Blitz

Interviews

Latest, greatest & what's on

Blitz is the cream cheese for your bagel, the best friend's advice on what to text back, the compendium of everything you need to know about student life at UNSW. 

Blitz is home to lit content from student producers at UNSW whose major aim is to keep you in the know. We're here for everything from 'What's On' to serious contemplations of what to do with your life and career (especially your growing Stranger Things meme-bank). We exist online on the Blitz website, in video and on the airwaves on your phone/ laptop/ on the bus and all over campus. 

The Bear Pack

By Jeeves Verma

Award-winning Sydney improv duo The Bear Pack (Barry Award-nominated Steen Raskopoulos & Carlo Ritchie) will perform an exclusive one-night only show at the Enmore Theatre on Thursday December 14, fresh from a sold-out Edinburgh Fringe season. 

Raskopoulos (Whose Line Is It Anyway Australia, BBC’s Top Coppers) and Ritchie (The Checkout) will be accompanied by Ange Lavoipierre on the cello for 60 minutes of improvised storytelling inspired by the audience’s suggestions. 

The show is dedicated to the memory of late Sydney improviser Elliot Miller, with profits donated to Chris O’Brien Lifehouse. 

I had the pleasure of sitting down with the boys for a light-hearted, completely improvised chat… (and I apologise for the quality of the videos and editing, but at the same time, I’m not sorry at all).

Catch up the full interview below!

Ronny Chieng

BY Albert Lin

Albert Lin recently sat down with international comedian, Ronny Chieng to talk politics, racism, and comedy. Fun.

Is satire dead in Drumpf’s America?

Straight to the hard hitting question. No hello? How was your day? Is satire dead? I mean, in some ways, yes, and some ways, no. Reality is catching up to satire, unfortunately, because reality shouldn’t be near comedy at all. In some ways, there’s a lot of people trying to process what is happening through comedy, and I think it’s making people more engaged, not just with politics, but with satire itself. I think a lot of people turn to satire and comedy as a way of being informed of what’s going on, an entertaining way to learn about the news. And also, people turn to it as a way to process news and what it means. It becomes so much more than just facts. It makes people question things – is it bad, is it serious? Comedy helps dealing with that.

You grew up in Malaysia and Singapore, started comedy in Australia, and you now work on the Daily Show in New York – all very multicultural areas. Have you noticed any differences in the way that multiculturalism takes form in these areas? How do you adjust for that?

No one’s ever thought of it from this perspective. I don’t think people usually consider how people in other countries face multiculturalism. For example, multiculturalism in each country has a different context. So in Malaysia, the majority of people are Malay and Asian, non-white people. In Australia there’s a whole bunch of different people and cultures. So how is it different in each country? It’s very different. In China, and Singapore white people are a minority, whereas in Australia they’re a majority.

To answer your question, there are many differences in multiculturalism across these countries but there are also a lot of similarities. It’s interesting how humans form societies and how common they are across countries. Ideas of nationalism, conservative nationalism, angry nationalism are ideas I’ve seen in every country I’ve ever lived in, in both Asia and Western countries. There’s also a common theme for a push for diversity and inclusiveness in very culture and the struggles faced by second-gen immigrants and even first-gen immigrants is always present. rather than adjusting to the different forms of multiculturalism in each country, I’ve managed to recognise patterns. But I guess you do need to adjust in terms of culture, language and cultural attitudes.

In a bit you did years ago, you mentioned something along the lines of an iPhone being the thing that stood between you and racial abuse on trains. What did you mean by that?

Yeah, so when you’re on public transport, anyone can press record on a phone and think, “let’s all get famous tonight” with the intention of the video going viral. The very threat of going viral for racially abusing someone is something that I think kept me from being racially abused. Unfortunately that wasn’t always the case and sometimes you have to stop people from racially abusing someone else. I’d like to think that the threat of going viral for being racially abused is similar in all multicultural countries. There’s also differences in government, attitudes towards the freedom of speech in different countries and so racial abuse on public transport and being filmed also taps into the whole freedom of speech issue. Some countries are more restrictive than others in terms of freedom of speech and satire is basically illegal in some countries I’ve lived in. Whereas other countries have more liberal views about it.

