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Spektrum interview: Get Punk'd

Author: Guido Farnell
Friday, November 18, 2005

Punk funk party machine Spektrum are headed down to Melbourne for Summadayze's upcoming New Year's Day celebrations. Spektrum, comprised of Gabriel Olegavich (keys and production), Lola Olafisoye (vocals) and rhythm strategists Teia Williams (bass) and Isaac Tucker (drums), are one of the few so called 'punk funk' outfits that are able to work their influences into something genuinely fresh. Their beats could be filed under house but they incorporate a broad range of typical New York influences from the early '80s, taking in everything from the sounds of Konk to the crazy tribal energy of Tom Tom Club and old favourites ESG.

"That punk funk sound is just something that has happened, almost by accident," advises bass player Teia Williams who surprisingly hails from New Zealand. "Four years ago someone played us some ESG and Liquid Liquid and we really loved what we heard. It has probably been a big influence, but more than copy a particular style of music we have always conscientiously tried to do things in our own way. Isaac and myself travelled from New Zealand to London and have fallen in love with the music scene over here. There is so much happening, it is just crazy. We make a conscientious effort to take the time to listen to exciting new music and I think that also informs what we play."

"At the moment we are working on the second album and it is already musically a very different proposition to our first album, 'Enter The Spektrum'. It is a little bit punkier in attitude and there are a couple more purely electronic tunes. If you like the first album then I think that the second will deliver a few surprises next year. We are currently working on about 15 songs for the next album. Some of them are finished and others are incomplete."

"We were in Russia last week and that puts an end to the almost non-stop touring we have been doing around Europe lately. We have a month or so ahead of us to work on this album and that should be enough time to get it finished off and ready for release. Our Playhouse deal was only a one album deal so we need to find a label that will release it. At the moment we are hoping an English label will sign us."

Spektrum typify a growing number of dance acts that are shifting towards incorporating a greater amount of live instrumentation into their music. "I think the future is with live dance music," exclaims Williams. "This is really what Spektrum is all about. The people at Playhouse took a gamble with us. They loved our music but were curious to know what we sounded like live. They invited us to do a show in Frankfurt where they have this club called Robert Johnston's. It is an amazing club, which overlooks a river. Playhouse had only really put out purely electronic music releases up 'til then, but that night they liked our live set so much that they became enthusiastic about having a live band on their roster."

"'Enter The Spektrum' did take a while to put together. It took about four years to get to a stage where we felt comfortable releasing it. We recorded quite a few songs for it and it evolved slowly over the years. It certainly wasn't one of those records that was down in a couple of weeks. It is very much a listener's album and I think also a musician's album. We have taken a lot of care with this album. It means that we have been able to produce it just as we wanted and no one else has told us what we should be doing with it. Especially the label, which has allowed us to put this album out on our own terms. They liked the finished product and didn't muck around with it. They were so supportive they even gave us all these brilliant remixes from people like Tiefschwarz, Ricardo Villalobos and Ritchie Hawtin. They just told us that they were getting some friends together to remix our stuff but we were blown away with what they