Space Invadas: soul searching

It was quite shocking for me to discover Steve Spacek, the pepper-haired crooner on Ashley ‘Katalyst’ Anderson’s latest project Space Invadas, is quite content to sit in the studio and quietly produce albums instead of sharing his wonderful voice with the world.

He and Ashley are chatting to inthemix about Soul:Fi, their new album together, from deep within the Invada bunker. It’s clear the guys have developed a good friendship through the process of making the album and taking it on the road.

“Yeah, up until this project, I’d be much more content to sit in the studio building beats, but God gave me this voice and others are making me use it,” Steve says with a laugh. He and Ashley both agree they started out with a plan to have Steve sing and Ashley do the music, but through working together their roles started to mutate.

“There’s definitely a bit of blur,” says Steve. “The set up was meant to be Ashley writes the beats and I’ll do the singing, but occasionally he’ll come and do the lyrics, and sing some vocals on our album, and likewise the same. He’d be working on a beat and I’d throw a couple of synths on there. We started with our roles, and as we went along it loosened up.”

“Yeah, exactly,” Ashley agrees. “At the start it was, I’ll be doing the music and Steve would be doing the lyrics, and as we got to know each other we realised we were both comfortable doing whatever. As we’re talking about writing some more stuff together, it’s more about collaborating than having these separate roles. Steve is primarily a producer – started off as one – and still loves that role. And I’ve never really done vocals, but I’ve started to sing in the live show and do back-up vocals.”

Steve’s vocals have been applauded by many, likened to Marvin Gaye or Curtis Mayfield. “I never really saw that side of myself as a vocalist,” Steve explains. “If you listen to my stuff back in the day you’d liken me more to Brian Ferry or Bowie.”

But through this project in particular, Steve has had a chance to shine. “I like doing the song Imaginist live,” he explains of the track with the super-high falsetto. “I like being thrown in the deep end especially when it comes to music. I like being put into situations I might not normally put myself into, just to see what happens. I get the feeling I might crash and burn, but I ain’t because I pull it off. It’s quite an exciting feeling,” he laughs.

Both artists have this attitude towards music. Whilst not being experimental musicians in the sense that they bang pots and pans together or record ants on tinfoil, both like challenging themselves. Almost immediately after recording the album, they hit the road, playing festivals and clubs all over the country.

The songwriting process helped them structure the tour. “Our writing process very much trial and error. Some songs we’ve got guests on the album, Steve actually sang two or three versus and we dropped one or two when we got the guest vocalist,” Ashley explains. “But it’s good like that, because when that person’s not available live I can sing the ‘original version’,” adds Steve.

For those who’ve seen Katalyst’s live show in the past, Ashley says this one is much more band-orientated. “Keys, drum, bass, guitar, MPC and various other bits of gear, and Steve on the vocals out in front,” he explains.

“We’ve got a couple of guests on tour, as it all depends on what state we’re playing on who we get involved. Hau from Koolism has stepped up to do a couple of the raps for us, and Fanteen who’s from Sydney, she’s been out doing Super Sweet live, and a version of Ready Or Not. Jade has expressed interest to get up whenever we’re in Melbourne. And RuCL has joined a few times. It’s been a varied cast of guests!”

They both enjoy being on tour as much as they like being in the studio. “It gives us a chance to get out and play this stuff as a group, you know?” says Steve. “You work on this stuff in the studio for however long and you want to get out there and see how it works on the stage. It’s quite nice, to be honest.”

Soul:Fi is out now on Invada Records. Space Invadas hit the road this month for club shows and the Groovin The Moo tour.

Thur 22 April – Oxford Art Factory, Sydney

Sat 24 April – Rocket Bar, Adelaide

Sat 1 May – GTM Bendigo

Sun 2 May – GTM Townsville

Thurs 6 May – X And Y, Brisbane

Fri 7 May – Neverland Bar, Gold Coast

Sat 8 May – GTM Maitland

Sun 9 May – GTM Canberra

Thurs 13 May – Toff In Town, Melb

Sat 15 May – GTM Bunbury