Interviews

  • Beers Beats & The Biz - Episode 26. Bedraggled Plankton featuring Tornts

    Beers Beats & The Biz - Episode 26. Bedraggled Plankton featuring Tornts

    Beers Beats & The Biz

    Episode 26. Bedraggled Plankton featuring Tornts

    We are honoured to be joined by the one and only, Tornts for this, the 26th instalment of Beers, Beats & The Biz.

    We caught the Melbourne stalwart via Skype from the sunny tropics of Fiji, and proceeded to do the knowledge on one of the countries longest-standing and most prolific and original hip hop artists.

    From his early days as a member of Improwise alongside Billy Bunks and Gargoyle, and on to the formation of Broken Tooth Entertainment and the Hired Goons - we chart his 9 solo releases and various individual songs.

    Between it all we speak on the legacy and loss of Murky and Gragoyle, the Booze Bastards, touring and travel, production techniques, early influences, how surroundings impact art and establishing an original voice.

    We can’t thank Tornts enough for his time and all his contributions - and many thanks also for persevering through a time delay and dodgy Skype setup.

    We are live now on iTunes, Soundcloud and Spotify: download, rate, subscribe, comment, share and thank you for tuning in to Beers, Beats & The Biz.

    Support The Podcast - www.patreon.com/BeersBeatsTheBiz

    Brought To You By The Beers Beats & The Biz Team
    Jake Biz
    Travis Broi
    Insideus

     
  • Interview: Bomb Threat Returns With Their 4th Single "Fly On The Wall"

    Interview: Bomb Threat Returns With Their 4th Single "Fly On The Wall"

    Sydney Rap Group Bomb Threat

    Bomb Threat returns with their 4th single" Fly On The Wall."
    A hard hitting and brutally truthful song by the conscious Hip Hop group consisting of Sydney and Blue Mountains artists well known to the scene.

     

    Ash spoke to Mikoen, the lyricist and emcee from the group.

     

    Talk us a bit through the message behind Fly On The Wall?

    Ah man, for me, and I know everyone in the crew is one hundred percent with this, It really is "United we stand divided we fall."
    It's bigger than politics, it's about community, It's about breaking down the divide between us.
    There's way too many divisions and we're being polarised by so many different things. I can see it and it bothers me on the deepest level.
    I've been fighting this war, It's like a spiritual war I feel I've been fighting with my music, trying to gee everyone up for it and to wake us up because you gotta be real, the news and the mainstream media has been lying to us for a long time.
    Whether they're twisting facts or outright lying it doesn't matter, they have an agenda and they're working for the richest fucking one percent of the planet.
    Their objective is to control us and direct us in certain directions so you should always look at them with a large amount of scepticism.
    My message is to basically question everything, but also get in tune with each other and combine and unite.
    There doesn't have to be a seperate movement, we've all gotta strike together as one united general front.
    Shut down the machine. Then they'll listen and we can negotiate for a better deal, rather than being separate individuals fighting our own little thing.
    The biggest unity we need is the human unity across all the racial shit.
    They're trying to make us afraid of each other and hate each other, and it's all just being stirred up so we fight each other and become more and more divided and thereby easier to control and manipulate.
    We've gotta put our differences aside.

     

    As an emcee what role do you see Hip Hop playing in regards to consciousness and being vocal in this current climate?

     

    We need unity and I've always felt Hip Hop is a vehicle for that movement.
    It's a vehicle for feminism, you've got female conscious emcees, strong women getting up and putting shit down and representing.
    You have all people representing, like now we can have openly gay emcees doing the same, so we can be a movement for everybody.
    We've both seen it bro, music has been infiltrated by the mass media. They've corporatised it and it's no coincidence they're selling us back drugs and stupid unconscious imagery now. Because they want us divided.
    We need unity and we need community and we need positivity and we need peace. We can't get anywhere with violence, we can't get anywhere with attacking each other. It has to be a conscious, peaceful revolution.

     

    Just speaking a bit on the history of Bomb Threat and how it all came together, you've been  writing songs with Caustic Yoda for a while now. I first caught you both working together with the Cooking With Caustic album From Mercury To Pluto.

     

    Yeah Yodas been fam since about 2009.
    Daily Meds did our demo up there and I connected with him and he slung me some beats while I was working on a solo mixtape in between Reverse Polarities and Daily Meds. I've always recorded at Yoda's studio, I just connected with him.
    It's a comfortable studio to work at and he's professional as fuck.

     

    You played a Toasted Loops show in Katoomba in 2016 and you were just called Mikoen and Caustic Yoda, I think that's the first time you had Aisha on stage.

     

    That's correct, that's technically the first Bomb Threat gig but we just didn't have a name. I think in 2015 or very early 2016 Yoda and myself and Aisha were in the studio.
    I've always been like 'this chick has a great fucking voice man' and we sorta just dropped her in the deep end.
    We ended up writing three songs within that one session and they wrote themselves man it was just so easy.

     

    Then Codeks from Down Under Beats joined the crew on the turntables. How did that come about?

     

    Codeks is just family man, you know how it is with the Sydney scene man it's all family. We've all worked with each other on one project or another, Platterpush being fam with Yoda and the Otherside boys and so it was only natural when thinking we needed a dude to
    handle the wheels.
    Codeks is also a dope producer in his own right.

     

    And Jarv on bass, which also kind of connects the whole Cooking With Caustic thing yeah?

     

    Jarv's been bass on pretty much everything, you'd be pretty lucky to find a beat that hasn't got her bass in there.
    She's in video clips, she's in tracks, yeah she's the fifth member bro.

     

    So what's the future plans for Bomb Threat?

     

    I'll be doing this as long as people are listening to it.
    We've got songs in different levels of being finished where if we spend some time there's an
    album there.
    I'm a Hip Hop lifer so it is what it is, if people are feeling it sky's the limit.

    Peace.

    Words By Mighty Ash

     

    Watch Bomb Threat "Fly On The Wall" Below!

     

     
  • Interview: Australian Hip Hop Artist Helen Earth Talks About 'Hell Hath No Fury' And The Journey So Far

    Interview: Helen Earth - Hell Hath No Fury

    Interview of Australian Hip Hop Rapper Helen earth

    Ozhiphopshop caught up with Helen Earth a few weeks ago to discuss her brand new debut album 'Hell Hath No Fury' and the journey so far. Helen isn't new to the scene and has be honing her skills for the last few years in preparation for this release. The emotion and bars that went into this release is something special. From the lyrics to the production this album will drop jaws and snap necks. The wordplay is on another level and makes you double check you haven't jumped back into time when lyrics were everything.

     

    Hey Helen, hope all is well. I have really been enjoying this release.

    Hello Travis. Thank you, I’m glad to hear this.

    You have been extremely busy the last 6 months working hard on your brand new album Hell Hath No Fury, what has the road been like?

    It was longer than six months, although I’m not too sure precisely how long. But it took awhile to get off the ground. I had a few bumps linking up with producers, but as soon as I linked with a solid network it all came together pretty quickly and smoothly.

    The artwork is insanely good, Deej is an incredible artist. Did you work closely with him on the concept and design?

    Not at all. Like you said, Deej is an incredible artist, so I gave him free artistic rein. I know my limitations, and I wanted his interpretation of the theme I was running with.  I’m not sure if that makes me easy or difficult to work with.

    What part of the process are you most comfortable in; writing, recording or performing live?

    Probably writing, and I see myself more in terms of a writer than I do an emcee. Recording is fun and performing is always an incredible experience. But writing gives me a feeling that words can’t describe, as ironic as that is.

     

     

    This is your debut album and creating it must have been a learning curve especially being independent, did you find anything about the process hard?

    If I made my own beats, this album would have been done a long time ago. Unfortunately, I don’t. The merit in self production is that you don’t have to synchronise your work ethic with another producer. You have complete autonomy. So, the challenge for me was to find someone who’s work ethic matched mine – and I did, several in fact. I am grateful to have worked and continue to be working with some of the producers who feature on my album. But it was a fucking pain in the ass finding them.  

    The album features some head snapping beats laced with some heavy bars. How did you decide on the beat selection for this album?

