I first met Sal Valentine post a few celebratory wines at my good friends high country wedding in April this year. Despite the wild weather lashing the marquee, Sal and his funky band The Babyshakes absolutely rocked the party and there wasn’t a single person who didn’t have a spin on the dance floor (for a non dancer like myself – this says a lot!)
So he seemed like a interesting character to introduce to all of you and I was stoked when he agreed to let not only me and my camera visit, but also (for the first time) my great friend Matt House to tag along and film. You can check out our little clip below accompanied by music from Sal Valentine and The Babyshakes.
From 2006 – 2009 Sal studied jazz drums at the Auckland University Jazz School. The course was a melting pot of young musical talent and ultimately provided the bones of the band today. With a deep love of pop music he explored the genre of original rythmn and blues, developing his own bubblegum, fun take on it to complete an entirely self composed final year recital.
Two weeks into the beginning of his post-grad studies he pulled the pin. He’d been in school his entire life and suddenly it felt like the right time to get doing his own thing!
Sal Valentine and The Babyshakes formed in June 2010 as a loud and up tempo 10 piece ensemble. Despite playing in a number of bands over the years, Sal was dissatisfied with the jazz and indie scene. His aim was to get people back on their feet and break through the “academic” stigma that clung to jazz, throwing it back into the mainstream. It HAD to be danceable!
WHO: I live in the most churr of flats. Sirius. Inhabitants are as follows:
Pawel Smuga – Accounts officer in one of New Zealand’s most successful Finance companies, head bartender in one of New Zealand’s most classic pubs. Totally dates Bella.
Jonathan Pearce – As well as being the pianist in The Babyshakes, Jonathan plays guitar with Grey Lynn singer-songwriter Anthonie Tonnon, Artisan Guns, Watercolours, works as a draftsman for Architecture firm Tomkin & Taylor, and runs a great blog called ‘The Chalk Archives‘ wherein he details his adventures recording sweet live bands to tape, and posts those recordings for your listening pleasure. Totally dates Georgie.
Georgie Craw – University tutor and masters student researching early New Zealand history. Totally dates Jonathan.
Oli Pattison – An engineer/semi-colon enthusiast. Dictator of the built landscape. Single.
Honey Bunny – Hates being picked up. Throws her toys around on the reg. Rabbit. Single.
Myself – I do some things. I write, arrange, sing for and manage Auckland’s No. 1 band (the majority of everyone ever who has seen us can’t be wrong): ‘The Babyshakes’. Haven’t seen or heard us? You can check out our debut single here and find a lot more here on our Facebook page. I currently work with a wonderful team down at Crane Brothers – a tailoring house down the end of High Street. Other than that I can be found drumming in The Rocking Rollercoasters or Queen City Big Band, perhaps deejaying or employing my skills as a registered guitar teacher for the New Zealand Modern School of Music.
WHAT: It’s a flat with a huge kitchen, spacious lounge, massive basement, behemoth lawn and mean little studio that contains all of Jonathan’s recording gear, guitars and piano. Can’t claim that one. I do write down there. It’s cozy. Cheers Jonathan.
WHERE: We live in the wonderful suburb of Grey Lynn – at least I think it’s wonderful? Seems to have a wee bit of stigma, non? Anyway, it’s rad. I’m having a blast. Kokako make wonderful coffee, there’s a Dominos and a Pizza Hut pretty much next door to each other up the road – you gotta wonder if those guys have some kind of cold war situation going on. Maybe they’re mates. Who can tell with these things?