Pop Vulture: POW! Negro Discuss their Upcoming EP and Playing Live
POW! Negro are one of the most exciting young bands on the Perth scene right now. Their exuberant live shows have already become nationally famous, catching the ears of Triple J and granting them a place at music festivals like this year's State of the Art and the upcoming BIGSOUND Music Festival and Conference in Brisbane. The six-piece's eclectic sound blends jazz, rock and hip-hop influences to create something special.
Their eagerly anticipated debut EP Jasmine & Licorice will be dropped on July 28, and the boys are heading on a short tour to launch it, with dates in Bunbury (July 27 at the Prince of Wales with Western Kinsmen Of The Sun), Dunsborough (July 28 at Clancy's with Western Kinsmen Of The Sun) and Perth (July 29 at the Rosemount Hotel with The Weapon Is Sound, Grievous Bodily Calm and KNOE).
We were very lucky to talk to frontman/MC Nelson Mondlane and bassist Toby Batchelor ahead of the release, in another segment of our Pop Vulture series.
You worked with David Kennedy (A Tribe Called Quest, Mos Def) and Michael Jelinek (The Growl) for this upcoming EP, how did you link up with them and what wisdom did you gain from them?
Working with both of those dudes was really sweet. We got a few mixing tips from both of them, some real interesting ones from David - he’s such a legend. We’re big fans of What Would Christ Do, The Growl album, and were really keen to infuse some of the sounds from that album into the EP. Jelly’s a wizard. He does insanely cool things in not a lot of time which makes it even more interesting. Annoyingly, we didn’t get to sit in on any mixing sessions, which we were all keen to do.
Your riotous live sets have already become legendary in the Perth music scene, I’ve had the privilege of seeing you probably about five times now and I’m still blown away each time. How did you approach translating that energy into a recorded format?
Thank you so much, that’s really nice of you. We’ve always talked about the recorded side of POW being different to live. We didn’t wanna limit ourselves by only having sounds and effects we could replicate on stage, because we thought that’d potentially compromise the music. It was a really interesting experience though, we’re really just experimenting and seeing what works and what doesn’t. We thought Jelly could help push the sound in a little more garage-y/gritty/live direction.
I’ve always wondered how your songs come into fruition. How is song writing juggled between you all, lyrically and musically?
They seem to mostly come from beats that we make on our own and bring to the band. Sometimes they’re pretty fleshed out and sometimes they’re just a sweet section. If we all like it we learn it as a band and then Nelly writes to it. In theory. Nelly has been freestyling over most of the newer songs in our set, but I think that’s kinda part of the process. Sometimes we just jam and come up with stuff too, but usually from beats.
Your music has a very eclectic sound, so I’m curious as to what sort of music you even listen to in your spare time? Do you all bring different tastes to the table? Are there artists you can all agree on?
We listen to a variety of stuff from jazz to experimental ambience, hip hop, metal and K-pop. Everyone has different tastes. However we all love MF DOOM, Kendrick Lamar, Earl Sweatshirt, Tennyson, Floating Points, Jordan Rakei, King Krule, Jonwayne, Tame Impala, AC/DC, D'Angelo, Flying Lotus, Ben Witt, Thundercat, Madlib, Sampa The Great, BBNG, Outkast, Yussef Kamaal and Run The Jewels.
Lately I’ve been smashing Death Grips, Wayne Snow, MNDSGN, REMI, Henry Wu, Homeshake, Mallgrab, Moodoid, Hamjam, Tony Allen, Panda Bear.
It's worth noting that we don't all love these artists. (*cough*AC/DC*cough*) These are Nelson's selections, but they're relatively reflective of the majority of members.
What 2017 music releases from other acts have you been enjoying?
Jonwayne- Rap Album 2, Kendrick Lamar- DAMN., Mac Demarco- This Old Dog, Toro Y Moi- Boo Boo, Tyler, The Creator- Flower Boy, Pond- The Weather, Kirin J Callinan- Bravado, Thundercat- Drunk, Hamjam- A/S/L?
When you’re hungry in WA, where is your go-to location for a meal out?
Ali Baba's Kebab Store on the Cappuccino Strip in Freo. $7.50 for a top notch falafel kebab mate.
Are you a tv show binger, and if so, what is currently on rotation for you?
I don’t think any of us watch any actual tv, but I literally just finished Atlanta (Donald Glover) this morning and that’s amazing. Peep Show, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Adventure Time, Rick and Morty and It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia are just constantly in rotation. I just started watching The Knick, which is a medical drama based in the 1900s which isn’t bad.
Last movie you saw in cinemas/thoughts?
Hounds of Love, a very tense and chilling Perth film that's set close to our neck of the woods. Part of it is set at the Leopold Hotel, which some of us used to frequent for the $10 jugs pretty regularly. (Dj) Defs worth checking out and showing support for great homegrown productions.
Coming back to your music now, you’ve already accomplished a stack in a short space of time, opening for a bunch of great acts and playing at some awesome festivals. What have been the highlights for you, and what are you most looking forward to?
We’ve been super blessed to play some of the shows we have in such a short amount of time. Blackalicious was epicly dope, had fun playing Southbound and GTM too, but personally, Fairbridge takes the cake so far. To play a headline slot to a packed out tent with so many friends and family vibing was something we never could have imagined and was a face splitting grin of a dream.
Following up on that, do you have a favourite venue to play at?
Probably Mojo's hey. There don’t have to be that many people in there to get a vibe going and when it is packed out the whole building grows arms and legs and starts grooving. The sound is exquisite and we’re all packed on the stage too which makes playing extra fun. Plus we all live around Freo, so it’s easy to get to, ahah.
Jasmine & Licorice is out on Friday, July 28. Make sure you grab your tickets to one of their gigs HERE asap!