Out the front of The Bamboos, Auldist brings welcome relief to their deep-funk sets, strutting like Sharon Jones, wailing like Aretha Franklin, but it is when performing her solo material that she really shines. Her latest album, Still Life, is a lesson in groove. Co-written with the driving force of The Bamboos’ Lance Ferguson, it illustrates a clear, confident development between the pair. “The only reason I even got the record deal was because Lance was going to be there holding my hand, you know,” Auldist confesses, “‘cause they knew I was pretty stupid and didn’t have a clue. I can’t play an instrument and I can’t read music, so Lance will come over with like a chord progression as a start, to help me do as much as I can, so I will sing over the top of it, and he will throw ideas like, ‘That could be a horn line’ or ‘That sounds like the chorus.’ So when we get all that we try and fit words to it. The first few songs, that’s how we did it, but when it was coming down to the wire, he wrote the music and I wrote the lyrics and off we went. He is a bloody hard worker and luckily I have been able to be on his team, so he is dragging us all, kicking and screaming into the light with him. Sometimes you try and write with some people and it doesn’t work, it is exposing, you have to feel comfortable with them and for some reason Lance and I do work well together.”
The album is a true reflection of Auldist’s passions. “I love disco, I wanted to have a ballad, I love reggae, so there are so many things, and I thought this is my album and I want to show who I am. All The Bamboos’ albums are a work of art in the way they have got so many different singers on them, when you do a Bamboos gig it is full on and fast paced, something for everyone. So my album is more unashamedly about me, my shows will be more like a concert – I introduce myself through Just Say, so this one I am trying to tell different stories.” She is not wrong: Howling For You is the reggae track, Counting On You is all the best parts of the über-produced ‘70s disco, About Face the ballad, Night Of Lies the overwrought sad dramatic one, and Nothing Else To Beat Me sits as a classic Bamboos groove.
“Because I was a little dark kid growing up in the middle of Australia and I have been listening to country and western all my life,” Kylie says of her introduction to music. “It was Broken Hill – there was nobody there, let alone someone that looked like a half Samoan person, then I went to Hayes where they had never seen a Samoan, and still haven’t! So when I finally listened to some black music and disco I thought, ‘Oh my god, this is a shoe that fits.’ That is how I felt about The Bamboos and I got to be part of that and sing soul music. I felt, this works.”
She’s incredibly down-to-earth, freely admitting to neither vocal warm-up or even practicing, she is giddy at the idea of being booked for St Kilda Festival for her solo act (“Even though I have done it with The Bamboos and You Am I a few years ago, I had a tantrum on stage so I am surprised they have asked me back”) and just wants people to enjoy her music as much as she does. “This gig will be me giving you a gift, so please come along and let me share this with you. It’s smooth, it’s funk, it’s soul, it’s just me. It’s a beautiful sound, I’ve got the best players in town, I’ve written some lovely songs; it’s coming together to be a great show.”
BY JACK FRANKLIN