The latest offering from eclectic Melbourne duo Au Dré, single “Gravity”, off their upcoming EP will draw you to undeniable comparisons with the famous Paula Abdul – Straight Up 1988 worldwide hit. And we wouldn’t hold it against you. We love that track. And immediately apparent is the love we can also pour into Melbourne’s duo Au Dré for shining a light on that all forgotten blend of late 70’s, early 80’s disco/dance music.
Au Dré is a duo between producer James Bowers and vocalist/trumpeter Audrey Powne. The two will be familiar to Melbourne music lovers as resident members of Sex On Toast, The Do Yo Thangs, True Live, Clever Austin, The Vaudeville Smash and many more. The pair was brought together over a shared love of maximalist electronic music by the likes of Pomrad, Lone and Hudson Mohawke and an equally affectionate passion for Disco/Dance music from Herbie Hancock and Chaka Kahn and lesser known gems like Donald Blackman and Cameo.
You’ll also find similarities with the band GL, also from Melbourne who all seem to be part of the same prolific music scene and proving to make waves internationally these days with the resurgence of the previously mentioned disco/dance sound.
The single “Gravity” will drop on their sophomore EP later in 2017.
“Gravity” Written by lead singer Audrey Powne and produced by Keyboardist James Bowers is about a relationship with a foundation in pure and irresistible sexual magnetism. Au Dré will launch “Gravity” in Melbourne at The Toff in Town on September 2nd and plan to release their complete sophomore EP in October 2017.
Until we can enjoy that forthcoming EP in October, we asked Jon to fire a few questions all the way down under to Audrey Powne and James Bowers and ask a few questions. They’ve been so kind to answer… Here’s the result:
With both of us coming from a jazz/improvisation background […] it’s been pretty weird for us getting used to not having a drummer and a bass player behind us.
“Gravity” is just unbelievably funky. What drives you guys to make music that just seems to demand some sort of physical movement in return, and what artists or genres are influences in that area?
A lot of the music that bought us together is relentlessly funky. Apart from actually making music together our friendship is really based on a shared love of funk and sending each other videos of outrageously funky music at all hours. We’re both really inspired and constantly in awe of the the greats, like Herbie Hancock, Prince and D’angelo but also love modern producers like Pomrad, Lido and Hudson Mohawke who have taken funk/rnb language and reinvented it in their breed of sophisticated electronic music. Gravity in particular is inspired by 90s New Jack Swing which is an often overlooked but extraordinarily rewarding period of rnb/hip hop music led by Teddy Riley and Raphael Saadiq of Tony! Toni! Toné!
You’ve said the song is about “a relationship with a foundation in pure and irresistible sexual magnetism”. Is there a specific experience that “Gravity” is drawing on – and what did you find that it required, musically, to be able to translate those sorts of feelings of primal passion into sound?
Haha well to be completely honest James is happily married and my (Audrey’s) romantic life is a spectacularly boring wasteland of nothing. I think I wrote this song about the sort of thing I imagine happens to sexy girls who go out clubbing and dancing to this sort of music, I’m usually to busy dancing white girl wasted or thinking about how good the drums are in Poison (Bell Biv Devoe) to attract any sexy affairs. I think this genre of music is kind of inherentley “sexy” and “sexual” because it makes you want to dance in a very sexy way. (There is only one way to dance to Pony by Ginuwine) so I just wanted the lyrics to match that vibe so I invented my own sordid affair with “Tony” pronounced “Tonay” the adonis that only exists within your mind when you’re listening to 90s RnB.
Being based in Melbourne, Au Dre has a bit of an interesting spot on the musical atlas. What do you guys find to be the best and worst parts about the music scene in Australia, and who are some of your favorite fellow Aussie artists that we may or may not have heard of yet?
In the last few years Melbourne has really grown as a musical city and there is so much incredible music happening every night of the week from people we can proudly call friends and maybe even #fam. The worst thing about the music scene in Australia for us, is it tends to be pretty centred around indie rock and folk music which is sort of more of the tradition in the mainstream over here and what local radio tends to favour whereas obviously the RnB, Funk thing has it’s origins in the States. We have our own sort of funk soul legacy and traditions with really unique bands like Laneous and the Family Yah, Hiatus Kaiyote and The Cat Empire who all sort of made it in the underground internationally while we were coming up who influenced us a lot. Some of our favourite musicians/bands worldwide are in Melbourne at the moment. Particular favourites would be 10 piece funk outfit (including James on Keys) Sex On Toast, one of our favourite singers period the unbelievable Thando and one guy who can just do everything including mixing our music, writing bangers, playing guitar like you wouldn’t believe and producing his own incredible music DXHeaven A.K.A. Nicholas Lam, I will confidently say that Nick’s music is some of the best and slickest electronic/pop music being made on earth at the moment.
What was the writing process like for your sophomore EP coming up in October? Do you two typically collaborate in the same room, or divide up separate roles and bring them together after working a bit individually?
Mostly it’s pretty divided. I (Audrey) write the song and make a demo to send to James who then produces the track then we come together and usually end up going to far and putting in heaps of extra parts and funny sounds. We’ve decided to call the EP “More” because that was pretty much our approach when we made this record. Sometimes less is more but sometimes, you know more is more and we’ve got a lot of crazy and probably stupid ideas we wanna try out. Our greatest strength as a duo is that we know each other personally and musically really well, we studied Jazz together at university on Trumpet/Piano respectively and have played together in so many different bands we really know each others strengths. We also both LOVE dogs… Particularly James’ beautiful majestic Whippet Luke a very important part of our recording process is being interrupted by Luke being
We’re genuinely really proud of this music
With plans to unleash “Gravity” to Melbourne live at The Toff in Town on September 2nd, I get the feeling there’s gonna be a hell of a party going on that night. For as danceable as your music is, how does performing live factor in to your overall creative process? Do you ever have to workshop things if you don’t feel like the crowd is getting down enough to a certain song?
It’s been a tricky one for us translating our music into a live setting. With both of us coming from a jazz/improvisation background as session musicians playing with bands it’s been pretty weird for us getting used to not having a drummer and a bass player behind us. We love playing with each other though and getting our head around the most effective way to use our respective gear. We’ve developed our live show to a point where we are both free enough to extend sections and insert longer Trumpet/keys solos when we feel like it which makes it really fun for us. We’ve played together so much over the last few years it’s also sometimes a pleasure to lose the tracks and play together just keys and Vocals/Trumpet. I think the best thing for us is we’re genuinely really proud of this music and proud of each other as performers/musicians so watching each other tear it up is an absolute party no matter what size/vibe gig we’re playing. We’ve got more than a couple of surprises up our sleeve for our Melbourne launch though including some choice covers and very very special guests #tonay