NZ Musician, February/March 2005 (Vol:12, No:1)
By Stephanie Gray
Had he not been dazzling the panel at an audition for The Lion King stage show, Laughton Kora would liked to have joined his brother Francis in talking to NZ Musician.
And a fine singing beast he would make, with jungle-lungs and a palpable stage presence - attributes that clearly run in the family.
Francis, bassist and vocalist in the five-piece dub/funk bandKora, says the band have been enjoying themselves lately, with a solid series of summer festival shows and a sell-out EP entitled 'Volume’.
The first single released to radio, Politician, sat at number one on the RadioScope alternative charts for two weeks and the second release, Crazy Things, stuck in the top 10 for several weeks. For this band of four brothers and one close friend, the success of the EP strengthens their conviction to independently produce their music.
"We chose to record and release our EP independently so we could keep creative control," Francis explains. "The recording process was cruisey, compared to our first session, and we managed a song a day with another four or five days to mix."
Mastered by Mu of Fat Freddy’s Drop, and recorded at The Surgery (a studio co-owned by members of the Black Seeds and Trinity Roots), Kora’s EP is another product of the co-operative Wellington dub/reggae scene.
"Wellington’s a good place to be a musician, and really important to New Zealand’s music industry. The bands jam with each other and there’s some amazing sounds coming out of it, unique fresh styles," says Francis.
The four Kora brothers - Francis, Laughton, Stuart and Brad - have been a band since their fatherTait dished out drumsticks, picks, and amps to the Whakatane youngsters. Sporty Francis was roped into playing the bass and singing and says music was pretty much compulsory in the Kora home.
"Our dad taught us all to play instruments, he was pretty tough at the piano back then, with the old ruler on the knuckles," says Francis.
As high schoolers Laughton and Brad won the national Rockquest competition and the East Coast region of the Battle of the Bands three years running as Aunty Beatrice. In 2001 Laughton hooked up withDan McGruer (who plays bass and keys in Kora) in Queenstown and the following year, Kora formed as a five-piece with a large degree of musicality and a passion for performance. The band has fronted the televised arts’ show 'The Living Room’, featured on Mai Time are working on an album for release this year.