Speaking about freedom of speech, last year there was a very contentious Fox segment by Jesse Watters. Your response went viral, and I personally loved your response. If you had the chance to talk to him now, what would you say?

I don’t know if there’s anything left to say that I haven’t already said in the piece. There is one joke that I wish I thought of when we were doing the piece, but we did it in such a rush, we didn’t have time for that. It was crazy how we put it together in only one day! The one thing I would say to Watters is, “You really made white people look worse than their stereotype.” And this is the reality. Most people angry about the piece were Asian people and white people. He didn’t just make fun of Asians, he arguably also made white people look bad.

What is it like working on the Daily show?

Sometimes it can feel like an office job, you know, 9am starts and talking about stories, and working in offices on the show for that day. Then we tape around 6:30, 7pm. So it’s almost like an office job because you’re in an office, there are photocopiers, desks, telephones, and all the regular office things. Then, we get to also go out into the field to shoot pieces, and it’s like making a short film. You have to plan out your story arc from start to finish, you have to book in appearances and need to figure out the cinematography. Luckily the Daily Show is fortunate enough to have a large amount of supporting staff who help make the show and deal with production issues and logistics reducing the burden on individuals. The field pieces, feel like a short film, as I mentioned and the studio pieces can feel like a mad rush to meet tight deadlines. If you’re on the show for that night, it’s a whole day filled of writing, re writing, rehearsing and re-writing and then finally taping. While some days are like a sprint towards the finish line, other days can be quieter when I’m not on the show. Trevor Noah and the writing staff however, have to run towards the finish line every single day. It’s a lot of fun and real dream come true to work on the show.

How does that compare to Ronny Chieng: International Student, the short show you did for the ABC. There’s always a lot of discussion about international students and where and how they fit into the general university community. In light of that, how accurately did you portray your time as an international university student and how ostracised did you feel as an international student?

Well, firstly, that’s two questions. To answer your first question, we were very lazy on the show, so it wasn’t like the Daily Show at all. Okay, that’s not true. It was just me and this other guy working on the show and writing all the episodes. We had one or two other writers helping out, but it was mainly just Declan and I writing the whole thing, so that was a crazy time. I was working at the Daily Show in the day, and at night I would write with him, because he was in Australia while I was in New York City. So writing it was crazy. Working three jobs at the same time, was one of the toughest things I ever did. Filming it was, comparatively, so much easier. All I had to do was wake up and film stuff, and filming is always a lot of fun when you’re acting. It was still a rush, because time is the most expensive resource in the industry. But yeah, I was doing a show that I wrote from start to finish, so I completely across everything. So in that aspect, it was different to the Daily Show, where we try to figure things out every day and then film at night.

I’ve spoken about feeling ostracised a little when I was doing press for the show. But it’s hard to differentiate, in my experience, feeling ostracised with the normal kind of university angst that everyone felt in their late teens and early twenties trying to figure things out. There’s many layers – just like anything in life, it’s not black and white, good and evil, right and wrong. It’s a mix, it’s grey. So, it’s tough to navigate because everyone’s awkward at that time. It’s an awkward time to be alive, because you’re supposed to be an adult but you’re not an adult, and you’re trying to make decisions for your life, but you’re not quite equipped to do it yet, but you’re still learning how to do that stuff. You’re figuring out what you want to do with yourself, and on top of that you’re dealing with social structures. It’s better than high school, but there’s still a hierarchy of social structures. And then you’re also dealing with being an international student, or whatever subgroup you belong to.

