Where are you currently based?
Natural is your 7th album, but 1st full length soul album. Why have you chosen now to record a soul LP?
I’ve always been on the soul side of the blues and Australia has always said I’m not blues enough, but the US and Europe have always accepted the music really well. So this album celebrates my love for blues. soul, gospel and funk, it’s me at my most ‘Natural’ self.
When and where did you record?
The album was Coloursound Studios in Altona – five tracks in 2012 which was the EP “Sass & Brass” and the other 6 in 2017.
What influenced the sound of this LP?
The Funky Hitmen have a sound that combines soul funk and blues with an edgy sound that is totally unique to this band, so the sound is just us.The love we all have for James Brown and the STAX sound influence us for sure.
How will you be releasing the LP?
It has been released by Only Blues Music here in Australia and is selling at JB HiFi, Sanity, Readings Australia wide – the album is released digitally as well. We have released the album for international airplay and it’s doing really well in the US, UK, Europe and it has just gone #1 on The Australian Blues and Roots Charts. We launched the album here in Melbourne and at the Wangaratta Jazz & Blues Festival and had a fantastic response to it, people’s support has been overwhelming actually!
The The Funky Hitmen came back together to record this new album. Has the dynamic changed since 2013’s EP Sass & Brass?
I produced this album and was able to see my vision come to life – in 2013 Cam Scott was more in the production seat and right now I’m in charge of it all, but it’s great fun and the guys are great – also we have more gigs under our belt now too, which makes recording easier – as a producer I have a vision for the full album sound and the cohesive sound of it all so the listener is not jarred but taken on a fun journey like a set at a festival for example. Since the guys and I have gigged together a lot now, the studio session was super easy. One rehearsal – then the rhythm section recorded the tracks, then the horns, then b’/v’s then me – threes studio days to record all up.
Will you be working with The Funky Hitmen in the future?
Oh I certainly hope so! I just need some festivals to get behind us as paying an 8 piece band is TOUGH!
Your also a singing teacher, how do you approach teaching the art of singing?
I like to tell people that music is joy and help them to get their music out and heard, so I help them on their journey. I teach them to work on their craft and be the best they can be, I have written a book on songwriting and teach all my acts to write and release their own material so they can develop as real artists and I run regular gigs for them to sing at – it’s my passion to teach and I’m blessed to be able to do it for the past 21 years – it certainly helps me make enough money to pay for the albums.
You were born in Sri Lanka and migrated to Australia, how has your upbringing influenced your music and your ability to create and perform?
My music is definitely influenced by my dad who played the bass and taught me to love jazz and introduced me to big band music and the greatest vocalists like Ella and Sarah Vaughan and Dinah Washington, Elvis and Ray Charles. Dad played in bands from the age of 17 to 74 when he died and he loved music. He taught me to never sing a song I didn’t understand and never sing a song like the original record – ‘always be yourself’ he said ‘they will pay to hear you be yourself, not someone else’.
Who are you listening to at the moment?
I listen to local acts a lot, so I currently have John McNamara & Lloyd Spiegel mixed in with Jon Cleary and Keb Mo and Taj Mahal..electic, mostly male i have to say, but lots of horns and great groove in nearly all of the stuff i love.
What can we expect for the future?
I keep writing – and when I have enough great material (and can pay for it) the next album will come out.
When and where are you playing next?
I am playing at the Bendigo Blues and Roots Festival right now and then Peninsula VineHop Festival at Red Hill & Baillieu wineries next weekend.
Favourite food and place to hangout?
Bring on the spicy food, from Mexican to Sri Lanka to Spanish to Cajun..yum! Fave hangout is where i can really talk to my friends and be myself..my lounge room or theirs.