Interviews

More Than A Trillion

Monday, October 13th, 2008 | Interviews | 1 Comment
More Than A Trillion

VG: Today we chat with Jody Lloyd, the New Zealand musician behind the project Trillion: To start I thought I’d get you to tell us a about yourself, what you’re currently doing and your history in the music business, etc…

JL: Well, I started rapping kind of seriously in 1990, when I was 18. I recorded a few tracks in a studio. A year or so later I won a rap competition (performance, not a battle) and 6 months later (1993) teamed up with co-creator/rapper and friend Eli Foley to form the duo Dark Tower. Our first gigs used instrumental versions of American rap stuff as backing. Then I purchased a sampler, so I could build my own unique music. I had no musical experience, but come from a musical family, my dad was/is a folk musician. About the same time I got the sampler, Mark Duff moved into my flat. He was a keyboard wizard and also knew a lot about recording on computers, which at the time was a fairly new way of working. After we acquired a grant, Mark guided the recording of our first EP ‘Real Zealmen’. And Andrew from Salmonella Dub helped us release it. The EP would become the first rap release from the South Island of NZ. and the hit from it, Zealman, would acquire a cult following, and also be picked up by the NZ high school English curriculum and studied as a modern example of NZ language in music.

I made a second CD which had collaborations between me and a selection of Christchurch singers and musicians. It got picked up by Universal Music and I became the first NZ artist to sign a licensing agreement with them. I would later be ditched by them, but at the time I thought this was my big break. She’ll Be Right Records began as the label which licensed the music to Universal, and when the relationship expired I continued the label as an independent in 2002. Firstly releasing my own Trillion albums, then expanding it to include other acts. Currently (Oct 2008) we are up to the 25th release (18 of which were produced by myself) with roughly 15 active acts involved. last year we had a 10 year She’ll Be Right Records anniversary tour which involved nearly everyone ever released by the label. It was a really good time.


What were some of your main musical influences growing up?

As a young child I was really in love with my parents Beatles records. I used to listen to them over and over. I wanted to be in The Beatles. then at about aged ten, my interest turned to The Beach Boys. After that I began listening to things like Terence Trent D’Arby and INXS… From there I discovered break dance music. At 14 I went to the U.K with my dad and bought a tape: Beat Street Soundtrack, and a 7″ record: Wipeout by Fat Boys. That track changed my life. The Beastie Boys were all over the news when I was in London. I didn’t get their LP till I got back to NZ. So, Fat Boys taught me I could sample the music I liked and put it with the beats I liked. Beastie Boys taught me it was okay for white guys to do rap. And Upper Hutt Posse told me that I could do it in NZ. When I was about 17 I got really into post-war blues. But one of my strongest influences I didn’t realise for a long long time; my dad. I grew up around his music, he played acoustic guitar, harmonica and various whistles. This “folky”, “acousticy”, natural feel comes through in most of my production.


I first heard of you in the nineties when you were part of kiwi hip-hop group “Dark Tower”, who had a uniquely “kiwi” style in a time when most people were copying American rappers. Do you see yourself as someone who defines the NZ identity through your music?

We never set out to represent the ‘NZ identity’ or be cultural ambassadors. Our angle was purely to try and be us in our music, the best we could do. Incidentally… and sadly, most NZ rappers are still copying American rappers. It’s a disease.

I’ve seen some of the work you have done to draw attention to “serious” issues, like genetic-engineering and Aspartame for example. When you approach your music do you firstly think about what message you want to communicate, or how it will sound to an audience?

Music is possibly one of the strongest ways of communication, everyone likes music, and listens to it. So it becomes a good vehicle for sending out a message. When undertaking a ‘message’ song. I don’t think of who my audience will be, I just make the song as good and as accurate as I can. Although I have become aware of Internet searches, so now when I write a song that I want people to know about or learn something from, I make sure the key words that people will search for are in the title.

You obviously wear many hats in your role as engineer, producer, songwriter and lyricist. Do you see yourself more as an MC/vocalist, an arranger/composer or some kind of harmonious mixture of both sides of the coin?

Music for me is a therapy as much as it is something i want to make a living from. I don’t really see myself as an emcee even tho I rap. I don’t rap to be the best or to puff up my chest. I rap ’cause I like the exploration of language and rhythm and rhyme. And also it’s a way of telling people my thoughts and ideas without actually talking to them. Call me a rapping producer.


Can a jack of all trades, still be a master of some?

Ha ha, a jack of all trades can master them all. I spend a lot of time in every aspect in the creation of an album, right down to the cover artwork. I think it’s healthy to keep changing hats. each process brings something different to the next. As long as I have a built in quality control mechanism, i believe i can be a master of them all. That doesn’t mean I want to battle you on the mic by the way. Battle MC isn’t in my list of trades!

Which is your favourite part of the music making process?

