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:: Spotlight :: Interview with Jika

By: Justin Donnelly

When Melbourne rock act Mammal decided to part ways in late October 2009, the news was something quite out of the blue for most. But despite the shock announcement, individual members remained tight lipped with the reasons behind the split, instead allowing their music to do the talking. Needless to say, Mammal’s drummer Zane Rosanoski’s own band Jika has plenty to say.

Founded as far back as 1998, Jika have within that time managed to produce four full-length efforts (1998’s ‘Family Business’, 2000’s ‘The White Lady’, 2002’s ‘Psy-Fly’ and 2005’s ‘Just Like The Others’), all of which have received considerable praise from the press – which in itself is no mean feat given Jika’s unique and somewhat hybrid approach to musical composition and execution.

After a lengthy stretch of inactivity (due to Mammal’s ever increasing popularity and demand), Jika (who, aside from Rosanoski, comprise of vocalist/didgeridoo player/keyboardist/percussionist Jeffrey Ortiz Raul Castro, guitarist/percussionist Vladimir Keca and bassist Tibor Gede) are finally making plans for several live shows throughout the year.

While holed down in a rehearsal room in Footscray working out some minor kinks in their upcoming live set, I caught up with Rosanoski to talk about Jika’s short and long term plans. But first, and foremost, one has to question just what has been happening with Jika over the last couple of years?

“We actually played a couple of shows with Mammal. We tried to play as much as possible, but within that last year, it was getting really tough to get in and do anything with the band, because Mammal was really getting out there and playing overseas and all that. But since Mammal has split, and I mean for definite, it has left me in a position where I had to find myself as a player again. And that’s telling the truth. I’ve been playing in Jika now for around seven years, and it’s completely different to Mammal as you would know. It’s pretty much a blend of a whole heap of genres. It’s really a bit of everything that’s out there. It’s just a good way to express ourselves. And I guess it’s kind of nice to go back to that. I mean there’s good in everything. I really don’t want to talk about Mammal, because it’s hard to describe what Jika is about without pigeonholing what Mammal sounded like. But Jika really does sounds like everything that Mammal doesn’t, and it’s nice to be able to express myself purely from an artistic point of view within this band”.

With Mammal now out of the picture, Rosanoski is quick to point out that while only one date has been set up for the band at this stage, they are looking at making Jika a full-time gig, with definite plans to take the band to the next level.

“We’ve all gone off and done our own things musically over the last couple of years, and it’s only now that we can once again do this full-time. We have one gig lined up, with the option of upcoming gigs a definite possibility. I guess rehashing the old tracks has allowed us to go anywhere and explore even further than we have done in the past. Our hope is that we can write some new material, and incorporate that into some of our older songs too, and then perform them live. So that way we’re out there playing some older stuff, as well as some new stuff, and give the audience the best of both worlds. But as I speak, we’re writing some new material. Now that we have the time to do it, we’ll be doing something hopefully by the end of this year. It’ll be a full journey from all of us.”

In terms of direction for the new material, it would seem that ‘groove’ seems to be a new focus.

“One of the things that has developed in our music that we’ve noticed now-days is a strong groove. Groove is like a musical form of love, and that’s what we’ll be incorporating into the music a lot more. It’s all about the groove! (Laughs) That’s another thing about our music - it’s very tribal, and it’s all about going back to our roots, and back to where it all came from.”

As for what form this new groove based material comes in, well who knows!

“Well, one album doesn’t have to be one disc does it? (laughs) We could very well put together a box set! (Laughs) We don’t care man. We don’t want to restrict ourselves to a certain amount of minutes a CD is capable of holding. We’ll just record it onto as many iPods as we can, and sell it on iTunes if that’s what’s called for!”

Jika have always been praised for their seemingly improved live shows, where the band can shift from metal, to pop/rock, drum and bass to punk, electronica and world music. And for those attending the band’s upcoming show, Jika has promised to deliver that, and perhaps even more.

“We’re actually going to be extending one of our older songs to an hour. And within that hour, we’re actually going to be dropping in another one of our songs. So if you can kind of get your head around that, that’ll be the general vibe of the show. It takes a bit of work to do that from a performer’s point of view, but probably as equally challenging for the crowd to get their mind accustomed to as well! (laughs) I’d like to be in the crowd for that for sure. I would describe our music as being open and expressive. If you look at life, there are so many restrictions placed on us, and that affects us all on many different levels consciously. But by us opening up and expressing ourselves musically, it’s just one way for us to break down those restrictions. So really, we all feel that Jika is a statement on life. We kind of want to be everything that is not to generally be the norm. We’re not deliberately trying to be not the norm, but we do allow a sense of natural flow. Bands generally get caught up in a certain genre, or they get caught up in what they think sells, as opposed to what they feel. We want music to be about body and the soul and the mind, as opposed to being just about the mind. So by just doing it, and playing the shows, people will either get it, or don’t get it. But at the very least, we’re getting it out there for people to feel and think for themselves. Playing a live gig is an energetic conversation I guess. There are so many energies flying around the room between the audience participants and the members of the band. So we’re playing it purely for that reason. It’s not to tap into any market, or to sell anything. It’s more for the experience than anything else. We’re expecting human beings! (laughs) I don’t know about numbers. That side of things has never really been a huge concern for me. I’m sure there’s going to be a few people there who are interested to see and hear what we’re all about, and probably some interested to see what I’m doing now that Mammal has split up. But I’m not really concerned about numbers. We’re there simply to perform what we can only hope is an experience, and hope that it’s something that people can come and enjoy.”

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