Injuries do happen. I have had torn knee ligaments and cracked ribs. Actually a girl in the team this year had a collapsed lung. She got hit in the ribs and the doctors couldn't find a crack, but then they found that her lung was partially collapsed.”

But the girls take a mere cracked rib or collapsed lung in their stride, bonding over the aggressive nature of the sport. “There is nothing more rewarding than having someone knock you down, then you knock them down, then afterwards go 'wow that hit was really good'. There is always going to be personality clashes but overall we are just one big family, we like to play against each other and support each other so we can play even more.”

The close-knit nature of the sport is felt among all the Brisbane roller teams, except of course at the upcoming Tropicarnage Cup. “It's all Queensland and northern NSW. We have got Cairns and Townsville coming down, as well as the Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast and then all the Brisbane teams too. It's the first one ever, so that's very exciting. Every league is putting forward their all-star team. We are having a battle out over the weekend to see who is the best.”

SEE THE NORTHERN BRISBANE ROLLERS COMPETE IN THE TROPICARNAGE CUP AT THE BEENLEIGH ARENA NOVEMBER 18-20.

Wednesday, 02 November 2011 14:05

Tijuana Cartel

Mexicoma

Heads up to all those hating the arduous journey up and down the M1: internationally flavoured electronic band Tijuana Cartel have made an album about it.

Blending a mixed bag of sounds, band members and instruments, the Gold Coast outfit have driven the national highway enough times to release their album, 'M1'. “We have got this crappy old white van that we have taken on tour for the last five years. We have done something like 170,000 kilometres on it. I think we have seen that sign for the M1 about a million times, so it just seems like the perfect name.”

The album is a simmering pot of exotic sounds and spices, all thrown together to get you moving.  â€œIt's a collage of indie electronica, with slight meanderings into world music, along with some Middle Eastern and Cuban sounds. The sound has changed considerably, but it still has links back to what we have done on the last two albums. It still sounds like us, but it just sounds like a very different us.”

It's no surprise the band would want to preserve the best parts of their original sound; they’ve been perfecting it since they were youngsters. “One of the guys, Carey, and I have been playing together since we were about 12 years old... We picked up the other guys on the way. A few of them were playing at different clubs, and things, so we just tried to poach them as we went along.”

Poaching aside, the group has found a way to include any sort of instrument you can think of, to produce a tasty mix of international sounds. “We have got flamenco style guitars. There are a lot of percussion style instruments, with a Cuban style sound. We have got a trumpet and MC, then a guy that does keyboards and runs the computers and synths. He plays about six instruments. It's a strange line-up for a band ... Everything starts with a beat, from there it's developed into being a song with a band.”

In-step with their unique sound is a name that’s a little out of the ordinary, though the band isn’t too phased about dipping their toes in a bit of controversy. “When we first started we had much more of a Mexican kind of name, we just wanted something that had a Mexican flavour. It was a bit tongue-in-cheek so we chose that, not really knowing much about the fact that it was actually a pretty dangerous gang in Mexico. At a certain point we were kind of stuck with it and we kept going with it ... whether we’ll get a gig in Mexico, I'm not sure.”

The band is so excited about their new release, they’ve set out on a 32-date national tour, over a wee 64 days. The prospect of this has filled the band with pleasure and dread. “At the moment we are doing 11 shows in a row. We are on our sixth show now and we are doing alright, but we are all a little bit frazzled. I think I look about ten years older than I did last week... But we love what we do, it's our job. So we found, to support our various habits and rents, touring was the way to do it.”

While the band loves touring, it's always good to venture back to the nest. “It's good for us to play in Australia because it's home. People know the tracks and are singing back words to odd songs off the album, it's a good feeling. Overseas, when we do travel, it's still very new and we are trying to make our way there. But it's good to come back, you know, it's a warm homecoming.
“We try to keep a party atmosphere going, so the whole idea of the show is just to get everyone dancing and just having a good time in party mode.”

TIJUANA CARTEL PLAYS SOUNDLOUNGE NOVEMBER 11, GREAT NORTHERN NOVEMBER 12 AND SOL BAR NOVEMBER 25-26.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011 12:38

Ed Colman

Summery  Goodness

Heads up dance music fans, Party People’s DJ Ed Colman has co-mixed your potential summer soundtrack — ‘Wild Summer 2012’ — just in time for the heat.

Backing up from last year’s ‘Wild Summer 2011’, Colman has been cultivating his mixing skills, originating with a pair of pitchless decks, and a pushbike. “I actually inherited a couple of decks from a friend, they didn’t even have pitch controls on them… Eventually I sold my bike at the time and bought some new decks with the profits, that was when I was about 14.”

His bike selling entrepreneur skills then led Colman down the yellow brick road of DJing. “I started DJing and I was just kind of wondering how all those records were made. So I ended up getting myself a job in a recording studio and making cups of tea for people… From there I got to watch people putting records together on old multi-track tape machines and the big mixing desks. I was lucky enough to learn from some really great producers in the UK.”

