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Sydney, New South Wales, Australia | INDIE

Sydney, New South Wales, Australia | INDIE
Band Latin World




"the AU interview: Watussi (Sydney)"

We were lucky enough to catch up with Watussi bass man Patrick Harris ahead of their massive headline show at the metro on April 23rd. Keep these guys on your radar and if they are playing near you make sure you see them before they become the next big thing. Having sold out countless shows with blustering horns, party-fuelled rhythms and rocking roots bass-lines these boys get even the party poopers dancing.
Hey guys thanks for talking to us so what has Watussi been upto so far in 2012?
My pleasure! So far we’ve had the pleasure to share the stage with the legendary Pedro Martinez share the studio with the legendary Jon Cleary and of course put on our own show at the legendary Metro Theatre!
What can we expect from you guys for the rest of the year?
We’ll be putting a lot of energy into returning to South America as well as lining up some gigs in and around the U.S. and Canada for later this year, as well as returning to play at one of our favourite festivals, the East Coast Blues and Roots Festival in Byron Bay over Easter.
To those who don’t know much about the band how would you describe yourselves and give us an idea of what your about
An easy reference would be early (like Woodstock era) Santana – that basically describes the energy and the aesthetic – but there are a lot of other influences from Colombian, Cuban and Brazilian music that we all love. It’s all kind of fused together with and Aussie rock vibe as well, so we usually just end up calling it Afrocolombian Roots Rock.
You released El Olvido last year how has it been touring off the back of that and in retrospect how has the record been received?
We’ve been very lucky with our reviews; everyone who’s heard seems to more or less like it, which is all you can hope for! We had the incredible good fortune of working with an amazing producer and engineer called Joel Hamilton on El Olvido, and I don’t think we could have gotten a better result with anyone else.
What should people expect when they come to a Watussi gig?
A massive party, basically! All the guys in the band are in the habit of bringing a spare t-shirt to each gig, and we encourage audience members to do the same if they can. We have some amazing dancers and special musical guests lined up for this Metro gig, so things might get extra wild on the dance floor (I’m serious about the spare shirt thing.
You guys have had some major momentum of late what do you put that down to?
How do you keep a level head about it all. I mean your headlining the metro. That’s a big deal?
Hard work, really. Lots of arduous hours getting reluctantly cosy with seven other guys in a tour van, lots of meetings and emails and pretending like we’re real life business people! The Metro for us felt like a logical conclusion; we managed to play a series of sell-out shows at the Basement late last year, and we’ve always wanted to put on our own show there – it just felt like the right time.
Is there anything coming up recording wise?
As I mentioned before, we had the absolute privilege to record with on of our heroes, New Orleans pianist Jon Cleary earlier this year, and we managed to get down roughly an E.P.’s worth of tunes. That being said, we may end up extrapolating the idea into a larger collaboration project and see if we can con some other amazing cats into playing with us! Needless to say, the Cleary stuff sounds great!
If you could change one thing about the Australian recording industry at the moment what would it be?
Centre Link! In some Scandinavian countries they have a special version of the dole for artists that provides them with a basic stipend to help them spend as much time as possible on their creative output. And while I don’t think having a day job is necessarily a bad thing for a musician or artist, it would certainly take the pressure off if you could devote serious time and energy to the one project - especially now that finding a label that’s willing to take a financial risk on your music is getting rarer and rarer.
You guys will be at Bluesfest this year are you looking forward to that and what acts on that bill do you want to see?
Trombone Shorty is pretty hot right now, we’ll all be there to catch his band, Angelique Kidjo is always amazing and you’d be crazy to miss YES or Maceo Parker! Also, one of our good friends Bobby Alu is doing a few sets this year – beautiful islander soul at it’s finest.
What are your favorite bands at the moment?
We played back to back with a Melbourne band called The Red Eyes on New Year’s Eve at Woodford Festival this year and they basically blew our minds! Anyone who has the chance to catch them should definitely do so! Also, we’ve been burning out our copies of Deep Sea Arcade’s new record – those boys can do no wrong!
Any final message you want to send to your fans?
Just thank you – THANK YOU! We would be lost without you; any support of original music is honorable and special, and the fact that any of you have chosen us out of the thousands of amazing bands out there is especially humbling! - the aureview

"Santana, Watussi @ Brisbane Entertainment Center, Brisbane"

Mon 28th Mar, 2011 in Gig Reviews

At sixty-three years old, Carlos Santana should be slowing right down, but judging by the blistering speed of his solos and the infectious happiness he resonated in Brisbane on Thursday night, it won’t be for a while. Santana has been around since Woodstock in 1969 (sharing the same stage as Jimi Hendrix), and yet even today twenty year olds know his name and understand his talent. Why? The answer lies in his unique sound – making his live sets exciting to behold.

