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Wednesday, 27 May 2009 11:26

Mammal

KISS AND TELL

While prog/ punk rockers Mammal appear to be the antithesis of the rock and roll cliché, it doesn’t stop them from indulging in a little face paint and touring with rock and roll royalty.

The band supported Kiss on their tour of Australia last year, and in true superstar/'Spinal Tap form, they had to be reminded about which cities that they have played at.  “We played with Kiss and … we went out on stage and had a bit of a look and Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley had it written on the floor - 'Brisbane',” bassist Nick Adams recalls. “It's a rock n roll cliché, but it actually happens. It was bizarre.”

Although the Melbourne quartet are yet to hit the same height of fame or longevity as the glam-rockers, they’re starting to write their own musical biography. Last year was a busy one for the band - Adams, Ezekiel Ox (vocals), Pete Williamson (guitar) and Zane Rosanoski (drums) -  who released their debut studio album, 'The Majority'. Now the guys are in the midst of planning and writing their second record.

“We started (writing new songs) pretty much straight after we released the album,” Adams says. “We have a couple of new things kicking around. We'd like to try and record at the end of the year, but we are not going to put any pressure on that, we don't have to rush things.
“But the other thing is, because we have been busy touring, we haven't had the time to go into rehearsal and be like, 'right, what are we doing, let's start writing some new shit', but it’s coming, slowly but surely.”

With the new album having to wait a little bit longer, the band are heading out on the road again for another tour next month.
“We try and keep on touring as much as possible,” Adams says. “We don't get a lot of television love or radio love or anything, so if we don't get out there and play, no one's going to know who we are. The live show is kind of what we do better than anything else.”

And it appears Brisbane fans seem to agree - their last show here was a sell-out.
“That was really good. We were really happy with that one! That's sort of been happening a bit now (selling out shows), so there have been some people who have started to cotton on to the band and want to come along.”

While their performances have earned the livewire band a legion of dedicated fans across the country, Adams - who admits to recovering from a hangover - says he’s sometimes unsure of where Mammal find their energy.

“It usually depends on Zeke's mood and what antics he gets up to on stage. I'd say we'll bring a pretty smashing show, but I'll be honest with you, there are times that we have had no sleep and everyone's tired and cranky and finding it really hard to get motivated, but as soon as you step on stage and start playing, I have all the energy in the world,” he says.

“It's a really weird thing, but I suppose the adrenaline kicks in and it doesn't matter if you're tired, hung over or anything, it's on. But when it's finished I might have a little kitty nap!”

The band's charismatic frontman, Zeke, is the one who sets the gauge for the rest of the band to follow. He’s also the main instigator when it comes to the political nature of many of their songs. “Zeke deals with all the lyrics and he's got a pretty strong standpoint. He knows where he wants to go and knows what he wants to do,”

Adams says of his fellow band-mate. “I think he likes to get out there and in people’s grill and make people think about things. Some people see it as preachy, some people see it as confrontational and some people see it as opening their eyes to things, so it just depends on your standpoint.”

Mammal play the Sands Tavern, June 5, Great Northern, Byron Bay, June 6 and The Zoo June 7.

Wednesday, 20 January 2010 15:22

Oka Interview

On the road… again

Most people would baulk at the thought of spending more time travelling to work than actually being there. But when you sign on to follow a path in music, a life on the road filled with tour buses, airport security and hotel beds is a certainty.

Sunshine Coast duo Oka know just how nomadic the life of a band can be, with the electro-folk pairing spending months at a time away from home; all to get to that most coveted of places for a performer - up on  stage.

They recently returned from an extensive tour of Canada and have spent the past few days booking in shows around the country that will keep them away from home again for the next three months. “We are doing more and more travelling - we are travelling all the time, so we are hanging out to be at home,” glitch man and guitarist Chris Lane says of the band's schedule.

“We are on the road for the whole of winter and we head overseas a lot and in the other months we do a lot of weekend gigs and festivals, so it is a far bit of travelling. But it is good to be busy, although we miss the Sunshine Coast beaches.”

However, their upcoming slot at the Earth Freq festival will be a little closer to home - a mere one-and-a-half-hour drive from the coast. Earth Freq - now in its fifth year - is a festival focused on music and the environment that has been billed as a ‘gathering of different tribes and a weekend of learning, connection, intention and transformation’.

“We have never been to it before, but we have had friends who have been there before and they have said it was amazing,” Lane says. “We are pretty psyched to play there, there will be a good vibe and it is a different type of festival. And it is semi-local!”

