By Emmanuel Narokobi

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AK47 showing DJ Naz-T the basics of DJing, like turning the power switch on…

Okay okay, trying something new this afternoon. We’re having Masalai’s first blog interview with a PNG/Aussie band. I particularly like this band because they are based in Australia so a huge effort on their part for flying the PNG flag down there. Although they launched their album in late 2006, it’s only this week that CHM has come out with their CD in their CHM stores.

So here goes our blog interview with Allen Kedea of the Massive Sound System. Allen is based in Brisbane, Australia.

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So Allen or should I say akay47, tell us where you’re from and your role in the band?

Hi, I’m from Barakau & Vabukori (Central Province). My role in the group is Producer, (part-time) Manager & Band Chef, what do I cook? FAT BEATS!

I was checking out your website (awesome tracks by the way) and the first thing I noticed was the incredible size of the group, is each and every individual integral to the Massive Sound System sound? (You can see their website here and see also their appearance in Triple J’s unearthed website)

Glad you liked the tracks! I guess not everyone was necessary to complete this first album. But the fact that we had everyone accessible probably lent to the unique sounds, lyrics and concepts that came out of each recording session.

Considering you’re all from separate backgrounds, how did you all come together?

I met Dezi-K through her cousin which I went to uni with (studied at Griffith Bach Design) back in 2001 and we’ve been recording together ever since. Toro I’ve known since high school as I’m best friends with his older brother. Amps and G-Dog were introduced by Toro and Jules & Mathew are boys I met from the Southside a year ago. BJ & T-Dog are twin brothers who I first met in high school through their older sisters back in PNG. One of the sisters Alison is the female vocalist we’ve featured on the track Everywhere. Dezi-K’s the only musically trained one out of the whole crew, the rest of us are all self taught (so to speak).

 

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How would you describe your sound?

The Massive Sound System sound is really meant to be digestable music that makes you think while bouncin your head. We don’t shy away from serious issues (like poverty, lack of education and corruption in our political system). We try to execute each song with defined beats and sweet melodies so you’re enticed to hear what we got to say. Our music is basically like fast food, with phat beats, tasty chord structure and finger lickin melodies, we have a sound kinda like fried chicken; it’s bad for you but tastes good and always leaves you wanting more. Some people hate it and others will be curious, but I think most will be left wanting more!

Okay well thanks for the sample tracks, guys grab your headphones cos you can listen to some of those phat beats below.

Please Note: You will need Windows Media Player to play the following tracks. If you do not have this program please click here to download a free copy.

Click on a track to hear the hot tunes, (samples only)
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Album Title: PRIDE, NEGLECT, GREED.
CD Playlist (2006).

1.

Freedom Flight (click to rate this phat beat)!

3:30

2.

Yesu (featuring S.P.L.C PNG Choir ‘97)

3:32

3.

Be Mine

3:49

4.

Mangi Moresby (featuring Daddee-G & Aiba)

3:40

5.

Everywhere (featuring Alison Joyce)

4:07

6.

Bitch Stop Lyin’

3:52

7.

Black Queen

3:25

8.

Dear Fran

3:40

9.

Skit – Churducation

1:06

10.

Lead Guitar History (featuring David Kedea)

3:23

11.

Skit – Our Music

0:57

12.

One More Chance

3:38

13.

Kallup

5:08

14.

Rangers

3:32

15.

Cruise Control

3:13

16.

You Will Know

4:15

17.

Skit – Step Right Up

0:30

18.

Mummy Shaker

4:19

19.

Skit – Any News

0:50

20.

Telling You

4:07

So, congrats on the release of your music and the exposure on our PNG radio stations here, tell us a little about the recording?

The whole project just started as a fun thing with a bunch of blokes having fun recording and writing in the studio. Don’t get me wrong, the songs do serve a purpose but we didn’t plan on recording an album – it just sorta happened. We started with 1 and before I knew it we had 5, then 10 songs and after a while there was enough for an album.

We should’ve released straight into Australia but nobody knew who Massive Sound System was in PNG and you can’t say your from somewhere and not be know there (that’s my opinion). So we decided to release a couple of songs to the stations there while I was DJing for a big new years gig. Things started to happen up for us once we got high rotation on national radio with a track called, ‘Everywhere’ which I wrote in grade 10 (high school)!

