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30 year-old American singer, songwriter and rapper Ben Haggerty, or better known as Macklemore, has been on the music scene since 2000. No stranger to hard work, Haggerty recorded and self-distributed his first EP, Open Your Eyes, in 2000, and has since been working his way up the charts into the number one spot, exploding on to the top ten music scene in 2012. Hard to believe he still isn’t signed huh?! Regardless, I’d say that he is doing pretty well for himself without the attached record label. But it’s not just the phenomenal music and talent that exudes from Macklemore that gives us reason to love him so much, it’s his overall work ethic, stand-up morals, and strong, influential character that have us all going crazy… "I want to be someone who is respected and not just in terms of my music. I want to be respected in terms of the way that I treat people. The way, the subjects in which I choose to address through my music. And not because I'm, like, trying to make records about them. It's just that's what's important to me. Music is my creative outlet in terms of expressing what is important to me; what has importance, what has a value. And I wanna be respected for that."
An outspoken supporter and advocate for same-sex marriage (so much so that he wrote a hit song about it, Same Love), anti-racism, as well as being a reformed substance abuser who now speaks openly about his issues and uses his experiences to send out messages of support, hope, and positivity, he has turned his life from negative to positive, and is using his musical influence to make a difference in the lives of others. Same Love has been dubbed ‘ground-breaking’ and the new ‘gay-rights anthem’, and not just for its lyrical genius; it’s the first song that is directed implicitly at supporting and endorsing same-sex couples and marriage equality, and in doing so has made it into the Top 40. To add further strength to the message that Same Love portrays, Macklemore had openly lesbian singer, Mary Lambert, singing on the track, laying down vocals “I can’t change, even if I tried… My love, she keeps me warm.” Famous for his lyrics “gay is synonymous with the lesser, it's the same hate that's caused wars from religion, gender to skin color, the complexion of your pigment, the same fight that led people to walk outs and sit ins, it's human rights for everybody, there is no difference”, Macklemore sends out a strong and positive message about equality, and it’s that type of integrity and strength in character that we love here at Love It Hard.
Inspired by his 4 homosexual uncles, Macklemore has managed to set the benchmark for marriage equality within the music industry, being one of the first hip-hop artists to not only speak, but sing, openly about the topic and address the issue of homophobia in hip-hop. "I think that looking at the hip-hop community, and holding myself accountable in the hip-hop community, was what I cared about. That's my community; that's who I see to be oppressing gay people...Homophobia is still rampant in the hip-hop community and it just gets the co-sign." “I just wanted to hold myself accountable and hold hip-hop accountable and bring up an issue that was being pushed under the rug.” And it doesn’t stop there; Macklemore has also filmed a Public Service Announcement, “You Can Play”, which is subject around creating respect and equality amongst all athletes, as well as filming a commercial aimed at celebrating ‘diverse weddings’.
A human-being who is socially and emotionally aware, and all for the cause of creating a better future for us all… yes please!
Lacey Sarah - Beats Lover.
Let’s face it, we have all had those nights where we need to cut loose and rock out… literally. The stereo gets cranked up, the air guitar comes out, and all inhibitions are left at the door.
Recently, myself, and some of the other Love It Hard crew members, have been digging the Rock music scene, and so comes the inspiration for this piece. I decided to get in touch with an old friend of mine, Jimmy Wenham, 23 year old front man of the Progressive Rock band Zelita, and get a better insight into the life of a rocker. Check it out…
1. Can you provide the readers with some information about what the band has been up to over the past few months – tours, gigs, album launches etc.?
“Our main focus over the past few months has been writing music for our second EP and then using the odd gig to try out our new songs. It’s been working really well for us.”
2. How long have you been playing your respective instruments/singing?
“I’ve been singing ever since I was in primary school – only because mum said I had to. It’s always like that when you’re young. Mum is always on your case and you’re just trying to keep her happy. Lo and behold, I love singing now. I have been playing guitar since I left school, purely for the love of music.”
3. Where are you all from?
“We all graduated from the same high school, Kenmore High, and have all been raised in Brisbane. Having said that, Andy Kellie – Bass and Keyboards, is English and carries an accent with him. Our lead guitarist Dan Hilder is half Sri-Lankan, and Kiran our drummer is half Indian. So we’re a culturally diverse band and are constantly racist towards each other.”
4. How long have you all known each other and how did you meet?
“I’ve known Kiran and Dan since high school. Andy was in the grade below. It all happened after school when Dan and Andy used to be neighbours.”
