Fisherking Interview

Wednesday, July 15th, 2009 | Interviews | 1 Comment
Fisherking Interview

Fisherking, are who we caught up with this week from Sydney, to find out a little bit about where this sweet new sound is coming from, and where it’s going…

I came across your music on Triple J’s ‘Unearthed’ sight and it took me as a standout group amongst all of the newcomers to Australia’s music scene. Are you guys newcomers?

We’ve been together as FisherKing since about March 2008 so I’m not sure if that qualifies us as new comers or not! We all feel really comfy on a stage now, but we definitely feel pretty new when it comes to being in front of a video camera. We started work on our first music vid a few weeks ago and ended up with a truckload of footage of us looking especially awkward. But these last six months since winning the Triple J ‘Unearthed’ ‘FUSE Festival’ comp have been such an amazing experience for us and things have moved along so quickly, we’re always trying to keep up with it.

So who makes up FisherKing, and how did you come to be together in Sydney?

FisherKing is Sam Stephenson (vocals and guitar), Paul Hanna (guitar and BVs) Josh Leong (Bass and BVs) and Luke Robertson (drums). We’ve all grown up in Sydney’s south and known each other for most of those years. Josh and I used to get together and play music and we would work on songs and FisherKing just grew from there. It was a pretty organic experience; Paul and Luke were quickly added to the mix to make FisherKing.

Fisherking EP Release Video

How would you describe your music to people who haven’t heard it… and where does the name FisherKing come into that description?

The name FisherKing has some meaning, it comes from the old Arthurian legend of the Fisher King or the wounded king who was the keeper of the Holy Grail. But really the name just sounds fresh and coastal in itself which kind of captures the feel of what we do. I usually tell people that our music has the rootsy-ness of Ben Harper with the rock of Coldplay, and that generally makes the most sense.

Where do you find inspiration in the Australian and New Zealand music scene at the moment? anyone or anything stand out?

I’ve always looked up to Lior as a song writer so he’s a definite stand out to me and I’ve loved Empire of the Sun and Van She too. But our good mates from Bonjah (from Melbourne) have been a huge inspiration and help to us over the last year. They’ve lent us a hand negotiating our way along our journey- and they’re also an amazing band.

Your music is very suited to summer days… What’s the plan for you guys this summer?

We’re playing at a few festivals over summer and the New Year and we’re really excited about that. But after we come home from our East Oz tour over July & August, we’ll be jumping back into the studio with Genevieve Maynard (who recorded and produced our EP) to record our first album. So come summer, we’ll have a whole bunch of fresh songs to share with everyone.

What’s it been like trying to bust onto the scene in Australia so far?

It’s been hard work so far but we’ve loved every second of it! We feel we’ve been really lucky to make it as far as we have and we think things could’ve been a lot harder for us. We’re so stoked on the support we’ve been given from all over the place, including Triple J Unearthed but especially from our fans. We’re looking forward to people hearing our new tracks because we’re all so excited about them!

It’d be great to see you guys live with the spread of styles you cover… I imagine you would take the crowd from a slow waltz to bouncing. What can we expect from your live show, and when can we expect to see it go around Australia next?

Yeah, we do have the variety in our show, we love it that way! We really try to balance out the softer ones with the higher energy stuff. Plus, we’ll taking it around Oz this month! Our East coast tour starts in Newcastle on the 17th of July. We go as far north as Brisbane and then back down to coast through Sydney & head down to Melbourne and Adelaide by the middle of August. You can see all the dates and towns we’ll be playing in on our website ( We can’t get to the west this time, but we’re definitely gonna get there really soon.

You can check out more of Fisherking at:


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Katalyst Interview

Tuesday, March 31st, 2009 | Interviews | No Comments
Katalyst Interview

Hey Katalyst, thanks for taking the time, how are you? What’s going on with you at the moment?

Too much….wheres all the time gone?? Damn!!
So just lots of music really. Many different collaborations as well as some solo work. Also the release on BBE worldwide has been great. Giles Peterson named “How Bout Us”. The track I did with Steve Spacek his in his top 20 songs of 08. It came in at No13. Right now Im mixing a record Ive done with a vocalist. And recording lots of MCs for a project Im doing called ‘Quakers’.

