NiceUp talks to Christchurch-based band Taos, who are touring New Zealand bringing their own heavy blend of dub, dancehall, reggae and drum and bass.

Tell us a bit about the background of the group – how did Taos come into being?

The band was born in 2001 on Waiheke Island with members, David Walters and Chris Leqeta, who are the only original members still in the crew, and is now based in Christchurch. Billy Fluid, the original lead vocalist has remained on Waiheke Island, where he has pursued his own projects, as well as collaborating with producer Optimus Gryme.

Every set was a pure freestyle jam, in a predominantly Hip-Hop stylie, and whilst the group have developed a few basic structures to songs (which have enabled our audiences to sing along), the freestyle philosophy is still very much alive and no set is ever the same.

Since our conception we have expanded to include a big crew, and we usually now rock a six-piece, drawing from the talents of Bryce Collier, Tamati Taukomo, Aaron Flintoff, Marc Hansen, Shaun Morgan, Davide Pangrazzi and Jose Monreal, with soundboy Charlie Baggins locking down the quality control.

How would you describe your sound to someone that hadn’t heard you before?

We pride ourselves in playing many styles, preferring to take our audiences on a journey, from Dub to Dancehall, Reggae to Drum and Bass. More recently we have been developing a style we like to call ‘Chugstep’ from the art of palm muting distorted guitars, which is a bit like Dubstep, but with more ‘Chug Chug Chug’ than ‘Wob Wob Wob’.

‘Aotearoa Roots Rock Reggae’ is a pretty broad term which we use a lot, but we certainly have a fear of commitment to any one sound!

Are there any particular crews or artists that you’ve been linking/collaborating with around the country?

Aside from the very distinguished and well respected NiceUp Crew, in the past we have been blessed to share the stage with ones like Katchfire, Kora, Cornerstone Roots, Sunshine Soundsystem, Rhombus, House of Shem, UK group Overproof Sound System and Australian group The Potbelleez to name a few.

Most recently we were very privileged to collaborate with the Rhythmonyx and Soulware crews at the Karamea Music Festival which was awesome, and our MCs have jumped on beats by, Bulletproof, Dose, Sweet Az Soundsystem (OZ), Messenjah (Dubwise) and many more.

Does the band have any releases? Where can people check out your music?

As a predominantly freestyle band we have a few live recordings on our SoundCloud, including a single ‘Taos Dub’ which was recorded and mastered by Messenjah in Reality Chant studios.

We are looking forward to getting in the studio in April with The Nomad to put down our first full length album, which is long overdue. Also watch out for a tune on a compilation by Organikismness coming soon.

Some live gigs have been recorded at the Taos YouTube page too.

How do you think the South Island Reggae scene been progressing in the last year or so? How do you think things have been effected by the earthquake, and how are things going in Christchurch now?

We are loving the South Island Reggae scene, it’s hearty as. We like to do our own thing down here, and not pay too much attention to whatever is popular. In the deep South, Rhythmonyx and Left or Right, and in the North, Wicked Draw have been repping Te Wai Poenamu solidly for a while. New acts Patcha Ama and Soulware are bringing fresh new styles, which are wicked, ones to watch.

Christchurch is on the rise. For a while there it was really tough to find a venue to play in, but things are definitely looking up. We just jammed Dux Live last night which was rammed full, and is the result of hard work by the old Dux de Lux crew, it was awesome.

Up and coming Christchuch Roots band Medway came and hit it with us too, watch out for them. The Roots Manuva gig tonight at the new Bedford is a sign that we are back up and able to host big events, which is a blessing.

So you just completed a tour of the South Island, where did you tour and how did it go?

We are actually still touring the South, we’ve been to a fair few spots, we love roadies. We’ve been to Lake Hawea, Queenstown, Motueka, Takaka, Nelson, Mapua, Marahau, New Brighton, Canaan Downs, Karamea, Invercargill and Wanaka so far. We’re hitting Hokitika and Franz Josef this weekend, Dunedin next, and then one last gig in Kaikoura before we hit the North (after playing the Interislander on the way over!)

The tour has been awesome. Queenstown was beautiful over New Years eve, and we did a Sound System set in Subculture after our live set at The Dux. We love Subculture and are really in awe of what the crew there have done for the scene for so long.

The Karamea Music Festival was also next level, such a beautiful site and a sweet crew. The reception we have been getting down here has been pure gold, we are very blessed to have such a sweet following in the South, hope we can get similar crowds in Te Ika a Maui!

And what’s on the agenda for the upcoming North Island?

Well we are playing Wellington, Napier, Rotorua, Waiheke, Auckland, Raglan, Hamilton and Mt Maunganui on this mission. Sweet dates and awesome support, so we are really looking forward to it. We have allowed a few days off on Waiheke to go fishing and put down a few tracks too, we’re even playing a lunchtime session for the High School there!

We are really looking forward to collaborations on stage in the North Island with ones like Israel Starr, Timmy P, Jah Red Lion and Silva MC. We’re also very stoked to be a part of the NRG Rising fundraiser in Hamilton, alongside Native Sons, who we are also jamming with in Raglan. And we are jamming with Hurricane Tilly in Mt Maunganui.

All the tour dates can be found on the Facebook event page.

Any last words for the massive?

Yes Yes! Those that know us, thanks for your support over the years and those that don’t come find us at our Facebook page. It would be choice as to see you all wherever we pass by.

If we missed your town hold tight we coming in summer! Stay tuned for the album mid this year.

Steer away from Monsanto and their companies. Look after the trees and the ocean, we are so very privileged to live in such a beautiful country, but we can’t afford to take it for granted.

Fight for what you believe in. 2012 is going to be a great year for all of us. Big tings a gwan!

More info:
Taos Facebook page
Taos SoundCloud
Taos YouTube
North Island Tour details on Facebook

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