If you’re into “New Zealand reggae with an erotic twist” - or you’re at least curious about it - check out the Rotorua-born fivesome Strangely Arousing. We chatted with lead singer Lukas to discuss why the heck they ran with a name that sounds kind of like a Brazzers special, and get the lowdown on their vibe ahead of their upcoming Hamilton show (Gravity Bar, February 15th).
Nexus: It looks like you boys are having a blast, do you feel a bit famous back in Rotorua now?
SA: Oh Rotorua will always be home, man, everybody’s pretty low key in Rotorua. We tend to stick to ourselves when we’re back home, get family time. Rotorua has never been like a celebrity town, I feel, you can just go to Rotorua and no one will recognise you, no one gives a shit. I love my home town.
Nexus: So how did the name come about, is there a story there?
SA: Originally we just wanted something to make people who announced us real uncomfortable, so we ended up using that. There was this one dude that used to always announce us at our high school events and shit, and he always used to make really bad puns, so we decided to give him something there.
Nexus: What have been some of the biggest influences on your sound? There’s a few of you studying jazz, is that right?
SA: Yeah we studied it for a year, me and two others, then we stopped I think two years ago? But yeah, jazz is amazing, jazz is just like the language of music. It’s so dense, it’s just everything. After you study jazz, everything you hear is just jazz, just a variation on jazz. So yeah, that was definitely a huge influence, but mostly we all have such eclectic taste and we’re all into hip hop, we all like old school hip hop, and new school Mac, that type of stuff. We’re all into different shit. New Zealand reggae is a huge one, we’ve just been playing gigs with Katchafire, filling in for their trumpet player, so it’s been great for him to go and play with his heroes, we’ve been listening to them since so young, you know.
Nexus: Ladeda was released a few months ago - can you talk us through the process of coming up with a new track?
SA: That one was quite interesting, actually. Originally I was making beats on Logic because I just make beats all the time, and had this random trap song just for a laugh, because trap’s hilarious to make, and my bass player heard it and he was like yeah, that’s awesome man, let’s roll with that, and I didn’t see anything in it. I was like oh that’s just a random track and had written verse the for it, and I had previously written a chorus for it that he wanted to keep. He kinda just came to me in the morning one day [where] we went through kind of a deciding block of singles on what was going to be the next one we released out of a few options and we were deciding in the afternoon; he said just try for the day to work on the song, see what happens, and then out spat Ladeda and it got considered as a single and won. It was really interesting, being in the creative position, because I didn’t see much in the song, now it’s one of my favourite songs. Probably my favourite song of the ones that we have, just because I had written it off totally, and he saw something in it. It’s amazing the power of music when people hear something that you just would never hear and it comes out as something you love.
Nexus: The band’s been together for a fair few years now - what do you feel most proud of?
SA: I’m proud of the team, to be honest. That’s one thing that’s really shown its worth over the course of our career is getting people that are the same age that gel together and really vibe together, getting them to work on the same project. For us, we’ve got quite a large team now and we’ve just been able to get people around our same age group that have dope qualities that we love and can help the business, and kind of delegate those roles and getting those roles sussed so we can all work as one cohesive machine to get it done. That’s what I’m proud of man, we’re getting way more cohesive and that’s cool.
Nexus: When and where can we experience your music?
SA: Live. You should come live. Come to the show. In Hamilton our show is on the 15th of February. It’ll be awesome so everyone should come.
Nexus: Awesome, what can we expect from the live performance?
SA: It’s so cliché but expect the unexpected. It’s gonna be weird, just look at the name. It’s gonna be fucking weird. Expect New Zealand reggae with an erotic twist.
Nexus: Has there been any one performance that’s really stood out as a favourite for you?
SA: I played an amazing one last week, it was Tora Bombora which was fucking incredible. It was like a 500 capacity festival right on the beach, just amazing scenery and the best bands, just real low key bands that were all doing amazing stuff across the country, so that was an amazing gig, that was one for the books.
Nexus: One last question - if you could give uni students any advice, what would it be?
SA: Quit uni.