Active members in both Sydney’s music scene and community at large, having set up their own record label Big Village to support local hip hop working with the likes of Daily Meds and Ellesquire as well as running music workshops for disadvantaged kids across NSW, True Vibenation have just released their debut album, The Sunshower Phenomenon, the culmination of year of gigs and collaborations.
Made up of siblings Verbaleyes and Native Wit on the mic and longtime friend and collaborator DJ Gabriel Clouston, or Klue, True Vibenation deliver hip hop with more than just a melody and beat, they make music with a message. The album itself, follows on from their previous sampler and mixtape, with all the songs stemming from an underlying theme of finding balance with the chaos of life, of offsetting pain with joy, hardship and success and seeing it through with a smile on your face… when you can.
We caught up with the guys to discuss the process of getting here, the album itself and it’s message as well as the groups work in Sydney’s music scene and community at large.
MF: You guys have been playing around Sydney for years now; how come the album took so long? Was it a case of wanting to make sure everything was right or was it just a matter of having to scrape together the resources?
TV: Well, we originally recorded a sampler in 2008 that we made ourselves, then did a mixtape in 2009 and worked on collaborations with artists around Sydney. At the same time we started a project with a live band and co-founded Big Village records. Klue also studies physics, Verbaleyes is a youth worker, and Native Wit a Journalist, so it has always been a juggling act. We definitely have a quality over quantity mentality, so for our first proper commercial release we wanted to get it sounding right, and after listening to the final product I’m glad we took our time and didn’t treat it like a race.
MF: How does it sound? Is it a case of capturing the energy from the live show or is this a bit of a departure in a new direction?
TV: In terms of genres The Sunshower Phenomenon is a bit of a mixed bag. There are elements of afro-beat, pop, dubstep and jazz but they’re all tied together by a hip-hop mentality. We always get a good response from audiences when we play live horns (trumpet and saxophone) in our live show so we definitely wanted horns to be a feature on the record. We’ve always focused on having a tight and energetic live show but for the recordings we focused on getting the feeling just right for each song.
MF: Tell me about the album; is there a running theme or is it more of a collection of ideas?
TV: The idea behind The Sunshower Phenomenon is about the balance of things in the world. You can’t know happiness without pain and vice versa. Life is full of constant contradictions and we wanted to reflect this in our music.
MF: You guys pay close attention to your lyricism; would you say there’s an underlying message to what you’re trying to get across?
TV: Definitely; not many people know, but when we originally formed we were actually called ‘The Message’ so it’s always been important to us for our songs to have meaning. Everyone has a story to tell and each song is a story in itself, so we wanted to share a bit of our story. While it doesn’t always have to have a huge life lesson, we’re big on rapping about ideas worth sharing, and things that matter to us.
MF: You guys have been working with the community running music workshops across NSW for a while now as well; can you tell me about that?
TV: We’ve been running music for a few years now; it’s a great way to both support ourselves as well as pass on knowledge to the next generation. Many of the workshops are for kids from disadvantaged backgrounds who don’t necessarily fit into the school system and are looking for other things to do with their time, and music gives many of them a positive outlet to tell their stories.
MF: Have those experiences affected or shaped the music at all?
TV: Some of our first opportunities as musicians came from workshops, and with Australia being such a small scene, the DIY approach is something we have always valued and shared with others. It’s always encouraging to see young kids with talent and drive, and it’s humbling to be the one to steer them in the right direction (hopefully!), or at least offer some experience.
MF: The music itself has always struck me as having a very positive energy, reminiscent of groups like De La Soul and A Tribe Called Quest; is that important to you, to keep things upbeat?
TV: Even though these are huge influences, on the album we wanted to strike a balance of positive and negative. For us it’s not about sugar coating reality, it’s about the spectrum of experiences that make up who we are.
MF: What do you think of hip hop artists like Odd Future or Necro, for example, who approach the artform from a more aggressive perspective?
TV: For us it’s about good music. Both Odd future and Necro have great albums, and music would suck if it was all the same mentality and ideas! We need all genres and takes on music so that it doesn’t become boring and monotonous. What frustrates us is the people that idolise Necro and
OFWGKTA but make crappy music – then it’s just a pain to listen to!
MF: When is it out and when are you playing next?
TV: The Sunshower Phenomenon is out now through Big Village records, available at JB Hi-Fi, Itunes and online (google it) and all good record stores (If not order that shit in!).
Our next gig will be supporting for the legendary Chali 2na (the deep-voiced guy from Jurassic 5), December 11th upstairs at the Beresford.