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Screen + Sound + Stage
December 10, 2014

Four Acts In Tempo

Text by Nittal Chandarana

Bonobo, Dislocate and Snark Puppy from Johnnie Walker The Journey tell Verve about pre-performance rituals, the excitement of a trip to India and the secret to burning it up on stage

It’s not often that such an eclectic fare of international artists gears up to perform in the bay. Sure, there’s the monthly instalment of EDM and some top artists perform from time to time but the likes of Bonobo, Dislocate Theatre, Snarky Puppy and Paul Potts under one roof? December got promoted to our favourite month!

For the uninitiated, Bonobo (Simon Green) is a British musician and DJ classified as one of the pioneers of downtempo music. You have to listen to his stuff to know how different and fascinating plain instrumental can be. Next is Dislocate, an Australian aerial-acrobatic theatre group who have a phenomenal act up their sleeve. Grammy-Award-winning fusion band from New York, Snarky Puppy, will take to the stage with their crazy blend of jazz, funk, soul and pop. We challenge you to find a specific pattern or hook in their music; that’s how crazy it can get. And then there’s Paul Potts, winner of the first Britain’s Got Talent. One look at his audition clip on YouTube will show you why. Also happening at the venue, a debut film screening, workshops by the artists and interactive sessions.

We have here Simon Green (Bonobo), Kate Fryer from Dislocate and Michael League of Snarky Puppy in conversation:

1. What is your music inspired by?
Bonobo: “Everything. Musically, everything I’m listening to. My music is a documentary of where my head is at the time; it’s always evolving. The influence changes so it can be anything. It’s all re-contextualising what’s going on at the time. It’s hard to say; I just sit down and see what comes out.”
Dislocate: “If These Walls Could Talk is actually inspired by a very dark time in my life. My mother passed away about 10 years ago, the production is almost symbolic of how important the small moments of life are, living it to the fullest and really treasuring everything you have.”
Snarky Puppy: “It’s inspired by jazz, the 70s, funk and definitely soul. And musicians like James Brown.”

2. Why Bonobo and not Simon Green?
Bonobo:
“I was going to try to find a name from Richard Kipling – I didn’t have a name for myself. I was just reading about Bonobos literally that day: Great Apes (by Will Self), a fiction novel. And then 10 years later, it’s stuck.”

3. How is life for Snarky Puppy post a Grammy? 
Snarky Puppy: “Well, of course, winning was another experience altogether. It’s a night I will never forget but after that, it’s really quite a normal life. People take you more seriously now, there’s a new-found respect for what we do, but apart from that we are still the same guys, making music and loving what we do.”

4. What was the time period invested behind putting up If These Walls Could Talk? How did the idea of blending theatre, aerial and acrobatics occur?
Dislocate: “
It’s taken us about two years to get this production on the road. Right from its conceptualisation, to looking for sponsors to collaborate with us, to finding the cast – this has been a long process. We were thrilled to finally see it take flight at the Melbourne festival.
I trained in theatre before I trained in circus. My life’s aim has always been to tell stories – the desire to tell stories and share important messages along the way. When I discovered I could work with aerobatics as well, I realised that I could create a three-dimensional effect to my work. The audiences are obviously taken on a journey through theatre but there is an extra-heightened awareness to the tale being told when there are elements from the physical world.”

5. What can we expect from your act?
Bonobo: “I don’t know really, it definitely depends on the city and crowd. The more I trust a city the more progressive and deeper I’ll go, whereas if it’s a crowd I think it’s not up for new music I’ll just stick to a safer playlist.”
Dislocate: “There’s so much to look forward to! There’s humour, tears and some great drama. We add that third dimension with the physicality of circus and aerial acrobats in the performance. It just takes the show to a whole new level.”
Snarky Puppy: “We will be doing a little of everything from our albums and of course we never rehearse before a performance, so impromptu and spontaneous jamming sessions on stage is definitely something to look forward to.”

6. What are you looking forward to the most from this trip to India?
Bonobo: “It’s crazy because I have loved India all my life, I wanted to take a year off from college and travel to India. So India was on the top of my list, somewhere I always wanted to go. The food, people and the different sounds I can take back with me.”
Dislocate: “When we were there last time, it was absolutely amazing. We performed in Mumbai and Jaipur and both places were so special. I think for us it was the fact that we had incredible audiences. Looking forward to performing for them again! Also I do love curries, would love to feast on some North Indian chicken curries. We’re also looking forward to the sessions that we will have with our audience post performances — that should be interesting and special.”
Snarky Puppy: “Definitely looking forward to seeing how the Indian audiences will take our music. We’ve never performed before an Indian audience. It would be nice to see how well they feel the emotion and energy that the band brings.”

7. A pre-performance superstition or ritual you conduct before every act.
Bonobo: “Not really.”
Dislocate: “Ah! I don’t know if I’m allowed to say this in public or rather with a women’s magazine – but I never change the toilet stall that I use. During a performance or tour, I have to use the exact same toilet stall, I know it’s a bit weird but for some reason, it’s kind of bought me good luck.”
Snarky Puppy: “We don’t have one! We just go out there un-rehearsed and perform.”

8. Three things required for a great gig.
Bonobo: “Great audience, frame of mind and commitment.”
Dislocate: “Passion, commitment and determination.”
Snarky Puppy: “Communication with your audience, taking risks on stage and of course having fun!”

Watch this space for the highlights of the second edition of Johnnie Walker The Journey raging at Mehboob Studios, Bandra, Mumbai on December 13.

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