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Katalyst interview: Agent of Change

Author: Cyclone
Saturday, April 8, 2006

Sydney's Katalyst, aka Ashley Anderson, has not only produced some of Australia's finest hip hop, he also presides over the credible Invada Records. This month Invada is embarking on its first national roadshow to coincide with the release of the latest Koolism album, New Old Ground. The label will likewise be filming a DVD.

Before launching Invada, Anderson produced music under the Moonrock handle, but he's come into his own as Katalyst. Three years ago the DJ delivered his debut album, 'Manipulating Agent', to critical acclaim, following with a remix album the next year. Since then, Katalyst has kept himself busy producing Eran James, Vassy and Invada's RuCL. In the meantime, Invada is going to strength to strength.
Anderson conceived the concern with Portishead's Geoff Barrow in 2002 but, while Invada has a UK affiliate, it's associated more with the Australian. So what of Geoff's involvement-

"He's not as hands-on 'cause he's got a little girl who's about a year old and so that's stopped him coming out in the last couple of years. He was talking of coming out and living here this year, but that in combination with the new Portishead record that they're trying to finish up has meant that he hasn't been as hands-on as he could have been. But, in saying that, we went over and recorded a whole bunch of stuff for the RuCL record that we released last year. We went and recorded a whole lot of stuff for that early last year in his studio over in Bristol, so we've still got a pretty good working relationship. I spoke to him this morning on the phone and played him some tunes and he played me some stuff and so that's all still in place. I guess since I'm the face in Australia most people tend to associate me as being the label."

Aside from Koolism, Ashley says Invada will be looking to issue a new RuCL project in coming months. It will most likely be a posse album. Ashley intends to disseminate it initially in Europe where RuCL is generating considerable interest. "It'll probably a little bit more of a street-based record, a little bit rougher and tougher than RuCL's last release - not as polished."

The challenge for Invada as Ashley regards it now is to maintain the quality of releases and not take on too much (they're not yet making enough loot to employ a large staff). Invada's aim is to align itself with an international distributor. Above all, Ashley is hoping he can gradually assume more of a backstage role. "I'm really working hard on getting back to the studio more and being less directly involved with the label."

This year Katalyst intends to drop a new album of his own. "I really wanna get my next album completed this year and out this year as well, so I'm just approaching a lot of guests at the moment, because I'm having a lot of vocals on the album, as opposed to doing a mainly instrumental record as the last one obviously was," he says. "I'd like it to be an evolution from the last record, but I don't wanna alienate the fans of the first record and the remix album, so I'm trying to the keep the Katalyst sound but maybe branch out into a few more areas rather than just keep it within the hip hop/funk world - there's a bit more rock influence on the record. The guests vocalists I've approached to be on the album are quite diverse as well, rather than just being MCs and soul-based singers. There's a couple of rock people on there - and hopefully a few surprises for people."

"One of the reasons for moving away from a strictly instrumental-based record, too, is I find it's important to make social comment as an artist. I feel quite strongly about a lot of the issues in the world today, so I've tried to create a theme for the record that different vocalists can interpret in their own different way and bring about more social awareness through the music. It's a hard<