Supporting Independent Music is what we’re all about here at Music Feeds, so when and independent record label celebrates not one, not two, but three years of existence we get a bit excited. So to celebrate Nurcha Records’ 3rd Birthday, we sat down with some of their artists – Drake, Mind Over Matter, and Coptic Soldier to see what life is like in the world of Sydney Hip Hop.
So how did you guys originally get started in Hip Hop?
D: There was always a lot of music playing around my house, my parents and uncles were well into their classics, Zepplin and stuff. Learning guitar was too much trouble for me so I just started writing lyrics, and found out it was actually a lot of fun.
CS: I was exposed to a lot of hardcore gangster stuff through my cousins, which actually turned me off, like I hated hip hop at the beginning cos that’s all I saw, I wasn’t into it at all. Then I listened to some deep stuff, like Stan by Eminem for example, and I saw how powerful hip hop can be. Eventually I came across Australian stuff, like the Hilltop Hoods, and it was something I could really relate to. I wanted to start contributing, you know? So I started in high school and been doing it for 3 or 4 years now.
Then how’d you first hook up with Nurcha?
MOM: They put on this night called Show On, where the idea is to help and support up and coming artists. There were about 30 groups all up, all Aussie hip hop artists and DJs, it was a great vibe. We’d just finished school and had a mix tape we were shopping around called foreign hip hoppers, we knew about Nurcha and Shrekk, so we approached Shrekk at the show and the next day he hit us up on line. This was all in ‘06
So that means you were there from almost the very beginning?
MOM: Close to it, yeah.
D: I was there from the start doing web design and maintenance stuff, so when I needed to release my stuff it just made sense to do it with Nurhca really.
CS: I became really close friends with Phat Chance of Natural Causes, who has an album dropping real soon. In my opinion he’s the best rapper in Australia it’s going to be phenomenal release. He encouraged me to start working on my music and start doing it seriously, doing more shows. Him and Smiles (MOM) helped me put a mix tape together, got a really good response, then Shrekk offered me a contract.
What’s it like being signed to one of Australia’s premiere indy hip hop labels?
CS: The thing I love the most is that we are family, on a record label, making music that we love, with people that we love. That’s the biggest perk. It’s a Magic feeling.
You’re all over each others tracks – is collaborating something you enjoy a lot?
MOM: Hell yeah, we love collaborating. That’s one of the best parts of the Label, it’s really close knit like that.
D: I’ve got a studio in my house, Illafilliate, and there’s a few of us living there, so it’s all pretty natural really.
MOM: Yeah it’s a sweet set up, that’s where we recorded most of our album. We love that place.
What do you think of this massive trend towards artists working with independent labels?
MOM: It depends on what deal you get with the major, obviously, but yeah, a lot of them will try and tell you what to do, which is really restrictive, and they’re not always fair with royalties. When we were first shopping the mix tape around, just trying to get it out there, one label wanted to lock us in to a 3 year deal, but they were telling us ‘now you see this word here, “arse”, can you maybe say that like in an American accent?’ We were like, yeah, we’ll call you, haha.
What overseas acts do you guys listen too?
S: Sweden is doing some great shit – The Looptroop crew, Timbuktu and all them, they’re always making awesome music.
D: The English scenes great too, Terra Firma, Chester P, so many people making great music.
CS: You always got to go back to the stuff you grew up on too – Redman, The Roots, Outkast, all those are great.
What about in Sydney, Where can you go to see good shows?
CS: The Loft at UTS is fast becoming almost the head quarters of Sydney Hip Hop. The Annandale too, they’re putting on a lot of Hip Hop these days, same with the Beach Road Hotel in Bondi. It’s great to see the scene growing the way it is.
What do you guys do when you’re not rapping?
CS/MOM: We look after kids with Centre care – a division of DOCS. It’s a great job, but last shift we got threatened by one of the kids with a knife. I told him I was a rapper and and he ran for his life, haha.
So what’s on the horizon?
MOM: We’ve got a tour of the country lined up, doing all the major cities, so that’s going to be pretty epic. We got a support slot with Bliss and Eso too, which should be great fun.
CS: I’m starting a group with a really talented singer called Miriam Wax, she sung on my mix tape and on the Spit Syndicate album. We’re going to be releasing an EP next year, which will be amazing, she’s got an incredible voice.
MOM: Hah, yeah, speaking of singers, you gotta see the show we’re going to put on at the Gaelic – we called up the Sydney Symphony Orchestra and scored a 15 piece choir to play with us for our track Proud. That track and a few others are getting play on triple J too, which is obviously good news.
Mind Over Matter’s ‘Keeping It Breezy’ available at all good record stores now.