How did you first get into production and spinning records? What was it that inspired you?

I was inspired by the music. Simple as that. I realised I loved music and the way it could make you feel so many things. Hip hop in particular…but that led me to all the genres that make up hip hop. My Stepdad sold Hi Fi so it was sound was a bit of a focus at our house growing up.

Your sound brings to mind names like DJ Shadow, Cut Chemist and Pete Rock; are these artists that you feel you can relate to? How would you describe your sound?

I undersatnd why these comparrisons are made and I like work by these artists. I realy like Shadows’ early work. Releases like “what“does you soul look like”, and Pete Rock was right up there, then he dropped ‘The main Ingredient’ and he was one of my fav producers of all time for sure. My favourite producer of all time is probably Premier. And also my man Geoff Barrow from Portishead. I don’t try to describe my sound ’cause it changes depending on the project. But I guess I’m into old sounds mixed with new sounds. Especially bass. Basically I’m into music with soul

What artists were you bumping back in the day when you first got into the scene?

I first got into groups like Public Enemy, Big Daddy Kane, and more mainstream acts like Ice T and Ice Cube etc. As well as in the late 80’s groups like Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul and the Jungle Brothers, Black Sheep (Native Tounges) etc When I first got into the scene I was meeting peeps that all gathered at the only hip hop store in Sydney, ‘The Lounge Room’. Hip Hop wasn’t really part of mainstream culture here in Australia like it is today. There were very few international artists coming here to Aus exception of acts De La Soul and Public Enemy that had crossed over onto main stream radio

Katalyst - Say What You Feel

You’ve collaborated with many different artists over the years, what have been some of the more memorable connections? Is there anyone in particular that you’d love to work with in the future?

Lots of the artists Ive worked with I’m still working with today. And I’m working with a lot of people at the moment who Ive wanted to work with for some time. But I guess as your taste and ideas change you want to work with different people. Being a producer I will always be working with new people and that’s what keeps it interesting and exciting. I think if I was to work with everyone I’d like to work with I’d need more time than I have.

‘Watts Happening’, released towards the end of 2007, has received great reviews, did you enjoy making the album? Is there another album in the works?

I always enjoy making music. Some projects are more enjoyable than others. I enjoyed making this album a lot. It was so long since my previous album that I hadn’t had that much time making music for a few years. So just getting back to writing was a pleasure. And then collaborating with so many other talented artists from here and abroad made it even more enjoyable.

I first came across your music when I heard ‘Dusted’, it had such a party vibe and the track selection was sensational, is this how you like to rock shows when you play live?

‘Dusted’ was a compilation album that had some party jams for sure but also had some more chill tunes on it. When I play live with my band I mostly play my own music which ranges from party to more chilled soul so in a way ‘Dusted’ does reflect the vibe of my live show. If I’m just DJ’ing then a few tunes on the comp will be sure to get a run.

Vinyl or Serato?

Live its all Serato now…… just due to convenience. Not so convenient is its playing up which is another consideration. But I still love vinyl. I don’t even have Serato set up at home cause I’d never use it.  My records are there and nothing sounds better. Vinyl is still the best playback medium around.

Recently you were a part of the ‘Days Like This’ festival in Sydney, which included the likes of Public Enemy, Atmosphere and Fat Freddys Drop; how was that for a gig? Did you get to catch up with many of the other artists?

That show was great. It was a really nice day over all. The crowd really tuned out for our set even though it was early in the day. The Forum was packed and everyone was hyped. As far as catching up with other artists, I caught up with Flying Lotus, Wajeed and Vadim introduced himself (again…as I had already met him years ago) as were now label mates on BBE Records. Even managed to say a quick hello to Chuck D the man himself!

Katalyst - All You’ve Got

You’ve also toured with artists such as Jurassic 5, The Roots and DJ Shadow; tell us about life on the road with such hip hop legends, what has been your favourite tour so far? Any crazy stories?

