INTERVIEW: The Potbelleez

In 2007, The Potbelleez asked the world; “Is there anybody out there feeling something” on their smash hit single ‘Don’t Hold Back’. Apparently they did as the song quickly resonated with people and became one of the biggest local dance hits of the year. Sustaining a successful career in the forever evolving dance music world, The Potbelleez continue to entertain crowds with their euphoric sets full of big beat drops and huge singalong’s. 

Switching things up, lead singer and producer Ilan Kidron will be joining the Synthony 2019 tour as they bring to life some of the biggest dance songs in a orchestral format. After a successful run of sold out dates last year, the tour is expanding and crossing the ditch for their Australian debut in Brisbane this August. 

I recently chatted to Ilan Kidron from The Potbelleez about what stood out to him about the concept of partaking in a symphony tour, the forever changing synth trends in electronic music and reflected on some of his favourite The Potbelleez memories. Check out the chat HERE;

TB: The Synthony tour sees yourself and some other incredible producers and vocalists coming together to celebrate electronic music with a symphony orchestra. What about this concept really stood out to you as something you would be interested to partake in? 

IK: An orchestra is the ultimate instrument for emotional response. To have my music lifted into the symphonic universe is a dream come true for me.  

TB: Looking at the way electronic music has grown over the past ten years, has there been any synth trends that you’ve been surprised about? 

IK: I am more of a traditional style songwriter, in the sense that I usually write at the piano or guitar then spark it up with synths. Jonny and Dave in the band have always been brilliant at reinterpreting the songs into new realms. And yes, we are so spoilt by all the tools at our disposal now. Synths, sequencers that do pretty much everything and drum machines. It’s insane. We are truly blessed.

TB: Seeing the landscape of the industry dramatically change over the years, what is the biggest thing you’ve learnt about yourself as an artist, producer and musician?

IK: Recently I broke my hip in an accident and it forced me into bed for almost three months. But it was a blessing in disguise as I used the time to write a ton of songs on my own. 

We are so used to being in rooms writing with others, which I love, but this was a real blessing to see what was actually under the bonnet instead of just driving. My advice is to take time on your own as much as you can to develop your art outside of an industry that can get so fickle at times.

TB: When you’ve been in the studio creating music in the past has a symphony crossover ever been an idea that you’ve wanted to play with? Because with songs like ‘Feed Off Me’ in particular I feel like you were diving towards a more electrified live sound. 

IK: Personally I have scored films for orchestra. A short film I scored was actually nominated for an Oscar. I attended AFTRS and majored in screen composition. I also studied western tonal tradition at University. I grew up in a house that was not averse to Mahler, Debussy, Brahms and other romantic composers.

My intent when I write a song is to create the song itself not so much the sonic arrangement that comes later. There is a very special version of ‘Here On Earth’ that I arranged for strings that I haven’t listened to in a while so I can’t tell you how good it is, but it was a thrill creating it.

TB: Looking at your back catalogue, what song would you say would be the most challenging to bring to life in a symphony context that you would be keen to try? 

IK: Hands down ‘Don’t Hold Back’, our biggest hit. We have done other versions before with remixes but never an orchestral interpretation. I’ve got a feeling we might hear it pretty soon!

TB: The Potbelleez have done a LOT of touring over the years, so reflecting on everything, what has been one of the craziest, weirdest or funniest touring experience for you?

IK: I honestly can’t remember! We’ve missed planes, caught helicopters, emptied bars, toured in some deadly dangerous countries, held at gunpoint and been thrown out of airports. I mean we really did it all *laughs*. 

TB: As well as this, you will always be hitting the road in November for Scene & heard Festival for a retrospective DJ set. Is there any old Potbelleez songs that you want to bring back in particular that resonate with some special memories for yourself or the fans? 

IK: I always love to revisit some of the favourites. They have new meanings now. That happens often with our songs. You write them about something and the meaning changes over time. You then reinterpret them in context of your constantly evolving life. 

TB: Let’s play a little game of rapid fire questions where I’m going to ask you some questions that you just need to answer with the first thing that comes to mind.

IK: Okay!

TB: My morning pump up song is…

IK: The whole ‘Watch The Throne’ album by Jay-Z and Kanye West.

TB: Pineapple on pizza is…

IK: Delicious as long as it’s vegetarian

TB: The emoji that best describes The Potbelleez is…

IK: The winky face with the tongue poking out!

TB: If I could have any super power it would be…

IK: Healing

TB: My go to snack on tour is…

IK: CHOCOLATE!

Synthony 2019 Tour

Saturday 17 August – Brisbane City Hall, Brisbane

Friday 6 September – Christchurch Town Hall, Christchurch 

Friday 20 September – Auckland Town Hall, Auckland

Saturday 21 September – Auckland Town Hall, Auckland

Saturday 12 October – Claudelands Arena, Hamilton

Friday 25 October – TSB Arena, Wellington

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