if you wanna know some more…then here’s a little more detailed history…..(turn on the portentous “Biography Channel” voice in your head)
Chilling uptown in Adelaide in the 80’s, Josh Beagley had to work hard to get his funk fix from the import record store, sifting through the monthly shipment to unearth the gems such as Mtume’s “Juicy Fruit” or SOS Band’s “Tell Me If You Still Care.”
Suffice to say that Adelaide was hardly a haven for teenage funk and soul lovers. A bastion of Australian pub rock, with a strong live music scene, there were literally NO funk clubs or DJ’s in the early 80’s in downtown Adelaide. Yet scarcity of supply can breed a healthy obsession, and despite a childhood reared as a rock brat, with renowned piano-playing father Peter (Beagley) Head a cohort of Oz Rockers such as Bon Scott from ACDC, it was the funk and soul sounds emerging from New York and Minneapolis that deeply permeated the teen brain of Beagley.
“We would listen fanatically to whatever we could find and afford – albums like On The Rise (S.O.S Band), Prince’s “Controversy” and Patrice Rushen’s “Straight From The Heart” were worn thin, along with stuff from the burgeoning UK Soul scene – Linx, Princess, Loose Ends, 52nd Street and even Haircut 100 were all big favourites.”
Growing up in the 70’s surrounded by musicians and hand-me-down gear – “I’d probably seen more gigs and concerts by the age 5 than most people do in a lifetime!“- Beagley started his own funk bands as a teenager, playing gigs through high school, before a move to Sydney with longterm collaborator Roland Kapferer in the mid 80’s saw the birth of SWOOP, probably Australia’s foremost funk act, who moved through several incarnations and degrees of success, including No.1 singles in Australia and Japan and several ARIA nominations, playing a highly energetic and quirky Sly Stone and Parliament-influenced funk pop.
After 3 albums, all produced or co-produced by Beagley, Swoop morphed into the much deeper funk of Professor Groove and The Booty Affair, with a couple of albums – a gutbucket mix of old school rap, Go Go and electrofunk – to their name. They played constantly around Sydney for several years, earning a formidable reputation as a live strong party band.
Confection emerged initially from Beagley’s desire to revisit the sweet funk 12” sounds of the 80’s which originally inspired him, the sounds of Minneapolis under the spell of Prince and Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, and the lesser known funk bombs by artists like Evelyn “Champagne” King, Melba Moore and Gwen Guthrie, and with a few semi-formed songs ready he hired vocalist Juanita Tippins on the recommendation of a friend. Several hours later “I Choose You” was finished and the Confection sound was born.
“We immediately hit it off an a musical and songwriting level and Juanita’s voice was perfect for a new version of this kind of sound. Like a lot of singers with an Islander backgound, she has an innate yearning soulfulness – I think they are all force-fed a steady diet of Donny Hathaway as kids.”
As indeed she was….influenced by singers such as the aforementioned Donny Hathaway, along with Nina Simone, Bob Marley, Luther Vandross, Mahalia Jackson, Evelyn King, Prince and Chaka Khan, Tippins has a beautiful tone and impeccable phrasing that reflects the strength of her influences.
Tippins has a Tongan background and originally hails from South Auckland on New Zealand’s North Island (confused? So am I…), moving to Sydney as a teenager and quickly developing a reputation as one of Australia’s foremost session singers, gracing albums by everyone from Sleepy Jackson, You Am I and Jimmy Barnes to Koolism and Sneaky Sound System. With this great range of work JTip developed the immaculate vocal needed to effortlessly deliver bucketloads of soul.
THE FIRST ALBUM……LOOKING BACK BUT MOVING FORWARD
Together JB and JTip have really looked back to a certain era for inspiration but have ended up creating an album that sounds totally distinctive, a kind of classic modern soul.
“At first I really just wanted to have some fun with the sonic palette of some of those early 80’s tunes, combining Linn Drums and the Roland TR808 (drum machine), Mini Moogs and Oberheim synths etc with live playing – a lot of my favourite records are unique and brilliant because they had a limited sonic arsenal available to them, because of the technology of the time, whereas today I think there are so many choices to make, so many styles to embrace and explore, that it can dilute the energy and message of a record. I also feel that a lot of stuff is overprocessed and a lot of rawness is taken out of records. I figured if we limited ourselves to the same kind of structures and sounds and melodies and playing styles and lyrics that the songs would find their own energy.”
Beagley embraces the retro electro tag:
“I totally tried to make the record sound like it was made in 1984. But just because we’re influenced by a certain genre or era doesn’t that mean we’re stuck in the past. AC/DC tried to make their records sound like Chicago Blues. Go figure?
If a DJ can mix a Confection song with something off the first Janet Jackson album then I’ll die happy. But every musician loves certain records and precedent artists which permeates through the way they play and write, and it’s what comes out of trying to sound like your influences that ends up being interesting.”
