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Wednesday, 10 October 2012 13:56

Saturn Returns: Theatre Interview

‘Saturn Returns’ tells the tale of a torrid time in any young man's life — a tale of turning 30. Turning 30 and having no career in one case, and turning 30 and having no love life in the other.

“Well we're calling it an intergalactic comedy cabaret confessional,” explains performer/ producer Simon Abraham. “It's really about coming of age, and coming to terms with coming of age. It's a fairly ridiculous romp about two young men looking at what it means to grow up. It's got ten original songs that punctuate the piece. For the most part it’s pretty frivolous, but it does also take a sightly more serious turn at various points along the way. It's got some depth and meaning in there too.”

Simon and Lachlan McLeod, the creators of the show, are currently either side of the big three-oh, and as such the piece is routed in real life events.

“It was inspired by real life crises. Saturn takes 29.4 years to return to the same place in the sky it was in when a person was born, hence the name. Both of us were going through [turning 30] in our own lives, but it is the perfect fodder for comedy … It just began with us writing a song together and we then built a show around that piece ... basically it's lots of laughs that take you on an intergalactic journey, and of course a few fart jokes!”

The piece is truly a collaboration between the two friends, who have worked together on a number of projects, however Simon knows where his limits lay.

“It's a collaborative piece, but you know, Lachlan is the singer/ songwriter. Melodically the work is his but lyrically we work on the songs together. The whole piece is a pretty genuine collaboration between the two of us … We first worked together on a show in 2005 that toured to New York. We were both cast in the piece as performers and that's how we met. We've worked together on a lots of shows since then.”

The duo do, however, struggle to find time to rehearse and fine tune their act.

“In my day job I am a programmer at the Arts Centre in Melbourne. I spend my life travelling ‘round and looking at shows to book. Lachlan works full time as a performer and musician, he is in Korea at the moment. Getting the two of us in the same place at the same time is a bit of a challenge. We've performed together a lot and we've often been on tour together, throughout the UK and the States. We're used to working at crazy times of night and being busy. We normally end up writing in some airport somewhere.”

With the finetuning now finished, ‘Saturn Returns’ has been booked for a two night run as part of the Brisbane Cabaret Festival. The event will sprawl across Brisbane for a week, utilising some of the city’s more interesting venues. The pair will be kept busy by the event as they are also supporting a big name act.

“It was great to just get a call one day, they said that they had heard about the show and would love to have us up in Brisbane … It'll be fascinating for us, we're performing ‘Saturn Returns’ obviously. We're also performing at The Manhattan Club and we're supporting Tripod. So we're going to be running from one to the next, literally, there is a support act on at our show while we're supporting Tripod.

“We will have to jump in the car and head straight over and run on stage! It's just going to be a crazy week of crazy cabaret cats running all over town. We can't wait.”

To ensure they stay busy, Simon and Lachlan have set about recording an album to accompany the show.

“We're still recording the album. It'll be the first time I've been involved in that sort of thing, Lachlan obviously has experience. It's actually a lot more work than I thought it would be and will take quite a long time.”

‘Saturn Returns’ plays at StageDoor Dinner Theatre on October 26 and 28 as part of The Brisbane Cabaret Festival.

Wednesday, 10 October 2012 13:34

The Cobrasnake: Pop Culture Visionary

It’s a loose term but ‘pop culture visionary’ just about sums The Cobrasnake up.

Ostensibly a photographer The Cobrasnake, also and somewhat less dangerously known as Mark Hunter, has become something of a trendsetter. Cobrasnake photographs and blogs cool in all its myriad forms. In his almost nightly postings he tells LA what's happening right this second, documenting only the hippest of parties. His notoriety is such that Summafieldayze has enlisted his help.

“I will be documenting the entire festival from head to toe! For those that are unfortunate enough not to make the festival, you will be able to see the best photo coverage ever on The Cobrasnake website. I've also teamed up with them from a creative perspective, to sort of add a little bit of energy and colour to the event. I'll bring a bit of LA style to it … It'll be fun, I'm going to be there dressed to the nines, I'll be running around giving out free Cobrasnake swag. I'll be talking to all the cute girls. I got the best job in the world, I'm so lucky!