Dubbed ‘techno-folk-Aboriginal-jungle-hippie-rock’ by a fan on their website, the band definitely has a diverse sound, something Lane and vocalist/ didgeridoo player Stu Boga Fergie - aka DigeriStu - try to display during their live shows. 

Lane says they will be looking to play songs from all of their albums, but are most looking forward to showing off the tracks from their fifth and latest album 'Oka Love'. “Our live gigs are generally quite pumping; although on our albums we have some laidback tracks, we keep our shows more upbeat. Festival gigs are pretty high energy and they have a dancing sort of vibe. The set varies in tempos and moods and we like to keep things dynamic.

“We try to play songs from all our albums, but we will try to play more from 'Oka Love'. And there are a few tunes that we play pretty regularly, but making up a set list is hard - what are we going to leave out? Which one is our least favourite child?” Lane laughs. 

'Oka Love' was released late last year - a process which Lane likened to a couple expecting a baby. “It takes a lot of time; it is a big undertaking, like having a child… it takes months and it’s hard work and good fun. And the reward at the end of the day is great. The core of the band is me and Stu and we have a touring drummer and people to help out along the way.

“Stu and I write the tunes and we both have home studios, so we recorded the whole thing in our own studios and mastered it and did everything ourselves. Stu even does all the artwork.

“Our fans are always asking, 'when's the next album coming out?' Which is great, but we have to get into the mindset (to record) and it works best to set aside some time when we are not touring.”

And given the miles covered by the boys in a year, it's a wonder they have any new material to play at all!

Oka will perform at the Earth Freq festival, being held at Landcruiser National Park, Jimna, from February 12-14 alongside Spoonbill, Tipper, Zen Mechanics and many, many more. Oka's latest album, 'Oka Love', is out now through Vitamin Records.

Wednesday, 02 December 2009 15:03

DJ Kazuki Interview

Bedroom Basher

A nightclub is usually the last place any person would expect to have an epiphany. But the first time Kazuki Tamanaha walked into a club, he knew what he wanted to do. He wanted to play techno. DJ Kazuki now plays happy hardcore and hard trance at clubs across Brisbane.

After searching all avenues for music - including typing ‘techno’ into filesharing applications like Kazaa - he found Butter Beats, and inside those walls was prominent Brisbane DJ, TiAmos.

“I was a bedroom banger, doing things on second-hand equipment and then I met DJ TiAmos and later DJ Hectic. They helped me not only skill-wise, but I don't think I would be where I am now. It is good to get help, because you can be playing music by yourself in your room, but it is good to get advice on how to get out there.”

Later this month, Kazuki will be able to display those skills when he plays at the ‘10 Years of Technoboy’ event at the Hi-Fi, to celebrate the Italian hardstyle DJ's tenth anniversary.

“I am really looking forward to it; it is for Technoboy being on the scene for ten years, but he has been around for longer and records under different aliases. He is mind-blowing (with) what he can do, and this is going to be his debut show in Brisbane.

“This is going to be great; I am going to be playing back-to-back with Clone. We have got a few weeks until the event, so we will have to see what we both play and see how we might get things together; I have never played with him before, but I am up for the challenge. And there will be a crazy laser show with nine lights all going and a great sound system, so it will be something different.”

Although the Tokyo-born DJ has been keeping busy by focusing on developing his skills behind the decks, in the future he is looking towards moving into production.

“It is definitely on the 'to do' list,” Kazuki enthuses. “I am looking to get started early next year and get a computer; I don't want to start too late. I do feel like I am getting old,” the 21-year old Gold Coaster says with a laugh.

Kazuki will perform at the ‘10 Years of Technoboy’ event at the Hi-Fi on December 18 along with Technoboy, Ruffian and Tuneboy.

Wednesday, 25 November 2009 15:05

Black Angus Interview

Sneaking Into Town

With sell-out shows, worldwide tours and a truckload of albums sales, it’s easy to forget that Sneaky Sound System all started with an unheralded club night in Sydney.

Sneaky Sundays began as a weekly party night in the Cross, but has now spawned not only an insanely successful electro group, but a network of DJs stretching the globe.

And after a decade of providing a venue for party people wanting to squeeze every last drop from their weekend, it’s still going strong - and now, it has also birthed a new mix series from Ministry of Sound. Titled ‘You Only Live Once’, the mix series is a celebration of those humble roots.

