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Wednesday, 24 February 2010 10:42

The Gaslamp Killer Interview

Turn The Lamp Down Low

At a time when DJs switch their entire sound at the request of a promoter like they’re changing undies, The Gaslamp Killer is an enigma; a DJ on a quality controlled mission to warp minds and bring the real, raw shit everywhere he goes.

A tasteful purveyor of beats ranging from dusty, head-nodding instrumentals through to wobbling dubstep and even into rock, The Gaslamp Killer combines turntablism with remarkably on-point selection to weave his way through genres like a Jewish shark. He’s abrupt, a self-confessed neurotic, and he’s on his way to Brisbane.

I’m interested to know what exactly it was that led him to want to destroy an entire section of San Francisco, namely the infamous Gaslamp District. “I grew up in San Diego, and the Gaslamp District is where most of the clubs are and it's one of the only areas for a DJ to gig ... it is populated mostly by people who go out to the clubs expecting Britney Spears and Nelly.

“I have always played some ‘other shit’ and every time the promoter would book me, hoping that the people in the club would understand or appreciate the style of music I play and the way I play it. Well ... they didn't. They hated it. I played many nights in the Gaslamp District and killed these fuckin’ yuppies ears every time. Hence The Gaslamp Killer.”

Search the Internet and Gaslamp’s name is synonymous with Low End Theory, a club night reaching legendary status in LA - a hotbed of talented producers and DJs refusing to bend their sound and ideals to the market place. What’s it like to share the stage weekly with crew like DJ Nobody, Daddy Kev, Flying Lotus and Daedelus? “The Low End Theory is a movement. It's a place where young people can go to be themselves and where artists can truly express their artistic selves on and off stage, and we can take it where ever we wanna go.

“Low End Theory has more support than almost any other musical/ artistic movement of its kind and of its time ... it's constantly packed with 400 to 700 young people who actually wanna hear some new shit and love what we do. I would not be the artist or the man I am without the Low End Theory.”

With a wealth of beat-matching software and piles of don’t-work-too-hard-at-your-craft hardware available to the modern DJ, it would seem that the art of turntablism seems to be dying to a certain extent - what’s Gaslamp’s take on this? “It has always been a lost art that only the truly hungry young DJ will take the time to learn to cut nowadays, let alone juggle. But there are some amazing ‘tablists out there still, cutting and doing routines that shit on their elders, it's just not as popular anymore.

“Q (DJ Qbert) is the homie. Whenever I'm up in San Francisco I try and stop by his place to practice. He even made it out to the Prefuse 73 and GLK show we had a few weeks ago.”

On the eve of Gaslamp’s second trip down under, the man is excited to be headed our way and has even come in contact with a unique Australian life form previously - the bogan. “This will be my second time to Australia, but I have not actually made it there yet. I'm in Wellington, NZ now and loving it. I am very excited to be coming back to Australia, and this time I am much more prepared to really rock some crowds. I’ve been waiting for this tour for some time now and I'm very happy it’s almost time. I have met a few bogans in my day and they are still nicer people than our American morons like on the Jersey shore and shit. They are the worst, trust me!”

Elements of the dubstep scene can be slightly militant – I’m interested to hear what GLK has planned for the purists. “I try to embody hip hop as well as rock n roll. On stage I channel both spirits ie. rock and rap. One set can range from Black Sabbath and Jimi Hendrix to Dre and Dilla to Flylo and Dimlite to some Indian bollywood and Turkish psych. Expect an educational set with a touch of rock n roll energy and eclectic exorcisms. I rock the party my way, that's all. My rules, no industry standards apply.”

The Gaslamp Killer plays The Step Inn Saturday March 6.

Wednesday, 20 January 2010 15:28

Aston Shufffle Interview

They Refuse To Sing The Blues

The Aston Shuffle were everywhere in 2009 - you could comfortably say that between them and Bag Raiders, Australia had given birth to a couple of world-class live electronic groups crunching out lyrical synth anthems. Scene catches up with Mikah Freeman for some Q&A lovin’.

