Tag Archives: Australia

Bass Kleph

Twenty four year old Stu Tyson was just an 8 year old when he caught the bug for drum breaks. “They had everyone in the school band to write down a list of the instruments we would want to play in order of preference. Being 1988, the first thing I wrote down was obvious… Saxophone! But I didn’t have a second choice. So, I actually looked at the guy’s paper next to me, and saw on his “Drums”. I immediately added that to the top of my list of now two instruments,” and in a twist of fate in losing out to drums, from that moment on Tyson was hooked to the sound of sticks banging canvas.

He found his way into numerous bands as a drummer, but like a lot of performers, found rock to be a little lacking, and moved into listening to dance music. “Initially, it was the drums that got me. Most of the dance music I’d heard was house and techno. I liked it, especially the production quality and mix style, as the drums were massive, but being a drummer, the old ‘4 on the floor’ couldn’t hold my attention for too long. It was actually drum and bass that got me first, and then breaks eventually took over. When I heard these huge broken beats and deep bass, I was hooked. See you have to remember; I was coming from rock music where that style is all about guitarists. Finally I’d found a style that was all about me,” he laughs.

Shaking the shackles of rock, Tyson began his career as Bass Kleph, which Tyson claims “is the medical term for leaving a watch inside a patient… and also a musical symbol to define all instruments in the lower frequency region,” he laughs. And his career has been on the up and up ever since winning the Triple J Australia wide remix comp of Downsyde’s El Questro. “Ah, Downsyde,” he muses with a smile, “that was so long ago. It’s so flattering that people still talk about it. It was great, especially for the national exposure. Before then I hadn’t released any of my original tunes, so being able to play a little bit of Bass Kleph (via that song) to the whole of Australia was a great introduction for me. I’m so thankful we have a national radio station that plays breaks!” he cheers.

Since the win, Tyson has burst on to the international breakbeat scene with a string of chart smashing releases; receiving rave reviews the world over. Wild Card was added to Triple Js daily rotation and since featured on Kid Kenobi’sClubbers Guide To Breaks 04”, Triple J’s “Home Grown” CD, “Future Breaks”, Ministry Of Sound TV commercials and more. His tunes with Boiling Point stable mate Nick Thayer Fucking The Groove and Fucking The Synth sold out in the first week in the UK, and their next release, the remix of Feelin’ Kinda Strange by Drumattic Twins, is soon to be launched on Finger Lickin’ Records. This came about from the Twins’ seeing how they used the vox from the tune looped in a set. “We’d just loop the breakdown, cut the bass and – instant acapella! They thought it was great and suggested we do a remix. There was never a guarantee it would be released, but we thought we’d give it a nudge anyway. Since then it’s blown up all over the world.”

Fantastic news for the Australian breaks scene, although I was surprised to hear that Tyson doesn’t have a club residency anywhere. “I play different places every week. There are clubs in Sydney I play at whenever I’m in town, like Hijack (which unfortunately was recently closed down), Kink, Chinese Laundry and so on, but I wouldn’t call them residencies. I prefer to take my music to as many different places as possible, and luckily for me there is enough interest to do this.”

Tyson is coming to Adelaide, so what can we expect? “I use mostly CDs these days, and still some vinyl. The CD players are so good now, and most of the freshest music I get is digital. Think about it,” he adds, “the people who wrote it are gonna have it on CD from the day its finished. It’s only on vinyl when it gets signed and cut.” I mention three decks, and he laughs, “buy me and drink and maybe I’ll do four! Trick wise there is plenty of stuff going on, but only in a musical sense. I’m only really into things that sound like part of the song, or sound like they are complimenting the song. As for scratching, I leave that to the professionals!”

DJ Friendly

The funny and funky DJ Friendly, known to his DJing mother as Andrew Kornweibel, was well loved in Australia for his quirky take on breakbeat music, but about 2 and a half years ago, having worked his butt off making a name for himself in Australia, his record label were “keen for an alternative direction for me” as he puts it politely, so he left for sunny England to seek a different path. “I managed to achieved what I set out to do, I put 12 inches out, play in clubs, and changed from live performer to DJ, managed to get by and the rest of it, and now I’m doing quite well,” he says.

He’s made quite an impression on the English scene, and won the best newcomer award at Breakspoll this year. “I thought it was funny I got the best newcomer – I’ve got three albums out and I’ll be dead a hundred years before I get the lifetime achievement awards,” he chortles. “I was chuffed, and from outside of Australia’s point of view I was the new comer. But I feel like I’ve been doing it for a long time myself,” he says, chuckling. “Living in the UK is a lot more global. All of a sudden people are booking me for gigs all over the world”, Kornweibel says of the move to the UK. “In Australia I found it very hard to break out of the Australian scene. I could get a gig anywhere in Australia, but I couldn’t get gigs outside, no one had heard of me at all. Over here I’m a lot smaller relatively speaking, but I’ve got a much wider spread and my music seems to go a lot further.”

