By Tyler Wright
An up and coming local band is making their mark on the music scene after an electric first year performing.
BOTH – an emerging outfit from the Dandenong Ranges – offer an eclectic mix of jazz infused hip-hop, surf rock, smooth drums and rich vocals.
Made up of guitarist Ahren Tampiyappa, rapper Sam Getson, vocalist Lelu Bachsinar Ball, drummer Declan Collins and Banjo Koster – the band records from a home studio at Ahren’s home in Silvan.
“We started back in 2020, It was actually a school lockdown project,” Ahren said.
“At the time it was just Sam and myself, and because it was lock down and we go to a Steiner school, which is quite an alternative school, instead of doing schoolwork for the whole year, [the teacher] asked us to come up with a project and Sam and I’s project was we were going to write a musical about the life of Martin Luther King.
“We actually wrote 10 songs in the end about his life and at the end we were kind of like well ‘why stop now? this is good fun’ – I learned how to produce and we both learned how to write better songs.”
At the end of 2022, after deciding to remake one of the songs from their original album, the duo asked Lelu – a family friend of Ahren’s – to take over the role as vocalist in the band.
Accompanied live by Declan and Banjo, the group performed at Warrandyte Festival’s ‘battle of the bands’ and ended up winning the title in their first ever gig.
“The main thing of main lots of people have told us is that what our what our music sounds like is quite unique; it’s quite different because it’s not common to have a female vocalist with R&B and jazz influences over the top of some Aussie hip hop, and the actual instrumentation can be like Australian surf rock almost at times, so it’s all just a mix of different things,” Ahren said.
Inspiration for the band members are drawn from the ’60s sounds of Aretha Franklin and Etta James for melodies, with more modern artists including the late Mac Miller and Sticky Fingers inspiring song production.
“[It’s] really different and not something that you kind of hear a lot from sort of around where we are,” Lelu said.
“When Sam is writing his verses we cross each other a bit once we hear a track and we find an idea of what we want the vibe to be.”
A headlining gig at Belgrave’s Sooki Lounge in Belgrave drew in 230 punters and fully packed out the venue.
“It was just an incredible experience for all of us, and since then we’ve continued to keep going, keep writing,“ Ahren said.
The prize from the battle of the bands competition was time in an official studio; giving the band a chance to write their most recent single, ‘Keeping Me Around,’ which launches on Friday 24 November at 5pm.
It’s set to bring a nostalgic summer time track to the band’s discography.
“It was one of the best recording sessions we had because it was so productive and creative,“ Sam added.
“We did the melody on the guitar and then Lelu did some keys and then we went from there…I started writing my verse in the studio and then Lelu was writing her verse and it all came together.
“I feel like that’s the best way we work, but we’ve only been doing this for a year, so we’re still working all that stuff out; especially our sound.“
Sam said the band has joked about touring Australia in 2024, with the band keen on continuing to play live.
“I think it’ll be great to get some more gigs, especially in the city,“ he said.
“Things to do next year a lot is maybe play some more festivals because they seem to be more accommodating to [underage performers].
“It would be great to get some radio play as well; we’d love to get some Triple R, those smaller ones; that’s a very big achievement and would really mean a lot to us.“
To listen to BOTH’s music, visit their profile on Spotify and Apple Music.
To follow their live music journey, you can follow them on Instagram at the handle @bothmusicc