Interview: Blue King Brown

Published in:

Inpress (NSW) | 30.04.13 | Issue # 1158

Drum Media (WA)



Putting the final touches on their new album, Blue King Brown vocalist Natalie Pa’apa’a tells Daniel Cribb they’re on a mission to change the world.

Sitting in the control room of the iconic Melbourne-based Sing Sing Recording Studios, Blue King Brown’s Natalie Pa’apa’a and producer/engineer James ‘Bonzai’ Caruso (Alicia Keys, Madonna) are somewhat hypnotised, mixing the band’s third album. For what seems like weeks, the band has been tucked away in the studio focusing on nothing but refining what they hope to be their defining record.

“It’s sort of a mix of styles as Blue King Brown is known for,” Pa’apa’a describes the record. “I think it’ll be recognisably ours, and our songwriting is ever-evolving, so it’s just been really great to have new songs and new sounds and keep working.”

Fast-paced, socially aware, infectious urban roots is what scored the band an AIR Award in 2005 with their debut, self-titled EP and earned them a play in triple j’s Hottest 100 in 2006 with their song Come And Check Your Head, off their debut album, Stand Up. It’s been a while since then, but with the release of album number three, Pa’apa’a confirms her yearning for change is as strong as ever. When Santana said that Blue King Brown was “the voice of the street and the band of the future”, he could see the passion resonating within Pa’apa’a’s creative mind.

“The world is such an incredible place, and to see so blatantly the injustices faced by so many of our people is just completely unacceptable to me. I’ve always had a really strong inkling for recognising injustice. Since I was young, I was like, ‘What? Why should those people be hungry and we are not hungry? Obviously there’s enough food to go ‘round’. So that’s something that has been who I am from a very young age, and that was always going to come through into my art.”

“Music has been, and always will be, an incredible medium for inspiring people, for comforting people, for raising awareness about issues, for actually gathering people together in one place in a non-violent way to celebrate life,” she explains. “We all have it in our lives daily; it’s a big part of, I believe, human spirituality, it’s something that’s kind of… it’s food for our souls in a sense.”

It will still be a few more months until the as-yet-unnamed new Blue King Brown album surfaces, but Perth will get a taste of the release when the band ventures west for Global Beats & Eats. With a strong belief that music can be an effective vehicle for raising awareness and provoking change, Pa’apa’a also feels food plays a vital role in celebrating multiculturalism.

“Everyone loves music and, yes, everyone loves food,” she laughs. “We have that really rich diversity in different cultures that live here, that have moved here, and that share their food. I love food from all over the world as well, I think everyone does, and so it’s a great concept to have Global Beats & Eats, obviously Blue King Brown fit into that sort of theme.”

Presented by Act-Belong-Commit, Global Beat & Eats is all about promoting good mental health and ensuring mental illnesses aren’t swept under the rug.

“I love that it’s a free event in the park, it’s family friendly, it’s alcohol free and it’s a good vibe, and I think also that the crew presenting it, the Act-Belong-Commit crew for mental health, I love how their whole thing is about encompassing mental health into the picture and the perception of what health is, because in Western society we have far too long ignored the bigger picture of health as being more than just our physical bones and physical things – it encompasses the mental health, our spiritual health, our emotional health, and to me that’s something that I think humanity, and especially Western culture, needs to start really accepting and learning about.”

Blue King Brown will be playing the following dates:

Saturday 8 June – Perisher Snowy Mountains Festival, NSW

Daniel Cribb