5. How long has the band been together, and what inspired you to start making music together?
“We’ve been together only 3 years. It first started with Andy and Dan making music in Andy’s garage. The company of Kiran was requested to add a beat and rhythm and I was recruited later as a dedicated singer.”
6. How did you come up with the name for the band? Is there any specific meaning behind it?
“Sure. It's always hard to come up with a good name. I actually had no involvement in it. But I've always liked the name. The guys picked the name out of a street directory. Zelita Rd is located in Bellbowrie near where we used to jam. I don't think they picked it because it meant anything special. Mainly because they thought it sounded cool and if you search Google for Zelita we're the first result. We have discovered in our Facebook travels that it is a Spanish name. I think the fact that no one knows what it means, gives it a mysterious aura especially when you see the 'Z' logo.”
7. Who are your musical influences and why?
“Our influences range heavily and it comes out in the music. Kiran has a lot experience with Jazz and so is a very technical drummer. I think people’s main influences (us included) come from those bands you listen to growing up that really define you. Sounds dramatic, but it’s true. So given that rule, we’ve got Pink Floyd, Foo Fighters, Muse, The Butterfly Effect, White Stripes and the list goes on.”
8. What genre of music do you consider your work to be, and how would you describe your bands overall style of music?
“We classify ourselves as Progressive Rock because our songs tend to be related to some kind of Journey or Fictional Story which progresses to some kind of plot or climax.”
9. How has your music evolved since the band first started out?
“Writing this second EP has been interesting. It has allowed us to grow immensely as song writers. Generally music on our first EP is based around a whole bunch of riffs which we managed to pull together into songs. Our freshly written songs are following more ‘conventional’ rules of song writing and this has enabled the music to flow in a new way for us.”
10. What are your other hobbies, besides making music?
“We all keep in shape fairly well, so exercise is definitely a hobby for us. We also like to ‘nerd it up’ given the occasion. We get a bit drunk, play some computer games and swear at each other.”
11. What are your hopes and dreams for the near future/what direction is the band going in?
“Well I suppose every bands dream is to make it in the music industry and be successful worldwide. But even if we make in Australia the dream will come true. But to be honest, every live show that we do is like a dream – it feels that good.”
12. If you guys were to sum up your band in one sentence, what would it be?
“From a musical perspective? We’re a band which you definitely won’t have experienced before.”
13. Who writes the songs for the band, and where does the inspiration come from?
“We all chip in for song writing, but Andy does tend to take the cake when it comes to talent and bringing a song to life. I can’t speak on behalf of the other guys. But when I write lyrics and melodies, it’s generally to do with challenges that I face in life. Dan has an approach which is very obscure in that he will write stories which refer to ancient gods and is somewhat a bastardisation of history. This often results in pretty cool songs.”
14. Could you briefly describe the music-making process?
“Normally the guys have an idea which they’ll jam through or we’ll have something knocked up on the computer like a bunch of riffs. We normally shelve things for a while and come back to them to make sure the ideas are as good as what we first thought they were. Then I suppose using our ‘knowledge’ of music and momentum from the parts of music which we have to build a song. Then the icing on the cake is me writing lyrics and a melody usually.”
15. What has been your biggest challenge as a band so far?
“I guess our biggest challenge is finding the time to spend on actually playing music. We all struggle to find time, so I guess when we are together, we don’t take our time together for granted.”
16. Where have you performed around Brisbane, and what was your favourite performance venue and why?
“We’ve played in quite a few places – the hifi bar, the zoo, tempo hotel, RNA showgrounds, Ric’s bar, Beetle Bar. I’m sure there’s more. But there’s nothing better than playing at The Zoo. It has great sound compared to a lot of places and is run by great people and the stage really allows you to rock out!”
17. Have you had any embarrassing moments during gigs?
“Individually we’ve had some embarrassing moments – like if I sing a song terribly or Kiran screws up a drum beat, but nothing that’s bleedingly obvious to a crowd – I spose that’s something to be proud of?”
18. What exciting projects does the band have coming up?
“We are planning an East Coast Tour for the end of this year, record a video clip and have ambitious plans to release another completely self-produced EP. This is something that separates us from a lot of bands.”
19. What advice do you have for people who want to form their own band?
“Find people that you can connect with as people and as musicians and you’ll really feel like you’re accomplishing something.”
20. How can fans-to-be- gain access to your music? Do you have a website where they can check out your music and follow the bands movements?
“Facebook is really the ‘source of truth’ for everything Zelita. We put all our music up there and have our must recent movements on there.”