    The way I approach writing to an instrumental is through interpretation. I interpret what the instrumental is saying. I don’t like coming into things with a pre-conceived notion or expectation. It’s a mediation of sorts. If I hear something, I say something. You know what I mean, it’s like the bomb squad for writing rhymes. Of course, I have a preference for certain beats. Rafle, for example is pretty switched onto what I like. Producers gauge your preference, and if you’re working with a lord (Rafle is a lord) they’ll cater to that – or they might facilitate and encourage a different direction because they hear something you haven’t yet.

    Good choice on the beat selection and the production is on point. Do you stay within a circle of producers who know how you like it or would you prefer to go with who can create the most suitable beat for each record?

    What’s suitable one day might not be suitable the next. I just like whatever I like. Right now, I am happy with who I’m currently working with. I think working with Rafle is a good formula, and I want to pursue that and hear it in full. I like to keep my ears open, and if I like something: I’ll engage it. There’s definitely a range of producers who I try to keep up to date with, like Insideus gets busy as fuck. He has a great work ethic as well and I definitely recommend him to anyone looking for beats.

    Where did you record the album at?

    In the spare room aka the ’office’ where I do my uni work, yeah definitely nowhere fancy.

    Rob from Shake Down Records has been working really hard in the local music scene especially with upcoming talent like yourself, did you find working with him has helped with the overall outcome of the album?

    This album would have taken a lot longer if It weren’t for Rob. Rob provided me access to catalogues from a variety of producers and put me in touch with those who I wanted to work with. He navigated me through the album process, referred and advised me, facilitated gig opportunities. Rob is the fucking man.  He’s a professional, and that’s who you want to work and be in touch with - professionals. He makes good memes too.

    What are some of the lessons you've learnt in the industry thus far, be they good or bad?

    The first lesson I learned was from Ciecmate, and that lesson is ALWAYS GET THE STEMS. Lessons I’ve learned myself? Just do it for you. I write for me, and it’s been like that since I was a kid. Writing is just something I’ve always done and enjoyed. It’s apart of me, to the point that at times it’s a seemingly thoughtless action. But when I read it back, there’s a body of reflection. And this reflection addresses what I’ve been overlooking.  Writing facilitates growth. So I guess, what I’m addressing here is motivation. Is it intrinsic or extrinsic? Because it’s the process that’s enjoyable for me, I don’t have an expected outcome. I’m interested in the mechanics, the how. That’s my pursuit. Enjoy the process.

     

     

    Is an album launch or tour on the cards?

    I’m not too sure at this stage, right now my priority is uni. In the holidays I’d like to head back to Perth and do some gigs. I also want to head down to Sydney sometime, and a few other places.

    What first got you into hip hop and how has it changed your outlook on life?

    Probably my mum’s record collection, her record collection is stacked with samples. I was exposed to a lot of good music as a child. And I always had this obsession with writing, and rhymes and manipulating words. I’m not too sure what age I was exactly when I started brain washing myself with hip hop, but It started at a young age. Regarding my outlook… Music is like this intertextual secondary source, an accompaniment of this weird concept we call self. I don’t know if it changed my outlook, think if anything it reassured it and at times challenged it. Back then listening to hip hop was like falling in love for the first time.

    What steps do you go through in writing your tracks, do you have a set method that works for you or does it vary?

    I’m a lot more disciplined these days. I pace myself, I think my approach to academic writing has greatly influenced my approach to writing rhymes. I don’t follow a set structure though. It comes from this deeply immature part of myself. I don’t know why, but I’m so resistant to structure. I have this problem with uni too, I do really well when it comes to textual analysis, my mind is wired for it – but when it comes to assessments that require a very strict structure and admittedly very boring content, my inner disruptive student screams ‘get fucked’. I have been following a set structure lately though for something im working on.

    Who in the Australian hip hop scene would you like to work with next and why?

    Sinks. I feel like I don’t even need to explain why because I’m under the impression that everyone is of the understanding that Sinks is a fucking GOAT. Sinks music makes me feel a way about hip hop that I haven’t felt since my teens. I would also like to do a track with Shook one day, I hold her in high regard. Hands down, Shook is a Queen.

    What home grown hip hop are you currently listening to?

    Definitely the artists I previously mentioned. I don’t get too much time to listen to much music anymore. And in my spare time, I’m usually trying to make it. But Sinks gets regular play, and I always try to keep up to date with Dialect. I placed an order for Photograph Your Aura the other day.  And I’m very keen for that album he’s doing with Must Volkoff – most rational beings are, right!

    Any shout-outs?

    Thanks to everyone who’s been involved in this project and especially to those who have been supporting it, sharing it and reaching out with their thoughts. It’s truly humbling.

    Any advice for others wanting to pursue this art from?

    Don’t add me and tag me in your shit.  Have some fucking decorum.

    Thanks for your time.

     

    Catch Helen Earth at the upcoming Scenario Festival in Brisbane!

    Listen To Her Music Here!

     

    Words By Travis Broi

     
  • Interview: Brisbane's Crooked White Talks Music And Breaking Awards

    Interview: Brisbane's Crooked White Talks Music And Breaking Awards 

    Australian Hip Hop Artist Crooked White

    Ozhiphopshop was lucky enough to catch up with Brisbane rapper and recent QMA nominee Crooked White to chat about music and his newly released album "Confessions" and what we can expect from him in the future. 

    (T) Hey mate it’s good to catch up, How’s things been?

    (CW) Good thanks.

     

    We might start with the recent name change as some may not know you from your previous name or work. What was the reasoning behind it as a name change can be a pretty big thing?

    I’ve always been known as Whitey, and over the years that grew into many titles C.White, White dogg, Idiot boy...originally I was going to go with C.White, but after a little research I discovered an american dude running with the same name....so in order to avoid a clash...I went with Crooked, which is also the title of the first single off 'Confessions'

     

    You recently dropped your debut album Confessions under the new name Crooked White. Did releasing music as a solo artist differ to how you previously released music with your band?

    My history of releasing music has mostly been with my band Schoolfight, so this process was different for sure, with bands each individual instrument needs attention and tweaking, so the process takes longer, you also have alot more ideas and input, which to be honest I missed at times while making "Confessions"- saying that , I enjoyed the freedom of making the big decisions on things, working to my own time line and seeing it thru.

     

    Did the writing method differ as well?

    Yeah absolutely, working with Aussie made things pretty seamless, he would swing thru beats every few weeks, Ide go thru em, pick a few, jump in the booth over at GrotBox and demo them, swing em back, and we kinda built the record that way.

     

    Being an independent artist means you have to juggle a lot of roles, were there any that you found particularly challenging?

    The self promo..hands down, Im old school, and to be constantly spruiking,  posting and talking about yourself gives me the shits haha - its part of the beast I guess, but I always feel like my music sells me better than self hype and the 'look at me' gimmicky rubbish.

    But in order to get heads to listen, you gotta let em know about your product...and...the circle of pain continues...

     

    It must feel good to see your hard work and effort come to fruition.

    Couldn’t be happier man, a solo album was always on my "to do list" I’ve had great support from family and friends and my team also, I feel like people are enjoying the album, and that’s what matters, we set out to make something familiar, something new and classic, to bring something back that I felt has been missing, and I think we got it right, stoked.

     

    This isn’t your first time recording with Travesty at the Grotbox, how did you find the experience?

    7ravesty is my ace, without him, Confessions would not have happened. He is a humble guy with a shit ton of patience haha. I returned from holidays a few years back, and we made a plan, started the demos straight up, hours spent, zero dramas and bulk beers, good times.

     

     

    You’ve released three videos off the new album, how did they come about and why did you choose to release them?

    We released "Crooked Feat 7ravesty" first, I felt we needed to lay the foundation, an introduction if you will, the clip sees me and 7ravesty reppin' the high vis, just being shit kicking bastards, which isnt far from the truth..

    Second came "Put me on" I shot the clip up home with some help from my big bro, the track means alot to me, and I wanted to show peeps around my neck of the woods and also rep beautiful FNQ.

    And last but but not least "The 4th Beegee" The jewel in the crown haha, Beegees is the ladies jam, we shot it here in West End with a cast of awesome cats and a solid team behind the scenes the clip was directed and edited by my good mate Bobbi from Ninja factory, she did a ripping job.

     

    Can we expect a Brisbane album launch or a tour?