But it’s not all sunshine and roses. “The weather is shit. It’s absolutely appalling. The people are grumpy nine months of the year because the weather is so bad. Everything’s expensive,” he pauses. “Are we going to workshop this? Should I pay you for this therapy if I pour my heart out to you,” he chortles. “There’s good and bad, London is a hard city to live in sometimes,” he continues, “the people can be really closed off and it’s got that big city feel about it, but at the same time it can be so inspiring. The competition is so great, and the media from the UK gets spread around the world, and you get up on your soapbox and people listen.”

Having run into a lost looking Paul Arnold, the head of Fat Records, in Sydney, he slipped him a copy of his demo and it became his first release on Fat, and the beginning of a close relationship. With Arnold now being Kornweibel’s manager, Friendly has become the resident at the Fat Records club night called ‘Chew The Fat’. “The people who come down for the night are music lovers, there’s no attitude,” he exclaims, “it’s all about getting down and having a really good time! We get heaps of girls,” he giggles, “and all sorts of people from all different backgrounds. Some of the other nights in London can be blokey, or ‘Laddy,’” he says in a really bad accent, laughing, “and at other nights it might be young pill taking clubbers who don’t even know what breakbeat is. I like to think we draw a nice line between being there for the music and being there for a great time.”

The first Chew the Fat mix CD is Friendly at his best, being fun and funky, a true representation of the night Kornweibel says. It’s got many of his own tunes on the mix, as well as a few remixes. “I think with any musical style you need to inject a soul into it,” he says of the mix. “I’m not interested in hearing music that doesn’t have a soul, and in all genres there’s that soulless stuff, including breaks, but you can add a lot of personality with a vocal. I play this way because they kind of end up being my tracks, my own exclusive re-working of that track. And because you’re going to be listening to it at home, what works in a club with the big bass system won’t necessarily work on your tinny little shelf system,” he adds, “so I think adding vocals / acapellas lightens it up and makes it more enjoyable.”

“I definitely enjoy writing my own tunes for the simple fact that it takes me probably as long to do my own tunes because I generally totally re-work a remix”, he says when I ask if he’s got a preference for remixes or original tunes. “Some people just take existing beats and put the sample over the top, or simply shuffle it about, where as I will turn down remixes if I feel I can’t do anything with it, turn it into one of my songs. But remixing is important, because you do learn a lot using other people’s musical parts and you can get a wider audience. I’ve just done a remix of Positiva,” he adds “and I’m really happy about that. It’s a different market and I hope I can reach out and convert a few more people to breakbeat.” He’s not afraid of having his own work remixed either. “I’m happy with what Krafty Kuts has done with Bump and Grind; he’s turned it into a bit of a monster,” he laughs.

Katalyst

Ashley Anderson has been producing music since the mid 90s. Along with fellow producer Illpickl (Michael Wright), they recorded Moonrock together, and were invited to submit songs for the Café Del Mar compilations. After Write passed away in 2001, Anderson took the moniker “Katalyst” and released a few titles that were issued on the “Dope On Plastic” series. In 2002 Anderson produced Manipulating Agent, a tour-de-force of laid back Aussie scratches and beats. Anderson sites the release of this record as one of his greatest achievements. “The way it was received, getting airplay, the reviews I got were all really positive, and that was the culmination of a few years work,” he says.

Anderson is also known for his remix work, remixing a range of artists such as Portishead, Dynamo Productions, Gift of Gab (Blackalicious) and Machine Gun Fellatio. About six months after Manipulating Agent came the remix album Agent Manipulated. “The remix album came about by quite a few people approaching me asking if I was going to do any remixes on 12 inch or whatever,” Anderson explains. “Also I didn’t get to put all the tracks I wanted to on Manipulating Agent due to running time, so I was able to put those tracks with the remixes and make a full-length release.”

The collaboration with Portishead saw Anderson strike up a friendship with the main man behind Portishead, Geoff Barrow. Seeing a gap in the market, they formed Invada Records, based both in the UK and Australia, to be able to give them “a lot of flexibility in a lot of other areas. Geoff has got his office in the UK, and that allows him to have his finger on the pulse in Europe and sign acts based over there. We have our ear to the ground here, and sign mainly Australian artists, and release them in the UK and vice-versa. We have a lot of phone contact, emails, MP3s, that kind of thing.”

