'Interview with BBYDDY' / Margarita Bassova

'Interview with BBYDDY' / Margarita Bassova

The four-piece band BBYDDY is leaving summer by shedding their current name for a funkier and more electric title. The name will be announced at the Toff in Town tonight, where they are headlining a gig with support from musicians Emma Volard and Outer Blue Suite, a DJ set from AKA Zeb and visuals complemented by Liam Martin. To satisfy the undoubtable anticipation you have now been met with, it’s best to head to the Toff tonight, the 21st of February, and dance away. 

BBYDDY is composed of members Nikodimos on the Sax and Flute (as well as some other wacky objects), Gene on the drums, Jack on the electric bass and Harry on the electric guitar. The band fuses jazz, psychedelic and ‘70s rock, funk and everything in-between. On a cooler than average February day, I spoke to the band at Brunswick’s Retreat Hotel for some insight into their new group.  

Picturing band members of BBYDDY, captured by Kootl Koot

Picturing band members of BBYDDY, captured by Kootl Koot

How did you form as a group and how long have you been together?

Jack: About a month?

Nikodimos: A month-ish. The first practice we had was me, Jack and Gene playing around. I hit them up since whenever we played together there was a great connection, and we always got along really well. We jammed together a couple of times and it was really cool, so the next step was a chordal instrument which is where the gun guitar player Harry came along – and now we’re a foursome.

Gene: I think our first jam was actually in late-November.

Nikodimos: I guess a month or two-ish with a small hiatus in-between because I went to Bali … to relax.

Jack: And you brought back some cool, textural instruments, like a rain-machine.

Nikodimos: I brought back a couple of percussion instruments and we started shaking them around when we played.

Jack: They have a great sound, like, we did a thing with Spencer Hughes aka Apple Man aka Chicken Wishbone Brainchild. We recorded a demo with him where we got a bit carried away with percussion and textual stuff, I thought that was pretty cool.

 

How would you describe your sound?

Jack: We all come from Jazz backgrounds, except for you (To Nikodimos), but maybe still. Like we all study Jazz – VCA, RMIT and Monash.  I’m the slight underdog and you’re the massive underdog (To Nikodimos). So, since we all have the same background, there’s that jazz influence within the music for sure but we listen to all different kinds of music which keeps it fresh. There are a lot of different genres that we’re all interested in, which comes through with the electro stuff or anything that really comes out. Sometimes when we’re jamming, we’ll just take the piss and play some blues, we’re all into music in that way.

Nikodimos: I remember we had one jam where we went through about 12 genres in a minute. I remember I couldn’t stop laughing. You can’t play a saxophone and laugh, like you can with bass, drums and guitar, because, you know… you don’t have to blow into those things. That was a good one. I’ve always thought in the back of my head that our sound is a sort of psychedelic, jazz, thing. Harry?

Harry: To me it sounds a lot like fusion – 70s, jazz fusion.

Gene: I mean, we don’t directly play swing music – so while we all know jazz, we don’t typically play what could be described as jazz groove. The grooves I play are definitely more based in rock and roll, blues rock, hip-hop and funk. We’re playing a lot of everything.

 

These waves of jazz fusion are happening all around the world, particularly in Melbourne. Did you all grow up in Melbourne, and if so, has this influenced the way you make music in anyway?

Nick: Yeah, Gene and I were talking about this the other day. I remember going to a Chicken Wishbone gig a while ago, who I now play the sax for, and thinking “Damn, people are doing some pretty sick jazz and hip-hop stuff in Melbourne”. The standard of music in Melbourne is fucking crazy. There are so many talented musicians and so many great bands that it’s hard to pick out what a trademark band is in terms of ability. There are so many bands out there as good as the bigger bands, which is really cool.

 

Who are your Melbourne music idols?

Harry: Everyone from 30/70 is … yeah. Hazy Hicks is a god. He’s great.

Nikodimos: It would have been maybe 2014 when I first saw the Hiatus Kaiyote album cover come up. I was like damn, that’s a cool album and then I listened and thought: this shit is crazy, this is cool. I then found out that the lead singer, Nai Palm, grew up in Pascoe Vale which is where I went to school. That lead to a realisation that if some mother fucker from Pascoe Vale is doing this crazy cool music shit, then anyone in Melbourne has a shot of producing some really cool stuff.

Jack: And they did really well. It lifted the standard of music in Melbourne for sure. It put Melbourne’s sound on a global stand-point in lots of peoples’ minds. For me, a lot of the stuff that Allysha Joy is doing at the moment in both 30/70 and solo is incredibly cool. Really solid stuff. So that for sure. But it’s hard to pin-point because there’s such a mix of everything in Melbourne, it’s massive.

