With upcoming shows as part of Obese’s Block Party Tour, Hyjak N Torcha are more than eager to give fans a bit of a taste of what to expect when they play The Annandale Hotel with Illy and Skryptcha tomorrow night, Friday the 7th of August. With this in mind Ordinary Boy Dan Clarke caught up with Torcha to see what’s hot on his heartily heaped plate right now.
Music Feeds: You guys have performed and collaborated with a lot of great artists over the years. Who has been the most memorable artist to work with?
Torcha: Murs is definitely the most hospitable MC I’ve met, he gave us a 1st class hip hop tour of LA from Ice Cube’s first house to Dr Dre’s first apartment. Chopper Read was memorable cause after the video we did with him we went to China town in Sydney and everyone that recognised him was freaked out, he’s one of the funniest dudes I’ve met for sure.
MF: Have you guys ever had a mental blank while on stage and forgotten any of your lyrics? What would you do at that point? Start freestyling over the top, or drop the track and start again?
T: I just got back from a show with my band A Broken Silence bout five minutes ago and the sound was not that great, so I kept thinkin’ about that and ended up forgetting the lyrics for a major part of the show and had to freestyle some shit, lucky we can do that!
MF: The Aussie hip hop scene has earned a reputation for the willingness of artists to collaborate and support each other, despite record label loyalties. Do you think that’s because the scene is not as big in Australia as, say, in the U.S., or because it’s a relatively young scene, or is it just something about the way Aussies are that we like to support each other?
T: For sure it’s an Aussie thing, we gotta help each other out however we can, but it’s also a universal hip hop thing to help out someone that’s doin’ well and try and make sure they get to that next level with their music. But at the end of the day, the best musician is never going to be nothing without a good business plan, which fucks a lot of talented people up who can’t get that.
MF: Having been in the scene for over ten years now, you guys are probably two of the more veteran performers on the Obese roster. Do you have any advice for the up and comers? Any hard lessons you’d have liked to have learnt the easy way?
T: If you got other career prospects, think wise before choosing hip hop, its definitely a long term mission that may or may not help you financially. If you got a real love for what you do and are prepared to go through all the bullshit, you should kill it.
MF: You guys stepped out of the limelight for almost five years. Was it hard to get back into the swing of things? Were you still writing and recording over that time? What told you it was time to get the band back together?
T: We had an LP done and lost it in a fire and also lost our best mate in that fire so we had to restart. For us it was a rough patch, so making the new shit helped us get over it.
MF: Do you think that your writing has matured over time? How is the new album different lyrically than Drastik Measures?
T: I think by listening to the LP you’ll hear the progression through the lyrics and stories told.
MF: What do you think has changed about Aussie hip hop while you guys away? Do you think audiences have become more receptive to our local output?
T: I think Australians as a whole are embracing who we are and not trying to be some American wannabees…. realising staying true is what it’s all about and realising our culture is unique.
MF: Reading about some work you did with Tim Freedman and the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, I was reminded of the Hood’s re-imagining of their breakthrough album The Hard Road. Do you think we’ll be seeing more of these somewhat unconventional collaborations? Do you think performers becoming more willing to experiment and stretch the boundaries as the scene develops? What got you interested in working with Freedman?
T: You got the hoods at no.1 in the country so all artists are gonna wanna work with Aussie hip hop cause it’s now the top genre on the charts, but really any good musician that has the opportunity to work with another (especially from different genres) will do it. I got interested in working with Freedman cause we shared some common values about humanity and music, so after meeting the track we collaborated on made perfect sense for us.
MF: A Broken Silence has been described as some of your ‘heavier output.’ What prompted the development of that project? Is that a sound that doesn’t particularly translate to Hyjak N Torcha, and will we see more output from that side project? Is it fair to call it a ‘side project?’
T: I wouldn’t call it a side project… its newly formed sound that my band ABS created in the mist of so much of the same sound …they bring a fresh canvas to draw on… the response we’ve been getting from everywhere in the world has been phenomenal for us too.
MF: Do you think there’s anything that needs to change within the Aussie hip hop scene? What would you like to see happen over the next five years?
T: Hip hop is innovation not stagnation……….all the old schoolers know that…
MF: Who do you think are the top five most underrated musicians within the industry at the moment?
T: I still think the old fellas is killin it… from Masta ace to Ed.og to Kool G rap to Murs to Mos Def…K’naan’s l.p is mad… oh and check out Dialectrix for some Aussie gold.
For those broke-ass Aussie hip hop fans out there who wanna see the show tomorrow night, but haven’t got the cash we’re running a competition to give away some free double passes.