Kowloon Kickback is a labour of love that I have been working on for 10 years now that I am delighted to have finally finished. It involved us composing, scoring and performing a full 1930s big band swing track recorded entirely on vintage 1930s recording equipment! It’s not the kind of thing you can turn around quickly on a laptop – hence the timescales.
The track was inspired by a walk I once did through Kowloon night market in Hong Kong, which I was recording on my MiniDisc Recorder (THAT dates it!).
Each stall was playing different music from their stereos, and it was all blending together into a surreal cacophony combined with the 8bit sounds of novelty toys for sale. Suddenly, for about 5 seconds on the recording, something amazing happened where one stall was playing Benny Goodman swing music, one was playing traditional Chinese music and one was playing House music, and they all combined into something bizarrely in time and in key.
At that moment swore I would make an original track that captured that atmosphere. Unfortunately the opportunity to score and record a big band isn’t something that offers itself often or easily. But having played Sax, drums and guitar in swing bands when I was a teenager, I really wanted to give it my best shot. The track concept was composed around the time of our debut album, but it has taken until the past couple of years to be able to record the full band – all on vintage equipment – and mash it up effectively with house elements, Chinese elements and 8bit sounds to create the end effect.
Frustratingly during the track’s 10 year gestation the electro-swing / swing house movement emerged, and I am more than aware that it would have been best to have this track completed a few years ago around the time this was a new scene! But I am hoping this track now stands apart from that sound somewhat via its idiosyncrasies.
The instrumentalists on the recording are the same musicians I have been working with for years, both on The Young Punx tracks and elsewhere, including the genius guitarist Guthrie Govan – more usually heard on shred metal fusion material, here giving a remarkably virtuoso performance in the style of Django Reinhart. There is a roaring trumpet solo from Neil Waters, a beautiful Clarinet pastiche of Benny Goodman from Roy Castle’s son Ben Castle, and stealing the show, an epic 2 minute drum solo from Rick Hudson recorded, as with the rest of the solos, in one first take.
Though this track is part of an electronic/dance album, this work is obviously willfully focused on its Jazz / experimental elements rather than being a ‘club banger’. So the DJs out there should watch out for the club mix by Gramophonedzie, which irons out my quirks and makes it an unmissable dance-floor weapon…