The Hip Abduction's Influences Include Graceland, Mbaqanga, and Cut Copy

Categories: Q&A

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Like all life forms, the St. Peterburg six-piece the Hip Abduction's origins can be traced to the ocean.

Vocalist David New was playing acoustic solo shows when he turned to his fellow surfers to form a band. Influenced by reggae and utilizing African instruments like the kora and ngoni, the Hip Abduction has created a sound as strong and steady as the tide. Last year's eponymous album even debuted at number five on Billboard's reggae charts.

The band is crossing the state to play an August 15 show at the Funky Biscuit. New Times caught up with New (no relation) to talk about the band's influences, their plans for the future, and how they take listeners to their happy place.


New Times: Can you explain how the unique instruments of the kora and ngoni influence the sound of the band?
David New: The kora and ngoni (African harps) are very versatile instruments that can be used to play both rhythm and accompaniment. Many West African musical styles are built around repetitive "ostinato" or syncopated phrases. In some of our songs we have layered sections of the ngoni to accompany a main melody line. A few of our newer songs will start with a simple rhythmic line played on a harp, and it could then bloom into a full-out psychedelic jam.

How did you first get introduced to the African music and reggae that influences the Hip Abduction?
Paul Simon's Graceland album. This opened up huge doors for me, and I eventually discovered groups like Oliver Mtukudzi, Thomas Mapfumo, Miriam Makeba, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, etc. And styles of music like mbaqanga, soukous, township jive.

Most of us have lived or traveled in South and Central America and the Caribbean, and I think there is a sort of universal appeal to reggae that imbues that experience. It speaks to a lot of people and inspires a deep-rooted kind of hope and idealism that really crosses borders.

What was the recording process like for last year's self-titled album?
Amazing. We worked with producer Michael Goldwasser (Easy Star Records, Matisyahu, Steel Pulse) for this release, and it was a great learning experience for all of us. Most of the songs were completed demoed by the band but MG made several tasty changes that really made the songs pop. The album was recorded in Clearwater, Florida, at Cleartracks Studio. Solid group of engineers that have designed some great rooms.

Are you guys working on any new music?
Yes, I find I am only happy when I am working on new material, so I have to write for my health. We have eight new songs currently in the works and would like to release another EP in 2014 as well as another full length LP in Summer 2015. Interestingly enough, current influences for me are mostly non-African artists at the moment including St. Lucia, Panama, Vacationer, Pacific Air, Dan Croll, Crystal Fighters, and Cut Copy.

What do you hope audiences get from the Hip Abduction live experience?
We send people to their happy place. Most of our music and lyrics are inspired by traveling and eternal wanderlust, and I am pretty sure this is translated well during a live show.

The Hip Abduction. 9 p.m., Friday August 15, at the Funky Biscuit, 303 SE Mizner Blvd.
Royal Palm Pl., Boca Raton. Tickets cost between $10 and $25. Visit funkybiscuit.com.

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