It’s a good feeling nailing a tight rap verse in the studio in one take. I really like constructing music, or finding a primo sample or a weird record that no one will ever know about. It’s also pretty great to hear what other musician can add to a track. sometimes all it takes is an acoustic guitar strum, or a little lick for a track to come alive. I’ve had the privilege to work with some of the best musicians in NZ. Also it’s a real buzz hearing a song which I’ve constructed in a studio, being played out by my band, and then performing it…  listening to a really nice finished track over and over and over and over can be nice and hypnotising.


The latest Trillion album Silent Invisible came out earlier this year, how would you describe the album?

I would describe it as; a masterpiece, a concept, a journey. Masterpiece, not in an arrogant way. I spent a lot of time on it, and invited the best musicians I knew to play on it. It took me 3 years and everything is in it’s right place. The lyrics are probably the best work of my life ever. Concept, it combines a spoken word element which runs through it, and almost all tracks lead into each other. Journey, it tells a story, basically of a guy finding himself but in the setting of the New World Order. It tackles the issue of loneliness and it’s counter balance; aloneness. Thematically it covers political and social issues, relationships and personal discovery.

You recently relocated across the Tasman Sea, how are you finding living in Melbourne?

Melbourne is great, the best move of my life. I should have come here a long time ago. But if I had, I probably wouldn’t have fallen into such a deep hole that inspired the creation my masterpiece SILENTinvisible. Melbourne is full of artists, musicians and venues. Not such a great position to make a living from music, as there is so much stuff going on. But most of the people I meet, especially in hip hop, are really supportive and interested, whereas in NZ I feel like a tall poppy that they want to cut down. Hip hop scene here is really interesting and diverse too. Imagine a ragtime/gypsy band with a rapper.

What are the main projects and ideas are you focusing on for the future?

I’m just organising gigs in Melbourne for Jim Christy, a 63 year old poet from Canada who I produced an album for. it’s called God’s Little Angle. go find it, it’s really good. I’m also performing a bit around Melbourne with Eneti Waretini, and also playing lagerphone, political puppet show and raps in Pataphysics. Also I also met my super best friend about 6 months ago in Melbourne. Super best friend is like a girlfriend but way better cos you do lots of other stuff together, like making things, music, art and films. I’ve almost finished an album inspired by her. It explores areas which I haven’t been to before, in production and lyrical content. My last album is a bit sad, there’s so much war and hate in the world, I thought it’d be nice to make a whole about LOVE to try and balance out the world a bit. It’s called Loops Of Love. Should be out this summer, hopefully through an Australian label. I’ve also recently bought a video camera, so will soon be making all sorts of filmy things; for gig projections, for music videos and doco’s and live performance recordings for music and theatre stuff.

Find out more about Jody’s Past, Present and Future at:

www.trillion.co.nz

Includes the FREE Downable “Garage Sale EP”
for your listening pleasure!

Photobucket

the GARAGE SALE (EP): is a bit of a mish-mash of tracks that are a bit humourous and topically too unrelated to fit into the SILENTinvisible or Loops of Love LP’s. Popping Bubbles is taken from the Rusty Springs EP by The Incredible Braking Wheel (2007), and Cold Touch of Dawn is a live version of a track on SILENTinvisible recorded live in Sept 2008 in Christchurch. The EP also contains a small montage of music from Loops of Love. ENJOY IT – It’s free! (any donations welcome)

“When you walk in the forest – let it go
when you climb up a hill – let it go
there’s a war in the world
you’re a flower turn and curled
heart and mind work best unfurled
let it go.”

(Let It Go- Trillion)

Queries By …Yossarian

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Braille Interview

Thursday, October 2nd, 2008 | Interviews | 1 Comment
Braille Interview

A couple of weeks back we took a look at a couple of albums by Portland-based MC Braille and his group Lightheaded. Well, Braille was kind enough to lend us some of his time to discuss his new album, possible tours down-under, and life in general.

Whats up Braille? Thanks for taking the time to talk to us. To kick things off, can you give our readers a quick rundown of who you are and what you’re about; how have you got to where you are now?

My name is Bryan “Braille” Winchester. I was born and raised in Portland, OR, and I’ve been rhyming for over 13 years. My first notable record dropped in 1999 titled “Lifefirst: Half the Battle”. I was only 17 at the time. I followed it up with an album called “Shades of Grey” in 2004 that featured contributions from 9th Wonder, Rob Swift, Illmind, Supastition, Pigeon John and more. I’m also part of the group Lightheaded with Ohmega Watts and Othello. My most recent release is my forth solo record titled “The IV Edition”.

The IV Edition, was released back in April, how’s the response been so far? Care to inform our readers of the complex nature of the title?