“The guys at Future [Entertainment] know what they're doing, they always put on an amazing event. The line-up this year is my favourite so far, I am a huge fan of MIA and Mark Ronson puts on a great show … Erol Alkan is a legend in his scene.”

This is far from Cobrasnake’s first trip to Australia. Mark is well versed in all things Aussie and can't wait to get back to our golden sands, even if customs do give him a bit of a hard time.

“Hell, Australia is my second home! I've done many festival tours with Future [Entertainment] and also side tours with my best buddy Steve Aoki. I've seen all of Australia, from Perth to Melbourne, Gold Coast and Sydney, all over! … It's only a couple of months away and I'll be over there, in my speedos on the beach hanging out.

“I'm always so nervous around authority, my hands are sweating when I go through immigration. I normally put down that I am a photographer on my immigration forms. I try not to say I photograph music, because they always think that means drugs. I just say I do fashion. Sometimes they really grill me; the Australian immigration has even pulled my website up a couple of times to check on me.”

For the last decade Cobrasnake has documented some of the world’s coolest parties and has managed to turn his love into a bona fide career.

“I've been photographing pop culture for almost ten years now. It's taken me all around the world and I've gotten to photograph loads of legendary musicians, fashion designers and celebrities. It's been so fun, I basically created my own job. At the time I started there weren't many people taking pictures at parties, so I decided to create a website and share mine. It's been really fun and now it's quite an archive, you can look back on different trends and what not.

“I am a pop culture fiend, I am just obsessed with what is going on and what people are doing, I get inspired by that. I lust for that which has brought me around the world and I've met so many creative people and seen so many creative things, it blows my mind. I am a creative guy, but not nearly as creative as some of the artists and musicians I have had the pleasure to meet. I just try to share my experiences through my website.

“I think that when you look through the pictures you're able to feel like you're really there. What I want to be able to deliver is an experience that will inspire other young people to follow their dream.”

With an enviably cool and incredibly busy life comes a lot of glamour, but even the living embodiment of pop culture has to stay in shape, as Mark explains.

“I'm about to go on a fitness hike, right before the sun goes down and get in some cardio before I eat a healthy reasonable dinner. It's all very LA! … It's a big loop up a mountain that takes about 30 to 40 minutes, it's pretty intense though, it's part of my routine.”

The Cobrasnake will be dressed to the nines and snapping away at Summafieldayze January 5.

Wednesday, 03 October 2012 14:44

Astrid & The Asteroids

If you believe their guitarist, Lachy, Astrid & The Asteroids are new comers to the local music scene.

“We crash-landed from space last year. Ever since we have been writing tunes and studying the environment and the human race.”

For those that know better, the components of the band have knowledge of the Brisbane scene far outweighing their years and have been performing in various bands for longer than they care to remember.

“We’ve been in big bands together and other funk bands, all sorts really. A few of us still play in other bands as well as this one. I guess you could call it a super group,” Astrid giggles.
The band are currently recording their first full length album and hope that their efforts will be available to all by early next year.

“We’re recording the album to follow up the EP. We’re really going for the pop soul vibe with that one, with a bit of space thrown in for good measure. At the moment we’re hoping that the album will sound like Kimbra and Jamiroquai got together with Thom Yorke from Radiohead and had musical babies,” Astrid continues

“We’re in the studio on Monday, we hope to have it done over the Christmas New Year break … we won the Billy Thorpe scholarship, which is a $10,000 grant from the Queensland Music Awards. That was incredible to get us kickstarted, it just wouldn’t be happening without that, we're really grateful.”

The band's onstage outfits tend towards the intergalactic; they’re awash with sequined jumpsuits and starscape leggings. Though not directly responsible for the attire, Lachy proudly defends it.
“Who doesn’t like wearing lycra pants? I’m a big fan of the lycra pants.”

Astrid & the Asteroids will be taking to the stage at the upcoming 2high Festival, showing off a few new songs as well as tracks from their ‘Horoscopes’ EP.

“It’s all about collaboration with other artforms. There is dance and film and all sorts of interesting art outside of music. It’s a huge collaboration festival.”