Afro-Columbian rock band Watussi played a standard half hour set of energised Columbian/Cuban beats that perfectly laid the groundwork for a night of danceable tunes. The band did a great job of warming up the crowd (who had all piled into their seats early) with songs that would serve well as a Zumba workout, or be at home in a hot South American nightclub. Opening bands rarely get most of the audience clapping along, so Watussi showed amazing showmanship straight off the bat.

Santana’s guitar burst into the arena without warning except for dimming lights and jubilant cheers from the crowd. The legendary guitarist immediately launched into Don Quixote complete with lengthy Sega-style guitar solo intro, and then fluidly moved into Open Invitation with his vocalists taking the stage alongside him.

Putting his own groove into an old favourite, Santana channeled Angus Young for a cover of AC/DC’s Back in Black complete with hip-hop meter lyrics and exotic drumming. Essentially it was exactly what would be expected from Santana – classic rock nirvana. Already the crowd was elated with the guitarist as he effortlessly soloed exactly the same as he did thirty years ago. Black Magic Woman/Gypsy Queen got Santana purists cheering with the uptempo interlude and crashing chords making it the perfect hit for the audience to enjoy.

Maria Maria shows a romantic style the vocalists were more comfortable singing in while Santana switched between striking soaring electric tones and finger picking an acoustic guitar. Foo Foo got the party jumping and proved to get the most life out of the audience with the entire floor getting up to dance and clap along to the beat. The only thing missing were some cervezas and a beach…and perhaps some tequila.

Corazon Espinado showcased the amazing soloing abilities of drummer Denny Chambers and bassist Benny Rietveld. While the band also had an amazing keyboardist, trombone and trumpet players and bongo player extraordinaire, it was Denny and Benny who stole the show for five minutes with an effortless (not to mention perfectly executed) solo apiece. Despite the pedigree of the live band, Santana stole the show with melodic guitar playing that, while not big on dynamics (Santana likes his guitar to be loud), was rich in tone and spirit.

The show hit a few bumps at this point, with songs like Jingo and Incident at Neshabur standing out, but others like Evil Ways and No One to Depend On proving to be a tad pedestrian. But just when the show was losing momentum, Santana launched into Cream’s Sunshine of Your Love (complete with awesome Eric Clapton’s wah-wah guitar solo) followed immediately by crowd favourite Smooth. The audience happily joined the vocalists in singing, which was good because between this and encore’s Into the Night, the vocalists just couldn’t compare to their famous counterparts. An a Capella solo in final encore Love, Peace and Happiness redeemed the singers, but ultimately they were a weak link throughout the night on key songs.

Santana, after over forty years of dazzling crowds with his instrumental prowess, held the show together effortlessly as if he were still twenty-two and playing alongside the Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane. Each of his songs came from a positive place, and the hippie in him is alive and well. The audience may have come for the solos (and dammit they got them) - Faster Louder

"MUSIC: Live Review] Earth, Wind & Fire, Watussi @ Hordern Pavilion, Thursday April 5"

Earth, Wind & Fire are basically the musical version of the Planeteers and have spent the last 43 years saving the world with their irresistible funk, soul and peace-happy RnB grooves, which lie… Whoa whoa whoa… 43 years you say? That’s right. With only three original band members still performing, my dad is the main reason I know all the words to ‘Boogie Wonderland’, which they opened with at The Hordern Pavilion last Thursday.

The mostly late-thirties-to-early-sixties crowd didn’t let allocated seating hold them back and everyone – and I mean EVERYONE – was up and bopping along from the get-go. Watussi (also out for Bluesfest) had already warmed us up with some sparkling Columbian Latin and roots vibes, but it was clear to see that everybody was there for the band Rolling Stone claims ‘changed the sound of black pop’. Lead singer Philip Bailey had a lot to do with that change, and wowed the crowd in songs like ‘After The Love Is Gone’ with his four-octave vocal range and a falsetto to make Justin Timberlake sound like a crying infant. The band pulled out all the stops, from choreographed dance moves to whack instrumentals, and percussionist Ralph Johnson demonstrating his ability to throw his tambourine in the air, catch it on the right beat – and simultaneously karate kick a crash cymbal. But party tricks and aerobic theatricals aside, the music simply stunned. The set list flowed, with party classics like ‘Serpentine Fire’ and ‘Sun Goddess’ boasting tight vocal harmonies, horn solos and cowbell riffs.

