A chat with Beatnik Collective, one of Melbourne’s most exciting jazz fusion bands

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A chat with Beatnik Collective, one of Melbourne’s most exciting jazz fusion bands

Words by Andrew Maclean

The four-piece have just released their debut EP, Collections.

Beatnik Collective, Melbourne’s compelling instrumental dance/jazz/house group, have just blessed us with their debut EP, Collections.

Forming in 2018, the four-piece have become one of the city’s most exciting instrumental dance acts, and after the pandemic initially put recording on hold, Collections’ long-awaited arrival comes with plenty of excitement. Just ask bassist and band founder, Dan Rock.

“Really stoked to get it out,” says Rock. “We had a date in March 2020, where we were doing our last recording session and then we went into lockdown and we had like half of it done and then had to pretty much wait all year until November to finish recording it.

“It was frustrating, everyone was just at home waiting to get it done. It’s good to get them out because some of these songs we’ve been playing for two or three years.

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“We’ve had a few lineup changes and stuff over time, and songs have been re-written and songs have changed,” Rock continues. “We’ve had like pretty much a full EP’s worth of songs we’ve re-recorded or re-arranged, so yeah, it’s really good to get it out, it’s been a long time coming.”

Collections consists of six tracks which blend seamlessly from one to the other, strapping the listener into a cosmic journey of funky late night rhythms.

Taking inspiration from such jazz greats as Herbie Hancock, namely his work with The Headhunters in the ’70s, Beatnik Collective fuse their love of jazz with thumping dance beats and florid electronica, which Rock says has a massive impact on their sonic vision, citing Todd Terje and Aphex Twin as influences.

Their latest single, ‘Moonee Ponds Bounce’, is the perfect example of this – the band flexing their ability to get you off your seat. Another highlight from Collections is swirling bop ‘Peer Pressure’, which features famed LA-based saxophonist Sam Gendel.

“It was such a crazy experience [working with Sam Gendel],” Rock says. “I’ve been a really big fan of Sam’s for a long time. And we had just some kind of the bare bones of the track – the bass, the drums, the keys, the percussion – and were just thinking a sax feature could be cool or some kind of melody or horn instrument so I just sent him the track on Instagram.

“I wasn’t really expecting to get anything back from it but he hit me back and said he was super into the music and he’d be really keen to play on it. That track was one of the first ones we recorded, so over the iso period I sent it to him and he sent back the first take he did and that’s the take on the track now because he just killed it.”

With Collections now out in the world, we won’t have to wait long to see Beatnik Collective live, with the band set to showcase their sublime new record at The Night Cat on Saturday May 29.

Having opened for fellow Melbourne legends Zeitgeist Freedom Energy Exchange and Horatio Luna in the past, Beatnik Collective will get the chance to take centre stage with an epic show of their own.

“I’m so excited, we’re going to be doing a 90-minute set, non-stop,” Rock says. “We’ve got JK Group supporting who are one of my favourite groups in Melbourne, very lucky to have them on board, and then Marli is doing some DJ sets in between and she’ll be doing a full set after hours … It’s good to be doing a big show.”

Check out the new EP below.

Beatnik Collective’s debut EP, Collections, is out now via Cousin Will Records. The band will hit The Night Cat on Saturday May 29 to launch the record. Grab tix here.