It’s interesting – I don’t think I felt ostracised, but I definitely had ups and down in university, which I think is a part of the experience. I don’t think I know anyone who just had a good time at university, everyone has ups and downs. You meet who you don’t like for whatever reason. You meet people who dislike you for whatever reason. Maybe it’s racial, maybe it’s cultural, maybe it’s national, maybe it’s just you. It’s hard to point your finger and say one thing like this is why people hated you, or this is why you had a bad time or a good time, or whatever it is. Life is very complicated. I think a lot of western countries have a lot of Asian international students at universities or high schools.

Higher education is one of the biggest industries in Australia right now, it’s a multi-billion dollar industry. It’s not a new thing; Asian students have been going to Australia, the UK, America for education for generations now. A lot of Asians will go back home – not everyone stays, for whatever reason. They go back to, forgive the term, but they went back to where they came from. And I feel that there’s just all these people who come and go, generations of people, come and leave, they have a great time, and some have a bad time, whatever it is. It’s just a story that is so under-told, so I felt that regardless of the good or the bad, it deserves to be brought to light. I don’t know if ostracisation stems from being an international student, but it’s part of the Australian story that should be told and I’m fortunate enough to be in a position where I can tell that story.

As a fully qualified lawyer and a Chinese man, what advice do you have for people who are passionate about performing arts but are also studying something completely different?

Well what are you studying?

I’m studying Tax and Psychology, and doing this for fun.

Well, there you go. That’s how you do it, right? You’re trying to figure it out. First of all, I think I’m legally obliged to mention that I don’t have a practicing certificate as a lawyer. It’s actually illegal to hold yourself as a lawyer without it. I did pass the Victorian bar, I did my qualifications, so I can get my practicing certificate whenever I want to. I currently do not have one, but you are correct to some extent because I did go to law school, and get all the post-grad qualifications.

At university, I wasn’t a very good student. I spent a lot of time doing lots of projects. I was very lucky that I got to see a lot of different industries. I contributed to a science magazine in college, so I was scratching the science itch and the magazine publishing itch at the same time. I worked for this guy selling websites so I got to dip my toe in the tech world. I also got to manage events. I didn’t really do much performing, believe it or not. I only started doing stand-up in my final year of university. When I started performing, I didn’t stop, I just kept going.

So my advice would be to keep your options open and to understand that everybody at that age is feeling the same way. You’re not alone, everyone’s trying to figure it out. Everybody’s trying to figure out what they’re good at, and what they like doing, and they’re trying to find balance. Everyone’s scared of the future. Most people are scared of the future, in terms of “if I do this, will I screw up my life?” and make the mistake of comparing themselves to their friends. Very few people are certain of what they want. Those people do exist, don’t get me wrong, but they are in the minority. Most people are trying to figure it all out. Just know you’re not alone, try to experiment with the industries you want to go into. If you’re looking for what you like doing, try to open yourself up to different experiences. That’s what college and university is for. If you’re not sure what you want out of it, learn to deal with uncertainty. That’s a big thing. Especially for Asians – you made it racial with the Asian thing but I think it’s relevant. I think we have a little bit of a harder time dealing with uncertainty. That’s something they don’t teach you at university, so you need to learn that yourself.

Part of dealing with uncertainty is that you never know where the opportunities are gonna come for whatever you’re doing. So, you should do something, that opens the door to something else, that opens the door to something else, that opens the door to something else. And you can’t see the path, which is why it’s so daunting, but that is exactly how progress is made – getting an opportunity and making the most of it. Then another opportunity pops up, and either you move towards a goal that you intended, but sometimes you end up going towards a goal you never even knew you wanted.

Speaking about performing and people my age, how do you feel about the new generation of Aussie Comedians? Like Aaron Chen for example.

