Watussi
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Watussi

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"Watussi album review"

Watussi, pronounced ‘Wah-too-see’, is a multicultural Australian collective led by afro-wielding Colombian maestro Oscar Jimenez, who have released their first full-length album under the watchful eye of producer Scott Horscroft, famous for acts such as Silverchair. And it’s an impressive piece of work. The band is a full-on eight piece, capable of a huge sound which seems to cover everything from Tequila-fuelled ass-shakin rhythms through to do the type of raw energy that someone might associate with an unplugged version of Rage Against the Machine: with horns! It’s a big call, but a single listen and you’ll get it.

The production of Tequila, Sangre y Fuego seems to capture that live feel in a similar way that Vanda and Young captured the early sounds of AC/DC; raw, minimal polish with strong sounds and feeling of real instruments. In fact, two of the tracks titled Interlude 1 and Interlude 2 were recorded live and feed into the next song to give them a raw edge. The effect blurs the line between live and studio and really gives you a solid feel for the sound.

Echale Feugo is an energetic track that catches the big soundscape and multiple local tracks that somehow reminds me of the Resin Dogs’ early work, resplendent with time changes, foreign lyrics, a bit of flute and beautiful rhythm guitar. Mira mixes in some ambient background with that chunky raw guitar that RATM use so effectively. At times Oscar’s voice overlaid on his tight rhythm section reminds me of Rob Thomas playing with Santana. Very cool; chicks would find it pretty sexy as well. Unfortunately some of them might be our mums but hey, who’s discriminating. Mira was previously remixed and included on a Fresh Jams compilation.

The band demonstrates their extensive range with Treasure which has overtones of a rasta and reggae. It’s one of the songs that put in front of the right producers would easily fit into playlists of some of the popular radio shows. In fact, their previous EPs Fling of the Major Bling and Decide Yourself got national airplay on JJJ amongst others.

This CD has undergone heavy rotation in my collection, anything up to 20 listens as it is just such a solid and tight piece of work. There is no doubt however that my favourite track on the CD is Candela; energy, mixed up lyrics and some really a really tough sounding guitar. It currently pumped up to a huge volume as this review is being penned. I have no idea what ‘Candela’ means though. To finish off is the aptly titled Finale which once again uses some live sound grabs, presumably from one of their own shows. Listen on, a bit of hidden track groove magic is there.

This is definitely a release worth considering buying. Whilst a lot of foreign lyrical content is threaded throughout the tracks, the energy, excitement and cheekiness makes it instantly accessible. No doubt we will hear more from this band and I can’t wait to the opportunity to see them play live.

November 23rd, 2007 by barkus - inthemix.com.au


"Street press - Feature article"

Local Latin/funk/hip hop act Watussi are about to drop their debut LP, but you don’t have to wait that long to experience the band as play the Surry Hills Festival this weekend. Lead vocalist Oscar Jimenez chatted to 3D about tequila, music and… tequila.

You’ve been called the “love children of Lenny Kravitz, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Ozomatli”. Are any of these guys in particular a big influence on your sound, or would you cite others?
Kravitz is a legend but the Chili Peppers made a huge impact in my teenage years when I started playing in a Latin ska punk band. I only heard about Ozomatli when I arrived to Australia and for me they are a clear example of the influence of Latin American music in the States. Before them there is Los Fabulosos Cadillacs, Mano Negra and now Manu Chao… These are my mayor Latin rock influences.

As an eight-piece band, you’re something of an army. Does it ever feel too crowded?
Never. I love sharing the stage with the band. Our sound is made of big chants so every single voice is needed. I believe we will keep growing and sharing with different musician. Music is endless.

As a band that churns out original compositions, how does the songwriting work in an act with eight people?
It is not a problem as I get to do it myself and some ideas come in rehearsals jamming. Los Muchachos help me a lot with musical arrangements and many of the lyrics are in Spanish so I’m lucky. I don’t get much critics!

It sounds like your soon-to-be-released debut will be a sonic extravaganza – what genres and cultures did you explore and combine and how?
We have songs that are inspired in traditional Latin rhythms like Candela, that takes pieces of the Cuban Guaguanco and mixes it with that Australian rock orira, inspired on the Cumbia from Colombia but ending in a heavy funk beat. Always trying to create something new and authentic that we can call our own.


Finally, the album’s called Tequila, Sangre y Fuego – what does that mean and why did you pick it for a title?
To name this album we wanted to represent all the elements that create our sound. Tequila, our ritual drink before every performance, sangre (blood), our different roots and cultural background and fuego (fire), the combination of the first two makes our music explosive and rebelde.
- 3D World - Sydney, Australia


"Ladies and Gentleman, Introducing Watussi"

They exploded onto the scene only a couple of years ago, but are already a growing force on the local live scene. With a brand new CD “Tequila, Sangre y Fuego”, you are about to hear a whole lot more from this band as they gear up for a huge summer of appearances.

