Tell us about the first time you were really inspired by music?
I'm not sure when music chose me. For as long as I can remember I wanted to be a pro goalkeeper, presumably repping the mighty NZ All whites, but something changed in my early teens. First I started playing drums. And then my Dad taught me how to bash out a few chords on his guitar. Music had always been a big part of my Dad's life. He was would sing while playing his yamaha acoustic guitar whenever his main gig of supporting and parenting 4 of us kids would allow him, which was often I am happy to say. My dad was steeped in music from a young age. As a 14 year old he used to sneak out at night to play rock n roll gigs at bars in Suva, Fiji where he grew up. Tho the band of pre club age kids would have to hire older guys to get them and their gear safely in and out of the club, he would earn many times what his Dad earned in a month. Quite an introduction to the world of Rock n Roll for a boy from a small village called Nabua somewhere outside of Suva, a small town on a piece of coral in the middle of the Pacific ocean.
The clubs in Fiji in the 60's were like the Wild West but my dad and his mates were kids who loved music and nothing would stop them playing the tunes they loved. So in a way it wasn't a piece of music that most inspired me first but my Dad's love of music. Maybe I wouldn’t have even been able to verbalize it at the time, but his will to live music and play music, to share music no matter what it takes is how my life has been lived so far, and regardless of how I tried to rebel against him when I was an angsty teenager, I have inevitably become my Dad, albeit (and maybe a little worryingly) a teen age version of.
I think the first record I actually bought was Cold Chisel's 'When the war is over’. While I am very embarassed by this fact, it remains a guilty pleasure still, and even tho at the same time I was hearing grandmaster flash and early rap records ( I was late to catch onto everything in NZ, even Cold Chisel) I was a suburban kid in NZ with little access to anything more cutting edge than a barbecue burger flipper. But even then I could feel the power of music to transform my reality and from my early teens on I had very few aspirations for my life that didn’t involve making and/or playing music.
What do you consider to be your greatest skill?
I think it is something to do with making inaccessible ideas accessible to those who are interested in pushing boundaries. With music I have always tried to do something different and bring people something that will allow them to see themselves an their world differently. It brings me the greatest pleasure to play some next level twisted shit to people who have come for a nice sedate evening out on the dance floor, and have them look at me with that “I have no idea what this is but I cannot stop dancing” look in their eyes.
Losing our preconceptions about who we are, what we like and don’t like, all the back stories that we make up about ourselves. This is why we come to clubs and festivals, to forget the limitations we put on ourselves and have our mind expanded. It’s a job I relish and take very seriously…well as seriously as you can with a hair do like mine ☺
Name two albums you keep very close to hand. And Why
Any Sly and the Family Stone record - because the funk is everything.
He represented a strand of conscious funk that also included Funkedelic, Parliament, some Stevie Wonder records for a short period of time, and a bunch of other great acts putting out music from 1970 – 1974. It was the illest beats and funkiest bass lines, but it all had a vibe or a message that was uplifting in some way, even if it wasn’t obvious. Music should do that to you… uplift you. That doesn’t mean it should be hippy or nicey nice nice music. It can even be something that on the outside appears kinda negative, but I believe good music should provide me with a “beyond” moment in some way or other. Sly Stone was the don at dirty funky positive-but-undeniably-sick upliftment.
Any Beatles record from ‘Sgt Pepper’ to the end. Regardless of whether you like the Beatles or not they represent the pinnacle of great craftsmanship and unbridled creativity utilized together in music and they didn’t let their success stop them from becoming even more out there and experimental as time went by. But it was all anchored by an intuitive sense of songwriting and arrangement honed over years and years of working at their craft. As with any path, creative or otherwise, there are places where a practitioner of that art can get stuck in their own world out of fear of losing what they have gained, or not having enough vision to keep moving ahead, or they can lose touch with their outer world and become dated and irrelevant. The Beatles aced it on every level. They wrote a few good tunes as well.
The road to musical success is often long and hard. What is one lesson you have learnt along the way that changed the way you saw things?
Here is one. I wouldn’t say I have mastered it, but I definitely see the sense in it and attempt to abide by it when I remember to remember as it were.
If you think ‘success’ is about climbing the hill to someone else’s definition of success and then staying there for as long as possible, then you are in for a very unhappy time - and an even worse time if ‘success’ eventually finds you.
If there is one thing you can be sure of in life it’s that things change. And so Grasshopper, you’ll be up some times and down others.
No one - and I emphasize NO ONE - has ever remained at the top of the music (or any other) game unchangingly and forever, and it is exactly this desire that causes me to have a bad time when I am ‘successful’.
