Halfkast and The Grand Audio Family
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Halfkast and The Grand Audio Family

Band Hip Hop Rock


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"Halfkast @ Moon Bar, Brisbane (13/04/2007)"

Brisbane-based Halfkast has come a long way since his earlier forays into the world of live performance as a support act for Sydney hip-hoppers Bliss n Eso a year ago. Since then he has gained a band and recorded an impressive debut CD called Turn up the Volume.
Not having heard the ensemble since Halfkcast and his crew became one, it was good to see the merging of talents and enthusiasm for what they do that is Halfkast and the Cure for Everything.
“Tell them we’re really good” enthuses bass player Dave having a drink by the bar before the show, Simon the saxophonist concurs: “We’re really terrific!” he quips, a huge grin on his face.
DJs Cutloose and Julian Love warmed the crowd up spinning some funky carribean reggae tunes that had the girls groovin’ nicely. At this stage the Moon bar is pretty packed and the security chick comments on how she’s bored because everyone up here tonight is so mellow there’s nothing for her to do, but she’s happy to be just listening to the music.
By the time Dubmarine take to the stage just after 11pm, a loyal following of fans have accumulated on the dance floor to get a taste of the dubalicious reggae sounds of this vibrant five-piece band complete with bongos. The passionate vocalist has an incredible range of ability that had him doing a Prince-like falsetto on Got it Right Here to mimicking the sounds of a didgeridoo to create the indigenous feel during the instrumental breaks of Inspiration Drive. This is toe-tapping funky, sexy dub at its’ finest. Dubmarine deliver a well-tuned, highly-polished set of an ensemble that really knows its’stuff. The vibe in the Moon Bar was definitely uplifted and laid-back with appreciation shown by those drawn to the dance floor by the seductive, smooth sounds.
At around 1am Halfkast and The Cure for Everything took over the stage with an elaborate array of instruments and characters. Hip-hop and the traditional rock four-piece, with the addition of the tenor sax create a marriage of rock and rap made in heaven. It soon becomes evident that the moral as well as musical support this band has given MC Halfkast has been just the confidence booster he needed to go forth and ply his trade to the best of his ability. The musical direction the experienced band members and long-time friends have taken with this talented Brisbane hip-hopper give it the edge over the traditional hip-hop acts.
This is not just about a rapper and a boom box, this is Brissie Hip-Hop, and like all things we do up here, it’s done with a mind of its’ own! It’s a bit less serious, a bit more gritty and real and a little less-manufactured. It has soul. It’s great to see this much talent and joy of the music in the one room. They started out with a track called Simple Things, by the time they did Thank You, the dance floor was pumping as those who had come along to see Dubmarine stayed on to appreciate the merry madness of Halfkast and the Cure for Everything.
They played a fourteen track set including the much-anticipated live versions of the five tracks from the CD including the title track Turn up the Volume. The only issue on the night was the sound mixing which at times made it difficult to hear Halfkast doing his beautiful word thing over the very enthusiastic, but at times a tad overwhelming band. This is not the case on the CD in which Halfkast’s lyrics are clearly heard and brilliant. The worthy addition of the saxophone makes the sound reminiscent of early Madness or the Specials coupled with the rappin’ of a natural born poet. New Wave-rap maybe? New-hop? Whatever it is, it’s cool.
The show over, Halfkast is humble and unassuming and thankful for the opportunities that have come his way, and thankful to the crowd for supporting them. It was a top show a great vibe and an awesome line-up at the Moon Bar on Friday the 13th. The CD Turn up the Volume is well-worth a listen and is available on Pure Volume. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have one of the last tracks played; Brizzy Hip-Hop which is a Beastie-boys-style classic, but word is there’s a new CD in the pipeline soon which should be worth looking out for. The live act rocked! - In The Mix - Created On April 17th, 2007 by magicangelisa

"Within A Song Of Victory"

TWO songwriters with very different styles and from both ends of the state are the finalists in The Courier-Mail Q Song People's Choice Award.

After votes were counted yesterday, 15-year-old Cairns songwriter Emma-Louise and Brisbane hip hop and funk performer HalfKast went through to the final round, with the winner to be announced at the Q Song Awards in Brisbane this month.

Readers can hear their songs, Kim's Song by Emma-Louise and All Mine by HalfKast, and vote by SMS. Voting closes on Tuesday at midnight.

While the Q Song competition offers prizes and exposure for Queensland songwriters, one reader will be a winner too.