Is it weird when you start to get a bit of a roll on, and things start to move much more quickly? What’s the plan for 2010? Last year was a massive year for us, especially the touring side of things. It was absolutely crazy and gets quite hectic at times, we often forget where we played the week before, it seems like all the gigs just roll into one. This year we are all about getting the album done and getting the live show together, really looking forward to getting stuck in!

With ‘Do You Want More’, how far into the recording/ production process were you when you realised you had something pretty big? Was it a head-nodding moment between the two of you? How has it been received overseas?

We had been working on some less-clubby ideas, we definitely want to try and challenge ourselves to do something outside straight-up club music really. We had a bunch of ideas sitting around and we were really vibing on this one in particular which was sent to a good friend of ours Danimal Kingdom, who is in Kissy Sellout's band ... the vocal he came back with blew us away and the rest of the record was done very quickly after that, the head nods came thick and fast. The feedback from overseas has been great.

I’ve heard you guys described as “the Australian Justice”, and I guess it’s somewhat valid in that you produce lyric-based, filtered electro with a dirty, raw sound  – how does that sit with you? Where do you draw the line when comparing yourself to other artists?

Wow we've never heard that comparison before! Although it’s a really big compliment, we honestly don't like to compare ourselves with anyone, we don't actually try to emulate any one particular sound. We have a lot of musical influences spanning different genres and decades, every production you hear from us is what we are inspired by at that particular time. We are driven just to write good music, as opposed to a particular style or to fit in a particular box. If that makes any sense.

I read recently where you said; “We’re just trying not to fuck anything up because the dole queue looks long”. Honestly, if it weren’t for music, what would the two of you be doing?

Vance would be a mad scientist and Mikah would be a super hero truck driver.

People tend to presume that once you get regular airplay on Triple J that you’ve ‘made it’ – cue groupies, coke and long entry lines for clubs. How different is this from the reality? Just how much correlation is there between high rotation and bigger crowds?

It's an amazing feeling to hear one of your records being played on a radio station like Triple J, it certainly opened a lot of doors for us like playing at Australia's most prestigious festivals such as Homebake, Parklife etc. It certainly hasn't changed us though, if anything it has made us more driven because the pressure is on to keep raising the bar in terms of the quality of our music and performances.

Who are your favourite Australian producers/ DJs at the moment?

We are huge big fans of The Bag Raiders, Beni, Knightlife, Sam La More, Shazam, Lost Valentinos.

Of all the big names you have supported, who stands out as having laid down the best set you’ve ever heard? For a combination of amazing music and technical skill?

We don't really care about the technical side of things, for us it’s all about the performance - apart from the chin strokers in the crowd no one really cares if the DJ is using five CDJs at once. An example of an amazing technical performer is A-Trak, he was pretty amazing on the Parklife tour, that dude really does have skills and knows how to rock a party. But we were also really blown away by DJ sets of The Bloody Beetroots and Steve Aoki when those guys were out here last, we have never seen reactions like that before ... madness !!!

The Aston Shuffle play two shows on Australia Day, January 26 - Feel The Heat at The Fox Hotel Street Party, and Something On Australia Day at Fisherman’s Wharf, Gold Coast.

Wednesday, 14 April 2010 15:08

Ruby Tramp’s Fifth Birthday Interview

Well if It’s Going To Be That Sort Of Party ...

As one of the Gold Coast’s most-loved club venues, The Ruby Tramp is getting ready to throw a banging fifth birthday party - expect nothing less than a shindig of epic proportions, featuring none other than DJ Falcon.

Hey Hutch! Thanks for chatting with Scene - so, you have pretty much been there since day dot. How has Rubies changed over that time? What about the Surfers Paradise clubbing community - I feel like it's become more educated and less overtly commercial …

I was working for the previous owners when they designed and built Ruby Tramp  five years ago; the overall style of Ruby has changed somewhat to suit the ever changing tastes of our clientele. Over time, the increasing popularity of Ruby Tramp has allowed it to still be a great starting spot for cocktails but now it has also become known as a great late night club where people can dance on the tables till dawn. A key part of this transformation has been due to the evolution of our music policy. Initially, Ruby played primarily uplifting house music but over the past few years we have noticed a larger portion of the local community is becoming more educated and there is a demand for upcoming underground electronic acts not only from around Australia but also internationally.