    We will be officially launching the Album 'Confessions' Friday the 13th Of July @ the Flaming Galah.

    Supports announced soon! Hard copies and merch available on the night! You heard it here first!

     

    You have recently been nominated for a QMA award for hip hop. That must have been some great news considering all the hard work you have been putting in. How do you feel about it?

    Always nice to be nominated, heaps of good music being made here in Queensland, and it’s nice to be mentioned and involved, I actually took one home many years ago with Schoolfight, it was a great moment and honour, annnnnd I dropped it, shattered it into 14 pieces...full grown man, just picking up the flakes of glass, salty tears...

    Be real nice to replace that one.

     

    Any advice for young people looking at getting into music or hip hop?

    Sell out, dress like everyone else, sound like everyone else - you’re up and away!

    Or, be yourself, write every day, respect your peers and those that came before you, be original, create your own scene, accept things aren’t always going to go your way

     

     

    Where can people see you live next?

    Flaming Galah Friday the 13th July!

     

    Any shout outs?

    Shouts to my friends and family! Everyone that has copped the Album, shared, liked and sent messages of support! It means heaps!

     

    Good luck with it all mate.

     

    Keep up to date with Crooked White here!

    Peep the new album here!

     

    Words By Travis Broi

     
  • Interview: Brisbane's Karsniogenics Label Mate Gaz Hazard Talks The Lower 42nd and A King.

    Interview: Gaz Hazard Talks The Lower 42nd and A King release.

    Interview: Gaz Hazard - “The Lower 42nd b/w A King”

     

    With the recent release of Gaz Hazard's 7" wax release and the drop of the brand new film clip, Ozhiphopshop caught up with the Brisbane local to chat about the recent release and whats on the cards regarding his sophomore album due out via Brisbane independent hip hop label Karsniogenics. Gaz is no stranger to the scene has been putting in the hard work with multiple shows and releases over the last few years including work with CRS.

    Hey Gaz, good to catch up with you again. Hope everything is good since last time we spoke?

    Yeah everything is good mate.

    You have just dropped the “The Lower 42nd b/w A King” 7” wax off the upcoming sophomore release ‘Welcome to Gullywood’ out through Brisbane label Karsniogenics soon, can you tell us a bit about this release and how it came together?

    Welcome to Gullywood actually came about while we were doing our first official recordings at the new studio at my old place in Acacia Ridge. We naturally called it Gullywood Studios and since then we had created about 18 tracks. For various reasons a few didn’t make the cut, then after joining the label I decided to turn it into another LP. #W2G was born.

    The first track that was produced by Sean B(The Statesman, Kold Heat) The Lower 42 features some heavy hitting features in a massive posse cut with the likes of Lazy Grey, Jake Biz, Overproof Pete and Simplex. What was it like working with them artists and getting everyone to lay down the heat?

    Its always incredible working with such veterans and truly talented people . I am lucky enough to call them all my brothers. The track came about very quick actually in the scheme of things, getting 6 dudes on a joint together can be hard sometimes but everyone came threw asap for the project. We are all label mates anyway so a posse cut was fitting.

    Did you all record at the same place or were different studios used?

    The Lower 42nd  was recorded completely at Simbiotic Studios by Simplex. The album #W2G was all recorded at Gullywood Studios by me.

    Gaz Hazard - Welcome To Gullywood

    Sean B is a brilliant beat maker and has been killing it in the scene for many years now with production credits on a range of local releases, what was it like working with him on this track?

    Seany is an incredible beat maker but I gotta be honest I didn’t see him or even talk to him about it. Jake showed me the beat and we both had that look in our eye like fucking bang..thats for a posse cut on the album. Dj Dcide co produced the track too so mixing and structure was created by him.

    You have teamed up with Director Dolan from Dfdes1n to produce a dope clip that has been well received by fans, can we expect to see another one drop soon for the second track?

    Yeah we have a new clip dropping soon for the Bezrock tribute track. A King shot and cut by Heethan Steelberg. Dolan did  an fucking rad job with the clip too.

    The second track “A King” is a very personal and touching story written about the sad passing of a Brisbane legend and fellow hip hop head, it’s a very emotional track and I’m sure it was very hard to write. Was this one of the toughest ones to pen or do you feel it has helped with the grieving process?

    Most Definitely.  The track began from a eulogy I didn’t get to say at his funeral and a week or so after he passed I found it on my phone and began writing instantly. Threw endless tears I just kept writing, it was hard but I felt it needed to be done. For Bez, and yeah for me it helped me vent and go threw those stages of grieving properly. Its still hard. I still tear up hearing the track and almost everyone who has listened to it with me has teared up too. So much of my heart and soul went into that track and with the production from Bigfoot and Heata it became a very powerful song. Cant thank them enough for creating it the way they did.

    Losing a friend can be very hard. It must feel good tho to be able to tell his story and allow his legacy to live on through music?

    I always had a vision of the song on Vinyl with his B logo on it so of course the B Side made so much sense. It's a very humbling thing to be told by his close mates and mine that they thanked me for writing it because they wouldn’t of been able to do it. To be honest his legacy is already set amongst those he was close to anyway. His impact on this life especially mine will never be forgotten.

    The track was produced by none other than Bigfoot along with Heata(Hired Goons) on the scratches. Did the beat selection come play a major role when it came to writing a track like this?

    I wrote the lyrics to no beat actually. It wasn’t until Biggie asked to produce it for me and with Heata's help A King was born. They did an incredible job.

    How would you describe this release to someone who is about to listen to this for the first time?

    The Lower 42nd is a bass heavy posse cut with a mash up of styles from Karsniogenics.

    A King is a heartfelt tribute to my old mate and CRS OG with production from Hired Goons finest.

    The new album “Welcome To Gullywood” and follow up to “Hazardous To Ya Health” is your first release through Brisbane label Karsniogenics. What has it been like working with them and has it been a lot easier to release music now instead of being an independent artist?

    These guys are true veterans of rap music in this country full stop. Lazy Grey and DjDcide who run the label have been dope to work with. We all come together on the project and aimed for next level every time, sonically, lyrically everything. Always trying to step our game up. You seriously cant fuck with the K TEAM.

    When can we expect to see the new album drop?

    The LP will be available on cd, digital and as a 12 inch record due on within a few months along with a new video for a solo track off the album that i'm hoping to have it ready soon.

    Gaz Hazard Drops "THE LOWER 42nd" feat. Lazy Grey, SussOne, Jake Biz, Overproof Pete & Simplex

    Is there a show or tour coming up to coincide with this release?

    Yes we have Brisbane ,Melbourne and Adelaide in our sites to launch the album. Hoping to do them all this year. I also have a couple big international support spots to be announce soon.

    Any advice for upcoming rappers looking to get into the game and release music professionally?

    Be yourself. Do You and focus on you. And yes exactly, make ya music professionally. Dont judge your value as an artist by the views or likes  you get. Judge it by how many people turn up to your shows and actually buy your music.

    Where can the fans check out more of your music?

    My last LP . Hazardous to ya health is on I tunes.

    It was good catching up mate, wish you all the best for this release and I’m sure we will speak soon.

    Words By Travis Broi

     

    Keep up to date with Gaz Hazard via Karsiniogenics

     
  • Interview: Ben Iota Talks Jazz, Family And Music

    Interview: Ben Iota Talks Music, Family And Jazz

    Australian Hip Hop Ben Iota Interview 2018

     

    We caught up with Australian hip hop artist Ben Iota for a chat about what has been going on music wise and what we can expect in 2018 from him.

     

    Hey mate, it's good to catch up hope all has been well?

    Life is great. Let us begin.

     

    You are based in Darwin and have just had a new member of the family arrive, how has that been going?

    Darwin has been good to me and mine for the past couple of years. We find it to be a relatively easy place to live. The pace of life is slow, the sun is usually shining and the people are generally neighbourly. These are the qualities of Australia that I cherish. I am in the right time of my life for it. The frosty big city rat race aint calling me no more. And yes, we were lucky to be blessed with the arrival of our second child recently, who were are wrapped with.

     

    Do you find it hard sometimes to find the balance to do music while raising a family?

