Two videos by an up-and-coming MC outta Western Suburbs of Sydney, SW. Keep an eye on this fella, he got bars for days an a big future methinks.
Melbourne’s One Sixth is an MC that has shown great potential for a number of years now. Last month he dropped his much-anticipated, debut LP Electronic Mail. It’s a compelling collection of tracks primarily concentrating on the contemporary human experience. One Sixth’s lyrics are rich and intensely earnest, backed by production from the likes of Must, Dyl Thomas and Geko. Electronic Mail is an outstanding debut and will undoubtedly go down as one of 2012′s highlights.
Was there a definitive source of inspiration for the ultra digital motif on the new album?
It was more just a slow boiling process than anything else. The idea of the concept came about because as I was working on the album, I was getting the beats emailed to me and so the basis of the whole development of the album was electronic mail, why not make that the title of the disc?
I read somewhere that you feel that by using titles such as #HTTP and VHS you trick people into focussing on what you have to say. Do you think it’s a necessity and a sign of the times that you have to operate on such a level to compete for punters’ attention?
On the real, as I’ve grown up and had experience around other human beings, I’ve realised we’re not that smart. Being on Facebook and using emails and phones and that, everything is becoming abbreviated. I remember one night when I was talking to a girl and she actually used the word LOL in conversation. To be honest the reason why I used those titles was to show how all these technological advancements have really in effect retarded human advancement over the years and it’s really a test. If people don’t understand my music, we’re in a sad state of affairs.
Do you think we have reached a critical mass for institutionalized Attention Deficit Disorder? ie. the collective attention span can’t really get any briefer than it is now?
Definitely. I really feel like my album is a socio-political-activist album. I’m addressing deeper issues than what the titles suggest. SMS is a story of an abusive relationship and the effects that situation has on society. LOL is a story of infidelity and how a man deals with that situation, which is something that happens EVERYDAY! VHS is about death, but is so complex that people won’t get that that is what I’m talking about. I’m poking a stick at society really with this album and really trying to provoke some thought in people. Why are these things happening? What can we do when women are getting beaten by men they love? Why are young men using violence as expression? Why do young women feel the need to use their bodies as currency to get what they want? It’s a worrying thing because I’m getting older. My friends are getting married. Many of them have children. I want to have children. What type of society are we introducing them to? If a young person will look up to me because I’m a rapper, what can I tell them? What will they take from my music and apply to their own lives?
Electronic Mail is definitely not light on guest verses and such. Was it a real boon for inspiration to have numerous perspectives on your ideas?
There are only 4 tracks with features, and that was more just to add depth to the songs, musically and perspective-wise as well. There was only so much I could say on certain tracks where I couldn’t explain a different perspective or train of thought. The fun in having the guests was being able to hear musicians that I’m a fan of, on a track that might never have happened. I can say that I put Mantra and Maundz on a track together, and that’s never happened before, and I could just as easily take my verse off the track and listen to those two together on their own(which I do when I listen to the song by myself!).
With this album, I tried to bring some humanity back to the music, cause it’s not really happening anymore, and it’s a shame because that disconnection is killing us.
Do you think you’ll always tend to go for a strong concept when recording an album? Does it make things easier or more difficult?
I always find it easier to write when there’s a theme or concept because you know what to do. My influences musically have always been songs that have a theme. Phil Collins Another Day In Paradise, The Commodores Sail On, Nas Undying Love, Lupe Fiasco The Cool, they are all songs that are timeless to me, and I really try to match that in my own songwriting. I’m not that good yet but I’m trying to get there.
There is an inherent disconnect that comes with communicating via digital means, were you conscious of countering these kinds of ideals with talk of intimacy and relationships on the album?
Funny you ask that. On LOL, that song is about deceit, infidelity, and all the things that can totally destroy a relationship. Then there’s Think of You, which is about longing for someone that you love and how distance keeps you away from being with them all the time. These two tracks were written in a fictional sense and then life played out and made those songs real situations in my life. I feel like honesty makes music more powerful, and I’ve always wondered why issues of intimacy and love are rarely topics that get touched on in hip hop music because it is such a prominent part of life. We are all products of intimate relationships. We are all looking for someone that we can have in our lives ’til death do us part. Why not make music that reflects that? With this album, I tried to bring some humanity back to the music, cause it’s not really happening anymore, and it’s a shame because that disconnection is killing us.
Were you striving to replicate this kind of balance musically as well? Equal parts modern electronic beats coupled with more poignant instrumentation and samples?
Whenever I pick beats I try and use music that complements the ideas that I have. When I came up with the concept we tried to match the music with the theme to make it more holistic, but the way it came out was really because there were two different producers working on it. Dyl Thomas makes more synth-based, electronic-styled beats and Must makes more sampled-based, boom-bap type beats and that works for me because I love both of those styles.
Is the release of the album bittersweet in a way due to the passing of your friend Charles Parker or is it a reminder of better times?
There have been a few people who have passed away during the course of my life, he was just one of the people whose passing happened while I was working on the album. I lost my little sister a few years ago and that affected me deeply, almost to the point where I wanted to stop doing music. Actually having completed the album and not being able to play it to her makes me sad when I think about, but you can’t really dwell on things like that, that shit will drive you insane.
How did you find your way in the Melbourne scene to begin with? Who did you link up with originally?
I did a lot of investigating when I first moved over, checking the ozhiphop website for when shows and things were going on, and going in to Obese I would chat to the guys working in the store like Bias, Muph and Frank and they would let me know when and where things were happening around town. As I was going around to more and more shows and things like open mics and battles people just started recognising me (mainly because I would be the only black dude rolling around solo at most of the shows hahaha). I slowly started meeting more and more people and just hanging out with them, not really always on some rap shit but just getting to know people and becoming more familiar with the city itself. I definitely took the networking thing to the next level cause I personally know pretty much 70% of the cats involved in the music scene in Melbourne haha. Eventually I bumped into Mata and Must at the bunker bar and as we slowly became friends we started doing music and the song on the Studio Therapy album ended up being the first track I ever recorded (Rhymin’ Raw with the Microphone Addicts).
You have already dropped a pair of filmclips, did you shop around to find the right people or was Full Clip an easy choice?
I’ve known Discourse pretty much the duration of time that I’ve been in Melbourne and we even used to live together for a while, so when he started working with Heata doing the Full Clip it would have been rude for me to not get them involved! There are other film-makers doing stuff that I would love to work with, it’s just a matter of proper organising and all that.
Will you be looking to tour the new album around the country in the near future?
I guess that is part of the plan at some point, but I’m only just starting to get a name as a solo artist around the country. Hopefully now that the album is out, people can hear the music for themselves and see if it is something they’d like to support and we can rock some shows, give them the live experience of the music and have a chat and a beer after the show and just make a good night out of it for everyone!
Big tune, can’t go wrong with Smash Brothers in the mix. Actual lol at the first shot in the clip.
