Simmering away gently in the creative cauldron of Brisbane’s West End, the eclectic corner known for its working class ethnic roots and now a hub of café and counter culture, soulful dub-reggae outfit Kingfisha haven’t rushed to produce their debut album at all. Preferring to develop their sound in front of audiences on stages up and down the East Coast and at festivals celebrating Indigenous and South Pacifc islander culture, their lucious and incredibly smooth self-titled album is a triumph of home-grown, feel-good reggae with a distinct nod to Wellington skanking superstars Fat Freddy’s Drop.
In addition to appearances at festivals including The Kuranda Roots and Island Vibe in Queensland and Shine On in Victoria, Kingfisha are currently enjoying some prized airplay both on national and community radio. It helps to have the Roots ‘N All host and Brisbane music guru Sarah Howells on your side, as bassist Shannon Green can boast, “It’s always good to have people in your home town on the radio, it actually counts for quite a lot, and that she’s roots focused is a big thing for us. She’s cool and a great supporter of her local scene and gets to air that to the nation, so yeah, she’s always been a good supporter.”
The core trio of the group Anthony Green (vocals and effects), Drew Stevens (guitar and electronics) and Shannon Green (bass) are actually old school friends who have been playing music together on and off since their high school band Delirium rocked a birthday party in Redcliffe, the seaside town 45 minutes north of the Brisbane. Years later, another one of their better known projects Promiscuous Chrysalis (later shortened to Promiscuous) moved their act to Melbourne but eventually disbanded.
It was an active hiatus however, as Green explains, “After Promiscuous broke up we were meeting up every Monday to write songs and record, and we were just hanging out at the guitarist’s place to keep the ball rolling. We weren’t actually practicing as a band, but we were trying to write music and record demos and stuff like that.”
In fact, one of the first ideas from those post-Promiscuous jam sessions features on the album. Green explains the origin of Olde Faithful, “That was a little guitar progression that I wrote, probably in about 2004, and at that time Anthony the singer was having a little trouble writing lyrics. So for a while not much was written in that regard, and it took a long time and but one day Anthony said he’d finally written a melody to it and loved it, so it made a comeback so many years later.”
The actual recordings can be heard layered into the album. “There’s an opening loop on that song, and that came straight from what we recorded about seven years ago, actually I forgot about that, but that was a cool little synth thing that Drew wrote. Its good in that regard, things can sit around, but as long as you record them, you have an archive of things that you can draw back on. Something you might totally forget about, years later the inspiration might hit and it becomes a song,” says Green.
Kingfisha played their first shows in Brisbane years later and immediately gained notoriety for their polished sound, soulful song writing and Anthony’s smooth voice. Anticipated additions on any roots lineup, they even supported the Easy Star All-Stars earlier this year, but why, after all, did the album take so long?
“I don’t know, I don’t know, I wish it had been done a couple of years ago, but you know, I guess it wouldn’t be what it is if we did,” contemplates Green. “Why did it take so long? I guess money a little bit, but not really, we had a couple of false starts, and we tried to record and produce it ourselves, and that didn’t quite work out, and then we thought we just needed to lay the money out and pay someone to produce it and it will get done and it did.”
And how does it feel, to have it finally finished? “It does feel good to get it out for sure, I’m just really happy for people to hear it all,” proclaims Green.
They’re winding up their protracted launch tour in Melbourne with a show at The Thornbury Theatre, but these shows are part of a bigger goal to spread their music as far and wide as possible.
Travel is the goal according to Green, “I guess we are really looking forward to potentially going overseas, that’s a big thing for us, just generally, and being able to travel with our music is pretty much our goal in life, and a goal in playing music is being able to travel. We’ve basically been waiting to get the album done before really pushing for that, but you really need a full-length album behind you before you get taken seriously in that regard. So that’s another great reason that the album’s out.”
BY JAMES STAFFORD
KINGFISHA launch their album at The Thornbury Theatre on Friday July 13, supported by King Charlie’s School Of Dub and Lotek (DJ Mode). Their self-titled debut album is out now through Uppercut Records/Vitamin.