They chilled out a little through the middle, with croon classics ‘Devotion’ and ‘Can’t Hide Love’ smooth enough to melt a nuclear power plant’s heart. The opening keyboard line sent the crowd wild for ‘After The Love Is Gone’, for which the stage was cleared and Bailey sat on a spotlighted stool to flex some true vocal prowess. He was soon joined for the eight-plus key changes and climax into a string of crowd favourites including ‘Got To Get You Into My Life’, ‘September’ and ‘Let’s Groove’. ‘In The Stone’, with its show tune horn punches, funkadelic percussion and Verdine White rocking out on bass cemented the fact that whilst most band members are in their sixties, time has only improved their ability to bliss out an adoring crowd.

Roslyn Helper

Posted: April 22nd, 2012 under Brag 458 (April 16), Live Reviews, Music.
Tags: Behind the Screens, Earth Wind & Fire, Roslyn Helper, The Brag, Watussi
- The Brag

"Spanish Armada"

Spanish armada
June 17, 2011

Viva la dance revolution ... local Latin eight-piece Watussi are launching their new single, Cuando Sera, at Basement.
Their name is a source of fun but Watussi have a message, writes Paris Pompor.

Believe their publicist's pitch and the name of Sydney combo Watussi translates from Spanish to ''the most handsome man at the party''.

Is this a self-affirmation born of Latin machismo?

''It means many things,'' the group's Colombian-born leader, Oscar Jimenez, says with a laugh.

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Jimenez doesn't confirm or deny the Spanish slang's rendering. He's not so much lost in translation as revelling in ambiguities.

''It's an African tribe,'' he says.

''It's also a type of cattle that has huge horns. That's why there are the horns in [our logo].''

Sure. Subtract one ''s'' and ''Watussi'' is also the title of a '50s MGM film, or a 1960s dance craze associated with Nuyorican percussionist Ray Barretto.

''I just liked the sound of it,'' Jimenez says. ''It really represented the energy of the first album.''

Their debut album, Tequila, Sangre y Fuego, materialised in 2008, landing the group an ARIA nomination. Yet an EP released this year, 1000% Handsome, suggests there's truth in the publicist's virility reference.

''We wanted to make fun of … the stereotype,'' Jimenez says, drawing Metro's attention to the fact that the snarling, moustachioed brute on the EP's cover is far from what is considered hunky.

So the various members of Watussi don't have tickets on themselves. It's all a joke. But there is a serious side to this funky Latin party band.

The first single from their coming sophomore LP is about Colombia's underbelly of violent kidnappings. At the height of the crime trend, more than 3500 people were abducted in one year.

Jimenez penned the single, titled Cuando Sera, after hearing Colombian lawyer and political campaigner Clara Rojas speak.

''It was a very touching speech,'' he says. ''She tried to give a little bit of hope to the families who were waiting for their loved ones.''

Rojas's own story is startling. Interned by guerilla organisation FARC for more than five years, she bore a son during incarceration, fathered by one of her captors.

Two years after her release, Rojas finally reconnected with her child.

''A lot of families in Colombia face this,'' Jimenez says. ''But you don't hear about it in mainstream media.''

The single will be launched tonight at the Basement during the venue's month-long celebration Big Jazz June, with Watussi donating money from ticket sales to a South American charity.

Jimenez prefers painting positive images of his beloved Colombia but singing about issues such as kidnapping ''brings some awareness'', he says.

Listening to Watussi's ebullient music, serious issues might elude the average Australian.

That's because Jimenez usually sings in Spanish, a brave decision given Australian radio's reluctance to support pop music with non-English vocals, although that doesn't seem to worry him.

''I didn't think about it when I was writing the songs,'' Jimenez says of the new album.

''Truly, when I'm writing lyrics, I let myself express what I'm feeling and usually I have to … [do that] in Spanish.''

Still, radio support is important for any band. ''If we don't give it a shot … it will never change,'' Jimenez says. ''You have to take the example of other [English-speaking] countries … the US, for example, has hit singles in Spanish.'' The US also has a considerably larger Hispanic population and institutions such as the Latin Grammy Awards.

Emigrating to Australia 10 years ago, Jimenez says the experience has been overwhelmingly positive.