Fatty Phew is one of Australia’s best kept secrets, period. In 2007, the Geelong stalwart released a seminal LP titled 23 Years In The Making. A collection of ten potent, earnest recordings, it is without doubt a local classic that seems categorically unaffected by time. More recently, Phew has teamed up with Alter Ego and DJ Bogues to drop a pair of EP’s titled The Best Things In Life Are Free and just quietly, they’re well worth your bandwidth.
Last year you appeared on a grime tune with Fraksha and Diem. How long has this kind of caper been capturing your interest for?
I have been heavily interested for a long while now, since most of my listening now gets done at home late at night in front of YouTube, the grime scene flourishes there. I have never been a fan of only one genre or form either, to me if you rap you rap and that’s it. I know there are some traditional heads that are not fans, but I love to hear new flows that can be heard over grime. It was long overdue for me to be on a track with Frak also, and Diem is one of the countries best, so it was a no brainer. To me, also, the UK is on top of the world with spitters, some of those MC’s are doing things that no other spot is capable of.
Can we expect to hear you using more beats of this nature in the future?
Most certainly. If I don’t change my shit up on every track I get bored super quick. I try to do a bit of horror, deep shit, boombap, battle shit, soft shit, concept shit…and grime certainly fits into what I think I can bring to a track.
You recently released a couple EP’s online, what else have you got in the pipeline currently?
I have been toying with many ideas on what to do next. I have been endlessly working on releasing another LP since I first released in 2007. So far I think I’ve had enough tracks done and dusted to make about three full length albums. They have been turned into either free EP’s, mixtapes, been lost or thrown away, and some have been pushed to the side for the future. I will definitely be releasing more and more music in time, constantly doing features and side tracks with artists here and there, but until I can push myself above and beyond any level I can possibly do or what I feel exceeds what anyone is doing globally, then you wont see a disc in shops and that’s just being real to those who want more. Doesn’t mean I wont be releasing tracks here and there of the highest calibre.
You circumvented the label/distro scenario by making those recent EP’s available for free, is that something you will be looking to consolidate before releasing another album?
I personally think the future of entertainment is headed in that direction anyway. If you have a look at the computer gaming industry that’s all going free to play, movies are having subscription based viewing, YouTube is getting a stronger grip on what TV once was, music is bound to follow entirely. I don’t think there is one person out there who can honestly say they haven’t copped some form of entertainment off the internet for free or burnt on disc, and if they haven’t it’s only because they don’t know how to do it. I don’t see a problem with entertainment being free either. The truth is, if I release an LP, a large percentage of listeners would download it, and I have no problem with it, the goal is to make everyone want to support what you do and love it so much they want the product in there hands. I will forever release free music, even if I was selling billions of copies.
Did the collapse of Shogun give you much food for thought?
I think it was a symbol of how difficult it is in our scene is to succeed financially not just for the artists but also the labels. They did everything right by the artists and fans and the collapse still happened.
I definitely miss the carefree, fuck you, I’ll destroy you world, I’m better than you,don’t give a fuck Fatty Phew of that time, but I gotta be the type of man I would accept my daughter to be with, and that’s just not it.
Taking a listen to your debut album and it is abundently clear you’ve lived a tumultuous life. Have you managed to find some calm in the chaos in the subsequent years?
Definitely. I am not that kid anymore. I was 23 when I released that, but most of it was done between 19-22 and a lot of it was talking about earlier times. When you grow up with that mindstate, and you’re doing certain things between ages of 12-18, the mindstate is never going to change, I’m that for life. I have a family I want to take care of now, priorities are different, different goals I want to achieve, so I don’t get up to the same things. Pressures and actions I took then no longer need to happen. I definitely miss the carefree, fuck you I’ll destroy you world, I’m-better than you, don’t give a fuck Fatty Phew of that time, but I gotta be the type of man I would accept my daughter to be with, and that’s just not it.
I take it you’re not really one of those blokes that puts pen to pad to talk about sunshine and bunny rabbits?
There can be sunshine and bunny rabbits in a track of mine if I see it, but the fact is there is not much sunshine and bunny rabbits to write about in this world. The sunshine and bunny rabbits I would write would be about my daughter and my family, and I don’t think many people want to hear that haha. The sunshine and bunny rabbit songs are for me singing to my daughter when nobody is around haha.
Do you think the whole ‘my life is good and it’s getting better’ style of rap is becoming more and more prevalent locally?
Yes and No. I think 10 years ago it was quite rare to have a spitter be 30+ with a family and responsibilities, the scene was generally the younger gen all gettin’ lifted and doin crime, so we never heard anything about ‘my life is good and it’s getting better’. A lot of these heads still love to spit, and when they do if they wanna be real then that’s what we end up hearing. There are still a lot of dudes who still live that life and we still hear it. The cycle will continue. I love both steeze in a track, if some dude is being real and givin’ me that hate filled shit, I love it, or if another is being real and spittin’ that better life talk I love it. I have to say though, it’s all subjective as to what ‘better life’ is, grass is greener type thing.
I’m interested to know the origin of your name, Fatty Phew, how did that one come about?
I’ll give the shortest, least boring explanation possible. I startin bombin ‘Phew’ in ‘97, and nobody in this city called me my government name, only ever Phew, even my family started calling me Phew. A friend of mine used to know this girl named Nat that he called ‘Fat Nat’, and he used to make her do a whole lot of shit like clean and make him food and what not. One night me and him were blazed in the early morning and he was like, “Yo, make me some food Fat Nat”. I laughed and told him to fuck off and he kept on going, till ‘Fat Nat’ turned to ‘Fat Nuts’, ‘Fat Nuts’ turned to ‘Fat Phew’, and ‘Fat Phew’ turned to ‘Fatty Phew’. Next day, the verse I wrote I liked the syllable play so I put it in a verse. I liked it ‘cos I thought it was b-boyish so I made it stick. It’s a funny way to get the name, but really, heads know the name is really just Phew anyways.
Aside from the obvious factor of it being home sweet home, why Geelong and not Melbourne?
Really there isn’t much else to say besides home sweet home. I love my city, and I love my scene. That’s not saying that I don’t love Melbourne or it’s scene, its just that this my own. There was nothing when I first started, and now it has a rep from what myself and my crew over the years have built, and I am mad proud of that. I grew up with the hip hop mentality of you rep your home, it was never ‘is that MC from New York?’ it was always ‘what borough?’ and even ‘what project?’. I’ll never leave this place, to me I would be selling out my city and abandoning them, and I can’t do that.
New Zealand powerhouse PNC has been steadily plying his craft across the Tasman for the better part of ten years. 2006 saw the release of his debut album Rookie Card, he would go on to sign to P-Money’s Dirty Records. A couple of albums ensued but 2012′s Under The Influence has the feel of a perfect alignment resulting from years of development. PNC is a study of consumate ease over Matt Miller’s ethereal production. Not short on strategy either, Under The Influence dropped as a free download…you can’t help but think the move will pay dividends down the line.
As a recording artist, making your product available for free is a pretty audacious move. How did you come to make that decision for Under The Influence?