    Yeah its a tricky balancing-act. Having children has changed my perception of time. It was only after becoming a parent of one that I realised I had ample free time when I didn't have a child. It was only after becoming a parent of two that I realised that I actually had a bit of time up my sleeve with only one child after all. Now I have two children, I am wondering if I can squeeze any more time out of my 'full' schedule. I probably could, but it is going to take some serious self-discipline, and understanding from the people around me. Releasing a single once or twice a year seems like a more realistic goal, but we'll see. I would love to continue this musical journey.

     

    I first started hearing your music with the album Born free that was released through Butterthief down in South Australia, Has the road from there till now been hard musically?

    Nah, it hasn't been hard at all. For a few years after 'Born Free' I didn't release anything, but still worked on music steadily. I did gigs, hit open mics and rapped on street corners around Sydney (where I was living). Shout outs to Tall Papi. I wrote lyrics, jammed with a band, and just enjoyed the musical experiences I was having. After Sydney I moved to Darwin and linked with local champions like TASK and Dan the Underdog. They have been welcoming and supportive of what I do, and we have gotten busy collaborating. It has been a fun time.

     

    Born Free seemed to be well received by the Australian hip hop community what would have been your favourite track from it?

    I was happy with the response to it. I sold all my personal copies, got a bunch of gigs off the back of it, had a few press opportunities, gotten some good support on radio, and have had more than a few people tell me the songs have impacted on them. This all amounts to a win in my book. My favourite track was and is 'Iota'. It sums up my worldview and where I see myself in it. It has aged relatively well.

     

     

     

    What is it like releasing music independently compared to when you were with the label, is it a lot harder now or is it good doing things at your own pace? Has working by yourself giving you a different outlook on the way you release music?

    Nothing has really changed in regards to the pace. I have always worked at my own pace. I am inspired by those I work with, but I am never pushed. Despite not being released on Butterthief I still work closely with other people, including Social Change. Its good being self- reliant because I am learning about the industry, understanding what fellow independent artists do to leverage themselves in the game, learning what they have been telling me for a little while: 'your album is your business card'. Get it out there and make sure you follow-up any connections. It seems that you can't be too cagey with your music anymore. Well, you probably could, but I think it would keep you in your corner. I have also learned about gatekeepers- labels, radio stations, promotors, cliques of artists, etc. I never had to deal directly with any of these people previously, in terms of attempting to squeeze opportunities out of them. However, I see it now and have had small breakthroughs on that front. If I had a bit more time up my sleeve I feel like I could unlock the secrets to this game. Getting older now I stay active for the joy of creating, and for performing. A lot of people don't have a craft or creative outlet in their lives. I feel fortunate I have one in mine, so I keep going forward with it.

     

    What made you fall in love with hip hop and the culture we love?

    Rebellion and non-conformity. I felt out of step with the mainstream when I was young. I was looking for an alternative to the lack of anything meaningful. I found graffiti first, which gave me a feeling that there was something magical here. Doing something that was so heavily stigmatised and misunderstood by the general populace (this was in the 90s in Adelaide), and was risky to do, gave me a rush and a sense of belonging. It was my middle-finger to the conservative forces and values that I was surrounded by. It was a different world. Hip Hop music was next and had a similar impact on me. It gave me a bigger purpose, it gave me an outlet, it gave me an identity and further validated my 'outsider' status. It formed me. Even now as person who may seem like every other bum on the bus, I know there is a point of difference that I got through Hip Hop. I recognise it when I randomly meet other old heads with Hip Hop in their DNA. Its an experience that stays for the long run, in some way.

     

    You have recently released a brand new 15 track album produced Dan The Underdog, How did this release come about? How did you select the beats for this project? Where did you record this album? What was working with Dan? Is this the first time working with him? Did you approach this release differently than you would normally when working on an album? Can the fans expect to hear similar style with this album compared to you last releases?

    At some point in late 2016 Dan suggested we do a 'joint' together. We started by doing a single song, which was never released, but we both liked. Around that time I was revisiting old A Tribe Called Quest albums and realised how much I still love that jazz Hip Hop style, vibe and attitude. Its just good, laid-back Hip Hop music that means something. Even in my mid-30s, it still resonates with me and is relevant to my life, and thats the type of  music I want to make for other people. Anyway, with a new child on the horizon and a bunch of lyrics up my sleeve, I stepped to Dan with the idea of doing an album of all jazz Hip Hop, and getting it done before my son-to-be arrived. Dan was down. I linked him with the first samples in late June and by early September we were releasing an album. It was all recorded in Dan's studio (apart from the two bonus tracks), and produced by Dan, with me playing basslines on a bass synth that gives the songs extra depth 'in da clurrrrb'.We had a good energy and finite time to finish the album in, so we went hard. I felt the stress of the looming deadline and the pressure to perform, but we had a lot of fun making it. Dan and I have a similar sense of humour, values and outlooks on the world, so we clicked. I hope we can work together again. He is a machine when it comes to making Hip Hop music, and a really good-hearted human to boot.


    Any advice for other upcoming independent artists that are thinking about releasing an album or are starting their hip hop journey?

    Everyone is on their own path, so I can only speak on the advice I would give a younger version of myself, with my limited knowledge on how this all works. Here goes:

    Speak from the heart- thats number one. Be true to yourself, but don't be afraid to change, because you inevitably will if you are living life. Don't go by the book. Allow your musical journey to unfold. Believe in your process and dedicate yourself to your craft. Don't listen to the scene and don't become bitter by all the setbacks. Create your own thing. Jump at the opportunity to perform and enjoy connecting with people through it. Get the experience. Be a martyr and do mad favours when you start out. Don't charge people for beats or verses. Don't decide that $400 is your going rate for gigs. Just do the gigs and get the feel for performing. Use features as opportunities to get your name out, but make sure you respect the artists you collaborate with. Be real with supporters and be humble when you succeed. Be real with the more decent industry people out there and look to create something with them. Put a bit of your hard-earned into your music. That means getting a publicist, travelling interstate if gig opportunities arrive and making your product quality. Vinyl and merch are worth the shell-out if you have disposable income. Connect with like-minded people, including musicians and artists of all sorts, and get busy. Don't become egotistical. Diverge from the path of the parasites, vultures and toxic people. Try not to belt them. Get knowledge. Study and travel help with that, as does living life and making mistakes. Get your mind right to navigate this unpredictable, confusing, and sometimes-demoralising journey through music and industry. If you stay balanced, you will look back at this time as a rewarding time in your life, even if you don't achieve all your goals. And you may be even be one of the few who strike it lucky. None of this will make sense until you get out there and start doing, so take the first step and keep it moving.

     

    What can the fans expect from you in 2018? Where can the fans catch you live next?

    A music video for 'Do Dat', from the 'Jazz' LP, should be released around the same time as this interview. Keep an eye out for that on Youtube. I plan to keep gigging around Darwin at random intervals when the opportunities arise, as I have been continually doing for the last year and a bit. A launch is in the works. I also hope to chip away at making new songs, in a similar vein to the last album, because I am still loving jazz beats, but made via a different studio method. It's all about the process for me. Its gotta be fun and interesting. I am excited to announce that I will be launching a music-based blog in April. It looks fill a void in the current industry landscape. I can't give too much away but I can promise it will be quality, with some awesome artists on board. The Ben Iota Facebook page will give notice when the blog is live.

     

    Was good to catch up mate, look forward to peeping some new music this year.

    Cheers! Thanks for the reaching-out

     

     

    Stay up to date with Ben Iota music and blog happenings at:

    www.beniota.com

    www.facebook.com/beniota

    Soundcloud, Bandcamp, YouTube, Instagram, Spotify, iTunes

     

     

    Words By Travis Broi

     
  • The Doppelgangaz Australian Tour Interview!

    The Doppelgangaz

    The Doppgangaz could be considered two of New York’s most underrated and hardest-working double threats in hip-hop. But really, they would most probably shrug off such an accolade.

    With this MC and producer pairing of EP and Matter Ov Fact there’s an air of kicked-back ease they bring to The Doppelgangaz style which seems a black cloak well-fitted to their infectious character. With a supposed cloaked-up vagrant lifestyle, they make conjuring up some of the most soul-searched and jazzed-soaked sampology in hip-hop to complement their antic-themed raps seem a lot more than supporting a depraved lifestyle of frequenting brothels, dollar-bin vinyl diving and getting their drank on. But, this is half their charm and formula to their apparent chemistry. Testament to this, with a reach of fans spread across the sphere, their vagrant life finds them jetsetting down for an Australian tour this coming week.

