Sola Rosa: A Kiwi Soul Funk Experience
photography by Becca Mondshein
Sounds of Brazil gleam, the red shine of Christmas lights; the hip bar, an electric green illuminating rows of Grey Goose. The bar fills up, as couples and friends begin to occupy tables. They patiently sip their Red Stripe Jamaican Lagers to pass the time before Sola Rosa hits the stage and I make my way to the greenroom to meet the New Zealand DJ and band to find out for myself what they’re really about.
Laid-back and casual, Andrew Spraggon, the mastermind and head-honcho behind Sola Rosa, vocalist Lisa Tomlins, also a New Zealand native, and smiley Brit record-spinner, Spikey Tee, form the Sola Rosa band now touring the States for the first time. Sola Rosa started as a self-released one-man project, to a fully-fledged energy coup.
The trio is all-laughs, leaving no chance for awkwardness or intimidation. Although Sola Rosa’s been high on the New Zealand music scene, they radiate pre-show excitement and jitters, clearly psyched about their first New York City show. I take a seat with Andrew and Spikey.
Andrew, it’s very difficult to tie your music down to one solid genre: world music influences, hip hop flow, the Latin beats... How’d this fusion come about?
Andrew: I never wanted to be in a band that would play one genre all night long. I mean, I love hip hop, reggae, love funk, soul... But I couldn’t handle listening to that all night long! I like good compilations; a variety of music throughout the evening. You know, you invite someone over to your house to have a nice dinner; you don’t want to listen to hip hop all night. You know what I mean? It gets old. I like dance music in the sense that I like music that people dance to. You can sit there and listen to Queens of the Stoneage and tap your foot. That’s cool. But I want to mix it up, make music I can groove it out to.
Get it Together was nominated for “Best Electronica Album” on the New Zealand Music Awards...
Andrew: I hate that title! I feel that few in the New Zealand music industry, or probably in the music industry at large, know how to categorize dance music that doesn’t fit into any obvious genre bracket. We are more than “electronica”.