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Cover Story: Horrorshow!

Written by Michael Carr on August 13, 2008

We’ve got a lot of friends who are really supportive and really down to come and watch us, and it sounds cheesy but they’re sort of the best fans you could hope for,” says Horrorshow’s Nick Bryant-Smith aka Solo. “We’ve been really lucky in that sense because it’s helped us be able to organise our own stuff, and we know enough artists and we have enough of a community around what we do that we can do our own thing and not necessarily have to rely on being booked by external people.”

At only 20 years old both Solo and Adit (producer/DJ) both have a very mature presence. Their enthusiasm and excitement is tempered with realism and restraint, and you don’t get the feeling when talking to them that they are on the eve of releasing their first album. “I’m not anxious about it man,” Solo tells me, “we’re both just keen to start the next project because it’s our first offering, we’re really keen to see what people think about it and whether they dig it. But I’m not anxious about it.”

And this approach seems to be working. Not only have they been touring with the likes of Pegz on the Obese Block Party Tour, and recently supporting The People Under The Stairs, but Horrorshow are in the enviable position of being the first signing to Elefant Traks since 2006.

Despite all this, they are surprisingly relaxed about it. “Everyone says that,” Solo exclaims. “They’re like, ‘you’ve just signed to Elefant Traks, how excited are you?’ I’m really excited but the album isn’t out yet so I’m trying to stay pretty level headed about it. But we’re stoked, and he work that they’ve done on the album has helped us a lot.”

“Yeah especially Urthboy and Kaho (Unkle Ho) at Elefant Traks,” adds Adit. “They’ve invested a lot of hours to get this turning around pretty quickly. We only approached them in May, and they’ve turned it around in a couple of months, so we’re ecstatic about that.”

At first glance there is nothing too striking about either Solo or Adit. They look like your usual 20 year olds. But see them live and you can begin to understand what it is that drives these two. Plain and simple they have passion and there is a conviction in their music that is rare in hip-hop today.

When Solo announces, “We ride till there’s no rides left,” regardless of the ambiguity of such a line, you feel it, it has impact, and when I’m talking to him it’s much the same. He could be explaining how to best clean a chicken rotisserie but it sounds like he’s telling you an intimate secret or imparting some sort of old family wisdom.

Adit on the other hand is a bit of a card. Often a fan of the thongs and socks style, he is a hater of coffee, “I don’t drink it,” he explains seriously, and on stage he’s not afraid of dropping a sneaky Dire Straights sample to get things cranking. Always cloaked by a hood, he’d be intimidating if he weren’t so friendly.

The album, titled The Grey Space and slated for release on August 16 on Elefant Traks, has been coming together for a while, having just recently been given the finishing touches. “I hope it’s completely finished, because it’s already been sent out to get pressed up, and the people down at Elefant Traks will be on our case if it’s not.”

The process of recording was apparently quite intense. “There’s definitely always a lot of love in the room, a lot of late nights. Sometimes I’ll hit him up with beats, other times he’ll come to me with lyrics. Yeah, you know, a bit of serenading,” he quips, looking searchingly into Solo’s eyes in mock amore. “I just call him up on the phone and rap him some shit,” Solo counters, “that and email, a lot of email.”

“There’s definitely always a lot of love in the room, a lot of late nights. Sometimes I’ll hit him up with beats, other times he’ll come to me with lyrics. Yeah, you know, a bit of serenading”

Solo and Adit worked on the album with Sydney stalwart Fame and local inner west band Made In Japan. The album, which also features guest appearances from Nick Lupi and Jus Enuf from Spit Syndicate, truly is a product of the Sydney hip-hop scene’s supportive nature and love of collaboration. “We went to Urthboy as a wisdom imparting session if you will, and we just said we don’t really know how to go about putting out our music, like APRA, ABNs all that sort of gear, so we went to him just looking for answers and things just took off from there,” Adit tell me with a tone of seriousness, jokingly adding “it wasn’t like, hey we want to sign with you guys what do you got for us.”

“I think a lot of people in the quote unquote scene are keen to help each other out to progress the state of hip-hop in the country,” says Solo in a careful tone. “At the same time there are a lot of little separate camps doing their own thing so it’s not as unified as you might think, but there a definitely a lot of people, not just at Elefant Traks but a lot of people, artists from all around the country who want to help out in whatever way they can.”

And Horrorshow are proof of these sentiments of cooperation, having consistently performed and worked with Spit Syndicate despite them being signed to Obese Records. “Those guys have been our friends for a long time,” Solo explains as Adit adds, “yeah it’s friendly competition if anything.” “We all collaborate,” Solo continues. “They get up and rhyme with us and vice versa and Adit produced some of the beats on their album, so we’re all really involved with what each other does and that’s hopefully not ever going to change.”

This solidarity between artists may well be the secret to both Horrorshow and Spit Syndicate’s recent success. In an industry inundated with ego’s and rivalry, Horrorshow have a refreshing sense of community. “People like our friend Rev – he’s not an artist, he’s a promoter but he’s just really talented at organising things and making things happen, so making connections like that has really made it easier for us to get to where we are at this stage”

“With the record,” Adit jumps in, “I think things just fell into place. Not to say that we don’t have a lot of hard work ahead of us if we’re going to do anything with this and go anywhere with it, but up to now things have just fallen into place. Credit has to go to the people we’ve worked with and who’ve we’ve approached about certain things, they’ve really come through for us, and helped us get to where we are.”

But, regardless of where they are now, Horrorshow refuse to sit still, with future projects already in the pipeline. “There are a few things taking shape, I’m not sure how much we should or can go into it, but that was one of the biggest problems, we started working on new stuff before we even finished The Grey Space stuff, so Elefant Traks giving us deadlines helped with getting the project actually finished off.”

“But I was telling Solo the other day about how good it was just being shacked up in my bedroom. We’ve been busy as hell, but for the past three days I’ve just stayed in my bedroom, ate slept and worked on music, so yeah there is new stuff in the woodwork, middle of next year maybe.”

The Grey Space will be released August 16 on Elefant Traks through Inertia.
Horrorshow will be supporting The Herd at The Metro on August 15.

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