Backstage at the Aussie BBQ at Liverpool Sound City last month, Larry Heath caught up with Caiti and James of Darwin duo Sietta to talk about their tour, their music, bad Chinese food, Nelson George, dance moves and much much more...
Larry: Sietta, welcome to Liverpool, is it your first time here?
Experiences so far?
C: Ah, bad Chinese food? [laughs] No, I’m joking.
J: The first night, I mean we’re…. In Australia, we walked through Chinatown, it was dark and dusty, papers flying everywhere; it looked deserted, and we has incredibly not tasty food, but it was cold... At the same time, loving the grimy vibe and the people are friendly and everyone here’s proud to be from here, so that’s a good thing.
C: Yeah, it’s a great city, I actually really want to go out into the suburbs because everyone says, it’s more green and there's more of everything. It’s a bit like Darwin like that, no one actually goes into the Darwin city centre; it’s all out in the suburbs.
How much longer is the tour going for over here? Coming to the end of it?
J: Yup, this is the end. Today was our sixth and last gig, we go tomorrow to Amsterdam because it was basically an extra 29 pounds to go home via Amsterdam and my mother’s from Amsterdam or from Holland. So yeah, we’re doing that as a bit of a end of the tour fun party.
It’s like going to Vegas when you’re in the US, just gotta do it.
So what comes out of doing all these conferences? Have you met a lot of amazing people, what are some of the experiences that have come out of being a part of the more industry side of things?
J: Well the gigs are weird. They’re weird because people are basically taking notes. Maybe not so much the crowd; like today was a bit of a vibe which was awesome. The industry people aren’t normally the sort to put their hands in the air and start shaking their bodies. Maybe a few do, after a few drinks. So what you hope to come out I suppose, is to make connections, like for us we have a specific purpose what we’re looking for over here, we’re hunting some booking agents and to met up with some people to hopefully promote us, to tour us and license our album over here. So you know, all you can do is hope that it’s going to eventuate and the right people seeing the show. You really find that out in the next couple of weeks.
C: I guess. Also for us one of the highlights has been hearing international keynote speaker Nelson George, he was an absolute highlight and we were lucky enough to hang out with him for a bit. I think he understands our music so, that’s kind of really refreshing to see the influences and the music that we make, to meet a guy that had a part of that in the 90s and 2000s.
Not a bad reason to get yourself over here for.
C: That was definitely a highlight.
J: Yeah the fact today that when we played he was like in the front row, because we invited him yesterday and he sort of was craving to hear some soul/hip hop at this festival, which there isn’t a lot of…
C: From Australia...
J: Especially from Australia. You know, you can’t ask for much more than that. The person that you most, I guess feel connected to when they’ve spoken during the conference, then comes and watches your show and feels... understands what you’re doing and appreciates it on a genuine level.
Is that harder to find in Australia at times?
J: Ah, definitely. Like, this guy, he’s grown up in Brooklyn, New York; he’s been there when they started those Def Jam poetry nights. To run into someone with the history he’s done... You know, he’s worked with Spike Lee! To run into someone like that in Australia... Even if this guy spoke in Melbourne, I think you wouldn’t even get a word with him. But I think because he’s speaking in Liverpool and predominantly the scene here is based a lot on more of the mod-rock and that vibe, and us being able to connect with him and saying we love hip-hop, we understood what you said today is such a great vibe. You can build that sort of connection, and it’s like going to a small town and having a big fish all to yourself, you know, someone that you can just hang out with.
C: That’s exactly right, we had a big fish all to ourselves.
J: Yeah, I said to him, like we went to his screening last night, it was only half full. If he did that screening in Melbourne and they knew that he was going to be there, it would be completely packed.. or in Sydney or anywhere.
And so he was with you at Michael last night?
J: Oh yeah we invited him because we had heard about Michael Kiwanuka, and we invited him. We said, 'We know this soul artist, maybe you wanna come watch...' and he sort of came down and he really loved it. He sort of had this amazing comment about it, you know, reminding him of Bill Withers and Ben Harper.
C: Bit of Sade in there.
And you both enjoyed the show as well?
J: Definitely a highlight, musically.
C: The musicianship was amazing between the five of them, six actually. They were amazing, absolutely amazing.
A unique place to see such talents and of course for the Aussies in the room, we get to see you, kind if going back to where you started and working your way up again. What’s the rest of the year holding for you guys?
C: Ah, writing... writing our second album.
J: Yeah avoiding winter. We’re in Darwin for like, the next two months basically writing our next record. We’re going to write it, we’ve written maybe four or five songs already, um we’re going to write it and we’re so excited about it. We haven’t got any, I guess a lot of.. I don’t feel any pressure to write this record, I feel so excited about what’s happened with the first one and this one to me, we just want to bring it up another level and, have a massive passion for the songs. Today playing acoustic songs as well, a massive passion that the song scan translate in that form as well. It’s been something in the back of our minds going into writing the second album.
Has that been a new thing in your minds, being able to kind of translate those songs acoustically?
C: I think we’ve been kind of lucky because we first formed and started writing those songs and then we recorded those songs and then we worked out how to play them live, so we kind of did the reverse method. But from the start, we always broke it down with bass guitar or guitar and it just seemed to work naturally. I think that’s because our song writing does have that sensibility. You know, we alter and change to make it work, or if it doesn’t work we don’t touch it. We’ve been pretty lucky that all of our music has been able to translate really well into the acoustic realm.
And who inspires your dance moves? I can almost picture a back ensemble at some point.
C: One day, um… look I’m pretty terrible at choreography, my brain doesn’t work that way, so I love my freestyle dances..
Oh it’s great energy, dance all culture.
C: Thank you, dance all culture, new jack swing, RnB the early 90s edition and the new Aaliyah and ah Missy Elliot, 702 total, all of that crew. I was actually lucky enough to meet one of Missy Elliot’s back-up dancers in Brisbane when she performed there and I got to hang out and party with her, which was quite special. Just dancers in general I get inspiration from really.
There’s definitely some perks of being in the industry, you get to meet your idols and dance with them.
C: Yup, that’s definitely a tiny perk.
J: Yeah, it’s only really good if they’re good people, because it can be the worst thing in the world if you meet someone that you’ve admired for a long time and they might just be having a bad day; meeting people I think who are really genuine no matter what level they’re at in the industry is enriching. Like we were just hanging out with Jackson Firebird just then and they’re from a small town like us and really cool guys. I’ve got a lot more time to spend with someone like that than anyone no matter what level they’re at, that are idiots [laughs].
And they’re quite a few of them, but we won’t name names [laughs]. Well thanks so much for you’re time guys, it’s been great seeing you on the road here and I hope all the best comes out of it.
C: Thank you and thank you AU Review, it’s great to get reviews in Australia, not many people review live gigs anymore.