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We Interview True Vibenation

Fresh faces on the Aussie hip-hop scene are True Vibenation, made up of Sydney MC’s Verbaleyes and Native Wit, and along with long time friend DJ Gabriel Couston,  have developed a smooth flowing production that borrows from a range of different genres yet is still grounded in the fun elements of old school hip hop. With each member playing horns as well as handling writing and production duties their debut album ‘The Sunshower Phenomenon’ brings a fresh approach to hip hop, blending elements of Afro-beat, jazz, dubstep, soul and Latin music to create a sound that could have come out of anywhere in the world, yet is distinctly Australian. AAA Backstage caught up with DJ Gabe for a quick Q&A ahead of their Sunshower Tour taking place throughout April and May.

Tell us about the album The Sunshower Phenomenon; is there a running theme or is it more of a collection of ideas?

The Sunshower Phenomenon title didn’t come until about halfway through the writing process and is based on the theme of balance that kept coming up. Other than that we just thought it was a cool title for a first record and the imagery brings up ideas of new beginnings.

How important is to the group to draw inspiration from life experiences and then having those reflected in your music?

For us that’s very important, for us to be rapping or singing about things we don’t know about would be pretty wack and I think audiences can recognise whether or not your music is honest. I think a big part of music and lyrics is storytelling and even though stories might have a wider meaning its also important to include a personal element that people might be able to relate to.

True Vibenation deliver hip-hop with more than just a melody and beat, how important is it to make music with a message for your audiences?

Not a lot of people know but when we first started out we were originally called ‘The Message’ for about six months so for us its very important. Music for us is our self-expression and for the amount of hours we put into music we want it to reflect something important to us (without being too preachy).

“Switch Off’ is this kind of calm and melodious track, like late 80’s hip-hop, I imagine it being the backing track to some cool skate video. What were you looking to achieve with that track, if anything?

We recorded that song a few years ago for our mixtape, we were going for a bit of a chilled/electronic vibe with the beat and the concept behind the lyrics is kind of interesting. We wanted to talk about the role of TV in our lives but leave the lyrics open-ended so that it sounds like we could be talking about an old friend or girfriend. So there are a few riddles hidden away in that one... definitely one for people who like to really listen to the lyrics carefully.

You’ve recently supported big names like Jurassic 5’s Chali 2na and Brooklyn heathens Das Racist, what kind of feedback did you have for your music from your peers and fans?

For me the Chali 2na show was definitely one of the best supports we’ve played. One memory I won’t forget is towards the end of our set when we played ‘No More’ looking to the side of the stage and seeing Chali 2na with a huge smile on his face bobbing along to the music, so I was pretty stoked he really enjoyed it. Usually when we play with those big international acts we might get to briefly meet them at soundcheck and then they stay in their changerooms and don’t get to see us play, so that was awesome!

You guys have been working with the community running music workshops across NSW for some time; can you tell us about that?

When we first started making music, a huge part of it was the people that introduced us to the scene. The council was running hip-hop workshops adn we got involved from a young age. After a while we started teaching workshops ourselves and never looked back. Music, (and in particular hip-hop) as a tool for self expression is something we value greatly and feel that we should give something back for all the positive things we have experienced.

Is there anywhere you're most looking forward to head to on this current tour?

To be honest we’re equally excited for all the stops as most of the shows will be our first time playing in those cities, and it’s always fun not knowing what to expect.

True Vibenation have played a lot of live show here, any plans to extend ‘The Sunshower Tour’ overseas? Where would you love to spread your music to?

A while back we did a show with Nickodemus who was saying we should take the show to New York, which would great, but I think we’ve got a lot to do here in Oz first. We’ve also thrown around the idea of one day touring in Africa and definitely want to get over to NZ soon too.

Lastly, any collaborators on True Vibenations wish list that you’d kill to work with?

!!! What a massive question: Internationally Outkast, The Roots, J5 (or Chali2na) The Menehan street band.

>From Australia: Paul Kelly, Hermitude, N’Fa and Resin Dogs.

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