Josh Hogan is one half of the supremely talented percussion duo Taal Naan. The band is playing AGWA Nights on Friday, November 2. Expect experimental sounds with Indian flavours and electronic beats. The doors open at 5.30pm and Taal Naan will begin their performance at 7pm. You can find out more about the event at our What’s On page but for now, here’s an introductory Q and A with Josh:
First up, tell us a little about Taal Naan…
It is pretty beat-driven music. It’s a fusion of styles including Indian, African and electronic. It’s a real mirage of all stuff but it’s really instrumental driven. I wouldn’t say it’s for a pop audience, but we focus on being engaging to our audiences.
What makes your collaboration with fellow Taal Naan band member Steve Richter so successful?
I think essentially, we’re both interested in being creative. I think that’s the motivating factor. We’re both percussionists from a similar background and we both like to improvise and be creative and make our own stuff.
Which country most inspires Taal Naan?
India! I’ve spent a significant amount of time there. I’m a drummer and percussionist and I think India has a tradition that has a lot of very developed mature rhythm language.
Is there a genre of music that you haven’t worked with before?
I don’t think so…Percussionists get to do just about everything! I’ve done a lot of classical and jazz and lots of different sub styles. Being a percussionist, you get to play in the rhythm sections of all kinds of bands. At school I did indie, rock, and heavy metal but there’s a lot of music out there which people don’t know about, too.
How do you translate your percussion music into a live show?
Our focus now is on percussion instruments that are small and that probably makes a big difference in the instrumentation of our act. Percussionists generally play with a lot of instruments, lots of big ones and all different sizes and flavours. There’s a whole heap of world music traditions that focus more on portable instruments like hand held drums and hand held pianos instead of having a huge collection of marimbas or things like that. We also use a lot of electronic stuff as well, which brings a lot of extra sounds to the universe that we are creating.
When did you realise music would be your career?
I’ve always loved music. It started in high school as I had a really good teacher, which I think made a huge difference. I went onto UWA and did a classical degree but since then I’ve moved more out into doing my own thing and more world music.
Do you build your own instruments?
Yes, we do a lot of that. We recently just finished a school workshop series which was all about found percussion and making music with things like bits of rubbish or recycled materials or garbage bins.
Do you think there is enough musical education in schools?
Most of the stats are pretty depressing for music. 20% of primary schools have any kind of music content and that’s really because the education system has stopped training generalist classroom teachers to cover music content. Most of the generalist music teachers are afraid to go through music content because they don’t know how to teach it or they don’t think they are musical. I remember when I was a kid in the 80s we had a little bit but it’s got worse since then. If you’re at a more progressive or well-funded school they generally do have programs where there are instruments to play but it’s not the norm at the moment. We’re heavily involved with curriculum, funding processes, and content for schools.
What do you do when you’re not being musical?
I’m developing a music education app called Beat Salad at the moment.
Do you have any favourite visual artists?
I really like Gustav Klimt and that style of art. I studied art a bit at school and now I lead a pretty creative work life, working with artists of all kinds. I just generally like all sorts of creative expressions.
You both recently worked on the opera production Into the Shimmer Heat. How was that experience?
It was a great chance to use all our skills. We were both there as percussionists but we got to play a whole lot of things in the context of a contemporary opera with a great group of artists. My other hat there was as a sound designer and I got to design different sonic environments. That was really exciting as I was using a lot of my tech savvy.
Technology has changed so much even in the past few years. Does this mean you have to be self-taught?
I would say most of my technological skills have been self-taught and is more as a means to an end. I think a lot of people come at technology first and then use music later but I find I always want to make music and learn new tools in order to create new sounds. Basically, if you’re not making a sound you believe in then you’re just moving around on a computer. Interestingly enough though, there has been some pretty universal principles in the last 30 years when working with technology.
Why should AGWA audiences come and see Taal Naan?
I think it’s something a bit different and that they’re probably not expecting. They can come along and be engaged with something they’ve not seen before or perhaps something done a little differently. It’s funky music!