I was really excited to hear that Brisbane band Step It Up had a new EP, "Push", out in 2011 on Zyl Records, as I'd loved their earlier work on their self titled album released in 1996 and I'd seen them perform in Brisbane when I lived there in 2000/2001 or so. The new EP has different versions of the song "Push"‚Äîwhich includes a sample from their popular song "Flex" with mixes by Obese Bass Beast and Unison Sound System. There's also a new song called "Nudge" by Blunted Stylus (aka Geoff "Jigzaw" Blunted/ex Resin Dogs/Hydrofunk). The musical lineup has changed slightly over the years, but there's still a range of music styles and techniques explored on this release‚Äîfrom house, to jazz, to drum'n'bass, to bass-music and beats'n'squelch styles. All in all, it's a pleasure to listen to and I'm looking forward to hearing their future sounds, as well as the cache of songs yet to be released. Des Reid was kind enough to answer a few questions about the band and its future directions. Keep an ear to the ground for their live gigs in Brisbane and elsewhere‚Äîyou'll be in for a treat from these talented musicians!
>> for the "borrowed moog and juno mix", song #1 on Push‚Äîwhat's the story here? who'd you borrow the moog and juno from and can you keep them for a while?
> The Moog Prodigy belonged to Manny, our old keys player. I should have bought it when he sold it. The Juno 60 was DJ Damage's. They're both killer synths. I've since acquired a Juno 60 and JX-3p.
>> are there any favourite gigs, or memories of them that you'd like to share?
> The "Vibes on A Summer Day" festivals were always great. They were before festivals became commercial and unaffordable. Bondi Pavilion was a great venue. It's always nice to see a thousand people jumping up and down to your music in the sun from the stage.
>> for your live set: "Their new show has wide variety from instrumental hip-hop through Asian and Arabic influences to banging house". can you talk about some of these influences? particularly, the Asian and Arabic ones
> I have been learning some Arabic music and playing with some great oud players. We have an unreleased track called "√èntefada" and a new one called "Free Gaza". I've always been interested in Indian music since seeing the Mahavishnu Orchestra, although I haven't studied it thoroughly and authentically. One of our best new tunes is an Indian groove tune called "Only One I know". That's partly because it's the only raga I know properly! Rohan plays in proper Indian ensembles in recitals at the Hindu temple in Virginia up here in Brisbane.
>> who are the band members of Step It Up?
> We've had some fantastic players in the past who have left town like Craig Hanicek, Darren MacPherson and Gavin Manikus on sax, Godoy and Steve Falk on percussion and DJ Frenzie. Terepai recorded the drums on "Flex" for us too.
The current line up is :
Steve is a great drummer and is in great demand in Brisbane. He tours with James Morrison too.
Neil Wickham is our great new sax player. He has a brilliant fusion type sound. The sax can't be too mellow in this type of music or it loses the edge and blands it out a bit.
Rohan Somasekaran is on keys. He is an awesome piano player and leads his own straight-ahead jazz outfit too. We're adding more synth to the live sound too.
I [Des Reid] play bass mostly live, but also a bit of guitar and guitar synth. I want to start contributing to the percussion too, but only in a support role‚ÄîI'm only a simple player.
DJ Damage does the cuts on the EP. He's also in Terntable Jediz and The Optimen. He's one of the best turntablists I've ever seen.
Roger Gonzalez is our percussionist. He is a conga and cahon specialist, and a fantastic groove player. Marcelo, who played on the "Push" EP moved to Canberra unfortunately. We have loads of percussion recorded by him in the vaults though. Also heaps by his brother, Luis Schiavi‚Äîa killer timbales player.
Overall we have a giant backlog of tracks which we will be finishing and releasing soon. Although we haven't been playing out as often over the last few years, we never stopped writing and recording. We're sitting on a few albums really. The new label‚ÄîZyl Records will be our outlet now that we're organized.
>> do you improvise during the live sets too?
> There is a lot of improvising live. We follow the jazz tradition of arranged head‚Äîimprovisation‚Äîhead. We try to keep some tightly arranged sections too. One big feature of our sets is the breakdowns. We don't just have horn or keys solos‚Äîwe have big sections where the drums, percussion and DJ are improvising together, feeding off each other. According to Cuban tradition, when two or more percussive players are resonating, that's when the spirits come. We're a bit tribal really.
"Reconstituted" is the third Apell album and sounds like the groovier half of Amon Tobin sampling George Clinton with a jazzy electric bass. The album features a drum n bass version of Neil Young's "Don't Let it Bring You Down" and a chill out reworking of George Harrison's overlooked gem "Long, Long, Long" from The Beatles White Album. Another album highlight is the track "Dubya" featuring lyrics inspired by inane quotes from President George W Bush's speeches and his life story.
I love music by bluetech and have been listening to it a lot whilst in Israel having bought a few of his cds from the music stores here and ripped them to my laptop. his music is available on aleph - zero label and he's remixed other great artists such as Shulman & Pitch Black.
his website says "my name is evan. i make sounds. rivers of music ancient & delicate flow through me.". he has 3 myspace pages for the different artist names he uses : bluetech, evan bartholomew, evan marc
Olam Qatan is a spiritual books and world music store in Emek Refaim St, Jerusalem, Israel. I spoke briefly with it's owner Ya'qub ibn Yusuf, who explained some of the music and books available in his store. Sounds like there's a fusion of East meets West happening in Israel and Turkey, which is really interesting to hear. It's great to speak with Independant store owners - their passion for music & books is contagious and it's great to discover new sounds and genres.
briz:b:e:a:t:s ::: today's show I'm featuring a couple of IDM/electronic music labels U-Cover Records and Kranky Recordstoday's show I'm featuring a couple of IDM/electronic music labels :
U-Cover Records and Kranky Records
::: U-Cover Records' "Perspective Fragments- travelling through
todays electronic fields" album is a beautiful collection of
electronic music from around the world. Artists such as Electronic
Birds(USA), Tim Koch(AUS), Lusine Icl(USA), Kettel(NL), Skipsapiens
(Chile), Crunch(UK), The Buddy System(USA), Funckarma(NL), Cosmic
Collection(NL), Llips.(Mex/B/USA) and Ten and Tracer(USA) are
featured on the release. Visit http://www.u-cover.com to find out