Invada’s next big project is Jamaican born Australian artist R.U.Cl’s (Pronounced Ru-See-El) album Let The Music Talk. Due out the end of May, Anderson is quite thrilled by this new talent. “We’ve put a lot of time and energy into this,’ He states, “so we’re quite excited. His background means he’s got a bit of a different style for an Australian lad. He’s really talented, and we used some great producers on it, it’s quite a diverse product,” ranging in vibe from hiphop to dancehall. Anderson sees R.U.Cl being able to perhaps cross into the lucrative US market. “I think Australian hiphop is really good that is out there, but it’s not up to the standard of what’s coming out of the US,” he says guardedly. “I think it’s on par with what’s coming out of the UK and Europe, but I think the cutting edge production and most talented MCs in the world are American. America is very insular, and it’s hard to break into. But,” he continues, “the level of Aussie Hiphop is getting better and better. There’s lots of great new MCs I hear pop up on different tracks, and lots of talented young producers out there.”

You can get a taste of R.U.Cl on Katalyst’s first mix album, Dusted. This double CD contains a mix of funk, soul, hiphop and reggae, and includes some of Anderson’s all time favourite tracks. There were a few that he couldn’t get due to licensing problems, but Anderson says he expected that. “It’s not always the fact that people won’t or want stupid money for it,” he says. “It’s often a case of simply not being able to find the owners. That was the case in some of the more obscure tracks I wanted to include, which is a bit of a shame. It moved the direction of the compilation in some small way, but at the end of the day I had enough tracks anyway.” Anderson is also quick to point out the fact that it is all from vinyl isn’t an attempt to be wanky and elitist. “I didn’t mean to make a big point about it really. I was a bit paranoid about it because some of the records are a bit noisy, and it bugs me out sometimes if there’s a crackle. So I just wanted to get the point across – if there’s any surface noise don’t worry, I couldn’t help it. Plus,” he adds with a laugh, “it is all off vinyl because I don’t have many CDs.”

Many times you’ll see Katalyst performing not at hiphop events, but at big shows such as Ben Harper, and the up-coming show with Jack Johnson, Xavier Rudd, G Love and Donovan Frankenreiter. “Obviously it’s a really different vibe,” Anderson says of these shows. “I’m there to play a different role too. I enjoy the Jack Johnson shows, because it gives me a chance to play different sorts of tunes that I feel I wouldn’t at a ‘Katalyst’ show in a club with a dancefloor vibe. I like to break up the sets, because they’re usually similar sounding kind of acts in the bigger picture, so it’s kind of nice to mix up different flavours for the audience in between them. I guess some members of the audience can’t relate to it, but if it broadens the mind of a few of the members who are there to see Jack and Xavier then that’s a good thing,” he beams.

Crackpot

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

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.”

Resin Dogs

Resin Dogs seem to be one of Australia’s most well loved live acts. Hailing from sunny Brisbane, they seem to bring the party vibe to wherever they visit, whether it’s a small club like the now defunct Minke bar here in Adelaide, to playing to thousands at Livid and Big Day Out. We caught up with Katch, the DJ of the crew, to talk about what they’ve been doing recently and about their coming tour.

He mentions it’s very hot in Queensland, and also says, nonchalantly, that he’s been “doing a lot of office shit – the record label and that. It’s very interesting; running the record label is an interesting and intriguing part of being in a band. I’m just learning the ropes of all that, dealing with getting stuff out and deadlines. You gotta know what’s going on with your business or else your fucked,” he laughs.

Speaking of the record label, they’ve been rather quiet of late, with no new signings but a few “potentials”. But don’t let that fool you into thinking it’s a bad sign… quite the contrary, with acts like Katalyst and Downsyde supporting some of the bigger hiphop events around Australia. “I think Katalyst and Downsyde getting huge exposure is great, more of it!” Katch enthuses, “for that style of music as well as the acts.” I mention that I’ve heard the Resin Dogs on our ‘different’ Triple M. “I didn’t even know Triple M played our stuff. Wow, this is great!” he exclaims. Wondering if this extra radio play will impact on the group, Katch is, as I expect, unfussed. “Just means more people are going to hear it,” he says, probably with a wry smile.

On problem with becoming commercial is being pigeonholed and labelled. Katch is rather philosophical about this. “If it helps sell “that thing” to “that person”, you know what I mean, it’s just a description thing. If it helps sell it to the audience to help them get an understanding [of what we’re about] I guess its OK. To me it’s all beats, uptempo, downtempo, whatever. We are a “party” band,” he adds, referring to the classification of the Resin Dogs being ‘party hiphop’, “we like people to have fun, but if we want to tell people about the reign of terror and stuff like that we can bring that along as well. But labels are labels these days – there’s so many brands of t-shirts but it still just a t-shirt. This might sound wanky,” he laughs, “but even if you’ve made one person change, at least you’ve made a change. I’ve had people come up and say “you’ve started me getting into DJing” and stuff. And I feel sorry for them, because now they’re going to spend all their money on records,” he chuckles again.

