The Hipstones are soul with a capital S. Soul that soothes. Soul that grooves. And Soul that moves. With an eye to the classic R&B sounds of the 1960’s, the duo of Mark Palmer (keys/vocals) and Anthea White (vocals) have shaped a sonic identity all their own. From the streets of Tokyo to the stage of the Sydney Opera house; from Australia to the musical depths of the New York City, The Hipstones have established themselves as one of the premier soul bands on the scene today.
With their eight-piece powerhouse ensemble tearing up New York’s funkiest clubs, Mark Palmer and Anthea White have built a sound that’s just a little bit Marvin Gaye, and a whole lot modern day. With their impressive wealth of musical influences, The Hipstones manage to not only pay homage to the past, but to also define a kind of future. A future built on world-class music and an undeniable band. A future born from their storied international lineage. A future with a capital F.
1. How, where and why did THE HIPSTONES get started in the first place?
Anthea White: Actually The Hipstones really started out as just Mark and myself. During a 6 month contract gig at the Tokyo Hilton in Shinjuku, we started writing songs, pretty bad ones I might add, but that was when we started. After the contract we returned to Australia and started playing with some really insanely amazing players and our music started to take its shape so we just decided to make an album. We had no idea how to go about it or how we would come up with the money but we just decided to go for it. So The Hipstones 10 piece band formed over about a year before we started recording the first album, Something’s Gonna Start.
2. Who were the first influences on your music and style?
Anthea White: Our first influencers are deeply rooted in the classic American RnB, soul, funk history, like, Donny Hathaway, Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles, Roberta Flack, but also newer artists like Erykah Badu, D’Angelo. There is always a mix of artistry in our bag, I was pretty obsessed with Rickie Lee Jones at the time, and we listen to a lot of jazz music as well, obviously.
3. How was the band’s music perceived in Australia, and did THE HIPSTONES manage to achieve any particular success during their time their?
Anthea White: Our first Album release show in Sydney was pretty massive. It gave us big push to keep going. We worked with one of Australia’s kind of “god father of soul” Jackie Orszaczky and he was a great supporter. He invited us to perform with his orchestra at the Sydney opera House, which was a huge deal for us and that scene in Australia. By the time our second album, Dreamers (2009), came out, we started to get some great radio success in Australia and some in the US as well. We were jazz artist of the month and week across a few national stations and had a lot of great press.
Without sounding too harsh on the Aussie scene, because we have an incredibly loyal fan base there, but for our style of music, there is only so far you can go. That was why we made the choice to pack up and move to NYC. As soon as we got here, we were accepted. We knew we had made the right choice!
4. Why the move to New York City, USA in 2010. And what goals has the band set for itself there?
Anthea White: Well, as I said above, the scene in NYC is our scene. It is the birthplace of our musical influences. NYC is more than I thought it was going to be. It is the most inspiring city I have ever been, in terms of music that is. Our goal was to come here and “make it”, hah, no (kind of) I think we just needed a new scene. In Australia we were playing a lot of cover gigs so we wanted to come to NY and the only music we played was going to be original music. Our goal is to create incredible music that people are inspired by and want to groove out to. We know NY is still a place you have to earn your dues and meet the right people and the best you can do is just continue to write the best songs you can.
5. How well do you think the band’s unique vision and mastery of all things jazz, soul, funk and groove fits into the current music scene?
Anthea White: This is a great question… An answer for which I don’t really know. We just try to write really good music and that music comes from a place of those influences you have mentioned above. We are both young and integrated within society, so I think our music appeals to people who share those common interests. I suppose you can partly judge this by the types of people who come to our shows. It is always a great pleasure to see such an age range and style range of people at our shows. Last year we played a residency at Rockwood Music Hall and this really assisted us to build a strong and solid crowd to every show.
6. Do you primarily see THE HIPSTONES as studio recording band or more of a live performing group?
Anthea White: We record the music that we love to perform and that our audiences respond well to.
7. On your upcoming third album you will be collaborating with Producer John Stanley. How did this meeting come about?
Anthea White: Yes, Justin has been incredible to work with. It was actually just one of those situations where Mark and I had made the decision to work with a producer on our third album. We really didn’t want to work with just anybody, because we already know what we want but we needed someone on the same page as us, to help take our music to the next level. We did a lot of research into who we wanted to work with and we loved what Justin had already done with Nikka Costa and Jamie Lidell and Beck. So I literally sent him a message on FB and he responded. It was a pure “cold call” and I think we just got lucky. I think the fact that we already had some mutual friends back in Australia (because he is Aussie) might have helped too.
8. For those not in the know, could you tell us a little more about Producer John Stanley and with whom he has worked in the past?