In regards to the concept of the album, once I realised we had enough to do an album I wanted to theme it up and have an underlying idea. We sat down and discussed issues that meant a lot to all of us as a collective. The general consensus with the group was that we were all PROUD to be from PNG but felt that our people were been NEGLECTED by the government (or the system) because of their GREED and corruption for wealth. Hence the album’s title: Pride, Neglect Greed. We also chose those three words cos each starting letter spells PNG which is what the title is in reference to.

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I contemplated keeping the album clean with no obsecene language and had one track that had a couple of swear words. We sent that to our initial label in PNG and they said they wouldn’t release in PNG because no artist had ever done that and it was morally wrong to have swearing on a record. That was basically the catalyst to all the rude songs on the album! The way I see it people laugh, cry, shout, scream and curse all the time. It’s all a part of being a human and I want our music to be REAL, not fake and pre-fabricated stories. There’s a song called Black Queen which I wrote for a friend that I cared for cos like most PNG women she doubted herself and her abilities. At the same time we wrote Bitch Stop Lyin’ because there are some girls that lie all the time and wonder why their hated and not trusted and called a Bitch. Just like Tupac wrote, Wonder Why The Call You Bitch. And that’s life, you can love one day, hate the next and it’s an ongoing battle as a human being in the conscious. So you go out, drink and have fun with your friends and that’s where all our party tracks come into play. We did little skits throughout the album to tie in the whole Pride Neglect Greed theme in a fun way.


96.5 – Nau FM

89.9 – FM Central

93 FM – Yumi FM

Who or what inspires your sound?

I guess it’s safe to say that we (the group) all grew up on reggae, hip hop and r’n’b music. Dezi-K our female vocalist has a Jazz & Blues background and all the boys love rap music but their taste in Hop Hop varies. Mathew and Glen like more underground rap like Tek9, Mos Def, J5, Blackalicous and the big thinkers like Tupac. Toro & Amps like the classics like Snoop, DPG, 50 and Dre. I grew up with a lot of Rock n Roll and local PNG music. I still dig the Beatles, Credence Clearwater Revival, Chuck Berry, Little Richard as well as the early Motown era. Obviously Bob Marley and the Whailers from the reggae scene as well as Jimmy Cliff, Burning Spears, Toots & The Maytels and all the classics from Studio One. I really got into the Electronic scene (which is kind of weird for an islander boy) when I first heard Norman Cook’s, You’ve Come A Long Way Baby. That album just rocked my world and got me into producing! From there I researched and studied a lot of producers like MJ Cole, Pharell, Nittin Sawhney, P-Money and of course the father of Hip Hop Dr Dre. I got into House & Breaks in 2000 and that was my introduction to DJing in the valley. Lately we’ve been inspired by a lot of Matisyahu, Roots and Damien Marley (one of Bob’s sons – Junior Gong).

Do you listen to any PNG music, and who do you think has done well for the local PNG music scene?

Yes I do listen to PNG music so I can only really speak for the bands/ artists that have influenced me over the time. When I was kid we used to listen to a lot of string band music like the Copy Cats & Iarowari Drifters. I guess after that there were bands like The Deejays, Clock Work Orange, Sanguma Band, Memehusa, Barike and Artists like George Telek, Lista Laka & Lenard Kania. More recently artists like Gedix, Oshen, Moses Tau and DaddiGee have really caught my ear. There are too many to mention but these artists I think have done a great job to set standards.

I understand that your father was a musician himself, what was growing up like for you musically?

I guess where we come from (PNG) music is a constant part of our lives growing up. So we learn free-fall harmony at a young age and always thought that everyone did that. It’s only when we came to Australia and realised it wasn’t the norm.

As we all get older and more mature we tend to listen to lyrical content a little more and the underlying message of a song. But it was and has always been about the music and the way it hits you when you’re down and picks you up! NOTHING DOES IT LIKE MUSIC.

I personally think that rap and hip hop today has become like the latest pop music, what are your thoughts?

