INTERVIEW: Sola Rosa

by Chris Familton

Though Sola Rosa continues to be an increasingly collaborative project, the signature sound still comes from Andrew Spraggon who has been on the New Zealand music scene for two decades, predominately as Sola Rosa but also early on as the singer and guitarist for indie rock band Cicada. The transition from guitars to samplers came at a time when he was running out of ideas in the rock realm and increasingly turning to the type of jazz and soul infused electronica that UK producers like DJ Food and Red Snapper were creating.

“When Cicada started out I was an indie rock kid really and I listened to Public Enemy and stuff like that but I was primarily into the rock stuff. As time went on I got more and more into things like the series of Dope on Plastic compilations that were a bunch of producers making funky modern dance music and I got into those and psychedelic and jazz music and I started changing my focus really,” explains Spraggon.

Over the course of five albums Sola Rosa has developed from instrumental jazz funk excursions to a fully fledged nu-soul, beat driven electronic outfit who have developed a reputation for their live act as strong as that of their recorded output. When it came to the recording of Low and Behold, High and Beyond Spraggon was determined to use the talents of some of New Zealand’s top musicians and arrangers which, as he explains, meant that the recording process was often a fractious one.

“We did all the drums over two days in a studio. We did strings in one day and horns in another session. It was kind of scattered really. I’d love to go into a studio and spend ages doing everything at once but it is too hard getting everyone you want to work with int the same place at the same time. Julian Dyne is my favourite drummer in the country and I only had a couple of days to get him in the studio so you have to do it when you can. Scott Towers (Fat Freddy’s Drop) who did the string arrangements and Victoria Kelly who did the strings, they are in my opinion the best in the country at what they do. Sometimes you have to sit around waiting for people if you really want to work with them. You have to work on their clock.”

The international success of Sola Rosa has seen a number of visits to Europe and America and as with many acts from this part of the world there is always the temptation to relocate to the northern hemisphere to be closer to those larger markets. “We may go and live in the States next year, even for six months or a year. At this stage it is hard to tell if we will do that yet. We wouldn’t be going there in the hope that things would take off, we’d go because things are already happening.” Spraggon is aware of the pros and cons of making such a move and already the demand is there yet the scale of the commitment for the band and their families makes it a difficult one. “We are getting great shows and good fees and it feels right to maybe do it. We’d only do it with careful planning. I’ve got a family now so if I can’t take  them over and make it work then its not worth doing.”

In the meantime Spraggon is looking forward to bringing Sola Rosa back to Australia to proudly showcase the new album. “Most of the time we have really great shows and that is what we’ve built our reputation on and why we’re at the level we are at.”

this interview was first published in Drum Media

 

AUSTRALIA TOUR NEWS: Madlib Medicine Show to tour in October

Fans of left of centre hip hop, funk, soul and jazz will be excited about the return to Australia of Madlib this October. He will also be bringing along J Rocc (World Famous Beat Junkies) and Egon (Stones Throw/Now-Again) as part of his Madlib Medicine Show.

  • 25th October – Coniston Lane – Brisbane  – tix via Moshtix
  • 26th October – The Metro Theatre – Sydney – tix via Metro Theatre
  • 27th October – The Bakery – Perth – tix via The Bakery
  • 28th October – Prince Bandroom – Melbourne – tix via Prince Bandroom

All tickets on sale Thursday, August 30th, 9am.

 

 

NEWS: The line-up for Meredith Music Festival 2012

The first list of acts performing at this year’s Meredith Music Festival in Victoria has been announced and as usual it looks to be a great mix of electronic, psychedelia, rock and hip hop. Check out our Rdio playlist featuring bands appearing at the event that takes place from December 7-9th.

There is a ballot happening so if you want to increase your chance of being allocated a ticket you need to head to www.mmf.com.au before 10pm Tuesday 21 August. Round One has been drawn and results hit inboxes Wednesday 15 August. Round Two results out Thursday 23 August.

 

NEWS: 2012 Vivid LIVE Festival Program Announced…

This year the Sydney Opera House based festival Vivid LIVE has done away with a guest curator, in the past using Lou Reed & Laurie Anderson, Brian Eno and others. From 2012 onward the festival will be overseen by the Sydney Opera House’s programming team, led by Head of Contemporary Music, Fergus Linehan as Festival Director.

