Gold Coast trip hop/breaks act Tijuana Cartel go to great lengths to find new sounds and recording techniques to bring out the best in their music. Their new album, the enigmatically titled 24 Bit Guitar Orchestra, was partly recorded on a mountaintop in Bali, and band member Paul George, speaking from Brisbane Airport on the way to shows in Perth, is happy to tell us about the experience.
“I was living in Bali for a few months,” he recalls. “We heard on the grapevine that there was a guy that had sort of a makeshift studio on a mountain at the back of Bali. So we took all our gear up there and did a lot of recording. He had these traditional Balinese and Polynesian instruments, and we used them throughout. There’s actually quite a lot of them on the album.”
Being in such an exotic and unusual locale apparently unleashed a great spark of creativity for the group, and it resulted in an album full of many different colours, flavours and textures.
“Yeah, it did,” confirms George. “It was fun, the studio itself was outdoors, and we just sort of did it as we felt like it. It was really good to do that, just feel creative, like we were playing outdoors under the stars.”
Since the album was recorded in different locations and the band had a fairly relaxed approach to writing and recording it, 24 Bit Guitar Orchestra ended up taking a while to complete and release. “It’s taken probably two years of work, really,” says George. “It’s hard to say, but two years overall of doing it.”
Following the album’s release, Tijuana Cartel have big ambitions for themselves as a band, beyond simply touring the new material. “We’re looking at doing our own outdoor festival. One that we really enjoy playing at, with similar kind of acts, with a similar kind of idea. We’re looking at doing that, at this stage probably next year. And then we’ve got a really ambitious idea to do kind of a rock opera, an Alice In Wonderland type of thing. So all that’s going on – maybe we’re biting off more than we can chew, but that’s kinda half the fun, yeah?”
Before they start to fulfil those hefty ambitions, the Queenslanders have a rather extensive Australian tour to get through, including trips to some off-the-beaten-track centres across the country. “We can’t wait to get into it, we’re excited to play all the new songs, this is our first run at it. Generally we’re in very good spirits,” says George. “We’re getting to a few places we’ve never been to before. Places like Wollongong, and we’re going to Port Hedland … It’s good to see a bit more of Australia than we normally do, and get our music out more.”
And speaking of getting their music out more, Tijuana Cartel will not be limiting their touring endeavours to Australia – they’ll be heading overseas in 2015.
“It looks like we’re going to get back to Europe and America. Probably a month in each. We’re starting to go OK over there, so we want to get over there and keep going back. We’re starting to get some festivals over there and we’ve got some interest from a management team over there, which we’re chasing. We’ve got enough [support] over there to get over there and make it worthwhile.”
24 Bit Guitar Orchestra out now through MGM. Catch Tijuana Cartel with Kalidad at Oxford Art Factory on Thursday September 25, tickets online. Also appearing at the Cambridge Hotel, Newcastle on Friday September 26.