It’s a bit of a strange thing that a band can be signed to a well-known label, have over twenty tracks licensed for various compilations around the world, been played by throughout Europe and the UK via Gilles Peterson on BBC1, but still be relatively unknown in their home country. Crackpot’s debut album Shelf Hypnosis is about to change all that as the funk-fuelled threesome bring their unique sense of music and humour home to Australia.

Each of the members of Crackpot; Martin ‘Moose’ Lubran, DJ Phil Ransom and Jade D’Adrenz, have had stunning careers. Lubran composed and produced music of some great Australian TV shows such as The Late Show, Funky Squad and films such as The Castle. Ransom has 2 DMC championships to his name, has performed at many of the major Australian Festivals, and toured, at the request of the Beastie Boys, with all Grand Royal acts visiting our fair shores. D’Adrenz, the singer-songwriter of the group has worked with acts such as Groove Armada, The Mad Professor and Tim ‘Love’ Lee.

Speaking from Melbourne, D’Adrenz talked of how the band formed a little over 6 years ago. “Moose and I had had been writing some tracks together and were programming drums, and couldn’t find the right sort of sounds. We’d been trying to find drum machines that sounded like old 50s Jazz kits with 70s subsonic kick drums,” she explains “and everything sounded stilted and programmed. Then one day we hooked up to write some tracks for another artist, and we met Phil (Ransom) and fell in love musically, and been together ever since,” she giggles.

The first thing you notice about Crackpot is that not only are D’Adrenz vocals beautiful, but very quirky. “Quirkiness comes naturally,” she enthuses. “The thing about Crackpot is all three of us had been frustrated previously about where we fitted in musically, so the whole point of crackpot is that we could all do whatever we wanted. But because of the way we all were, we didn’t offend each other too much in doing so,” she laughs.

Along with this come some quite outrageous samples, provided by Ransom. “If the song has a certain theme, I’ll talk to Ransom about his samples and have my input, but part of the fun is to let him do his thing… He often surprises me and I find them all funny!” she chuckles. On the album you’ll hear bizarre samples from people like physicist Steven Hawking. Being so strange and identifiable, I had to wonder if they any problems clearing them. “Tummy Touch takes care of the sample clearing, that’s their domain, so we have no problems at all!” she laughs. “We’re actually using less and less, and sampling ourselves… sampling our voices, and moose plays 10 instruments.”

Speaking of Tummy Touch, it’s quite a sweet deal they gained, as Tummy Touch is very well renown. “We didn’t really go banging on doors looking for deals,” D’Adrenz mentions. “We just were offered one about the time we were looking for one. It’s all been a fairly effortless ride as far as that sort of thing is concerned. We’d made a short list of 5 companies that we thought had put out a cool product, had a diverse and interesting music, and good packaging, and that kind of thing. We were delighted when Tummy Touch approached us!”

Their other projects have now become side projects, well and truly. “Crackpot’s always been the main thing for us, we’ve just been waiting for it to become the main thing in other peoples minds,” as D’Adrenz laughs. “We’re all pretty committed to it. We’ve had vinyl out overseas, and that’s kept us going. We had 27 tracks licensed around the world. We’ve played in Melbourne, but we’ve played interstate, ummm… never I think! I think the live scene is very important in Australia, but we’ve managed to stumble along our way, and yet still feel appreciated”, she chortles again.

No doubt Crackpot will surely endear itself to the Australian audience, as their clever lyrics, quirky samples and infectious beats travel across Australia Crackpot to follow up their debut. “For this tour we’re hooking up with a drummer, Leroy from Plutonic Lab, because we don’t want to play with too many backing tracks. It’s pretty hard for Phil (Ransom) to be laying down all the beats as well as samples and doing backing vocals. At times we’ve put our beats on vinyl and he’s cut them in, but it’s pretty exhausting. So it’s going to be good playing with a drummer and a bass player.”


Infusion has been rocking Australia since the mid 90s, but has found their star rising ever quickly skyward, first being signed to Thunk Recordings and then their tune Dead Souls being picked up by Adam Freeland’s Marine Parade label. The Wollongong trio of Frank Xavier, Jamie Stevens, Manuel Sharrad are the current leaders of Australian Dance music, holding the torch proudly high as they tour around the world, performing blistering live shows to packed houses. I spoke to Frank Stevens after a quick tour of Argentina and Chile, and the big UK festivals.