It was kinda two things, firstly I was just really frustrated with making CD’s and trying to sell them and having all these songs on albums that people would never hear. It was just hard to get the music into people’s hands and further my career. The other thing was, a lot of the artists I like and was listening to at the time were doing exactly the same thing. Your Currensy’s, Wiz Khalifa’s, Drake’s and even David Dallas were doing the same thing. So I really just wanted as many people to hear it as possible and the label was down with it so it worked out well.
I’m guessing the experience of your mate David Dallas with the same strategy would have inspired you and given you a degree of foresight to the move?
Yeah definitely, as well as those overseas artists I mentioned. I sort of saw myself in a similiar position to them in that not enough people were hearing their music. I feel a lot of people were just hearing the singles I was putting out and not getting the full picture of me as an artist. That strategy really worked for those artists, putting out a whole catalogue of music for free. I saw that work for them and it was just really fun to be able to just show people a whole album so easily without having to worry about forcing them to buy it.
I guess it cuts out a fair bit of hassle…
Yeah, the other thing was the samples, we sampled Beyonce, Gotye, Adele, Justin Bieber even…so we could have never sold it even if we wanted to. I think it’s a time where if you’re not thinking creatively about how to get your music to the fans, you’re going to get left behind. If you’re an emerging artist, you have to be thinking of different ways to approach it. With this album I had Crooks & Castles, the clothing label, on board as well as Volume Magazine. There’s so many different ways to do it at the moment and it’s the younger generation that are looking at it in a completely different way.
How would you describe the development of your music since the early days and how would you say your taste in beats has changed?
Well I can say that a lot of it at the beginning was just me trying to find myself as an artist, experimenting with different things. Now I feel as if I’m in a bit more of a comfort zone with what production I like and what works for me. I think Under The Influence is a great example of the type of music I want to keep making. The first three albums was me trying a lot of different things and I was going in a few different directions. I definitely feel as if I’m in a good place with making music right now.
I was really under a variety of influences, whether it be the party side of things and all that comes with that or the fact that I had just got out of a relationship I had been in for seven years.
Could we expect to hear anymore collaborations in the vein of Let Your Lover Know?
I’m definitely still open to doing that kind of stuff, that’s one thing about me, I’ve always been open to collaborating with whoever. If I’m a fan of the artist, no matter what the genre is, I’m always keen. A big song for me down here was a drum & bass song by a group called State Of Mind. Even on Under The Influence, I had Jeremy from a rock band called Midnight Youth feature on Fame Kills All. I think you have got to be taking risks as a musician or else you just get stuck in one place so I’m always going to be experimenting.
Did the title Under The Influence dictate the style of songs that you were recording or vice versa?
I came up with the title towards the end of the process. It just sums up what I was up to at the time. I was really under a variety of influences, whether it be the party side of things and all that comes with that or the fact that I had just got out of a relationship I had been in for seven years. So it really was a mixture, not just the drinking aspect of it, there were a lot of different things going on there.
I suppose the cover art captures things nicely in that you don’t look all that content…
Yeah I wanted all the things mentioned in the chorus for the track Under The Influence on the cover. That picture really reflected what it was like at the time.
Do you think re-working a current smash hit like Somebody That I Used To Know presents with a certain degree of risk?
Definitely. I wouldn’t have put it out if I didn’t think it was good enough…that’s about as basic as I can say it really. I like how Matt took it to a different place, I like that about all the production he did. He wasn’t just taking a popular melody and looping it into a simple beat, he really put his own stamp on it. To me, that is what hip hop is. I thought about it for a while in terms of whether it was just taking the piss but people really like how he has re-worked it. I hate it when people sample something from the same year and it’s just riding the wave of the original piece’s success. I think we did alright with it.
Was it your recent relationship troubles that compelled you to have a crack at the original?
Yeah well I first heard it quite early on because my label put it out in New Zealand before it really took off. I loved the song immediately but the relationship aspect spoke to me and summed up a few things that were on my mind at the time. I was sending Matt a lot of songs at the time that I thought he could work with and he would always take them to a different place.
The split in the middle with the Entourage sample, was that your idea or Matt Miller’s?
That was my idea! We made two different versions, two completely different songs but I wanted them to be part one and two, as one song so I needed some kind of connection. I was watching HBO channel at the time and an Entourage episode randomly came on, that scene came on and it just clicked, that summed the situation up, it worked out well.
It’s really a defining moment as well, because it leads into All Day which is obviously on a more jovial vibe…
Yeah I approached Under The Influence from Saturday night, Sunday morning in reverse. The melancholy start with the party at the end…whereas I think most people would have thought to do it the other way. I wanted to start it off with those songs telling those particular stories and end on a happy note. I didn’t want an album that went progressively down. The first song where we sampled Boyz II Men and Justin Bieber, As I Fly, I knew that had to be the first song, I really wanted that to be the first song.
You recently dropped a verse on Sky’High’s song Scar City, would you be interested in working with anyone else in particular from Australia?
I’d be down to work with a lot of artists over there. My man over there Sam Dutch has kept me in touch with a lot of Australian artists. Like I said, I’m really open to collaboration, if I enjoy the music I’m down, I don’t really over think it too much. That was cool doing that thing with Sky’High because her album was produced by P-Money so he got me along on the track. I definitely want to do more stuff in Australia so I’m open to collaborations for sure.
Speaking of which, when are we going to see you touring over here?
Hopefully towards the end of this year, that’s what we’re working towards at the moment. I’m dropping the videos for Go and I’ll Be On It. I’m going to do a small tour over here and then hopefully get over to Australia. I want to give Under The Influence the run it needs here and hopefully that generates enough momentum to take it over there. It’s been a while since I’ve been to Australia so I’m just really looking forward to making that happen.
Rainman has just consolidated a position of eminence with the release of his second album Bigger Picures. The Brisbane MC came to the attention of many with his 2005 debut Fire In The Belly featuring the poignant track Australian Story. It was a debut that set a benchmark for songwriting. Bigger Picture sees Rainman excel with his rich brand of lyricism. Sometimes serious, always sublime this is an album not to be missed.
The lead single Can’t See You details your experiences with an eye condition. Is it something you were born with or have you had to adjust over the years?
Yeah to kick it off on the medical science tip-I’ve got Juvenile Macular Dystrophy. A fairly rare hereditary degenerative condition, so yeah I was born with it but it gets worse over time so there’s been adjustment over the years. We first noticed it when I was about 11 or so. I got some tests done shortly and after about six months or so of more tests they gave me the JMD acronym. At school, I could still get by for the most of it. By about grade 12 I needed to move closer to the front, then the issue became recognising bus numbers and signs, then faces from across the street or in dark lit places like at shows. Part of that condition is about light and I’m really slow to adjust to changes in light. Going from a dark club to bright lights on stage really messes with me. I’ve had eye specialists say I should rock sunnies on stage, or at least tinted glasses but I didn’t want to come across as a tosser. It’s the same with flashes on camera in dark clubs, man they hurt! So I end up with all these stunned and strained photos that people tag me in on Facebook. I’m seriously thinking about taking the eye doctor’s advice now though and rocking sunglasses at gigs. So don’t judge me if I do!
What’s the most amusing situational faux pas that comes to mind?
