Sal Valentine and The Babyshakes to play Taranaki festival

Sal Valentine (centre) and The Babyshakes will play at the upcoming Taranaki Arts Festival.
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Sal Valentine (centre) and The Babyshakes will play at the upcoming Taranaki Arts Festival.

Nothing stays the same for too long with Sal Valentine and The Babyshakes.

Much like their high energy performances known to bring groovers to their feet, there's been movement in the Auckland 10-piece's sound and lyrics since forming in 2010.

Despite being touted the "AC/DC of jazz", frontman Valentine, whose real name is Ivan Luketina-Johnston, said the group, which still has four original members, has been steadily shifting away from that genre.

Outstanding in his field; Auckland musician, Sal Valentine.

Outstanding in his field; Auckland musician, Sal Valentine.

"It's definitely how we started but we've been moving away from that and developing our sound," he said.

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"Our new EP, Church, is a good drift of what we've been doing; it's influenced by soul, it's rock, it's more inclusive of the many sounds of what I listen to day to day."

Valentine, who studied jazz at Auckland University, majoring in jazz percussion, said he hadn't listened to a lot of that style of music in the past couple of years.

While he still enjoyed it, the 29-year-old refused to let it define his musical output.

"We released one jazz album and then an EP and I was like 'right, now let's move on and do something else'," he said.

"We still respect our origins but my interests shift, a lot."

And Valentine's songwriting is definitely a reflection of that change.

The musician pens all of group's songs, as well as most of the music, and while he used to sing out with lyrics that were "simple and to the point" his words have become much deeper of late.

"They sounded nice phonetically and had good word play and a good rhyme scheme but were just scratching the surface for what we were doing and definitely referencing a sound from the 50s and 60s when you wouldn't really hear anybody pouring their heart out," he said of his earlier songs.

His lyrics are now more autobiographical and honest.

When Valentine formed the band he was in a happy space but the past couple of years he had been a bit dispirited and writing had been a great outlet for those feelings.

"It's helped me deal with issues and things that happen to me and kind of made me put a spin on them where I no longer look at them in such a dark fashion and maybe have a bit of a giggle about them."

And while Valentine loved that the band's uplifting and raucous nature was always a win with the crowd, he hoped people might also take note of his lyrics.

"I just want people to enjoy themselves and appreciate what's happening...just to take it in.

"But I also want them to take in a bit of the lyrical sentiment."

People will have the opportunity to experience the band first-hand when Sal Valentine and The Babyshakes play the Taranaki Arts Festival on Thursday, August 31 and Friday, September 1.

 - Stuff

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