“It is a celebration of the Sunday nights we host called Sneaky Sundays,” Sneaky Sound System and You Only Live Once DJ/ producer/ songwriter Black Angus (Angus McDonald) explains of the new two-disc compilation.

“We started out having about 100 people there and it got bigger and bigger. When the band took off and we had to tour, we had other people come in and the Bang Gang came in and looked after it.”

Put together with help from Sneaky Sundays regular Dangerous Dan of the Bang Gang Deejays, the first album in the 'YOLO' series was released last month. “We (SSS) had been asked to mix CDs for a while, but with our touring and release schedule, we couldn't find the time,” McDonald says of the inception of 'YOLO'.

“But when Ministry of Sound approached us it all happened very quickly, within a matter of weeks. We looked to have one disc with a main room vibe, while the other was more for chilling out,” Angus says.

To support the new release, McDonald and Dan are travelling the country putting on “a whole bunch of parties” to celebrate the launch of the concept, which also includes a “lifestyle” website, www.youonlyliveonce.com.au.

Stopping off in both Brisbane and the Gold Coast, the two DJs will doing what they do best - making people dance. “We have not played together for years, so it has been really fun,” McDonald says of their shows.

“So far, we have done smaller shows and done main rooms - so every show has been different. We are really enjoying it and we try to play what feels like the right thing at the time.”

'You Only Live Once' is out now through Ministry of Sound. Black Angus and Dangerous Dan play The Met on November 27 and at Never Land Bar on November 28.

Wednesday, 14 October 2009 14:53

Grant Smillie Interview

Mixing it up

Although he’s better known as a DJ, producer and one half of Australian electro pop duo TV Rock, Grant Smillie likes to try his hand at just about everything.

Wednesday, 22 October 2008 19:59

Alan Braxe: Interview

FRENCH KISSED

The French often have the unhappy misfortune to be labelled arrogant, obnoxious and loud. Alan Braxe is none of those things… especially not loud.

While it may have been more due to the temperamental phone line that was serving up a huge helping of intercontinental static, it seemed the softly-spoken Braxe barely rose above a whisper while he shared his thoughts on touring, recording, performing and collaborating; all things Braxe (real name Alain Quême) does well.

Choosing his moniker in honour of his hometown, Brax, he has managed to conquer the world with his music, while remaining a relatively unknown quantity himself.

This is due, mostly, to the fact he had worked on countless collaborations, including bringing to life a trio of cloud-hopping, silver-clad disco lovers for 'The Music Sounds Better With You' for Stardust, a track he wrote along with Thomas Bangalter (one half of Daft Punk) and Benjamin Diamond.

“Collaborating with other people is exciting. It is good to have somebody else in the studio; we can change ideas and emotions,” Braxe says of his penchant for collaborations over the past decade. “It can be very funny sometimes and it is a good way to come up with more ideas and it makes the studio more exciting. I like it.”

Having fallen in love with electronic music while clubbing in his younger days, Braxe began producing his own music just over ten years ago. Since that time he has worn many hats; label owner, producer, remixer and composer. He also added DJ to that list two years ago.

But sometimes, fulfilling all these roles can get difficult; and focusing too much on one role can impede the progress in another.

“It is not that easy to combine them all, but I think it is very important to do both (producing and DJing). They are both very different. But when you are producing, you can spend too much time in the studio and you can go crazy!” Braxe laughs.

“I was in the studio all the time so I wanted to be DJing and the label takes up a lot of time too. I have been spending more time with the label… I think it would be best to try to split them all up somehow.”

As can be the case for many electronic artists, remixing is his bread and butter and Braxe has showed his diversity by remixing artists like Björk, Britney Spears, Annie and Kylie Minogue. With help from his long-collaborator Fred Falke, he has also remixed tracks from Goldfrapp, Kelis, Jamiroquai and Justice.

“It is very interesting to put a new take on the songs,” Braxe says. “Usually, if I like the vocals or I just like the song, I would like to remix it. Remixing is very interesting, but you should never take too much time on them and not keep on working on them and changing them. You should only spend about one week,” Braxe says of his method.

After spending a lot of his recent time working on the production of other artists' tracks and remixing, Braxe has returned with a track of his own, 'Nightwatcher', a “downtempo track with two vocalists; a mix of hip hop and electro” featuring Killa Kela and Fallon on vocals. And now, he is keen to show it off.

About to set off on a tour of the world, Braxe will be kicking off his Antipodean journey for the Firstkiss lads at the Berlin Lounge on the Gold Coast tomorrow night.

