Category Archives: music

interviewed | On the couch with Constantinople

For nearly twenty years the ensemble Constantinople have explored musical diversity through the lens of ‘East meets West’, an ever changing melting pot, much like the city after which they are named.

We sat on the couch with Kiya Tabassian and Ablaye Cissoko backstage at WOMAD NZ.

Read our review and check out photographs from WOMAD NZ 2018.

interviewed | Troublemaker Andrew Papas

Trying to break away from a boy band image can be daunting, particularly when you were part of a double-platinum group that has toured internationally and opened for the likes of Jason Derulo and Mariah Carey. However, Andrew Papas has done just that and succeeded.

A former member of Titanium (NZ’s second boy band), Andrew called it quits in 2015 and set out on his own journey to become a solo artist. A year later, he released his debut single, ‘Burn it Down’. Setting the bar high, the single, produced by Vince Harder, charted well in NZ but also gained traction in across the ditch; reaching 18th position in the Australian Viral Chart on Spotify.

Andrew had a near impossible task to follow up with another successful single – one he’s accomplished with his latest hit, ‘Troublemaker’. A truly nostalgic track for anyone who grew up listening to 80’s greats, Troublemaker is a fun, 80’s pop single, filled hooks and infectious beats. It debuted at No. 2 in the New Zealand Heatseekers Charts and also reached No. 2 in the NZ Viral Charts on Spotify.

We caught up with Andrew before the release of the Troublemaker video; a fun, feel-good 3 minutes. Watch it here.

What was the inspiration for your latest single?
The idea for Troublemaker was to write a fun song about losing yourself in the moment and having fun. It’s based on a boy-meets-girl scenario where I’m trying to convince her to live in the moment and not think about the potential consequences we have to face tomorrow… could maaaaybe be an experience of my own?

When was the last time you forgot your responsibilities and just lived in the moment? What did you do?
I like to plan my days so I find it really hard to just forget everything and let loose but recently I went to Europe and my first stop was Milan. Had no idea where I was and had no plans to do anything as it was only for the night. Ended up walking the streets until the early hours of the morning getting lost. Randomly stumbled across the best carbonara and gelato I had ever tasted in my entire life. Usually, I would have made myself a strict itinerary to follow minute-by-minute but this time I just followed the streets and where the people were. There’s something really awesome about not being able to understand anyone around you, kind of forces you to focus on other things that you would usually look past.

How did you meet Josh and Djeisan?
We met after my managers set up our first studio session together but going in I already knew of both their work and they knew of mine. They’re both really great guys and I feel really honoured to now be working with them.

Are there plans to collaborate with others on any of the tracks?
We have so many awesome New Zealand artists it would be hard to choose. I’d love to collaborate on a track with Kings though. I think he’s really talented. And also Theia. She’s got such a unique voice and I love her writing style.

Is there a full album already in the works? When will that be coming out?
Nothing confirmed yet but that’s the next step. At the moment it’s just writing, writing, writing. The more songs I can churn out the better odds of writing a bunch of hits.

What has the transition been like from boy band member to solo artist?
At first, it was kinda lonely traveling or recording in the studio or even on set for a music video. Not all bad though because now if I get an idea of what I want to write about or what I want my video to look like, for example, I don’t have to check if everyone else likes my idea, I can just do it.

For those who have never heard of you before, how would you describe your sound?
It’ definitely pop but, I’m not afraid to really hit a high note in full voice. Troublemaker specifically has a bit of an 80s vibe to it, which we kinda just stumbled across.

What song would best describe the story of your life?
Feeling Good, the version by Michael Bublé. I love that song. I’m pretty fortunate to have experienced a lot of awesome opportunities cant help but “feel good” about my life and where I’m at, at the moment. I also just love all those classic jazz songs. They seem to really move me in a way some other songs just don’t.

Will you be going out on the road this year?
It’s early days so I’m just getting my set together and getting everything in line. I have a few ideas on where I want to be this year but you’ll have to keep an eye on my social media for the announcements.