Well, knowing that I have bad eyesight I usually try play things cautiously but I have thought other girls are my girlfriend and approached them as such…
The other single to precede the album is Darlin which invokes the lady hip hop analogy. Given that this concept has been pursued many times what convinced you it was worthwhile to attempt a fresh take on it?
It started with the demo version of the beat that Calski did. It was really raw drums with a soulful vocal sample crying out about a ‘darlin’ and being sick of ‘bawlin’ – and that could easily be twisted to be ‘ballin’ as in the hip hop sense of ‘ballers’ living it up y’know, the commercial take on hip hop that’s almost synonymous with hip hop to the masses. I thought that was too good an opportunity not to flip it but of course, yeah, the idea of hip hop as a lady had been done a whole bunch of times. It’s almost a sub-genre of hip hop. So for me, I couldn’t go there without pushing it somewhere different and flipping the idea and having lady hip hop speak back in the third verse about all these rappers, all these fellas, calling her out and bad-mouthing her. It was kind of a big thing to try and step in ‘her’ shoes but it was fun and allowed me to kinda speak on some of the things I’ve thought about as a white kid in Australia that grew up on American hip hop predominantly from black kids. Like wouldn’t lady hip hop just laugh at these kids in ‘Bris-bayyyne’ talking about ‘real’ hip hop like they had any authority?
What is it about the duck face trend that grinds your gears to the point of writing a song about it?
Ha, well beyond it just being this ridiculous contagious thing that people do, I see it as one of the by-products of this kinda cult-of-the-individual-everyone-wants-to-be-a-reality-TV-show-star, fake, superficial, poser crap that these shows and images breed. The tipping point though was spending time with the ‘Things Bogans Like’ blog and book. It’s scathing and hilarious. That made me wanna see this track through and finish it. For inspiration while I wrote it, I played a slide show of duck face images, male and female, that the web had yielded. There’s way too many! But hey, if there’s any duck facers out there reading this-it’s ok. Some of my best friends are duck facers. I understand. You will get through this. You will.
The press release for the album explains the ‘bigger picture’ concept for the album stating each track is its own bigger picture. Do you think there is an inherent paradox there in that you can only ever say so much on an issue within 3 or 4 verses of a track?
Yeah but who doesn’t love a good paradoxical album title? Haha…the title came about from me realising how often I was saying ‘look at the bigger picture’ and ‘keep things in perspective’ etc, in life and in lyrics…then realising how often I wouldn’t keep tracks with just one angle. I often like flipping things by the end of the track or looking at a topic from a few different viewpoints. But yeah there’s only so much you can say in three or so verses, it’s not an essay or a thesis. That said, if you spend a whole lot of time focussing and distilling your words for your verses, then there’s definitely a bigger picture painted than what most people have the time dig into in their lunch breaks, their Facebook posts or a Today Tonight beat up.
We’re not one dimensional and we don’t wanna stay in one place too long. I wanna go there and visit a topic or mood and spend some quality time there but I want to move it forward or elsewhere as well. Particularly as many tracks may actually start from a darker place or something I’m not happy about but I don’t want to stay there.
Is any of WTF inspired by your experience with sight? It just occurred to me you’re speaking about the vast markets for products built on hollow premises whereas you have a legitimate ailment and there is no solution.
It definitely didn’t come from anything directly to do with my eyesight on any conscious level. I mean over all, my eyesight being shit, is pretty small in the grand scale of medical conditions and disabilities. But you made me think of an interesting point though in terms of research dollars. In recent years, to my knowledge there has been more research into the area of degenerative macular conditions because a similar age-related version of my condition exists. We have an ageing population. That means big numbers of older people living longer with an assortment of ailments and that equals a bigger market to sell treatments to. There’s now a specific vitamin supplement for it as well!
Is it a luxury as an MC having the capability to lay down your own cuts?
Ha yeah I guess so! That said my cuts are pretty straight forward, I’m not a ‘turntablist’ by any means. It does definitely come in handy to have a stockpile of 12 inches with a cappellas and a memory of hip hop spanning 20 or so years, though now you can just google it haha. That said, I actually planned not to do my own cuts on this album though as I wanted to leave it to the experts but as I worked on stuff, I would have ideas for cuts and lay down some ideas that ended up staying or I’d get stuck on a verse or feel like doing something different and just work on a cut section for awhile. So there’s still a bunch I ran with though while on the first album I did them all, on this one Butcher came aboard for a couple tracks and kills it.
I noticed a fair percentage of your choruses tend to have a fairly truncated structure. Is this something you’re conscious of or moreso just the way you’ve always done it?
I haven’t really noticed it. I think with the way I approached the first album, choruses were really an after-thought, I was too focussed on verses. I think that changed a bit with this one, some started with cuts, others kinda came from freestyling at the end of a verse and some I wrote and recorded dummy takes to toss over to someone who can sing and they built from it or some singers wrote their own parts. They is what they is I guess!
What is your favourite hook on the album and why?
Hard call, there’s some awesome work from Kel, Youka, Leah and pear in that department…but to choose one I’ll say Muse Sick. Purely because I wrote the chorus with Laneous in mind and was imagining him singing it for a good six or so months before he came in to the studio. When he came in and nailed it, it was magic. Finally the idea floating in my head was brought to life and sounded as I’d heard it in my head and then some. Plus I didn’t need to listen to my dummy takes of it anymore!
As you were depicting an actual location with plenty notoriety in The Valley did you feel any additional pressure on your songwriting?
Not at all. It was possibly one of the easiest to write because I knew the topic so well and had so much content to work with. I had pages and pages of notes that I just plucked bits from and fitted into the verses. It pretty much wrote itself and I could probably write a second part.
Bigger Picture features more live instrumentation and synths than your previous efforts, what would you attribute this to?
A few things I guess. After the first album I got out there a bit more, did more shows etc so I had a bigger pool of people to hit up to ask and more people that were keen to work with me. Y’know, ‘hey I would be keen to hear how cello sounds on this, trumpet on that, your bass playing on this.’ Aside from that, the synths thing was probably because they were around more. From about ‘07 to ‘09 I was living with Dats who was picking up more synths and making dope samples, synths beats and Sammsonite was getting into that too so it just fed into it I guess.
The list of producers who contribute on this album features all kinds of styles and vintages, was variety something you were really in search of?
I don’t think I really searched for variety, I searched out the people who making stuff I was digging and who were keen to work on tracks. From there, I would say the DJ part of me came into it in terms of final track selection and order and the variety angle probably came into play at that point.
Lyrically there’s a great deal of dichotomy between tracks and even verses, did you place a lot of importance in not letting the listener settle in for an anticipated conclusion or a solitary mood throughout the album?
It’s probably part of who I am. Probably really who most people are. We’re not one dimensional and we don’t wanna stay in one place too long. I wanna go there and visit a topic or mood and spend some quality time there but I want to move it forward or elsewhere as well. Particularly as many tracks may actually start from a darker place or something I’m not happy about but I don’t want to stay there. I wanna deal with it and then move forward from it.
Do you think you will take as much time for the next album?
