Cruisy Beats for Byron Bay: THE MINKY’S
Cruisy Beats for Byron Bay
“We’re not the norm - we’re floating on our own vibe - and you come for the ride.”
Adrian Van Lieshout with Ian Browne Shamrock News
The Minky’s guitarist & bassist Adrian Van Lieshout is a very positive person and has always been generous with his time. Originally hailing from Melbourne and thoroughly enjoying the Byron lifestyle, I have known Adrian for a few years now. Catching up with this talented musician in Mullumbimby recently, he explained how much he enjoyed playing live at the Byron Beach Hotel, “the sound system is so good, everything is crystal clear. It’s great playing there.”
Spinning the self-titled EP - THE MINKY’S is such a nice way to spend time. Before we chat to Adrian some more, let me take you through it.
‘Zoldberg’ is a cruisy, loungie number. Gently rolling out with ghostly echoes and ethereal tones during the entry to the song, keyboards take care of the middle ground, while the magic of six strings lifts here and there from the dominance of the keys.
‘Interlude’ arrives once more with keyboards chiming, toms clap away as bird calls rejoice the edge of a local rainforest, or perhaps an Indian courtyard garden. This is a tranquil, very appealing number, sure to sooth and regenerate a weary soul. ‘In the Mangroves’ rises to a casual jazz-like progression as the guitar rhythm chirps away, stolen by higher-pitched reverb sonic interludes. This is the most energetic of the line up.
The single ‘To the Shores’ features a nicely sung Lila Swain, moments gently reminiscent of Air; a cruisy number with a simple clear snare and ambient guitar; gentle ‘chug’ of bass, this song finalises a wonderful EP which promises more to come.
Now, that is my interpretation - but straight from the horse’s mouth I asked Adrian Van Lieshout some questions related to two of the tracks on the EP, and his reply was nicely orchestrated….
….. “Zoidberg begins with a beautiful sweeping string section which is the keys... the guitar sailing overhead and steady bass grooving to anchor the ship. The main riff is all keys driven on a beautiful old 70’s Fender Rhoads and it really sets up the whole tune. It’s a gravitational magnetism pulling into a euphoric orbit of velvet rings and sonic eclipses.”
“In the Mangroves teases with initial setup of Rhoads keys over an Indian drone and Persian cymbal swells. It’s spacious and exactly what we like to do. The backdrop of northern rivers whipbirds sing over congas and then we just groove it. There’s lots of reverb on guitar, and combinations of effects and ‘wah wah’ throughout the track.”
You described your sound as being reminiscent of Morcheeba.
Who is the driver behind this sound?
“There’s no single driver in this band. Oliver Hughes (keys) and I (guitar/bass) are heavily inspired by Morcheeba,
Massive Attack, and of course, Air. They’re timeless composers and of a genre which encompasses individual style, musicianship, exploration in sound and emotion unbound by popular boundaries. Our drummer Jimmy has roots in rock n roll, but don’t be fooled, you’ll find him playing tabla in a kurta just as fast as you’ll see his chops burring in a Minky’s drum solo. His tact is a delicate, utterly solid mix of groove and swoon. Together it works as a trio of input, and that’s a blessing.”
In terms of guitar arrangements, are these songs different from the grooves you are used to playing?
“Well yes and no. I’ve got so many influences in my guitar playing and they have their moments. From Jeff Beck to Tommy Emmanuel, Charlie Christian and George Benson. I’m lucky to have the roll of bass player and guitarist, I play them off against one another and then combine them. It’s easier to compose and be complex, or simple, in my own way having both domains.”
You love the Byron Beach Hotel sound system. Are there other gigs you enjoy playing?
“The Beachy under new ownership has taken the sound system to the top level in regards to sounds production for live acts. It’s a pleasure to play there and hear all the nuance of our sound replicated in the exact way we intend it to be heard. They’ve set the benchmark in Byron for sure. It’d be timely if the other venues would invest in their live music facilities so that the musicians didn’t have to bring their own P.A gear to a gig!”
Where do you want to take this sound?
“We want to take this to every traveller on a road trip, to each festival at sunrise and sunset, to the Caribbean beaches, the African deserts, the mountainous Andes, the white cliffs of Dover, the tombs of Egypt, the jungles ruins of Angkor, the Hawaiian Islands and the Papuan New Guinean Archipelagos. Then to the underground New York clubs where groove is king and soul is revered. Then to Old Maids in Brunswick Heads for a choccy thickshake and a chicken burger please.”
"It’s an experience of oddity and familiarity….
How has the business of performing live changed in the Byron region compared to before Covid? Are things currently positive for gigging?
“It’s coming back in spectacular fashion. There’s more support for unknown bands like us. We’re not the norm, we have no vocals, our structure is odd, we’re floating on our own vibe and you come for the ride. It’s an experience of oddity and familiarity. Covid fucked us, but the support from local venues for our style has been immense – here’s looking at you Brunswick Picture House, Treehouse on Belongil Beach, and Byron Beach hotel!!”
Being from Melbourne, is there anything you miss about yourself in music there?
“Hell yeah!! Of course! The diversity of bands, the epic venues to visit and stages to dream of playing on. The inspiration of the big stages, the theatres festivals and halls laden with the gigs which I grew up on. I don’t miss the small prawn in a big pond feeling, but small prawns are sweeter and that’s all that counts. Make your sound as tasty as you can, as uniquely yours as you can, and no matter what size town, or who’s listening, make it so it makes you smile, and go from there.”