The Idea Of North is Australia’s longest running and most-awarded contemporary vocal group, and they’ll be presenting their show Groove Sessions at this year’s NOOSA alive! festival on the Sunshine Coast.
The Idea Of North have always been a quartet, but recently the group have been working with renowned vocal percussionist Kai Kitamura who has expanded the group’s sonic horizons.
“Groove Sessions represents a bit of a metamorphosis, an evolution, of The Idea Of North,” founding member and leader Nick Begbie says.
“Up until a few years ago we’d only ever performed as a quartet and then we met Kai at a festival in South Korea in 2014. We heard him do what he does and we thought ‘oh my goodness we need to work with that as much as we possibly can’.
“So we brought him to Australia in 2015 for a concert or two [and] then asked him to record a few tracks on our latest album [‘Ballads’], which came out in 2016. Then we brought him out to tour the album and it went from there; we had the most incredible feedback and it also gave us so much more scope for breadth of style and capacity for the type of songs we perform.”
Nick is the only original member left in The Idea Of North and now performs alongside Luke Thompson (bass), Naomi Crellin (alto/ Musical Director) and Emma Rule (soprano).
With the addition of Kai and his incredible vocal skills, Nick says the band is now working with a much fuller sound that subverts preconceived notions about a cappella music.
“Our goal is to have people forget they’re at an a cappella concert because we don’t want that to be the focus, we want the music to be the focus,” he says.
“People have come to see this great band, it just so happens the instrumentation is voice-voice-voice-voice-voice. If people notice it’s a cappella and focus on that, it actually detracts from what we’re trying to do.”
NOOSA alive! in 2018 is celebrating 17 years of beach culture and Nick says that with Groove Sessions audiences can expect to hear a wide selection of their favourite songs, promising a “variety of vocal colour”.
“Unfortunately we won’t be doing our 28-song Beach Boys medley because we don’t have one,” he laughs.
“We have a repertoire that spans pop and jazz and comedy and folk, and I think the thing about The Idea Of North [shows] is that people don’t leave wanting more variety and they don’t get bored in the concert.
"We like to keep things really interactive with the audience and we’re going to do just that when we come to Noosa.”
Looking ahead for The Idea Of North, Nick says the group is working on a new show format that is less-regimented and presents yet another side of the versatile group.
“We’re just starting a new show concept which is called ‘The Conver-sessions’, which is kind of where we rock up, we don’t have a setlist, we don’t know what we’re going to sing and we choose the songs along the way depending on what happens between us and the audience.
“We get the audience to ask questions and get involved in the show in various ways. It’s a much less formal, totally chilled kind of gig, so that’s something we’re looking to develop over the next little while.”