Born in Colombia's ''very musical town'' of Barranquilla - where the annual carnival is dwarfed only by the world's largest, in Rio de Janeiro - Jimenez recalls dancing in the streets for hours, aged only nine.

''That's been a - Sydney Morning Herald

"El Olvido (Watussi)"

El Olvido (Watussi)
BY: TONY HILLIER From: The Australian November 05, 2011 12:00AM
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From the cover of the Watussi CD El Olvido. Source: Supplied
THE trajectory that has taken charismatic Colombian frontman-singer Oscar Jimenez and his Sydney crew from restaurant and club gigs to show-stopping appearances at some of the country's biggest festivals reaches new heights with El Olvido.

Indeed, the second studio album is of sufficient calibre to suggest that Watussi can now justifiably be regarded as the No 1 Latin band in the land. The eagerly awaited follow-up to 2008's Tequila, Sangre y Fuego carries the New York polish of celebrated producer Joel Hamilton, yet captures the raw essence, energy and excitement of the octet's live shows. Featuring screaming guitars in tandem with a percolating percussion battery and a seriously funky brass section, the band's sound vacillates somewhere between classic Santana and Ozomatli's more modern streetwise mix of Latino and hip-hop. The title track itself betrays a Santana-esque Abraxas influence. Likewise Africa. A scorching old school electric guitar solo cuts through Magdalena. Jazzy flute takes the hard edge off Coro Coro, while soaring trumpet softens the high powered salsa drive of Secalo. A trombone solo works well in the bustling Baila. Looser in structure with an improvisational feel, sign-off track Oblivion gives all the horn players an opportunity to stretch out. Offsetting the album's predominantly pan-Latin party vibe, Cuando Sera addresses kidnapping, an issue that has plagued Colombia and other Latin and South American countries.

RATING: 4 stars

- The Australian


Tequila, Sangre, Fuego WATUSCD001 LP
Tu, Te, Vas WATUSCD002 single
1000% Handsome WATUSCD003 EP
Cuando Sera WATUSCD004 single
El Olvido WATUSCD005 LP



Watussi formed in 2006 by lead singer Oscar Jimenez in Sydney.
Our first Album Tequila, Sangre, Fuego was released in 2007 and in 2008 was nominated for an ARIA award for Best World Music Release. The Album was recorded at Big Jesus Burger studios in Sydney and was produced by Scott Horscroft. On the back of the success of this album we played at WOMADELAIDE in 2008 Followed by most of the major festivals in Australia. We were as listed as well as album of the week on ABC Radio National. Accompanying the album we released a video clip for the song ‘Echale Fuego’, which was played regularly on RAGE.
We have also have been remixed by Nickodemis, Allgood funk Alliance and recently Peruvian group Novalima on Coro Coro.
In 2010 fresh back from a South American tour, Watussi began work on the next Album ‘El Olvido’. By late 2010 we began recording at 'The Grove Studios' at Mangrove Mountain. We flew in producer Joel Hamilton from New York to produce the album. He had just recently finished an album with Black Roc and had produced many big names such as Tom Waits, Elvis Costello, Bomba Stereo and more. The experience was unique ad we were very proud of the result. From that recording we dropped the first single "Tu Te Vas" which featured up and coming hip hop artist Curren$y from the US and was also given airplay on RAGE. We then released the EP 1000% Handsome followed by the album El Olivido in October 2011.
Tony Hillier from 'the Australian' described the band as “No.1 Latin band in the land” Full article http://www.theaustralian.com.au/arts/music/el-olvido-watussi/story-fn9sulvf-1226181630779
2012 we collaborated with New Orleans legend Jon Cleary with whom we arranged and recorded three amazing legendary Latin tracks plus one of Jon's own compositions. We plan to release this in the new year. Our aim is to use this collaboration to get a spot in the New Orleans Jazz festival as well as boost our profile in both the United States and Australia.
Watussi have extensively toured nationally and overseas and have collaborated with artists such as Bobby Alu, Chasin the Sun, Oka, ,Tijuana Kartel, Kingtide, Santana (USA), Earth Wind & Fire (USA), Pedrito Martinez Band (USA/Cuba), Seun Kuti & the Egypt 80 Band (Nigeria), Jon Cleary (USA) and Novalima (Peru). Some of our highlights have been touring nationally with Santana, Womad New Zealand, Ibero pan Americano Festival in Colombia, The Ulsan Festival in South Korea, three successive appearances at Bluesfest and the Rainforest World Music Festival in Sarawak Borneo.