Fresh from releasing international hits This Girl with French DJ and producer Kungs and Mind Made Up with Finnish house act Lenno, Cookin’ On 3 Burners return with their new remix album VS. The album involves collaborations with world famous producers and is rapidly filling dance floors, while giving the three humble guys from Melbourne a nice hit of international acclaim. CALLUM SYNNOTT had a chat with band member Jake Mason about the new album.
I’m a big fan of the soul/funk sound, and I’m a big fan of original soul and motown and this sound you guys have reflects that. It’s very fresh too, who are your biggest influences?
Wow, nice. Well I mean, Cookin on 3 Burners has sort of evolved. I mean, we’ve been going for nearly 20 years so we’ve definitely evolved in our sound and we initially took influence from the likes of Jimmy Smith and a lot of the Hammond trio, those sort of guys. From there we were getting a lot of influences from the Meters and the New Orleans funky kind of crew. I guess from then on we’ve kind of tried to grow. While we still pay homage to the Hammond Trio we’re trying to get more of our influences from a bit of a wider field really and put a bit of a different spin on that Hammond Trio kind of sound into all sorts of different modern tunes. I guess just a big spread, the three of us all listen to different kinds of hip hop to jazz to fusion to all different stuff so I guess it’s kind of like a big melting pot of influences.
The dancefloor-esque remix you made collaborating with Kungs titled This Girl, as you know, was #1 on the Worldwide Shazam chart and has over 211 million YouTube views and 365 million streams on Spotify. I’m interested to know what it what was it like working on that remix?
Oh it was great, I mean, as I said, we’ve been going for nearly 20 years, that song This Girl we composed in 2009, and we did what we felt was the natural thing to do with it and make it into a sweet soul thing. To have the influence of someone who was basically half of our age putting a different spin on it and having a whole influence on bringing that sound to the kind of pop and dance world is something we couldn’t have done on our own. We needed that sort of collaboration and external influence.
With this track you’ve earned yourselves quite a following. You’re getting a lot of international attention and you were even nominated for the ARIA Award for Song of the Year. As three humble fellas from Melbourne, how are you finding your increasing fame?
Oh it’s exciting you know, I mean we’re still just three guys from Melbourne. We haven’t changed or anything. But it’s a great thing for the band to make some connections with some third parties that we would like to work with and to work with new artists and other collaborators. It’s opened lots of new doors for us to do more of what we love to do. This new record that we have coming out with Warner, which is a bunch of remixes, that’s our back catalogue of material and we’ve been able to kind of do things similar to the Kungs track. We’ve been able to inject a freshness into it and rework those things so it’s given us a lot of opportunities.
You work with soul vocalist Kylie Auldist on several tracks such as This Girl and Mind Made Up. Where did this relationship blossom from and do you feel like Kylie’s vocals help you better capture the sound you are going for?
We’ve been working with Kylie Auldist since really the inception of the band so she’s been our kind of, full time guest I suppose. Her approach and her tone and everything work so well with our sound. We’ve had a great, long collaboration with Kylie and it’s wonderful to have her on a bunch of these tracks. We’ve got more with her that are in the pipeline as well so it’s a wonderful collaboration. Amongst all of the other collaborators we’ve worked with such as Daniel Merryweather and Tex Perkins, it’s great to have that consistent collaboration with Kylie, for sure.
You also work with Finnish producer Lenno on Mind Made Up, can you tell us a little about your experience with him?
Well it’s funny, with the rise of the internet, you no longer have to be in the same room to do stuff. He’s from Finland, I’ve never been to Finland, and so it was all done remotely, basically. It’s amazing how these days you can do things with several other music producers or whatever it might be, and you don’t even have to be in the same vicinity.
That’s so interesting; I assumed you were all in the same room. There’s very much a live element in the remixes on the new album. What influenced you to add this fresh element to your remixes and pull away from the computer based sound?
I think that live element sound comes from the fact that we originally record the tracks. We’re very traditional in our approach; we we record it onto analogue tape… it’s like a real organic process. When you pair that with the whole world of remixes and the dance world, it gives it that real freshness and live feel, even though it is essentially in the world of dance music, but it came from that really organic kind of place which seems to translate really well. I think that’s why it does have that kind of live sound to it.
I’m a massive fan of The Bamboos, their track Keep Me In Mind is just brilliant. With Lance Ferguson in the band until 2013, do you still have any ties to The Bamboos and what are your ties to just the whole soul/funk scene in Melbourne?
Well obviously Kylie works with The Bamboos as well and Melbourne has this kind of melting pot of soul really. There’s sort of a big extended soul family, that have came through Melbourne now. It sort of feels like The Bamboos and Cookin’ on Three Burners and a few other bands were like the start of the 2000s and there’s the whole swag of fresh bands from the likes of Fulton Street and The Meltdown… it just seems to be a great place for soul music. There are a lot of venues that support soul music in Melbourne so I think that helps. There’s also record shops, Northside Records is sort of one of the central points to this kind of stuff, and Chris, who runs that shop is a great supporter of soul music. So I think it has all the elements to help a great scene like this.
On the back of a great new album, I’m sure touring and festivals will be next on the agenda for Cookin’ on 3 Burners, so where to next and how long do you think we’ll be waiting for some more great music from you guys?
We’ve always got new music on the stove! So to speak… so you know, we’ll definitely have some new tunes coming out later in the year and we’ll try to keep our momentum up basically. That’s the plan, we don’t want to stop. We’re definitely going to be doing a bunch of touring, I don’t know if we’ve got Perth on the list but I hope we do. Later in the year we’ll be coming over and doing a bunch of gigs around Australia. In June we’re going over to the UK and doing a bunch of gigs over there, so yeah we’re just trying to make the most of what we can.
Finally, are there any quick tips for other groups trying to write a #1 hit such as This Girl?
Hahaha! Look, we totally didn’t try and do that so it was a massive surprise to us, we just wrote when we wrote This Girl. We loved it and you know, that’s what we wanted to do but we didn’t try to chase anything. If there is a tip, it’s do what feels right for you and if it translates well it will translate in a number of genres. A good song’s a good song so I don’t think you want to be chasing the current trends, if you make great music it will translate, hopefully.