folk

Fink is in Melbourne

Wednesday, January 27th, 2010 | News | No Comments
Fink is in Melbourne

Since we last spoke of our hope to see Brittish Singer, Songwriter, DJ, producer, and Soul man Fink in Australasia he has finally arrived, thanks to Niche Productions, and following some Sydney performances Fink will play 2 shows in Melbourne this week at:

The Corner Hotel in Richmond Thursday 28th Jan

The Hi-Fi with Madeski, Martin & Wood Friday 29th Jan

Fink – This is the Thing

The last post has a good introduction to who Fink is and where he came from for those who haven’t before heard of him. And the music says it all.

If you get the chance… you’ll want to check this guy out.

You can hear more of Fink at:

www.myspace.com/finkmusic

…bs

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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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Almost Forty Years Too Late?

Friday, September 26th, 2008 | News | 2 Comments
Almost Forty Years Too Late?

I’ll start this piece with a broad and inflammatory statement; there is no justice in the world, especially the world of music, but maybe there is karma? The evidence for this opinion is an artist, who’s 1970 album has only recently received the worldwide praise it deserves. Regular and observant readers will have noticed this site’s content can be quite eclectic with content that can focus on about both up-and-coming and established groups. We occasionally look back at classic albums from years gone by, but today we will go back a little further.

The story of Detroit born musician Sixto D. Rodriguez goes like this: in 1970 he recorded the sublime album “Cold Fact” which he followed up the next year with “Coming From Reality”, Both records were released on a recording label that folded in 1975. After the limited success of both albums in the American market, he gave up on his musical career and drifted into relative obscurity. This caused many rumours about his possible demise ranging from suicide (on stage), to drug addiction, and even that he was in prison for killing his wife. All of this was of course untrue, he had just given up on achieving musical success and dropped out of the game. What he didn’t know was he had gained a cult following in countries like South Africa and Australia, where his imported albums had sold well. He ended up touring around Australia in 1979 and 1981 and releasing live recording of these shows. It wasn’t until the late 1990’s, while he was working as a labourer in Detroit, that his daughter discovered through the internet, that his fan base in South Africa was trying to track him down via an online campaign, “The Great Rodriguez Hunt”. A decade later, the 66-year-old singer/songwriter is still alive, well and touring. Lately his original masterpiece “Cold Fact” has been released again to speak to a whole new generation. He is now gaining attention from all over the world, by people amazed that a talent like this could remain unknown for so long. Some have argued that he is the equal of his contemporaries such as Bob Dylan, John Lennon and Neil Young; musicians whose well-crafted songs and political lyrics turned them into household names, cemented their fame and left an impact on the popular consciousness. Recognition doesn’t always come when it should.

Since hearing about “Cold Fact” only recently, I have put it on high rotate, as it not only sounds musically great almost forty years on, but the lyrics seem just as relevant as ever. For example from the tune titled “This Is Not A Song, It’s an Outburst: Or, The Establishment Blues” :

“The mayor hides the crime rate
council woman hesitates
Public gets irate but forget the vote date
Weatherman complaining, predicted sun, it’s raining
Everyone’s protesting, boyfriend keeps suggesting
you’re not like all of the rest

Adultery plays the kitchen, bigot cops non-fiction
The little man gets shafted, sons and monies drafted
Living by a time piece, new war in the Far East
Can you pass the Rorschach test?

It’s a hassle it’s an educated guess.
Well, frankly I couldn’t care less.”

Although Rodriguez is described as a folk musician I wouldn’t really call this a folk album. For example, the song “Only Good For Conversation” starts with a riff that could have been from a Deep Purple song. It is more like gentle rock music, with acoustic guitars surrounded by psychedelic and orchestral overdubs, but every song is different and has it’s own story. The song “Sugarman” which seems to have become his signature tune, is about the realities of inner city drug-dealing, and has the lyrics:

“Silver magic ships you carry
Jumpers, coke, sweet Mary Jane

Sugar man you’re the answer
That makes my questions disappear”

It’s almost criminal it’s taken so long for this album get the attention it deserves. Although you’d expect it to be dated by it’s age, it is still as fresh and crisp as anything I’ve heard recently. The reason I see it’s lyrical content as so relevant, is that the time when it was originally released, was a time that promised so much in terms of societal change. There was obviously great turmoil and uncertainty, with the backdrop of the Cold/Vietnam War and the notion of a social revolution promising so much, but which in hindsight delivered so little. We’ve probably heard about the apparent social change aiming to break the bonds of conformity, the general growth of anti-establishment feelings amoung youner people, that caused a generational riff but never quite put the peace and love into society, that was expected. I see our current stage of history to be very much like this, funny how everything repeats. In an age where we are looking for solutions to contemporary crisis’s and we are searching for another way of finding “change and hope”. In this way, all the issues raised in the album “Cold Fact” are still as relevant and topical. So if you’re interested in conscious lyrics that are not afraid to take a political stance, then definitely give this album a try. It has a point-of-view, but at the same time doesn’t try to club you over the head with it. So all this proves to me that protest singers aren’t dead, they’re just sleeping.

