Already long regarded as one of the world’s premier funk-soul outfits, The Bamboos eighth studio album ‘Night Time People’ is bringing their infectious and modern take on a timeless sound to a whole new world of listeners. The eleven tracks on the album reinvigorate the familiar arrangements and grooves of early funk-soul with the depth of a contemporary songwriting style, and all sung by one of the most distinctive voices in Australia.
Millions of listeners globally are already familiar with the winning combination of the band’s guitarist / leader Lance Ferguson and vocalist Kylie Auldist, thanks to ”This Girl” by Kung Vs. Cookin’ On 3 Burners. One of 2016’s biggest chart hits was a remix of a 2009 track by Ferguson’s former band that he co-wrote, and proved that the world was craving pop music with genuine soul.
The first taste of the album, “Lit Up”, is built upon an insanely catchy piano riff and the best use of cowbell since “Honky Tonk Women”. Against that, Auldist sings of trying to hide away from her pain. Mixed by the legendary Bob Clearmountain (who has worked on historic albums by the likes of Springsteen, The Rolling Stones and Bowie) and accompanied by a stylish, high contrast black and white video, the end result isn’t just the meeting point of irresistible groove and raw emotion, but also light and dark – something that characterizes the band as well as this album.
Over the years The Bamboos have featured a stellar cast of guest vocalists: Aloe Blacc, Alice Russell and Australian performers Daniel Merriweather, Tim Rogers and Megan Washington. But Lance Ferguson made the decision to have Auldist as the sole vocalist on ‘Night Time People’. “I think when people come to a Bamboos show, or hear Kylie’s voice on record, they feel that warmth and energy”, says Ferguson, whose considerable talents in the studio extend to many other projects, including spiritual jazz as Menagerie, the jazz-funk covers concept series Black Feeling / Groove Spectrum, the exotica inspired pop of Lanu, and solo club/electronic output on recent solo LP, ‘Raw Material’. “She just connects with people and allows them to let go and to feel good. Kylie exudes human joy, warmth and soul,” he concludes. There’s a complimentary energy between the two longtime collaborators and friends. “My songs are kind of soul and funk, but channeling Joy Division,” Ferguson jokes. “I’m quite often coming from a more dark, melancholic side of things; Kylie the positive.”
After discovering the original version of “This Girl” on Youtube, the then 19 year old French DJ / producer and protégé of David Guetta known as Kungs, requested to license the track for a remix. No one could’ve foreseen the dizzying success that followed. It soon topped the charts in Germany and France, sat at #2 in the UK for 5 weeks (behind Drake’s “One Dance”) and reached the top thirty in thirty five countries, and gold or platinum in fourteen. It’s the twelfth most Shazamed song of all time is now over 500 million Spotify plays, and 300 million Youtube views. Adding to that, Ferguson’s much talked about guitar riff spawned a slew of Youtube wannabes (but make sure you check Ferguson’s own VHS era inspired instruction video to get it right) and it’s little wonder Blues & Soul Magazine dubbed Ferguson “Australia’s answer to Mark Ronson.”
The success of “This Girl” was vindication of Ferguson and Auldist’s work together, something that’s no secret to Bamboos fans worldwide, built steadily over their seven studio albums. The years of hard work have already been well recognized in their home country, with five ARIA Awards nominations, and three APRA Songwriting Award nominations. Evolution is crucial to Ferguson and The Bamboos. To progress from their origins in instrumental Deep Funk to their current sound that is both familiar but forward looking, it takes time.