Having just released their second EP Juliette and gearing up to hit the road alongside Illy and Remi, all whilst working on their debut album, vocalist Kai Tan and producer Raph Dixon, together known as Jackie Onassis, are showing no signs of slowing down in 2014.
Known for their unique “inner west” sound, the Sydney duo are the newest members of the One Day crew, a collective that also features Horrorshow, Spit Syndicate and Joyride, who are together shaping the sound of the Australian hip-hop scene.
Amidst all their exiting new projects, the busy duo managed to find some time to chat with Music Feeds via email and let us in on their collaborative writing process, experimenting on their cohesive debut record, thinking about the short-term and an exciting, impending One Day announcement.
Music Feeds: So Jackie Onassis is now two EPs in and already you guys seem to have carved out your own niche in an increasingly crowded scene. Was that intentional, crafting your own brand?
Jackie Onassis: When we started making tunes, there definitely wasn’t any checklist box which said “make something different from what’s out there”. When we sit down to make a song, we pretty much just play around until we’re listening to something we both like and agree on.
So yeah possibly what we like is different to what some other groups like, but we were never thinking about a brand.
MF: What do you think it is about your lyrical content, specifically on this new EP, that audiences seem to relate to?
JO: That’s not really for me to make that call. At a guess, I know that on the Juliette EP, I got on my storytelling angle a bit more. There’s some songs that are based on some real shit that myself and some of my close friends have gone through. I’ve always gotten a kick out of trying to write little scenes in tracks, so that could have something to do with it.
MF: Tell us about how you approach writing together.
JO: These days the songs usually start with the beat. Raph sends me something he’s cooked up and within about 5 minutes I’ll know if I can write to it. I usually write a chorus and one or two verses, and then the song goes back and forth between us, getting improved gradually until we’re happy with it.
MF: Do you feel like the still-growing popularity of hip-hop in Australia makes it easier for new acts to come into the scene with their own unique takes on the genre?
JO: The fact that Australian hip-hop is larger now than it ever has been is absolutely making it easier for new acts to get out there. We’ve listened to Australian rap almost since its inception and I’ve always been quietly confident that people would grow to love the genre.
But in the end, I think it comes down to the standard of that “take” and how much people respond to it that’s going to be the final decider on how any given band goes.
MF: The Juliette EP boasts seven tracks. Why not throw in a couple more and make an album?
JO: Even though a couple of the tracks were only finished very recently, such as Back Home Again, some of these tracks [are] a little older, or at least the beats were started quite a while ago. For example, the last song on the EP, Not Enough was the first song we ever wrote together.
We want our releases to sound cohesive and I think if we’d just made another few tracks this EP, it would not have sounded as cohesive.
MF: Is there a vision for the debut LP yet? What can you tell us about it?
JO: We’re working on the debut LP right now – we’re really excited about it! As I was saying, we really want it to be a cohesive work. I know not as many people are listening to albums from start to finish anymore, but we still are and most of our favourite albums have a feeling or vibe that makes the whole package so much more of an experience.
We won’t be doing a concept album or anything, but we do want the songs to reference and reflect each other. The good thing about the longer format is that you get the opportunity to be a little bit more experimental in parts, and we’re going to have some fun with it.
MF: Tell us about the evolution from being schoolmates listening to hip-hop to forming your own collective, One Day Crew, with Horrorshow, Spit Syndicate and Joyride, featuring on each others’ tracks and really shaping the local scene. Was domination always the goal?
JO: Hahaha, I don’t think there ever really was a “goal” outside of “let’s make some music”. That’s turned to each of us saying “let’s make a release”, “let’s play some shows”, “let’s go on tour together”, “let’s throw a monthly party together”, “let’s go on holiday together”, “let’s start a publishing company together”, etc.
The way we’ve gone about things hasn’t really changed since high school, sorry mum! But yeah, our minds have always pretty much just been on the short term.
MF: You guys are about to hit the road with Illy this March, what else is in store for Jackie Onassis in 2014?
JO: As well as hitting the road with Illy and Remi, this year is going to basically be all about writing the album for us. There’s also a pretty big One Day announcement that I probably shouldn’t have even mentioned coming up soon…
Listen: Jackie Onassis – Juliette
Illy’s The Cinematic Tour 2014, featuring Jackie Onassis and Remi
Friday, 7th March
The HiFi, Melbourne
Tix: Oztix | 1300 762 545
Thursday, 20th March
The Gov, Adelaide (Lic/AA)
Tix: Oztix | 1300 762 545
Friday, 21st March
The Capitol, Perth
Tix: Oztix | 1300 762 545