Shapeshifter is easily one of New Zealand’s biggest musical success stories.
They’ve been in the game for more than a decade, making a name as a genre-defining band in New Zealand and gathering international acclaim, playing some of the biggest music festivals in the world.
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The drum and bass superstars have just been in Berlin, Germany, in what started off as an “intrepid voyage” to explore and ended up with them recording Delta there.
“We wanted to base ourselves in the northern hemisphere for a while, so we wrote music and experienced the vibe of a really special place, played a lot of table tennis, drank a lot of beer,” says the band’s Sam Trevethick.
“The thing about Berlin is there’s music everywhere. There are a lot of buskers, a lot of nightclubs, a lot of rock venues, and some of the biggest acts in the world are coming through every week. There are so many opportunities to see live music.”
It’s a vibe that clearly rubbed off on the band, prompting them to set up shop there and record part of their album there. Trevethick says the album is a whole different sound.
“I mean, it’s different to the last album in that it’s not so . . . let me put it this way: The last album was more of a portrait of the concept of our band, in terms of a live drum and bass slash dance act, so we really focused on it sounding like us as a band. We wanted that energy, and an organicness and humanness to the sound so we played a lot of it live,” he says.
“Whereas this album is more based on our music, full stop. There are still a lot of human elements and we still played it, but we just wanted it to sound amazing. So we didn’t have any morals about it being more produced, as such. There’s a lot more electronic influence, but we explore a lot more different elements, there’s a lot more musical spheres.
“Jungle is the backbone of the whole record, but we’ve got some metal and ambience influences, and I guess you could say some pop influences but I definitely wouldn’t call it a poppy album.”
But for Shapeshifter fans, there isn’t really anything new that’s too “outrageously out of the box”, the band has just pushed themselves, as always.
If they hadn’t, they wouldn’t be the Shapeshifter you all know and love.
“If you consider that we’ve been going for 14 years, and we’ve explored a lot of influences from day one but we’ve always pushed them further . . . I mean, songs like Taking Memory takes jungle to a whole different level, and Diamond Trade takes a sort of club, tribal, house vibe to another level. We just really didn’t stop until we’d pushed it as far as we could push it.”
He reckons if you’re a fan of Brit electro-indie band Friendly Fires, or Swedish electronic band Little Dragon then you’ll be even more inclined to give Delta a listen.
“All of us are into so many different styles of music, and we always have been.
“But those are bands that . . . we definitely admire their music and, in the formative phase of this album, we saw both of them live and were quite influenced by them.”
But it’s not just the music the band’s stoked on, there’s also the original album artwork by Micah Sargisson, who built, composed and photographed the image for the album cover.
“It’s so cool. It took him a whole week. Actually, his credits are inside the album sleeve, just go ahead and email him and tell him you love it,” says Trevethick.
Shapeshifter will hit the road on July 11 for nine dates around the country, and have already had to add a couple more due to heavy demand.
They’ll play two shows in Christchurch, three in Auckland, and one in Dunedin, Hamilton, New Plymouth and Wellington, before heading to Australia for a tour and an album release tour in Japan.
“We’re spoilt in New Zealand, really. Our fans here are the greatest, we take it very seriously, but every time we’re blown away by the support here. I mean, of course we get a lot of support overseas, too, but there’s nothing quite like home.”
For more information on the album and tours check out shapeshifter.co.nz.
And while you’re there, click their tab which says “Website” to have a listen and check out the amazing graphics they’ve got going on.