‘The Eighth Note’ is 8 quick Questions with Wellington Musicians.
A chance for us to catch up with people & see what they’re up to, or introduce you to a new musician/band and their music.
Today’s guest is gypsy jazz band Phantasticus.
Who are you? Tell us a bit about your music:
We are two violins, two (sometimes one) guitar and string bass, so lots of strings! What we play is loosely based on gypsy jazz – we do play gypsy standards (all the Django Reinhart/Stephane Grappelli/Hot club of Paris stuff) but also write our own tunes which range from gypsy jazz through the Balkans (three of our members play in Balkan bands and we love the energy of that style too) and have a bit of a kiwi twang to them at times.
What have you been working on lately? Any new tracks or albums on the way?
We recorded a few tracks just before Christmas but it’s been a fairly hectic time in the lives of the band members what with babies, relocations and the like, so we’ve slowed down a little bit. However, we’re really stoked to be playing at CubaDupa! We’ll aim to have the tracks we recorded pre-Christmas mixed later this year.
What were the 3 most influential albums to you growing up?
Not sure we have finished growing up yet! Collectively, we are influenced by:
Django Reinhardt’s – Djangology (aka the gypsy jazz bible)
Shantel – Disko Partizani
The soundtrack from the movie, Latcho Drom
Which other Wellington musician (s) would you most like to work with?
We love Black Spider Stomp, who are a fantastic Gypsy jazz outfit.
What’s your favourite Wellington venue to play in?
We love to play anywhere that serves delicious beverages 🙂 St. Paul’s cathedral (Where we launched our album Acousticus) is awesome.
In your songwriting or composing (or the band’s songwriting) how do the compositions and songs take shape?
Sometimes quite randomly – we’ve done few mashups recently, combining old gypsy jazz standards with fun modern or pop songs… our album features the first one we did which is Puttin’ on the Ritz and Constantinople (by They Might be Giants). These are essentially a very similar tunes one key apart, so we do a cute little transition up and back out of the second song. Mostly the combinations occur naturally because it is complimentary to the piece we’re playing and someone might reference it in a solo or some such. We can then try the mashup and if it works – great! So far we’ve had success with the tune from Lambada within one of our own songs, the old moog classic Popcorn which we mash into the middle of Minor Swing, an old gypsy jazz classic, plus a few others. It’s good fun, and cool to see the recognition dawn on the faces of the audience when we perform them.
For our own compositions, usually one of us will come with a melody line, sometimes chords (sometimes not!) and we’ll nut it out together to develop a fully-fledged song. It usually happens fairly organically and naturally as we have a good understanding of each other that way.
Where/when is your next gig?
Cubadupa! Sunday 26th, 1.15pm at the Upper Cuba street stage 🙂