Acoustic Element on their new album: Alt Ego
When I saw the first single video off the new album months ago, I got so excited that I demanded an early listen to the whole album. Actually, I begged. It’s one of the perks of being in this industry and having listened to the entire album (which has since launched), I was super keen to interview this Acoustic Element duo…so I did:
Richard Chemaly (RC): Right, Jody, Callen. Where’s the best place to start this interview? The beginning of the first song seems like a good place? I think so. It so happens that the opening lyrics are your own name! If I went on just that you’re basically one “Miami” away from being Pitbull. But then there’s an amazing rap over classical music. What inspired the connection?
Acoustic Element (AE): *laughs* Well technically, it’s “Yeah Yeah Yeah!”
Well, we wanted a dramatic entry into the album, initially the song was named “The Introduction”, and we loved the Spanish feel of the theme of Habanera by Georges Bizet. We also wanted the perfect vocalist to resemble the characteristics of Maria in the famous Opera, Carmen. Lakota came to mind as she has this amazing aura about her and her flow really grabs the attention of the listener. We also loved the idea of fusing hip hop with classical music.
“They Call Me Crazy”
RC: The Get Wild single in particular sounds awesome. Whoever thought Braam’s 5th Hungarian Dance could be improved upon? To some, this may be seen as sacrilege. What reaction have you received?
AE: The response has been amazing to the single! Most seem to, at the very least, recognize the theme to The Hungrian Dance, which is quite fun to see. It was actually a piece of music I (Callen) played in one of my violin exams, so our rendition has a really true, authentic classical feel.
RC: You worked with Amy Tjasink who is such an awesome person but many are surprised by the differences in her speaking and singing vocals. How did you come to discovering and meeting Amy then getting her on the track?
AE: Ah, she is so lovely! We met Amy at Cosher Studios. We were busy making the Get Wild track and she was busy with her EP, and we instantly clicked. Her voice is so amazing and we kinda knew her sultry quirkiness would suit the track perfectly. So we asked her and the collaboration started!
RC: I’ve never had the pleasure of seeing you live but I’ve watched the videos with a degree of enthusiasm. It’s pretty uplifting to see producers (you kinda consider yourselves producers, at least in part, right?) being on stage with instruments and not hiding behind a laptop and deck. What all can you play and will we see you producing your own instruments soon?
AE: Yes, we actually started taking some DJ classes so we will definitely be incorporating that side into our live act as well. For us it is all about entertaining and being in the moment – and, more importantly, getting the crowd to be in that moment with us. So playing live instruments helps us a lot because we’re showcasing genuine passion and love for our instruments. Jody plays guitar, bass, and beatboxes on the album. He also plays trumpet, though! I (Callen) play the violin and piano (and do vocals on 2 tracks) on the album. But live, I stick to violin.
RC: You’ve been hitting top 5 on many radio stations and even iTunes SA. What’s the goal, in terms of charts topped, festivals to play and collaborations to rock?
AE: The goal is really just for people to hear our music. It was such a personal labour of love, and it really feels that we discovered our musical selves – but seeing our music on the charts is definitely a bonus!
The goal in terms of festivals is definitely Rocking The Daisies & Oppikoppi. We’d especially digg to challenge perceptions and play in the Electric Dome or Beach Bar at Daisies! Obviously, the big dream is Tomorrowland!
RC: As seemingly lovers of the classics, have you a favourite composer? Is there a friendly feud between the two of you in answering this question?
AE: Somewhere, very deep down, we are romantics at heart. So, naturally, we are big fan of the romantic composers – especially those with a bit of a dark side to them! Like Grieg and Brahms. They were basically the underground musicians of the 1800’s!
Paganini was also pretty cool. Plus he played the violin and guitar, just add a producer and he’d be us! *laughs*
RC: Finally, as Cape Town boytjies, is the plan to stick around or do the scenes of other cities beckon? EDM is pretty big in Cape Town but not as big in, say, Ibiza, y’know?
AE: Cape Town will and forever be home, but we do love travelling! We will be taking our music to Sweden this September, playing at the prestigious Cafe Opera. That will be the first of hopefully many international gigs! Ibiza is definitely the dream!