Finally, what’s next for you?
More writing, touring and eventually word domination Haha! I want to be the best I can be and to make a name for myself internationally so I can tour the world.

Find ‘Troublemaker’ on SPOTIFY and ITUNES.

been | WOMAD New Zealand 2018

Once a year, New Plymouth transforms from an idyllic, picturesque city near middle Earth, into the globe’s largest platform for World Music – WOMAD festival. The three-day festival returned from 16-18 March, with performers, arts and crafts,ad and cuisines from across the world. There were performers from six of the seven continents on earth, all with a common goal; making music, the universal language.

Day one opened with a bang with Brazilian collective, Bixiga 70 (interview coming soon!). Their progressive Afrobeats set the tone for days to come and got the crowd on their feet. We kept going until Thievery Corporation who closed on the Bowl stage with their fusion of sounds – with everything from Jazz to Indian classic, Middle Eastern and electronica; they were the perfect way to close the day and had the masses dancing to their to their tune.

Brazilian collective, Bixiga 70

Thievery Corporation

Auckland 5-piece, The Miltones made their WOMAD debut on the Brooklands stage. Wearing Brook Tyson (as mentioned in our #SFS chat), front-woman Milly Tabak owned the stage and seduced the crowd with her sultry tones. Their bluesy, folk rock ballads were a hit with the crowd that had gathered for this early set.

The Miltones

Over at the Taste the World stage, Ghanaian goddess, Jojo Abot cooked up a remix of a traditional curry. Between cutting and mixing, she offered the audience a glimpse into life growing up in Ghana and the inspiration behind her music.

Jojo Abot & Jax Hamilton

After a mesmerising show at this year’s Auckland Arts Festival (read our review), Aldous Harding’s mellifluous performance ensured she will be missed as she takes a touring break to work on her new album.

Aldous Harding

There was no time to nurse the hangover on day two with St Patrick’s Day and shades of green in full swing.

We started our day with the stunning Anoushka Shankar and her talented band. They graced the Bowl stage, euphoniously performing songs from her latest album, Land of Gold. Inspired by the Syrian War, the raw emotion behind each track was beautifully transmitted.

Anoushka Shankar

Kamasi Washington was up next. The international Jazz superstar, performed tracks from his album, The Epic. Performing with his band, we were treated to a new form of Jazz, intertwined with hip hop, RnB and progressive music.

Kamisa Washington

Jojo Abot followed later on in the day with her fierce raw enigmatic performance on the Gables stage. Her powerful voice, married with Ghanian and western beats, was the perfect blend to get the crowd jumping. Performing singles from her albums FYFYAWOTO and NGIWUNKULUNKULU, it was a performance we won’t forget easily!

Jojo Abot

Day two was headlined by Havana meets Kingston, a soundclash that joins up Roots, Reggae, Dub and dancehall with Son, Salsa and Rumba. Australian producer, Mista Savona brings together members of the Buena Vista Social Club and some of Cuba’s finest musicians to create an experience that transports you instantly to the streets of Jamaica and Cuba.

Havana meets Kingston

All good things must come to an end, and what an end it was. With a long drive back to Auckland, we only had time for one act on Day 3. We treated ourselves to Pat Thomas & Kwashibu Area Band on the Bowl stage. Their chemistry on stage was electric; transpiring through the performance and into the audience who didn’t stop moving. The hour-long performance felt like a celebration of life and was the perfect way to end our WOMAD 2018 experience.

Pat Thomas & Kwashibu Area Band

Thank you, WOMAD and Thank you, New Plymouth – we’ll be back for more next year!

Check out more photographs from our experience: Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3

Photographs by Vikesh Patel and Meenal Maharaj. All photographs were taken on a Nikon D850 #IAmNewZealand

SFS | 5 mins with Milly Tabak

The Miltones front-woman Milly Tabak took a break from writing her bluesy folk-rock ballads to chat with us about her band’s upcoming summer festival debut at WOMAD. You can also find them this summer at MarchFest in Nelson.