Nah, I’m going to make this next one arrive sooner. I’ve set myself a two year deadline and I’m also keen to work on some side projects, remixes and EPs in the near future. I’ve got a few tracks that didn’t get finished in time for Bigger Pictures that are worthy of release may be put together as an EP.
The phrase ‘best kept secret’ gets tossed around with reckless abandon these days but if there is an individual in Brisbane any more deserving of the title, I am yet to hear their tunes. Jake Biz has just unleashed his debut album Commercial Hell. Along with Overproof Pete, the two have produced a clear contender for album of the year. Eschewing the trappings of facebook marketing and completely by-passing attention on the airwaves, Jake is what you could call an old-school archetype, something sorely lacking in this current era. I recently had the opportunity to interview this ‘full patch’ member of the 750 Rebels.
Do you think this would have been the same album lyrically if you had of put it together ten years ago?
Thematically it may have been similar because the views on the record are views that I’ve had for a long time now but in saying that, no, for the most part. Ten years ago I was in a crew called the Towndrunxx I wasn’t pursuing anything solo or trying to establish myself outside of that crew. Also at that point in time the ‘scene’ hadn’t developed into what it is now with social networking and the internet, I don’t even think anyone within my immediate crew were using the internet at that point in time. Commercial radio hadn’t really caught onto much local rap outside of Mass MC’s BBQ Song and Matty B’s Fridays at that stage either. I remember the second Culture of Kings dropping and being given album of the week on Triple J and thinking that was a pretty big step.
Do you think the most dramatic difference in up and coming, mainstream-oriented local acts these days is in attitude or style?
Personally I think attitude dictates style and that substance should be placed over and above all else. I also think despite the fact I’ve stuck with rapping for well over 12 years now I’m probably still considered an up and comer due to the fact I’ve only just released my first record, I’m cool with that though. I do think there’s a generation of local rappers coming up now that wouldn’t have the slightest idea about rap music and the culture outside of their own respective crews and I fucking hate that shit, simple and plain. If you don’t know rap you shouldn’t rap! You had to know and understand rap music outside of the music you yourself were making, I think that’s probably the biggest difference now. Dudes are their own biggest fans these days and the younger generation coming up now seem to place a greater importance on the aspect of fame and facebook likes. There’s no real humility among many of them.
Why do you think it is important to directly address an institution like Triple J in your tunes rather than taking a more subtle approach?
I remember a point in time when Triple J were actually what they still profess themselves to be, youth oriented and groundbreaking. I remember a radio station that had a daily three-hour morning show hosted by Francis Leach (amongst others) that dealt with pertinent issues at the time. I remember a radio station that not only broke quality independent music but also amazing comedic talent like Merrick & Rosso, Roy & HG, Will Anderson, the Good News Week team and plenty others. I remember hearing about a radio station that once played NWA’s Express Yourself for 48 hours straight in protest of censorship issues that were brought against them at the time. There was a point in time when they were the bigger brother to the ZZZ’s and RRR’s, now they’re merely a parody of themselves. Have you flicked between Triple J and Nova lately? They sound almost exactly the same from playlists to hosts to programme formatting. I don’t care that they play more rap music during daytime broadcasting now, to me they’re merely perpetuating this ‘skip-hop’ ideal. I do believe a lot of acts have maintained their integrity and sound like the Hoods, Oars, Dialectrix, Mantra and so on but the vast majority havent. Triple J and the success of some of those acts has given way to tidal wave of sound-a-likes intent on crossover success. The idea of being ‘unearthed’ has taken the focus off of an MC establishing himself first and foremost. Why pay dues in shit clubs rapping to three people who don’t give a fuck when you can enter whats more or less a competition to be heard on mainstream radio and fingers crossed, you’ll be catapulted into a short-lived stardom. I’ve got to give a lot of respect to what Hau has done with that hip hop show though, he really plays and supports good music and appears to do so with little interference. Nicole Foote used to host it when it first started years ago and while they played good rap music she didn’t seem to know too much about what she was playing. I detest all commercial radio for the most part.
I spoke to a friend of mine who met you in Brisbane a few years ago and he mentioned how you were really adamant about making a local classic like Banned In Queensland. What is it about that album that really captures your city’s character?
I actually can’t remember a time where I may have said that to someone but yeah, kind of. Banned in Queensland is my city, it’s Brisbane through and through and its also an album that I consider one of the most important blueprints on how to construct local rap music. It’s amazing though ‘cos Banned In Queensland transcended Brisbane and came to be known as a certified classic with little to no push. No mass marketing, no video, a three state tour of launches and a couple of interviews with the local street press, that was it and I know ‘cos I was blessed to be there with Laze at the time. When Oath wrote his verse on the spot for Painted With Blood at BVA’s studio in Adelaide me and Proof were there and Laze played us Towndrunk which was our crew at the time it felt like such an honour, then a month or so later he hit me up to be his hype man. I’d like for Commercial Hell to be viewed as a companion piece to Banned In Queensland in some ways, but a classic?! Only time can determine a classic and while I’m more than confident with my album it would be sacrilegious of me to compare it to Banned in Queensland. That shit is certified and Laze is a god on or off the mic! I’m a local dude and that’s important to me.
What was the motivation behind re-working Anti B-Boy?
I like that track, it’s really as simple as that. It wasn’t witten for Commercial Hell though. Chubbs gave me a bunch of beats and Anti B-Boy came out of that. People got that track twisted a bit I think and I’ve explained it to the parties I had absolutely no intention of offending. Those parties know we’re cool as fuck. It really got another run because of Proof’s beat as well, that shit slammed and we gave it a shot and were happy.
I do think there’s a generation of local rappers coming up now that wouldn’t have the slightest idea about rap music and the culture outside of their own respective crews and I fucking hate that shit, simple and plain. If you don’t know rap you shouldn’t rap!
The beat for The Relentless with Kings Konnekted is something that really contributes to the album’s character. Did you instantly decide to get the KK fellas on it or did you take a bit of time with it?
Absolutely! Almost as soon as Proof played it to me I was thinking K Double. I wrote and recorded my verse and the chorus and gave it to Dontez, they liked it and came through Proof’s and annihilated it. I’m a big fan of what they’re doing and I think they’re about to be one of the biggest acts on the underground circuit. I think they’re like the Australian Mobb Deep, incredibly talented dudes. I’ve known Dontez for a while now, he’s the younger cousin of one of my mates and both him and Culprit have hung pretty tight with 750 over the course of time. They’re amazingly humble considering their talents and quiet too, they’re not all over the net demanding that people give them props and I not only like their approach I really respect them.
The vinyl-related skits scattered throughout the album are pretty amusing. Copped any flak from the missus or does she know not to go there by now?
Haha dude I’ve got plenty of stories but generally she’s pretty cool with all the rap shit, she doesn’t break my balls too much and she hears all the lyrics and brushes them off or turns a blind eye so to speak. We’re married and have been together for eight years, she’s heard it all and seen most of it over the course of those years. She doesn’t sweat too hard over any of it so I’m blessed to have her… I sometimes fuckin’ wonder though.