Talk moves away from the “business side” into the makeup of the band for this tour. I had heard that the band rarely practices, and was rather astonished that they could sound so good together live. “Sometimes there’s no rehearsals,” Katch agrees. “When we brought Abstract Rude out we had a couple of rehearsals, to get him used to our songs, so he knew what he was doing and wouldn’t be walking into it blind and put on the spot. If there’s time we’ll do it, but most of the people we tour with have a fair idea of the songs.” The line up is quite variable, featuring different session players and different guests, ensuring a different experience each time. “We try and keep the main core of the band of course,” Katch says, “but we bring guest acts out who we’ve worked with, or like to work with, friends of ours from interstate and what not.”

Collaboration seems to be a big part of the Resin Dogs vibe, and they’ve collaborated with DJ Ransom, Ben Ely from Regurgitator, Abstract Rude, Lazy Grey from Brothers Stoney, Mad Doctor X, Kenny Dope, Barry Ashworth of the Dub Pistols and more recently The Pharcyde, Jungle Brothers and the wonderful vocal talents of the UK’s Spikey Tee, who’s on tour with them. “We’ve collaborated through the record company ringing up saying ‘we’ve got a bunch of people who you may be interested in working with’”, Katch explains. “Our first record was produced by Robert Reed from Trouble Funk because the record company said “you sound like these guys, maybe you should contact this dude” The Pharcyde were hooked up that way too… We’ve even simply looked at peoples records, found phone numbers on records and got in touch through that. It’s amazing”, he says, “you find records and they have numbers are for the actual artist, because they’re underground or whatever, and it’s quite a buzz!”

Talking about Spikey Tee brings up my favourite topic, sampling. We talk about the impending trade agreement with the USA and what impact that may have on Australia’s recording industry, especially those groups that use samples. “It’s what you do with samples,” Katch says. “People take huge chunks and are oblivious to the whole thing, and there’s those who take it and chop it up and make it their own. If you contact the right people and get proper usage it’s all fine. Sometimes the whole art of sampling is ‘can they find it’ in the first place, a game of deception.” I wondered if the difficulty in clearing samples was the reason why there are two versions of Adore You, one with the original singer Queen Adreena, the other with the aforementioned Spikey T. “It was partly because yeah, fuck, this is going to be a big nightmare clearing this, so it’s like a cover version. But mainly it was the fact that he could sing the part. He had these solo records out on Grand Central, and his vocals just spun me out. When he came out, I think it was 2002, I introduced myself, and we’ve kept in touch since. When he came out to do the Livid festival last year, they hung out with us for a few weeks at the Studio, and one day I just asked him ‘do you want to sing this, coz I reckon a male version of Adore You could be good’. So we got it done.”

As time was quickly running out, although it felt like we could have chatted all night, things turned to the impending gig. Katch is definitely looking forward to coming to Adelaide. “I’ve had some wicked nights at there,” he says wickedly, speaking of times fondly remembered at Minke. “Small and intimate is good, but sometimes it gets too hot,” he says. “The Big Day Out and that you know, are just massive. Good crowds and a massive audience to appeal to, but they both have their merits. If I had to I’d play in front of one person, or one hundred thousand it doesn’t really matter, I’d still play my best,” he adds.

French Maid Alliance

The French Maid Alliance consists of a bunch of mates, some of whom are some musical performers, some just regular punters, who know what they want in a good night out. Dale Tiver is the main organiser, and we spoke to him about the coming party simply called “Blind”, which is supporting the Royal Society of the Blind. The name French Maid Alliance is a nod to the Adelaide rave party crews. “You know the ones with super cool mechanoid Lego men, Transformer logos, and the like. I wanted to turn that on its ear a little bit and make it all about fun”, Dale says cheekily. “‘The French Maid Alliance’ just makes people do a double take, and I hope it encourages people to find out what we’re about.”

So what, exactly is the French Maid Alliance about? “I have had strong ties in the local club/music scene for years,” Dale begins. “I hosted an event just over a year ago called Deliverance with MK-1 and Yoshi, and I had a French Maid giving out free chupa chups, CDs and other treats all night. It was a night where I called in a lot of favours from friends and did everything I could to make it feel like a party, not just a regular club night. For some time I’ve been searching for a formula that could turn the love I and many of my fellow party organisers have into something completely positive,” he continues. “A night that supports musical talent over the established pecking order, and was more about having a good time rather than making money. After spending some time with Rotary, it dawned on me that fundraising for a charity was the perfect way to go.”