21. And finally, what do you love hard?
“We love ourselves hard – a wise man once told us – ‘you’ve got to be a legend in your own mind before you can be legend in real life’.”
Lacey Sarah – Beats Lover.
Nick Cave, do I need to say anymore? The man is one of very few true musicians still releasing music these days. The man is raw, unedited and oozing rock'n'roll. In-between acting, writing screenplays, books and performing with Grinderman, he somehow managed to escape to France and record his 15th studio album. Push the Sky Away is the first Bad Seeds album to get to number 1 in Australia. Long overdue I think.
The album is on a softer side of Caves other work, with no menacing build ups or break downs. This does not mean that it becomes boring, it does the complete opposite, making you think about the lyrics and what he is trying to portray. His voice draws you in, making you feel something inside. Not many musicians can do that anymore. With lyrics like "I believe in God. I believe in mermaids to. I believe in 72 virgins on a chain one night, one night. I believe in the rapture, for I've seen your face, on the floor of the ocean, at the bottom of the ray," he gets your imagination going wild.
Buy yourself a good whisky, chuck it on loud, and get emerged in the legend that is Nick Cave.
Young local Brisbane band, StormChasers, have been performing together since 2010, and have recently broken out into the Triple J scene with their singles, The Window and Someone Else. After recently touring around Queensland, I have had the pleasure of interviewing the band, and uncovering just who StormChasers are.
Comprising of seven musicians, Katherine – Lead Vocals, Alex – Saxophone, Paddy – Bass, Michael – Guitar, Beau – Drums, Jane Kirkpatrick - Trombone and Chris – Keys, most of the band members have been making music since high school. In 2010, childhood friends Paddy, Michael and Beau formed StormChasers, with the rest of the crew coming together at intervals over the following three years. With an eclectic style, and taking inspiration from soul artists such as the Dap Kings, and musical legends The Beatles, StormChasers are one to watch!
Check out my interview with the band, and their rather charismatic responses…
What genre of music do you consider your work to be, and how would you describe your bands overall style of music?
“We are trying to streamline our style at the moment to be more of soul band and less of everything else that we used to play, which ranged from pop to reggae to rock to folk.”
How has your music evolved since the band first started out?
“We’ve been through a lot of different members, and every new line-up has its own kind of sound and dynamic, so in that way we’ve changed a lot since we started as a three piece. Also we have worked with a lot cool people in the studio and on the stage in the past year or so, and we’ve definitely learnt a lot from them.”
What are your other hobbies, besides making music?
“Cooking and eating; band’s gotta eat. Op-shopping and coffee drinking are also things we enjoy when we have the time.”
What are your hopes and dreams for the near future/what direction is the band going in?
“Alex wants to escape debt, be granted permanent residency and get a baritone saxophone. Also the band wants to record and release a full length album and one day tour Japan.”
If you guys were to sum up your band in one sentence, what would it be?
“Forever starts tonight.”
Who writes the songs for the band, and where does the inspiration come from?
“It’s usually a joint effort these days. We draw a lot of inspiration from the music we are all listening to at the time, so at the moment it’s soul music mostly, with a bit of Beatles influence for good measure.”
Could you briefly describe the music-making process?
“We usually start with some coffees, then we start playing around with some ideas people might have, then once it gets to a certain point we’ve got a song, and from there it’s just tweaking and arguing about the arrangement until we record it.”
What has been your biggest challenge as a band so far?
“Driving home from Yeppoon in one day after playing at the Village Festival that morning with a few ill band members. It took about 11 hours with all the vomit stops.”
Where have you performed, and what was your favourite performance venue and why?
“We have performed at quite a few different venues in and around Brisbane, but to date our favourite is probably the Joynt for the way they treat the bands, as well as the kind of crowd that’s usually there. We also made a fair bit of money last time we played at the Joynt.”
Have you had any embarrassing moments during gigs?
“We won’t name names, but a certain member of the band once had to stop the show and leave the stage to go to the toilet.”
What exciting projects does the band have coming up?
“We are going back into the studio soon to record some songs for an up-coming EP, which is pretty exciting. Beyond that there will be a tour of the East coast at the end of the year.”
What advice do you have for people who want to form their own band?
“Sort out a dress code from the get go.”
And finally, what do you love hard?
“James Brown and David Attenborough.”
If you are loving StormChasers as much as the Love it Hard crew do, then head to their self-titled Facebook page, or check out the band’s website
Lacey Sarah - Beats Lover.