All the crazy stories are for another time but generally those guys are cool. There just over here doing their thing. Everyone’s different too. And depending on the gig you might or might not get to chill with the other artists. Some of the national tours like Good Vibrations mean you spend a week with the other artists and you might go record shopping etc with a few of the guys and get to know then a little better. I’ve had big international artists approach me as “fans” which was cool. Z Trip already had my music before I met him and introduced himself as a fan.  He’s a really nice guy into the bargin..

When not making music you’re busy running your label, Invada Records, does that take up more of your time these days?

It takes up more time than I have for it so I’m looking to collaborate with some other label soon. Just so I have more time to make music which is what I got into this business for. I stopped signing new acts a while back because of time limitations.

How do you think the music industry is going to cope with all this recession business that’s going on?

How is the music industry going to cope with the fact changing technology has meant recorded music has only a fraction of the value it used to have? That’s the real question here I think. The recession will come and go but free music is here for good….so how is the industry going to work around that? Good question! As usual time will tell.

I’ve heard recently that you are working on a project that is “somewhere between Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings and Gnarls Barkley”, can you shed any light on this for us?

I guess that would be the album Im doing with Steve Spacek. We’ve called the ourselves Space Invadas, and the album is almost done. I hope people dig it ’cause we had a great time making it. So far the feedback has been amazing. Its title is ‘Soul – Fi’

What are you listening to at the moment? Care to share your opinion on the current state of hip hop?

Im listening to a lot of old records as usual but also trying to cop anything new making waves out there. The latest Black Milk album was tasty. Still keeping an eye on what Madlibs up to. The new Q-Tip album is cool. There’s some dope jams on there. His live show was great as well. I’m working on a hip hop project as I mentioned with my man from Portishead. Its called ‘Quakers’ and it will be my contribution to the current state of hip hop…..because quite frankly….its boring as batshit out there….and the commercial stuff is the worst its been in a long time

Can we expect to see Katalyst out on the road anytime soon?

Yep but more likely as Space Invadas. That’s the next project to hit the road. We’ll have a 4 or 5 piece band and some guest vocalist along with Steve and myself. Looking forward to getting that out there. I guess there could be a Katalyst show or two as well……..

Many thanks for your time,

You can check out more of Katalyst at:


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Batucada Sound Machine Interview

Friday, January 30th, 2009 | Interviews | 1 Comment
Batucada Sound Machine Interview

We talked size with Batucada Sound Machine…

(Interview with James Hughes, percussionist and band founder)

A 12 piece band doesn’t happen by accident, how was BSM born?
Dude, we are now 12 piece, but were at 15 during the early days!
It all started when I returned from a stint in Cuba and Brazil studying percussion and I got a group of players together at a local club in town. We jammed once a fortnight and mixed brazilian and Cuban rhythms with drum & bass, hiphop grooves etc. The night started getting a reputation and soon a few horn players turned up, and MCs started coming along. Soon followed a bass player, guitarist and pretty soon we had a full band…playing improvised jams. We got booked for a couple of big local festivals and since then its been a mad ride…playing festivals around NZ, Aus and the UK, and resulting in the studio album with Neil Sparkes last year.

Does size matter? Is it important that there are so many of you?

We have developed our sound so that each person has their own role. From the rhythm section to the percussionists, to the traxedos (horn section) to the vocalists etc. Each person is key. Obviously there are logistical issues, but that’s all part of the fun.

Your music has been described as an ADHD Melting Pot of sound – is this deliberate?
Well, not sure who that person was, but we’ll take it as a complement! There are intentionally chaotic moments within some of the tracks, but by and large – its all carefully orchestrated…unless the band leader is having one of his ‘moments’.

How would you describe your music?
I would call it super-samba-afro-funk, with elements of hiphop and pacific soul added for taste….hmmm yeah I like it.

Your live set is said to be ‘explosive’. Was it difficult to translate this kind of energy into your album ‘Rhythm and Rhyme’?
The recording process was a great experience. We enlisted Neil Sparkes to produce (UK, Transglobal Underground) and he came out to NZ to record with us for 3 weeks. We had demo’d all the tunes for him which was great as we really worked on making the tunes album friendly and not the extended mixes we play live. In terms of energy, we captured the vibe really well during final recording, and then tried to enhance that as much as possible in the mixing stage (we were fortunate enough to mix at Avatar Studios in NY).  The engineer at Avatar was a genius and were stoked with the final result. We are discussing releases at the moment in Aus and the UK – so stay tuned!