    For the duo out of Orange County, New York, who don’t know anybody outside of their immediate circle, they’ve made it happen with a strong Do-It-Yourself work ethic across a killer discography. Over five studio albums, four mixtapes and as many EPs, which includes the widely-acclaimed HARK! (2013) and Peace Kehd (2014) LPs, they’ve shared verse drops with just enough guests with which to puff-puff-pass a skinny joint, which includes their manager and a few close homies, (Brothels Series 3 and 3.5 with Thonio, PartyManThanks and Scooby). With all production being broke in, beat out and cooked up in-house, repurposed dusty-ass vinyls are brought back to life with a jolt of hardened East coast sampling. Plated and served together with a steaming side of bars from EP, it makes anything The Doppelgangaz have got bubbling on the stove a hot mess.

    Pen it, the vandals are demented /
    And for the last time, no the candle’s not scented.
    Panhandle, cause scandal up in the senate /
    Known to quote a rhyme, but he rambled when he read it...

    Ozhiphopshop got the chefs out of the kitchen and on the hook, where we cut the crap on that cloak-life mystique and dive back into the dollar-bins that bring them so much dope-ass beat work on record. We discuss their DIY work, done not by design but because they don’t know anybody, the current state of hip-hop and the effect the internet has had on the culture and lastly, coming to Australia and “cramming” flight attendants on their way over. This is some cards-on-the-table, open-book, out-in-the-open interview that only OHHS knows how to present. What that vagrant life like, kehd?

    RIP NICHOLSON for OHHS with EP & Matter Ov Fact from THE DOPPELGANGAZ

    RIP: What’s going on guys? How are we?

    EP: What’s happenin’ man. We’re good, we’re chillin.

    MOF: How you been man?

    Good! Do you enjoy these media jobs? Having to answer the same shit from guys like me?

    EP: Nah man, we’re chillin’.

    MOF: It’s awful. This is the worst part of the gig, you know? 

    Look, I would think so, man. You can be real.

    EP: Nah no lie. This is never a bother to us,

    MOF: We’re chillin’. We’re about to go to Australia! We’re hyped, very excited!

    What’s that black cloak life like, it’s got you two jetting to Australia for a couple shows. Can’t be all that bad?

    EP: Can’t be that bad, right?

    MOF: It ain’t too bad (in a New York Italian mobster accent).

    EP: We’re just speaking it into existence. We’re talking about something it happens. So, next day we’re gonna start talking about money.

    You both came from a bigger group, was there a plan from the outset on what you wanted to achieve as pair, where you wanted this to go, or even if there was a thought to anything further than let’s just make some music and maybe an album?

    MOF: Nah we always knew as little kids we wanted to go all-in. I think it’s just as you get older it’s kinda hard to figure out when and how. But the time came when it was just like, ‘yo, the time is now!’ We’re just gonna figure out as we go on, so let’s just do it. Because I think as time goes on you just understand you are put here for a reason. We figured we were meant to get it poppin’ so let’s just take a shot at it.

    Let’s rewind a lil’ to your older albums - Lone Sharks - devoid of any features. Was this a case of no-one knew who you were to jump on board or you wanted a solid project to show you two could stand alone?

    EP: Still nobody knows who we are. That’s pretty much the case.

    MOF: Still the same, nuttin’ has changed. Starting out we didn’t know anybody in the music industry whatsoever. So anybody we met was just us goin’ out and literally runnin’ into people and buildin’ relationships. But, we didn’t know anyone in the game at all. Especially at that time period, so it was just us two making stuff, you know? If we knew some heavy-hitters they’d be some on there, that’s definitely for sure.

    Well that DIY throughout has been a noticeable staple through your catalogue. I was going to ask if that was by design, but you’ve answered that. So, if Alchemist or Ski Beats rocks up are you giving up the boards to these beatheads?

    EP: Yo, if somebody better comes along we droppin’ everything. Someone dope comes along they producing for us, if a writer comes along, they writin’ for us. If a performer comes along then we’ll just do like the music video aspects, we’ll let them lay down the vocals.

    MOF: They just put the cloak on, with the same build - one white guy, one black guy.

    Get the fuck outta here, now I know you’re talking shit!

    MOF: We just started out doing everything by necessity, we didn’t know anybody. But to answer your question, we’re definitely down. We love Alchemist so we’re definitely down to work with other people, you know? It’s just that, thus far, we haven’t really come into contact with too many other people. But DIY-wise, I definitely think it helps to be self-sufficient in this game because anything can happen. People who you mess with cannot mess with you, label situation could fall through, so it’s always good to know how to put  two and two together by ya damn self just in case.

    EP: You never wanna get in a situation where you need such-and-such in order to do such-and-such.

    Now on Beats For Brothels Vol 3 & 3.5 the guests start jumpin’ off with the likes of Thonio / PartyManThanks / Scooby. What brought this about and what was it like sharing the booth with some outsiders?

    EP: These are our friends, these are people that we’ve known for years. Scoob, he manages us and he was just there. Thonio we’ve known for about ten-plus years now and we just think he’s a talented individual. He can rap, sing - he’s just really talented. The time was right that we had some stuff that we would fit on, so he was all over that album - he can sing better than us. So it’s a case of, like you said, falling back on somebody who’s got the skills to do it. ANd, PartyMan is just another talented producer and he’s our friend too, so it just makes sense for those situations.

    On the latest album, production is tight like prom night though!

    Hahahaha - Heeey!

    Them samples you let ride out on Nexium - they’re on some next level shit! [You’ve Got to Learn (Il Faut Savior) by Charles Aznavour (1974)]

    Beautiful, man! Glad you like it!

    My question is, who does that anymore? Seems like new kids haven’t got the patience to appreciate a nice vinyl tune.

    MOF: For us, we just like cool shit. We come across it and if it sounds good. We come across a lot of stuff that does nothin’ for us and we don’t see anything in, so when we come across some cool shit, we just try to manipulate it, fuck with it and use it to our advantage, you know? So, but a lot of it is luck of the draw and unplanned. It’s almost like the cards falling in our favour at times because you just happen to find some cool shit in a dollar bin or somebody’s grandma is gettin’ rid of some shit or whatever you never know man, so we just try to keep our ears and eyes open and always listenin’ to shit and seein’ what tickles the fancy and we see how we could fuck with it, you know?

    EP: A lot of it is just luck man, we could have easily not come across some of this shit, so I’m just glad we did.

    I imagine that’s half the sweat put into a record?

    EP: Yeah, luckily for us, if we didn’t get another record tomorrow, we’d still be making music, you know? But that’s something that we enjoy and I think that when it comes to production we like to attack from all angles whether sampling or playing some shit out or thinking of some shit so we like to combine all aspects and we have so many ways of arriving at the final product but sometimes something just sticks out and we’re like, ‘yo, we gotta use this!’

    Speaking of that process and the final product - most artists go into a full-length LP with a more careful approach to work than say a mixtape where they fuck around over any given beat they see fit and experiment, you know freestyle, ad-lib. What do you guys do for your Brothel series that you wouldn’t attempt on a studio LP like Peace Kehd or HARK! Where is the major difference in how you construct each?

    EP: The series, initially, was so we could showcase other beats. Because we wanted to make sure that people knew that we were producing, we’re not just rappers, we handle our production as well. So, at first it was kinda like a means to showcase that and also be like a talking point to mention it and just have another opportunity to work with other artists or get placements or you know,and  advertise in film whatever. So that’s what it initially started out as. Then it kind of became an outlet for anything creative that we wanted to do in the moment and maybe it’s more a spur of the moment feels. Like, sometimes on the album you make a real concentrated effort to keep to a theme or a sound and the Series just kinda gave us a chance to just do what we wanted. So, it’s just another good outlet for us. I dunno if we do anything necessarily different but sometimes our approach is a little more loose but it’s kinda hard for us to make music any other way than how we typically make it, so I don’t think it’s too much difference but it’s just another good outlet for us to be creative.

