A regular fixture on the Perth hip hop and funk party scene, Charlie Bucket is a full time DJ, promoter, music lover, vinyl aficionado and now a recorded producer. His eclectic tastes and intimate record knowledge extend across many genres, from funk and soul, to Afro, Cuban and more – and a lot of these influences are evident in the sounds of his debut six track EP, Honesty, which he is launching Friday night at The Manor with a massive party featuring an all-star cast. ALFRED GORMAN reports.
Grabbing a couple beers, we find a quiet corner of The Rosemount to sit down for a chat. Mr Bucket is feeling happy, as this weekend he will be launching his debut EP, Honesty, at his beloved Manor. While he’s only been working on it for last couple years, it’s really been around 15 years in the making.
“I don’t know if I was actively taking a long time to make it, at least not on purpose,” he says. “I used to make music with a band, as a drummer, but it took me a long time to take that step to start making my own stuff as a producer. I started with doing edits, making tracks a bit more DJ-friendly, to fit them into my sets. I collected so many records, and had so many samples, I thought – one day, I gotta turn this into something.”
The inspiration for songs usually starts from a sample for Charlie. “Yeah, it’s usually just from records. I collect records. I kinda have a bit of a sickness. I spend so much money on records and spend so much time looking for them… I certainly haven’t got a house-full, like some people. Coming from a funk background, 45s were always my thing, I don’t have as many LPs. I don’t really count them, but I’ve probably got something like 15,000 records.”
As a kid growing up in Australia in the ‘90s, it took Charlie a while to discover his passion. “I don’t have particularly musical parents,” he says. “I never really heard that much black music growing up, but I remember one day when I was a little kid, we had the soundtrack to Good Morning Vietnam, and it had I Feel Good by James Brown on it. I’d never heard anything like that – the screaming and the squeals and the stabs… the funk! I just remember hearing that, and it really capturing me.
“It wasn’t ‘til I hit high school that I started getting into hip hop – Run DMC, Beastie Boys, NWA, A Tribe Called Quest, Gang Starr. It was just kinda the sound of it that blew me away, when you’re not familiar with it and haven’t grown up with it.”
As well as DJing full time with residencies all around town, you can hear Charlie Bucket on RTRFM, where he hosts two diverse shows, El Ritmo and Global Rhythm Pot. “I’ll always love presenting on radio. As a DJ it’s quite rewarding, ‘cause it’s not about the dancefloor. I find that in Perth, now more than ever, you kinda get characterised. I get put in this kinda party, hip hop box, and that’s cool – if you book me for that kind of party, I’ll come and I’ll play that and smash it, but if you wanted me to play straight Nigerian funk from the ’70s, or Columbian psych rock, I could do that too. Good music is good music at the end of the day.”
On his new EP Charlie has collaborated with a range of local and international artists including NYC legend Grandmaster Caz, British rapper Ty and N’Fa Jones of 1200 Techniques. “I’d known Caz for a while, and the track he’s on, The Park, is a real ‘80s-style block party jam, so I really wanted someone who was there, and he was my first pick! I got in touch and luckily he was really into it.
“Ty I brought out here, and we just kinda hit it off. We did that track and made a video for it while he was over here. Grace Barbé is probably my favourite local artist. The track she’s on is essentially a bossanova track, but she’s singing in French Creole, which I asked her to do because I just love the sound of it.”
Dynamite is a killer party jam featuring N’Fa and Nick Sheppard from The Clash lending some licks. “N’Fa is my favourite MC in the country,” CCharliesays. “I think he’s underrated. I mean, he gets a lot of respect, but he should be huge. 1200 Techniques kinda opened that initial door for Australian hip hop – they were the first ever hip hop band to be on Big Day Out lineups and they were the first hip hop group to win an ARIA.”
There’s a real organic sound to Charlie’s tunes, with a lot of live instrumentation. “Usually it’ll start with me sampling something. All the sampling I do myself, I program the drums and do the bassline myself. Any keys, Rhodes or anything, I’ll do myself. There’s a lot of live guitar on there from Nick Sheppard, there’s a few tracks I do with some horn players, Jimmy The Lips is on one of the tunes, the Ruby Horns are on there. I try and keep the music a mixture of organic and electronic.”
Now that he’s opened the door on his production, he’s inspired and is already working on his next release. “Whether it’s gonna be an EP or an album, I’m not sure yet. I’ve done one track with Guilty Simpson from Detroit, who I’m a huge fan of and always wanted to work with. I’d love to work with a guy from Ghana called Blitz The Ambassador who I’m really feeling at the moment, and I’m a huge fan of a guy called Omar from the UK.”
With his own original music now lovingly pressed to vinyl, he’s come a long way from the young kid trying to come up with a DJ name. “It’s been about 15 years since I came up with it – well actually my mum came up with it! We were watching Charlie And The Chocolate Factory and I was trying to come up with a name, and she was like, ‘Why don’t you call yourself Charlie Bucket?’ ”
HONESTY EP LAUNCH
FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 7 @ THE MANOR