I love Aaron, he’s the best. I’m glad you mentioned him – I’m pretty sure I’m getting him to open for one of my shows, I’m not sure which one yet. I’ve known him for a while now, for at least four years now. He’s always been a cool guy, super funny. I got him a cameo on my show and I think he’s super funny. If you have a chance to watch him, please check him out. I think he won best newcomer at the Melbourne comedy fest. On a side note, he’s also a really good guy. Hopefully that’s relevant to some people, but he’s great. I talk to him a lot.

Do you have any advice for young Aussie comedians?

That’s a big question. Where do I begin? I think to be a good comedian you need to be self-aware. You need to understand whether a joke is going well, and you have to understand if the joke isn’t going well. You have to make adjustments. I think, the worst comics are the ones who keep doing the same things that don’t work, over and over again. It’s very hard for people to give you advice on that, even if you’re a good friend. Self-awareness also helps for observations in comedy.

The other thing that I’ve realised about comedy, since I moved to America two years ago, is that when you do comedy, and you’re trying to figure it out, and you’re trying to get better at it which, you know, is exactly what everyone is trying to do – I’m still trying to get better at it. I’m less than ten years in so I’m still very junior in all this and I understand the things that motivate people to do comedy in the first place. I think in the long term, you have to like doing stand-up. It sounds obvious, but if you’re doing it for the perks, if you’re doing it to get money or get famous, don’t do it. I mean, those are all valid reasons, and to some extent we all have those ambitions, but if that’s your sole purpose, it’s going to be very unfulfilling. It’s going to be very tough to keep it up, because I don’t think you can ever be famous enough, you can never be rich enough, so you can never find happiness through that. It’s easy for me to say, now that I’m making money from comedy professionally, but I think to be really good at it, you have to be doing it because you really like doing it. And that’s something that will come with time, as you’ll slowly see.

Stand-up comedy is a tough gig. The only thing that’s going to keep you going on stage is your love for comedy and if you love writing good comedy and making people laugh. That’s ultimately the important bit. Unfortunately, to do that, you need some perspective on it, which requires you have to have done it for a few years to understand what I mean by that. Like I said, it’s easier to say that once you start making money from comedy. When you start out, you might be thinking “well, I’m doing it but I need money to live so, telling me to do comedy for the love of it isn’t enough. I need to be able to live off it.” I understand that perspective; I went through it as well. I’m talking more long term.


Paces

BY Georgia Griffiths

Gold Coast producer Paces (aka Mikey Perry) has had a massive 2017 so far. 

His single ‘Savage’ cracked seven million Spotify streams in just nine months and he’s about to embark on a huge Australian tour. Most importantly, he became a dad to what is possibly the world’s cutest baby boy. Blitz reporter Georgia Griffiths spoke to him last week about the tour, his favourite meme and what it’s like to work with Guy Sebastian.


Your Creepin’ tour kicks off this week. What are you most looking forward to on this tour?

I’m most looking forward to testing out a bunch of new stuff actually. I’ve been working on a number of new tracks and I always play them at the shows to test them out before they’re really finished, so I know which ones work and what might need a bit more attention.

It’s your first big tour after becoming a dad. How do you think this tour will be different because of that?

Honestly, I feel like I’m pretty well prepared. I’ve been spewed on at shows and now I’m being spewed on at home so it’s the same thing really!

You’ve got a bit of a mixture of shows coming up on this tour, a few festivals and a bit of your own stuff. Which do you prefer?

Festivals are definitely my favourite thing to play. There’s just this energy at festivals that is hard to match anywhere, although sweaty club gigs have got their own special magic as well. Given the choice, I’m a festival guy for sure.

Which festival is your fave to play?

Favourite one I’ve ever played would be Splendour. I played it last year and it was just total career highlight gig, everything was just so magical. I had the best time of my life.

You’re pretty busy social media user, posting loads of memes. Is it all you or do you have a little team to come up with your posts?

No, it’s all me! I just enjoy it so I’m on there constantly. I’m one of those people that are forever cycling through the same four apps, constantly refreshing them.

Do you see social media as a valuable tool for you? Or do you just post whatever you want because you can?

