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Dillastrate - Interview with H and Tim of Dillastrate

17 Dec 2019 // An interview by Steve Shyu

Self-described "neo-soul-pop" duo Dillastrate from Christchurch very recently released their first full-length, self-titled album. Born from Kiwi acts AHoriBuzz and Soulsystem, the two have rocked thousands at local festivals Northern Bass, Rhythm & Vines and Electric Avenue, as well as opening for Kiwi greats Sons of Zion and Katchafire.

Steve S. got to catch up with Tim and Henare (AKA. H) to chat about their best tracks from their albums, latest local favourite musicians, and what the near future holds for them.

First round’s on me – what’ll you be having?

H: Heineken Zero.

Tim: Whatever kind of beer is guaranteed to blow my mouth up with flavour.

If Dillastrate’s music could be described as a flavour/style of pizza, what would it be?

H: Meatlovers with stuffed crust, because there is the perfect amount of sauce to add the rub to the backbeat of the stuffed crust.

Tim: I would describe our music as a having a base layer of tomato sauce (the groove), a decent helping of cheese (for all of the cheesy music we’re secretly into), a generous smattering of vegetables – maybe a bit of capsicum for colour? And a swirl of BBQ sauce for extra groove.

Which Dillastrate tune released so far are you most proud of and why?

H: Mama Told Ya, because you should always listen to your mum. Plus, the keys parts in it are off the chain.

Tim: That’s a difficult question… Probably Heroin. Despite the awful themes of the song, I’m a massive sucker for 6-8 boudoir soul ballads.

What do you believe is the secret ingredient in making a Dillastrate tune?

H: A pinch of Rub, a dozen beers and a crap-load of fun and idea-sharing.

Tim: H’s super-solid, human-metronome drumming is essential. Plus, every Dillastrate tune has got to have a little bit of a swagger to it.

Care to run us through the inspirations behind your single I Don’t Care? Were there events that drove you to write the tune?

H: The song is about a dude who is stringing a girl along. He doesn’t want her but doesn’t want anyone else to have her either. But when she falls in love with someone else, he plays the whole "I don’t care" card when really he feels bummed because he missed out. So, shame on him.

Electronically speaking, what artists/producers have influenced Dillastrate’s sound?

Tim: Damn, that’s a massive question! The obvious answer for us would be our namesake, the legendary genius J Dilla. His ability to create a beat that was simultaneously off-centre and right on the pulse has been a massive inspiration to us. Personally, I’m a hip-hop and neo-soul guy, so producers the likes of Pete Rock and 9th Wonder are big ones, as well as artists like D’Angelo and Erykah Badu. I could keep going!

What’s your personal favourite from your debut self-titled album?

Tim: Another difficult question to answer definitively! Maybe Too Soon. We wrote this song entirely unexpectedly in the studio when we were trying to come up with an ending for a different song, and we just had to keep working at it until it naturally came into existence. I think this is one of my favourites on the album because of how organically it was written and recorded – it felt (and still feels) fresh and honest.

In what ways has life in Christchurch influenced your music-making?

H: Christchurch is where my heart is, so it will always be an influence behind our music. Tim and I were raised here and have been through all the tragedy. We love Otautahi!

Tim: Agreed. Christchurch feels like a little incubator for original music. Where I can imagine that other cities are great for getting out and road-testing your songs, I think Christchurch is good for developing your craft in a more introspective way that allows you to shape your music more intensively.

H, what was it like performing for and meeting Ronnie Wood of the Rolling Stones?

H: It was incredible! One of my highlights so far, that’s for sure. He is such a nice guy and everyone else who performed at the gig were so welcoming and friendly... And scary good at music.

What Kiwi bands/acts have you been listening to lots of recently?

H: Maori Anthems songbook!

Tim: Oh man, don’t make me choose! I’ve been enjoying Leisure’s self-titled album, and The BethsFuture Me Hates Me recently. They’re both such damn catchy albums. Oh, and our friends The Response just released an album that is similarly catchy – bloody good stuff.

Where to from here? What’s next on the horizon for Dillastrate? Music video? More collaborations?

H: All of it! We’re heading overseas in 2020 – Boom!

Tim: Yeah, all of the above! I’m super keen to get stuck into some collaborations with other artists. Playing live is where we feel the most comfortable and really come into our own, so WE’RE looking forward to that!


Stay tuned for more details from Dillastrate by following their Instagram and Facebook accounts, then go give their Spotify tunes a whirl!


About Dillastrate

Dillastrate just can’t sit still. Driven by a deep love for live performance, in two short years the New Zealand duo has completed a staggering nine national tours, tackling staple music festival stages including Northern Bass, Rhythm & Vines and Electric Avenue. A live performance by the duo ensures that no foot is left untapping, with entire venues transitioning from stationary to dancing-their-arses-off in a matter of one song.

Dillastrate describe their signature sound as neosoul pop – a product of intense refinement and humanizing machines, combining modern digital sounds with analogue soul to provide the best of both worlds. A heavy hat tip to funk legends Stevie Wonder and Michael Jackson mingles with current soul, hip-hop, jazz and electronic sounds that seems to leave audiences open-mouthed and itching for more.

Members Henare 'H' Kaa (drums, lead vocals) and Tim Driver (keyboards, loops, vocals) realized the potential for Dillastrate while playing together in multiple groups, including kiwi staples AHoriBuzz and Soulsystem. With the ability to perform using all the necessary instruments with just the two of them, Dillastrate are agile and determined to play for appreciative audiences wherever and whenever possible. As working session musicians, the pair have worked with an intimidating host of national and international acts, including members of The Rolling Stones and a host of New Zealand’s top talent.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Dillastrate


Year: 2021
Type: EP

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