Q&A with 30/70 ahead of WOMADelaide 2017

Words by Abbey Howlett

We caught up with Allysha Joy, vocalist of Melbourne soul and hip-hop collective 30/70, at a cafe in Northcote ahead of their set at WOMADelaide 2017.

30/70 extends beyond the 9 piece band, could you tell me, what is the 30/70 collective?

A: It's a family of really talented musicians that all hang out and share houses together and share music and share a vibe. Lots of different kinds of music.

It seems you guys as a collective are one of the harder working groups in Melbourne, not only with your own shows but supporting your friends, hosting events, running residencies etc., does a sense of community play a big role in your music?

A: Definitely, I think that’s part of where the 30/70 idea of it representing Northcote sort of came from. But we're all interested in the culture of Melbourne and Australia and how we can engage people in another world and another idea of what life could be like. I guess pushing the importance of environment and mental health and just sort of chilling out and thinking more about community and being self aware rather than making money.

We try to steer clear of this idea of it being "self indulgent", as musicians no one is more important than anyone else and I think that's really visible within the core five of us. In a lot of other bands the singer is like the number one, but that's not really the case in our music, a lot of the time I'm playing the role of a sample or something.

That's really noticeable in your music and in your placement. It’s like you are all just instruments, not confined by your role.

A: Word

It's clear in your content that you're a conscious minded human, creatively as a songwriter and vocalist. Do you feel you have a responsibility to utilise your role to say something of importance or is that something that comes naturally because that's whats currently important to you?

A: I think both of those things are true. I grew up in a very Christian household. I learnt to sing at church with my sister and my mum, so the idea of music having a purpose to elevate a congregation and to talk about things that are real and everyday and it not just being about yourself seems normal to me. I guess also through RnB music, people like Marvin Gaye, Al Green they're all talking about the politics at the time so I guess its both of those things.

I was taught from a young age that its a gift from God to be able to sing or use your hands or whatever it is, so to be able to do that with that in mind like its not really yours that its been given to you. Obviously its not always like that, like I'm gonna get my heart broken and write a shit love song haha, but I try to write with a conscious mind.

You were recently in SA for Here’s To Now festival, how did you find it?

A: McLaren Vale is beautiful, hey. We were all driving in over the hills and the sun was starting to set and we were all just like “waaaaa” it was hectic beautiful.

Are you excited to come back for WOMADelaide?

A: Yeah so excited, I really am, I’ve never been to WOMAD.

What acts are you keen to see?

A: Oumou Sangare, she's dope and I hope she brings the entire band, but no expectations. I also love Nhatty Man & Gara, he's based in Melbourne and has the biggest vibe and energy. I really wanna see D.D Dumbo, he's so hectic to watch perform he does everything as loops, himself and appears so nervous but he's killing it.

So you guys have been recording, hey? Have you finished a thing?

A: Yeah its currently getting mixed which is exciting. It's coming out on Rhythm Section, which is an independent U.K. label. We recorded everything ourselves with our friend Jamele. We’ve done it really differently this time, everyone is responsible for their own sound so multi-tracking everything and I think its really interesting, everyone is owning their shit really hard... It's cool.

And finally...what are you listening to at the moment that is tickling your fancy?

A: Hmmm, you know, this is kinda weird, but I watched the Amy Winehouse documentary yesterday... I guess I grew up listening to trad jazz and I've been listening heaps more hip-hop lately, but that girl group RnB like Gladys Knight and Ella Fitzgerald and that sort of thing I've been listening to that a lot more recently. I realised I totally neglected that part of my musical brain for a little while. I’ve been listening to a lot of Dilla and Slum Village and Common always listening to that, it's like research. I've also recently set up speakers behind my bed and have been listening to singing bowls as I go to sleep, which is so nice and must be pretty good for you too.

Catch 30/70 at WOMADelaide on Saturday at 10.30pm on the Zoo Stage.
Discover their music here.