Those who vote in the Reader's Choice Award are in the running to win a $5000 Loud and Live pack, which includes tickets to the Q Song Awards, a package of 100 new-release CDs and DVDs, tickets to a Powderfinger and Silverchair Across the Great Divide Tour concert at the Brisbane Entertainment Centre and tickets to the Big Day Out.

HalfKast has had a huge 12 months since winning attention as a finalist in the Q Song Awards hip hop category last year and the release of the Turn Up The Volume EP.

The rapper performs with his six-piece band, The Cure For Everything.

"The band has been together for about a year but we've known each other for years and they have a lot of experience as performers," HalfKast says.

Like many artists, HalfKast is a savvy user of the internet, with more than 5000 friends registered at his myspace site.

"It's great when you see that equates to people coming to gigs and voting for us in these awards," HalfKast says.

"At our shows we like to see people up and dancing and we like them to come up and talk to us afterwards so we build the rapport from the ground up."

There are a busy few months ahead for HalfKast. Yesterday he was in Melbourne organising the band's first southern tour.

The Reader's Choice winner is announced at the Q Music Awards at The Tivoli on August 14, and the band plays at the Valley Fiesta in September.

Performers at the Q Music Awards include The Gin Club, Small Mercies, Tim Steward and Banawarun, with The Grates and Kate-Miller Heidke among the presenters. - Courier Mail - Noel Mengel (2/8/07)

"Turn Up The Volume EP Review"

Fresh off the sunny streets of Brisbane comes funky six-piece hip-hop outfit, Halfkast & The Cure For Everything with their debut EP Turn Up The Volume. Following the footsteps of the success of similar acts such as TZU, The Herd and fellow Brissie boys, Butterfingers, frontman Halkast brings a new flavour of lyricism with his inspirational wordplay backed up by a unique band whose musical roots lay with jazz, funk and reggae, reflecting the get up and dance-type energetic vibe generated in their live sets. A style much different from most hip hop acts they perform alongside, yet well received by the usual crowd probably due to the unforgettable stage presence of frontman, Benjamin 'HalfKast' Wood. Known for his third place on Channel [V]’s Aussie Friggin’ Hip-Hop Contest, Wood stuck in people’s minds for his noticeable identity as far from the stereotypical rapper as possible, sporting a head fulla’ dreadlocks and a laid back approach to his art form. Together Halfkast & The Cure For Everything played Livid, BBQ breaks and opened for Sydney lads BlissnEso, Afrodizziact and many more, and now have finally put together an EP packed with all the old and new school talent the bands been belting out since 2003.

From the first track, we’re introduced to Halfkast’s cool, calm take on his lyrics and the cruisy keyboard intro with a catchy chorus:
“This time and place it ain’t for me / I might keep my pace and keep it easy / whatever the case I’m living to dream.”
If you like honest, talented musicianship brought to life through combining real instruments and a new style of relaxed Hip-Hop then you’ll be all over this EP. Living to Dream incorporates pop, Hip-Hop and Jazz, a mix that might be too much for many listeners until they actually see these guys perform. Jordan Lewerissa leads this track with an infectious guitar melody, counteracted by sax, trumpets and a groovy bass line following the keys. You have to appreciate raw live musicians to enjoy Turn Up The Volume, but don’t let this deter all you MC’s reading this, coz this guy packs some tight, free-spirited stuff, and it may be catchy but its catchy because its dope, no matter how far from hip-hop it may be perceived to be.

Track 2, Another Day brings up the tempo with a thrashy chorus utilising grooves and rhythms borrowed from ska and rock, with Wood delivering a vocal onslaught of contemplative thought about where he’s at, where he’s living and looking forward to the joys of tomorrow no matter what happens today. He’s telling Australia to get up of our asses and make our lives better, promoting opportunity and stepping outside the square we live in. A positive and certified head nodding tune, Another Day has got to be the highlight track, most probably contended for the single for its obvious ability to appeal to the alternative scene as well as its viability for commercial airplay. Halfkast possesses a charisma and style a mass audience can catch onto, and his music is so warmly accepted by Australian audiences who welcome the strong use of our God given Aussie accent in hip-hop. He switches his flow to exaggerate the band, who easily mix together to form great sounds, instead of just hyping up the MC.

The last two tracks slightly let down the vibe of the album, due to their extremely similar sound. An even more laid back take is observed, as if to keep the message of chill out, let the music release you etc etc enforced. Last track, What Could She Be Thinking opens his world of women, with the usual take on a new girl in his life and wondering what goes on when looking into her eyes. Cliché, I hear? Well yeah, but most rappers got tracks about these typical problems, but luckily this is the only track on the EP on such matters. With scratches by Trent Wildman, the song becomes quite jazzy and finishes the EP on a upbeat note. Long time producer, Zen Phase teams up with Halfkast nicely for this one, despite sounding rather too pop for hip-hop towards the end.