Find out more about the ‘Cold Fact’ re-release at the following places:

Official Reissue 2008

Cold Fact Daily Music Guide Review

“But thanks for your time
Then you can thank me for mine
And after that’s said
Forget it”
(Forget It – Rodriguez)

…Yossarian

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Jackson Jackson – The Fire is on The Bird

Sunday, August 31st, 2008 | Reviews | No Comments
Jackson Jackson - The Fire is on The Bird

Australia has produced another quirky, innovative, laid back bunch of performers in the new form of Jackson Jackson. Based in Melbourne, Jackson Jackson began as a side project of Harry Angus, who is best known for his role in The Cat Empire, and producer Jan Skubiszewski, who Angus met through working together with The Cat Empire. Thankfully, this side project album ‘The Fire is on The Bird’ avoids the common situation where artists simply reproduce a familiar sound under a new name. The only similarity between these two groups really… is how unique they are.

Jackson Jackson manage to deliver a type of cheeky music that is very representative of the relaxed Australian humour, most obvious in the songs that they use very limited instrumentals, and yet carry your interest with random tales over downbeat old school drum tracks. The fusion of electronica, folk, hip hop and fun also reminiscent of many of the genres you would have been hearing in any major Australian city over the last ten years, just not usually played together.

Surprised by the initial positivity to the album Angus told “When we finished the album we realised that it was a lot more acceptable to our peers than we thought it was going to be. We thought it was really out there, but everyone seems to think it’s not too strange.”

Well I think it’s kinda strange, but that’s a good thing yeah?

Jackson Jackson – Cats, Rats and Pigeons

With some funky beats, a nice mixture of instruments blending (especially the accoustic guitar), and plenty of smooth beat doctoring, the album is extremely varied and appears to cover a lot of ground for just one album. Its nice to have lyricism which manages to touch on issues… but all the while not taking them too seriously taking the time to make fun tracks or one’s which are thought provoking  like “A hairy man in a waxed man’s world”. An album for chilling, driving, in the office, on the tram, and i’m sure pretty soon, in summer backyard BBQs all around Australia where it belongs.

Jackson Jackson Track by Track

You can check out more of Jackson Jackson at:

www.myspace.com/jacksonjacksonmusic

and for anyone who has missed them, it’s well worth checking out The Cat Empire:

www.myspace.com/thecatempire

…bs

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Beck – Modern Guilt

Tuesday, July 15th, 2008 | News, Reviews | No Comments
Beck - Modern Guilt

I have a sneaking suspicion that Danger Mouse (if that is his real name) is more than one actual person, possibly many fictitious people. I base this wild accusation on the amount of music produced lately with the name attached. Apparently he has produced at least four albums released this year (not counting the latest Gnarls Barkley effort) including the recent Black Keys ‘Attack in release’ and more to the point the new Beck record ‘Modern Guilt’, released 8th of July.                                                  Beck and Dangermouse

Beck’s tenth studio album released on his 38th birthday, will go down in the long line of experimental yet consistent Beck projects, that mostly slip past commercial attention, each time as they change theme and styles, being reborn as a different musical creature. This time the chameleon returns with the definite influence of the also prolific and talented mister Danger Mouse, who adds some of his own finesse and a more than few hand claps.


Opening tracks like “Gamma Ray” and “Orphans” are sure to get a few shoes tapping, and the general modern-jazz-noir artwork should an association with many sophisticated occasions. By the sound of Becks official publicity blurb, he must have had a great time or been a little tired: “and so, 120 nights of no sleep and seeing the dawn try not make an impression, there was some hollow hewn thing there that seemed a little basic”.


Beck Modern Guilt promo

Both artists suit this modern take on 60’s Brit-Rock creating a well rounded effort that should be liked by most fans and as usual gain a few converts to the cause.\

You can check out more of Beck at:

www.myspace.com/beck

www.modernguilt.com

… Yosarrian

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