With fresh material, a new, live sound and a few surprises to boot, Brisbane hip hop collective Astro Travellers are eagerly counting down to Island Vibe Festival.
“We've been looking forward to it for awhile,” bassist Sam Maguire says. “We just want it to pop off, and we're going to go have a good time regardless. As far as our set’s concerned, we've been running a set that is a combination of all the new tunes and we're probably going to try and add a couple of special things just for Island Vibe into the set and we'll see how we go.
“It's a nice time too. I think as a band we enjoy that sort of late afternoon/ early night slot. Especially at something like Island Vibe where you're outside, you get to see the sunset and that always brings a good vibe for us. If there's positive energy around there, we're going to have a good time.”
Astro Travellers released their debut album, ‘Seven Metaphors’, in mid-2015 and were winners of the Urban category at this year’s Queensland Music Awards for the track ‘Move Actively’. “We were reasonably stoked,” Sam laughs.
“We actually got to perform on the night, so we got to be there, and I think we were probably the most well-behaved people who got on the microphone that night, it was pretty hilarious. It was funny because we were the only group with rappers that performed on the night, and I think we were the only people who didn't drop a swear word.”
Since releasing their debut, and with the recent departure of MC Ali The Great, the band has been in a process of songwriting for a follow-up record, which Sam says takes the Astro Travellers in a new, sonic direction. “'Seven Metaphors' was really a lot of tunes that we have played a lot live even before we thought about going into the studio with them, which was a really awesome way to workshop the tunes, because a lot of our gigs, especially in the early days, were completely improvised,” he says.
“Whereas what we're doing now, the sounds have changed a lot because while there are only six of us in the studio, we can overdub so now it's like there's 40 of us on the recorded track. It's also an interesting process because we play a couple of the new tunes live, so it's interesting to take the '40' of us on the recorded tracks and try to translate that into a live show.”
As MC Ali steps back from Astro Travellers to pursue a solo career, Sam says it’s an opportunity for the band to test their chops as a sextet, while Ali will still be involved in production and as a feature artist for upcoming tracks. “We're definitely keeping the six-piece as the core of the band,” he explains, “and for the period Ali was involved with us full-time he was really involved with the tracks.
“There are still tracks we've made that he features on, but it's more about being able to showcase him in a more conducive context, rather than just having him on every track and needing him at gigs as a result, which was a lot of pressure. I mean, six people is a lot to organise for an average gig and seven people is heaps. So it was just about his commitment to the live band most of all; he's still very much committed to the recorded music and featuring on tracks, but it's also about us having the flexibility to step out more as a six-piece and see where that goes.”Astro Travellers perform at Island Vibe Festival 28-30 October. They also support Black Milk at The Zoo 18 November.