 

 

Describe your perfect summer music festival in three words

Mud, friends, dancing

Name the top three artists who would make up your ideal festival line-up

The Guess Who, Fleetwood Mac and Janis Joplin

What are you looking forward to most about playing the summer festival circuit?

Showcasing some of the new music we’ve been working on. I locked myself away this summer to write about some stuff I’ve been going through and it’s finally at the stage where I can share it with everyone!

In your opinion, what’s this year’s Summer Anthem?

All the Young Girls Love Alice – Elton John, always.

Out of all your tunes, which one is the one that ‘never fails’?

Gypsy Queen is always a crowd favourite.

What’s are the top 3 tracks on your Spotify playlist?

Nothings Wrong – Haim
Depths – Yumi Zouma
Outstanding – The Gap Band

What’s your personal ‘guilty pleasure’ track

I have sooo many!
That Don’t Impress Me Much – Shania Twain
Ignition – R. Kelly
Ride Wit Me – Nelly

What’s your social media of choice?

Instagram – I’m constantly deleting it off my phone so it doesn’t take over my life. I’m addicted to #cakeporn.

Who do you follow and where?

Anika Moa on Instagram because she’s a funny bitch! I even followed her all the way to America last month to attend the International Folk Alliance in Kansas and she had me in tears the entire time.

What’s your go-to festival outfit?

Anything by the amazing Brook Tyson. Her creations make me feel like a goddess! She’s actually just finished two new pieces for me to rock on stage at WOMAD!

Word association:

  • Music – Life
  • Festival – Dancing
  • Camping – New Years
  • Fashion –  @brooketysonnz
  • Roadie – Singing

Returning for it’s 14th year at the stunning TSB Bowl of Brooklands and Brooklands Park in New Plymouth, WOMAD New Zealand is a celebration of music, arts and dance from around the globe. Buy your tickets here.

SFS | 5 mins with My Bubba

Scandinavian folk duo, My Bubba make soft, soulful music that is playful as it is powerful. Their delicate and disarming creations form a collection of intimate stories, often described as a beguiling and contemporary take on folk music. We chat to them ahead of their WOMAD billing.

Describe your perfect summer music festival in three words
Deer, dancing, swimming hole

Name the top three artists who would make up your ideal festival line-up
Willie Nelson, Bob Dylan, Paul Simon

What are you looking forward to most about playing the summer festival circuit?
Seeing more of Australia

In your opinion, what’s this year’s Summer Anthem?
The one with all the numbers off of Lambchop’s FLOTUS

Out of all your tunes, which one is the one that ‘never fails’?
Our Samoan clap dance song

What’s are the top 3 tracks on your Spotify playlist?
Right now its Pauline Oliveros 1, 2 and 3

What’s your personal ‘guilty pleasure’ track?
Love on top/Beyoncé

What’s your social media of choice?
Instagram

Who do you follow and where?
The moon

What’s your go-to festival outfit?
Loose linen dresses

Word association:
Music – beauty
Festival – sweaty smiles
Camping – zippers
Fashion – strange
Roadie – love ’em!

Returning for it’s 14th year at the stunning TSB Bowl of Brooklands and Brooklands Park in New Plymouth, WOMAD New Zealand is a celebration of music, arts and dance from around the globe. Buy your tickets here.

SFS | MC Tali

New Zealand’s Queen of Drum and Bass, Tali is an accomplished MC, freestyler, songwriter, producer, teacher, mentor, motivational speaker, and author – is there anything this woman can’t do?! Hailing from a dairy farm in Taranaki, Tali took on the world in 2001, moving to the UK and becoming a top international MC. She’s worked with some of the biggest names in DNB, including Roni Size, Goldie, Fabio & Grooverider; toured the world over with her band; and has even composed a musical which has previewed at London’s West End. Most recently, Tali has been busy writing a book, titled The Little White House.

