There have been few releases that have impressed us this 2018 quite as much as the debut album from King Billy. We had the pleasure of catching up with the Tasmanian funk connoisseurs to find out what life is like on the other side of the world.
SS: Hey guys, thanks so much for agreeing to do an interview with us! First off, congratulations on the album, it’s one of our favourite releases from 2018 so far! How long have you guys been making music together?
KB: Mate, dead set the pleasure is ours. We’re so stoked you guys dig it! Well it’s been just over 2 years since we decided to regularly make music together. We’ve been friends for years and all played in heaps of bands but never really had a project we could call our own and play the music that we frothed. Listening to Melbourne band 30/70’s first album sparked the flame and pretty much straight after that set out to make our own instrumental tracks.
SS: Well then we're are indebted to 30/70.What's your creative process like as a band when you’re writing new music?
KB: All of our tracks come from improvisations. We record pretty much everything we ever do on an iphone and then sift back through them to find phat ass basslines and sweet grooves to work on. After that we decide on the fundamental grooves, we all take it away and will write horn melodies, B sections, and structures etc. to make them into finished tracks. When we started, we didn’t really think we’d produce an album so in the sessions we were just focussing on having a good time. We’d make a round of espressos, kick the footy in the street, listen to some music and then settle into some dank grooves for a few hours.
SS: We’ve had ‘Boba Fat’ and ‘GFunk’ on repeat since we discovered the album, have you got a personal favourite track from the release?
KB: That’s cool they’re the two tracks ya’ll dig! GFunk was the first song we ever worked on and Boba Fat came out after a 20-minute improvisation we had when we were procrastinating about packing up all the recording gear after doing the last track. ‘Slowly Hitting the Town’ has a special place in our communal heart because after long conversations, none of us know what key the song is in, what the other person is actually playing and how all the parts work together.
SS: How would you describe your sound to someone who hasn’t heard of you yet?
KB: Man, we had a long and hard conversation about this and as inaccurate as it sounds we call it ‘Funk.’ Our drummer has a vendetta against Jazz so anything genre with the word Jazz in it got thrown out the window long ago. To me, Cleen Deez and Dirty Deez sum up the vibe well. It’s like when you floss your teeth and then smell the dank-ass floss afterwards and you screw your face up all disgusted. If you kept that face and started grooving, then that’s the vibe.
SS: Haha, never have we heard a better description of what funk sounds like! Tell us a bit about what the music scene is like in Tasmania and how do you think it has affected the music you’re making?
KB: It’s small, strange and has a very unique vibe. It’s a small Island so when people move out of home they either move to Hobart or leave (mostly to Melbourne), which makes the State’s scene very Hobart focussed. Everyone in Hobart are either friends or one degree of separation away from each other so it’s super encouraging for people so start bands, even if they’ve only been playing for a few weeks. But it’s made the dominant scene a type of DIY garage rock and its own breed of punk with few people focussed on pursuing getting their music heard outside of the local live scene. It’s sick and there are some amazing bands to come out of it, but for us who wanted to play instrumental soul-infused hip-hop, we mostly did it behind closed doors and became more album-focused than gig-focused. I think it’s safe to say no one is really playing the same kind of music as us in Tasmania, so it was cool to be able to form our own style without being influenced too strongly by a scene or what our peers were doing. The smallness makes it feel special whenever any Tasmanian band releases a polished album. I’m sure the best Tasmanian soul music is yet to come.
SS: Who are some of your favourite artists to listen to at the moment?
KB: To keep it local, there are some boss-ass Tasmanian artists that we always froth over. The Stitch, Mum and Dad, Ani Lou, Puffy Pank, Six Bars of Seb and Close Counters are my picks for the best soul inspired artists to come out of Tasmania. The new Close Counters’ album ‘SOULACOSTA’ is fresher than baby carrots. But the Melbourne scene is pretty inspiring too. Bands like 30/70, Horatio Luna, Silent Jay, Ricochet, Karate Boogaloo and Peking Duck are the Australian bands that we’ve seen, regularly listen to and are stoked to know they’re just across the Bass Strait.
SS: What have you guys got planned for 2018? Can we expect more music anytime soon?
KB: We’re all doing different stuff life-wise at the moment so, apart from a few remixes, our album is gonna be the climax for a while. That said, we’re all doing stuff individually too that we’re yet to release. We’re all gonna contribute to the Bassist’s solo project called Lionel Davis, a 1980s-style boogie project that will release an album in the coming months!
SS: And finally, if aliens came to our planet and asked you what music is, what track would you play them?
KB: 'Drive' by Shannon Knoll. I'd tell them that its the one song, the one piece of music on this earth that unites the world and transcends time, space and culture. Bet that'd confuse them!
SS: Cheers guys! It's been an absolute pleasure!