Since Jon (promoter) came on board, the quality and clout of the weekly acts has gone consistently up - how does this all add up to a superior night out in Surfers?

He has more than three years experience as a promoter for a number of club nights and venues, so although he is young he comes with a wealth of experience. Working with great staff helps me source new acts and concepts that I may not have discovered otherwise. I like unique events which incorporate ideas such as the artists painting canvasses live.

Who have been three of the biggest acts you've had through in the past two years? Can you describe some of the dance floor mayhem you've seen?

It’s hard to pin down just three of the biggest acts because whilst we like to book great internationals we really like to support good Aussie acts too. If I was to split it into top three Australian acts, I would have to say Bag Raiders, Architecture In Helsinki and Midnight Juggernauts, and of the many international heavyweights we have had the top three would be Holy Ghost (DFA /NYC), Mike Simonetti (Italians do it better/NYC) and of course Soulwax's One Man Party really got the place rocking. Regarding dance floor mayhem I have seen so many random hook ups it's not funny, witnessed many a Melbourne shuffle, a million hair flicks, enough grinding to make P-Diddy blush and on good nights I have seen the Ruby Tramp dance floor resemble a festival with a crowd full of hands in the air.

So, fifth birthdays generally tend to involve copious amounts of too-strong cordial, lollies, screaming kids and at least one tantrum - sounds like nothing will be different: what can people expect on the night?

Well, with DJ Falcon from the Daft Punk Crew on the decks, it really will be a night where people can expect to feel the love, unleash their inner child and party with the extended family that is the Ruby Tramp crowd. There will be lots of the now-famous table dancing and no doubt a heap of regulars partying like they have had a lot of red cordial!

What's the single strangest, most unexplainable thing you guys have found at the clean up at the end of the night?

By far the weirdest thing I ever saw was an artificial arm with a handcuff on it under a couch, now that's a sign of a good night.

Where would you like to take the club over the next decade?

Ruby Tramp has always had a great reputation as being a market leading club; we keep our ears open and listen to those in the know so that we can adapt to the ever changing style of the music scene. Ideally, I want to continue this trend and see the club cement its position on the coast and around Australia as somewhere that pioneers fresh local acts and gives them a chance to play alongside some of the most cutting-edge acts from across the globe.

Catch DJ Falcon at Ruby Tramp, Surfers Paradise on Sat April 17.

Wednesday, 08 September 2010 10:52

Chromeo Interview

Superfly

Laidback and dapper as fuck, lead singer and flying vee lover Dave One is on the line ahead of the release of Chromeo’s latest funk-fuelled excursion into space, ‘Business Casual’, and an impending Australian tour.

Speak to Dave even for a minute and you just know he’s a clued-in cat, quick with a funny response and attuned to specific cultural subtleties, including the better-than-ever-disguised Australian bogan. Not surprising for a guy who was so far ahead of the curve when it came to appreciating 80s AM soft rock and pop for what it was - an exercise in ingenious songwriting.

My first dalliance with Chromeo came at Good Vibrations two years ago, where Dave One and P-Thugg hit the stage in the late afternoon and managed to lift flagging, sick-of-same-same-DJs spirits by the short and curlies, causing some serious moves to be busted throughout the crowd and putting a smile on most dials. Such is the power of Chromeo.

“I’m in downtown Dallas, Texas. I don’t know if it’s beautiful, but it’s hot. All the preconceptions are pretty much true when it comes to rednecks. As long as we have fans and can put on shows, I’m happy.”

Is that sense of infectious fun something that the duo aims to create everywhere, every time they tour?

“Of course; with the live aspect, definitely. When we’re in the studio, it’s more about disciplined hard work, but the live aspect is all about having fun. That infectious sense of fun - of course,” he says.

“That Good Vibrations tour was alright. We were on the same bill as Q-Tip and The Pharcyde and that was cool. Every time we do a big summer tour in Australia we have a great time. We met a million bogans. A lot of bogans are actually Chromeo fans, so that’s OK. You guys have, like, undercover, hipster bogans who wear neon shorts and fluoro headbands, but deep down I can tell they work out and they go tanning. They like The Presets, but deep down they’re still bogans.”

