Nicky Bomba

Well known musician and singer Nicky Bomba, is frontman for Australian band Bomba. His musical influences are wide and varied having worked with bands from Africa to the Middle East, conducted the Melbourne Ska Orchestra, played drums on John Butler Trio’s “Sunrise over Sea” and was Artistic Producer for the Multicultural Arts Victoria “Visible” project. In 2005 he collaborated with Joe Camilleri on “Limestone” and now releases his first solo EP - “Jah In The Moment”.

He spoke to Australian Stage’s Brad Syke.
 


Nicky BombaNicky, you've played, if not quite 'all over the world', in many of the more interesting, vital and colourful parts. Which has influenced you the most? Why? How?
I think I really get inspired by music and rhythms that are culturally connected. From the ChikChika Ethiopian beat to the Kanaky Pilu to the sound of the Yidaki.

Real, cultural roots music transfers a history of a people in a melody and song. I am always looking for that same essence when I'm creating a piece of music. I have a definite soft spot for Reggae music that feels spiritual.

For those who don't know reggae from ska, can you describe the difference/s: in origin; texture; rhythm; and so on?
Ska was the first taste of Jamaican music where the up beat or the "ska" was emphasized. It was around the mid 50's to late 60's where it grew to be its own thing.

They started with boogie woogie music that was coming out of Miami Radio stations and mixed it with the upstroke. Many artists have claimed to have started it, but I think they all got enlightened at the same time! Reggae, Bluebeat, Dancehall etc are just children of the original SKA sound.

What is mento?
Mento is a traditional based Jamaican style of music that preceded Ska. Usually an acoustic band consisting of congas, shakers, guitars, banjos, rhumba box (like a big thumb piano you sit on!) and sometimes fife or fiddle.

Performed in an acoustic roving fashion normally, the music was an African/Carribbean/South American rhythm base with lyrics that were topical and usually very cheeky.

Do you have philosophical ideas about music? If so, what?
I think music is an amazing, powerful medium and I feel privileged to do this full time. Vibrations and harmonics are at the centre of our universe and when music connects on the right level we are in another dimension. Writing songs is definitely therapeutic for me.

Do you have philosophical ideas about life, at large? if so, what?
The current single 'Jah in the Moment’ is straight out of my book of life. A celebration of our existence, blessing each day and not getting caught up in what we could have done or what we will eventually do/be... a relaxed body/ an open mind/ a peaceful heart.

What's so good about your new ep?
Well I like to think that I've captured more of the essence of my musical journey.

'Jah' is a celebration song, 'Cherry Oh' (also done by The Stones and UB40) is a sign of respect to an old Jamaican song. 'Dial Pbs' was originally written for a radio station's subscriber drive is performed in a classic Mento setting, 'Kruptanite' is a drum solo where I'm just having fun really and 'Jah Dub' is an instrumental version of the single so you can make up your own lyrics.

You've gone solo. Why? How does the solitary musical experience compare with the collaborative? What are the pros & cons?
I always wanted to make an album where I could play all the instruments, write anything I liked and took as long as I wanted. It's new for me and so challenging. I love an adventure, Fresh and dynamic. The democratic process is good in itself but I've recorded many albums this way and now it’s time to go for a walk in the forest by myself! For the live shows I’m bringing a double bass player and percussionist to open up the possibilities.
{xtypo_quote_right} When I was six my brother moved from the drums to piano so the seat was empty. As soon as I could reach the pedals I was hooked{/xtypo_quote_right}
Was it terrifying to do it all, on your own?
Hesitations at first but once I felt the boat sailing, I was a kid in a candy shop.

There is something about being self sufficient that resonates with me.

You've delved into many and various cultures, musically. can you talk about each, briefly? What has each given you? What have you given to each?
That opens up all kinds of stories...too many really...some highlights...

Indigenous Australian album with GEORGE RRURRAMBU gave me a much needed insight into our own culture, our sound, all the stories and the songlines. I think Cultural Australian studies should be an essential part of our education system starting from a primary level...

Ethiopian album with DEREB DESALEGN and going to Africa to hear firsthand the ancient rhythms and melodies.

I'm presently applying those lessons to some new songs I'm writing. The sounds of Morocco, Gnawa style with a three gut-stringed bass guitar, the meditative choirs that transport you to another place, High spirited Polynesian Drumming, West African 6/8 polyrhythms, Middle Eastern odd time signatures that you only really get if you dance it. I’ll let you know the rest when I write the book on it...

How did you get started, as a muso, yourself? Why drums, first & foremost?
When I was six my brother moved from the drums to piano so the seat was empty. As soon as I could reach the pedals I was hooked. It is a life long journey with music and its hidden treasures. Learning other instruments expands my library, helps me to remain the wide eyed student and enhances my understanding of the essence of a good song.

What are your musical and other influences? what makes you (want to) get up in the morning?
I get inspired by music that moves me, it could be a 30 piece ska orchestra or a solo voice with a conga back beat. It's a pure focused feeling that makes me smile, weep, groove,think etc...but it gets straight to the essence.

After travelling extensively, I realize how lucky we are yet how easy we can get lost in useless information. I wake up very morning and bless the day (listen to lyrics in 'Jah in the Moment' ...straight outta my diary). Time with nature is an essential part of my life. Food, shelter, love, music, friendship, family, happiness, creation, adventure, dreams and the mystery and wonder of my life on this planet. I am truly amazed when think about my place in the solar system. My short time on this planet...make it good.

Where to, next?
I’m giving this new bunch of songs the love they need and getting smarter with the whole picture. I have set up a new team this time round to give myself more time to concentrate on the music.
 
I recognized the danger of spreading myself too thin, control freak style, where the music suffers. Encouraging other people's skills who are as passionate as I am about my music has been a blessing. With an efficient, self sufficient ship, the journeys are then just linked to the imagination.

'Bless up!' your own expression? What's your intention with such a motto?
Giving thanks to our life.. I say it all the time to myself when I see, hear, feel something beautiful. bless!


“Jah In The Moment EP” is due for release July 5th. Visit www.myspace.com/nickybombasolo

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