Catch Tali performing alongside best friend Aroha at Splore. The powerhouse duo is a force of talent unlike anything you’ve ever heard before.

Describe your perfect summer music festival in three words
Full Of Adventure

Name the top three artists who would make up your ideal festival line-up
Anderson Paak, Solange, Dub Physix

What are you looking forward to most about playing the summer festival circuit?
It’s always a bit of a reunion – a chance to catch up with all your fellow musician friends and see them perform and have some backstage fun. I also love the road trip element – cruising around various parts of NZ and playing shows to epic crowds, always gives me such a reinvigorated appreciation for my beautiful country and its people.

In your opinion, what’s this year’s Summer Anthem?
The same tune every summer. ‘Summertime’ by The Fresh Prince and Jazzy Jeff is my absolute go to. I also think Souls of Mischief ’93 to infinity’ is another summer classic.

Out of all your tunes, which one is the one that ‘never fails’?
Aroha has this tune that sounds like ‘Drop It Like Its Hot’ but like a House remix. I always spit this rhyme originally from De La Soul’s ‘Ring Ring Ring’ over the top of it – which fits perfectly. People go nuts for it because they recognise the sample and I know some people recognise the lyrics. Either way it’s always a vibe.

What’s are the top 3 tracks on your Spotify playlist?

  1. ‘El Tornejant’ – Upercent. This ridiculously heavy minimal Techno jam that I am obsessed with. Jeremy Upbeats put me onto it.
  2. ‘Bun Ya’ – MC DRS, Marcus Intalex, Chimpo, Strategy, Skittles, Fox and Rolla. (The Enei Remix) This is a DnB jam that I cannot listen to except at high volume. I nearly break my neck brockin’ out to this!
  3. ‘OPP’ – Naughty By Nature – This is a classic jam that I love playing in my car. Always gets me a super happy hyper mood.

What’s your personal ‘guilty pleasure’ track
I don’t feel guilty about anything I listen to because it’s all fire. Even the Drake and Bieber shit. lol

What’s your social media of choice?
Instagram. Less rants, more pictures 🙂

Who do you follow and where?
Usually my friends to the dance floor!

What’s your go-to festival outfit?
I love Splore because unlike other festivals you can always be a bit extra. Last year I dressed as a Little Red Fox with light up ears which I made completely by hand. This years costume is already under way. I gotta sewing machine from my Mum in preparation this year! My friends and I all agree – anything with sequins or lights is essential. Helps you find each other in the crowd 🙂

Word association:
Music – Life
Festival – Adventures
Camping – Glamping (our own way)
Fashion – Individual
Roadie – Essential

Situated in a beguiling bay on the shores of Tapapakanga Regional Park, Splore is an annual, boutique and arts festival like no other. Described as New Zealand’s greatest dress up party, this three day entertainment extravaganza promises a good time, good vibes, and hot showers! Splore 2018 takes place 23-25 February. Buy your tickets here.

interviewed | Estère: beat maker extraordinaire

Estère is currently a Wellington girl, although born on Waiheke, with oodles of eclectic vibe and funk in her stride. As we walked into her live gig in Golden Dawn, the crowd was hanging on each word. She tapped one foot, twisted buttons and harmonised with her self-made melodies – wearing a stylish grey two piece crop-top and skirt, Estère owned the stage with style and ease. Jackson and Kim, her new percussionists, joined her and her machines, holding down rhythms following Lola, Estère’s MPC (music production controller). This girl had everything under control and looked like she was having a great time. The crowd sang along, requested encores and cheered for more. Estère has evidently collected a solid fan base, youngsters and older listeners alike. And yet she remains modest, thanking her audience for their support, and greeting fans that came to her afterwards with a generous smile.

Estère’s sound could be considered a mix of electro-pop with elements of soulful jazz. But it’s difficult to put it in a box, which she doesn’t want to be anyway, referring to her music as ‘Electric blue witchhop’. Her songs vary in feeling, tone and beat – the result of her creative, and laborious, dedication to production. Her close relationship with various electronic bits of kit, an NPC and SPD drum machine included, have helped her craft out a unique sound.