Leaving the UK for Australian shores, Colman has made the most of the relatively younger Australian dance music industry, even grabbing a residency on the airwaves of commercial radio.
“Australia is really fresh. It’s been going for a long time in the UK… There is a lot of underground stuff going on here. England is always going to be a hub for dance music, but Australia is developing an individual style and an individual sound.”

As for style, Colman will bring anything to the table — as long as it gets you on your feet. “I just play stuff that I love, you know, stuff that kind of just hits me. Hopefully, if it makes me feel good, then it will make everybody on the dancefloor feel good. It’s a real mix.”

Bringing this party style to the newly dropped ‘Wild Summer 2012’, Colman continues to guide the good times. “It’s all about summer. It’s all about a nice uplifting vibe, you can put it on, on a sunny day in the car, you can put it on when you’re getting ready to go out, you can put it on at a party. Chris’ (Fraser) disc is awesome as well, he has done a wicked mix. I think they complement each other really well.”

‘WILD SUMMER 2012’ IS OUT NOW.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011 15:29

Seals

Babies And Clubs

After two years on the scene, Brisbane four-piece The Baby Seals Club have dropped the babies and club memberships, sporting a brand new name.

Freshly titled, Seals came together with three boys and later added one lucky lady - Dimity Elson - who was, ironically in-step with the female form, their boss. “Euan came to Australia from Scotland about two years ago... He found Nick and Andy.  I joined about a year and a half later. I met the boys through Andy, I was more or less Andy's boss and a fan of the band.”

Throwing together whatever instruments they could get their hands on, the band pumped out their first EP, 'Paradise', producing a sweet upbeat electronic pop style. “Some of our songs are psychedelic-pop, some electro-funk. A recent review called us quirky indie popsters… I like that. I have three keyboards that all do different things, and a melodium.  Andy has various electronic drum things and we have a drum machine. Euan is a gun on the harmonica.”

Jamming it out in an old Kennards storage shed, the band decided to keep making new music but kick out the old name. “There were a few other bands with the name 'Baby Seals Club' and the hilarity of the pun wore off. We wanted to go with something similar so that people would still recognise us.”

With a shiny new name, the band started tweaking their sound and ending up with their second EP, 'Castaways'. “I think there is a lot more variety of sounds in ‘Castaways’, particularly more in the keys. 'Castaways' is distinctly sunny, while 'Paradise' gives you the vibe of three guys in a dirty bar - which I still love. 'Castaways' is more like a drive to the beach with the windows down.”

Despite the album title the band remain firmly on the shore, launching a 15-stop international tour, before returning to Brisbane to play the 2high Festival. “The Powerhouse is an unparalleled venue and we're really looking forward to playing there for the first time. I'm really looking forward to seeing all the other performers. What else would you be doing on a Saturday?”

CATCH SEALS PLAY THE 2HIGH FESTIVAL AT BRISBANE POWERHOUSE SATURDAY OCTOBER 29. backbone.org.au/2high-festival/

Wednesday, 12 October 2011 12:24

Brooke Evers

IS FRIGHT NIGHT

There is nothing scary about top-model-turned-DJ Brooke Evers - she’s the new chick hitting the decks for Movie World’s ‘Fright Nights’.   

With Halloween just around the corner, what is your ultimate October 31st costume?
I came across the craziest red and orange, PVC, flame outfit the other day that kind of resembled a cheeky devil character with a tail. If I can buy that with thigh high boots, I'm sold.

What’s your favourite scary movie?
My favourite would have to be the first ever ‘Scream’ flick with Neve Campbell. I didn't sleep for days and I think I still feel the same.

As an audience, tell us a little bit about what we can expect from your ‘Fright Night’ DJ sets?
As you enter the park you will instantly be greeted by frightening characters and amazing performers, then you will enter 'Club Blood' where I'll be performing live. All I can say is expect the unexpected.

With the list of credentials you have under your belt are you at heart a: DJ, model, dancer, radio host or journalist?
Can I say 'all of the above’? Over the past three years I've been working really hard experimenting with different fields of journalism including television, radio, hosting and now writing. I've always be a model, so that's nothing new, but DJing has really taken over my career lately and it doesn't look like it's about to slow down any time soon.

You’re dating Matthew Stafford from the Stafford Brothers; in terms of DJing has it been a blessing or a curse to have such an established DJ so close to you?
It's been a blessing in disguise really. I've been watching the Stafford Brothers grow over the past six years and I think it's really rubbed off on me. 

You have a huge presence on the ‘Stafford Brothers’ reality show as they tour around the world. How much mischief did you guys get up to that didn't make it into the final edit?
Filming the first season of the ‘Stafford Brothers’ was unbelievable. Being on the road was pretty hardcore at times, especially when you've been on the dancefloor all night, but this is the life I love. What you see is what you get, but I can guarantee season two is a whole other level.

Brooke Evers DJs at Movie World’s ‘Fright Night’ October 15, 22, 28-29.

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