Wellington live electronic trio Groeni have just released their new EP Hinde and are set to tour New Zealand this month with shows in Christchurch, Auckland and Wellington.
Consisting of Alexander Green, James Paul & Mike Isaacs, we had the chance to catch up with Mike ahead of the shows and found out some more about the band and new EP.
What's the history behind Groeni? How did you meet and form?
The three of us have known each other since before we went to university but only really became mates when we started playing together whilst studying music there. Al, however, decided to leave it all behind and move to Melbourne to slave over a slightly better paying hot stove. While he was there he wrote and released the first Groeni EP. Around this time James somehow found himself living in Melbourne too. Separately, Al and James both decided to move back to NZ and coincidentally ended up on the same flight home, where they talked about their feelings and how Al would like have a red hot go at performing the music live. When they returned they asked me to join them too.
After moving back to NZ Al, then age 27, was living at home with his mum... but still writing new material by himself for Groeni. We got lucky and the music got picked up by the German label/distribution combo of Project Mooncircle/HHV.de and released as 'Hewn' earlier this year. During this time the three of us were constantly writing new material or reworking old material for the live show, these ended up being our favourite parts of the gigs so we decided to try write together. That led to the creation of our new EP 'Hinde'.
How did you come up with the name Groeni?
The name is old English for green which, funnily enough, is Al's last name.
How would you describe Groeni's sound?
I would describe the music we make with Groeni as the melding of electronic musical elements with folk/songwriter music elements. So I guess that makes it 'electronic folk'? The music draws on sounds and rhythms that you might find in the music of electronic artists like Burial, Blawan, Borrowed CS pressed into melodic and structural approaches that you'd commonly find in more acoustic styles of NZ artists like Nadia Reid, Seth Frightening or Fuyuko's Fables.
Your new EP Hinde is out now. Where did you record it?
Hinde was recorded and mixed ourselves in each of our homes. We've recently managed to get our hands on a bunch of hardware - synths, tape machines, pedals etc - and depending on what we needed to be doing we'd work at whoever's house the gear was located at. We did have some help from Benny Tones though, who mastered the tracks for us.
How long did the recording process take?
It's probably taken about 6 months for us to make the four tracks, which isn't super-efficient I guess haha. We took extra time in writing this new material as we spent a while exploring and refining how we write together as a group. This transition from a solo project to a collaborative one has been really enjoyable and we are very excited to have the new EP out for people to hear!
You've got three shows coming up in October, for someone who's never seen you perform live before what can we expect?
You can expect to see three guys playing synths, guitars, samplers and singing. We've spent a lot of time thinking about performance and what is engaging for an audience. This means that we often rework the recorded songs so that we can have parts that can be improvised or adapted towards whatever we're feeling from an audience. As I mentioned earlier we've also recently collected a lot of hardware to use for recording and performance, this means that one thing that you most definitely won't see is a laptop. This will be the first tour where we don't have to use laptops at all and it's going to be make each performance even more unique and exciting.
I should also mention that the Wellington show has a couple of extra goodies with our friend Graham Frost providing a visual accompaniment for the evening and I think folk dreamsters Ida Lune are somehow involved...
You've also been announced to play at the Laneway Festival in Auckland. That should be a fun outing!
We're totally honoured to be asked to be a part of the Laneway Festival this year. To be honest it didn't really sink in until we saw the poster with our name next to Grimes, that's just nuts! It'll be an awesome day and we're, of course, really looking forward to seeing the international acts but we're also especially excited to catch the other NZ bands on the line up as the ones on they've chosen are sooooo good!
Besides Laneway, what other plans do you have for summer?
We'll keep working over summer, there's a couple of remixes in the pipeline and we're going to start thinking about a possible longer release. With our current rate of production we need to get cracking ASAP!
Friday, 9 October: Christchurch, The Darkroom
Support from DJ Reno (Pacific Heights, ex Shapeshifter), doors open 7.30pm
Presale tickets available via www.undertheradar.co.nz, more on the door.
Friday, 16 October: Auckland, The Wine Cellar
Support from DJ Martyn Pepperell, Monticola and Keepsakes, doors open 8.00pm
Presale tickets available via www.undertheradar.co.nz, more on the door
Saturday, 17 October: Wellington, Secret Location
Support from DJ Reno (Pacific Heights, ex Shapeshifter), DJ Coco M, DJ Martyn Pepperell, doors open 8.00pm
Doorsales only, RSVP on Groeni Facebook