We don’t like getting caught up in all the rap ‘shenanigans’ (as you would call it). That’s not what Hip Hop is about and it’s sad that the media focus on it so much and some artists glorify it. It certainly sells so I can see why they do it from a marketing perspective but you begin to loose the true essence of any genre when you indulge in all that bullshit. Rock has the same ‘shenanigans’ but they just don’t glorify it (as much) so we try not to indulge in it either. It’s always been about the music and saying something that makes people think. If our manager told us that throwing a couple of semi-nude girls in our film-clips would make us an extra million then maybe we’d indulge a little.

So, the bands name? where did that come from?

The word Massive is derived from the word Masses meaning a unified body of large quantity. We also use the word Massive in it’s literal sense of large or huge. Sound System has a metaphorical meaning. The literal is that of a device used to generate sound like a stereo system. The underlying meaning is that we are a sound system, a voice amplifying and voicing what most people (the masses) should be saying, but they don’t or can’t. We are that tool, like a megaphone used in a rally to gather people grab their attention and move them in herds.

Music is a very influential medium and obviously with your release and the attention you are getting what sort of image do you want to portray?

Yes we are image conscious and I think you have to be nowadays. Only because we have so many genres, sub genres, markets and groups of youth today. We’d like to blur those groupings cos it can work as a border which is wrong. And to do that, you have to understand your market and target them. So we are conscious of what image we portray because we want to hit the people that will make a difference tomorrow, if they start thinking today… The Youth.

What’s your favourite track on the album and why?

Shit, that’s like asking an aspiring chef what their favourite dish is… it will only last a day or a week as a favourite. Right now at this very point it would have to be, ‘Freedom Flight’.

It has a lot of meaning to it in regards to corruption in PNG. It a;so has a catchy hook and I love the beat on it with the reggae stabs. Just works for me.

 

What’s the hardest thing about being you?

I think way too much and too deeply ALL the time about everything and anything which makes me impatient (so I’ve been told). I’m very fussy in the studio and like to take my time on things to get it right. Sometimes it’s better to just let things go a little and I’m working on that.

What’s the peak of Massive Sound System’s career so far?

Getting major radio air time on national radio in PNG with our commercial release of, ‘Everywhere’ is up there. And getting signed in our own country is a biggy. The wheels are now in motion.

What’s the grand plan for Massive Sound System? Are you going to conquer the world?

We want to release our album in Australia eventually! So if you’re an AnR person reading this… CALL ME. Ha ha ha… kiddin (sorta). We’d like to hopefully get some recognition in the Pacific, Australia and New Zealand. From there we might try South East Asia and then YES, conquer the world LOL!!!!! We want to make a difference with our music but have to get peoples attention first and that’s our goal at this point. All good things come to those who don’t sit on their asses and you can quote me on that!

Is there anything you would like to tell the world about you, your music, your album, your past, what you may be remembered for or even anything amusing from your tours or other experiences.

I guess at the end of it all (the recording and release of this debut) I just want us to be respected for what we do as musicians. I know not everyone’s going to like our music and I know some things we say may ruffle some feathers (in PNG) but after all is said and done, we’re practising freedom is speech being conscious lyricist/ artists.

Australia really is the land of opportunity and I’ve learnt so much since I’ve been here. We (MSS) have almost done a full circle where we left PNG to gain experience and knowledge from different cultures, lifestyle and markets and now we’re ready to return with something that will hopefully make a difference and give back to our community.

I honestly think our music will make a difference! It sounds cliché but hopefully our music will inspire people to live their lives knowing that dreams can come true with the power of knowledge and the right attitude.

Any last words for the public?

Get ready for some phat beats cos I’m frying some up in the studio as we speak… new project for 07/ 08.

And one final question, do you think you will use my track on your next album? (Yes that’s right readersYours truly has an idea for a music track)

Ha ha ha… maybe. We love the sample you’ve given us but there’s copyright issues we have to look into. Maybe we can do an underground release?

Damn! Okay anyways thanks heaps for your time AK, good luck with MSS and everyone out there in PNG, check out your nearest CHM shop to get your copy of the MSS album!

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