RAW: Shaolin Afronauts Interview

By Rupert Hogan-Turner

With the impending release of their debut album, the Shaolin Afronauts sat down with Kryztoff to talk about music, WOMAD and of course their new album.

How did you settle on the genre avant-garde jazz/ Afrobeats?

I don’t think we really choose the music we love, I think it kind of chooses us…I don’t know why I wanted to play Afrobeat, I love it so much I felt compelled to compose and perform it I guess and the Jazz influence is something central to my own musical identity….does that answer the question…I don’t know.

Twelve seems like a lot of people to be on stage at once, is it

difficult to co-ordinate?

Logistically it is difficult. Organising a 12 piece band can be very hard especially when it comes to touring. Onstage however, it’s very easy, when you are blessed which such a high caliber of musicianship, playing is the simple part!

Are there any nicknames within the band?

Not really, only for Locky who’s nickname is Country Ridge, cause he plays heaps of country licks.

How did you all meet?

The core of the Shaolin Afronauts is basically the same as The Transatlantics, it’s kind of a community of musicians involved across a whole lot of different musical acts. We met while studying music at university and formed The Transatlantics whilst studying, everything else came after that.

What’s your most interesting band moment?

When we played WOMAD we were on pretty early and about 30 mins before we played I walked onstage to check some equipment and there were about 25 people there. I thought to myself, Ross don’t be disappointed if there aren’t heaps of people you’re playing at Womad, that’s enough to be happy about. Then when we stepped out onstage 30 mins later there were 4000 people screaming…most interesting, most unexpected and one of the best band moments I reckon!

Are you coming back to WOMAdelaide?

If WOMADelaide will have us back!! I’d definitely love to play again.

What do you love about WOMAD?

Everything, Womad is one of the most important cultural events in Australia. The environment, the music, everything it’s an incredible event.

What about your sound inspired the ‘shaolin’ in your band title?

I guess we’re inspired by a lot of music from the late 60’s and 70’s which kind of channels that mystical interplanetary vibe, I think the cloaked imagery kind of channels that as well. As well as that, 36th chambers was a life changing album for me, I guess it’s a bit of a nod to that too. But it’s just a name, it’s the music that really means something.

Whats the best track on your new album?

My favourite track is The Scarab, which is the last track on the album. I think it represents a deeper, more reflective side of our music.

It seems like somewhat of a niche genre, how are you being recieved?

Really well so far, both the CD and LP are selling really well which I guess is surprising. Sales are mostly centered in Europe, but it’s been well received here too.

If you could have a superpower what would it be?

For this group, the ability to teleport to places, at least then touring would be easier!

Between you all, how many different types of instruments can you play?

Well Adam Page can play about ten instruments including fruit and vegetables so I’m going to take a guess and say about 30.

Describe your dream audience

I’d like to play alongside Fela Kuti in Nigeria or Ghana circa 1973, failing that my dream audience is anyone who’s into our music!

What’s the future for the Shaolin Afronauts?

We are currently planning our next record which will be for an expanded ensemble of 19 and we will be performing live with this
ensemble early next year.

Where do you rehearse?

Anywhere we can

If you could change anything about WOMAD or concerts in general what would it be?

I wouldn’t change a thing about Womad, but it be nice if all audiences were as receptive as a Womad audience!!!

If you want to catch the Shaolin Afronauts they are debuting their first album at Rocket Bar this Saturday September 3rd. Or you can learn more about them here http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Shaolin-Afronauts/191646987518275

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