    Can you guys do me a favour and say the name of your album, Peace Kehd?

    Haha oh yea, Peace Keehd, but you can say ‘kid’, it’s all good.

    I wasn’t sure whether it’s some New York shit I didn’t have the accent for, you know?

    Haha course you do. It’s like, when you talk to someone around here they’re like, ‘what up keehd’

    OK, what up keehd, haha. So speaking of Peace Kehd, I’ve got a question for you guys and I want you to put your hand on the bible on this shit. Have you motherfuckers ever actually robbed a Hess gas station?

    Of course!

    Get the fuck outta here.

    Not at gun point but we took some candy haha.

    Oh shit, then we’re all some criminals in here then! It just popped out to me in the lyrics to Holla x2 - apart from where your homeboy describes the female.

    And we got your local Hess robbed /
    Cashier looking like she work a desk job.
    Natural looking like she got a breast job /
    Shorty had the shaved nape with the fresh bob.

    Brilliant. Fucking brilliant.

    EP: It sounds beautiful hearing it back.

    So, off topic now, I checked out the BET Hip Hop Awards couple weeks back... Do you guys watch it?

    EP: Yeah we try to catch it online or wherever.

    I mainly do it for the cyphers, but even they’re fabricated as fuck. My point being, seeing the acts they had perform, Lil Yachty, Lil Uzi Vert, Dae Dae, Desiigner... Desiigner, man what the fuck is he saying? Can you understand him?

    EP: We’re just fans of music, man. We just love music. But yea, we feel like music is back to being diverse again. Everybody’s doing their own thing and where you’re from doesn’t necessarily dictate your sound anymore and it’s just cool to see where it goes every year. Every year something new’s coming out and somebody’s doing something that’s breakthrough and someone else is doing somethin’ different and you hear somebody you think you know exactly where they’re from and you find out their story and it’s totally different. So it’s in a cool and interesting place.

    MOF: I’m waitin’ for that big, Australian act to infiltrate the US market, to take over. Anything’s possible, man..

    Doppelgangaz Interview Australian Tour

    That’s the life of the internet, though. It’s like you said, you can listen to someone and not know where they’re from because so many styles are influenced from the internet it gets harder to pinpoint a geographical sound to hip-hop.

    EP: I guess it’s what you gravitate towards, naturally.

    MOF: Word!

    If you two had to make new rap names starting with ‘Lil’, what are you going with?

    MOF: I might keep it basic and go with Lil Matty, you know? M-A-T-T-Y. E is easy ‘cause he is little in real life. It works perfectly.

    EP: Yeah, I just go with Lil’ E

    Four shows starting early November from Sydney to Perth. What’s the plan? Before you pack a suitcase, what is the must-do when you come down here?

    MOF: Our time is very limited, we got a lot of back-to-back shows. So, our goal is to cram... You know, we’re not trying to sleep at all. Our goal is to just cram as much we can in the short period of time that we’re there. That’s the goal. No sleep, I wanna see as much as we can, I wanna eat as much as we can and cram as many women as we can. We wanna come back, absolutely shot! Then sleep for like, two weeks straight.

    Well if you cram women the way you say you’re gonna do you’re gonna need that much sleep, right?

    EP: Hahaha.

    So Matty Van Rooy hasn’t got anything planned on an itinerary, hold a koala, kiss a kangaroo?

    EP: We’d love to, I just don’t think it’s gonna happen.

    MOF: This is our first time down so next time maybe, we can come down and experience a lot more of every city. We’ve made moves in the past where it’s short. We landed in, um, Greece for a show in Athens and we had no time to do anything. We just crammed as much as we could and saw as much as we could. So we’re not strangers to it so I think we’ll be able to make it happen.

    Just cram less woman, you’ll be fine.

    EP: Yeeah, that’s hard to give up though! They attack us! We be mindin’ our own business.

    Oh it ain’t your fault, huh?

    EP: Right!

    Long fucking flight to get here. What do you do for 20 plus hours in the clouds?

    MOF: We just hope that they got a good movie list.

    EP: Yeah!

    MOF: Good movie list and some beautiful flight attendants.

    You’re going to cram some fucking flight attendants now? Geez.

    EP: You know what’s funny man. I was watching, like, a murder doco and they were talking about a couple who died while hittin’ turbulence while they were taking part in the act to be a part of the Mile High club. The stewardess they had on the show said it’s not, like, illegal to have sex in the air. If they see two people go in the bathroom it’s like, no problem I didn’t realise that. I thought it was legal

    I woulda thought you’d hit max occupancy in a toilet or something.

    EP: For some reason, the way she broke it down, she said they can’t stop it. There’s no consequence for it. So I’m definitely gonna be up in that.

    Well boys, I hope you get some.

    EP: We hope so, too!

    I appreciate your time, have a safe trip. All the best for your shows when you get down here.

    EP:Nah we appreciate it, man!

    MOF: Thank you!

    Catch The Doppelgangaz live this week on their Australian tour.

    Tickets available now at www.mattvanrooy.com

    The doppelgangaz Australian Tour

     
  • Brand New Single And Interview From Melbourne Rapper Eloquor!

    Eloquor Working-Class Australian Hip Hop, Ozhiphop

    Dedicated to the everyday working class battlers, ‘Working Class’ is his first single off Eloquor’s latest LP, celebrating his tenth anniversary in Australian hip-hop.

    ‘Working Class’ finds the Melbourne-based hip-hop powerhouse teaming up with ARIA award winning producer Cam Bluff for an up-tempo stadium anthemic belter. Where Jimmy Barnes left off with his 1985 ‘Working Class Man’ classic ballad, Eloquor readdresses the issues still kicking our arses 31 years on. From the lips of one of Burn City’s most realest emcees, the venomous bars scar deep for most of us on this joint.

    Let’s dissect these fat cats/ who swerve weave and slip tax,

    and earn more than ten men/ but work less than one man.

    Written during his lunch breaks in and around Melbourne’s Balaclava, St Kilda and Prahran suburbs, Eloquor spoke about what his major influence was to write the track, wanting to create a track that speaks to the majority of Australia’s hard-working nation, those he regards as being in the same boat as him grinding away at a paycheck.

    “I feel proud of the hard work I do and I wanted other people in my situation to be proud of the energy they put into paying the bills and keeping their head above water.”

    Check out the brand new single 'Working Class' and interview from Eloquor below.

    Eloquor Interview.

    Eloquor, what’s good? You’re a working class man, as your new track suggests, what has this interview caught you in the middle of, today?

    Well its Friday night, kids are in bed, the Missus is asleep and I'm having a glass of Shiraz and some Cadbury Dairy Milk. A possum is outside my window making some racket.

    Working Class- a highly relatable, new joint. It’s reverberating off the walls in the office of OHHS since we were privileged to have had a sneaky at it through the speakers. Can you briefly run down the song, the process you went through to come up with the theme of it and what it represents? 

    I'm sometimes jealous of rich folk. The peeps with nice rides and pads and high incomes. It shits me that I have to bust my nuts just to get by while others have it way easier. I guess I just wanted to write a track for people in my situation to feel proud of being a hard working Australian.

    Has this any relation to a hip-hop take on Cold Chisel’s classic Australian ballad?

    It does thematically, and I do love a bit of Chisel but I based it around my own experience and the experience of my close mates.

    Previously, you’ve worked with staple beatmakers Jase, Doc Felix through your catalogue. What made you change up to getting Cam Bluff on board for this? 

    Jase and Doc make dope beats. They are true legends and deserve mad respect. I do like to mix it up though and see what other local producers are up to. I heard one of Cam Bluff's beat reels and just had to buy a few. Cam has lots of change ups and bridges in his production which are quite challenging and fun to write to. Plain and simply Cam Bluff makes Boss beats.

    Did he have the right beat that fit or did he craft something that suited your idea?

    Yeah he sent me about 40 beats and there were three in there that I just had to buy. He is a genius. So damn fresh.

    Album release next year will mark 10 years in Australian hip-hop for you. What does that mean to you, hitting such a milestone?

    I'm proud of myself brother. I remember starting this rap game with the goal of being a well respected MC and smashing shows around the country. I can happily say that I've achieved what I set out to do. That's not to say that I haven't concocted some new goals though. There's plenty more to come!