Harry: Everybody just borrows from each other.

Nikodimos: Everybody is just trying to out-due each other but in a really supportive way. Everyone supports each other by always trying to do their best all the time. I feel as though the Melbourne jazz scene is quite spiritual and accepting of a lot of different ideas, so it’s a great scene to be a part of.  

Gene: I’d throw in Barney Mcall, absolute champion. Nick Cave.

Jack: I wouldn’t really see he’s from Melbourne. He’s been an overseas export for such a long time.

Nikodimos: I’m named after him, believe it or not. Mum’s a big fan so is my dad. Big ups.

 

Are you working on recording anything at the moment?

Harry: A cassette.

Jack: Yeah, we’re doing a cassette as part of a whole bunch of singles at a friend’s label called 56K Records. Shout out: Hi Nick, Hi Spencer. So that’s 56 artists doing a big showcase. We jumped on and we’re doing an A and B side on a cassette. It’s cool. It also means that we have to work to a time constraint which is unusual because sometimes when we jam it just goes on and on. In the future I’d definitely be excited to do some longer stuff, with less time constraint and more freedom. Just lately I’ve been thinking that it’s cool to do post-production and all, but it’s also good to be able to record like you do live. So, if you can do live what you want to sound like and then be able to execute that on a recording, then that’s really cool. It kinda goes both ways.

Nikodimos: I think we’re definitely a good band to see live and I think being able to capture that on the recording is the ultimate goal.

 

What’s your writing process like?

Jack: We’ll get together and jam and then Niko will be like, Hey I’ve got this cool idea and he’ll whip out a Bassoon or something and say you guys come up with a groove. We did that the other day and unfortunately the Bassoon didn’t really work. I like the sound of it though, so if we can get it on stage, definitely. But it wasn’t really the instrument for what we were doing.

Nikodimos: It’s such an instrument that is so weird in terms of what register sounds nice with the other instruments, quite often it’s the higher register which is a fuck around to play. So, saxophone gels quite a lot better, I can be more creative on it. One day. One day we will record with the Bassoon.

 

What has your weirdest idea been?

Nikodimos: The bassoon is up there in terms of weird. We have this beat-box sax thing we do that’s pretty cool, which goes into a little techno thing and everyone plays percussively.

Jack: Pulling influence there from Cofi, definitely. With the kinda techno, disco thing. I reckon our writing process is definitely very jam based. We’ll jam and idea and it will slowly solidify into a song, and everyone puts into it.

Nikodimos: We have some cue points that we switch to, but the amount of time between those points is purely based on how we’re feeling and listening to each other. In any section we’re all backing each other up, but someone is usually doing something that is instigating the main groove or the main idea. Then, we wait until they’re ready and we’re all ready to move on. We have a good understanding of that, and each other as musicians – it’s good.  

 

Do you want to stay as an instrumental band, or have you considered vocals?

Jack: I think it’d be cool to have features at some point. Like a feature vocalist.

Gene: Yeah, we’d love to have a singer, we mentioned getting one from my other band which isn’t currently playing.  

Jack: A guest thing for sure. Or even different instrumentalists. There are a lot of people within our scene that are singers or rappers or MCs.

Nikodimos: Or horn players as well. A feature every now and then would be cool, but I think we’re pretty happy with us as a 4. So it will probably be our band name, whatever that will be, featuring the artist.

 

Tell me about the name change, why change?

Jack: I mean it’s just a bit problematic. If you look up the roots of the word, it’s a bit insensitive for four dudes from Australia to be using a slang term from another culture. I think it’s good to be sensitive with these things.

Gene: The band has his full support with this notion.

 

I support it too. Anything else you’d like to add?

Harry: Yeah, our upcoming gigs other than tomorrow:

Nikodimos: Yep, other than tomorrow we’re playing at Miss Moses on April 19th with BeatNik Collective. They’re really cool. On March 15th there’s the 56K Records Opening Launch, so we’ll have our Cassette done by then. The recording sounds pretty cool. The kick is sounding nice and phat. It doesn’t sound like a basketball. Quite often when you record with a live kit, it sounds like a basketball. But this time it sounds like a kick drum. Pretty cool.

Catch soon to be formerly BBYDDY:

21st of February at the Toff in Town

15th of March at the 56K Records Launch at Lupine Studios

19th of April at Miss Moses with BeatNik Collective

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'The Still' / Tim Coad

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