The Cactus Channel Q&A
By: Maddy Crehan
Straight out of high school Melbourne sensation The Cactus Channel take their own brand of high octane, instrumental car chase funk and smooth soundtrack soul to the people with their debut, Haptics. With an upcoming Australian tour, 2012 is the year The Cactus Channel come of age.
The Cactus Channel deliver on all their precocious promise with this super heavy full length debut LP. Haptics is chock full of jazzed up soul and boogaloo hits, all informed by a canny sense of soundtrack–‐ready drama, loaded with tight, hard grooves and one strong track after another.
Interview with Darvid Thor – The Cactus Channel
1. Who are the Cactus Channel and how’d you guys come together?
The Cactus Channel is a 10-piece instrumental funk/soul outfit direct from Melbourne. We take influence from much of the Daptone and Truth & Soul labels in Brooklyn, New York, as well as old school hard funk, afrobeat and soul in the likes of Eddie Bo, James Brown and Fela Kuti.
We met in high school while all doing year 9 (aged 14) and just started playing in the school music department. At first we had little direction, but as we got to know each other musically, our sound matured and we started listening to raw funk and soul with an interest in writing our own material. The compilations ‘New Orleans Funk Vol 1&2’ out on Soul Jazz Records were really the ones that got us heading in that direction.
2. Can you talk a little bit about how the songs came together for your new record “Haptics”?
The songs on ‘Haptics’ span across a few years of writing for the band. Before we got signed to HopeStreet Recordings, we hadn’t thought of releasing an album, and didn’t even think that it would happen. After our first release (Single Pepper Snake/The Dap) we started writing more and more, which really helped us find our sound. When HopeStreet mentioned the idea of an album, we decided to pick our best and chose them for the cut.
A bunch of the members write for the band so we had a varied sound for ‘Haptics’. I think that’s an important part about it.
3. How do you find being a part of the Melbourne music scene? Do you think it’s a good place to start a band?
I think the Melbourne music scene is awesome. I lived in Sydney for a while and it’s definitely a stronger scene here that gives bands more opportunity. Because there are so many relaxed venues around, it makes it quite easy for an upcoming band to get a gig and play their music. The nightlife is also pretty lively. That makes it great for band when you know you’re going to get at least some crowd. I was talking to someone who was in New York recently, and he said that he digs the Melbourne music scene a whole lot more. Sure you don’t have those gigs with really famous musicians that often, but the amount of live music across the week was supposedly more frequent than that in NY.
4. Who are you favourite Melbourne musicians or bands at the moment?
- • The Bombay Royale
- • Saskwatch
- • Hiatus Kaiyote
- • Papa Chango
- • Public Opinion Afro Orchestra
- • The PutBacks
5. What’s been the best live show you guys have done so far?
We got the chance to support Charles Bradley & His Extraordinaires in March this year and I would say that was one of the most amazing weekends. We played two shows, one @ The Corner Hotel here and one @ The Factory Theatre in Sydney. Those gigs would be my favourite for the fact that we played alongside a bunch of musicians we’ve been following intensely over the past few years.
But there are also gigs here in Melbourne that are just as good. We had a Monday night residency @ The Evelyn Hotel in June and that was a lot of fun. It was just a great vibe and we played our best due to that.
6. What’s it like being part of such a large band in terms of the writing and recording process?
It’s not as complicated as it seems. Sometimes getting everyone to the rehearsal is a bit of a task, but generally we’re all pretty good at it. The way a song usually comes to the rehearsal is through an idea that someone has. It could either be the very beginning of an idea, or the whole song with every part pre written. Because everyone is different, their own flair will rub into it and change it somewhat. Sometimes we groove on an idea for a while to make it solid and then write the melody over the top… it all depends.
When we recorded at HopeStreet, we did the rhythm section and horn section separate. This was due to the space that we had to record in… so if we could we’d love to record all live, and see how it turns out. There is talk of more recording in the New Year, so we’re all excited to get our new songs on tape.
7. What advice would you give to fellow young musicians wanting to break into the music business?
Get plenty of contacts. They will get you the gigs, get you the record deals, etc. Get to know the people within your genre of music.
8. Favourite venue in Melbourne?
This is hard. We had a lot of fun @ The Evelyn Hotel. Great sound for bands and punters there. The Toff In Town ia also a banger.
9. What’s next for The Cactus Channel?
Now is the time when we’re thinking about what we want to do with the band and our careers, it’s an exciting time. We’ve just started talking with a manager/booking agent that we think will be able to further us in the industry. We’d love to go touring overseas, especially Europe.
However, September/October we’re embarking on our first National Tour to promote our new album Haptics, so keep an eye out for a show near you.
THE CACTUS CHANNEL NATIONAL TOUR DATES:
LAUNCESTON: Friday 24th August @ Junction Arts Festival
BRISBANE: Friday 21st September –‐ X&Y Bar
BULLI, NSW: Thursday 27th September –‐ The Heritage Hotel
SYDNEY: Fri 28th Sep –‐ GOODGOD Small Club + DJs Obliveous, Frenzie, JC, (Funkdafied) + Thomas Crown. Tickets from Moshtix.
CANBERRA: Saturday 29th September –‐ Transit Bar
MELBOURNE: Friday 12th October –‐ Ding Dong Lounge
ADELAIDE: Saturday 13th October –‐ Rocket Bar