Chromeo are in an interesting spot. They channel the best of the 80s (think Toto, Hall & Oates and Chicago) like few others, but ask Dave about the dreaded ‘joke music’ tag, and you’ll understand quickly that he takes his music very seriously indeed. This, to someone who grew up in the 80s learning every word to pop songs from the radio, is heartening.

“Growing up, that was what marked my childhood, watching those videos and being mesmerised by those people’s characters and also, later on, just coming to realise the pop perfection of their production. For me there’s no joke value there, it’s perfect pop music, music that combined mass appeal and really interesting technical innovation and experimentation. It came at a time where rock and soul musicians were starting to experiment with machines and computers and synthesisers and the genres were really blending. Disco was blending in with orchestral movie soundtrack textures and for me it was really interesting, and we pay homage to that with sincerity that is so earnest that people think it might be ironic, but it’s not. Even though there’s a dose of humour and a modern element.”

I tell Dave my first sex might have been to Robert Palmer.

“Your first sex to Robert Palmer? Wow, that was early. I had my first sex to ‘D.A.N.C.E’ by Justice. I had my first sex to the last Midnight Juggernaut's single (laughs).”

Then I remember that it was actually 10cc’s ‘I’m Not In Love’ for me.

“That’s great. 10cc! My shit was probably hip hop. Probably a slow jam, like an Aayliyah song or something.”

It’s at this point I have a confession to make to Dave. You know when you get song lyrics wrong? Like, publicly wrong? Yeah, well I thought the chorus of Chromeo’s hit from 2007’s ‘Fancy Footwork’, ‘Tenderoni’, was ‘You’re my tenderloin’. I’ve been singing it like that for years. I also thought that ‘Start Me Up’ by The Rolling Stones was ‘Pistachio’. Has Dave ever done that?

“‘Tenderloin’. I like that a lot. We were speaking French growing up, so it was all a big mystery to us. I remember I couldn’t understand what Sade was saying in ‘Smooth Operator’. It just sounded like ‘Smooth Opalala’ (laughs). And then that bit - blink a blonk, LA to Chicago (laughs). Chicago was as clear as day, but the rest of it ... all of Michael Jackson. It’s mainly gibberish. ‘Keep on with the force .. don’t stop’. Really? The force? That’s what he says? You get to karaoke, you pick a Michael Jackson song because you think you know what he says, and you read the lyrics and you end up making a fool of yourself.”

Chromeo have made a solid step up with each album to date, and ‘Business Casual’, mixed by Cassius’s Phillipe Zdar, is no exception. Dave explains the process behind the recording and what Zdar brought to the table.

“We’re bringing ideas to the table and stuff that we each had started or we’d worked together in a very preliminary sort of way. We had narrowed down the ten or so songs that we wanted to have on the album, it was just a question of putting them together. We had more to prove. A song like ‘Don’t Turn The Lights On’, for instance, which is a little more sophisticated ... we’ve had kids now, so I can’t be doing a million songs that sound like ‘Tenderloin’ ... (giggles) ... we got string sections, we’ve got seven-minute songs, we’ve got ballads in French. It was a record that was uncharted for us and it did take a lot of work. Even the way I’m singing is a little different.

“Phillipe’s the architect of our big sound, he’s the reason our music has that big, analogue, Quincy Jones-type flavour. I go to Paris, he mixes the songs and I tell him what I think, but he gives his advice. Have you heard the album? A song like ‘You Make It Rough’, he was like ‘We should make it even longer’, so we extended it for a minute. He helped us make the French ballad shorter. Every chance we get we big him up and thank him for it.”


‘Business Casual’ is out September 17. Chromeo plays Summafieldayze at Doug Jennings Park, the Gold Coast on Sunday January 2, 2011.

Wednesday, 14 July 2010 10:37

Fat Freddy's Drop Interview

One Drop

When Fat Freddy’s Drop beat programmer and founding member Fitchie answers the phone for our interview, it almost sounds like he’s expecting a call from a spammer.

He seems slightly guarded - or perhaps he's just being extremely laidback. This is, after all, one of the most chilled members of one of the most chilled sounding bands on the modern musical landscape.