Anthea White: He has worked on some serious albums and player as well. Going right back to the day, he played keys in one of Australia’s famous 90’s rock bands, Noiseworks, who used to tour a lot with INXS and were all good buddies. Once he came to the US he has worked with Nikka Costa, Chaka Khan, Beck (also played in his band for years), Jamie Lidell (he just worked on his latest album as well), and Eric Clapton. He is an insanely talented musician, producer, and just person in general. It has been such a pleasure working with him and although we are in the early stages of production, it is already sounding incredible.
9. The next, being your third album already, what exactly do you hope to achieve with this new release and Stanley’s production?
Anthea White: I mean, we are still making music that comes from the same places, albeit new influences like James Blake, where we have started integrating more electronic edge to the sound. We have included some micro Korg and vocoder effects as well. Mark is becoming a master of the Voicelive, he loops beats, and then add’s pretty cool vocal effects, bringing them in and out of the songs. This was all created live by the way. None of this is created in the studio. These are all concepts inspired from our live shows.
I think Justin is able to translate what we are doing and bring it into a more cohesive place. We are kind of like kids in a candy store throwing all these things at him and he just hauls us back in and keeps the total picture looking a little less like a Dali and more like a classic.
So with the new album we just want it to be enjoyed by as many people as possible.
10. On Thursday May 30th THE HIPSTONES will be performing at one of New York’s finest jazz clubs, The Iridium. How did this show come about?
Anthea White: We were very fortunate to have been introduced to Iridium through a wonderful friend of ours, Nadia Ackerman, who performed at Iridium through their independent artists night.
11. At the Iridium show you will be accompanied by a seven-piece band. Gives us a little background on the band set-up and members?
Anthea White: Yes, we will have Jordan person on drums, Chris Tarry on bass, Josh Deutsch on trumpet, Tim Stocker on baritone sax (Tim is actually our original bari player from Australia), and Dylan Heaney on Tenor Saxophone. Mark will be on keys/ lead vocals and I will be on lead vocals.
12. What can casual show-attenders and THE HIPSTONES core-fans expect on the night, at The Iridium?
Anthea White: What we always give them, a super funky, soulful and energetic night. Expect some serious drum soloing, warm and luscious vocal harmonies, super funky and groove heavy bass playing and some heavy horn lines. We just wanted people to come and have a really fun and feel good night!
13. Could you tell us how and where to get tickets to attend this show, and any other info that may be useful to get to see THE HIPSTONES at The Iridium?
Anthea White: Tickets are available through the iridium web site
Direct link: http://theiridium.com/events/1631/the-hipstones/
Iridium home: http://www.theiridium.com You can also grab dinner at the venue as well.
14. Do you think the advent of internet and all the new technology has helped your music and independent musicians in general, or do you think it just creates a mass of mediocre “copy-and-paste” artists who flood the web, making it difficult to distinguish your talent from the crowd?
Anthea White: Ah ha. As everything it has its pros and cons. Of course the internet has made music more accessible. It has made it possible for artists to be independent…to easily sell their own music without having to sign a record deal or a distribution deal. In some ways it has degraded the quality of how people listen to music now but I think theses are things that can be improved in time.
Yes, there is still music being made that I questionable but who says what is terrible and what is good. Listeners decide when they choose to buy something or not. Then it all comes down to marketing, promotion, press and how much money you have to invest in these things. Being independent is not easy, no matter what anybody says.
15. In your experience thus far, what is the best piece of advice in this business you actually followed? And one you didn’t follow, but now know for sure that you should have?
Anthea White: PERSIST, Believe in your purpose and keep learning and Persist.
16. Which is the one factor, above all else, that you consider will be the most beneficial to your career currently (increased music distribution, better quality production, more media exposure, more live performances etc…)?
Anthea White: a number 1 hit!!!! Hah. Oh, well seriously, a Top booking Agent would be great.
17. How do you currently distribute and promote your music ( Amazon, iTunes, CD Baby, Your own Website etc…) and where can fans purchase and download your material online?
Anthea White: You can purchase our music through CD Baby or our web site.
18. You currently also have a fundraising campaign going, to help production of you next album. Could you give us some details on this?
Anthea White: Oh thanks for asking. Yes we have reached 70% of our indieraiser target of $25,000, to assist in the recording and production of Album #3.
19. Is going Platinum or winning a Grammy important to you, and if you were forced to only have one choice, which of the two would you choose and why?
Anthea White: mmmm. Interesting. Industry or Fans??? That is hard. Honestly, I have thought more about winning a Grammy than going Platinum. But it is always nice to be appreciate by that many people to take you Platinum.
20. What in your opinion is the biggest barrier an artist like yourself, has to face and overcome, to gain any substantial commercial success today?
Anthea White: Not sure if there is one thing but I would say it is Giving Up.
21. In closing, tell us something about your future projects and ideas you are working on?
Anthea White: Well, we have to get through our current one, Album #3, and there is a long way to go with that so I think we will take it one album at a time, but I can say that we are hoping to be working with some pretty amazing people in the future as more doors slowly open.
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