Young Men Dead play Valley Fiesta (Brunswick St Road Closure) on Saturday October 27.
Wednesday, 26 September 2012 13:54

Jabbawockeez: Indefinite Leave To Stay

The Jabbawockeez will continue their storming run at Jupiters Hotel and Casino on the Gold Coast.

The show has received rave reviews ever since it landed in Australia earlier this year and now the US dance crew is reluctant to wave our golden sands goodbye.

“We started in April, so we have been going for ages! From the crowd’s response, it sounds like we’re doing well and we keep seeing the ticket sales rising. It’s going well, we’re doing eight shows a week; we’re doubling up on Saturdays and Sundays.”

Tony Tran is one of the newest members of the team and loves being in Australia.
“Well you know, you just can’t beat the weather can you.”

Tony and his cohorts have been making the most of the little time off they get.

“We saw a few things so far. We all went up to the rainforest, that was cool. We had a day out kayaking and the scenery was beautiful. There is talk from some of the guys that we will be doing a skydive before we leave as well, that’s top of the list at the moment.

“We’re just enjoying ourselves. If anything then it’s more like a vacation than anything else. Energy is good out here.”
The Jabbawockeez show is about more than just dancing, as Tony explains.

“The show is about comedy, music and of course dancing. It’s a full theatrical production … It is a very motivating and inspiring show. There is the comedy side to it but there is also the story. It is the story of a janitor, I don’t want to give it away too much though.

“It’s not just b-boy dance. There is popping, freestyle and locking, there are so many genres of dance in the show, I couldn’t name them all.”

The extended run will finally come to an end in a few weeks, but the hard work doesn’t stop for the Jabbawockeez. The entire cast will be due back in Vegas to begin creating an entirely new show in a bespoke theatre.

“After this we will be straight to work on our new show, in our new theatre. We’re going to be concentrating on that really. The next show is at the Luxor in Vegas. We hope it goes as well as the Gold Coast has.”

The Jabbawockeez perform Thursday-Sunday at Jupiters Hotel & Casino until November 1.

Wednesday, 26 September 2012 13:41

Geppetto: Fantastical Androgyny

Divisive and different by design, Geppetto are out to break the mould.

Taking the name of Pinocchio's creator 'Mr Geppetto' was somewhat of a statement of intent for the Brisbane-based duet of Jake Diefenbach and Emma Dean. Jake explains.

“The whole feel of the music is very fantastical and quite theatrical. Emma and I got together and we wanted to establish a permanent band. We wanted a name that really summarised the feel of what we do and our direction.”

Jake is not shy about his unique vocal quality.

“My voice is really androgynous and the way our voices mix is something that I think makes our music pretty special.”

The duo decided to head to New York for a string of shows only six months after getting together. This baptism of fire was not lost on them.

“It was one of the most challenging experiences I've ever had … There is a stark contrast between the pace of life in New York and Brisbane, it was quite overwhelming. We got a really strong reaction in the sense that we polarised the critics. Some of them loved it and some vehemently hated it! I suppose getting any reaction is better than getting no reaction.
“It was an incredible experience being over there. It's great how big the artistic scene is, it's mindblowing!”

So mindblowing that New York's bright lights pull at the pair even now.

“We're thinking at the moment about how to get the right visa to actually get over there. We'd really like to go back. I grew up in Gladstone population 25,000, then I came to Brisbane and that was OK. When I got to New York though it took a week to stop feeling like I was having a permanent heart attack! … Wow it's big!”

Back on home soil Geppetto are not resting on their laurels, with an EP release just around the corner.

“I'm really excited about the launch at the Judith, it's one of my favourite venues in Brisbane … We're obviously doing the five tracks from the EP, but we're also unleashing a bunch of new music. At the moment we're adapting that to the fantastical sound that we're aiming at.”

The ‘Into The Woods’ EP launch takes place at the Judith Wright Centre Friday October 5.
Wednesday, 19 September 2012 13:50

Arundel: Visual Sound

Finally finding time for a solo project, Lucas Arundell (aka Arundel) is exploring ideas and sounds that he scarcely had a moment for in the past.