Roughly how sizable was your shortlist of tracks for the final cut of the album?
We culled three or four tracks that were probably a little old and didn’t stand up against some of the more recent tracks and we also split the skit into three sections to balance the record a little better. Initially Proof and I had the skit as one long track and Lopsided thought we should split it up so it played better over the album. We took it over to DCE’s and came back a week later and he’d split it into three separate skits, then it was just a matter of placing them when we went into the track listing. The shoutro was probably the last thing we recorded, I wanted to do what Ice Cube did on Kill At Will with I Gotta Say Whats Up. As a kid I always loved hearing that kind of shit, sometimes it was the only way you’d hear about new rappers, in shoutro’s and liner notes. Personally it was probably the only way I could work out how to finish the album. I didn’t want to rap it out and I didn’t want a skit either.
In the promo material that preceded Commercial Hell you give a brief run down of 750′s sordid history with live venues in Brisbane. Has it got to the point where any proprietor who hosts you blokes knows full well what he’s in for?
Not really man. I mean we’re all good dudes and the people who meet us will generally tell you the same, there’s always exceptions of course but for the most part it’s just a stigma that‘s stuck with us over the years. We definitely bring a rowdy show, it’s what we do best but for the most part we just like to walk out rock the joint, have a few drinks and bounce. Even as recent as Sprung Fest late last year DCE (who runs the crew and day-to-day operations at the label) was fielding concerned emails from the promoters who thought we were going to be causing trouble or starting fights with other acts on the bill. Honestly, we might steal ya booze if we’re not being looked after but unless we’re provoked we generally aren’t instigating anything. We’re definitely all a little rough around the edges and we like to have a good time and sometimes that good time infringes upon others but promoters keep booking us cos we bring in a crowd and that crowd drinks!
What has been your favourite venue to perform at and why?
I have a love/hate relationship with a lot of venues particularly in Brisbane and Melbourne. Some of my favorites though? We did a show at Luna Park in Sydney around ’05 and that was good fun. The Rev and Alley Bar days here in Brisbane were a shitload of fun. The Zoo in Brisbane used to be fun in the early 2000’s ’til we got banned from there. The Espy is always good especially when you think about some of the legends of Australian music that have performed there in the past. Ric’s café in the late 90’s early 2000’s reminds me of good and far more simpler times. It’d probably be easier to tell you some of the venues I’ve hated. We’ve done a lot of shows over the course of time so I’m probably forgetting a lot of places.
What attracts you to the throwback type artwork rather than something on a more contemporary tip?
I can’t begin to tell you how captivated I was by the cover of It Takes A Nation Of Millions when I was young, I knew the music that cover contained was going to be incredible! The same goes for Amerikkas Most Wanted, Raising Hell, Straight Outta Compton, Naughty By Nature’s debut, Strictly Business, Licenced To Ill, By Any Means Necessary and so on. Look at all the covers of those 80’s thrash metal groups, some of those covers are fucking masterpieces. To some degree it’s all about being definitive, I think cover art sells a record in some cases and all we did was try to buck the current trend. For those that don’t know we took Run-DMC’s Raising Hell cover and re-interpreted for Commercial Hell. All the credit for the album art belongs solely with our good mate Bez from 6-Pack Short design, he killed it and I think the album art suits the music perfectly.
The 750 posse cut is one of the highlights of Commercial Hell. Is it easier said than done to get everyone together in the studio?
Yeah definitely! Especially these days. We’re all in different positions compared to where we all were in 2005 because in 2005 most of us were all drunk in a gutter somewhere. There’s kids, wifes, jobs and business’ to take into account these days but it’s still all good, we still manage to make the time. I still talk to everyone regularly and I can tell you for fact, 750 will never break up! We mightn’t appear together as a collective as frequently as we once used to but that’s just life. 750 is who we are, it’s a family and that binds us together no matter how frequently I see my brothers in the crew.
You’ve gone with Obese for distro this time round. Do you think the collapse of Shogun has perpetuated what Strut had to say on Monopoly a few years ago?
Absolutely! There’s no real question as to who has a stranglehold on Australian Hip-Hop right now, even the punters know it, but Monopoly was Brad’s opinion and I’m respectful of that though it’s not entirely mine. I’m appreciative of Obeses’ handling of Commercial Hell, for a nominal fee they handle what is a lot of red tape for an independent label on our level and the people there are approachable. I’m not nor ever will be an Obese artist though so their politics don’t interest me. I’ll never appeal to a wider audience because of my approach so I’ll never really appeal to Obese on that level either. They put my music on the shelves of JB Hi-Fi and that’s the absolute extent of it, they don’t promote me or pay for my video’s or advertising, That’s all Karsniogenics. I have no real concern for Obese, they do them and all power to them. Jake Biz will forever appear courtesy of Karsniogenics and I’m pretty sure they’re fine with that.
Are there any plans for a tour at this stage?
Yeah man. Me and a certain Crate Cartellian that just dropped his second record have been chatting and we’re looking at getting together on some shit. I can’t elaborate too much more at this stage but we’re currently looking at suitable venues. Hopefully we’ll have some news for everyone soon This shit’s gunna be guerilla!
David Dallas has been making a robust impression in both hemispheres since the release of his debut album Something Awesome back in 2009. A deal with Duck Down Records ensued as well as a semi-relocation to New York. D Dot, as he is often referred to, went on to release his superb sophomore album The Rose Tint in 2011. It began as a free digital download but proved popular enough to produce a ‘deluxe’ physical edition. New Zealand’s most critically-acclaimed rap export seems to only grow exponentially in stature, testament to his musical diligence.
Where are you situated currently and how much longer is that going to last?
I’ve been back in Auckland for the last month. Gonna be here for as long as it takes to make these new tunes I’m working on sound good.
Obviously you always have a gameplan for the subsequent six months, give or take rogue developments, but you live a by and large transient life right now yeah?
Yup. Don’t really have a spot of my own anywhere in the world right now. Nomadic lifestyle on deck.
It’s almost 12 months since The Rose Tint, have you another project in mind?
Yup. I just put a new tune online called Pay Off about two weeks back which people can get from my website. My new album Falling Into Place will be ready for the 4th quarter of this year. Got a surprise or two in the stash before then also.
Will you be sticking with Fire & Ice for production in the forseeable future?
Yeah me and F&I have been working hard on this new material, our bro’s from The Daylight Robbery are also in the fold. I’m still working with all the other usual suspects too, 41, P-Money etc. The family ain’t changed.
Tell me about the live band set-up you roll with when circumstances permit.
The live band I roll with is The Daylight Robbery, it’s pretty much just our crew. Toma is the band leader and he’s been playin’ keys on my stuff since Something Awesome. The Rose Tint was mostly recorded out at his spot on a computer that would crash every half hour. When I began to think about enhancing my live show I just figured why get some existing band of session muso’s. Better to get the dudes who actually contributed to the record who I actually hang out with and try and build something new.
Which artists from New Zealand would you love to collaborate with but haven’t done so yet?
Rose Tint has created many opportunities for you, what has been the most surreal moment thus far?