Their most recent big date in the UK was Glastonbury. “We had two shows at Glastonbury, one which was live to air on Radio 1, and then we had another gig in the Glades tent, which is a bit like the Boiler Room tent at the Big Day Out, and it was really good. We had about 5000 crazy English people jumping and going crazy,” Xavier laughs. “Creamfields Argentina was amazing,” he gushes of last years’ festival. “We played for an hour and a half, and when we started there was about 150 kids there, and by the end of our set there were about 18,000 people there! We played Argentina and Chile this past weekend, and that was just incredible. I don’t know how they’ve found out about us, but news just travels fast around that part of the world.” Infusion is also big in Japan. “We’ve played Tokyo about five times, and the last time we played was in a club called Woo, to about 2000. The Japanese really love their music, will really give people a chance.”

Although they were featured on Triple J and played the traps in Australia, it took some time before they got a wider appeal. “We’ve been playing around Australia since, well I joined in 1996, and it wasn’t until 2001 that we went overseas. It helps when overseas people rate us, and we play some of the big festivals over there, then Australia goes ‘Oh, hang on, they’re doing quite well over there, let’s give them some more attention.’ Steven’s is quick to point out that’s not the whole of it, and is very loyal to Infusions early fans. The fan base that Infusion have crosses borders and genres, most obviously because the band refused to be pigeonholed. They combine breaks, techno, trance and progressive, and there are influences and similarities between them and a wide range of groups, from Icehouse to Pink Floyd. “Every band has influences and ours is from the late 70’s and mid 80s. I was into Depeche Mode, Beach Boys, Japan, Bowie, but we all listen to a lot of different things and I guess when we all get together there’s such a big range of differences it becomes a big melting pot.”

Another contributor to the wide fan base is the internet. “Even though I’m not a big fan of forums, forums have really helped us a lot,” Xavier states. “Kids from all different countries posting ‘you’ve really got to check these guys out’… the news gets spread around. We’ve just released the album in Argentina, Chile and Canada, and with the push of the bigger record label it’s just been getting bigger and better for us”. But Xavier isn’t so keen on File Sharing. “A lot of people seem to download the Radio One BBC files and I don’t really mind, because it’s on radio in the first place. Radio One is a promotional tool for us, so that doesn’t really bother me. But with the album we checked to see if it was on soulseek last week, and it’s not there yet, so lets hope it remains like that!” he chuckles “But it happens with every band, you can’t avoid it. It’s killing the industry, but what can you do, it’s going to get worse and worse.”

I mention to him that another person I interviewed had a similar view, and that they though file sharing would force the price of bands upwards so they could recoup their record sale losses. Xavier disagrees. “It won’t force the price of bands up; it will encourage bands to tour more,” he says. “It encourages them to get off their arses and not sit back and wait for people to buy their records, but get them out there and earn their money the good old-fashioned way,” he laughs.

Infusion has definitely shown they can earn their keep, with vibrant live shows that equal rock performances in energy and vibe. “With a live band there’s a whole lot more energy than what you can see on stage with a dance act. If you see people like Underworld and Chemical Brothers they’re stuck behind keyboards twiddling knobs,” he says, “and although it sounds live and it’s ‘big’ sounding, it still doesn’t have that appeal of when you have a drummer and guitarist going at it, there’s a few mistakes here and there that leap out at you, and people get a lot of energy from that. The way we play is quite similar, with got a vocalist, and the sounds and way we mix are quite live, and the energy as we’re all jumping around… we’re not sitting behind laptops and twiddling knobs.”

Andy Smith

Andy Smith is the DJ behind one of the best mix CDs ever recorded, The Document, and it’s follow up, the Document II. He’s also one half of the incredibly upbeat and funky Dynamo Productions with Boca45 (Scott Hendy), and in a little unknown group called Portishead as tour DJ and sample finder. On tour recently to promote the new Dynamo Productions Get It Together, which features remixes of their finest tunes as well as a few new ones, I managed to catch up with Smith after a very successful Melbourne solo gig. “We’re not going to Adelaide or Brisbane,” he laments. “I asked the promoter why how come and they didn’t really give a good answer, so I don’t know why were not going!”

“I did a Northern Soul night last night in Melbourne,” he states, “It’s a bit of a hobby for me,” he claims of the Northern Soul music. Relatively unknown in Australia, Northern Soul, called that because DJs in the North of England in the 70s would play this rare American pre-disco soul music, is regaining popularity in the UK. Smith got into it by digging for records. “If I found a label that was interesting I’d listen to it on my portable turntable and I guess I must have heard a few things… like the uplifting vibe on this one, or the fantastic voice on that, or it had a piece of music that was just amazing. I’ve started up a monthly club in London, and that’s become one of my favourite club nights, it means I can go a bit deeper, do something a bit different.”

