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The Eighth Note: Ras Judah & Culture Embassy Band

‘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.

Up next is Ras Judah who is the head of the ethnically diverse Culture Embassy Band.

Who are you? Tell us a bit about your music:
We are known as Ras Judah & Culture Embassy band. We are a Wellington-based (mostly nine piece) band. But sometimes we do play as a ten or eleven piece. We started back in 2013 as a five piece band and grew into a 9 piece over the past six years. We came up with the name culture Embassy to reflect the band members’ cultural diversity. Whilst we all call Wellington our home, the membership of Culture Embassy band consists of Kiwis of diverse ethnocultural and musical backgrounds. We like to describe our sound as Afrocentric world music. Most of what we play is based on African rhythms (which is where myself and our drummer, Ato originally came from. Botswana and Ghana respectively), but evryone in the band contributes the own culturally inspired sound. which makes Culture Embassy band’s sound uniquely distictive. Other band members include ethnocultural backgrounds from Cuban, English, Kiwi-born Kiwis, Indian/Malaysian, Japanese and Greek backgrounds.

What have you been working on lately? Any new tracks or albums on the way?
We recorded our first full album as a band in 2015. We spent the past six years gigging around Wellington and else where, including the South Island. We continue to write new material. Currently we have plans to record new music at the end of September which will be ready for release by end of spring of early summer 2019.

Where is the best place people can follow you & find your music?
People can follow us and find our music, upcoming gig dates and videos on the following platforms:
. Our Website.
. YouTube channel.
. Our Facebook Page.

What were the 3 most influential albums to you growing up?
The three most influential albums to me when growing up are:
. Two Sevens Clash (Joseph Hill & Culture, 1977 – Jamaica)
. Fundisa Umlomo Wakho (Devera Ngwena Jazz band, 1983 Zimbabwe)
. The Wisdom of Forgiveness (Vusi Mahlasela, 1994, South Africa

Which other Wellington musician (s) would you most like to work with?
There are quite a few very talented Wellington musicians (a bit too many to list) that I would be very happy to collaborate with. I quite like artists such as Mayele Manzanza, Carlos Navae, Bohemian Thami [Bohemian Thought], TK Paradza [TAKUDZWA] etc, and bands such as; Newtown Rock Steady, Tunes of I, Phoenix Foundation etc.

What’s your favourite Wellington venue to play in?
Our favourite Wellington venue has to be The Rogue & Vagabond. But there are a few others that I personally enjoy playing at in terms of ambiance and audience demography, including Moon Bar in Newtown, Havana Bar and Southern Cross.

In your songwriting or composing (or the band’s songwriting) how do the compositions and songs take shape?
My personal composition style two key processes: sometimes I start with playing a chord progression, creating some sort of a grove, then often suitable lyrics would follow. Other times, I start with writing my thoughts (often in poetry from), and then quite often a suitable groove and melody follows. As a group it’s usually through creating grooves and adding melodies, then lyrics.

Where/when is your next gig?
Our upcoming gigs are:
. Friday, 20 September at The Rogue & Vagabond.
. Friday, 4 October at East Street Cafe, Nelson
. Saturday, 5 October at The Mussel Inn, Golden Bay

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