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Interview: Get Acquainted With Merry Melbourne Crew 8Foot Felix

Interview: Get Acquainted With Merry Melbourne Crew 8Foot Felix

Thursday 20th April, 2017 11:45AM

8Foot Felix are a throng of merry Melbourne-based musicians whose diverse sound could trace its roots to any number of geographic locales but borrow heavily from traditional Balkan rhythms. The crew have moored their musical ship on Aotearoa shores for a handful of shows this week and in preparation, first-mate Fluffy caught up with Will "Captain" Tait to spin yarns over a cheeky rum or two to discuss feline tendencies, WOMAD and worldly journeys...


Tell us about your name. Are you big fans of Felix The Housecat?

Ahh! The mythical beginnings of the Felix! Back in 2011 I was reading a lot of Tom Robbins who equates cat energy, or 'meowing' , with “the human impulse to be playful, an impulse all to frequently demeaned and repressed in the adult population”. Then I heard a dreamtime story about a spider creator being. Something happened in the bizarre part of my brain and the image of an eight-legged playful-creator spider-cat popped out – along with the name: 8Foot Felix.

Here in New Zealand we have long been acquainted with a heavy metal act called 8 Foot Sativa. I imagine the 8Foot Felix fan base is most likely quite different, however. What kinds of cats do you find yourself playing to? Tell us a little about your sound and your crowd...

Describing the sound of 8Foot Felix is like trying to describe your favourite smell. You can throw in whatever words you like, but in the end you just end up saying: “It puts a big fat smile in my belly! It makes me feel alive!” We started the band with a pretty solid balkan gypsy offering but other genres kept tumbling in: blues, hip hop, latin disco! Over the years our bass player has moved from upright to 5-string electric, fattening the sound with rude-sounding pedals. This has filled out our sound with the kind of dark oomph that'll satisfy even a Sativa fan (we hope!), but generally the cats that are drawn to us are as diverse as our genres: all ages, all persuasions. We're dedicated to irresistibly dance-able rhythms, and we immerse ourselves in the story of each show. It's quite a ride, and the crowd is often leading the way!


Tell us about your experience playing this year’s WOMAD festival. That must have been a time and a half?

I was performing with a very different outfit called Future Crunch where I bring my music and theatricality to stories of inspiring technological and social change researched by my two collaborators: an economist and a scientist. We were heralded as the pick of the festival and made quite an impact, so I'm still on a bit of a high. It's such a beautiful site too – can't wait to be playing there as 8Foot Felix!

I imagine you had ample chance to be on the other side of the stage whilst at WOMAD. Who was your favourite pick of the festival?

Emir Kusturica and the No Smoking Orchestra were sublime and ridiculous and provided me with my most satisfying dance, Swamp Thing were awesome, a Welsh band called 9Bach brought me to tears, but I think The Soil would be my ultimate pick for sheer joy and vibe. An african soul- mamma, flanked by two beaming guys, no instruments, just 3 mics, and yet they gave all the bass and beats and harmonies we needed – and plenty of dancing and laughter.


You’re embarking on your ‘Mad Isle’ tour in New Zealand. Tell us about how that came to be?

A friend in Oz booked 8Foot Felix for her wedding and her folks, who run Casita Miro vineyard and restaurant on Waiheke, fell in love with us there! They made it their mission to get us over to NZ. I got to visit the place just before my WOMAD gig. Wow! That's going to be special night. Once we'd picked that date we put our feelers out for more gigs. A bunch of folk encouraged us to go for Leigh Sawmill saying it was the ideal setting for our rambunctious show, and then in Auckland we got an immediate wave of enthusiasm from Jonty at The Thirsty Dog. With all those gigs in place we then connected with DJ Chica Licorica (aka Jodine Stodart) and cooked up a plan to present the tour under the banner of her production house Subtropica. With her and her crew on board we're enriching our mainland gigs with balkan beats, circus dance and fire acts. Woo Hoo!


You’re also touring with a group called Blunderbuss. What’s the buzz with them?

Our trumpet player Brendan has been DJ'ing as Blunderbuss since we formed 8Foot Felix He does a mean drum and bass set! Over the years he's added live horn lines and vocals with sax-playing Dandelion. Then a year or so ago they hooked up with Jimmy on decks and wrote a bunch of tunes, which they've now gigged and produced to into a really fun, quirky, dance-able, sweet sound. Very exciting to have them on board for this tour.


In 2012, well known gypsy punks Gogol Bordello, whose lyrics often feature anti-capitalistic themes, licensed music to the Coca Cola Corporation. What are you thoughts on that?

The actions of corporations often make my blood boil. In fact they make the cat in me yowl! In essence my biggest beef against them is that they kill fun. When people put profit before creativity, community and environmental wellbeing I feel like the humanity's magic island of free-wheeling spontaneous organic aliveness is under attack. If Gogol have left this island to join Coca Cola then I'm very sad for them, but if they refuse to hand over their anarchic autonomy then it's Coca Cola that needs to watch out. At the end of the day corporations are just people and I feel that people only put profit first when they are scared that they won't get to feel good through more satisfying pursuits. I reckon the true spirit of joy, creativity and connection is an elixir that's far more potent than a Rolex life. Love is pretty good word for it and we just need to make it more accessible by any means possible. We all want it. Things get better when we all get it. And we're all in this together.




8Foot Felix - Mad Isle Tour

Friday 21st April, The Thirsty Dog, Auckland
Saturday 22nd April, Leigh Sawmill Cafe, Leigh

Tickets to both shows available HERE at UTR





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