“I guess with this particular EP ['Olive Caves'] a lot of the songs are a mixed bag of a lot of different things that I have had going on. When I started the project Arundel, I was coming out of playing with a lot of different bands. I guess I wanted to do more of a compositional project and explore all the stylistic ideas I had. 'Olive Caves' came about just wanting to see through a lot of the ideas I had at the time.”

Arundel came up with the title for the EP after a little light reading.

“The title itself comes out of a line from the song 'Wintersun'. I had this realisation last year that if you want to work hard at something you kind of have to hide away from social activity and from other people for a while. I was reading about these caves in Israel where they would process olive oil. They would build caves under their houses and work hard for long periods of time perfecting their craft.”

Inspiration for 'Olive Caves' came from all over, although the artist is equally sure where inspiration was not to be found.

“Some of the strongest influences from my past range from punk bands like NOFX to bands like Massive Attack and Radiohead, along with soundtrack composers like Clint Mansell and Jon Brion. As for lyrics, I've always been a huge fan of The Doors, mostly for the imagery that Mr Morrison had in his songs.

“In terms of spirit and heart then people like Jeff Buckley, although I know I was a bit too young to know of him while he was alive. Artists that have something genuine to express, instead of the music I hear at the moment, I'm a bit bitter about some of it.

“Everyone is listening to them but what do they actually have to say? Music like that makes it harder for good acts to get heard, because there is so much clutter!”
A particular high point in his burgeoning career was supporting Mount Kimbie on their recent visit to Australia.

“That was a really exciting show, it was my first time supporting an international act. It's probably my biggest show … It was a great experience to be able to see them at work live and from side of stage.”

Arundel will be making an appearance at the 2high Festival in November. The event, now in it's 19th year, is organised and run by a youthful team of creative types whose aim is to showcase both musical and visual arts.

“I was really excited to hear about this year’s event. It's the fact that it focuses on something that goes beyond the music and involves experimenting with visuals. It crosses art platforms. In the long term I am quite interested in music for film, or at least something that has an equally strong visual element, so this is perfect for me. I am really excited to get a chance to play in a place that supports something more than just a pub gig.”

In anticipation, Arundel is creating new links between his music and visual show.

“I work with a friend of mine, she is a graphic artist named Mel Baxter. We play around with cameras and paints and a macro lens. We play around and make a whole other world of shapes and movement. We're working on some things for [2high Festival] at the moment. We like to incorporate a lot of the visual element at the gigs. We might have some stop animation and also some clips from old films, maybe a few weather patterns in there as well. The visuals relate to the feeling that I had in my head when I was writing the songs.”

The adventure continues for Lucas with future plans stretching into new mediums.

“The next stage is getting out the next set of music. The initial focus with the Arundel project is really on recording. The next EP might be in the format of a soundtrack, possibly to a film that doesn't exist. Next year there will be a lot more gigs and probably the incorporation of a live band to open up the sound a bit more.”

Arundel performs at the 2high Festival, which takes place at the Brisbane Powerhouse Saturday November 10.

Friday, 31 August 2012 09:31

Alex Bau: The Bau-Injection

Known as the ‘German Techno Machine’, Alex Bau is headed to Australia for the very first time.

You’re playing a three-hour set at Coniston Lane; what’s the longest set you’ve played?
Actually, I can’t remember the longest set I ever played as there have been a couple of ones during the years. But in recent times I think that Montreal’s Circus has received the longest ‘Bau-injection’. Also, Cocoliche in Buenos Aires always gives me plenty of time. I think the quality of a DJ only shows up when he’s playing long sets as this is the art in my eyes: keeping people on the floor and at the same time changing the atmosphere by bringing it up and down constantly.

How do you fit in time for your radio show while touring around the world?
To be honest, that’s not a real challenge as I always use live recordings for the Wasabi Tunes show. Once a set has been chosen, it’s only doing the talkovers and including some jingles and uploading. All this is done within three hours and it’s also only once a month.

You release tracks under a couple of monikers: Basic Implant and Electric Envoy. Do you find this gives you artistic licence to go in new directions?
Well, both of the mentioned projects have never been ‘pure’ Alex Bau projects. They were both covering some tracks I did together with Sven Dedek around ten years ago. I finally started to release under my own name and Sven continued with those projects for a while until he began to draw back from music generally. it was a great time to have such an experienced producer and friend as Sven to get into the production stuff in detail.

