Get To Know: Tell The Shaman

Interviewed by Jasmine Uitermark-Thaung

We caught up with Tell The Shaman's frontman, Dennis Kooij for a quick chat ahead of their EP launch tonight at Babushka.

Jas: Who are Tell The Shaman and how did you form?

Dennis: We met while studying music at Central Institute of Technology in Leederville, literally the best environment to learn about music performance and production, way back in 2012. We like to think we’re a mixture of different genres, Aden coming from a Shred Metal background (Racer X), Kristina was raised on pop/disco (she can probably sing every Bee Gees song word for word), Jamie’s been a huge fan of Reggae and Funk since he was in the womb (Bob Marley represent) and I’ve been a lover of all things Rock and Jazz for as long as I can remember (Jim Morrison is my spirit animal).

Seriously vibing off your debut EP, Coming of Age…why did the band choose that title for the EP? Is there any specific significance?

Well if we’re completely honest we’ve been considerably lazy over the past few years, writing but not recording. Because of this it seemed very fitting to name our album after our post-pubescent years.

Do you guys like to describe your sound in a certain way?

We’ve always had a hard time describing our sound to those that ask but I imagine that most bands struggle with the same issue. If you held a vegemite sandwich and threatened to feed it to me unless I gave you a description, I’d have to land on “Funk Rock soaked in groove.”

Where do you draw inspiration for your music?

We look to a few legendary bands to get the musical juices flowing. Your classic funk gods like Earth Wind & Fire, Kool & the Gang and Red Hot Chili Peppers. But it really comes from our backgrounds, influences and what we listened to when growing up.

So who are the main writers for the band? How do you like to craft an idea into a certifiable tune?

Our song writing process usually involves Aden or I approaching the band with an idea and then everyone adding their own influences into the mix. Everything gets a thick groovy bassline, a tight drum beat, some hooks on the rhythm guitar, an epic solo or two doesn’t hurt and a story in the lyrics to finish off. That being said, our song ‘Home Free’ was written years back when Aden was playing bass.

What’s the most important aspect of the music Tell The Shaman produce?

Groove, groove, groove!!! It’s gotta be groovy brah! For a long time I’ve felt that groove is a word that’s seldom used to describe that sensational part of music that makes you want to move your body.

What’s been the biggest issue that’s presented itself to you as musicians?

It would definitely be the responsibilities of becoming adults. It’s hard to invest money and time into the bands while having to work every weekday so you can pay your bills each week. Thankfully, throughout the years we’ve been able to commit to something we love.

Do you view Perth’s music scene as very ‘cliquey’?

To a certain extent yes. I think that as a band’s or artist’s reputations changes it’s expected that they’ll move onto a different tier of venues and activities such as tours and festivals. Most bands tend to stick to gigging with the bands in their genre AND level of reputation, with the exception of acts like Timothy Nelson and the Infidels who are known for gigging with some amazing and yet unheard acts.   You’re also not likely to see a Folk band playing the same gig as a Deathcore band but that’s definitely an unsung rule that applies all around the world.

Give us the lowdown on your favourite Perth bands!

Perth music is extremely underrated. And there are way too many bands to mention! Just a few are Timothy Nelson & the Infidels, The Love Junkies, Tired Lion, Kat Wilson, Old Blood, Rag n Bone, The Brow, Lionizer, Pat Chow, The Transnational Crash, Sly Withers, The Fuzz Toads, The Midnight Mules… I could go on forever!

And last but not least! What can we expect from your set at the Coming of Age EP launch?

Groovy vibes flying out from our amps and penetrating your earholes, tickling the motor function sections of your brain and forcing you to join everyone on the dancefloor. Can’t wait for a great night with great bands at a great venue! WEEWWT!


Tell The Shaman launch their debut EP, Coming of Age at Babushka, Leederville tonight