Deeper and different is what Andy Smith is all about. From the sombre sounds of Portishead, to the upbeat tempo of Dynamo Production, to making mix CDs that feature James Brown, Cut Chemist and Kate Bush, Smith has a diverse and interesting musical knowledge that he clearly wants to share with people. “Basically my role within Portishead was finding samples, obviously I’ve got a big record collection. Before I met Jeff Barrow, (the main producer behind Portishead), I was a DJ… obviously I still am,” he chuckles, “and when I met him at the youth club, in Portishead (the city from which they got their name), I was cutting up funk and hip hop, and he was one of the few people around who understood what it was all about. The whole Portishead sound is from Jeff, utilising the bits of the records I was finding him. When they went on tour, he was keen to help people realise the origin of the Portishead sound. That’s why I did the warm up set playing original breaks and hiphop and a crazy kinda scratch mix before the show, to show people where their sound came from.”

Given that both his mixes and the Dynamo Production stuff is so upbeat, I wondered if the being the Portishead DJ had its drawbacks. “Depending on where I am in the world,” he says “Some places in Europe, I’ll go to a gig, someone will come up to me and ask me to play a Portishead record, which annoys me really,” he grumbles, “as they don’t know about the Dynamo productions, but by the end of the night they will know. The Dynamo stuff is more me,” he pauses. “I like being in a club and rocking the crowd, seeing the smiling faces and people having a great time. Doing the Portishead thing is great because I get to play my stuff to a different environment, but week in week out, I’m a club DJ.”

The Document II was an astounding mix, and testament to his skills as a DJ. “I have a rough plan, but it all comes down to what you can get cleared (by the record company)”, he says of his mixes. “I might submit 20 tracks and get only 6 or 7 back. So I might have two tracks that mix really well, but one might get rejected, so I have to go back and put them together the best I can. I was really lucky to get that Kate Bush track,” he laughs. “I really wanted to do a mix that had a totally different intro, to make people go “wow, it’s got Kate Bush on the intro”. Some people don’t understand why I’ve got Kate Bush on there at all, they’re like ‘what’s that got to do with it?’ whereas others think it’s something really special, but as long as people talk about it, I really don’t care!” he chuckles, “but I was really lucky to get that and the track that hiphop track that mixes into it. I think Kate Bush has done some fantastic music, and if someone picks up that CD because it’s got Ultramagnetic MCs on it and then think ‘oh, I actually like that Kate Bush track now’… it’s all about opening up people to the music.”

Smith loves the scene in Australia, and he and Scott Hendy seem to have a rapport with Aussie artists, having done remixes for the Resin Dogs and Katalyst. “We did those remixes because we come out here a bit, and the Resin Dogs were kinda into what we were doing and simply asked us. The link with Katalyst is through the label (Invada) and last tour. The scene out here seems pretty good for what we do; our album did better in Australia than anywhere else in the world, which comes down to the promotion invada gave it really, and the crowd here seem to be into what we’re doing. In the UK if there’s no scene for ‘that thing of the minute’, people might pass it by, whereas over here people just listen to it, they don’t really care what they ‘should’ be listening to. The UK press tries to tell people what they ‘should’ be into, but here people listen to what they want, which is a lot healthier really.”

The new Dynamo Productions album features remixes by Katalyst, One Cut, Krafty Kuts and Jimi Ently Sound. “I’ve known Krafty (Martin Reeves) for quite a few years. We’ve always thought about getting him to do a remix. Most of the people we remixed we knew, and offered to do their remixes, so I think we owe a few people some remixes,” Smith laughs. “The Jimi Ently Sound were a band that used to play at Holiday Camps in the UK in the 60s. Someone found a master tape of them doing a version of Apache (originally by Cliff Richard and the Shadows), which then got put out on a 45… But it’s a scam,” he admists with a laugh”, it’s Jeff Barrow and Adrian Utley from Portishead who wanted to do some things under a different name without people buying them because they were Portishead. It now says “produced by Portishead”, but originally it was going to be a quiet sideline,” he chuckles again.

For the future, both he and Scott have a lot on their plate, and the continued collaboration may come to an end. “ I’ve got a Northern Soul mix out in October for BGP records, and then maybe I need to make a few more phone calls, send a few more emails and get working on Document III,” he says. “Scott’s done a solo album, out on invada, under the guise Boca45 called Pitch Sounds which is also out in October, so he’ll probably be doing promo stuff for that for a while, and if that goes well he might want to continue the solo stuff… but I think we’ll probably at some point get back together and do something, I’m just not sure when,” he adds optimistically.