    Melbourne Hip Hop Artist Eloquor Interview

    What would you say has been the most noticeable growth factor in the maturity of your records dating back to 2007? Both lyrically and production-wise.

    Lyrically I'm not afraid to have a bit more fun with it. I like exploring concepts and fantasy a lot more now. I guess I used to write more about hope, dedication and persistence. My tracks were a bit preachy and righteous where now I'm more about ideas and stories. I've also produced one of my own tracks on this new album which is a nice achievement. 

    From the single Working Class to the title of your next album, Lunch - the concept seems to wrap around the 9 to 5. Does the rest of the album speak to the same shared struggle?

    I've got tracks about temptation, women, ego, God, happiness, and troubled youth. Topic-wise its quite broad. I wrote most of the album during my lunch breaks at work, so the album is a collection of my thoughts during lunch.

    That working man’s livelihood is possibly the most common thread this concept has with your fans, what do you hope listeners take away from this album?

    I just don't want people to feel alone in the struggle. I want others to know that I often find life a painful and confusing experience, and if they feel the same way then they are not alone. We are in it together. Suffering together, and laughing together.

    You’ve kept a heavy guest list of collaborators, MCs and producers in your albums - apart from Cam, who did you break bread with on Lunch?

    I've got some guest verses from Reason and Ruste Juxx. Most of the other tracks are just my bars. Regarding production, I've worked with Simplex, 76, Jase, and Cam Bluff on this project. There are a few ripper hooks from some talented local artists as well. 

    Speaking of past collaborators - your old running mate Briggs, with Trials, is doing big-tings with AB-Originals. As a pairing, they seem to be making full use of their strength of music to move a message out to the masses on the injustices and historical inaccuracies of our country’s story. As an educator yourself, what is your take on the concept of what they are doing now?

    I think they are empowering young Indigenous Australians with their tracks. They are great blokes and crucial role models for many Aboriginal youth. I have nothing but love and respect for Briggs and Trials. It important for us to acknowledge the past and move forward together to build a unified Australia.

    The next presidency affects the world we live in, well outside of the U.S. I’m not going to ask which candidate you would choose (if you were an American voter). However, I do want to ask that if you were to sum up this current state of affairs we’re looking down the barrel of?

    I've had a few interesting conversations about this. What I've found is that many people are intrigued by Trump and curious to see what will happen if he wins. I personally think if he wins we are headed for WWIII.

    Thanks for your time mate we look forward to what the future holds.

     Words by Ozhiphopshop staff.

    Keep up to date with Eloquor through the links below.

     
  • Interview! We Caught Up With Black Milk Ahead Of His Upcoming Aus/Nz Tour

    Black Milk Australian Show

    Black Milk stands on his own, a producer/MC working the underground hip-hop circuit with some of hip-hop’s dopest talent, shining hard out of the same city that laid out Motown to J-Dilla to Eminem.

    Producer and MC Curtis Cross AKA Black Milk has been on the grind, working the wheels as well as the mic for over ten years. From Detroit, Michigan, Black Milk first built his rep producing in 2001 for Slum Village, and so opened a credit list alongside the great ones: J Dilla, RZA, The Roots’ Black Thought, Canibus, Pharoahe Monch, Sean Price and Guilty Simpson as the Random Axe collective. Six albums deep to his discography, creating a sound signature unto his own, his dexterity to a beat rings high on a collection of tracks served up with fellow D-Town local Danny Brown letting off bombs on the 2011 EP Black and Brown that received high praise in reviews.

    Most recently, Black united with Brown off his latest LP Atrocity Exhibition (2016) pulling all the stop signs out on the smash ‘Really Doe’. Here, Black Milk tore out a haunting head-nodding chimer tailor made to the nihilism of rap’s most unforgiving trio: Kendrick Lamar and Ab-Soul from Topp Dawg and Odd Future’s Earl Sweatshirt. The latest output pinned Black once again on the map as one of the realest producers a rapper can have on their grocery list. Black Milk makes mountains from beneath an underground soundscape. As an MC he’s known for his steady stream of albums both solo and collaborative, reppin’ the D since 2005’s Sound of the City and beyond.

    Taking his abilities beyond the Motor City, Black Milk is heading down to Australia to perform a live show at Sydney’s Plan B Small Club for a full blown setlist of beatwork and bars. Ozhiphopshop invited J.D. Mack to get in the ear of the one and only where he asked him to drop in on everything from a reuniting Random Axe to his Rebellion Sessions before asking about his plans for Down Under.

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    We are extremely excited to have him back in the Country, here is what he had to say to us.

    Random Axe is some of the dopest shit ever!! Will we ever seen a Random Axe 2 drop or was that album not finished?

    We were in the middle of creating Random Axe 2 when Sean passed. Sean left a lot of verses behind, but it’s still up in the air whether or not the project will be completed.

    The Rebellion Sessions you released this year was some incredible collaborative work with the great Nat Turner, a very relaxing jazz atmosphere is created on this album, easy listening! How did this collaboration come about?

    The making of The Rebellion Sessions was a natural next step for me and the band. We have been playing together live for years and fans always ask if they can take a piece of the show home with them. Although the guys have been featured on my albums in the past, we had never sat in a room altogether to jam and record, so that’s what we did. We recorded the album in one week and it was mixed and mastered within a week after that.

    Tell us  how you find your creative zone? Do you find different sparks of creativity for production and lyrics?

    When I’m not on tour, I’m creating. I’m constantly creating. Not necessarily making songs, but creating in some way. So I’m always in my zone. When it comes to beats, I immerse myself into as music new and old music as possible and get glimpses of inspiration here and there. When it comes to lyrics, I draw from life experiences, so there’s never a shortage there.

    How do u keep your production relevant in the changing climate of hip hop today, with the change into trap and 808’s etc?

    From time to time, I’ll incorporate more current sounds into my production but still make the overall sound my own.

    For younger people looking to get into production, what are some tips or advice you could offer?

    My advice to young artists getting into production is to create a unique sound and master the craft.

    black-milk

    What is the biggest change in hip hop you have noticed with the change in technology? And how has it helped your production?

    The ability to produce with software instead of hardware changed things for mostly everyone. It allows me to create more music more often than before.

    What can Australian fans expect from the upcoming shows?

    Fans can expect to see a live beat set, where I play a lot of my unreleased works, and a short rap performance.

    We look forward to seeing your show.

    Black Milk will be touring Australia in November and for anyone who loves hip hop music this is a must see show. Not only has he mastered the art of production but he has stepping into the spotlight as a prominent MC.

    Do yourself a favour and get along to one of his shows while he is down under, you will not regret this decision. Much love Black Milk, thanks for speaking with us!

    Words by J.D Mack.

     
  • An Industry Shakedown! Interview With Rob Shaker

    Shake Down Records

    OHHS - Hey mate good to catch up for a chat I hope everything has been going well?

    ROB - Hey Travis, yeah good thanks mate. Cheers for having me!

    You have recently announced that you are launching Shake Down Records off the back of Shake Down Studios, how did this come about?

    It’s no secret that I have been self-distributing projects that I have worked on over the last several years through digital distributors and mailing out physical copies so I decided to create an official label to do so. What’s mainly held me back from starting a label is that I’ve always believed that having physical placement in stores was crucial and recently with the announcement that Obese is shutting its doors it’s proven to be the final nail in the coffin of CD sales for non major label artists with in the Australian hip hop community at store level. That made it clear to me that the time was right to start one.

    So you are going to be offering the whole package including distribution?

    Initially the idea was simply to distribute artists that were working on a shared profit project with me. So I would provide all the beats, studio time etc. and they bring the MC’ing for the project. In some cases I would offer to pay up front for any overheads including artwork, printing merchandise and recoup the costs and split the remaining profits.

    To become an online aggregate for companies like iTunes and Google play you need to provide a huge amount of projects to be able to apply, but once approved I could offer online distribution to ‘non-signed’ artists too. Currently online aggregators do this and either take a percentage of sales or take an annual lump sum payment from artists to make their projects available for sale. I haven’t yet decided how I will offer distribution, but one thing that is clear to me is that I don’t want to do a lot of accounting so the quality control will be pretty strict. I want only the best and most deserving projects to be a part of the distribution aspect of the label.