“I have been to Australia once before, and I am happy to be coming back,” he says of his jaunt to Australia. “I like touring; it is a good way to meet people from all around the world. It is very exciting to meet all these people.”


Alan Braxe will be at the Berlin Lounge, on the Gold Coast, tomorrow night Thursday October 23 with support from PhDJ and TSK TSK. 'Nightwatcher' is out now through Vulture.

Wednesday, 06 May 2009 14:45

Cosmo Cater 06.05.2009

MOON PARTY

The full moon is said to make people do some wacky things and Brisbane DJ Cosmo Cater will be on hand to help people unleash their inner crazy… but all in the safety of the

Wednesday, 29 April 2009 13:56

Sunny Dread

DREAD HEAD

Sunny Dread's personality matches the first half of his name perfectly, with the South African-Jamaican-Australian performer happy to chat about life, the universe and everything.

Today, it’s about his show this weekend - One Drop at the Tank Hotel - which is set to be a showcase of drum n bass/ dubstep/ dancehall and all other styles in between.  “One Drop will be something you have never experienced before,” Sunny says. “It will be an infusion of Africa, Jamaica and Australia and I will try to infuse those three corners of the globe.

“But I am not just the MC, I will be singjaying,” Sunny explains. “A lot of times, the MC will tell you which act is coming up next and will introduce them and have a program. I will be singjaying, toasting rhymes. A toaster works with the DJs. So I will welcome people and boost up the party. If they want a party time, I will give them a party time. I will improvise … find the vibe.”

As well as performing at gigs, Sunny Dread is also busy working on his own musical repertoire, and is currently working on a number of releases.  “I am working on a compilation album and I am working with a lot of bands; I just did a song with Chocolate Strings. I am also working on some music with my band The Zionites, a tight, dancehall, live dub band. So I'm pretty busy, but in life you have got to keep busy!” Sunny laughs.

If that wasn't enough, in what remains of his spare time, he also works as a chef, and he says his roles behind a mic and behind a stove are surprisingly similar.
“As a chef you make nice meals and give them to the people and artistically, you do the same thing. If they need salt or pepper, you go and put that on too.”

He is also a part of Champion Sound, a group that uses music to engage with youth. “Champion Sound is a different thing where we get out in the community. The kids make me laugh and they love reggae and when you play music with them. I can toast a rhyme about eating your vegetables … but we give spiritual advice and musical advice and we inspire youth through music.”

Sunny Dread will be at One Drop at the Tank Hotel May 2 alongside Kranky, Walrii, Erther, Wrekmeistah, MK Delta, Rubba Sinka and Pariah.

Wednesday, 15 April 2009 10:01

The Presets

BEGGARS NO MORE

After selling a gazillion copies of their second album, ‘Apocalypso’, winning six awards at last year's ARIAs and selling out shows within hours of the tickets being released for their upcoming national tour, you'd think The Presets vocalist Julian Hamilton would have ticked every box on his “Things To Do Before I Die List'.

However, one thing he is yet to do is learn how to speak Spanish, which would come in handy for the duo's forthcoming shows in Mexico during their tour of the Americas.  “The tour has been going really well so far. We are going to Canada and Florida and later to Mexico,” Hamilton says. “Hopefully, Mexico will have much nicer weather and hopefully there will be some sun! I promised myself I would learn to speak Spanish, but just haven't had the time to learn it!”

Unfortunately for Hamilton, it looks like he won't be getting time to take those lessons anytime soon, because he and the other half of The Presets, Kim Moyes (production/ drums/ programming), will be returning to Australia next month for another national tour.

This is slated to be their last Australian tour for 2009 before they lock themselves away to start working on their next album, a follow-up to their hugely successful second effort 'Apocalypso'.

While 'Apocalypso' was the winner of the ARIA Award for Best Album of the Year last year - and it has since gone double platinum - Hamilton says the Sydney two-piece are not feeling any pressure over their new recording and are going in with much the same attitude they took into the recording of their first album 'Beams'.

“There is no pressure on us at all!” Hamilton says. “We are just really keen to get into the studio. And music is best when there is no expectation about it. Whenever we start work for The Presets, we both have our own ideas of what we want to sound like and then most of these ideas get thrown out the window!
“I like to write songs that have much more piano and are softer and Kim can do this slamming techno, so The Presets is music that we cannot make on our own; it would be impossible. It sounds funny, but we are just there helping guide the record to its musical home.”

Born in 2003 out of Sydney instrumental group Prop, The Presets may seem a far cry from their Conservatorium days, but it is through the musicality of their songs - and not just the danceable beat - that the unassuming duo have conquered the Australian charts. 

