Breaking down musical ingredients with Cookin' On 3 Burners

Cookin' On 3 Burners have been a staple of the Australian music scene since their first release in 2000. Hailing from Melbourne, the Hammond trio has collaborated with the likes of Daniel Merriweather, Kylie Auldist, Jason Heerah and many more. 

The ensemble has consistently released quality music with a mix of soul and jazz sounds reminiscent of the 1960s. But more recently, the group has reached another level with the runaway success of their collaboration with French house producer Kungs. The Kungs remix of the Cookin' On 3 Burners 2009 release ‘This Girl’ featuring Kylie Auldist reached number 1 on the UK dance charts while amassing 46 million views and counting on YouTube. We chat to producer/writer/artist and Hammond playing extraordinaire Jake Mason about influences, the ‘this girl remix’ and more. Victor McMillan writes

60’s Soul has been a major influence on your sound, what is it about this style of music that you appreciate?

Wow, all of it. I’ve listen to a lot of that of that stuff and been inspired by it, from all its different sub genres. From the more Hammond inspired stuff to the more straight ahead pop girl group inspired style to the more film soundtrack style stuff. It’s all very influential and its music that I just really love.

Who are some of your favourite artists from that era?

It’s probably like they’re all my favourite artists (laughs). Definitely Cookin' On 3 Burners has got its roots based in the Hammond Trio situation, a lot of the Hammond stuff and even some of the instrumental stuff. Booker T & the MG’s, Jimmy Smith and some of the jazzier guys, Richard Groove Holmes, a bunch of those guys I definitely got inspired by personally. Cookin' On 3 Burners as a whole group probably got more inspiration from The Meters and those kind of groups as well I suppose.

The Kungs remix of this girl has taken off recently, how did that collaboration come about?

It just literally came out of the blue, he got in contact with us and had found our ‘This Girl’ track and said look how would you guys feel about me doing a faster version of it with some tweaks and he did a little mock up of it and sent it to us. We were like yeah that sounds pretty cool and we worked out a bit of a deal and sent him the stems or the multi-track basically and he had free range to get amongst it and do his version of it.

I guess as opposed to some just sampling your music, it was interesting that he contacted you to get the stems instead.

Yeah I mean we like that as well because our song kind of stayed intact. A lot of the times when things get remixed it can take the song to a different context and can take some of the song out of the song so to speak. This version, I mean there are some things that he has taken out, but it still feels very much like ‘This Girl’ as the song when we wrote it. So we are really pleased that it’s kept its spirit so to speak.

Definitely, and it has also given it new life, It was originally released in 2009.

For sure, and putting us in a different spot, you know. I mean obviously we’re a Hammond trio soul kind of band, we’re not in the pop world really, maybe if we were living in the 60’s again we might be (laughs). We are definitely really pleased that we can have something that crosses over and can be in the middle of the pop world as well as us doing our thing, you know.

And keeping your sound as well…

Yeah man, so these collaborations are awesome for us. We’ve done a bunch of different other ones with a couple of artists, we are working with Mantra at the moment and some other crew like Tex Perkins whose got more of a gravelly rock voice so lots of different inspiration that we are getting from working with different crew and that's kind of putting a different theme on our sound so that's kinda cool as well.

You play the Hammond organ, for those that don't know, what makes it unique and why is it your instrument of choice? 

Well, definitely what makes it unique is that it’s really heavy (laughs) and its sort of a drag to bring it along to the gigs but nah, the Hammond organ is pretty unique in this situation because I’m covering the bass-lines as well as the chords and the melodies with the guitar. I guess from a normal band perspective I’m covering the role of what the bass player and the keyboardist are doing at the same time. That kind of does change things a lot, having a unit that's a lot more intertwined I guess, there’s only three people to make decisions rather than four. It’s really cool from that musical perspective but to have it all on this very wide pallet of colours, from the low ‘bassy' sounds to screaming kind of high stuff to mellow chords or just lots of percussion things you can do. It's a pretty open pallet of colours, which is, that's why I love it, you can do so many different things with it.

For anyone who hasn't been to a Cookin’ On 3 Burners live show, what can they expect?

 Sure, well usually we like to warm everyone up with some instrumentals and that's just a trio kind of thing and the instrumentals we do are mostly instrumentals we’ve written in that kind of 60s style mixed with some break beat stuff so we do get some b-boys and some b-girls down doing some stuff to our tunes which is cool. We kind of mix it up between some break beat and some funky stuff and then usually we have a guest, whether it's a female vocalist or a male vocalist or a hip-hop artists and that usually comes on to the middle part of the show and we showcase a bunch of our tunes and then depending on who the guest is we do one or two of their tunes and then it always ends in a kind of big bang. 

What Stimulates Your Soul?

Just great music, something that you connect with, especially if it’s live. If I’m at a gig and checking a crew out and it’s just on or it’s just great that stimulates my soul and I get super inspired and feel great. 

Catch Cookin' On 3 Burners at Newtown Social Club on the 22nd July. Tickets are $25 online or $30 on the door and can purchased here.