Ladies and gentlemen, introducing the irrepressible, charismatic, and highly energetic Watussi…

Cris Dio had a chat down the line with leader of the pack Oscar Jimenez, on a break in Colombia.

CD: How is Colombia? Are you taking a break after recording or are you
performing over there?

Oscar: I love my country and it’s always nice to go back and refill the roots. To see my family and friends over here after the album was finished was very important for me, especially in what I was trying to represent in this project. I’m not performing this time but the possibilities to bring the band to South America are big. We just have to keep pushing.

CD: How is the local scene over there and how do you find it different from
Australia?

Oscar: The Colombian music scene has grown a lot in the past 7 years that I’ve been away. There is more support to local bands and this has pushed the industry and the quality of music produced inside. There are not as much live venues and concerts as Sydney or Melbourne but you have to remember the condition that musicians have to face over here. This makes it special in a way too, as you can hear musicians busking on buses every corner you go.

CD: Tell me about the inspiration for your CD "Tequila, Sangre y Fuego"...

Oscar: This album is a mix of the different things that had inspired us in the last 3 years of the band. The name tells you all the elements of this band and its background. The “Tequila” – the band’s favorite drink, “Sangre” - our blood and background, and “Fuego” - the combination of the first two makes this “fire” music.

CD: And what has been your musical history? It feels like Watussi burst
onto the scene a couple of years ago and it has been successful from the
beginning...

Oscar: The band as it is now has one year and a half but to come to this point was a long process and we still have a lot to go through. Four years ago we were a 4 piece playing a restaurant in front of Bondi Beach. Then we decided to add percussion and saxophone for a gig at the Landsdowne Hotel, a great pub with no fuzz that gave us more gigs after that. Then we recorded our first demo in Wonderland studios where we used to rehearse and did the launch at The Basement with a great turn out. We did a few more unforgettable gigs at The Basement with great success. I think at some point it will grow to a 12 piece. The truth is since we had a manager helping us two years ago things really started to run better and the sound started to mature as well.

CD: How would you describe your sound? Is your album geared to a Latino/Spanish-speaking market?

Oscar: Even that we have many influences Watussi is looking for a unique sound that represents itself. Our audience could be from any country, not necessarily Spanish-speaking and the Australian have support us so well that I feel the language isn’t a barrier. Many of the lyrics were inspired in South America but that’s because of my roots. The message is really for anyone that wants to hear and/or enjoy.

CD: What are you favourite artists and art/musical influences?

Oscar: Manu Chau, Ruben Blades, AC/DC, Sidestepper, Los Fabulosos Cadillacs, Salvador Dali, Fania All-stars, Rage Against the Machine, Bob, Salmonella Dub, and locally I like Kid Confucius, Blue King Brown, Rastawookie and many more.

CD: What is the plan now that you have the new album? Will you be touring?

Oscar: We are doing a tour not only in Australia but our first tour in New Zealand. Even if is next door we can call it “international”. I’m very excited about it. There is also possibilities around South America but we are gonna concentrate over here first until things cook over there.

CD: Anything special we should know about WATUSSI?

Oscar: An album launch is always special and we are planning on an unforgettable night where the audience feels part of the show. Looking for some Tequila sponsors too, lets see how many you can take..!

Stay tuned for a CD review in the coming weeks. - diaspora.com.au


"Watussi ready for WOMAD"

WOMAD is upon us again and the line up for the 2008 event is an absolute beauty. If there is one band to check out it the unmistakeable distorted rock riffs and funked-up Afro-Cuban rhythms of Watussi (pronounced Wah-too-See). Watussi are another unique group to come out of the international cultural hotpot that is Sydney’s Bondi beach

Lead by Colombian born Oscar Jimenez, it wasn’t long after the first few gigs as a fully formed eight piece that their wild live shows, energizing original compositions and ability to destroy genres saw them gain a huge following and headlining festivals. From Peat’s Ridge, Great Escape, Sydney Festival and national tours, Watussi have forged an enviable live reputation Australia wide.

The mix of rhythmic percussion with raw guitars and bass gives Watussi a unique edge that defines the experience of one of their live performances. It is not uncommon to see the band jam on stage with a Samba drumming group or guest MC. Front man Oscar Jimenez is amped for their WOMAD debut.

How’s your day been? “Very, very hectic,” Oscar said. “I don’t know if it’s been the full moon or something but it’s been crazy with everything from publicity for WOMAD to rehearsing with the band. We’re on the way to a festival in Canberra but that aside it’s been a wonderful experience.”