A career highlight; what stands out so far?
I am superbad at this question as I always live much more in the future than in the past. But I do remember some moments of course. Like the moment when I succeeded to beatmatch two records for the first time as a teenager; it was just an overwhelming feeling! Another was in 2003 I think at a local, small party with maybe 400 people when the whole club went totally nuts; people were jumping, screaming, even singing to techno tracks and going wild for hours, it was total excess, both mentally and physically. I don’t know what happened or what I did, I just played a set full of devotion and motivation as always, but somehow it was totally out of control. One other highlight was my gig at Love Parade 2010. It’s totally unbelievable to play in front of a crowd of more than 200,000 people, but it turned to disaster when somebody told me after my set that at the other end of this huge venue people died in this tunnel [after a stampede]. You probably heard about it in Australia ... such a bad end for such a great idea!

You have played all over the world; do you have a favourite country or city to visit?
Maybe after September 10, I will call Australia my favourite place, who knows! It’s not so much about cities or countries, it’s more about parties. I don’t care where they are. Just recently I had to spend five hours travelling one way for a distance of 220 kilometres in Ukraine to play on a festival. The roads there are like there is no road! But then the party was so good and people were so open minded; so many smiling faces, just beautiful!

What do you get from making minimal tech that other genres can’t provide?

It’s the pureness. Some people can’t understand the beauty of a nice powerful kickdrum in combination with a rolling bassline. But this is the essence of it in my eyes. The sound of the kick determines where the track is going to. It’s funny though, because in Germany or Europe nobody would call my music minimal, but actually you’re right. It is very minimal, focused on the essential elements. But the word minimal is like its own genre, and to be honest, most of the music coming out as minimal is just boring. Music is emotion, and you have so many possibilities to carry emotions with so few elements. But to achieve that is the trick and the art!

Alex Bau plays Coniston Lane September 8.
Friday, 31 August 2012 09:20

Electric Horse: Fun Times

Electric Horse have already enjoyed success with their debut EP ‘Translations’. Two years later, the five-piece are ready for a full length release.

But as frontman Jason Brown explains, it's all about enjoying the experience.

“We all just get along with each other. It's just good friendship; there's no big egos or attitudes. We have fun before anything really. It's really important. It doesn't matter how good your music is, if you can't get along and go on the road and be in a studio together and enjoy each others company then it's just a waste of time.”

It seems Jason also enjoys keeping company with the band’s fans.

“We haven't really played shows for a good while, so we're looking forward to getting out there and going for it. We've finished writing the album and [we’re] 90 percent finished recording it — it's a good way to go out and showcase the album. We're going to play the whole thing. We're really confident with what we're doing, we're really stoked with it.”

Jason believes their sound has changed over time, but not to a point where current fans won’t recongise the new material. “We've definitely gone much more with a raw rock sound with this album as opposed to the last release. It's straight up rock and roll. It is what it is, really. We just focused on writing really good songs and that was basically it.”

With the album so close to completion, the band are down to dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s. “We're wrapping up mixing and releasing a single in October, and we'll do a capital city tour off of that. We have a tentative title but we think we're going to go for it, I guess I can tell you, so it'll probably be called 'Black Snake'. That's the name of the lead single as well.”

The band has already had a few red letter moments this year, but Jason thinks the best is still to come. “Big Day Out was definitely a highlight for us. We've done some really good tours with friends of ours. We've toured with Grinspoon and a few other pretty cool Aussie bands. We think our best times are still to come though.”

Electric Horse play the Elephant & Wheelbarrow Fri Aug 31 and the Springwood Hotel Sat Sep 15.
Wednesday, 29 August 2012 14:29

Literary Love In

Is there a better way to celebrate a fiftieth than an all-night party? The folks in charge of the Brisbane Writer's Festival 2012 sure don't think so. The all-night literary event will be a first for the BWF.

“It's the first time we've done 24-hour programming, so we're really pushing it. Everyone that is involved is really excited … we wanted to do something really fun and we thought we would try something different and attempt an all-night party. Maybe get some of the young folk out who would maybe not have come to the state library festival in the past.”