Beagley has a wide-ranging knowledge and love of black funk and pop though, which certainly permeates the Confection sound. “I particularly like the records from when big funk bands merged with synth technology, like CAMEO, Midnight Star, early Prince, SOS Band for example. Their records all had a lot of live instrumentation blending with drum machines and synths, and it is that kind of organic-electro interaction that we tried to channel”
Although Beagley played or programmed most of the music on the album, a number of friends from his other bands (Professor Groove and The Booty Affair, Fatback 4Way) were brought in to add their specific skills. Terepai Richmond, widely regarded as Australia’s best drummer (Missy Higgins, Whitlams, DIG etc) and Michael di Francesco (Van She, Moustache) provided critical groove elements on drums and bass respectively, with Paul Gray (from the GREAT and massively under-recognised Wa Wa Nee!) guesting on keys – what a treat, Sunil de Silva contributed all the good percussion parts and a number of Juanita’s singing cohorts (Jade McRae, Mahalia Barnes, Rob Edwards, Prinnie Stevens, Miss P) were called on for backing vocal duties.
Another Professor Groove/Fatback cohort Richard Sanford (Delta Goodrem, Moustache, Paulini), under strict instructions to mix like it was 1984, unleashed his Publison Infernal Machine and made it all sound brilliant, as you should when you name your studio The Diamond Cutting Room.
Tippins says – “Basically all our mates chipped in and helped out which has totally improved the overall sound. It really is the quirks of individual musicianship and personality and interaction that give a record it’s character, and fortunately all our mates that played or sang on the album are borderline psychotics who can really throwdown.”
While Confection have a sound that harkens back to a classic era of black funk and pop, certainly the songs have a kind of lyrical innocence also…
“We really like the idea of having songs that have a little story, that can be sung face to face on a dancefloor for example. Our stuff doesn’t really encourage porno bump and grind. It really needs some old school dancefloor romance, possibly with the occasional balletic flourish. We revere melody and hooks, and I’m sick of hearing tracks in clubs that sound half-finished, with minimal or no vocals. Where’s Whitney?”
If you REALLY wanna know more…some other possibly pertinent points of interest:
Josh was born and raised in Adelaide, and studied philosophy and anthropology at Adelaide and Sydney Universities for several years, qualifying him for nothing in particular.
He comes from a highly musical family: father Peter Head (nee Beagley) is a highly credentialled Oz rocker, playing with several rock luminaries in Adelaide in the 70’s (Headband, Fraternity, AC/DC’s Bon Scott in several lineups) and is a legendary pianist and singer in his own right, still performing regularly in Sydney.
Sister Loene Carmen is “Australia’s Queen of Underground Rock’n’Roll” with a successful recording career (and is an AFI-winning actress to boot, check out “The Year My Voice Broke,” one of Australia’s best ever movies.)
And now young niece Holiday Sidewinder fronts uber-trendy Sydney Indie teen sensations The Bridezillas. SO hot right now!
Josh was a founding member, guitarist and producer with Swoop, one of Australia’s biggest and mostt exciting bands in the 90’s, with hits like “Apple Eyes,” “Rock Dog,” “Do It,””Neighbourhood Freak,” and “Everything I Do From Now On Is Going To Be Funky” (officially Australia’s longest song title!)
The platinum selling “Apple Eyes” was a Top 5 Hit in Australia, Japan and Indonesia, and along with the album “The Woxo Principle” got Swoop nominated for several ARIA awards,including Song Of The Year and Best Pop Release (most of which got pipped at the post by the Nick Cave/Kylie collabo “Where The Wild Roses Grow.”
Swoop hit the number one spot in Josh’s hometown of Adelaide.
Josh is founding member and guitarist with Professor Groove and The Booty Affair, Sydney’s best known, longest running and least prolific funk band, with one album release to date, “And So Funketh The Wise Man.” (Vitamin Records)
Their LONG-awaited follow up album is nearing completion though and should drop sometime late 2011.
Josh co-hosts a weekly radio show on Sydney’s FBI Radio called “Funk Flashback” with DJ Stephen Ferris (Wednesday mornings at 11.30am), uncovering, highlighting and showcasing superstars and curiosities from the multifaceted history of funk.
Josh has represented Australia in field and box lacrosse, and coaches the NSW State Women’s lacrosse team.
was born and raised in South Auckland, moving to Sydney as a teenager
She has done countless backing vocals and sessions for many of Australia’s biggest artists, including Sleepy Jackson, Jimmy Barnes (including a featured vocal on “Double Happiness”,) Koolism, Paul Mac, Mica Paris, Australian Idol, Paulini, Disco Montego (lead vocals), Kid Confucious and many, many, many more…
Has a solo neo-soulish album in the works
Sings regularly with R+B outfit Suite Az round the Sydney traps, and they are currently writing and recording for their debut album.
She is also set to be a featured singer in the forthcoming Australian movie The Sapphires, starring Jessica Mauboy.