Bobby Alu - Leigh Sawmill Cafe
If you haven't heard the name Bobby Alu yet, now is the time to start paying attention to the Samoan/Australian musician. From playing upside-down buckets with his uncles at family gatherings to performing sold out concerts on drums for international blues and roots legend Xavier Rudd, he's paid his dues and is now building a solid reputation as a huge talent in the music industry.
He won People's Choice Most Popular Male Award at this year’s Queensland Music Awards and he's now tour to promote his newest EP ‘Bay Sessions’. Bobby Alu and the Palm Royal are coming to NZ this January and will bless our ears with their ‘hammock style’, blues and roots music for five shows only.
If you could visit any musical period or see any artist, where would you go first?
The sixties and seventies saw the development of so many styles that are iconic nowadays. It would have been so exciting to have been in this melting pot while it was all happening. Soul music, afrobeat, reggae, psychedelic rock – the thing is, back then it might have felt normal, and it's only now looking back that we see how amazing it really was.
What musical influences did recording at home in Byron Bay have on your latest EP 'Bay Sessions'?
My music encourages balance and harmony. Byron Bay is a great place to slow down. Being on the road for long spells makes me yearn to slow down, and my this environment provides that for me. Reflecting, writing and recording in Byron is a great fit.
NZ has a large population of Samoans – do your family roots run deep here?
My mum came directly from Samoa to Australia, so although I didn't spend any of my youth in New Zealand, a big bunch of ainga (family) live there. I look forward to catching up with some on this visit.
Your music is uplifting and happy – how do you express darker and more negative emotion in your music?
Like I mentioned before, I'm all about acknowledging and finding balance. A big part of me is about bringing positivity – and yes, that comes out strongly in the music – but I feel that some darkness, toughness and negative balance comes out in live shows. Also in a lot of the new material I'm stockpiling for the next record. As I'm getting older and traveling a lot, I'm feeling the harmony in both positive and negative, the yin and yang.
Any projects with Kiwi musicians in the pipeline?
Man, I hope so! Music from New Zealand has always inspired me. Lately I've been able to meet a few artists I grew up listening to. Warren from Trinity Roots, what a boss! I'd love to collaborate with him one day, or explore some Samoan influence with Ladi6. The fact is, in my opinion, NZ holds some of the world's greatest talent.
How do you feel to be compared to the likes of Ben Harper, Bob Marley and Xavier Rudd?
It's an honour. Those fellas have great music and have all influenced me in some way. Plus I play drums for Xavier Rudd, we are musical bros.
Samoan Tourism choose 'Take It Slow' for their Beautiful Samoa campaign, and it has had almost 100k views on Facebook. Do you think that commercial success will influence your grassroots style of music?
Influence is constant. There are always so many things influencing us day by day. I'd like to think that I will continue to give music that promotes my fundamental life truths, of positivity, happiness and balance. For now it's through grassroots style, which I love, so for now that style will stay. I grew up jamming with my uncles at family gatherings, singing songs and playing upside down buckets for drums. I'm proud of that foundation, it's pretty grassroots all right!
If you had had the chance to see Bob Marley or Ben Harper early in their careers but couldn't find the time, or even be bothered to get off your ass, you would always regret it. Don't miss the chance to see Bobby Alu here in our own backyard for the first time ever.
Friday 08 January 2016 9:30pm
Leigh Sawmill Cafe 142 Pakiri RD,