Was it hard to create ‘one’ sound with such a wide range of talents and backgrounds? How do you avoid ‘too many cooks’?
It’s a process for us, and often song ideas are created by one person and then developed by the rest of the band. There is a core group of 3-4 of us who do most of the song creation – which makes for a consistent approach. Often a song may start as a rhythmical or bass driven groove, and then we’ll add horn and vocal melodies, breaks etc until things materialize into something we agree on. Often it will take a few times playing live for the final arrangement to stick.

As well as there being so many of you, you also enjoy collaborating with other artists – recently Che-Fu – what do outside artists bring to the band?
It was great working with Che on the song ‘Smoke’. He was super professional in the studio and had researched the subject matter of the song (which was loosely about Cuban Santeria etc). He had all the lyrics down and new exactly what BVs he wanted to do…all in all he was in for a couple of hours and done.

Batucada Sound Machine feat. Che-Fu

We have also worked with Kevin Field (jazz pianist on Hechicera) and Lewis McCallum (saxophone guru on Vai Chegar) – both of whom really added great touches to the respective tracks.

You not only perform in English but other languages such as Portuguese. Would you describe yourselves as a ‘Kiwi’ band?
To be honest, were probably not a ‘Kiwi’ band…what is a ‘Kiwi’ band anyway? Define NZ music!? Can I ask questions?
We certainly are from NZ and love being NZers, but take our influences from other parts of the world as most bands do to differing degrees as well.

Where will you be performing over summer?
We have 4 gigs in Aus lined up:
Thurs Feb 12 in Melb @ The East Brunswick Club – w/ The Melodics
Fri Feb 13 in Sydney @ The Factory Theatre w/ Son Veneno
Sat Feb 14 in Canberra @ Carnival in the City
Sun Feb 15 in Perth @ The Becks Music Box, Perth Int Arts Festival

Then back to NZ for summer gigs etc and hopefully hitting the UK mid-year.

What does the future hold? Will you get bigger in 2009?
We wont be growing band numbers that’s for sure!
This year, we are looking to release the album in Aus and also tour the UK and Europe…things are coming together well, and we have interest from a number of festivals over there…
So yeah…gonna be huge!

You can check out more from Batucada Sound Machine at:


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Pataphysics Interview

Monday, January 19th, 2009 | Interviews, VG News | No Comments
Pataphysics Interview

Pataphysics took the time to chat with us recently on his new sound that had me surprised with Australia’s developing hip hop community… interview below…

Thanks for stopping by… after seeing your performance a few months ago I was intrigued to learn a little more. So where and what have you come from?

At the moment I’m really into ideas about creation blending Astrophysics and Maya.

Your performance is exactly that, an actual performance rather then just a band. Do you see music as a vehicle for expression?

Yes definitely.  Almost everything we do is an outward expression of our inner.  Music and Art are some of the more tangible of these expressions. For me music can capture feeling or emotions through melody which cannot be described by words.  While lyrics can touch on ideas and moments many people share but do not voice.  Music

Both rapping and playing trumpet are fairly taxing activities; does it wear you out doing both simultaneously?
Nah, been doing it for a while, it’s all about breath.

I’ve seen you playing quite a few instruments, in other groups than Pataphysics also… with which instruments & bands do you play.
I play trumpet and vocals in a stack of different crews.  As well  as that I play drums with Trillion and Project nRt, playing some bass with Rosie Burgess,  electric piano and organ in UDL (Ubiquitous Dub Legitimizers), play guitar in this band I teach at Kensington community High School, and will be playing Tin Flute in a experimental Jamaican folk band Lotek’s working on.

Pataphysics - A short introduction

In the music and performances I have seen so far, you seem to have an underlying theme or message… how would you explain that message to someone who hasn’t heard your music?

The biggest theme that I feel runs through my music is one of positivity.  The message I guess is the one I tell myself, awake, understand, and ask questions. We aren’t powerless, there’s always a solution to a problem.  Today there are a heap of forces around that prevent truth and real dialogue.   Things are not always as they are portrayed to be, I am by no means a conspiracy theorist, but I do like to present an alternate view of things that we are fed .