The response has been great. It’s been a lot of work though. I spent 3 and a half months touring the U.S. with my wife and daughter. We just packed up in a mini van and rocked shows non stop. I was in The Source Magazine for the first time, and my song “The IV” is featured on a video game, NBA Live 2009. It’s all been progress, so it’s an exciting time for me as an artist.  The album title basically has 4 meanings with different acronyms, metaphors and word play. The “IV” represents the roman numeral four, because it’s my forth record. “IV” is also used to describe medicine going into the veins. The acronym is International Vision – and really it’s talking about different social ills, social commentary and talking about solutions; water for the thirsty, food for the hungry and mercy for the sinner. Taking care of physical and spiritual needs world-wide.


What can listeners expect from the album?

I worked with a different producer for each track on the album. The production is crazy with artists like Marco Polo, OhNo, J-Zone, 88 Keys, Kno from Cunninlynguists, S1 from Strange Fruit Project, Ohmega Watts, M-Phazes and many others involved. I was really picky with my beat selection and tried to find tracks that would challenge me as a lyricist.

Was this always the plan when writing the album? To work with a vast range of talented producers? What producers have you found you gel with the best?

Yeah, I actually decided to take that approach early on with the record. There were a lot of producers I never got a chance to work with, so I just wanted to use this opportunity to try new things, build new relationships and find more producers that I had good chemistry with. I did find that my chemistry with S1, Kno and Marco Polo was really good. Those are all guys I want to consistently work with in the future. I’m a huge fan of everyone who is involved with the record and of course I have a really strong relationship with Ohmega Watts. So yeah, the album helped me dig deeper into my sound and expand my resources a bit.

You grew up in Portland,Oregon, somewhere that isn’t really known for its hip hop; how did this environment influence your music? What types of music were you raised on?

Portland has a really strong hip-hop scene right now. Growing up, I was a tape collector. In the early 90’s the mainstream was leaning more towards gangsta rap, and the people around me were mainly into gangsta rap as well. I didn’t really connect with it and I was more drawn to A Tribe Called Quest and the Native Tongues movement. I started discovering more underground stuff during the independent boom in the mid-90’s, and it gave me more confidence that I could be myself and I didn’t have to follow all the industry trends and politics. During high school, I moved to New Jersey and lived there for a couple years. I would visit New York and Philly all the time – I started getting a more aggressive style to my flow and started finding my “voice” during that time.

As a happily married man and father; how does your family feel about your career? Do they come on tour with you?

I was an artist when I met my wife, so she knew what I was about from the start. We’ve been married since 2002 and she has been on tons of tours with me. Even before we were making any money… we would just live in our van, sleep on floors with an air mattress and travel around.  She took some trips with me to Europe as well. My daughter is only 22 months old and she’s already been on two tours as well! My family and I toured with Ohmega Watts, Theory Hazit, Galactic and Charli 2NA of Jurassic 5 in Feburary. That was like 3 weeks. Then this summer we did our 3 and a half month tour as well. She loves coming to my shows. I don’t bring her to shows in the bars, but when I’m doing all ages gigs, stuff in parks and stuff, she always checks it out haha! During most of the bar shows my wife and daughter will just chill in the hotel cause my daughter doesn’t stay up that late and I don’t want her breathing in a bunch of smoke.

What have been some of the highlights from your recent touring then? Anything else that stands out over your career?

It’s all a blur in my mind. Just being with my family is one of the main highlights. One of the touring highlights of my career was during 2005 and 2006; I used to be the opening act for James Brown and I did 20 shows with him. I don’t think anything will ever top that.

You have also pretty successful with your releases with the Lightheaded crew, you guys have a truly amazing chemistry; how did you meet Ohmega Watts and Othello?

Me and Ohmega have been working together since 1999. I met him while I was living in Jersey.  He was in Florida at the time and during my senior year of high school we would get together twice a month and work on tracks. We had a group called Return to Sender. In 2000 I moved back to Portland and Ohmega came to visit shortly after. He decided to stay in Portland and we were going to start working on the official Return to Sender album. We met Othello at a show, turned into a trio, changed our name and now we got two Lightheaded records out. Our chemistry is really natural because we are literally best friends. We all grew up on the same artists and music, yet we also have our own unique qualities as well. We spent two years touring together non stop and that really builds up the chemistry as well.

Despite solo projects from all involved, I hear you guys are working on a new album; whats the status here? Have you confirmed a release date?

We are working on our third album. It’s called “Lo-Fi Heights”, and so far we have a single finished with production from Waajeed, Stro of the Procussions and Ohmega. We don’t have a release date set but hopefully we’ll have the album done by the end of this year so it can drop in 2009.

Do you have plans for youself or Lightheaded to tour down our way anytime soon?

Man, I’ve been wanting to tour Australia for the last 3 years! I’ve done Europe and Japan – so Australia is the next on my list. I’ve actually been building with some of the guys at VERYGOOD and hopefully I will be out there next year!!!!

