So as we cruise into a warm spring here in London (UK), things are about to get tropical because we managed to catch up with roots artist Bobby Alu for a quick chat about his new ultra-chilled album Take It Slow.
The Bobby Alu project has gained serious momentum after playing gigs like the prestigious Byron Bay Blues festival, Woodford Folk Festival, Wide Open Space and just recently joining the likes of Xavier Rudd, Donavon Frankenreiter & Nahko and Medicine for People for their aussie 2013 tour.
We wanted to get into the thick of his polynesian tropical sound and find more out about this progressive band everyone is talking about.
We kicked off by asking Bobby...
- This new vibe doesn't feel inspired by any former artists or musical repertoire we've heard before, which is why we fell instantly in love with all 13 tracks.
Where did you get the inspiration for this refined-organic sound you have soundtracked on Take it slow?
BA - Like most music these days it’s a real mash up of many things. Most of the influence is from childhood. I had pretty much 100% exposure to Polynesian music & dance. My mum was a performer right through pregnancy with me and all through my childhood. I’d get dragged along to all here shows and there was always gamily gatherings with jamming and singing. I’m certain my natural rhythm and ear comes from her. Since then I’ve listened to a lot of old reggae and soul music.
- The pace changes on every track, but is still distinctively 'Bobby Alu'.
How do you manage to combine such a verity of tempos and still arrive at a similar musical template? The flow from track to track is almost seamless.
BA - Me and the guys in the band just recorded the songs. We didn’t have a goal or a theme to keep by. I think letting things happen naturally is an important process. That’s very much what happened with this album creation.
- Let's talk instruments. We've seen you play the uke, bass, log drums and of course you sing lead vocals.
Using what instrument do you feel yourself becoming more rhythmically rooted and most creative in the Bobby Alu project?
BA - These days I’m feeling very expressive with voice and ukulele. It's been a big couple of years touring around Australia fronting our shows and different festivals. First and foremost I’m a drummer and still heavily rely on the rhythm and patterns within the pattern to get into a musical trance. I very much love and need singing, ukulele and drums to get me through life. It's my purpose here on earth.
- After listening to the new album at BAM-BOO HQ, we could only imagine that listening to your music live would be a very intimate, feel good experience.
What would be your best live gig memory of last year?
BA - We had a gig close to home at an outdoor venue called Hotel Brunswick. It’s in a small town on the beach and has the most beautiful turquoise abundant river passing through. The stage faces the river and fits around 600 people comfortably. Great beer, food and music make it the best Sunday Sessions in Northern NSW. We played a show there in perfect weather with a massive crowd and was the first time I shared the stage with my mum who danced to one of our songs. Special moment I’ll never forget.
- We've got to know, how was it joining Xavier Rudd on tour last year? Your individual music styles are very earthy, and come from a progressive perspective. So you two must have fused together well right?
BA - Man it’s amazing! I’m so grateful for the opportunity to jam with Xavier (Rudd). He’s an incredible musician and such a great bloke. Down to earth and very real. After our first jam we knew we were on to something special. The American tour was a real hit and some epic stuff in the pipeline so keep your ears peeled.
- What's the focus for the Bobby Alu project in 2014? Any hints of what we might be seeing from you guys. Gigs your stoked about or maybe a new album!
BA - This year feels really good. Last year was awesome, but very long and kinda heavy. I’m not sure why, it was just a tough year for a lot of people around me that I love. 2014 has heaps of new music coming out. I myself have been writing a lot of new stuff and there’s many more exciting things simmering about right now. I can’t really talk about it just yet. But I’ll let you guys now asap don’t you worry!
- To wrap it all up, let's talk Natural...one of our favourite topics!
Coming from our own green fingered perspective on creativity, we want to know as a roots musician do you feel influenced by the natural world around you when creating music? An Organic source you tap into so to speak?
BA - Very big yes. Now more than ever I feel the importance of connecting with the earth. It’s a pretty important time for humanity. I’m constantly inspired by the natural world around me and feel inspired to encourage others to do the same.
So there you have it folks, rocking our BAM-BOO | BOATMANS and taking it slow. What a great insight into the work of a true roots artist and musical humanitarian. The entie BAM-BOO | ORIGINALS team are all very excited to hear whatever is next for the feel-good Bobby Alu project and especially pumped for a chance to see them live and kicking. We are firmly tuned in.
Check out the official video 'Skipping Stones' from the new album 'Take it slow' below.
Huge thank you to Bobby Alu & Production Team.