Organising any party is hard work, and organising one for charity must be quite a chore. Dale says: “in my experience people don’t mind giving their time to help others if it is well organised. When I put pen to paper and realised what I could create by channelling even a small portion of Adelaide’s musical talent into a charity event, I started the search for my charity. The Royal Society for the Blind were the first organisation I thought of and right from my first approach, they were completely supportive. They agreed that the use of French Maids and other fun devices was the perfect way to counter the stigma that charity events ‘can’t be fun’. They made available all their useful contacts and have been involved in approving every step in the promotional process.”

As for past charity events, the Adelaide dance community has strongly shown it’s support for this event, with all DJs and performers donating their time for free, and others offering free advertising. For example, DJ C1 and Noddy have designed all the flyers and magazine artwork. “There was a lot of work involved in that,” Dale says, “and they deserve credit for the time they gave for nothing”. Further support comes from the kind people at Cadbury/Schweppes and Diageo (the company that distributes Smirnoff/Archers) who Dale says, “have been great from the outset. Both have donated free stock and their time. As a result there will be a launch for a new Archers product on the night and the first 400 heads on entry will receive an Archers drink, Pepsi and a chupa chup”. Other help has come from Blake at Traffic for providing the venue, and “the rest are all my good friends from Adelaide Massive website (www.adelaidemassive.com). There are a lot of little things to do for a show of this size and I can’t thank them enough,” Dale adds.

Dale’s strongest musical passions lie in drum and bass, breakbeat and live funky acts, so that’s what will be represented at the first party. Yes, Dale has already decided to do some more shows for charity at a variety of different venues, to keep the idea fresh and fun. “To be honest, there are a couple of acts that couldn’t do this show due to other commitments and I can’t wait to roll out the next show,” he says enthusiastically. “I hope to be able to organise these kinds of shows three or four times a year. I have four or five venues I’d like to try, a long list of charities I’d like to assist, and a heck of a lot of talented musical performers I’d like to big up. Hopefully Adelaide gets behind the whole ‘having fun that helps people idea’… I think it’s a winner!” he adds.

The live area inside will consist of Kumfy Klub regulars the New White Sneakers and The Break, playing live funk. Mojo favourites and SA Dance Music Awards Best Live Act 2003 Hooligan Soul, and The Jupiter Sound Project will be performing live Drum n Bass with live vocals, live instruments including Saxophone and Classical Guitar. MC Hype and his brother Piers will do some beatboxing to alongside DJs John Doe, Lachlan Pender and Funky J, performing breaks sets. Techno will feature early in the night care of Fenetik and DJ Anarki, and Mal Chia.

The outside area has the cream of the Adelaide DnB crop, including the SADMA award winners MPK, Patch and Noddy, Canada’s DJ Static, Drumsounds C1, 5158 record guru Mark 7, D-Jon, inbound’s Filter and Fiction, Altitude’s Jayar, Adelaide’s producer extraordinaire Skyver, Turbine’s Khem and Ozone, Rukkas’ Phink, alongside Adelaide Massive favourites Solace, Lucas, Frost, Harass, IQ, Del, Trucker, and Spark. Lyrical accompaniment will be provided by MCs G-Swift, Pab, Stryke, Pase, Mennan, XPress, and Mission.

Also, thanks to the performers and the kind donations of many others, a team of highly skilled French Maids lead by Tasma will also be working very hard at giving out free CDs, tickets to up coming parties, lollies, fruit platters, and many other freebies throughout the night. They will also take care of any dusting that may become necessary! Visual effects will be provided by Yasmin, with Fire Twirling by Toby. There will also be special guest appearances and prices for best dressed and most enthusiastic are also on the cards!

Josie Styles

Given the atrocious state of American Hiphop, is it any wonder that Australian groups like the Resin Dogs, 1200 Techniques and Adelaide’s own Hilltop Hoods are getting tremendous support from not only local radio, but Triple J and even Triple M! Hot on the hills of the Hilltop Hoods release comes Straight From the Art, a wonderful representation of Aussie hiphop complied by Sydney DJ and radio personality Josie Styles. Styles is one colourful young woman, and very passionate about her music. So passionate she ambushed Warner’s attempt to get a well-known and respected Sydney R&B DJ to compile this CD. “Australian hiphop means a little bit more to me than the thought of an RnB DJ putting a record such as this out, so I thought I’d take control, and put out a decent compilation,” she laughs, “They should learn from their last mistakes, have someone who is involved in the scene put it together.”

Collecting records since the early 90s, Styles only started DJing around the traps in 1998 after a friend firmly persuaded her to give it a go. “A friend of mine was running a night in Sydney called Hippo, and he said ‘Josie, I’m sick of watching you play tunes in your bedroom all the time, get out there!’ and I’m like ‘nah, I’m not good enough to play out yet!’”, she giggles, “But he made me because I had wicked tunes. Now I play regularly, and write for Stealth magazine and have my own radio show.”

