RIFFZ2000 A jazzy twist on your favourite tunes

Perth International Jazz Festival hits town from this Friday, November 6 to Sunday, November 8, showcasing some of the best jazz talent we have right on our doorstep. One of the acts doing things a little differently this year are Riffz2000, who will make live instant jazz remixes of classic songs at The Goodwill Club, The Rechabite, on Sunday, November 8 (get more info and tickets here).

The trio, featuring Harry Winton on guitar, Harry Mitchell on keyboard, and Ben Vanderwal on drums, take samples from major artists such as Michael Jackson, Bob Marley, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, Nirvana and more to create new sonic worlds and unworldly mashups. BRAYDEN EDWARDS caught up with drummer Ben Vanderwal to find out where the idea came from, how it will play out at the performance and what he’s looking forward to catching as part of the weekend’s festivities.

Firstly, how does the band feel about being able to perform this year at the Perth International Jazz Festival? It must feel good after what must have been a pretty lean year for live performances?

We’re completely stoked! It is very good fortune that we are in Perth and things are relatively normal. We have many good friends over east who are doing it tough. We’re very happy to be able to perform let alone in a festival setting.

This is an interesting concept for a jazz performance. How did you come up with the idea?

We started jamming on bits of songs – playing around with riffs, but it felt like it needed something else. I think one of us heard a bad remix of a popular song in a hotel sauna and we thought “what if we did that with instruments?”

Jazz in itself is such a unique art form. How challenging is it to incorporate the energy and technicality of this genre into alternative styles of music?

Hopefully you just incorporate whatever doesn’t sound dumb into the music you play.

And did the group get together specifically for this show, or do you have experience performing together in different kinds of shows?

This group has been doing things for a while now. We started as a dodgy riffs cover band at least seven years ago.

What do you look for in a song to make it a great fit for the Riffz2000 treatment?

We usually listen to the isolated vocal track first and if an idea pops-out we pick that one. If I listen to a track and instantly visualise a sauna – it’s in!

And do you have any other creative ideas like this we might be able to check out in the future?

We’ve harboured a dream to play a live set accompanying a water aerobics class but the stars haven’t aligned yet.

Finally, what are you looking forward to catching at Perth International Jazz Festival this year and why?

Tom O’Halloran Trio – Axiom will be a great show on the Sunday at The Rechabite. Each time Tom reveals new music it’s always a revelation.


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