As part of our 3 day Southbound immersive experience, we sat down with the boys from POW! Negro for a quick chat about their upward journey, their next EP and pasta.
Nelson Mondlane- MC
Rhys Hussey- Drums
Lachlan Dymond- Guitar and sample machine
Chris Young- Guitar
A lot of work goes into your songs. What’s the creative process behind your music?
Lachlan Dymond: Most of the time a lot of us, like me, Rhys, Chris Toby and Kaprou, we all make beats on our laptops, by ourselves. Usually it’ll work where one of us will make a beat, bring it to the group if we think it can be applied to the band, if it’s going to work with all the instruments, we’ll just try to figure it out as a group.
It’s such a mix of genres, how did you come to merge them all together? Did it just come about naturally?
Rhys Hussey: I think it was a complete accident, really. The instruments that we have make us sound rock, but then the majority of the band don’t listen to hard rock or things like that. Chris does, but the majority of us listen to hard hip hop, or just jazz hip hop, whatever, anything. I guess it was what really felt good with the instruments that we had. We were like “let’s try to make it hip hop, but with the instruments we’ve got”, and it just equated to a nice, rounded rock, hip hop, jazz sound.
Lachlan: We always wanted to be a hip hop group, but naturally with the instruments we use, it doesn’t really sound like a hip hop group; it’s some sort of weird blend.
How did you all get together and form the band?
Nelson: I was asked to do a solo set at Mojo’s for the hip hop event Hustle Hustle. I was going to do a solo set with a DJ, but then Rhys was like “nah, we don’t need to do that, we’re going to make a band, because we’ve been meaning to make a band for years and we never do it”. So we had a week to make a set, and I was like “if we fuck this up, we’re never going to be asked to play again, so it better be good” and he was like “it’ll be fine”! So, we managed to make a set in a week and got Lachie, Toby and some other people to help us out. I don’t know if the set was good, but it’s gotten better.
Lachlan: I think people were pretty amazed that we made in a week.
How long ago was that?
Nelson: September last year.
Right. You recently released your debut EP back in October. Are you happy with the reception that got?
Rhys: That got cancelled, we cut the whole thing because we weren’t happy with it.
So are you working on that now? What weren’t you happy with?
Rhys: In the new year we’re going to be working on it again and making it ourselves, getting help from our friends with the mixing and mastering. We’re going to keep it organic, there’s no need to hire somebody else to try to get the sound that you want; if you know how to do it yourself, then do it yourself because then it’s 100 per cent you.
Chris Young: Over the years, we’ve all been learning to record and gather all that info ourselves. It’ll be a good learning process for all of us to try and record it by ourselves.
Sounds good. So, did you scrap the October release because you didn’t feel like it was ‘you’?
Lachlan: Yeah, we had some people working on it and we just weren’t happy with the sounds that were coming out of it, it wasn’t us. It was too much rock and not enough hip hop, so we wanted to change that.
Nelson: We recorded it all live, we wanted to have more of that multi-track sound that hip hop generally has in the studio, but mix that with live elements. A lot of the songs that we were recording, we’d only just written. We were learning to play the songs as we were recording them, which is a pretty fucked up scenario. We released a single in November, and that was a good experience, but that was another thing; it got rushed. I think for the future we’re going to take as much time as we can and get stuff that we’re really happy with before we release it. We’re happy that we have got something out there, at least. It does represent us.
Were you happy with how Tuesday’s performance went?
Nelson: How’d you guys feel about it?
Lachlan: It was alright. I made some mistakes, but it was good. It was a fun show and the crowd was insane, I wasn’t expecting that sort of response.
Chris: Yeah, I didn’t hear one bad review from punters.
Rhys: It was really nice after, later on in the show; Remi didn’t get to see it, but he’s happy with what we do. It’s nice to get that support from people that we idolise. We really enjoy other artists, and when they say that you’re good as well, you’re like “fuck off, get out of here” (laughs). It was our first time playing a festival stage, so it was a bit hard to get the dynamics of the sound right for us onstage, but that’s something we’ve got to learn.
Nelson: It’s such a big stage, it’s hard moving over the whole stage constantly. I definitely feel I went too hard, too soon and then sort of died for the rest of the set. It was good fun.
So what’s next for you guys?
Nelson: We’ll be recording the EP in January and February, for as long as it takes.
Lachlan: We’re playing the Perth International Art Festival on February 17th, which is going to be off the hook.
Rhys: Then there’s Groovin’ the Moo coming up as well, and a new year’s show, then a regional tour in March, April, May, sometime around then. We’re playing Fairbridge as well, there’s a whole bunch. Mostly we’ll just be recording and working on our performance more and more and more.
Sounds great! What advice would you give to other bands who want to break into the industry?
Lachlan: Just do it, because none of us ever thought that this would happen. If you told me this a year ago, I would have said “get the fuck out of here, there’s no way”. So I say go for it, see what happens.
Nelson: Take influence from other people, but don’t copy them just for the sake of copying them. Make music that you’re proud of and says something that is meaningful. If it’s about simple things, fun things, as long as you’re writing stuff that resonates, then it’s all good.
Just to finish up, what’s your favourite pasta dish?
Rhys: So all round, lasagne? I could drink béchamel sauce, but I don’t like pasta.