Styles has a good grasp on what’s hot and what’s not, having worked as a DJ both in clubs and on radio, as well as in music retail. So why does she think Australian Hiphop is becoming more popular? “I would say through with the advent of things like Stealth Magazine, which is getting distribution through tower records; things like the Triple J hiphop show, (aussie hiphop) has been able to cross over to a more mainstream audience. Even though Triple J don’t necessarily play all the right hiphop tracks,” she adds cheekily. She also shares my distaste for American Rap, or RnB. “It’s some… homogenous blend of hiphop and rnb. I have friends in the “Stop RnB killing hiphop” movement in Sydney,” she laughs, “and it’s true, it’s fucking horrid!”

Styles thinks Australia’s raw, underground sound is distinctive and becoming more popular over the mass marketed, over produced sounds of popular American rap. “I think it comes down to the studio equipment. The sound that comes from America is totally different form that out of the UK or here. Their drums, their mics, everything is on a million dollar scale, whereas here it’s more street level, with people making shit in their bedrooms. It’s a little rawer, grittier. People can just sample American hiphop records if they want to emulate that round American drum sound, whereas I think our shit is phatter and grittier and rougher and rawer, and that’s the way I like my sound.” I touched a nerve when I mentioned that some people don’t like the Aussie accent though. “If people don’t have an open mind then I don’t want to deal with them”, she states matter of factly. “I don’t want our shit to be watered down just for accessibility; fuck ‘em! The argument’s been going for over ten years now, and I’m sick of it. As long as you rap how you speak and as from where you’re from, that should be fine.”

I asked Styles if she thinks our hiphop scene will go the way of the American scene. “As long as we don’t fall into the same trap and become bland. I can’t see that happening, there’s such heterogeneity within the genre itself, which I tried to reflect on the album through so many different styles. There’s the cut and paste style of Terrafirma and Blunted Stylus, and the straight up hardcore style of Layla, The Cannibal Tribe and Jobi One, the beautiful organic sounds of Quro, Muskrat & Mostyn.” Styles is also quite aware of the American underground hiphop scene. “I say thank the lord they came out!” she exclaims, laughingly, “because it’s those sorts of cats like Aceyalone, Lifesavers and Soul Position and that that are actually renewing my faith in American hiphop. It’s been lost for so long! All that Def Jux is dope, Stone’s Throw is dope, all those sorts of labels I’m really into.”

Another aspect of Australian culture that reflects on our hiphop scene is our love of live music. The popularity of events like the Big Day Out, The Falls, and sell-out visits by Public Enemy, Jurassic 5 and Cyprus Hill last year more than demonstrates our love of live music. And a lot of the acts that are getting radio play such as The Resin Dogs, Downsyde, and The Hilltop Hoods, are also getting gigs as support acts to these events. “When you do live gigs, that’s when people start to recognise you”, Styles agrees. “Everyone knows that you’ve got to do gigs so that you’ll get known and people buy your records. Seeing hiphop bands live, there’s such an incredible energy at the shows that you want to go out and get the record to capture that moment again. We will hopefully be having a tour to promote the CD,” she adds, and given the amount of South Australian acts on the CD, we’ll get to see it.

“If you look on the CD there’s 5 or 6 Adelaide artists on there, they’re all my boys”, she says. “I really respect the Adelaide sound, I think they’re really funky producers. Suffa is an amazing producer, so are the boys from Terra Firma, Delta is an incredible beat digger, producer and the most incredible MC this country has ever seen, I reckon, especially as a freestyler. Some people may not get the complexity of his lyrics but that’s because they’re so many levels deep.” There’s also a hefty amount of female artists on the album, and I asked Styles if she felt any pressure as a female in a male dominated culture. “It’s as hard as it is for any females anywhere when you’re in a patriarchal subculture, whether it’s in science or in music,” she says. “If you’re up against a lot of men then there’s a lot to overcome, self confidence would be the biggest and hardest. But if you’ve got the skills and you’re ready, get out there and do it; it shouldn’t matter if you’re a girl or a boy it all comes down to the skills. The fact that I’ve got 5 females on my CD wasn’t intentional, it’s because they’re dope tracks, and a dope track is a dope track no matter who it’s by… and no matter what country it’s from either.”

