Meet the Funkommunity, you might have already, but these soulful New Zealanders Isaac Aesili & Rachel Fraser are creating a new brand of soul. Two musical soul mates, the duo are Future Soul; soul music but shaped by the technology of today. Having released their album ‘Chequered Thought’ last year across New Zealand and Australia, the album will drop worldwide in May 2012. In preparation for world domination, the group have a trek to the Europe in toe. Funkommunity’s Isaac and Rachel reveal their relationship with Electric Wire Hustle, the move to Berlin and their upcoming European tour.
What’s the soul/funk culture like in New Zealand?
Isaac: It’s a very small scene, but there is lots of talent and we support each other, and collaborate lots.
How did the two of you meet? And how did you know you two were meant to make music?
Isaac: We met via Recloose as I was in his band, and he did a track with Rachel called 'Catch a leaf' which blew my mind. We knew we were meant to make music after our first collaboration on a track called "I’m All In", it just felt right to keep writing.
You call each other musical soul mates, could you elaborate?
Isaac: This is a term I have used for Rachel because I have always dreamed of working with a female Polynesian Soul/R&B vocalist. I guess you just know when you know, and I know that working with Rachel was meant to be. We are both on the same page musically and it’s easy to create with Rachel.
Rachel: The formula works. Our musical ideas and influences can be different, but that’s where the magic is. Sometimes it can be hard to communicate an idea because it’s not fully formed. With our collaboration we can complete that idea, and that’s a wonderful thing to have someone understand and trust you on a creative level.
Tell us about the full-length debut 'Chequered Thought,' due to drop worldwide in May? What can we expect?
Isaac: Chequered Thoughts has been out in New Zealand and Australia since October 2011, it comes out worldwide in May. You can expect a spectrum of soul music peppered with electronica and space.
You plan on moving to Berlin, why Berlin? And have you had a huge response from European markets?
Isaac: Yes I’m moving to Hamburg for a few months, and then the rest of Funkommunity will join me in Berlin to tour for three months from July. We release our album in Europe and USA in May, and so far the response from the singles has been awesome.
Rachel your vocals has an Erkyah Badu’esque with a little twist about you, how did you musical journey start?
Rachel: Eryka Badu is definitely one of my idols!
My musical journey started at home with my family. One of my earliest memories is my father singing and playing guitar. One of those songs was 'You gotta hide your love away' by the Beatles. Those songs were my childhood lullabies and I guess, one of the first ways of communicating I learnt. That's the way I learnt to love, vent, cry and of course get cheeky.
Isaac your obsession with 80’s boogie is what makes you stand out, please tell us about your production process, what goes through your head?
Isaac: I like to conceptualise and make music according to my mood and the inspirations in my life at the time. I make a demo as soon as I feel the creative force, and work slowly to mould it into the concept I’m going for. I work on Logic and I’ve never used samples except kick, snare and hats. I use session musicians, and I take my time. 80’s boogie is just one of my musical obsessions, but this one is crucial because I love to boogie.
Isaac you have a close relationship with Electric Wire Hustle, how does it feel to see them tour around the world?
Isaac: I was best man at Taay's wedding, and we have been close “Soulbros” ever since we formed a band together in the late 90’s (Solaa). Taay, Mara TK and myself are all from Christchurch, Myele was in Recloose live, so we are like brothers. I’ve collaborated with each of them and they are an inspiration to me and Rachel. They are in the USA right now. It’s great to see them doing so well. Like watching members of your family achieve international recognition. They are doing wonderful things for New Zealand soul music, and I’m very much looking forward to their next album.
How would you define future soul?
Think glitch, instrumental hip hop, techno mixed with vocals and traditional instrumentation. It’s really just soul music but shaped by the technology of today.
What’s next Funkommunity?
Rachel: The world!
We have our European tour coming up in July which we are very excited about.
Our album is set to be released in the US and EU in May and album number two is in the works.
What Stimulates Your Soul?
Rachel: Sun, rain, dreams, laughter and learning. Always learning and moving toward the next step.