Interview: Electric Fields
Performing Womadelaide on Sunday!
With the release of the debut EP, Imna, under their belt, Electric Fields are geared up for another big year. On Dit spoke to Michael and Zaachariaha in the lead up to their performance at the world festival .
Electric Fields had a huge 2016, what’s the outlook for 2017?
Michael: it started out with a bang — performing to 30,000 people on New Year’s Eve at theevent — then we went to Sydney to perform and work with a Grammy nominated producer on a few tracks
Now we’re back home, working on new ideas and music. There are some wonderful stories we want to share — Womadelaide will be our first one hour set!
We saw you perform at Jive last year for the album launch — will the new music change the way you do the set up for the live band?
Michael: we’re probably have a similar set up to that, we’ll have us and didgeridoo player (Who is Kaurna man Jamie Goldsmith) and guitar. So, it will be a combination of electronic and acoustic instrumentation. I would love to be able to perform [their track] Nina Simone with heaps of classical instruments with a horn section and strings.
What are your roles in the band + how do you work to make music
Zaachariaha: I am the lead vocalist; I bring my ideas in with some melody lines. Michael brings his ideas and we feed off each others’ talent.
Michael: we both have a hand in each element. Usually the lyrics and melody are written together. Basically, Zach is the singer and co-producer, I’m the producer and co-singer. It works wonderfully together.
How do you take influences from an ancient culture and turn it into contemporary pop music?
Zaachariaha: back home I’m a student and I’m learning from my teachers. Whenever I feel a moment that is beautiful and I want to share this to non-indigenous people, it’s a nice bridge that I can build between my culture and western world. It’s mainly stories that are coming from the core of love and acceptance and to use that with my language and share it. I’m really loving it and the people are loving it so I feel it’s right.
How are independent artists operating within the changing structures of the music industry and what are your thoughts?
Michael: the biggest change in recent years is streaming and one that impacts on independent artists. The internet means listeners can access more music and but at the same time, it makes it harder to be heard. iTunes is like the online record shop, with more noise being made.
It’s a benefit and a challenge. From an artist perspective, you just got to be true to yourself and make the most beautiful music you can in order to connect. The more authentic the art is, the more opportunity you have to connect to the listener.
Speaking of connecting to an audience, how was your recent trip to China to perform as part of the Royal Adelaide Club?
Zaachariaha: it was very humid! It was beautiful, the people in Quingdao responded to Electric Fields positively. They were moving their bodies and listening to the feeling of the music. A large proportion of the audience did not understand English and certainly didn’t understand the language of the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara peoples. For our Chinese audience, it was purely a sound experience with facial expression.
Michael: It was an interesting for our whole team because black and white people are such alien concept for a country with a population of billions. And for us, to walk into their city without being able to converse with anybody, the locals offered us the respect and kindness. It was a very worldly experience and I felt things were going to be okay.
WOMADelaide is one of the biggest world music festivals, what can we expect to see?
Michael: A high-energy performance with a combo of acoustic and electro music. A wide range of stories told via the lyrics — it will straddle feminine-masculinity, tradition Australian culture — and the lighting showcase will be gorgeous because we’re on at night. We’re looking forward to discovering bands as we wonder through the parklands.