Styles happily informs me that Layla’s Maverick has been picked up by Triple J, and that while there’s no international release for this album, the next one will definitely have a European release. So keep an eye out in stores for this excellent release on both CD and vinyl, and check out snippets of all the tunes and the video of 7 Dayz of Herb by Mas Production featuring Seanie-T at www.empiricalrecords.com.au

 

Yumi Stynes

Yumi Stynes is the lucky “hostess with the mostest” of Channel [V]’s Room 208. Juggling a career in television and a young child, this cute, happy, energetic young woman’s story is the stuff of legends. One day she’s making sandwiches in a Melbourne takeaway – the next moment she’s being kissed by Robbie Williams live on national television. Now hosting TXTr, Australia’s first live SMS request show, and Room 208, which is going on the road with an all-ages event, we talked to her about her career and the show.

Stynes had some idea of what she was going to be in for when she was picked in Channel [V]’s “search for a reporter” contest. “I used to host radio shows for 4 years while at uni, and worked at a radio station in the Torres Strait Islands for about a year. And I used to do other things here and there like make music videos for friends and stuff,” she says. Her first time on air was “pretty scary… I can’t really remember it. I remember that I thought that all I could do was try my absolute hardest, or I’d hate myself if I didn’t give it my all… I know it sounds pretty wanky, but that’s how I felt. I had to completely lose myself, forget about being inhibited and being coy, just grab it by the balls and have a laugh doing it.”

Losing herself is something she’s become adept at, judging by her on air escapades. “I’m kind of immune to embarrassment now,” she laughs. “I got hypnotised once. That was pretty bizarre. I ended up dancing pretending like I was Madonna.” Another time the camera zoomed out to find her on top of someone’s shoulders at the Big Day Out. “He was just some guy I asked ‘can I sit on your shoulders?’” she giggles. “Covering the Big Day Out this year was pretty awesome. We had free range of the venue, and we had technology that meant as long as we could see the broadcast van, which was on top of a hill, we could broadcast from anywhere in the festival”, she says. “And it was just the most exciting thing to know there were thousands of people watching, and we were bringing them something you don’t really see very often – that really raw, high energy you get within a rock festival”.

Sometimes when people get positions in TV by winning contests, there’s a certain animosity towards them. Not at Channel [V]. “Most of the people who work at V aren’t frustrated presenters, they’re there because they want to be,” she says. “It was really a massive thing for every one at the channel. It was a huge endeavour that everyone had to pitch in with, so they were all invested in it, and when James (Mathison) and I got the job they all thought that we were their ‘babies’”, she says, laughing.

Stynes hosts the show TXTr, Australia’s first live SMS show. “We get great SMS’s on the show TXTr. They’re always really, really clever. We did a Father’s Day special, and we were asking what advice their father’s gave them, which was kind of an open topic – people could take it how they wanted. There were a lot of straight forward responses, but heaps of really black ones, like “my dad was always too drunk to give me advice”, and “Fuck you Dad, happy Fuckers day!” You get the whole gamut of intelligence and age groups and seriousness,” she adds. “My favourite one was one after Enrique Englasius got his mole cut off, and as a TXTr topic we had “What did Enrique do with his mole?” People who texted us had hilarious answers, like ‘it was going to be the major prize on the next big brother’, and another one was ‘he chopped it up and made guacamole with it’” she giggles.

Her other hosting job is Room 208, which got it’s name from one of those corporate ‘brainstorm’ weekends. “Well, with Channel [V] everyone just parties, plays loud music and gets silly”, she says. “At this conference, everyone went back to Jabba’s room. People were flicking the lights and having fun dancing to loud music, and someone came up with the idea that we should do a show that was “just like that”. It sounds like one of those ridiculous ideas that never goes anywhere, but somebody remembered it the next day…” And Jabba’s room number was of course, Room 208.

If you’ve never seen the show, it’s kind of like Soul Train for the chemical generation, and it’s quite funny to watch. Stynes describes it as “it’s like a party on TV, but there’s a competitive element where the best dancer takes home $1000”. Stynes thinks the Karaoke segment is the funniest, and says, “There’s times we can’t talk on air because we’re laughing so much. We like it because it gets played back pretty soon after filming, so we can kick back without being sweaty and hot and crazy and watch it and laugh. But at the same time we’re there with them. The people at home do have that distance so they can take the piss.”

There have been times in the past where off handed remarks can cause trouble, as Stynes discovered. “There was this large girl dancing, and Mike (Kerry) says to me ‘What would you call that move?’ and I said ‘I think that’s the horny lesbian,’” she giggles nervously. “But even before the show was over, the girl comes up to me with tears in her eyes and says ‘I’ve got family members watching – I come from a Greek Orthodox family… do you have any idea what you have just done?’ and I was like ‘Awwww… Fuck!’ It was awful – I didn’t mean for it to be taken badly”.