Since forming from the ashes of several other NZ jam/ dub outfits (including The Black Seeds and Trinity Roots) some ten years ago, Fat Freddy's Drop has become one of the most successful and accomplished roots bands in the world right now. Appreciated as much, if not more, throughout Europe as they are in Australasia thanks to being picked up by a range of European spinners in the mid-noughties on the back of 'Midnight Marauder', the Drop is an eight-headed sound machine that's always silk smooth. Still fiercely independent and on the way over for a national tour, and a massive Splendour celebration, Fat Freddy's isn't going anywhere anytime soon, with a new live album in the can and about to hit shelves - recorded at the spiritual home of one William Shakespeare, no less.

“We've got a sneaky new live album out in New Zealand today. It's called 'Live At The Roundhouse London'. The Roundhouse is in Camden, and is the home of Shakespeare. It was an amazing place to play; we did two nights there at the end of quite a lengthy tour, both sold out, and the second night was a particularly good performance. We generally record everything we do live to pick back through and see if there were any good ideas. So we mastered that up and it's on the shelf now in NZ, soon in Australia.”

In terms of the next studio effort, hugely anticipated from Aoteroa to Zurich, they're trying to get back into the studio just before Christmas.

“We're going to go back to our traditional style of recording and not spend too much time on the next one. Going back to playing as a band in the studio and use the best takes. The last album was a bit more of an overdubbed, track-by-track album.”

Last time I caught Fat Freddy's, I was absolutely gobsmacked to see that, for a premier dub outfit, they don't use much live bass, which, along with the drum kit, generally forms the backbone of any like-minded ensemble. Fitchie, of course, has an answer.

“We've always gone for that … we never had a drummer. It always left us open to walk into a club and play a bit more electronically. I think we find it quite easy … I quite often start off laying down a bassline electronically, and our keyboard player sometimes plays some bass. It's quite hard to tell from the crowd who's playing what.”

Travelling the world as an eight-piece must be akin to travelling with a small circus - what's their take on life on the road with that many people?

“It's been a quiet year up until now,” Fitchie says softly. “The last half of the year is going to be crazy with touring … almost everyone in the band has kids these days, so we sort of plan it like that. When we approach festivals like Splendour, it's mostly that time factor. We usually do two-hour shows when we're headlining, and get a chance to take people on a bit more of a journey, so with festivals you've got to get in there quick and bang it out. You just don't have that luxury at festivals.

“But we're excited. Touring can be like a small circus. It can be. The show has definitely grown - there's seven or eight on stage these days. We've got a fairly big crew to support us too. I still love going on the road and touring. I played a lot of sport when I was younger, so that got me used to life on the road.

“For me, I find Berlin a very exciting place to hang out. It's funky, it's cosmopolitan and chic. I've almost moved there countless times over the years. Or anywhere in Spain for the food.”

One last question that he's probably sick to death of - what the hell is in the Kiwi water to turn out such universally loved reggae?

“I dunno. There's just a big scene over here. I'm not sure why reggae and drum and bass - I guess it's an island lifestyle, and it's got something to do with Bob Marley.”

Fat Freddy’s Drop plays Splendour In The Grass July 31. They also play The Coolangatta Hotel, Sunday, August 1.

Wednesday, 26 May 2010 10:11

Gift Of Gab Interview

El Gifto Magnifico

Not only is Timothy Parker, better known to the worldwide hip hop community as Bay Area rapper Gift Of Gab, one of the most dextrous and imaginative MC’s on the planet - he’s one of the nicest.

On the back of a career that includes Blackalicious, tons of collaborations with the uber-talented Solesides collective (including DJ Shadow, Lateef and Lyrics Born among other legends of the game) and several well-loved solo drops, Gab has remained humble and positive about his place in the hip hop food chain. When I tell him I consider his latest release, ‘Escape 2 Mars’, his best work, he’s stoked, despite the fact that I’m a middle aged white boy from the other side of the planet.

