7 Questions with Cooking with Caustic

photo credit Rachel Murdolo

photo credit Rachel Murdolo

Cooking with Caustic is an experience that needs to be felt rather than described. Physically, they are a 10 piece hip hop/ groove collective from the Blue Mountains, Australia, but reading those words off the page does nothing to explain the sonic whirlwind that you will be thrust into upon first listen. 

The first thing you will notice is that the instrumentals are THICk. with BEATS/ KEYS/ PERCUSSION BY CAUSTIC, ELECTRIC/ DOUBLE BASS BY JARV BENAUD, MARC BROWN ON TROMBONE AND STEPHEN NOBLE ON SAX as well as DJ Cost on the cuts there's an intricacy to the music that is way beyond your typical hip hop dynamic. THe sound is so diverse that it is equally the type of music you would listen to coming down on a sunday as you would to put yourself in the vibe to go out on a friday night. 

the list of emcees that spit over these beats is a mile long and includes some of the best in sydney hip hop- P.SMURF AND MIKOEN FROM DAILY MEDS, MADAME WU, AND BIG VILLAGE MCS MUTE AND TENTH DAN. AT THE HEART OF THE BAND'S VOCAL LINE-UP LIE THE DIVERSE AND SOULFUL VOICES OF QUEEN B AND BLACKJACK DAVEY.

Get to know Cooking with Caustic through 7 Questions from producer/ percussionist/ founding member Caustic Yoda.


What was the original concept behind Cooking with Caustic and how has it grown or changed since the beginning?

"There wasn't really a solid concept to start with. I had a collection of instrumental beats that Louis (Cost), Jarv and I were jamming on for a gig we had just booked, and we weren't organised at all. We called in our MC and singer friends (Mick, Larry, Justine and Jeannine) to join us for the set and jam over the beats, my saxophone playing kitchenhand Steve joined us last minute as well. All of these musicians had worked on the beats for Two Toes, Madame Wu and remix projects I had recently finished which had the Cooking with Caustic title, so we went with that for name. We slowly got more organised. More instruments and friends have been added to the show until we couldn't fit anyone else on stage." 

How many members are actually in the group?  What’s it like working with so many people on one project and how do you go about organising a live show? Is it hard to coordinate schedules, etc?

"Haha. It's a bit hard to say how many are in the band. There's a core of six musicians (DJ Cost-turntables, Jarv- bass, Steve- sax, two trombones; Marc and Tim, and I play MPC and percussion) that make up our sound, and we have several main vocalists (Dave, Jeannine, Justine and Chris). But the vocal line-up can vary a lot for live shows. On the Mercury to Pluto album there were 13 different vocalists. 
Organising live shows is always an interesting one with the number of people involved, it can be a challenge. But it also lets us tweak our set to fit the vibe of the night we're playing. In its nature it's flexible, and pretty spontaneous.
For writing tracks, I tend to work with everyone individually, or in small groups. Then when we have a basic arrangement and idea for the beat we start jamming it with everyone and tying it all together."

You’ve worked with just about every Hip Hop artist out of the Blue Mountains. Are there certain qualities you think they all have in common? What factors do you think contribute to such a huge amount of talent coming out of such a small community?

"For me the Blue Mountains is an awesome place to live. It produces a lot of good music and art. I dunno, maybe people have more time to spend working on their creative outlets because there's not as many distractions. You can focus more on music, while your job or career and socialising are a bit secondary. For us anyway, the socialising is usually around music. But to be honest I really don't know what it is about the mountains. It's cold so we hibernate all winter making tunes, maybe it's something in the air."

By its nature Cooking with Caustic’s music is extremely varied in influence and style but if you absolutely had to describe your sound in 5 words what would they be? 

"Beats, Cuts, Horns, Bass, Fam."

What albums/ artists would you say have had the biggest influence on you while developing the Cooking with Caustic sound?

"The biggest influences on our sounds and the way we work would be artists like The Herbaliser, Massive Attack, Soul II Soul, Red Snapper, Sola Rosa and the X-Ecutioners, where the focus is on the beat makers and musicians as well as a constantly changing vocal line up."

The Planet X Remixes album is available for purchase from here.  What made you decide to do a remix album and how did you pick the producers? Were they all people you knew or had worked with before?

"The first few tracks Cooking with Caustic released were remixes for a bunch of our friends like Daily Meds and Thundamentals. Then we won a remix comp that Sola Rosa put up, and we've done a few more for them since then. We've just always been big fans of a good remix.
The remix idea came about in the later stages of the From Mercury to Pluto album where I had started playing some of the tracks to a few local producer mates and had been discussing getting a couple of remixes done.
Before long the whole album had been pretty much remixed by our peers, crew and a bunch of new friends we've met playing shows around the place. There are 18 different producers involved and they all re-interpret those tracks in fresh and exciting ways. We're still pretty overwhelmed with the response. So many dope tracks!"

Who are your top 5 Hip Hop artists?

"DJ Premiere, De la Soul, The Herbaliser, Run DMC, The Wiseguys"

You can catch Cooking with Caustic performing at all shows on the spaceport 2our... check www.spaceport2.net for all show dates and locations. they will play their hometown show in Katoomba this saturday 9th january at hotel gearin.