Ok so Miss Foxy has been busy, what with Nozstock 2010, 2000 Trees coming up AND a variety of interviews with bands from Pete and the Pirates, Gabby Young, King Blues and Sounds of Guns, it seems her talent is never ending [jokes]. But here for you is an interview with Akala, who played the Garden Stage at Nozstock on Saturday, Foxy going behind the scenes to bring to you the downlow on Akala’s music and tour plan this summer…
Miss Foxy: Hey Akala! So we just saw your set, was pretty amazing! How did you feel it went?
Akala: Yeah it was really good, really enjoyed it. Kind of started to build as it went through, got everyone going by the end.
Miss Foxy: Yeah, Shakespeare was an ultimate high for me.
Akala: Aw, I’m glad you enjoyed it.
Miss Foxy: Ok, so since you’ve started out how do you feel your music has evolved?
Akala: I feel its just become more honest. I think a lot broader. Since the first album I’ve probably listened to 500 hundred albums [laughs]. I’ve made a point over the past few years to try and listen to one or two albums I haven’t heard every week, and I’ve done that I wouldn’t say every week in the past 5 years but most weeks. And then when I went travelling for 3 months to South America, I listened to probably 5 albums a week.
Miss Foxy: Oooo where did you go?
Akala: I went to Brazil and Columbia, so because of that I’ve got a much bigger musical reference point then I had when I made the first album. I’ve got a bit more understanding, I’ve learnt to play a bit of guitar, so I’m just learning! I’m a student and I’m at the very beginning. And I think thats quite humbling when you start to try to learn an instrument, that you hadn’t done as a kid, I mean its hard! And it ultimately just lets you know where your at, when you look at people you forget even your Prince’s and your Jimi Hendrix’s who can just play, probably had 4 years of work thats gone into just being in a band in college. It can get pretty humbling. And so I’d say in that way, thats how the music’s changed.
Miss Foxy: Who would you say is an all time influence on your music?
Akala: Jimi Hendrix and Bob Marley. All time two people.
Miss Foxy: Favourite songs?
Akala: Of their’s? I mean I’d be here all day! Of my top 50 songs, I think 15 of them would be Bob Marley. I think his catologue is just riduculous. But I couldn’t pick one.
Miss Foxy: From your material at the moment are there any paricular songs that stand out for you, or hold a special meaning?
Akala: Yeah the new single’s a track called ‘Yours and my Children’ which I played earlier in the set. And then theres ‘Find No Enemy’, they are probably my two favourite songs off the album. I think they are the most direct, the most honest, and I think there the songs on the album that will continue to resonate with people.
Miss Foxy: So far has there been any particular most or least favourite venue that stands out for you?
Akala: I did the first ever hip hop shop in Vietnam. That was pretty good. In Hanoi, and Ho Chi Minh back in 2006.
Miss Foxy: Was it a big crowd?
Akala: Yeah it was 3000 at one and 4000 at the other.
Miss Foxy: Did you play any shows when you were travelling in South America?
Akala: I played one show, in a place called Niteroi, one city away from Rio de Janeiro. That was good.
Miss Foxy: Wow that sounds amazing! So, what are the main themes or topics for most of your songs? Do you think they will change over time?
Akala: I don’t think the topics will change, I think my understanding of them might change, because the topics are the human experience. Love, death, war, poverty, injustice, happiness, where does the universe come from? [laughs] I suppose the philosophical questions will stay the same, but my understanding of them hopefully might evolve.
Miss Foxy: Are there any emerging artists we should look out for? Any you personally feel have the potential to be the next big thing?
Akala: Well it depends what you mean by emerging. There are some artists we’re working with that you probably wouldn’t have heard of. For instance there is a young boy we’re working with, who I wouldn’t say we’re mentoring but he’s 19, he plays 5 to 6 instruments, he’s a really talented producer. I think that now feels like a strange time for music. Where there are two very separate, very distinct entities coming through. You have the commercial music market that is marketed like Coca Cola. And then theres music that people actually like. And I think the only reason people buy commercial music to be honest, is the same way they buy Coco Cola. They buy it because its there, and its everywhere. You drink it, it tastes good, you feel a little sick afterwards, and then you throw it away. And I think that with the world music market, its going so far in the direction of soul-less, drab, uninspiring music. Your getting artists going even more over this way, and in some ways its exciting but it would be nice if bands like Mars Volta were on TV more. Even a band like Radiohead, you think that their last record, as much as it sold because they’ve got a fanbase, in terms of visible presence I’d far sooner see them on my TV or hear them on the radio, but their songs…there a bit weird. Thom Yorke hasn’t got cool enough hair and shoes [laughs] so there not marketable!
Miss Foxy: That reminds me of a conversation I was having yesterday with the King Blues in terms of a more underground sound, and marketing their band through venues that were unheard of, so the only people that attended were those who truly wanted to listen to the bands music.
Akala: Yeah its weird, because for my own shows what I play is intimate gigs because of the presence you create there. I think much more people know about us, but because we’re an independent label we’ve never had that concerted market all at once, where we can do a massive tour and have billboards and posters everywhere. So we’ve done tons and tons of intimate gigs and I love it. But then we’ve also supported Jay Z, Christina Aguilera; I think we’re supporting Nas and Damian Marley next week.
Miss Foxy: Oooo whereabouts? Are you doing the whole tour?
Akala: Yeah, Manchester, London and Birmingham. So its good, but for me I do think that in terms of intimate gigs nothing can beat them. The big gigs are nice though.
Miss Foxy: Yeah the big gigs are nice for thrills, but its harder to get your message across.
Akala: Yeah, I think Brixton Academy is about the limit where it still feels personal. Between 5 to 6000 people and the type of venue it is. I think once you get beyond that and reach to 12, I think you get to a point where it doesn’t feel personal. 5 to 6 feels like the right amount. I mean it could be great if its your actual fans, I’ve only done it for other people’s music so its easy for me to judge.
Miss Foxy: And is this your first Nozstock? How you enjoying it so far?
Akala: First Nozstock yep, really enjoying it. Only been here today [Saturday]. I wish I could stay for the weekend but we’ve got a really early start tomorrow so we’re back to London.
Miss Foxy: Have you got a big tour plan for the summer?
Akala: For November we’ve got a big tour. We’re doing 19 dates, so that should be good!
Miss Foxy: And is there anything else that you could say to bands out there that are trying to make it in the music industry?
Akala: Just do it! Do it all day, every day.