Yeah definitely! I think it’s pretty crucial these days, it’s one of the best ways you can connect with your fans. It’s a direct link to everyone so it’s super important to be contactable on there. I think without that, you’re just an isolated musician that puts music out and hopes for the best, whereas with this if people want to reach out to you and talk about stuff, you’re right there.

If you had to pick your favourite meme ever what would it be?

The big ol’ doinks guy! That’s definitely my favourite. It’s one of the most recent so it’s fresh in my mind but not many things have made me laugh out loud as much as that.

Savage has hit 7 million Spotify streams, which is obviously amazing. Can you ever tell what’s going to be popular?

No, it’s like some dark magic that no one can control. I’ve had tracks that I felt had a good chance of going well and they didn’t, and I’ve had other tracks that I’ve thought, “This song is so weird, barely anyone is going to be into this,” and it turns out to be the most successful one. All you can do is do your absolute best job and hand it over to your team to put it out in the world. Once you’ve let go of it, you’ve just gotta accept whatever happens.

You mentioned testing songs live before they’re released. Have you ever had tracks that do really well live but haven’t got the traction otherwise?

Yeah for sure, I think they’re two different things really. Music that goes well at a festival isn’t always the same as what will go on the radio. I’m kinda always shooting for tracks that can work in either environment but there’s definitely a divide there. Some things just go so much better in your live sense but they might not really make sense on the radio. It’s definitely two different worlds.

You often feature a lot of relatively new artists on your tracks. How do you find them and how do you choose who is the right fit for your song?

In terms of finding them, I’m really just quite active in searching out new artists all the time. I’m forever just searching for music and as soon as I find something that I feel might have a good vibe I just reach out to them like, “Hey, do you want to work together on a track?” I reach out to so many people, I don’t think people understand just how many people I just email out of the blue. Most of them don’t reply or whatever, but the ones that do, they’re the ones who end up featuring on tracks and coming on tour with me. You just have to be not scared to reach out to everyone.

You had Guy Sebastian feature on your last album, which was a bit of a curveball. How’d that come about?

That one came totally out of the blue for me as well. His team got in touch with me and were like, “Hey, Guy’s a fan of your work, do you want to come to Sydney for a week and work on some album tracks with him?” I went down there and we spent time in his studio working on some ideas and we got on really well. He’s a really mellow dude, such a normal down-to-earth type of person. We stayed in touch and I had that track for my album, so I just ran it by him and he was like ‘let’s do it!’ and jumped straight on there. After that, we ended up doing the Like A Version, and we did Splendour together. It all just really snowballed out of him wanting me to come down to work on some ideas with him.

What are your plans after the tour wraps up?

I’m actually finishing off a tonne of new music right now. I’ve been working so hard on new music and I’ve got so much of it ready to go. I’d say you can expect to hear a bunch of new Paces tracks early next year.

Blitz recently caught up with slam poet, teacher, and domestic violence advocate, Bilal Hafda, after his spoken word poetry performance at TEDxYouth@Sydney. 

With answers that inspired us, we can see why he has such a huge impact on motivating kids in Western Sydney to be positive influences in society.


What inspires you to write and perform?

I have two answers.

The first is life – my experiences and the things that have happened to me. I feel like writing is a form of catharsis that lets you work through things that have happened to you.

And lately, my second answer is my students. I work with a lot of young people in Western Sydney and I feel that they have such a barrier to expressing themselves because there is no platform for them to express what they are angry, frustrated or upset with. They don’t have the tools and the means to do that, so I want them to be able to write about it. When they do write about it, it’s beautiful and facilitating that makes me want to write for myself because I get to see the impact that is may have in someone’s life.

What is your favourite topic to write about?

My family was the first topic that I wrote about. I come from a very big Arab family who have shaped my character, and in order to understand myself, I have to understand them and their influence on me. So, I write a lot about them.