I get insecure about holding onto something that is always going to change, and I do shitty things to others in a futile effort to deny the undeniable.
The answer?......RELAX already!! Shit changes – which means that tho I may roll down the other side of the mighty hill of success, that too will change. I’ll be on top of the hill again some other time, maybe even in a different field. Of course to increase my chances of this I try not to be an arse hole when I’m on top. Apart from being a fucking bore for others watching me live out childish fantasies of how I think a ‘star’ should act, when I’m at the bottom again people will remember me as ‘that arse hole’ and this won’t make things easy for me when I need a hand up.
So when you’re riding high try and share it as much as possible and help others where ever you can, and when you’re not on top. …Just relax - and prepare for that to change too.
Oh yeah, and don’t let others define what success is for you. Is it playing Wembly Stadium no matter what it takes? …. or is it making a decent living off your art with out stepping on your peers/friends necks to get there? You decide.
Who inspires you? (Both in life and in music)
My partner, my Yoga and Buddhist Teachers, and the incredible people I come across around the world quietly living extraordinary lives helping others with out the need to be in the limelight. I’m so grateful for them all.
In music - anyone willing to do something different and create something that changes the way people think about themselves rather than doing what is expected or doing what limits people to what they think they know.
Musically and otherwise this includes Sly Stone, Steve Gad, Lee Scratch, Avenged Sevenfold, HH The Dalai Lama, Buddy Guy, The Glitch Mob, Steve Reich, and Lama Sumati Marut, Adbusters Magazine, Musicians Making a Difference, Saul Williams and many more
Tell us a quirky fact about yourself no one else knows!
I collected airline sick bags for a long time until we moved house and didn’t have room for them and so had to dispose of them in the One Sick Bag to Rule Them All. A sad day for sick bag collectors all over the world… if indeed there are any others.
If you could have two wishes come true what would they be?
1 - I wish that we could all live together in peace an harmony with rainbows and unicorns and only music I like but everyone would like it too and we all had enough food to eat mostly the kind I like but some other stuff so everyone else could have a good time as well and that sunsets could be ordered on demand, and you didn’t have to buy Kinder eggs to get those little toys they have in them and the wealth of the world was divided up evenly among my friends and I and we gave some to everyone else too so they didn’t try and steal our shit and that music wrote itself and that touring could be done from my phone in my sleep.
2 - I wish I were more patient.
Before you step on stage for a gig, what do you do to prepare?
I surround myself with my entourage, usually my girl friend and anyone I’m paying to be there, and we recite Fozzy bear’s inspirational Speech from the 70’s movie ‘The Muppet Caper’ followed by a short version of the Heart Sutra… “Nothing to see, nothing to hear” etc. I then eat a whole bar of organic dark Chocolate and get hopped up on sugar and cacao and proceed to the DJ booth where I shadow box with the warm up DJ until he let’s me on the decks. Happens like this every time… Shit’s getting predictable. I gotta change things up.
What do your parents think of what you do? Have you ever taken them along to a gig?
My parents came down to a gig in New Zealand, in Auckland, and they stayed for a while and hung out. It was so good of them to put up with the infernal racket I make (and the music as well), and I was really proud to have them there. My Mum and Dad are awesome. It was pretty surreal watching people’s drugs kick in over the course of the night and having them come up to chat to me in ever increasing states of disrepair and ability to converse. My Ma and Pa stood by with sweet patience and a kind non-judgmental view. I guess they have seen more than I would like to admit having raised 4 kids. There’s a good chance that I was the only one freaking out… they were chill! Which is another reason why I love my Ma and Pa so much.
If you could be remembered for one thing, what would it be?
Other than my sick bag collection you mean? ……I guess as someone who made some small attempt to bring a little light to others. Regardless of whether it was thru music or not…. and regardless of how successful I was at it. My attempts to use what I have to help others is all that seems to matter to me the longer I am in this dirty racket known as the music business.
I know it’s hard to believe, but snorting a line of coke off the butt crack of someone you just met while chowing down on a medium rare shank of an endangered species, all washed down with a $500 glass of wine won’t actually matter that much when you look back at it in 10 years time…. Well not as much as you think at the time anyway.
Having spent so much time on aeroplanes, are you an official member of the mile high club?
Airplanes go higher than that don’t they? At least it feels like that.
Maybe it’s an optical illusion caused by that thick plastic glass they use in the windows. It always looks scratched up, with a bug living in between it and the outside panel of glass. How do they do that? Bugs got big time stamina to be hanging out there for a 26 hour flight from London to NZ. Respect to the economy class window beetle massive!