As we sat in a bustling cafe on K-road, philosophising about the different ways people learn rhythm, Estère explained “I have very strong feelings for timing…” Although not from a family of musicians, Estère reckons some of her rhythm may have come from her upbringing,

“My mum loves dancing, she doesn’t care what anyone thinks. She used to embarrass me hardcore when I was quite young coz we’d be at festivals and she’d be the only lady up the front going like this [raises her arms and moshes] and I’d be like….oh my god…”

Despite youth embarrassment, Estère is evidently grateful for her family’s enthusiasm for dancing, and the sounds her mum introduced her to, singing “Moooving on up” as she paid homage to the “amazingly deep voice” of Heather Smalls from M people and blind guitarist, José Feliciano. After the obligatory infatuation with Britney Spears and 90’s boy-bands, Estère listened to the likes of Prince and Grace Jones, both artists with a similarly impressive vocal range to herself. Although Estère doesn’t consider herself a singer first and foremost, more a beatmaker, her voice has the elasticity of a professional, effortlessly hitting lows and highs as she accompanies the hard-graft of her instrumentals,

“I head hunt samples that I think will be good for a track. It can be quite laborious. Once I have found something I like, I manipulate it in Logic, put it into my NPC and then drum it out with my fingers.”

Her description of recording random things she hears out on the streets makes me want to take my Zoom recorder for a walk after our interview. Instead, I watch a Youtube of her discussing the gendered nature of the Beats industry.  Aside from her interesting sound, and great stage presence, there are a couple of things that personally drew me to Estère. Like me, she is a student of anthropology, and also of mixed heritage. This quest to think through difference, and understand the place culture does and does not have in our being is something that Estère uses music and electronic instruments to process. She sometimes addresses life’s intimate feelings and experiences through her song-writing too. Grandmother, a slow melodic song with subtle tones, is a tribute to her Cameroonian grandmother who sadly passed away three months before they were due to meet for the first time.

“I really wanted to meet her. I’d heard a lot of stories about her, and people said we were really similar. So this song is kind of about the experience I have, and don’t have, of her at the same time.

Appeller de la terre, l’esprit de ma grandmere  – Call forth, from the Earth, the spirit of my grandmother…”

She wistfully repeats the line from her song in with a fluent French accent. Estère’s sound has travelled the length of Aotearoa, Australia, France, England, Denmark, South Korea and Southern Africa. She performed in Mozambique, South Africa and Swaziland on festival circuit in 2017, putting her feet down on African soil for the first time. She admits some prior misconceptions,

“I think I had a somewhat exoticised idea of Africa…and when I got there I thought…well, it’s just not that different from anywhere else really. People love listening to live music, they travel from other countries to come to festivals, and some of the festivals were massive! They were amazing!”

Estère plans to continue her connection across continents, in awe of West African singers such as Simphiwe Dana. Estere’s singles are diverse in sound, as you can hear in her new album soon to be released – My Design, On Others’ Lives – and include songs such as the catchy Pro Bono Techno Zone, a comment on youth infatuation with technology. Much of Estère’s songs offer a thoughtful comment on the world we live in, part of her bigger concern with trying to imagine what it would be like to live in the world as someone else. Her latest single Rent reflects on the concept of property ownership, something people are so beholden to in Aotearoa that the fact many people cannot even afford to rent, let alone own a home, is diminished in the face of the ‘Real Estate’ industry. Her music is another version of anthropology, a way of questioning what is taken for granted, and offering another experience of the world that might shift dominant perceptions.

With her sensitivity, intelligence and humble charm, combined with infectious bounce-y dances moves, it is likely Estère will be loved wherever she performs. Catch her opening for her teenage heroine, Grace Jones in Christchurch on March 2nd, 2018 (tickets available here). And download her upcoming EP out in April 2018 – until then download all her currently released singles here.