After working with M-Phazes (Australian producer doing it large in the States), are there any other artists from Australia or New Zealand that you are now a fan of, or are keen to work with?

M-Phazes is incredible. He’s really fresh behind the boards. I also worked with Weapon X on my “Shades of Grey” album. Both of those guys were a pleasure to work with so I’m interested to build with some more artists in the area. I did some features as well with Figg Kidd and The Flow Dynamics. I love international collabs, traveling around the world has taught me so much as a person and artist.

What other artists would you like to collaborate with?

My dream is to collab with DJ Premier, but I guess every MC shares that same dream haha! My dream collaboration list would be Primo, Al Green, Andreas Vollenwieder and hopefully one day collaborating with an Orchestra. Besides that, it’s an honor to just be working with the guys I’m already connected with.

As well as releasing music yourself and with Lightheaded, you also somehow find time to run your own record label! Is this something you always wanted to do?

I’ve always been a hands on type of artist. I never had a mentor or label take me under their wing during my career. I had to build most of this from scratch. During the process I learned a lot about the industry, trying to pave my own path. I met a lot of artists during my travels who weren’t getting love from any labels, so I figured I would step in. It’s been such a blessing. I’m only a one man operation, and with the industry going through hard times, it makes it that much harder to keep pushing forward but I’m constantly learning new ways to be wise as a label owner and set up our future the right way.

As you mention, its a difficult time to be in the industry; do you see any strategies on the horizon that might lessen the effect of illegal downloads? Do you approach new releases and signing new artists with a different kind of caution these days?

I do really flexible contracts with my artists. I’m not trying to lock anyone in or own them. My goal is just to put out 2 or 3 records a year on the label and do it the old fashioned way. Let the music speak for itself, build an audience and stay consistent. We can’t change the download situation….. we are at the point of no return. The really big challenge now is getting people to download the music haha! If a million people download it illegally, then hopefully the people who really connect with it will support. At the very least, concert attendance would increase. So yeah… it’s all about using the current situation with the industry to build a fanbase and surpass their expectations with every release.


Who are some of the artists you have on the label? What should we be listening out for at the moment?

The roster includes Surreal, Theory Hazit, Poems, Sivion, Othello, Sojourn and Big Rec.  Our back catalog is great.  I would suggest everyone grab a copy of Surreal “Future Classic”, Theory Hazit “Extra Credit”, Sivion “Spring of the Songbird”, Poems “Blooming Sounds” and Othello “Alive At The Assembly Line”.  Next up is a solo record from Sojourn.  He has a single produced by OhNo that we intend on leaking very soon.

So whats next for Braille? Any other projects on the go?

I’m actually half way done with a new collaboration record. It’s me on the microphone and S1 on the beats. The record is called “Cloud Nineteen”. We hope to drop it early next year and I’ll definitely keep ya’ll updated.


Thanks so much for your time Braille, any final thoughts?

I hope to visit Australia soon, in the meantime, keep in touch at www.braillehiphop.com – peace and GOD bless.

There you have it y’all, check out his music and keep an eye out here for updates regarding new tunes and tour info in the new year.

Until next time,

…cracked

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YaHeard? Paris Wells interview

Tuesday, September 23rd, 2008 | Interviews, Reviews | No Comments
YaHeard? Paris Wells interview

If you haven’t heard the name Paris Wells yet, then prepare to be blown away. Having just released her brilliant debut album, Keep it, as well as already building a strong following for her powerful live shows, this hugely talented Melbourne local is getting ready to take the world by storm. The album is a fantastic array of infectious pop anthems laced with everything from jazz, funk, disco and soul, highlighting her sublime versatility. We here at Very Good were lucky enough to have Paris lend us some of her time to answer a few questions, check it out.

Hi Paris, thanks for taking the time to do this for us. First things first, tell us a little about your background; who is Paris Wells and what influences her?
Well I’m actually half mermaid and half human. My childhood was in Maroubra NSW and my teens in Melbourne Bayside. Aside from my continuing emotional journey with relationships both romantic and platonic, my influences are 60 folk, 70’s disco, 90’s hip hop and great rock bands like Razorlight, Zombies etc.

The new album is sensational, how has the response been so far?
Why thankyou! Critically I am greatful for the reviews, Dan from Rolling Stone gave it a real honest review an I agreed with everything he said. Fans have picked up on it on all different levels which is great. To have girls approach me with what each song meant to them and how it helps them is an amazingly rewarding feeling! The whole response gives me so much encouragement to back this record up with an even better second album!!!

The album is really dynamic mix of genre’s; from the disco-inspired “Firetruck Man” to the soulful and jazzy “Tender”, is there any style that you particularly prefer? Where do you draw your inspiration from?
Sonically we were aiming for a modern/vintage fusion of sounds. Ryan and I choose my musicians carefully along with microphones and synths etc. We both have a strong relationship with beat culture and I wanted to keep that consistent in the songs. Lyrically it speaks for itself and for myself, my heart is on that album for the world to see.