    What will SDR offer distribution wise that say others within our community do not?

    The thing that is most important to me is to put out the best music so I’m willing to be flexible. Depending on the artist and what they want I’m willing to negotiate a distro deal. There are no revolutionary ideas with distribution that I’ll be offering that others don’t know about, but I can lay out the options for each artist and let them choose instead of setting down a contract in front of them and clicking a pen. This for me is not about money. We’ve already seen that labels can’t exist in this day and age if the costs of running are too high, so I want to keep it simple and fair and work towards the project getting the reach it deserves instead of making a big profit. As long as I’m not losing money I’ll do my best to make that happen.

    How should an artist approach SDR if they were looking at seeing if they had what it takes to represent shake down?

    I’ll only offer distro to artists that come through my studio which is one way to maintain quality control so the first thing to do would be book a session or consult to discuss their tunes with me. Most of the guys being offered shared profit deals would already be on my radar so there’s probably no point in approaching me for something like that. I still will help any artist established or otherwise to get their music out there even if it’s just helping them with direction so you’d never lose anything by reaching out. And if honest feedback is what you’re after I can definitely oblige, but don’t expect me to sugar coat it or get back to you quickly. I’m a glass half full kind of bloke so I’ll always give helpful constructive criticism!

    Shaker1

    Is SDR just going to be a hip hop based label or are you open to other styles of music as I know you have dealt and currently deal with many types since opening Shake Down Studio?

    I work on all kinds of genres in the studio, but 99 per cent of it is hip-hop. I’d say there wouldn’t be much other stuff I’d release, but never say never. I distributed a project I worked on with Matt Gresham last year called “The People” which is some sort of folk dub step trap hybrid, but those kind of projects come by once in a blue moon.

    There are a lot of pop up labels out there getting around now what separates SDR from them?

    For years I’ve seen labels pop and disappear or linger around and never release anything. There’s obviously a glamorous idea of owning a record label that many artists think will be the missing link in getting their music out there. I’m sure those that venture into actual distribution and not just selling to their mates will find out that it’s actually not a great business idea at all. I go into this already knowing this and have dealt a fair bit with labels already so I have a decent idea of what’s feasible and what’s ‘reaching for the stars’ so to speak. The main thing for me is that I’ve essentially been running my own label for years and now nothing will change except the official title so I already know it can be done. I also look up to some guys who run really great independent labels like Ciecmate with Broken Tooth Entertainment and learn a lot from them. Guys like him and Discourse and the Crate Cartel guys have found what really works for them and their fan base and I’ll just be feeling my way through the process to get hopefully a similar result. One thing that is common with great independent labels is breeding a culture of collectors with the fans and releasing top quality merchandise and releases.

    Is SDR just going to be releases from Perth based artists or can we expect to see a broad range?

    It will definitely be mostly Perth artists, but I have a few projects with guys from other states that haven’t been released on any labels yet so we’ll see I guess. I like the idea of the label being a platform for WA artists to release tunes, but I’m not strict about it.

    Are you going to be looking for upcoming talent outside of your music crew?

    Yeah for sure, within reason. I definitely have a loyalty to those that have helped me and the (Syllabolix) SBX fam, but I am always keen to hear new guys that are nice with it.

    What will it mean to be a Shake Down Records artist and what does it get the artist compared to if they were to do it themselves?

    The main benefit they’d get I hope would be with branding. I’m hoping if we maintain a high standard just having the logo on a project will certify it worthy of copping. 

    Can you drop a hint or two of any upcoming releases we can expect to hear from SDR?

    The first release was the 'Meat Shake Mixtape Volume 1' which was simply a showcase of some of the guys in the past that have come through the studio and is available for free download. The next release was Mr. Grevis’s first single in a while called ‘I AM METH’ which will be on his third album. The third release will be Kogz’s sophomore album ‘Trash Talk – Music For Mud Crabs’ which is available for pre order now through shakedownrecords.bandcamp.com and will be released July 1. Then there will be a second 'Meat Shake Mixtape' volume and shortly after Tomahawk will drop his long awaited sophomore album ‘Black Swan’ with a 7-inch single to go with it. 

    Shaker2

    Now that you are a label does that mean you are now officially taking care of the SBX back catalogue?

    There have been a few discussions with a couple of SBX members about releases in the back catalogue that are now out of contract or have never been distributed digitally, but nothing set in stone. Most of the major releases are taken care of, but I’d definitely offer it to anyone that wanted it of course. 

    Can we expect to see any represses especially now since hip hop in Australia as a whole has grown and there is an even bigger fan base for the beloved SBX than ever? ( I can feel the grippers and flippers hands tightening around my throat as I type this.)

    I couldn’t tell ya mate. As much as there could be a good financial gain from represses I really like the exclusivity of limited runs of vinyl. With releases I’ve done before like ‘Graphic – Raw Intelligence’ and ‘SMOG’ I actually went for lathe cut so that I could limit the run to really low numbers. Moving forward I’ll go for pressing mainly due to a better consistency with the audio quality, but I’ll still try and keep the numbers reasonable. In terms of SBX represses that would be left up to the artist or in Hunts case his family and estate.

    It is really important to me for artists and crews to build a culture of collectors with their fans. So releasing good quality limited runs of exclusive merchandise is paramount. The down side of this is that it feeds the greedy grip and flippers who are in to making a quick buck and not at all the music. Unfortunately ya can’t have dedicated fans that want the collectible stuff without the greedy blokes trying to make a quick buck. That’s just life though – Where ever there are things of value there are people trying to make a living off it.

    More about the studio, can you give 3 tips to artists looking at using the services of Shake Down Studios?

    It’s all common sense stuff really. I’m really flexible and can work on a project at any stage of development even if only the basics are down, but if you want your project to go smoothly and spend as little time ironing out problems and most of the time effectively I would suggest:

    1. Having your lyrics well rehearsed and if possible memorised. Some people like to read lyrics off the screen as they’re recording as kind of a safety thing mainly to help with their confidence and I get that. If you’re concentrating on reading your lyrics you’re generally not able to concentrate on your delivery. The way vocals are delivered with cadence, flow, tone etc. should really be the focus in my opinion.
    1. If you’re bringing your instrumentals with you, make sure you get the stems off the producer. The quality of mix and master we can get with the stems is considerably better than with a stereo bounce and make sure they are all WAVS or high quality audio files and not mp3s. The other thing is you can be sure the beat is original if the producer is selling stems and beat plagiarism is very present online.
    1. If you’re coming in to make a beat for a live composition session with myself or Daz, make sure you have a clear idea of what you want. If you bring references of beats or styles you want that would be ideal. Don’t use words like “classic, epic, old school, bangin” to describe what you want. That doesn’t give us an idea of what you want musically. Ultimately you’ll waste money by us going down an incorrect path and having to start over.

    What are 3 mistakes you see artists making when recording their own projects?

    1. Editing vocals: One of the most important parts of making a clean well produced sounding song is editing back up and chorus vocals so that there are not a lot of messy over laps. It’s pretty basic to do using time stretch and splitting/moving waveforms, but I still hear lots of tracks with vocals all over the place. It’s time consuming, but spend the time to make it perfect or get someone who can do them quickly to do it.
    1. Compression: It’s a process that is difficult to understand, but now with presets in plugins people often go too hard or not hard enough on compression. It can drastically change the sound of the vocals or master if used incorrectly. If you don’t understand it either learn or get someone who does to mix the vocals.
    1. The extra few %: When the track is recorded and mixed think about what can be done to make the track more interesting. Dropping out parts of the beat to emphasize the lyrics, or does the track need a bridge? Could some cuts really bring the track to life? If you aren’t sure ask people whose opinion you trust. The standard verse, chorus structure can be a bit boring if used too much.

    What would be the best way for an artist to reach out to you regarding the label or studio services?

    rob@shakedownstudio.com.au

    Shake Down Studio Facebook

    Rob Shaker Facebook

    Good speaking to you and i wish you all the best for the label and studio. 

    Ozhiphopshop.com Rob Shaker Interview.

    Words by Travis Broi

    Photography by Daniel Craig, Michelle Grace Hunder, Joshua Morton.

    SHAKEDOWNRECORDS RED

     

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