The full line-up for this year has been announced today and it feels like there is a decidedly contemporary if not futuristic angle to much of the music.

  • Karen O and KK Barrett’s Stop the Virgens
  • Florence+the Machine
  • The Temper Trap
  • Sufjan Stevens, Nico Muhly, and Bryce Dessner
  • Janelle Monae and the Anchandroid Orchestra
  • Amon Tobin’s ISAM
  • Efterklang and the Sydney Symphony Orchestra
  • PVT
  • LCD Soundsystem’s Shut Up & Play The Hits (Australian Film Premiere)
  • My Brightest Diamond
  • Seekae
  • Nights Like This w/ Danny Brown and MED
  • Modular Night w/ Tom Vek, Jonathan Boulet, and Kindness
  • FBI/Penny Drop Party w/ Zola Jesus, Light Asylum, and Forces
  • Imogen Heap
  • Good God Danceteria!
  • Future Classic Party – line-up TBA

Vivid LIVE takes place at the Sydney Opera House 25th May – 3rd June 2012.

NEWS: Hallelujah Picassos release compilation…

Hallelujah Picassos were one of the most original, visceral and genre mashing bands to come out of Auckland, New Zealand in the early 90s. They combined reggae, lovers rock, punk, dub, hip hop and garage rock with the end result being an overwhelming live experience. Frontman Roland Rorschach, bassist Johnnie Pain, guitarist Peter McLennan and drummer/singer Bobbylon were something of a musical history lesson for young kids growing up in New Zealand, giving them an entry point into a diverse array of genres, pointing the way for them to make their own discoveries about 70s Jamaican dub, New York hip hop and US hardcore. Roland always seemed like a mysterious figure whether he was serving coffee at Cafe DKD, striding along the city streets or prowling the stage like a caged panther.

Rewind the Hateman is released October 31st. For more info head to http://picassocore.blogspot.com/

Tracklisting

1 Lovers +
2 Black spade picasso core
3 Crack dub
4 Snakeman’s cry
5 Bastardiser
6 Sister Stacy
7 Hello Pablo
8 Shivers
9 God gave us Boom Boom Washington
10 Hateman
11 Rewind
12 Drinking with Judas
13 U+I
14 Glue
15 I want you to be my million/Happy go lucky girl
16 Smokin and fumin
17 Yardy
18 Seven stripes of the Maumau

LIVE REVIEW: The Bamboos @ Manning Bar, Sydney (20/05/11)

written by Chris Familton

Melbourne’s The Bamboos have been laying down the funk for a decade now and to celebrate they had a hometown birthday blow-out before bringing the party to Sydney. Bands don’t mark these milestones as often as they should so it was was great chance for newcomers to check out why The Bamboos are so highly rated and for the fans to celebrate a band still at the peak of their powers.

Paper Plane Project opened with an impressive set that slinkily bounced its way through hip hop, latin, electro and soul styles. They sounded futuristic and funky in a relaxed way even when they were digging back into sounds that were popularised years earlier. At times they threatened to settle too comfortably into cafe beats but managed to keep the sound tight enough and the grooves supple enough to deal out a very cool set.

The Psyde Projects were another kettle of fish. They ditched the understated cool angle and rocked a solid set of party tunes that kept bringing to mind those magic years in the 80s where hip hop sounded fresh and uncomplicated. Mr Moonshine was solid on all manner of instruments while MCs ILResponce and D’Fro spat rapid fire rhymes that ranged from the disposable comic lines to some world class lyrical dexterity.

The Bamboos then took the evening to another level that combined supreme musicianship, eminently danceable rhythms and a semi-detached cool that could have come across as aloof and cocky but instead was humbly affable. For two hours the band segued seamlessly between songs as if they were DJ’ing their own songs. The instrumental tracks they opened with set them up as young Melbournian take on James Brown’s Famous Flames before singer Kylie Auldist joined them and showed why she is so highly regarded with her infectious stage presence and a voice ranging from sweet serenade to bluesy holler. Being their birthday they dug into all parts of their six album discography including covers of Kings of Leon’s King of the Rodeo and the funk classic Tighten Up.  It isn’t often you see a band play with such precision and skill for a sustained period and though their set felt twenty minutes too long they still had the dancefloor moving right to the end. The Bamboos showed they don’t intend easing up on the funk anytime soon.

this review first appeared in The Drum Media (Sydney)