The versatility on Keep it indicates that you would be likely to gel with a wide range of artists across a handful of different genres; are there any artists or groups in particular that you would like to work with?
Dream Collaborations 101:

Damon Albarn
Jamie Lidell
Cassius
Mike Patton
Goyte

Recently your live shows have gained quite a reputation, what do fans get when you’re on stage?

All of me with clothes on but sometimes no shoes. And a huge sound!

Any plans for more shows soon? Coming into summertime, you’d be looking at a festival or two perhaps?

Shhhhhh you will have to wait my friend…..

Your sound has been compared to the likes of Amy Winehouse, Sharon Jones and Alice Russell, how does this sit with you? Are these artists that you respect musically?

They are three of the most amazingly gifted vocalists in contemporary popular music, just to buy them a coffee would make my day let alone be compared to the likes of them. Amazing!

RHyNo of True Live has obviously been a factor in your success, what does he bring to your sound? Does he produce the whole album?

Yes Ryan and I are a team. My sound that the public now know is a hybrid of our tastes combined. I think he expressed himself in KEEP IT just as much as I did, he is super proud.

How was the experience of supporting Justin Timberlake on his Australian and New Zealand tour? Did he teach you how to bring sexy back?

No we were already dead sexy excuse me….Justin is the greatest, there is no stopping him.

Any final thoughts?

Fat kids are really hard to kidnapp and crabs shouldn’t be tied up in restaurants, tasty but they should at least get to swim before hand.

Thanks for your time Paris

“I’d step out of the rush for you”- Fat Freddy!
Peace. x

Paris Wells – Dat Du Dat
Keep it is out now, support local talent and pick it up from your local music store. And keep an eye out for Paris live somewhere near you over summer, we’ll do our best to keep you informed, you do not want to miss out.

You can check out more of Paris Wells at:

www.myspace.com/pariswells

…cracked

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Moving On with O.G

Saturday, September 20th, 2008 | Interviews | 6 Comments
Moving On with O.G

Here is the transcript of an interview recorded recently with New Zealand based musician, producer and composer Oakley O.G Grenell, enjoy!

I’ll just start by touching upon your family influences; some could go as far to call it a musical dynasty. With the achievements of your father (John) and the involvement of your siblings (Denver, Redford and Amiria) in other assorted projects, how has this developed your musical tastes and helped shape your career?

I guess having a musical father meant being exposed to all different kinds of music when we were young and growing up. My mum used to organise the festivals on Whitecliffs farm and that ran for about 15 years. So every summer we’d be surrounded by different types of musicians with all different instruments and our ears were open to the world of folk music, country music, blues, rock, reggae. All that kind of good stuff which then influenced us into picking up instruments. My brother Redford picked up the drums and I picked up the guitar, and we told our older brother to play some bass so we could create a trio. I guess my older brother’s album or CD collection influenced what we listened to after that. We also used to have lots overseas hostellers come work on the farm and get free board and stuff. So they’d also bring their music into the house and we’d listen to a whole bunch of stuff from overseas, it was quite an eclectic taste. The way it’s helped our career, I guess, is that over the last 6 albums I’ve released, everything has been slightly different, kind of picking up on different parts of the world of music and trying to put my spin on it, being a kiwi kid. The new album is all hip-hop, so I should really speak about that. It’s all the kind of hip-hop I like listening to really; the early hip-hop we listened to was Ice-T ‘Cop killer’ and stuff like that. You know, things like 2 Live Crew, Double J and Twice the T was the kiwi one. We used to do covers of Digable Planets when I was in third form, ‘Cool Like Dat’ and then the whole metal/hip-hop/rap thing came in, which was like Rage Against the Machine and the like. The soundtrack to “Judgement Night” which had a whole lot of collaborations between rock and hip-hop.

What were some of the musical influences that inspired you when were growing up?

Hendrix was a big inspiration. Just off the top my head I’m just going to throw names out there: Tuck Andress who’s the guitarist from the duo Tuck and Patti, Ben Harper was a huge influence when I was learning how to write songs. His second album “Fight for your Mind”, I think is one of the best out there. A guitarist called Bireli Lagrene who is from France. Producers who influenced me would definitely have to be The Herbaliser who played on the farm when we were very young, I was about 16. Jazzy Jeff I think is an amazing producer. I’ll just go to my Myspace and check what it says there, I’m pretty sure I’ve got heaps of them there. Ok so we’ve got J Dilla (AKA Jay Dee) who does the whole jazz mixed with hip hop, shuffle kind of thing. Questlove from the roots, D’Angelo, Salaam Remi, Jill Scott, Adam F, Elephannt Man, Beenie Man, The Neptunes, Dr Dre, Roots Manuva, Busta Rhymes, Mos Def, Madlib, Damian Marley, Method Man, Common, Mark Ronson, The Nextmen, Will.i.am, Sergio Mendes, The Cinematic Orchestra. Kiwi acts like Shapeshifter, Fat Freddy’s Drop, Open Souls. Overseas MCs, some people that I’ve worked with, Dynamite MC, The Eskimo Squad crew. I guess growing up in Christchurch we were open to the fact of hearing Christchurch reggae bands as well, like EST who are Excellent Soul Therapy influenced me a lot, also Bob Marley and all that kind of stuff.


