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Fat Freddys Drop performing at The Roots Commandment: Tokyo In Dub during the Red Bull Music Academy in Tokyo, October 12 to November 15, 2014

Fat Freddys Drop per­form­ing at The Roots Com­mand­ment: Tokyo In Dub dur­ing the Red Bull Music Academy in Tokyo, Octo­ber 12 to Novem­ber 15, 2014

Fat Freddy’s Drop, live at Unit, Tokyo, 9/11/2014

At just past 1am on Sunday 9 Novem­ber, Fat Freddy’s Drop, our very own hi-tech soul stal­warts, took to the stage inside Tokyo’s sprawl­ing Unit base­ment ven­ue. Some­what sur­pris­ingly, it was the first time they’d ever per­formed in Japan. While in a sense they had a lot to prove, they were also greeted by an incred­ibly warm response from the crowd of Japan­ese music lov­ers (and, of course, the occa­sion­al cluster of home­sick expats).

As a band, FFD can some­times be guilty of tak­ing quite a while to warm up. On this par­tic­u­lar night, how­ever, they didn’t mince bars, chords or words. Over an hour and a half, the band worked through a set that included ‘Mid­night Maraud­ers’, ‘Slings and Arrows’, ‘Black­bird’, ‘Roady’ and sev­er­al oth­er songs. The brass sec­tion was tight and emo­tion­al. DJ Fitch­ie and Dobie Blaze’s drum pro­gram­ming and syn­thes­iser work was power­ful and com­pel­ling. Jet­lag Johnson’s gui­tar work flickered with just the right amount of reg­gae skank. Joe Dukie’s vocal per­form­ance was mas­ter­ful. His voice singing out son­or­ous and clear, every recog­nis­able (or even not so recog­nis­able) hook and verse met with an enthu­si­ast­ic cheer.

If you haven’t been pay­ing atten­tion prop­erly the last few years, it’s easy to think of FFD as a lazy-limbed dub-soul band. As the set pro­gressed, it became clear how much the heart­beat rhythms and energy of clas­sic house and techno are a part of what they do. Sure, song sec­tions were exten­ded to add drama, but it was about build­ing intens­ity as opposed to jam­ming, and when those pulsing kick drums hit, the crowd response was always explos­ive. Trom­bon­ist Hopepa and host MC Slave’s respect­ive dance and free­style rap routines were equally effect­ive. It was a cel­eb­rat­ory moment, one sure to be repeated again in the future.


Introducing… Chelsea Jade

WaterColours at the Red Bull Music Academy in Tokyo, October 12 to November 15, 2014 // Dan Wilton/Red Bull Content Pool // P-20141111-00168 // Usage for editorial use only // Please go to for further information. //

Formerly known as Water­col­ours, Auck­land-based elec­tron­ic singer/songwriter Chelsea Jade has in recent times emerged as one of the most prom­ising new young music­al tal­ents in New Zea­l­and. Dur­ing 2014, she per­formed across the coun­try, toured through the USA, spent time record­ing in New York with pro­du­cer Justyn Pil­brow, and was selec­ted to attend the Red Bull Music Academy in Tokyo.

With her new EP Beacons, Chelsea and Justyn encase her poet­ic­ally writ­ten lyr­ics and aching vocal melod­ies inside frost­bit­ten min­im­al­ist­ic instru­ment­a­tion. In the pro­cess, they take the washed-out dream-pop sound often asso­ci­ated with acts like Cocteau Twins and marry it to a chunki­er frame. The res­ult is a sound that draws com­par­is­ons to the music of Glass­er and Beach House.

As this sug­gests, there is a def­in­ite art-house edge to the super­fi­cial aes­thet­ics of Chelsea’s music, and its visu­al present­a­tion (she’s a two-time art-school drop-out). After a few listens, what really cuts through are her pop-ready melod­ies and choruses.

If her record­ings con­nect with you, you simply must exper­i­ence Chelsea in the full flight of a live per­form­ance. Blessed with a nat­ur­al sense of theatre and drama, when she steps onto the stage, she cre­ates some­thing that’s immers­ive, chaot­ic, cap­tiv­at­ing and beautiful.