Indie + alternative music culture depends on dedicated artists who create diversity & drive innovation in all aspects of songwriting, production & performance. We constantly feature new & notable independent acts on the verge of success. Meet this week’s featured artist in an exclusive interview. Introducing You To Your Next Favorite Artist: Shikobi
Raw and emotive hard rock collective Shikobi, has quickly found success with their unique blend of experimental hard rock, funk and hip-hop. The group formed in January 2014 with Australian brothers Aaron and Luke Hession writing songs in their Gold Coast home. Fueled by their intense live show, Shikobi went from a local garage band playing DIY gigs to a successful touring band selling out high-profile venues in less than a year. The hard rock group also landing a coveted #1 spot on the top 100 countdown on Australia’s famed Triple J Unearthed radio station.
With a twist of fate, Aaron and Luke decided to relocate to Los Angeles where drummer Dylan Hayden and bassist Marco Barrientos, joined the band to complete the lineup in April 2015. Since then, Shikobi has been building a steady following in the US.
We recently talked with Aaron Hession to get Shikobi’s take on alternative culture. Read on to find out more about your next favorite artist.
Comments from the Curating-Editor
Shikobi is an LA band (by way of Australia) that brings a heavy rock sound with rapcore elements in their debut EP Pull The Trigger. Reminiscent of Linkin Park & Rage Against The Machine, and self described described as “emotive rock,” the group’s music is simultaneously bright and gritty in its guitar and vocal weaving. My favorite off the 4-song EP is the more subdued “Alive,” which feels like a harder Chili Pepper’s deep cut. The track carries a enticing vocal hook that pairs well the brooding, plucking bass riffs and the angsty, menacing (and sometime metallic) guitar lines. It’s a passionate and defined display of the group’s attention to deep and reflective sentiment.
What are your top 3 favorite albums that inspired you to get into music?
I would have to say for us both (Aaron & Dylan), it would have to be Smash by The Offspring. This album came out when we were both very young and shaped us musically, to a large extent. In terms of our taste and style, most definitely.
Aaron: Definitely a Chili Peppers album, perhaps By The Way, as I was just so inspired by the music they made and how Anthony Keidis’ vocals and lyrics made me feel.
Luke: I remember watching Wes Borland on stage with Limp Bizkit in 2001 and thinking at that point I had to play guitar in a band, so I’m going to go with Limp Bizkit’s Chocolate Starfish and the Hot Dog Flavored Water.
What are your fondest musical memories?
As an artist, so far our favorite memories revolve around the live shows we have played. Being a fairly new band on the scene, we have gotten a huge kick out of playing at some of the iconic venues of West Hollywood. A few gigs–one at The Mint (opening for Aussie indie act Sticky Fingers), our first gig at the Viper Room, and our first at The Whiskey–were all special nights for us together as musicians and as a part of our band. Also, recording our first EP, at the famed London bridge Studio, in Seattle, was a very special and uplifting time for the band.
As a listener, again we are all drawn to live music and shows, so I guess the answer to that is watching our favorite bands headlining big music festivals both in Australia and here in the US.
Lately what musical periods or styles do you find yourself most drawn to as a listener?
I think definitely, to an extent we are caught in a time lapse of the 90’s and early 2000’s, as that is the era of our favourite bands. Bands such as Linkin Park, the Chili’s, The Offspring, Rage Against the Machine – these types of bands were at the top of the pile in the music world, so that’s the period we tend to be caught in mostly.
What is your creative process like? How do you approach the writing process? Is there a particular message or theme central to your creative works?
In terms of a message or theme central to our works, not really, as we are inspired by whatever the music we come up with draws us to. Usually Luke and Marco will collaborate together on a new piece of music, and Aaron will sit down with a notepad and a pen and let it take him wherever it takes him. Sometimes it flows very easily, and a song comes out of nowhere just like that. For example “Alive” off our EP Pull The Trigger, was written entirely in a single afternoon/evening of jamming together.
We’re a firm believer that the cities that artists are based in helps craft their sound. How would you describe your city’s music scene? How has it inspired you into crafting your sound?
I think living and being based in L.A opens you up to so much different music and styles, to enjoy and to be inspired by. There is such a diverse and eclectic bunch of artists, playing at so many venues any nights of the week. I think for us, we are still students and believers of rock n roll, fundamentally, so the Sunset Strip – the venues, and the rock [inspire us].
How would you describe your visual aesthetic, in terms of album artwork, music videos, and artistry? How does the music you create contribute to your visuals? Does this extend to your live show experience?
You will have to check our music videos for “Here We Go Again” (out now) and “Pull The Trigger” (soon to be released) on YouTube and tell us! As for the live shows, we like keeping things raw. When we perform it’s intense, we’re giving it our all and we like people to focus on the energy we’re exuding, so we haven’t had a focus on visuals as yet. Maybe as the stages get bigger we’ll become more adventurous!
As an indie artist in the digital age, social media and streaming are essential tools for marketing and promotion. What do you think about online music sharing, both as
a music fan and as a musician? How do you think social media/music streaming services impacts the rising musician?
We don’t like it. We personally still buy all our favorite bands’ albums, as show of support to them and what they’re doing. Online music sharing is bullshit, it’s basically created a system where people get to experience and enjoy an artists work without giving the artist any reward. I think we get like 0.01 cent royalties per play with online streaming.. I say go back to the days where you have to buy your music just like you have to buy everything else! As for social media, it’s a huge and much needed part of a bands identity these days. We live in a world where social media dominates, so if you’re not making yourself known on those forums then you’re missing huge opportunities to be seen!
What is your dream collaboration and why?
It’s probably different for each of us, really depending on our inspirations and our heroes. Aaron would probably say working with Anthony Keidis or Chester Bennington would be, as they are his favorite singers of all time, whereas Luke would probably say jamming with Tom Morello, John Fruisciante, or Wes Borland on something would satisfy his collaboration dream.
Which songs are you currently obsessed with? What new acts do you recommend to our listeners? What bands do you believe are your best kept secret in the indie community?
The new Blink 182 album is pretty dope.. the song “Left Alone” from that album rocks. Luke has been into twenty one pilots for a couple of years now – they would’ve been his ‘best kept secret’ up until a year or so ago when they completely blew up the air waves. I would say Shikobi has to be the best kept indie artist!
What are you currently working on? Any new projects?
At the moment we are just taking stock from our EP release. Pull The Trigger has just come out, so we are trying to ride that and generate as much publicity behind it as we possibly can. We are looking to do some more shows, through LA and beyond, through December & January. And we are always working on material for our first album as well.