I write about literally anything that makes me angry, anything that frustrates me but I also write about things that I want to celebrate. I understand the benefits of writing in a negative light where you can work through emotions but I also feel like writing is a fantastic way to be able to pay respect to something that has positively influenced you.

How did you become aware of slam poetry and where did you find inspiration to become a slam poet?

A friend recommended the Bankstown Poetry slam to me. It was a surprise because I live tw0 minutes away from the arts center, where it is held, and never even knew it existed.

I first went there just as an audience member and I thought “this is absolutely the greatest thing I have ever experienced my entire life, next month, I’m going to perform”.

And I did. The next month I performed and after that, I performed every single month until they made me a committee member.

Now, I’m one of the organisers. It’s such a resourceful way to be able to share what’s going on in your life, your opinions and things you’re struggling with like-minded people who are accepting, have similar experiences and can exert some kind of empathy. It’s just such a nice diverse community to be in.

You’re involved in the RESPECT program. Can you tell us a little more about that?

The RESPECT program works with young boys in western Sydney and it’s about engendering positive relationships as they grow up and get into relationships themselves. We frame it as a way to respect women but it also encapsulates a broader sense of respecting everyone.

We go into schools and bring a domestic violence counselor along for two to three weeks to educate them about statistics concerning domestic violence, the reasons that it happens, the different types of domestic violence and how it all relates to control. We teach them that violence is not just physical abuse, but it encompasses emotional, spiritual or financial abuse and it’s all those of a man exonerating influence over a woman. We give the boys tools and have conversations with them to recognise and to think about what the opposite of that would be like. We then let them generate their ideas into some kind of rap, performance or song and they perform in front of an audience. We also professionally film it and put it up on the Bankstown Youth Development Service on YouTube.

What made you become so passionate about educating young boys about domestic violence?

I have a fantastically respectable father who was an amazing role model for me and we hear such horrible things about men committing acts of violence in a domestic setting on the news. And for me, that was never my experience growing up because my father wasn’t like that.

To think that the power plays in relationships where a man has power over a woman exists blows my mind. So, I wanted to do my part to support everyone in kind of building a better community and I feel like the only way to do that is to work with young people.

How would you like to shift the future of slam poetry?

Funding needs to be allocated to Western Sydney so that creative arts writing and performing programs can run. It needs to be done in a way that is accessible to all organisations that don’t have the means to be able to write grants. It’s hard for something like the Bankstown Poetry Slam or any startup trying to influence their community because funds are not accessible to them. There needs to be more support where those funding bodies go to communities and ask “What do you need? How can we support you? How can we help you?” instead of coming up with a program for the majority and think that it will solve problems. It’s not about solving a problem, it’s about giving people the tools and the means to help themselves.

Rapid Fire

Slam Dunk or Poetry Slam?
Poetry Slam

Rupia Kaur or Edgar Allen Poe?
Poe

Performance or Writing?
Performance

Ben Barlow of Neck Deep

BY Alessandra Femenias

I recently had a chat with Ben Barlow of Neck Deep, to chat about their third album, The Peace and The Panic, musical inspirations, touring and more. 

Having been a band for only 5 years, they’ve toured the world numerous times, signed to US record label Hopeless, and released three studio albums. If by any chance you haven’t heard of them yet, definitely give them a listen.


Congratulations on the release of your single, In Bloom! Let’s talk about the song, as you guys have mentioned that it’s one of your favourite songs that you’ve written so far. Why is that?

It’s something a little different for us – we kinda pushed the boat out on that one. Also because it turned out so well, it’s proof that we can try something new and it can still be an awesome song.

Was this a natural progression?

Yeah, for sure! That was actually the first song we wrote for the record. We wrote it pretty much a year and a half ago, and it’s just been sitting there for a long time. [Lyrically] I think it’s a meaningful one, and aside from that, it’s just a very catchy song. I feel like it’s a song that’s hard not to like. It just came out super well. It’s a catchy song with good lyrics, a good vibe…it makes you want to dance. Instead of maybe moshing all the time [laughs].