Involved in many different projects yourself, including Departure Lounge, Eskimo Squad and of course your solo work. Do you find it easy to switch between musical styles?

After high school I studied jazz guitar for three years and in the second year (or possibly the first year), I started gigging and doing gigs and I really wanted to mix what I had learnt from the jazz genre (which really doesn’t sell any albums these days), and create something new with it. Taking the improvisational elements of jazz and throwing that into trying to make new styles, and creating. Drum n Bass was quite early back then, so we were doing it live in a band I had back then called Jam Fa. I remember talking to Johnny Hooves, (who is now a Drum n Bass producer, back then he was our drummer), listening to early Roni Size and hearing Dynamite MC. One of our early conversations in probably ‘98 or ‘99, was “wouldn’t it be cool to hear Dynamite MC on a hip hop track?” I actually got a chance to do that in the new tune, on the new album which he’s on; it’s called “A Day in the Life”. But we also did one on the first O.G album called ‘Bahm Bahm’.

You also have your own recording label “Central Records”, we’re you always interested in that side of the business? Or was it a means to end, to help you accomplish your roles as musician and producer?

For jazz school (which was end of 2000 or maybe ‘99) I won a scholarship for best performer that year and got $500, so went out and bought a keyboard because I’d been listening to The Nomad’s ‘Second Selection’ and ‘Mezzanine’ by Massive Attack, and I really wanted to start mixing and actually try producing. Up until that point I was a guitarist and I was in a reggae band called Bunyip. We just did live gigs all the time and I hadn’t really done any studio stuff, so I went and bought a computer, got ‘Pro Tools’ and stuff. Created a little six-track E.P and then I thought: “How am I going to release it? What do you need to release it?” You need a record label and you need a distributor. So I made up a label called Central Records cause all my friends we called Goob central, so I just nicked that name, and called it Central Records. Pretty much wherever my laptop goes with me and my microphone, then that’s where “Central Records” is based.

It is hard to do the business side as well as the musical side, half the year is spent creating the album (and that’s a mission) mixing it down, getting it all perfect, the artwork, putting it all together, manufacturing it, and that’s only half the job! The other half is getting it into stores, promote it, sell it, organise the tours, do the gigs, try and make music videos, of which we have made 6 (I think) and they’re all on Youtube (just search my name). That’s not the greatest part of the music business, to be honest the best part is when you’ve created a track in your room (or with some other musicians) and you know it’s going to kill in the clubs or in a live band setting, and then of course playing that live and seeing people just go crazy! Which happened last weekend, at the Black Seeds gig, with the Live O.G Band, we killed it.

What were the influencing factors in your travelling to the UK to make music?

I grew up on a farm for the first 17 years of my life and then moved to Christchurch. I needed 5 years to explore it and become top of my game as a guitarist in this town. Then I did my O.E (Overseas Experience), as three of my friends were heading over to Europe, so I decided to do that trip. I had actually been a teacher of music in high schools for two years, then took seven weeks off. We bought a van and travelled through Greece and Italy, then it got too hot. It was the summer of 2003, and there were insane heatwaves. I didn’t have a guitar so I flew to London and started teaching and got my guitar, so that was the reason to go to the UK. A bit of O.E and wanting to collaborate with MCs over there, which I did. I secured the Dynamite tune, started some tunes with The Eskimo Squad guys and then continued to teach, gig, DJ, gig, do some guitar gigs, and produce heaps and heaps of music. I pretty much spent all my money on going out to gigs and I did that for four years. I’d spend six months in the UK for the summer, then I’d come back to NZ for six months and continually do that for four years.

Your second full length solo album ‘Moving On’ that was released in New Zealand earlier this year, is now coming over to Australia. How would you describe the album?OG Moving On

I’d describe it as the hip hop that I like. Coming from NZ, hip hop was something I was into, but it wasn’t a huge thing that I was into when I started producing the first O.G album back in 2001. But when I moved to the UK they had specialist radio shows and whole stations dedicated to dance hall and hip hop. That’s when I really feel in love with the styles and wanted to understand, so being a producer I wanted try every single style. So this is my young hip hop stage, and I’m in love with the beat! Just collaborating with MCs and vocalists is a great thing to do. The album itself sounds very jazz influenced, very kind of Dilla-based. I can listen to beats on there, and it can sound like a compilation of a whole bunch of different producers and MCs, but I’m a bit schizophrenic like that when it comes to making music. I get influenced so easily and that comes out in the music with all these different styles on one album. Some of them are harder tracks like ‘Babylon Creeps’ (feat. KP & Switch) where it’s a bit more of a gangsta beat, but all the MCs are speaking the truth. Then there’s softer ones,  jazzier ones like ‘That’s The Thing’ (feat. LA Mitchell), ‘Moving on’ (feat. Mark Vanilau), and Mara TK’s tune (’Where I’m At’). So I’d call it a very eclectic hip hop album.