Do you get sick of doing media interviews? “This has been the busiest time I’ve had for interviews,” Oscar mentioned. “I’ve never experienced doing so many, one after the other. It’s part of the job and I’m prepared for it.”

Are you looking forward to playing at WOMAD? “I really am,” Oscar said. “The whole band is really excited about it. We’re preparing to make this a big show as it is our international festival of this calibre. To be sharing the stage with so many amazing artists is a great opportunity for us.”

How do you get invited to play, do you submit and application or do you get head hunted so to speak? “It’s half and half,” Oscar answered. “We applied the year before but I think it was good for us at the time that we didn’t get through as it gave us the chance to continue working hard on our live show. After playing a lot of shows then we were asked. I think this year we were in a very lucky position and like everything in life you don’t realise that things happen for a reason.”

Are other opportunities starting to come your way now? “Totally,” Oscar agreed. “We played some festivals in New Zealand and some other big festivals in Sydney. All these experiences mean that we are able to play WOMAD at a high standard and this will be great for us.”

For punters heading down to WOMAD how would you describe your band’s music to them? “Well,” Oscar paused. “It is difficult to describe the music but I can assure you that the show will keep you dancing the whole way through. Even with our music and even though the language maybe a barrier for some people the message I think will be understood. Our set is an hour long and we give everything to the audience.”

Do you approach playing a festival any differently to a club show? “With smaller venues you have to think it differently as there is closer contact,” Oscar thought. “The energy is the same even though the stage maybe tiny when you start jumping around. The only difference with the big stage is the quantity of people and the amount of space we have. We are looking to move forward and start playing bigger shows to reach more people.”

What do you like about playing festivals like WOMAD? “The festival atmosphere is amazing,” Oscar believed. “It’s not just about one band or all the bands, it’s about the festival as a community and sharing an understanding. Festivals are a great way to communicate messages about climate change and many other political issues that are happening right now in Australia and around the world. With a festival like this it is a great opportunity to get our message through.” - inthemix.com.au


"Watussi Album Reveiw - "The Weekend Australian""

"Tequila, Sangre y Fuego"
Watussi
<Four/Five Stars>

Melbourne has the edge when it comes to Latin crossover: think the Cat Empire, San Lazaro and Labjacd. Watussi is doing it's best to help redress the balance. The roll that has taken dynamic frontman-singer Oscar Jimenez and his Colombian-Australian crew from Sydney restaurant gigs to WOMADelaide, from quartet to octet, will gain momentum with 'Tequila, Sangre and Fuego'. As polished as it is, this debut album has captured the raw power and intense excitement of a "Wah-too-see" show (several live tracks are interspersed with the studio recordings). Featuring distorted lead guitar, a brilliant three piece horn section and a battery of percussion, the sound is a cross between Santana (of Abraxas vintage, with the verve of Supernatural), and Rage Against the Machines with horns. Watussi's soul, funk, reggae and rock-infused Afro Latin rhythms are a cornucopia for the ear, with grooves and tempos changing and morphing in different directions on most tracks. - The Weekend Australian 26th April


Discography

"Tequila, Sangre y Fuego" - LP, released Oct 2007 through Knowfoowl/Inertia. Has received major airplay nationally in Australia and New Zealand.
"Mira" - 12 inch vinyl, released through Fresh Jams.
"Live @ The Vanguard" - LP, released independently.
"Decide Yourself" - EP, released independently.
"Fling of the Major Bling" - EP, released independently.

Photos

Bio

The unmistakable distorted riffs and funked-up percussive rhythms of Watussi (pronounced “WAH–too–SEE”, translated from the Cuban slang “the most handsome man at the party”) signifies one of the most dynamic and unique groups to come out of the multicultural broth of Sydney’s Bondi beach.

Lead by Colombian born Oscar Jimenez with a sound that has been variously described as ‘Afro-Colombian rock and roots’ and ‘Rage Against The Machine with horns’, it wasn't long after the first few gigs as a fully formed eight piece that their wild live shows, powerful original compositions and ability to destroy genres saw them gain a huge following with an ever widening and diverse fan-base.

International tours and Australia wide exposure through TV and radio performances has led to critical acclaim of the debut album culminating in an ARIA "Best World Music Album" Nomination 2008 for “Tequila, Sangre y Fuego”. Released nationally in October 2007 through Knowfoowl/Inertia, it has featured regularly on Triple J’s ‘Roots n All’, ABC Rational National (Album of the Week Dec 07), SBS, Radio Adelaide, PBS Melbourne and Sydney’s FBI Radio.

Watussi’s live energy was witnessed in 2008 with appearances at Ulsan World Music Festival South Korea, WOMADelaide, Jamabalaya Festival NZ, Sydney Festival, national tours , The Famous Spiegeltent and Sydney's rock'n'roll Mecca Annandale Hotel.