Keep an eye on Halfkast & The Cure For Everything for another release this year, with all the gigs and community involvement with their music lately I’m positive a second album will hold even more style and finally find the balance between commercial and alternative Hip Hop. - OzHipHop - Adi Dassler (18/5/07)

"Love For Sale"

FOLLOWING THEIR nomination in the hip hop category of the 2006 Qsong Awards, live hip hop ensemble Halfkast & The Cure For Everything have just been nominated in the People’s Choice category at Qsong 2007 for their new single ‘All Mine’.

It’s a telling analogy for the local seven-piece - their fusion of Halfkast’s MC-ing over an aural hot bed of funked-up jazz portrays the group as the highly-evolved, rather distant cousin of traditional hip hop. The band are currently in the writing and recording stages of the next disc, the follow-up to their 2006 debut EP Turn Up The Volume.

“We’ve got a two-point plan,” Halfkast chuckles. “We’ve got songs for an EP at the end of the year, and now we’re writing for the album, which will hopefully be out in the middle of next year.”

The band’s new EP - whose release is set to coincide with the band’s first interstate shows - will be preceded by their lead single ‘All Mine’ - a hilarious, and somewhat autobiographical, tale of prostitution on the streets of The Valley.

“My friend had a friend who got banned from this brothel because he kept wanting to see this one hooker and he ruined it one day by asking for her real name,” Halfkast explains of the single’s lyrical origins. “So he got cut off, and he just pined after her week after week after week. I was like, ‘Man, he’s in love with a hooker, that’d be an interesting story’. So I wrote a verse about watching a hooker that you love.

“And there was a chick that I met recently who was a really cool chick in high-school, but I’ve found out that she is now a whore, literally. I think the favourite thing to say at a show is, ‘This song is about those hard-working chicks on Brunswick Street’. I said that at a show at The Globe, and it just went quiet for a second, then someone yelled out ‘Whores!’.”

Since releasing Turn Up The Volume late last year things have kicked into overdrive for Halfkast & The Cure For Everything, with the EP heralding further gigging opportunities, including a recent support slot for hot Melbourne duo Jackson Jackson.

“People from festivals have been taking an interest and asking us to send press packs to them,” Halfkast says. “It just means that from our very loose beginnings we’ve actually managed to gel together really nicely, and the word of mouth has been really good.

“We’re taking it more seriously now. It was all fun and games; [now] we have band meetings and budgets and plans.”

And despite a recent line-up change with Jason Lovett stepping in on guitar, there’s no signs of slowing down for the band.

“Jason was one of the first to try out and he just seemed liked the logical choice,” the band’s in-house producer Zen Phase explains. “He had played with the guys in the band from years back.

“Even when he came to try out, he had listened to our songs and had written all the notation down and everything. He was well-prepared, he’s more prepared than the band even is.” - Time Off - Justin Grey (22/7/07)

"Halfkast interview"

BENJAMIN WOOD, aka HALFKAST, talks to ELAINE MITROPOULOS about getting recognized, bringing life to hip hop with THE CURE FOR EVERYTHING, and how big bands can sometimes be a burden.

Brisbane-based Halfkast has been stirring up a fair bit of attention in the local music scene lately. Not has he been slated to perform at area gigs and festivals, but the funk-induced hip hop band is also up for Q Music’s 2007 People’s Choice award, a statewide competition judged by industry professionals.

“It’s good to get some recognition,” says Benjamin Wood (aka Halfkast), whose lyrics and rhymes accompany the five-piece band comprising The Cure For Everything.

“Last year the band was nominated in the hip hop category, which is a small category. When you go to something like the People’s Choice, then you know your making music for a wider audience, and that’s one aim of the band.”

Before being part of a live entourage, Halfkast was a solo MC who recorded with Brisbane composer Pat “Zen Phase” Brown (Dope n Dusted and Devolved). Back in 2006, both were looking to put together a live band. A couple of phone calls later and Halfkast And The Cure For Everything, a band consisting of seasoned, musicians entrenched in the local music scene, was born

“The plan was always to have a band,” explains Wood. “Pat Brown and I have always programmed the music to be translated into a band setting. We tend to not use too many electronic elements in our production so we can take the music to the band and say, ‘This is what we would like,’ and then the band translates that and redefines it in their own means.”

