Sydney act Kulcha have played a big part in breaking down the preconceived notion that all music coming out of Australia is rock-based. Along with the obvious examples of CDB and Past to Present, Kulcha have proved to our own and displayed to others that 'quality r&b' doesn't necessarily mean 'from America'.
After the widespread success of their debut album and the five Top 40 singles that came off it, Kulcha have been back in the studio working on their second album, which has just seen the release of its first single, Do You Like It . Kulcha member Eric Palu laughs when he tells me that they've been recording in the Mo Brown studios and I foolishly ask if they're in America or something. "No... Ultimo! We can't afford to record in the States!"
This album has seen the boys become very involved in all aspects of the production, from writing to programming the music. Eric says this is beneficial to the stability of the foursome and has helped to keep the music interesting.
"There's a lot more individual song writing, whereas with the last album there was a lot more co-writing between Joe, who's a member of our group, and our producer. It's a pretty diverse album because each individual doesn't really write the same as the others. This album is a lot more mature than the first, which if anything is going to help us cross over to a broader audience as well. It's more laid back and less aggressive, it's still for the younger market but I'm sure it's going to reach out to a lot of the older market as well. "He puts this down to there being three years between albums. "There's probably a lot less sex on this album than the last! Not saying that we're going soft or anything, there's still a bit of cheekiness in there somewhere, but it's only natural that our music will grow with us and our writing styles will as well."
The styles on the album he says, "mix a lot of things.. it's like '70s funk right through to the '90s. It's a mixture of the three decades of styles rolled into the one." He even says some of the tracks are acid jazzy, now that should be interesting. One thing that is evident is the desire to have a unique sound of r&b, since their identity really is that of Islander and New Zealander Australians, not Americans or British.
"We've had some feedback from people who've popped into the studio and heard some of the new stuff and the response we're getting is, 'it doesn't really sound American and it doesn't sound European but it sounds ultimately cool,' and that's exactly what we're after. We could easily go out there and do everything that's happening in the States right now, but it just wouldn't work for us, we need to come in from a different angle. If we're going to get into the States you've got to come in from a different angle and show them that you've got a whole new sound. That's what it is about music these days, it's more originality as opposed to where you're from."
While the long term plan is to take Kulcha to the world, the immediate goal is to educate our own. Eric says, "R'n'B in Australia is yet to be taken seriously, that not only goes for ourselves but r&b in general. There's been a lot of chart success but unless it has been number one in the States it ain't going to make any noise over here in Australia. We don't need to spend all our money on stuff from overseas, we can buy stuff that's just as good if not better here in Australia. People should just look to their own backyards and say, 'hey, it's happening here as well.'"
from 3D World Magazine November 1996