INTERVIEW: Mr. Woodnote | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Australian saxophonist Mr. Woodnote and his close friend, MC Lil’ Rhys are legendary for being two of the most infamous buskers Bristol has ever seen. Loud, supremely funky and never ones to hold back, the pair have been banned from the streets in numerous cities across Europe. Despite this, they’ve still already produced an album of rap and funk fusion and are set to release a new LP, Late Heavy Bombardment, in the very near future. Filled with passion and enthusiasm, his shows are never ones to miss.

Ahead of his appearance at the Alligator Club as part of Alternative BRASS, we talked to Mr. Woodnote about playing the sax, what he expects out of a Durham crowd and being banned from the streets of a number of cities across Europe…

How did you first start playing the saxophone? Why were you attracted to it as an instrument?

I first got my hands on a saxophone when I was 12, I thought it was way cooler than the clarinet I had been playing and my parents were very encouraging, which is the most important thing.

You’re both a saxophonist and a beat boxer – is it ever difficult to combine the two in your songs or have you worked out a way that you can do both over the years?

I love to make songs with the loopstation and beatboxing is perfect for that, just to whack down a one bar beat and then get to work on funky horns and bass. For other sorts of music I write I will use different percussive elements too and there is nothing like Real Drums for sure!

Your music combines so many different genres, from rap and hip hop to jazz and funk; is this what you usually listen to and what inspires you?

I discovered jazz as a teenager and became very passionate about improvised music. I do love hip hop and funk and these are the sounds that really have worked their way into our set. The great saxophonists inspire me constantly, but it can be anything and doesn’t even have to be musical, all sorts of things and experiences will influence our tunes.

Who would you say have been the biggest influences on your sound?

Dirk Zeylmans Van Emmichoven. Even though I don’t sound like him, he had the biggest influence on my sound and is one of my favourite saxophonists.

You’ll be performing with regular collaborator and MC Lil’ Rhys on the night. How did you first meet and decide that you wanted to work together?

We tell a different story every time we get asked that and we have lost the truth somewhere along the line… But is has to do with aliens, a removal van and a man known as Matt The Gash, that is all I can say.

“we have been shut down everywhere and have been banned for quite a few cities along the way”

On your Facebook page it says that police in Europe used to shut your busking performances with Lil’ Rhys down – when was the last time that happened? And has it ever happened in the UK?

Definitely, we have been shut down everywhere and have been banned for quite a few cities along the way. Every city in the UK seems to have different rules for buskers and we are really loud so we don’t usually meet the requirements to get busking licences… but that has never really stopped us from making noise.

Do you still busk?

When it’s sunny and we are in town then definitely, we were on the street in Bristol making a big jam just this Saturday past.

Have you been to Durham before? What are you expecting?

I haven’t been but I am expecting very very Funky Times from everyone! I am confident this will be the case.

What can we expect from your gig at the Alligator Club?

You can expect a Very Funky Time, dancing, deep and hilarious verses from Lil’ Rhys, bouncing, big smiles and a very cuddly and happy Munky hijacking microphones on the stage and you never know what will come out of his Munky Mouth on the night.

What are you and Lil’ Rhys going to be doing in the near future? Have got any plans for more gigs or maybe a new record?

We are so close to releasing our new album, Late Heavy Bombardment which features Eva Lazarus and Chris Munky (Snareophobe). It’s our best stuff yet, really raw but fat and it gets right to what we are all about. Stay posted for the release date and the tour to follow, very funky times!

Mr. Woodnote plays with Lil’ Rhys, Snareophobe, Zero DB and Outside Your House at The Alligator Club, Durham on Friday 17th July.

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