What has also helped propel them to the top is their relentless touring schedule that has seen them grace just about every festival stage and smaller club setting in the country.  “We just enjoy performing,” Hamilton says. “I like touring, that's what we do. We don't really mind if it is to 300 people in a club or 9,000 people.”

And it seems the fans are receptive to their attitude, given the response to the upcoming Australian tour. Eight shows are already sell-outs, including their Brisbane stop-over at the Riverstage.  “It's great!” Hamilton laughs. “I remember about five years ago begging (The Troubadour) to let us play and they said no, and now we are selling out the Riverstage.”

And while they try to make sure their shows are always high-energy performances, Hamilton says the structure of the shows is important, as the way they make music leaves little room for spontaneity. “We kinda do try to change it a bit, but we spend many weeks building our shows, because we do a lot of that on the computer, so we can't really be changing too many things around on the night,” Hamilton explains.

“We also work on the light show designs, which are unique for our show and the costumes. Now we can really have fun with our costumes and we can afford to dress up and mix it up a bit,” Hamilton laughs. “Before, we would just wear t-shirts and shorts, but mostly that was because it was so hot on stage!”

The Presets play the Gold Coast Convention Centre Saturday June 6 and the Brisbane Riverstage Sunday June 7. 'Apocalypso' is out now through Modular Recordings.

Wednesday, 08 April 2009 09:38

Nick Warren

Reeling In

It is 11.55 on a Thursday evening and Nick Warren is enjoying a night at home fielding interviews from Australia. The Bristol-based DJ is standing outside his country home, in the freezing cold, trailing mobile reception like a bloodhound.

“You're phoning me at my house actually. Normally I am in bed about three hours ago!” Warren laughs. “Tomorrow night I go to London and then I go over to Miami on Saturday. And I get over to Australia in a few weeks!” For a man who has become famous worldwide for being synonymous with house music, Warren is disarmingly charming and is willing to be a little bit cheeky when speaking about his fellow DJs. “I love touring, I really adore it,” Warren says of his upcoming sets across the world. “And if you ever speak to a DJ that moans about it, tell them that Nick Warren says you are a wanker! Nobody should complain about it. “We get to fly around the world and play music to people and make people dance. It's the best job in the world and no DJ should ever complain about what they do.”

Warren will be making his way to Brisbane over the Easter long weekend and by his calculations, the punters will need the extra day to recover.
“There is a different energy with the crowd depending on where you play. Brisbane is always a crazy town,” Warren laughs. “Brisbane is like a raver's paradise. So it is always lots of fun and they always want it slightly more banging than say, Melbourne. I always enjoy playing there.”
As part of the Bristol scene that has bred acts like Roni Size, Massive Attack and Tricky, Warren has made a name for himself playing at the world’s biggest clubs, including a residency at Liverpool's 'superclub' Cream.

But his spare time is spent playing the family man, looking after his 11-year-old daughter. He also takes part in more gentlemanly, and distinctly non-DJ-like, pursuits. I'm a keen fly fisherman; I love my fly fishing,” Warren enthuses. “I bought myself a river in England and I like to go fishing there occasionally.”

As well as showing off his wares as a DJ, Warren is also head A&R for house and breaks label Hope Recordings, a music producer and one half of electro-prog duo Way Out West with producer Jody Wisternoff. The pair have released three albums and have just put the finishing touches on their latest release. “The new Out West album, we finished that today so I am very excited. It's a slight change for us, but it's still very much of a club-based, electronica album. And 'Global Underground' has been out for a few months and that has been going well.”

'Global Underground' is 'GU35: Lima', the eighth in a series of club mixes that takes inspiration from cities around the world. His broad approach to his music and to his DJing demonstrates how he has been able to stay at the top of the game for so many years. “Music has meant everything to me from about the age of eight, so that is probably why I am so obsessive,” Warren explains. “I strive all the time to find music that one, I am really excited about and also that I think is really good. That is the kind of stuff I want to play. I don't want to play what's commercially acceptable this week, I don't want to play what's obvious - I want to play something the people can go have fun to, so that's what keeps me going as a DJ.
“It's my job not to play Deadmau5 or Deep Dish, but it is to find those exceptional records and share them and get people to dance like maniacs to stuff they have never heard before. It's a challenge but I love it.”

Nick Warren plays The Met Sunday April 12. 'GU35: Lima' is out now through Stomp Records.

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