It's party time for a colourful Kiwi music collective. Lydia Jenkin checks out the vibes
Music collective Weird Together were inspired by the travelling that DJ and man about town Nick Dwyer did as part of his music documentary series, Making Tracks.
It has evolved into a live music and recording project, with good friend and fellow DJ Dick Johnson, which takes their DJ skills, plus their love of world music, and combines them with live musicians. And it's all about making people dance.
"The more I travelled, the more I realised that there are so many fantastic different sounds out there," says Dwyer. "I think a lot of people have this misconception of what world music is. They think of it as a hippy kind of thing, or something that's not for them, but the reality is that some of the most vibrant music in the world right now is coming from Africa and South America, and it's about taking all these sounds and influences and putting it into a framework which our audiences understand.
"And then I think for the musicians who work with us, they're getting a taste of the electronic side of things, and what it's like to play for a massive audience. So it's this great meeting of two worlds."
Dwyer has known Johnson for years, and they had been wanting to work together for some time, but it took a bit of a white lie, and a festival booking, to get the ball rolling.
"We pretty much lied to John Minty, who runs Splore festival, and said 'we've got this new band, we're amazing, we're called Weird Together, you should book us'. So he did, except that we didn't have any music, or a band at that point. But knowing that we had to play at Splore [in 2012] made us start the project."
A year and a bit on, they've amassed a core band and a group of around 20 rotating musicians who join them for live shows, and this weekend they're throwing a party at the recently renovated Victoria Park Market.
Working with Celery Productions, the team responsible for events like Art In The Dark, they're hoping it will be a night out unlike anything Auckland has seen since the Rugby World Cup. There will be creative lighting and art installations across 14 rooms, dancers, DJs, musicians hailing from Sudan to Ghana, live bands and, hopefully, a whole lot of people "transported to another mythical world".
"Ella Mizrahi and Celia Harrison [who run Celery Productions] are friends of ours, and we sort of got to thinking, 'hey, you guys are amazing at turning spaces into something magical, we can look after the music side of things, we should combine forces'," Dwyer explains. "I just wanted to find a way to bring all these cool creative people who are out there together."
The party will also celebrate the release of their first single, Chale - an irrepressible, vibrant, dance tune, which features the vocal talents of Ghana native Yaw Boateng and young Sudanese singer Karima Madut, plus She's So Rad's Jeremy Toy on some cheeky West African-styled guitar, three steel pan players, and percussion from Nigeria's Mavs Adegbite.
When asked what the song is about, Adegbite grins: "It's about a lady. Chale is a guy, and he's describing the girl, and Aniba is her name."
"Chale means bro in Ghanaian," Dwyer adds. "So instead of 'hey bro', you say 'hey chale'. And everybody is chale, everybody is your mate. It comes from Charlie, because during World War II all the America GIs were called Charlie."
Adegbite joined the group just after their Splore performance, having met Dwyer while playing with Boateng's band Zoh Zoh. He'd been in a rock band and a jazz group, performing almost every night at bars in Ponsonby, and he really appreciates that Weird Together expands his musical talents. "I've always liked all sorts of different music though, Dolly Parton's song Colours was one of my favourite songs growing up. I love rock music, and I've always enjoyed the diversity of music, so this project is perfect."
He also loves surprising people. "I like the fact that when someone asks what kind of music do you play, I can say 'we like to play with people's minds, and their expectations, to give them something they've never heard'."
Hearing Dwyer talk about his fellow band members, and the experiences they've had performing so far, particularly the response they've had from the different cultural communities in Auckland, his enthusiasm is palpable.
"For a lot of these people, they have pretty crazy stories about how they got here from their homelands, and so to hear their music, and feel like they haven't lost all of that, I think it's important. It's great to empower people.
"I guess I've been working in the media in Auckland for about 20 years now, and to be able to use whatever little I have in the way of the outlets to try to encourage people to think outside the box is a privilege.
" If you open your mind a bit, there's a whole other wealth of music to enjoy."
Who: Weird Together
What: Debut EP Chale, and hosting a multi-media, multi-room party to celebrate
Where and when: Saturday, May 25 at Victoria Park Market
FREE EP: Download "Chale" here.