The Venusians are a seven-piece band made up of some of Sydney’s finest musicians, under direction of guitarist Ben Panucci. With a sound that is very neo-soul, the band uses their individual experiences as artists to form their distinctive style together. With influences coming from contemporary artists such as Little Dragon and FKA Twigs; the band melds jazz, beats and electronica.
2015 is proving to be a big year for the band, whose single ‘Keep Running’ has won them fans from around Australia, including us at Speaker TV. We were lucky enough to lock them in for our Citizens of the Streets event at Shadow Electric on July 23rd.
We asked Ben about their thoughts on being compared to Hiatus Kaiyote, The Harpoons, and Tim Rogers and The Bamboos, about how the band formed and their vision for the future.
Ben is said to have formed the band; where did he look to find the rest of you talented individuals to form The Venusians?
Most of us in the band work in Sydney full time as musicians and play in a bunch of different groups etc. Meklit (singer) and I begun playing Jazz gigs together a few years back and I really loved her singing and wanted to form a band with her, playing original music. The other members of the band are people I think are beautiful musicians that I’ve enjoyed working with over the years and thought would be fun to collaborate with on a musical and social level.
Have any of you been involved in other musical projects?
Yes, lots of different things from my own solo project, to trad jazz bands, a psychedelic ethio-jazz band, a 50’s doo-wop band and many other little collaborations with different people in the scene.
What are some of the opportunities and downfalls that have derived from following your passion for music?
I really love all of the interesting, talented and inspiring people I get to work with, I always appreciate that as being a great opportunity in a sense. As is the chance to get to travel and also spend my days wandering about the streets more often than not quite aimlessly. I enjoy the lifestyle.
As for downfalls, I’m not sure… Hmmmm, having to explain to people constantly that music is actually you’re job. Ha! I don’t know, I’m quite content as I write this so am finding the question hard… It would obviously be nice to get paid well, something I’m sure most people involved in the arts would agree with.
You’ve said in the past the Little Dragon, FKA Twigs and Son Lux have been formative to your music, what is it about these artists that you have found inspirational?
I enjoy the interesting blend of production aesthetics that each of those artists use. I also like that if you strip the songs back to their core, they all have within them beautiful forms and melodies.
How do you feel about being apart of Australia’s neo-soul scene alongside bands like Hiatus Kaiyote, The Harpoons, and Tim Rogers and The Bamboos?
I really like all of those bands! So to be told your a part of that scene is really nice. Thanks! I hope the scene can grow so there are more opportunities for bands to play and audiences to listen!
Keep Running really hones in that neo-soul sound. How did you go about creating this track?
I wrote it when I was angry. Then I taught it to Meklit, then the band. Then we recorded it live and then spent a few days here and there over the coming months working on edits and overdubs with things such as Lynn drums with Pat Harris and also Tim Curnick. It was then given to Damien Charles to mix and he added his own flavour for sure.
Where else do you look for inspiration for your music? Are there any visual artists that you find inspirational or interesting?
I’m a big fan of the visual arts and definitely find creative inspiration from a range of different artists. One example of inspiration would be Francis Bacon’s work ethic alongside his work itself. Although that aside, I must say with The Venusians, I find most of the inspiration from the members of the band and walking around listening to the world make funny rhythms and melodies.
Your debut single Finding, was received quite positively around Australia; firstly congratulations, secondly how did respond to this?
Thanks! I was really happy that people enjoyed the track. It definitely helped give us the confidence to keep going on with what we had started and record more music.
I just thought I’d mention that this raises the bar for your next release. With that said, what should fans be expecting from your upcoming EP?
I love bars!
I really don’t know what anyone should expect except for more music that we’ve worked hard on to sound nice to our ears and make our loins dance. There’s a track or two that delves more into a soul vibe and then a few heavier moments on the record too, I hope it will flow together enough to stay interesting for it’s entirety.
What would be your dream venue to play in, regardless of place, money and time?
Somewhere near a beautiful body of water that we can go swimming in pre and post gig, that has a nice bar and amazing woodfired pizza.
What do The Venusians have in stall for the near future?
We have some exciting news to drop soon regarding our release and then we’ll be working hard at playing more gigs and getting our recorded music out there. Hopefully it is received well enough to provide us more opportunities to hang out and play together, that’s the thing we love the most!
Speaker TV Presents:
Citizens of The Streets at Shadow Electric Bandroom – (18+ only)
With Sex on Toast | The Venusians + Special guests
Photography by Markus Ravik and Emily Day
Artwork by Kathryn Pappas
1 St Heliers Street, Abbotsford, Vic