Excitement has been mounting steadily since the news dropped of the return of Shapeshifter, the grand daddies of New Zealand’s electronic music scene and a stalwart globally for drum n bass heads. Last year they released Stars, their latest LP which received rave reviews and trumpeted a return to their best form for the 5-piece. Ahead of their Australian return we had a quick chat to Shapeshifter’s bass and keys man, Nick Robinson about all sorts of things…
1. Hi there! Thanks for taking the time to chat with us! First thing’s first, where are you now and what is on the list of things to do today?
Hi. I am sitting down on the chair at a flat I’m renting, and today I spent the day at my house which I’m renovating. Also spent some time drinking beer and listening to Calibre’s artist radio on Spotify before my data ran out.
2. So Shapeshifter will be touring Australia very soon. Is there anything in particular about coming back to Australia that you are looking forward to? What is your favourite Australian city?
We were based in Melbourne from 2002-2007 so we love that city. It still feels like home and I have a lot of family there. So deep in my heart of hearts I’d have to say Melbourne as my fave.
3. Your latest album ‘Stars’ were released recently and the reviews have been very positive! What was the major musical influences for you leading up to the writing/recording process of the album?
To be honest I can’t remember exactly what i was listening to at the time we were writing it. I guess we all discover music constantly, and lately I’ve been diving through veins of good music, maybe the music that comes out is just a collage mirror of what we want to hear. But we did think we will make an album of music that we feel is best without worrying about if it would be successful or fit the bill or anything like that. We just wanted to write ideas then turn songs into big experiences almost.
4. What is your favourite track form the album and why?
I like Drive because its ruff and has big bad bass but has a lightness to it and it just makes me feel good. In our current live set we enjoy playing that one .
5. Your hometown of Christchurch have been through a lot lately with all the earthquakes. One would imagine that this would’ve brought the community together like never before. Have you noticed an rise in creativity amongst the cities artists and musicians since then?
Yeah, Christchurch is bubbling over with creative goodness! Recently it was even been labeled street art capital of the world, and there’s new venues popping up everywhere. I think I’ve seen in some cities that have had some sort of devastation come out on the other side with a bit a shining light i.e. using art to make things look good – and who can argue? When we look at it, or when we walk or drive past it, they really are thought provoking and interesting pieces that make us think and imagine.
6. Shapeshifter is one of the world’s premier drum n bass acts and you travel all over the world. What is your favourite city to travel too and why?
There’s a few cities I would find hard to pick between. Prague is a great city we enjoy, and we get amazing support there too, but there’s Berlin as well, Amsterdam. Toronto too would be a fave.
7. In 2015 you collaborated with Opiuo for the ‘Slug A Bug’ EP, a rocking recording which hit all the right spots with it’s rock overtones. If you could have your pick of any rock/metal artists to collaborate with, alive or living, who would you choose and why?
Mike Patton because he’s inventive and into interesting ideas and it would be cool.
8. Shapeshifter is certainly a staple on festival circuits around the world. What in your opinion has been the craziest festival you’ve ever played at? Did you get some time to explore the festival after you’ve played?
I would have to say Glastonbury, it was crazy. It features just about every musical act you could think of. But it’s just not music as it features for some of the best best art too: Performance art, stunts, rides, completely made-up fantasy worlds and 160,000 people going hard. Also, Exit Festival in Serbia is pretty awesome. It features about 200,000 people and it is set in an old medieval castle (or Game Of Thrones-style stronghold). It is so cool that they let 200,000 ravers bounce round that place!
9. What is your most essential travel item when you go on tour?
My little Blaster Pro. Its like an UE boom but not one. Just having a nice speaker in the hotel room, or when i’m watching a movie, or if I’m on the bus. Its really annoying though because when it turns on it yells “Hey!” and when you turn it off it yells “Later!”. So fucking annoying when your trying to turn it off quietly but end up waking everyone up with this thing!
10. And finally, if you could shape shift into any creature, what would it be and why?
I would just change into a bird so i could soar. Nah honestly I would just stay human, I can’t think of a creature i’d like to shape shift into. Maybe an orangutang? Super strength and quite funny i suppose?
Thank you for your time!
Friday, 31st March: Metro City, Perth (with special guest Tiki Taane)
Saturday, 1st April: Settlers Tavern, Margaret River
Wednesday, 5th April : Parkwood Tavern, Gold Coast (with special guest K-Lab)
Thursday, 6th April: The Triffid, Brisbane (with special guest K-Lab)
Friday, 7th April: 170 Russell, Melbourne (with special guest K-Lab)
Saturday, 8th Sydney: Manning Bar, Sydney (with special guest K-Lab + Metrik)