“Wow - you mean my best work as far as a solo artist? Wow - right on, I appreciate that man. I’m definitely proud of it, although I was a little nervous. With songs like ‘Electric Waterfall’ and a few others, I dabbled in electronica, and I’d never done that - it just felt like something new, something I hadn’t done. Are my fans really gonna understand what I’m trying to do? I’m always my own worst critic, because I’m constantly onto the next project, and by the time the last one drops, I might be in a whole different place musically,” he says in an warm, even baritone.

‘Escape 2 Mars’ is the sort of album that not every MC could attempt. Lyrically, between some party bangers, the album is concerned with the end of the earth, and the very real possibility that this planet of ours might not be inhabitable in the not-too-distant-future. Gab handles difficult and potentially depressing subject matter with an inventiveness and lyrical dexterity that makes the subject material come alive.

“It became a conscious decision throughout the recording process. Blackalicious were doing a show to spread awareness about global warming, and I got interested. Then I saw ‘An Inconvenient Truth’, and I was inspired. Who’s to say this planet isn’t like the human body? If you don’t take care of the human body, it’s gonna pick up diseases. Who’s to say that the planet isn’t exactly the same? The two songs that pick up the theme the most are ‘Escape 2 Mars’ and ‘Electric Waterfalls’, and I kinda started the album on that note. As a result, I decided to go with that theme for the record.”

True to his nature, Gab is typically even-handed when it comes to the question - what is real hip hop these days?

“Once you start to say ‘that’s real and that’s fake’, it becomes like political dogma. Everyone has their own view and tastes and what they like, what they expect from hip hop, and that’s different for every person. Obviously, I grew up on A Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul, Run DMC, LL Cool J, Jungle Brothers, Brand Nubian, Gang Starr - that’s the music that made me fall in love with hip hop. You have different generations who don’t have that same reference point, so you have to understand that. My only complaint, particularly being a lyricist, is that some young MCs have never battled. I started rhyming in ‘83, so I had the blessing of rhyming for the sake of rhyming, whether it was battling or to gain a reputation in my neighbourhood, or even in my school. That was when everything was pure. The only thing I’d say (against the kids) is that anyone can get on a computer and call themselves a rapper I’ve never been anti-gansta rap - I’ve always been anti-wack rap,” he says with a chuckle. “Some of the best albums have been pure gansta - I’m just anti-whack.”

Gab’s stayed tight with his Solesides buddies over the years - it seems like the kind of friendship that’s hard to break ...

“No doubt man, no doubt. I’m on a song on Lyrics Born’s new album. Me and Lateef talk all the time - that’s my brother right there. Me and X, we’re in the works of the next Blackalicious album, we’re about seven songs in. I keep contact with Shadow as well. We’re a family - we started doing this thing when we were kids. I grew up with those guys. You can’t break that shit up man.”


Gift Of Gab plays X & Y Bar, Saturday June 12. ‘Escape 2 Mars’ is out now through Other Tongues.

Wednesday, 19 May 2010 14:18

Kasino Interview

A Life In Paint

Kasino, AKA Jason ‘Dax’ Woodward, is a Queensland icon. As one of the founding fathers of Brisbane’s graffiti community, he’s an artist recognised worldwide for his sheer talent and dedication to the hip hop lifestyle.He will be guest judge at ‘Tag’ this weekend, so Scene caught up for a chat about graffiti and legality.

I'm guessing you've judged a few of these in your time. So, with the upcoming 'Tag' competition, what will you be looking for?
Originality, style and overall aesthetics.

Does Brisbane's graff community have a distinctive flavour? Does location have an effect on the style of art being put up?
It used to before the internet became prevalent, now it's not so much. The early 80s and 90s there was more emphasis on isolation and regional flavour.

You've been involved in the Brisbane graff scene as long as anyone now - what's changed over the years? What's stayed the same? What should change?
It has become more of a commercial practice. Private school kids have gotten involved and the BCC has introduced a zero tolerance towards aerosol painting. There is still lots of talent out there, just less and less legal walls for people to display their work.  

Your art has seen you travel all over the world - what's Australia's attitude (generally) like towards street art? Are things improving or getting worse?
Brisbane's attitude is still not that great. I can still go to Germany or Amsterdam and get commissioned to paint for a music festival or show, there's one on pretty much every weekend. Whereas here in Brisbane, the BCC is continuing to ban legal walls, and although graffiti has been around for 25 years, the Council feel that they are 'fighting the battle' and winning.