With the added touch of live instrumentation, Halfkast’s thoughtful and thought-provoking lyrics are laced overtop a spirited funk sound, made all the more genre-defying with the addition of sung hooks. True to the genre’s purest form, however, Halfkast opts for ‘keeping it real’ on the mic, and prides himself in the art of storytelling.

“In a lot of rock and alternative, there’s ambiguity in the lyrics and you can make up the story in your head and how you want to relate to the words,” explains Wood. “But just telling a story and having three versus and saying, ‘I’m going to set up the point, give you some more information and conclude, it’s like an essay. I enjoy writing a point.”

As a love song portraying sketches of neither idyllic nor requited love, All Mine, the single up for Q Song’s People’s Choice award, is exemplary of Halfkast’s lyrical style and philosophy. And if mass appeal is indeed one of the band’s goals, having All Mine come out in the top eight of 1,500 Q Song entries is a step in the right direction.

“For a band that’s only been together for a year and a half, to get where we are now recognition-wise is quite well,” says Wood humbly. “We’re getting asked to play festival spots. We’re getting general interest from New South Wales and Melbourne promotion-wise and record label-wise. The problem is, we don’t have enough money to get down there. There’s seven of us you know.” - Rave Magazine - Elaine Mitropoulos (24/7/07)


Turn Up The Volume EP (2006)

1. Living To Dream
2. Another Day
3. Turn Up The Volume
4. Set Me Free
5. What Could She Be Thinking



..:HalfKast and The Grand Audio Family:...

If you’ve been searching for that grand sounding, body rocking, no holds bar musical extravaganza, well look no further.

Long time writing partners HalfKast and Zen Phase won’t ever hesitate to say that they have always made to music for everyone, because music is what can bring people together. In order to get the live sound precise, they’ve sought the most talented and innovative musicians in Brisbane to help turn their ideas into reality. The result is:HalfKast and The Grand Audio Family.

HalfKast and The Grand Audio Family are Brisbane’s ultimate big band for the modern music lover. Its music that makes you move from the back of the venue to the front of the stage and into the care free sweat soaked crowd. Its music for those who love to nod their head, move the body and rock out in the chorus. It’s that funky hip hop groove with rock surging though its veins, a forging of sounds and ideas where everyone is invited.

So have a listen, tell a friend and come along to a show. We’re recruiting for the family.

......:ABOUT HALFKAST:......

Benjamin Wood (aka HalfKast) has been an active member in the Brisbane Hip Hop and live music scene for the past five years.

In 2005 HalfKast competed in Channel [V]’s Aussie Friggin’ Hip-Hop competition, in which he placed 3rd out of ten thousand emcees. Since then HalfKast has been working hard as a solo performer and band member to a high degree of success.

HalfKast's unique style and versatility has seen him perform at various music festivals and supporting national and international acts like:

GURU of Gangstarr (USA)
People Under The Stairs (USA)
Bliss ‘n’ Eso
Jackson Jackson
The Winnie Coopers
Fast Crew

In 2008, with his new band The Grand Audio Family, HalfKast and his crew have set thier sights on taking the next step in in producing a truely unique sound for the Australian music lover.

.......:WHAT SOME HAVE SAID:........

"From the opening flows of ‘Living To Dream’ it’s crystal clear that this isn’t your run of the mill hip-hop, escaping clichés and delivering a positive, uplifting attitude that adds a little melody to the clever lyrics and overall vibe."
- Time Off Magazine – Brisbane

"The EP blends hip-hop, funk and drum and bass in a style that uniquely sounds like Brisbane. Turn Up The Volume sounds like pop from start to finish, perfectly designed for radio play. This is tightly constructed, working class hip hop."
- Rave Magazine – Brisbane

"His musicianship and lyrical skills are unique and exciting, the use of grooves and rhythms he utilises are indicative of an international style. I believe that Ben (HalfKast) has the ability and charisma to have mass appeal in the commercial and alternative markets."
- Chrisse Feros: Director of Voiceworx Brisbane and winner of the John Lennon Song Writing Award. www.sonicbids.com/chrisseferos

"HalfKasts ability to mix up his flow and voice with ease is one of the main reasons as to why I think he’d be so warmly accepted by the wider Australian public. I found it almost comforting to know that there is so much up and coming talent in the local music scene and especially that they’re pushing boundaries and making some dope music."
- www.ozhiphop.com

"A marriage of rock and rap made in heaven. It’s a bit less serious, a bit more gritty, real and a little less-manufactured. It has soul."
- www.inthemix.com.au