All the reviews I have read are positive and praise your ability and versatility, are you personally happy with the album and how it has turned out?

Yes, I am personally happy with the album, it’s the best music I have ever created, and I’d be so much more happy if was more well received,  because I haven’t had amazing record sales. I don’t think anyone is having amazing record sales these days, but I would love more people to hear it. That’s what getting out on the road and trying to promote it is all about. So we’ll be coming over to Australia to do that very soon!

Anything you see coming on the horizon that people may not currently know about but will soon – as far as trends or up and coming acts?

O.G with Dynamite MC in BrisbaneUpcoming acts: you’re going to hear a group from Wellington called Electric Wire Hustle, you’re going to hear a lot of my band (The O.G Band), you’re going to hear The Departure Lounge, which is my other band and the next album I will be doing, coming out late ‘09. Production-wise there’s a guy in Auckland doing a whole lot of dub-step called Optimus Grime.

What plans do you have for the future musically or otherwise, as in projects you will focus on?

I really want to focus on The Live O.G Band; we played some gigs in the weekend with Black seeds. I had my live eight piece band – that was awesome! Future projects I’ve got are organising a tour for the live band and do the summer gigs, we’ve Parihaka sorted out. I run a festival called “I-nation” which will be happening again on March 21st 2009. Musical projects we’ve got include the next The Departure Lounge album, which will be the first that is studio recorded, featuring Mark Vanilau on vocals. The year after that I will be releasing the next O.G album which will be 2010, and I don’t know whether that will be hip hop, drum n bass or dub-step yet, maybe switch it up a little bit? I’ve got heaps of unreleased tunes, but have to sub-categorise them. So basically an album a year, and get influenced musically. I’d love to do more travelling, experience music from different parts of the world and collaborate with musicians. I’d like to spend more time in Australia over the next couple of years and spread the music around there. Just going to carry on doing what we are doing!

-Title Track from the new album “Moving On”-

Known upcoming Tour dates for NZ and Australia:

02/10/08 Good Luck Wellington
03/10/08 Palmerston North
04/10/08 Phat Club Nelson
10/10/08 Double Happy Chch
09/11/08 Southern Amp
27/11/08 Beach Rd Sydney
29/11/08 Earthcore Festival Victoria
05/12/08 Prince of Wales Melbourne
02/01/09 Mussel Inn
10/01/09 Parihaka
21/03/09 I-Nation Festival Whitecliffs
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You can check out more of O.G at:
www.myspace.com/centralrecords
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“Sunsets will guide our path its clear our future bounds no end
Bridges have burned, they have burned oh cleansing fire
So I will live, reality dawns its all over now
Im moving on and I aint got no time to waste.”
(Moving On – O.G)

Interview, etc… by Yossarian

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Opensouls Interview

Thursday, June 19th, 2008 | Interviews | 2 Comments
Opensouls Interview

Hey everyone, today we’re speaking with New Zealand’s Opensouls, a fine product from across the Tasman. The nine-piece collective is yet another Kiwi group making waves with energetic lives shows displaying their brand of funky hip hop laced with elements of jazz, reggae and soul.
So firstly, tell us a little about Opensouls for those out there who don’t know. How’d you form and who makes up the crew?

We formed out of the collapse of a former band 5th Floor. We have a horn section, keyboards, synths, guitars, bass, drums, percussion and vocals. Tyra Hammond – Vox Bjorn Petersen – Vox Julien Dyne – Drums Chip Matthews – Bass Harlin Davey – Sampler / Keys Steph Brown – Keys (currently in New York) Jeremy Toy – Guitar, Keytar Isaac Aesili – Trumpet, Percussion and a revolving horn section depending on availability.

Big things have been said about your live show, what can a crowd expect when you hit the stage? Any plans for a few shows on our shores in the near future?

We have plans to get across the ditch soon. We try and bring a party to every gig we play. It’s a big band and such a big dynamic that when it works it is a guaranteed good night out.

Your style of music is a product of so many different influences, obviously a result of the different tastes and experiences in music the various members bring to the group; where did it all begin for the Opensouls?

I’m not sure where it all began but myself and the drummer Julien Dyne share a similar love for soul and jazz music which is the backbone of our sound. Dare I call it jazz music but that is the music that keeps your mind thinking and continually challenges how you perceive music. An extension of that is artists like Tribe Called Quest, Premier and Pete Rock who took the jazz vibe and re-hashed it without ever making it sound like acid-jazz.