Where's your favourite place in the world for street art and why? Favourite artists? In terms of Australia, where's the best shit happening right now?
New York - it's the birth place of the movement. And Amsterdam. Favourite artists - Os Gemeos from Brazil and Barry Twist McGee. Best stuff in Australia? Melbourne.

‘Tag’ happens at the Dowse Bar carpark at the Iceworks, Paddington SUN MAY 23 from 2pm onwards. Beats supplied by Charlie Hustle and Youth - there’s some slamming prizes, so don’t forget your cans.

Wednesday, 07 April 2010 10:30

Choose Mics Interview

The Mics Sound Nice

Despite being largely ignored on a national level, Queensland hip hop is emerging from the shade of the underground, putting its motherfucking hands in the air and making people sit up and take notice -  thanks largely to up-and-coming crews like the Gold Coast’s Choose Mics.

DJ Mules and MC Haunts have been creating music together in the hip hop desert that is the Gold Coast since 2006. Their debut release, ‘Beggars Can’t Be Choosers’ is about to drop with some help from Obese on the distribution side of things, and it’s one of the better Aussie hip hop releases this year, and certainly in the top five Queensland hip hop releases thus far.

Dense, brooding and absolutely packed with dope rhymes that hit hard as well as bringing a smile to an attentive listener’s face thanks to Brommy-accented MC Haunts, ‘Beggars ... ’ is real hip hop, miles away from beer-and-bbq nonsense. Along with The Optimen, Coalition Crew and Pure Product, they are part of the new Queensland breed pushing a distinct sound that’s going to make the rest of the country pay attention quick smart.

“I was doing some work with Trace Elements, the old M-Phazes crew, and I was doing some beats with them,” says MC Mules when asked about how they hooked up and the progression from there.

“Haunts happened to be the fourth, unofficial member, and so we ended up hooking up through them. We were both sort of on our own, and it’s just gone from there. There just wasn’t anything else for us to do - we don’t surf, we love our hip hop, and here we are. It’s been a natural progression; we’ve been listening to hip hop since we were little. We’ve done a whole lot of touring recently, supporting Bliss N Eso, Phrase and The Funkoars - but our support tends to come from anywhere else but the Goldie,” he laughs.

“We live here, it’s a place to come back to, but most of our fans and the heavy interest in us comes from abroad.”

Listen to the album and it’s not hard to see why - Haunts lends the sound an international flavour, while Mules’ beats tend towards the darker side of the sonic spectrum. As is often the case, Choose Mics are about eight tracks into their latest album as they prepare to tour ‘Beggars ...’, which is often a good time for a bit of introspection. With hindsight, how do they feel about their baby?

“We’ve moved on. We keep getting better. We put this out and we just want to do something better, just keep getting better and building on it. I’m very happy that this is our debut release because I went for a sound that didn’t sound like anyone else - I hope! We’re very happy, especially with the response we’re getting. We’re starting to get some daytime spins on Triple J, a lot of people are calling in and requesting. It’s gone really well so far man. We just do our thing. We’re just doing us.

“Hip hop consumes your life - I wake up and I do this every day. It’s all I do. It’s a complete lifestyle - all we seem to do is talk about hip hop,” he laughs.

“It’s just ridiculous, we get to the point sometimes where it’s like ‘shut up you boring f#$%’, you know ... there’s just nothing else in our lives. It’s unintentional.”

Mules’ influences include classic boom bap, Madlib, L.E.S and general golden-era, 90’s-based hip hop - what does he think about the younger generation of rappers brought up on a diet of pure Aussie hip hop in a time where The Hilltop Hoods are one of the biggest acts in the country?

“It’s cool - I’ve found some people take it too far at times, like those guys that will only listen to Australian hip hop. There’s so much good music out there that it’s like saying you’ll only listen to Australian rock. It’s almost on the border of racism - it’s to the point of ‘keep it Aussie’, and you’re like ‘settle down a bit’,” he laughs. “You’re missing out, really, but it’s definitely cool that hip hop has so much traction in this country these days.