Last time Room 208 toured, they shot the footage and edited it back in the studio, but this time it’s being filmed and mixed live. “We’re trying to get the essence of each city we visit”, Stynes says, “and it’s going to be massive. The studio is smaller than it appears; it’s really the size of a large bedroom, and the clubs we’re visiting have quadruple the capacity,” Stynes says excitedly. “Adelaide was one of the most successful dates on the last tour. The people were just mad for it,” she says, “Absolutely hyped!” and she hopes this time people will be just as keen.

1200 Techniques

1200 Techniques burst onto the scene in 1998 with their track “Hard as Hell”, and built a following with energetic live shows and solid releases that crossed the boundaries of funk, soul and hiphop, with a uniquely Australian edge. DB magazine spoke to their MC, Nfamas, about the upcoming tour with Kut Master Kurt, and about the nature of Australian music today.

Nfamas got into hiphop when he was a kid, with his brother who also used to be part of the group until he moved in 1999. “We started to emulate early rappers. Like other kids who were into basketball and who all wanted to be Michael Jordan, we wanted to be MCs,” he says. People like LL Cool J, Chuck D, KRS 1, De La Soul, Big Daddy Kane, and Ice T were all targets of the duo’s admiration. “ We’d be taking their rhymes and re-writing them making them our own way. We used to go all over town to breakdance and DJ places, just building a base of knowledge and connections. All through high school I was into that, and when I left high school I made a conscious decision that I wanted to be an MC. It sounds kinda absurd but I really believed it could happen. Then I moved to Melbourne and everything is working out.”

1200 Techniques came about from Nfamas and his brother moving to Melbourne. “I was going around to bars and stuff. I knew a couple of dudes through my brother who played in really good funk bands, and I used to get up and play and MC with them, and one of them said “you gotta check out these two MCs from Perth, they’re really good” and that, hooked us up with DJ Peril,” he says. “Me and my brother were doing our own thing and doing our own beats, and we tried some stuff with Peril his vibe was different and good, so we started working with him. It was really casual, we’d get together every three, four or five months, make a track, and mid to late 1998 we did that ‘Hard As Hell’ track with Kemstar on guitar. We started using guitars on every track after that. Then my Brother left in 1999, and realised in about 2000 “shit, we’ve got a record”, went around to record companies, and ended up by accident with rubber records.”

I think the term accident is a little misleading, as Nfamas is quite a determined person. “I don’t think you can think anything (about a career), just look at it as something to work towards,” he says of his popularity. He also has a lot to say about hiphop’s popularity. “I think the scene here is very real, quite raw, and quite demanding. You have to be really on top of your game to get respect here, which I think is good, makes a good breeding ground. There’s a lot of MCs coming up now, and there are a lot of good people making music and people getting into the whole hiphop thing right now, and I think there’s quite a few dudes who are about to get notoriety not only in Australia but overseas. I think in the next few years you’ll see a big change, as young kids these days instead of looking to rock are now listening to hiphop, than the majority of kids when I was growing up. You’ll find a lot of people becoming really good at rhyming and that. Australia has a lot of good rock bands, and rock engineers, and you’ll see that changing through hiphop.”

“The overseas market is getting really big here. People like eminem have helped it blow up so much, because I guess people can relate to him, and makes the big companies go, “oh shit, we can make big money off of this”. They don’t care what music is big if it makes money and if its hiphop and that’s cool, as long as it doesn’t get bastardised.” What does he mean by bastardised? “I think there’s potential for a lot of Australian groups put on an Australian accent, and aren’t as ‘Australian’ as they act. I don’t have the full on ‘occa’ “How ya goin’ mate!”. I just rap how I rap. Koolism, Downsyde, Hilltop Hoods, they all have their style; it’s not typically Australian or US or British,” he says. “The most important thing (about rapping) is not the accent but the rhythm patterns. If MCs have hot rhythm patterns people are going to like it anyway. If you’ve got sick rhythm patterns you’ve got it made. I’ve heard MCs with really sick words that kill mine, but their rhythms are un-enticing and you don’t want to listen to them.”

Their latest tune ‘Eye of the Storm’ is quite soulful in parts, particularly the chorus, and I wondered if it was deliberate or not. “All our stuff has that soul vibe”, he states. “I like a lot of soul music and it’s always going to come out in our work. It all happens as I write. The chorus I had in my head for a while, I just hadn’t worked out where I was going to use it, and then ‘bang’ that was the spot, and it worked out nice! We just finished the video which should be on Channel V and that soon”. Along with the new single, they’re about to tour with Kut Masta Kurt, who has never toured here before. “Mainly we got him out so we can see the show ourselves,” Nfamas laughs. “He’s a legendary producer and DJ, and will educate people in his ways. We’re not trying to piss people off by not touring with Australian acts, we’re trying to introduce something new to the people,” he adds.

Eye of the Storm is the first single of 1200 Techniques next album, which should be out October with the title ‘Consistency Theory’.