The musical community in New Zealand seems to effortlessly intertwine itself; how has this affected the way the Opensouls operate?

It effects us in a sense that there are heaps of people to help us out and to give us advice. Sometime that advice is a waste of time because you can only follow your own path but sometimes having so many people that you can potentially bounce ideas off of is very refreshing.

The various elements that make up your sound mean that you are not bound to any one genre when it comes to collaboration, are there any standout artists that you’d love to work with?

Thats a tough question. You never know how well you will work when collaborating until you are there doing it. I would love to get Liam Finn to produce a track for us. He is a stand out right now. Of course, if Chaka Kahn came knocking we wouldn’t say no. I have always wanted to play with Van Morrison. Soulful Irish music is big on my list.

Jeremy: Recently you picked up an award in New Zealand for Best Producer for your work with Hollie Smith on her album Long Player, how was working with her and do you have plans for anymore side-projects?

Working with Hollie on her album was a great experience for me. Hollie had set idea’s about how she wanted her album to sound so I took my role as the person to push Hollie outside of her musical comfort zone. She is a massive fan of Voodoo and Mama’s Gun and really wanted her record to be in the same vain as those records. I showed Hollie and the band the influences D’angelo, Erykah Badu, J Dilla and Questlove had when writing those albums and we tried to create an album that was not only influenced by these contemporary musicians but also by the musicians from the 60’s and 70’s that laid the foundations for the type of soul music Hollie plays. I am involved in other side projects. An Australian singer Tim Guy, he now lives in New Zealand. www.myspace.com/timguymusic Tim writes some of the heaviest music I have heard, really well crafted songs. I am also doing demo’s with the Sami Sisters www.myspace.com/thesamisisters . They are 3 sisters with an undeniable talent for writing songs that grab at your heart strings and kick you to the kerb.

Your debut album, Kaleidoscope (released in April 2006), was mastered in Los Angeles by Stones Throw Records master engineer Dave Cooley. Did you get to go over there for that? How did the connection come about?

The connection with Dave Cooley came about when we needed our first 12″ record mastered. I got in hold of him via the Internet not knowing he had done any work for Stones Throw, all I saw was a quote from J Dilla saying that Dave’s studio was good, that was enough of a selling point for me. As he was mastering the tracks we found out his history with Stones Throw and we were blown away that such a heavyweight engineer was helping us out. From our initial contact his studio now works for heaps of New Zealand acts incl. Mark De Clive-Lowe, Nathan Haines and Eru Dangerspiel.

Recent reviews have compared your sound to that of Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings, Breakestra and Quantic Soul Orchestra; how do you feel about these comments? Are these artists that you draw inspiration from?

It is a hard comparison to take. Those artists are at the top of the food chain when it comes to Soul music. Yes, they are an influence but we are very aware that they have their sound and we need to develop our own sound, not just try and replicate what they are doing. I am more inclined to draw inspiration from outside the funk genre. I think there is more to learn from artists like Jeff Tweedy, Townes Van Zandt or Elliot Smith who communicate something through lyrics that only great songwriting can achieve.

As the Opensouls are involved in a variety of New Zealand crews (such as Che Fu’s The Krate’s, Ladi 6’s Verse Two, Recloose, Solaa and Tyra Hammond’s funk band The Tornado’s), is the Opensouls a side project for individual members, or are their other endeavours the side projects? How do this all work for the Opensouls?

This band is a crazy dynamic. I think we all will agree that when we get together and play live that it is the closest, best bunch of people that we could play music with. We all go out and work for other artists, as musicians we have to do that to keep our minds active but when we come off tour from those job and play as Opensouls we all realize that this is the one project worth putting in the hard yards for.

Hip hop is winding an interesting road through music history, what do you think of the current state of hip hop? And where do you feel that you fit on the hip hop spectrum?

I don’t know much about the current state of Hip Hop. To me there is always going to be a stand out release that may fit in to the Hip Hop Genre but its always something a bit left of field. Madlib is still ruling, Common seems to be hanging in there, Erykah Badu’s new album captured the vibe. There are some amazing things happening in Europe but it is more on the techno side of Hip Hop. As for what is on television top 40, I couldn’t care less. I think Hip Hop is in a good position as far as where it sits in the industry. It needs to be an underground music, it needs that constant low hum that works away while the top 40 slowly eats itself and decays.

What’s next for the Opensouls crew? New albums in the making? Future tours on the horizon?

We are working on our next record. We have a 7″ about to be release which will get to Australia in select vinyl stores, Northside Records etc. Hopefully if the Australian radio and television stations are nice to us you will hear our next single “Dollars” on the airwaves.

You can check out more of Opensouls at:

www.myspace.com/opensoulsspace

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