The night is packed with all sorts of acts, events and readings.

“It's going to start with a local singer/ songwriter called Liam Bryant. He is going to do a set of love songs, a mix of covers and originals. It should start the evening off really well. Then this act called Line & Notes will play. We're really excited to have them up from Melbourne. They have done three sellout shows at the Melbourne Writer's Festival and this is the first year they will be coming to Brisbane.

"They are going to do a tribute to David Bowie's 'The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars'. They allocate one track from the album to each of the performers and they reinterpret the track however they want to. They don't have to do a cover. So for instance someone might take the title of a song and write a memoir piece about it, or maybe sing a song that they have written about the first time they heard that track.”

It doesn't stop there though, the night will run right through to the not-so-small hours, with a prize for those that make daybreak.

“We have poets, writers, musicians and comedians involved all night long. The event runs from nine at night right through to eight in the morning so we have a lot going on. There is also going to be a poetry slam, spoken word artists will take on more traditional-style page poets in the 'ultimate battle'. We have movie screenings throughout and there will be will be a panel on crime writing and comic works. We will also be doing yoga at about three in the morning to keep everyone awake and keep the blood pumping. There will also be a panel on sex writing.

"Lastly, we have a cosmic sexual awakening lecture. It's all about opening up your chakra and your energy flows. For those that make it through there is also breakfast included in the ticket price.”

The all-night party is one of the highlights of a packed festival schedule that will include book launches from Australian and international authors as well as a raft of other events.

“If they [the audience] want a whole night of literary awesomeness they can head to the Great Debate before the 'Literary Love In', it's at QPAC. Germaine Greer and Bob Katter will be on the panel. The debate is 'Reading The Bible Is Good For You'. When that's finished they can make their way over to New Farm for 'Women Of Letters' and then party with us all night long.”

Other highlights will include Mark Watson.

“He is going to launch his book and the following day he will be talking about comedy writing as well. The former bishop of Edinburgh will be out here talking about his decision to leave the church, he is involved in the great debate which should make it very interesting.”

Brisbane's writing scene is as strong as ever and BWF are keen to involve as much local talent as possible.

“We've got some amazing local writers. Benjamin Law will be releasing his second book just before the festival, he is also in the Great Debate. You only have to look at the support for the Queensland Literary Awards to see that the writing community here is so strong and professional.”

'The Literary Love In' is at the Brisbane Powerhouse on Saturday September 8.
Wednesday, 22 August 2012 15:13

Ian Haug: Little Sounds

Little BIGSOUND is the younger brother of the music industry get-together, BIGSOUND.

The annual conference, which takes over the Fortitude Valley for two days, is where movers and shakers move and shake, cut deals, organise tours and generally have a good time of it.

Little BIGSOUND, then, is for tomorrow's movers and shakers. Returning for a second year, the one-day conference takes place the day after BIGSOUND.

Former Powderfinger guiatarist Ian Haug, who’ll be a speaker on the day, explains why he became involved. “Because of my history I guess people presume that I have some kind of knowledge to impart. I've been in the industry for a long time now. Talking about music is like dancing about architecture, it's hard to just talk about it. There needs to be these sorts of forums so young people do get the knowledge they need about the industry.

“I'm really looking forward to it, I've been to BIGSOUND before but never Little BIGSOUND, so I'm really happy to be involved.” Ian is impressed by the professionalism with which the event has been organised. “It's organised pretty much by a committee of volunteers from YMI, or Youth Music Industries. Most of the kids are from The Queensland Academy of Creative Industries, which is a pretty awesome place. We had a meeting there and frankly I'm pretty jealous that sort of place didn't exist when I was at school. Ah man it's just incredible!”

For Ian music really is a way of life. “My first bands were when I was 13 or so … I have to make music, it's just in me to do that. I didn't do it to make money, I did it because I love music. I think if people go into it with the wrong goals, just wanting to be famous or rich or something, then it's not too rewarding a career. You've got to do it because you love it. That's why Little BIGSOUND is so great, it's not just the musicians, there are so many background people that have to exist too and the day helps demonstrate that.”

Little BIGSOUND takes place at the Judith Wright Centre on Saturday September 15.

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