‘Beggars Can’t Be Choosers’ is out April 9 through Formula Recordz/ Obese.

Wednesday, 17 February 2010 14:21

Shwayze Interview

Shwingin’ and Struttin’

Cisco Adler and Aaron Smith, better known to Generation Y and beyond as MTV reality stars and sunny-side-up musicians, are Shwayze.

Wednesday, 10 February 2010 10:08

Elgusto Interview 10.02.11

Nod That Head

As one half of slow-burn instrumental beatsmiths Hermitude, Angus Stuart, aka Elgusto, is a purveyor of some of the finest smoke-drenched beats produced in this country - and with DJ Krush including him on his list of producers to watch, you know the quality is A-grade.

The UK has been on it for decades. The Japanese have their own movement, complete with big weekly shows in the major cities and the sort of reverence from the kids towards the jocks usually reserved for rock stars. And when it comes to dark instrumental hip hop and blunted beats, Australia is finally waking up to the fact that music can sit below the 100bpm mark, still fill a room and get the noggin’ noddin’. After all, variety is the spice of life.

“I grew up listening to Ninja Tune stuff, and that was the sort of music I cared about back then, and it was impossible to go out and hear it back then. I guess, for us, we’ve always wanted to do that style and we just kept doing it and putting it out. We’d blend in with hip hop gigs as well where there’d be rappers, but generally we’ve always been on the edge of that scene. So yeah, it’s nice to see it come around and see all these instrumental nights happening. Like this Gaslamp Killer show coming up, even though it’s going to be a bit heavier, it’s still for the headz, you know? Like in Sydney you’ll go out and there’ll be a big crew heading out specifically for this type of music and it’s getting bigger.“

So what’s he packing in his backpack for the upcoming Gaslamp support?

“Yeah, I’ll be playing wobbly, heavy, experimental, instrumental hip hop. That whole new, future style of thing that’s happening at the moment. It’s great to see what’s happening in this scene at the moment, ‘cos things were in danger of going stale for a minute there.

“It’ll be a two-deck set on the night, with me running Serato, rocking plenty of new tunes and some unreleased stuff that I’ve been working on, some Hermitude shit that we’ve been working on - it’ll be a basic DJ set.”

If, like me, you’ve been following the career and music of Hermitude since their inception, it’s hard not to notice that each album gets a little darker, a bit more more subversive and ... squelchy. With baby number four on the way, I’m keen to know if they will keep heading down the path they have carved in the rock.

“The influences were coming through back then. I’m glad the weed comes through the music. The next album is probably going to be a bit more squelchy and bleepy I reckon. We’re definitely using a lot more synths, and we’ve changed up the way we’ve been writing. Definitely a bit more on the wonky tip, but we’ll just have to wait and see.”

How does being a drummer affect the way you put a track together? Is the beat always first?

“Not always. Most of the time I’ll find a drum sound or sample and start chopping it up. My basis is the drum kit, so I am all about the rhythm, but it depends on the vibe at the time. I chopped up and sampled my own drums a lot on ‘Threads’, the last album. I’d play drums onto tape, then we sampled that and cut it up - it was a lot of fun and we haven’t done a lot of that before.”

I ask Elgusto his thoughts on the dubstep explosion, and his answer is typically honest and illuminating.

“Dubstep was really cool when it came along, really exciting - to me it’s a different beast to experimental hip hop, but the two feed off each other a bit. Dubstep got really big, really quickly in Sydney - now it’s kind of plateaued a bit. There’s too many similar-style dubstep tracks coming out - you think ‘I’ve heard this before’.

“The crap is starting to come out - people weren’t innovating like the people before them, but now there’s a younger crew coming up, and they’re taking it in a different direction, and that’s the stuff I find interesting. At a dubstep show in Sydney, half the crowd are just-turned 18-year old kids that are really fucking smashed, and they just want to hear that massive bass drop all the time, but after five of those drops in a row, it gets kinda boring.”

Elgusto supports The Gaslamp Killer on Saturday March 6 at The Step Inn, alongside Tigermoth, Science Project, Syntax, Swob, Walrii and Danck.

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