Stars. Something you may believe New Zealand has plenty of in the sky, but a few less of in the music industry. But that, my treasures, is your first mistake! Shapeshifter, Aotearoa's iconic drum and bass artists, have set out to show us what they're made of with their very appropriately titled new album.
Freshly signed to the goliath that is Hospital Records, Shapey spent half a year styling out their 11 sparkling new tunes before laying the album down with The Upbeat's Dylan Jones and Jeremy Glenn at home in Auckland. The men? Sambora, Nicky, P-Digsss, Dazza (Kiwi for Darren) and Daniel. The sound? Ravescape/S.L.I.T.C.H./crooked edge fast blast/Bass - so says their Facebook page. I call it homegrown D&B (coz I'm basic), and there is nothing quite like it.
Magnetic have the pleasure today of grabbing a few choice words with the Shapeshifter lads... and introducing the video behind their second release from the album, "Her". Sunglasses on team - you're about to be dazzled.
This is a beaut. It's gotta be asked….who exactly is ‘Her’?
'Her' was inspired a couple of different ways, but if I was to answer who 'Her' is, it is our dear departed friend Helena who passed away last year. She was an inspiration to many and a shining light. She is among the stars now.
What was the thinking behind the music vid for this one?
The song is about saying goodbye to a dear friend, flying with her among the stars on her journey into cosmic dust, the afterlife. We wanted to explore that space where the song lives for us, a place between this world and the next. It's not supposed to be melancholic, more poignant. A celebration of letting someone go, traveling with them as they go, enjoying the journey and finally letting them on their way with a smiling heart.
How did the Hospital sign come about and what does it mean for you guys going forward? Will the sounds change?
We have been part of the Hospital family since 2010 when we partnered up to release 'The System Is A Remix,' a version by Hospital artists of 'The System Is A Vampire', our album of that year. Hospital as a flavour has influenced us since the days of High Contrast, Mathematics and Danny Byrd in the early 2000's. They were such a game changing label and had a big impact on the Drum and Bass scene, and I think on our sound as well. We have always been quite varied in our musical personality and that will surely continue. We are really excited to be part of what has to be arguably the biggest label in the world of Drum and Bass. It's something a little different for Hospital... It doesn't necessarily conform to DJ format, its more our reflection on breakbeat culture and a representation of our musical journey.
Let's talk the Shapey summer tour - at the beach, in a pub over New Years - the classic kiwi experience. What's the preferred venue your side, local like that, or out internationally?
It's hard to beat playing a summery gig in NZ, the vibes are there, everybody's in full holiday mode and going to places they usually wouldn't go; beautiful places around New Zealand. It feels like nobody's got work the next day and are therefore ready to party.
Touring around our own countryside, swimming in rivers and at beaches, and getting some sun is a great way to warm up for a gig. The band, crew and families are there and it's one time as a band we really feel like we're on holiday while we're on tour. Saying that it's a real buzz to be jamming in dark steamy club too. That’s really the way we started out - always touring in the winter so we love both really. Playing festivals in the UK and European summer is something we love too, we've played quite a few festivals and the crowds there are insane.
What do you think about the drum and bass scene in NZ - is it growing and gaining more traction, or heading the other way?
The NZ D&B scene has always been pretty strong, it's always had a lot of support - right from the early days when DJs would come from overseas and rock up to crowds of 1000s - Kiwis have always had a soft spot for the jungle vibes and many talented local DJs and producers have come through. In this day and age genres are mashing up a lot more into the broader term of Bass music. Northern Bass last year was classic example of how strong the bass music scene is today in New Zealand. I always thought one day it would die out but it seems it's ramping up. State of Mind, Trei, Concord Dawn are all examples of kiwis doing really well overseas.
What can NZ expect from your upcoming summer tour in three words?
Sun, Bass and Beersies.
Finally, can we look forward to seeing you in London anytime soon? April’s Hospitality In The Dock could be a fun outing…(bring a jumper).
Yes, we would love to be playing there at Hospitality In The Dock, and we are working hard now to make another trip over happen so that could be a good bet on when we will be in London next. It's actually a dream come true for us (being on the Hospital roster) and any chance we get to jam on the same bill as a lot of our favourite producers and performers - we'll jump at the chance. Bring a jumper you say? London's getting that rep for being beautiful weather in the summer (or usually when we've been there it is) so bring it on!
'Stars' is out on November 4th. It is ridiculous. Get at it here!