What’s your take on the music scene in Australasia at the moment? Is anyone taking your interest?

There’s lots of music being made of all variety.  I am a huge fan of Rosie Burgess and Jemi White.  Also really enjoy Monkey Marc premier producer as well as another local lad by the name of Paranym.

And what about the international scene?

Morgan Heritage is the Bomb. Also Dead Prez.

Who were the artists you were bumping when you were developing your sound?

When I was little PE, NWA, Cypress Hill and Bob Marley are bands that influenced me greatly.  Later on in years, Miles Davis and The Brown Hornet showed me the freedom you had with music. Hendrix had a huge effect on the way I play trumpet.

Thanks for taking the time man… look forward to hearing more.

You can check out more of Pataphysics at:


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Raashan Ahmad Interview

Tuesday, January 6th, 2009 | Interviews | No Comments
Raashan Ahmad Interview

Pataphysics caught up up with California based MC, Raashan Ahmad, this week on life, music, Australian customs and other stuff… here is a basic copy of the transcript (as best as I could type it while playing it back to be precise).

You’ve had an interesting career so far, tell us a little about your journey.
Yeah man, I’ve been MC’ing for like 10 years now for real, ‘rappin since I was a little boy, walking up the street talkin to the beat, but I started to take it seriously with a group called Crown City Rockers putting out an album “Natural Phenomenon” in 2001(and ‘Earthtones’ in 2004).  Along the way I’ve just been touring consistently around the states and made it to Japan a couple of times also. I just released my first solo record called “The Push”, and now i’m just trying to make it bigger and better.

How did you get into Hip Hop, and who were your early influences?
I grew up in mid city L.A. going to a public school, and hip hop is and was the voice of the young generation. I was listening to the more conscious hip hop like NWA, Public Enenmy, KRS ONE, Big Daddy Kane, Rakim, Souls of Michief, Pharcyde, all of the Native Toungues, I’m a big fan of hip hop in all of its forms.

What do you know about Australia & New Zealand and our music?
Hardly anything man to be honest, i’m not really up on game at all. Thanks to border security and our tour manager not organising entertainment visa’s for our Crown City Rockers tour there a few years ago I’m not really up on it at all.

Raashan Ahmad – Peace

You’ve worked with some great artists in your career so far collaborating and touring, who are some of the most memorable for you?
Have to say maybe when I was on tour with Digable Planets, which was an amazig experience as it was, but working with their keyboardist, Bryan Jackson,  you know I got to do a song with him playing flute on the track, that’s probably gotta be one of my favourite memories, being in a hotel room in the middle of nowhere with an Mbox rapping with one of those cats who made some of my dad’s favourite songs.

You have come out with your debut solo album “The Push” after such a long time on the scene. How do you feel about the album and what can we expect?
I absolutely love it, this album was kinda like my selfish album, when I was making it the conscious album hype was going on, I think you can have conscious lyrics and dance at the same time, you can love the girls and do it all. I have a  song about mum passing on, my kid being born, thanks when the rain lifted, a track called “Fight” about George Bush, a track for my love for hip hop. I tried to make an album that showed more then just one side of me as an artist, but me as a human being.

Who’s playing in your headphones at the moment?
Right now i’m listening to this Wale Mixtape, i’m still listening to the Blue and Exile record,  Q-Tip ‘The Renaissance’, I’m really listening to ‘The shape of broad minds’ by ‘Jarrell’

If you could rock a jam with any cat from history who would it be?
Oh Man, Damn – that’s rough dude… dead or alive doesn’t matter??? probably Billie Holiday – i’d just like to sit in a room with her and just get the vibe she’s like so sad, and beautiful, I could just like stare at her.

So what’s coming up next for Raashan Ahmad?
I’m Touring Australia and NZ dude – I pretty much covered USA last year, so i’m just trying to get out there further and make some more music, put out another mixtape, and the Crown City Rockers new record is coming out, so play some more international shows, make some more music, open up some new minds and get turned onto new things.

You can check out more from Raashan at:


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