Most surreal was seeing the video for Take A Picture on regular MTV in the US. I’d had vids get rotation on some of the other MTV networks in the states (MTV Jams, mtvU) and that was crazy enough. Seein’ ‘Take A Picture on regular old MTV which plays Jersey Shore and next to no music buzzed me the fuck out though.
I used to be a lot more concerned about whether I was writing songs that represented everything I was about as a person, whether I was doing something new or something different to the last thing I did.
You have repeatedly spoken on tracks about being a shy man in an arrogant profession. Is this a trait that is steadily wearing off or is it always present to some degree?
Nah, I don’t think the shyness ever goes away. I’ve definitely become more confident in my abilities, and I believe I’m creating stuff that’s worthwhile but I’ll never be the sorta person that needs to be the loudest voice in a room.
A great deal of your music comes off as telling a story without necessarily trying. Ie. the listener has a clearer impression of your nature as a person because your songs are highly personable and earnest. Do you see your verses as part of a greater narrative?
I used to be a lot more concerned about whether I was writing songs that represented everything I was about as a person, whether I was doing something new or something different to the last thing I did etc. After a while I realised all I was actually doing was stifling my creativity. Nowadays I try and forget about any external shit like that and just write…the fact that a lot of the songs are personable is just a byproduct of that. Just doing what comes natural.
Most who are familiar with you will probably be aware that you were a bit of a late bloomer with the music shenanigans and that episode of your life was preceeded by a degree at university. At which point did the notion of pursuing a rap career cross your mind and what was the catalyst?
An actual career in music didn’t really occur to me until after we had done the Not Many remix and I got to go on tour with Scribe and P-Money. I’d only really been messing around with recording myself at home for like a year at that point, and I didn’t really think much further ahead than my next assignment or what I was gonna do that weekend. Being on tour and seeing how their songs resonated and connected with people really opened up my eyes that these little songs I made up in my room might actually mean something to somebody.
You also operated under the nom de plume of ‘Con Psy’ in the beginning. Aside from being more comfortable putting out product with your birth name, do you think ‘David ‘Dallas’ is somewhat more bold and, memorable, than ‘Con Psy’?
Haha I guess so, it’s kinda hard for a person to think of their birth name as being ‘bold’ or ‘memorable’. It’s funny looking back on it, using that alias was almost a way of disassociating myself with my own work, the fact I even made music was a complete surprise to a good 90% of the people who’d known me up until that point. It’s like I was scared that they’d see my name somewhere and want to hear it.
How much stock do you place in music videos in terms of developing momentum?
They’re hugely important. For a lot of the most buzzed about acts in the world right now the buzz has stemmed from great/interesting visuals. Sometimes I look at songs I’m listening to and wonder if I’d actually be into them had I not been swayed initially by a great video and vice versa. I think now more than ever the music and visual aspects of an artist has to be in sync.
Where would you like to take your live show in the next 12 months?
I’d like to properly tour the US and anywhere else that’s interested in hearing me.
Earlier this year, Sydney electronic duo Hermitude released their fourth full-length album, HyperParadise. Luke Dubs and Elgusto are renowned for producing rich, engaging and at times, futuristic collections of tunes. The pair have been working together in various capacities since their teenage years, officially teaming up under the Hermitude banner in 2000. The fruits of a decade’s worth of dues paid are steadily beginning to manifest with overseas tours eventuating and rave reviews appearing thick and fast. Luke Dubs recently took some time to answer some questions for Certified Scribe.
I read somewhere that the lead single Speak Of The Devil materialised several months into the recording of the new album and, that it was the first ‘upbeat’ song to manifest. What kind of factors determine whether a record will have a sombre or positive feel?
That song actually arose quite early on but we left it alone for quite a few months before coming back to it and finishing it. I guess the feel of the record becomes apparent over the course of writing it. We definitely set out to write a record with a bit more energy than our previous records, whether in tempo or just vibe, and I think HyperParadise moves around quite a lot more tempo wise compared to our previous albums.
What extra variables do you have to consider when placing a vocalist in a composition?
You have to leave a lot more space for one thing. Writing instrumental music, the natural urge is to fill up the song with various parts and sounds and counter melodies, but when a vocalist is involved, a lot of that stuff isn’t necessary and it actually gets in the way. You can always add that stuff at the end anyway. It’s better to start off with a good initial idea, then fill it out around the vocals.
The video for Speak Of The Devil includes a dance troupe from Broadway in Sydney. Did you have to cast a particularly wide net to secure what you envisioned?
Luckily the choreographer, Sisqo, is a dance teacher so a lot of the dancers in the clip were his students. We did audition a bunch of dancers though and there were other dancers from different areas. It was pretty cool being at the auditions; to see all those amazing dancers getting down to the song we’d just written. Gusto and myself looked down through a window above the dance studio and we we’re really buzzing from the energy all the dancers were giving out. It was the first moment where the clip was coming to life!
The effects are quite striking and the clip has won a couple awards. Who produced it?
Cooper St Films which is Emma Tomelty, Kristy Allen and Nick Bryant. Emma came up with the initial idea and then we all added our own little touches to it. They were a great team to work with. They worked SO hard for us on that clip and we’re really grateful. The post editing is ridiculous! So killa.
HyperParadise is a very bold title for a record. How does it actually correlate with the music you hear?
It’s always been a really visual album for both of us. As all of the songs slowly revealed themselves along the course of writing, there was always strong visual ties that involved everything from jungles to cities in the clouds to vast oceans. Much more so than previous records we’ve worked on. The music took us to these places in our heads as we wrote so we had to name this new place that we’d found.
The track order was really important. As it always is. But we juggled it around until the morning it got pressed up. We even dropped a track off the CD at 2 in the morning before it went to manufacturing!
Did you go through many working titles prior?
Oh yes. I’ll spare you the details and us the embarrassment but we had a piece of paper stuck to the wall of the studio while we we’re mixing with a running list going because we still hadn’t come up with a title two weeks out from finishing it. Usual last minute Hermit styles.
The album starts and finishes with a couple crescendo-type melodies, is this a complicated metaphor for something or merely a sound you enjoyed?
Quite a few of the arrangements on HyperParadise have a general rising crescendo about them. It just seemed to be a natural way for the songs to unfold. I guess thats the Hyper element!
The title track is a definite mixed bag, starting off with some carribean xylophone, works in some snare rolls you might hear in an Atlanta rap anthem, followed by a chopped vocal sample and some tribal rhythms for good measure. Tell me about how this tune came together. What was the starting point?
That was a really fun one to write actually. We started out by listening to a few different artists that we were digging on at the time and checking out what chord progressions they were using. We wanted the chordal movement in that song to be a bit different. After we settled on that, Gusto pulls out this steel drum sound and starts banging out the riff. From there it just exploded and the track was pretty much written in two days. I remember it took us a while to find the right bass line in the middle section and the final melody at the end of the song but once we nailed those elements we sat back on the couch in the studio, turned it up real loud and looked at each other and said “Holy Shit! What have we just written!” Haha.
At times the record the album is quite intense on the ear, were you mindful about the placement of more ambient tracks such as Let You Go?
