Seven Ups deliver Afrobeat

Mandy Nolan

Blending influences from 1970s Nigerian afrobeat with the deepest of street funk, The Seven Ups are the original 7-piece party band. Expect unrestrained solos by unkempt horns over an unpretentious rhythm section, whose only interest is laying it down! This is deep funk and BAD afro at its best!

Tell me how the Seven Ups first hooked up?

Roughly three years ago was the beginning of the band. A bunch of friends were getting together in a dingy share house and making some noise, exploring different styles and sounds. The idea was not always to end up with what we have today stylistically but it’s certainly something we are very happy with.

Over the years the band has had a few lineup changes and different instrumental configurations. The current lineup has been going strongly for two years now and has hit its strides, consistently pouring out the good vibes.

What is it about 1970s NIgerian afrobeat that caught your attention?

Afrobeat of any era, especially the stuff coming out of Nigeria in the 70s, is addictive. The rhythms date back to traditional African music and thanks to guys like Fela Kuti it has merged into a more contemporary sound.

Afrobeat takes elements of soul, jazz and funk and lays down African grooves and instrumentation within those genres. How can that combination not catch your attention. It’s feel-good music and makes you want to dance.

The-Seven-Ups-5_small-1Is it possible for a bunch of white kids to make that big black sound… or do you make it your own?

We’re always going to be a bunch of white kids playing Africa-inspired music so we have to make it our own interpretation.

When you listen to the greats of any style of music, all you want to do is replicate it to hopefully one day be able to add your own little bit of magic.

I know that when we play cover songs, it never sounds even remotely close to the original, which is possibly a good thing.

It’s a hard question; come to the show and find out.

What have been your career highlights so far?

The band has been lucky enough to support the likes of Charles Bradley (US), Babylon Circus (FRA), The Bamboos (AU), Public Opinion Afro Orchestra (AU) and most recently The Budos Band (US).

Every one of these amazing bands has been a huge inspiration for us and being right there at their shows is where you really learn how it’s done.

The level of showmanship and professionalism of these guys has taught us some very valuable lessons.

Another highlight would have to be our sold-out album launch in Melbourne just last month.

What do you think a horn section brings to the live stage?

Our horn section or horn sections in general? Because they’re two different questions. I’ll answer both. Our horns are joined at the hip; they play together in at least five other bands and have an unusual telepathy on stage.

They are also a bunch of loose cannons. In general with instrumental afrobeat, a horn section provides a voice, often playing the main melodies and adding a certain colour and energy to the music, which can’t be replicated by any other section.

Acoustic instruments need natural power to provide tone and volume so when you’ve got a 3–4-piece horn section all playing together at full power, it takes the energy of the room to next level.

What should we expect for your local show?

In the words of DJ Miss Goldie: ‘They are as loose as you want them to be and as tight as you need them to be’. Expect dancing. Lots of dancing.

An unpretentious rhythm section laying it down tight all night and an unrestrained horn section unleashing their afrobeat goo all over you.

Get loose when the Seven Ups play the Court House Hotel in Mullumbimby on Wednesday.

Tix: $20 + b.f (Pre-sale) / $25 door.

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