30 Dec 2016

Being Weird Together in 2016

From RNZ Music, 4:00 pm on 30 December 2016
Dick Johnson and Nick Dwyer of Weird Together

Dick Johnson and Nick Dwyer of Weird Together Photo: Photo supplied

We asked Weird Together to share with us some of their favourite tunes from 2016 because we knew we were going to get something different.  With the combined musical backgrounds of the two main protagonists, we knew we’d be in for something interesting, and we weren’t wrong with tracks from MC Bin Laden, Calypso Rose, Francis Bebey, Chaos in the CBD and more, it’s a journey of discovery. 

Dick Johnson and Nick Dwyer formed Weird Together from a shared love for global music, and strong connections with New Zealand musicians whose heritage comes from all over the globe.  Combining brass sections with electronic beats mixed with indigenous instruments and a vast array of vocalists, they have cemented their place in the New Zealand music scene, as inclusive party starters.   Nick Dwyer talks about Weird Together’s genesis. 

“On my travels I got deeper and deeper into discovering African music, Caribbean music and music from all over the world and I started to amass a bit of knowledge and was stockpiling sounds and ideas.  The first thing we ever did together was we mucked around in the studio with some old Ethiopian jazz records which is incredible music.  Then our first show was at the Splore festival and we blagged our way in, we didn’t even really have a band at that point, we told the organiser John Minty that we had this great show, Burundian drummers, steel pan players, vocalists from South Sudan and he went for it he was the first person to book us. Somehow we managed to build the band for the show and it was great, the show was great and we’ve been building ever since.”

Their latest song ‘Going back to Trinidad’ has been a triumph not only of the band’s passion for global music but also a triumph of global communications. 

“This track is really close to our hearts.  Weird Together are very much inspired by countries that are very far away from us that have rich musical histories.  Countries like Ghana, like Angola, and especially a place like Trinidad and Tobago where through calypso through soca, they’ve just got this musical history that they’re so proud of!  Decades of incredible music.  A couple of years ago I fell down this wormhole of checking out old calypso artists and I came across this guy called RemBuntion who is a modern day artist who keeps the spirit of the old music alive.  The next day I showed Dick some of his stuff and said we should reach out to him and maybe make him a beat.  That very day we made a beat and although we’d never met him, we found his facebook page and just told him we were fans, and that we’d made something for him and wondered if he wanted to have a go on it.  The next morning, I woke up to an email from him not just saying yes that he was into it, but recorded all the parts all the different tracks, and he’d sent it back to us totally done in 24 hours.” 

Despite the quick initial turnaround time for the track, it’s release has been delayed until the band could get all their ducks in a row. 

“We’ve been playing it a lot in our sets but it’s taken a few years to get the track organised for release.  We went to Trinidad earlier this year to shoot a music video, it a big deal for us that one of the biggest artists from Trinidad and Tobago, Jillionaire (from the group Major Lazer) decided to release it for us.  But in the last few weeks since it was released the song has been going crazy in Trinidad.  People have been loving it, we’ve had lots of support from local artists and radio over there.  For me personally it’s the highlight of my music making career thus far.”