Bobby Alu spent most of 2017 out of the country. And not touring, like he’s previously done, but adopting some of his own advice, and taking it slow. His passport includes stamps from Ghana, Sardinia and Switzerland and he says the break has set him up for a pretty big 2018. We caught up with the Polynesian troubadour about what the year holds.
_ _ _
“Sometimes I feel that if I don’t just stop, I lose sight and control of where I’m going and what I’m doing,” he tells Samantha Morris about his time off.
“I was fortunate to take some slow time. I learnt drums for a month in Ghana, West Africa, dreamed on the beaches of Sardinia and wrote in the Alps of Switzerland – it was all pretty special and has totally set me up for 2018,” he said.
Of course, international travel is nothing new for the Gold Coast musician. He’s toured the world in his own right and as Xavier Rudd’s drummer. Recent years have seen a relentless touring schedule and Bobby says while travelling all over the world playing music is an “amazing experience” he’s determined to not take it for granted.
“Giving a room or festival full of people so much joy night after night is a surreal and beautiful experience. Energetically the exchange for me is like an out of body experience – I get tired, but as soon as the lights are up, I’m ready to give it everything.”
But he’s home for now with some massive shows on the horizon. Bobby Alu has been announced as part of the lineup for Festival 2018 – the arts and culture program of the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.
“It’s such a big time for the Gold Coast,” he said. “Having grown up here it feels great to be a part of the celebration. Being able to travel and play music is a gift and it feels so nice to be able to return home and perform where it all started.”
And he’s no stranger to big festivals having been on the lineup for events as diverse as Bluesfest, Woodford, Island Vibe, Wide Open Space in Central Australia and the Eclipse Festival in FNQ. Bobby says he feels like he’s been waiting for 2018.
“I have a new album in the pipeline and some new ideas and dreams. It all feels very fresh for me this year and I’m excited to launch into it,” he said.
“The preparation is more focused and I feel like I have more energy after taking a break. Even just this interview is making me excited. I’m looking forward to a new show and playing some of my new creations.”
Check out ‘Take It Slow’ below
And hot on the heels of his Commonwealth Games appearance is his headlining set at the 2018 Gold Coast Music Awards. Bobby will join Hussy Hicks, Electrik Lemonade and Eliza and the Delusionals for the 3 May concert which is all-ages and free, right on the beach at Surfers Paradise.
“I am truly stoked to be performing at the awards,” he said. “Like I said its a big year for the gold coast.”
“These types of events are so essential in building and nurturing a vibrant music industry. I found music while living on the Gold Coast, I studied music on the Gold Coast, and started gigging here also.”
“It was hard to build anything when I was starting out. I see so many amazing people passionate toward the Gold Coast music industry and I also see growth. The Hanlon Brothers, Amy Shark, Hussy Hicks are a few great bands that come to mind doing so well. I’m happy to be involved.”
Bobby has been working on an album for a couple of years now and is excited to finally see the end. He says that it all started to come together during the break.
“I just needed to give it more time and focus,” he said.
I treat my music almost like a life force. It’s bizarre. It’s like watering the garden. You really have to nurture, feed and let it grow. Sometimes it grows quickly and sometimes it takes a while.
“This project is testing my patience, which is a good thing. By the time these shows come along there’ll be some fresh flavours to share.”
And those flavours may be ever so slightly different from the ones we’ve come to love.
“Over the past five years I’ve seen so much it’s impossible that my music has stayed the same. I believe you will hear new vibes,” he said, when asked whether his sound has eveolved.
“The last recording session I recorded some Ghana style rhythms over an old school Jamaican bass line with some Tahitian ukulele over the top. Not sure if I’ll add any yodeling,” he said.
“It will sound like Bobby Alu, but you will also hear what’s happened over the past five years.
And while touring is definitely on the cards for 2018 (Australia, New Zealand, Europe and the USA), Bobby says this year it’s all about the album.
“I love touring and collaborating with other artists and bands, but it’s a big Bobby Alu year,” he said. “The new album is my focus this year.”
“Right now I’m in pre-season training. I feel like it’s been on the horizon for a while… It all begins soon.”
Bobby Alu performs at Festival 2018 and 2018 Gold Coast Music Awards