The Australian MC talks about the scene in her country, her style, what projects she's done and is working on, and how she came to feature on the new Evil Ed album!
Could you introduce yourself to our readers and tell us where about you're from?
Hello readers! My name is A-Love. I was born in Rome, Italy and hail from Melbourne, Australia where I live to this day.
How long have you been rapping and what releases have you been involved with up to now?
I've been rapping since I was about 16, which is 5 years ago now. My first appearances were with a now defunct crew called the Puah Hedz, who helped me get my start. Muphin from that crew just released an album on Obese Records with Plutonic Lab which is incredible. Since the early recording days I've just jumped on a lot of compilations out of Australia such as Culture of Kings 2 (Obese), Obesecity (Obese), Straight from the Art 1(Warner) and Straight from the Art 2 (Warner).
Are you currently working on any projects such as an album and have you got a label deal sorted yet?
I've been working towards an album for the last few years, I suppose it's only now that I feel comfortable with releasing a whole album of my material. I feel like there are a lot of facets to my personality so I'm trying to capture a good vibe that's full of diversity – there'll be some introspective tracks, some straight up head nod shit, story tracks, etc. Something for everyone hopefully! Label wise I work for a label called Crookneck out here, which is home to groups like Mnemonic Ascent, Party Starters, Lazy Grey, J-Red and Celsius. They're all close fam who have a lot of experience and a fantastic vision for creating dynamic music in general, so I'm proud to say that my debut record will be a Crookneck release.
Are there many other female hiphop artists in Australia?
Yeah there are quite a few. Some friends from overseas have come over and are surprised how many ladies there are considering our country is so small.
Obviously you're the best, but who else should we check?
Haha. Flatter my ego, easy does it! Layla holds it down. Also doing good stuff are ladies like MC Que, Macromantics, Miss Brown and many others. Its cool because even though there are far less women than men in this scene, I feel like we're all trying to do something completely different from each other, it keeps us all on our toes.
How did you end up being involved on the Evil ED album and rapping on the track 'Captains Of…'?
Last November I boarded the grueling 24 hour flight to London, and a good friend of mine gave me some phone numbers of people she knew over there. Ed had already heard a couple of tracks and was keen to hook up, so one Sunday Tommy Evans chaperoned me down to Eastbourne to meet the man. We just hung out, ate a vegetarian roast lunch (you best believe that Ed can cook!) and listened to some beats. We bounced some beats to tape and that was that, I kept calling the "Captains" beat the pimp beat. It was cool how it all came together.
Did the postal service play a part in its creation or did you come to the UK and record it together?
Yeah it did! I have this tendency to stall on the writing tip, I guess I'm lazy like that. It took a call from Ed saying "Ant, get your shit together, I want you on my album and I need the vocals in three weeks. That was that, much love to Australia Post and Royal Mail for making shit happen.
How familiar are you with our hip-hop scene here and what artists are you feeling? How does our country and yours scenes compare?
For a while now there's been a close connection with the Australian and UK scenes, so I think there's a pretty good understanding there. In a lot of ways its similar, we're a colony of England so you'll find the same suburbs and street names here, etc. I suppose the main difference is that you guys are in the heart of Europe and have a greater scope to be able to go outside the borders to tour and get your music out. It's a bit more isolated down under so we tend to have a different sound and different approach to selling and making music.
On the music tip I'm really feeling Yungun at the moment, I think he has a lot of charisma. Other UK cats I'm into are Evil Ed, Jehst, Klashnekoff, Mystro, Braintax, Cappo, the Nextmen, Rodney P. A whole gang of stuff.
How well are artists at the top of the Oz hip-hop scene, known to the general public of the country in general?
Not many really but a lot more than they used to be. Hilltop Hoods have gone gold, and in particular one song of theirs was played everywhere from TV to the most commercial radio stations, that shit is dope. Koolism won the ARIA this year. All these things are amazing and positive, but I guess at the end of the day all the underground garden variety jams still don't have enough heads there. It gives us hope though that it is possible to appeal to a mainstream audience if your music has the capacity to reach people on multiple levels. Hopefully success will start filtering down to other acts as well, so that the shows pack out a little more.
A lot of our artists are of a similar political orientation, disliking Tony Blair and his relations with Bush. Are many Oz artists voicing their discontent with John Howard?
Yeah I think so, but I guess being political in your raps can carry the stigma that you're some kind of crazy anarchist or something, haha. Or on the opposite of that, some artists (in any genre) yell some "fuck the government" catch phrases and actually know very little about the political issues facing our country. I've never really tackled the subject head on because I want to come correct with some crazy info so people can perhaps get something out of my song other than wanting to smash a butcher shop window. I'm a bit anally retentive about that shit, especially after doing bachelor arts and law degrees, need to watch my step!
Unfortunately I feel that a lot of people in Australia believe that political opinions should be kept to themselves, or perhaps feel uncomfortable when others are open with their opinions. Personally I'm disgusted that the majority of my country could re-elect someone who has lied time after time to the public and been so openly right-wing when it's come to issues like refugees and basic fundamental services like education and healthcare. Not to mention the war, don't get me started man…
For those hearing you for the first time on The Enthusiast LP and enjoying it, how can they get hold of any other stuff by you?
Look out for my debut release 'Equilibrium' early 05, keep checking in at www.crookneck.com for updates. www.checkoutwax.com has some of the compilations I mentioned above, otherwise hit the repeat button on The Enthusiast and wait for a sequel!! (Yo Ed…where those beats at? Hehe)
How'd you describe your style of rapping and the vibe of music you hope to create?
I guess you could liken my style to a good bloody mary. You think you've got some straight up, boring tomato juice until bam! That hot shit Tabasco took you by surprise. Keep drinking and the vodka combo is nice and mellow again, the celery garnish is kinda healthy, nothing special, then bam! The hot shit comes again. Hahahaha sorry I guess I can't answer your question seriously. Let's just say I strive to bring something different from the last time you heard me. I'm a big soul, funk and jazz fan, so I guess production wise I will always lean towards organic soulful stuff rather than super-tech beats. That being said, I hope I can achieve that balance and variety that comes from a good MC. The ability to believe someone whether they're rapping about being in the club or telling a heartfelt story, to kicking some straight battle-style raps. I think it's important to be versatile, that's my main goal right now.
You got any shout outs to throw on here?
Much love to my Crookneck fam, Scott Burns, Josie Styles, Muphin, Plutonic, Evil Ed, Tequila shots, Chanel sneakers and you, the person reading my mangled typing…later peoples!