For sure. The track order was really important. As it always is. But we juggled it around until the morning it got pressed up. We even dropped a track off the CD at 2 in the morning before it went to manufacturing! Gusto calls me up and says “Dude! We gotta drop Tozimungo!” So I listened to it again and agreed. That’s probably the most last minute change we’ve made before. But it’s those important decisions that make the album flow exactly how it should. Now that track is a bonus track on the vinyl so it found a home in the end.
You two have been working together musically since adolescent days. Do you think a tactical hiatus will always be a part of the Hermitude operation?
I once read an interview with Blackalicious and Gift of Gab said time spent apart is just as important as time spent together. I think that’s really important, especially in a duo. Writing albums takes a long time and it means spending a long time with a person so having a break here and there is definitely a healthy thing. We had a break over 2010 where we both toured with other groups and when we linked back together we wrote HyperParadise. It’s a great way to re-stoke the fire.
Which single piece of equipment has been most significant in the evolution of your sound and why?
In the 10 years we have been writing together I would say the most used piece of equipment that we always come back to all the time, even today when we were writing, is the Juno 6 polysynth. It’s just so versatile and it sounds so good in any kind of music. It was our first analog synth too so we’ve got a soft spot for it.
I know you have a national tour coming up but are there any more overseas gigs planned at this point in time?
Yep. We head to Europe in July to play the Fusion Festival in Germany and also a show in London. Spreading out overseas has always been important to us and has been something we’ve pursued now since 2006 so we’ll always be heading off somewhere abroad to spread the Hermitude love.
What is the biggest challenge that comes with travelling to new places to perform your music?
We’ve played overseas a bunch of times now and I honestly think that whether your playing shows, or just travelling to these amazing far away places to get a taste of the culture, your always going to face challenges along the way and if you didn’t it wouldn’t be as fun right? A lot of stories are flashing through my head when I think of previous overseas trips we’ve taken, but the challenges always make the best stories when you come out the other side.
Which uncharted territories would you like to take the Hermitude live show to sooner rather than later?
Wow. Tough one. I’d like to take the show to Brazil actually. I’ve never been to South America and a few Brazilians I’ve met along the way got into our music so there sounds like a good place to start our South American tour!
Sky’High has been lurking around the edges of the Sydney scene for a number of years now, releasing little of consequence although constantly building. Last year she generated some serious momentum with the release of consecutive singles Look At Me Now and Don Dada. This would culminate in the release of her Your Highness EP. The tracks are some of the strongest local efforts in the last 12 months or so. Production from P-Money has done nothing to derail her cause but there is no denying her dynamic, electrifying presence.
Congratulations on the new EP, how long has it been on the boil for now?
Thankyou, the EP came from me just recording one or two tracks late last year then making a few more tracks for a seven track EP in a few days while I was in New Zealand, it wasn’t really planned. I played it to a couple of people and it got the attention of Urthboy who then offered me a deal with Elefant Traks. We then cut two tracks from the EP which you will hear on my album and we put the Your Highness EP out.
Was it P-Money exclusively on production?
Yep! All beats by P-Money on this EP as he has been really the first producer I could comfortably work with. Most of the time, prior to this, I have just been recording myself so it was good to work with someone who was patient and gave me an opinion which I respect.
Where are you at with the album currently? Got a working title?
Right now I’m where I wanna be. It’s coming along better then I thought, most of the lyrics have been written its just a case of me laying down the vocals in the studio. I am still getting a few beats sent through from producers too so I am checking them out as we speak. Title is yet to announced, keep on the look out for when I do though.
I read an online post of yours a while back mentioning how particular you are with your own output. Is there one out of writing and recording that you find harder to settle on or is the perfectionist gland constantly peaking?
I’m never content with my music ever. Even when people give me their reasons for why this or that Sky’high track is awesome, I’m forever telling myself why it isn’t. I am my own worst critic!
Another major development for you has been signing with Elefant Traks. Why do you think they are the best fit for you at this point in time?
Years back, let’s be honest, no way would I consider joining Elefant Traks. To me they catered to a different crowd, a specific crowd, a “not me” crowd. I’m sure they would have looked at me the same but true artists will grow, as should their music! Good music in any genre, real music doesn’t just cater to a crowd. It caters to people in general and at this point of time I’m about making music for everyone and Elefant Traks are putting out music out for everyone so it’s only right.
basically the EP was intended to show people I can be versatile and break peoples perception of me as just one kind of MC… At the end of the day, I make music for myself and if other people like what they hear then it’s a bonus.
You’ve still got the management situation going on with Grindin’ though?
Fucking oath I do! It’s good having someone looking out for me and making sure that all I have to worry about is the music because I hate all the other stuff.
How do you feel when label head Urthboy mentions in a promo video that the move is somewhat of a risk?
I used to be the type of person, if I didn’t like the way you looked at me you were at risk. So I don’t feel nada haha. It’s definitely a different signing for them and I do standout on their roster but I am just going to put out my music and people can then decide if its a risk or not.
The two tracks on the EP that had not been unleashed prior show some variety, was Lets Just an effort to generate some momentum on the airwaves and whatnot?
Yeah basically the EP was intended to show people I can be versatile and break peoples perception of me as just one kind of MC. Let’s Justwas definitely aimed towards the JJJ crowd because let’s be honest, they are a major part in an Australian MC being able to be heard nationwide. There is no other radio station that caters for us on such a scale. The track got added to spot rotation on JJJ last week so its good to know I can make music for that audience as well as my diehard fans too. At the end of the day, I make music for myself and if other people like what they hear then it’s a bonus.
Were the verses for the Don Dada remix all recorded in one session or over a period of time?
My verse only took less than half an hour to record haha, just saying. But all up it took 2 weeks due to everyones schedule and location. Gotta say thanks to David Dallas, RoXXXan and Briggs for all coming through with their verses to make a sick posse cut.
You recently dropped a third video, for Hoodie and Nikes, are there any more visual efforts planned?
You better believe it! We just shot Let’s Justwhich was a lot of fun and that should be out in early March. Once the album is done we will then look at which tracks will get videos and look to get them done.
Have you gone with the same production team with all three or mixed it up?
Nah I got Look At Me Now and Don Dada done by ASKEW1 who is a big graffiti artist from New Zealand. Hoodie And Nikeswas done by Sydney photographer Tristan Edouard and his crew so we mixed it up a little. It was great working with both of them as they had simple but effective ideas for the videos and I think they turned out alright.
What have you been doing in the way of live shows recently?
I was just in Melbourne for Raise The Roof 3 at The Espy then this weekend I am supporting 360 for two shows in Sydney at The Standard. In March/April I am on the road with The Herd and Thundermentals baybehhhhh!
I was surprised to see you support 360. Do you enjoy his music or just respect the business side of that act?
Yeah I like some of it. I know he has worked hard to get to this point and while a lot of people may not like his stuff you have to respect his hustle, he is king on the social network side of things which has definitely helped him to get to where he is. I am just happy I get to play two shows to sold out crowds because at this stage of my career I can’t ask for more than that.