Groove Incorporated chats ‘Band of Gold’, discipline and reggae history

“It is a lot of hard work involving a lot of discipline,” Groove Incorporated says of the process behind new single ‘Band of Gold’

Last month, we were treated to the buttery reggae rhythms of ‘Band of Gold’, the latest single from New Zealand artist Groove Incorporated.

Brimming with twinkly piano keys, subtle horn sections and dazzling electronica, the track marked an instant summer playlist addition.

Groove Incorporated single 'Band of Gold'

While it might sound like a leisurely and effortless groove, the creation of ‘Band of Gold’ required “a lot of discipline,” Groove Incorporated tells us. 

Below, the former DJ and current producer swings by Happy for a deep dive into his artistry, the influence of Jamaica, and his upcoming track ‘Aotearoa Reggae’.

Catch our full interview with Groove Incorporated below, and scroll down to listen to his latest single ‘Band of Gold’. 

HAPPY: What are you up to today? 

GROOVE INCORPORATED: Today was a typical day: I walked our 2 dogs up to the local café.

I listen to the latest music releases any chance I get, and when out walking, I always use headphones in transparent mode to hear the birds and everything else around me.

My playlists consist 90% of new releases, including ‘the NZ hot 20 chart’ and the latest Reggae, R&B, and hip-hop from around the world.

A couple of hours in the studio working on the latest song. Then 30 mins drumming practice and 30 mins strength exercise while listening to more new music.

Afternoon is off to my day job (medical doctor) then evenings with my wife: her watching TV; me on the laptop either working on the current song or researching new production techniques. 

HAPPY: What is the music scene like in your neck of the woods? 

GROOVE INCORPORATED: NZ has a big reggae scene. It dates back to the late 70’s, particularly with the popularity of Bob Marley in our large Maori and Pacifica communities.

Club culture was big in the late eighties, which fostered the early popularity of hip-hop and house. Our large Pacifica community has maintained the popularity of what was previously soul and funk, through to R&B in the 90’s and early 2000’s.

The shift back to reggae has occurred over the last 15 years. Although data is lacking, the evidence on the street is that NZ is second only to Jamaica in terms of the popularity of the genre.

Bob Marely’s only No. 1 original album was in NZ (“Kaya”, 1980), and the recent YG Marley hit, despite worldwide popularity, only reached No. 1 in one country and that was also NZ. 

Groove Incorporated single 'Band of Gold'

HAPPY: You have previously worked as a club DJ. How has that experience informed your current artistry? 

GROOVE INCORPORATED: It has been a massive influence. I was DJing in the late 80’s when hip hop became really mainstream.

I guess the sampling techniques of the early hip hop artists and the vocal chopping from some of the early Chicago house has left a lasting impression.

My taste naturally progressed onto the 90’s R&B thing and that has manifested in the soulful vocal elements in our production. And of course the reggae influences during the early 2000/2010s. 

HAPPY: Are there any horror stories from your days as a club DJ? 

GROOVE INCORPORATED: Ha-ha many but I don’t want to go there! Doing a quick x-fader cut into the next song without having the fader for the new song up has to be every DJ’s nightmare.

Trying to be smart and beat mix vinyl to a PA system away from the DJ booth, but without a DJ booth monitor is something a DJ only tries once. Many others… 

Groove Incorporated single 'Band of Gold'

HAPPY: What does a typical day look like when recording a track like ‘Band of Gold’? 

GROOVE INCORPORATED: It all depends on where we are in the production, but it is a lot of hard work involving a lot of discipline.

Whether it’s experimenting with melodies; working out matching harmonies; coming up with a fresh beat, through to mixing and endless listening during the mixing stage.

I’ve had songs that have got close to revision No. 100! Add to that literally hundreds more listens with even more repeats for problem areas. 

HAPPY: Much of your work draws from reggae influences. How did your trip to Jamaica and visit to Bob Marley’s childhood home influence this sound? 

GROOVE INCORPORATED: Oh that was a fantastic bucket list item that I had wanted to do for a long time. Sitting on the rock where he wrote “Is this love” and looking out into the village and bush is something I will never forget.

Nor will sitting on the steps of his adult Kingston home where he wrote three little birds. Seeing the bullet hole in the wall that nearly cost him his life was moving.

Also up there was walking around the legendary Tuff Gong studios, run by his wife Rita. Sitting at Ziggy’s drum kit in the main recording room of that iconic studio gave me huge inspiration for moving the project forward.

I was also fortunate to revisit the Bronx in New York and explore some of the iconic hip-hop venues. This was something I couldn’t do in the 80’s during my first visit given the crime that was prevalent at the time. 

Groove Incorporated single 'Band of Gold'

HAPPY: Your upcoming track ‘Aotearoa Reggae’ is set to chart the popularity of reggae in NZ. Can you elaborate a little on the history behind this? 

GROOVE INCORPORATED: Without giving too much away, I thought it would be good to chronicle the unique and vibrant history reggae music has had in NZ going back to the 70’s.

Much of the lyrical content came from an early 2000’s masters thesis I was fortunate to get my hands on. It will feature rap style verses and traditional reggae style choruses. Other than that, you’ll have to wait! 

HAPPY: Anything else on the horizon that you can tease for us? 

GROOVE INCORPORATED: Just lots more of the same! 

HAPPY: What makes you happy? 

GROOVE INCORPORATED: My wife Emma, my 2 teenage kids and a good reggae groove, especially the drums and bass!