The music video for In Bloom is also something different for you guys. How did that come about?

That was definitely the intention. The concept was down to the director, Lewis Cater – it was very much his aesthetic, which is cool. The reason that it spoke to us and we ended up going with that was because it was something a little different for us. We’d never shot a video like that. Neck Deep videos have the tendency to be kind of crazy and very energetic with a lot going on. Whereas this time, it was cool just to have some well framed, well composed, static shots of the band. It was still performance based, but it had a cool aesthetic behind it; a well thought out colour palette and meaning. [The song] was something different for us and we wanted to show that. We thought that visually, it needed a slightly different representation.

Let’s talk about your new album, The Peace and The Panic. It’s definitely a more mature sounding record. What does this album mean to you?

It was definitely a conscious effort for us to push our genre, have everyone involved and give their influences. We wanted to come away from this album with every door open. To be able to say, “hey, next time around we can really do whatever the fuck we want”. I feel like we kind of did pop punk for near perfection with Life’s Not Out to Get You – so I’ve been told [laughs].

While still remaining a pop punk band at heart, we thought it was time to push ourselves a bit. We didn’t want to try and write another pop punk record that maybe wouldn’t live up to Life’s Not Out to Get You. What we really wanted to do with this record was develop, mature, and explore what it was that we wanted to do. [It was also a chance] to show people what Neck Deep could do. I’m sure there’s plenty of people that write Neck Deep off all the time and say that we’re a one trick pony and we just write lame pop punk music, or whatever. I think a lot of people will be eating their words after hearing this record.

Is there a particular track off the album that you’re most excited about?

There’s a couple. In the pop punk vein of things, there’s a song called The Grand Illusion, which came out awesome. The lyrics to that are really sick. I’m sure a lot of people are going to like that. There’s another one called Heavy Lies, which is, kind of in the vein of say, Lime Street, on our old record. It’s a bit of a love song – maybe a bit more melancholy than Lime Street. Also, a song called Parachute – that was one that was a little different for us. We took influence from some Britpop – obviously, we Neck Deep-fied it and didn’t just straight up write an Oasis track [laughs]. But it was written in that vein initially and it transformed into what it is now.

Speaking of influences – are there any artists in particular that inspired you during the writing process?

Lyrically, a lot of my inspiration came from my own personal life and what happened to me over the last year or so. Musically, I think a lot of the inspiration came from all over the place. I think if you were to ask each of us what our inspirations were, you would get a lot of totally different answers. I was listening to a lot of rock this time around, like Foo Fighters, Oasis, Red Hot Chilli Peppers. Obviously, Blink-182 will always be an influence too. Also New Found Glory, City and Colour – there’s definitely an influence from there too. Just a bunch of stuff, really. It’s hard to pinpoint – you pick up inspiration from anywhere or anything, you know?

At one point, throughout writing the record, I watched a documentary called, Seymour, which is about this guy who was a really famous piano player. He gave it all up because he hated the fame and just wanted to do things for the love of it and the passion. That really inspired me to help me write, as I was really struggling writing The Grand Illusion. His motto is basically, everything creative should be an emotional response, and my emotional response to what I was going through at the time was stress, anxiety, fear and worry – and that’s what the song ended up being about. Inspiration can strike from anywhere, not matter what it is, however big or small. Finding inspiration in the smallest things is sometimes where you get your biggest and best ideas.

Your track, Don’t Wait, features Sam Carter of Architects. I read that you guys wanted to branch out your own genre when selecting a featured artist for this track. Why is that?

Yeah! It was just to keep things fresh and interesting – rather than sticking another pop punk vocalist on [the track]. We wanted to do something different. Whatever the guest part was, if we didn’t have a part that the guest was suitable for, then we wouldn’t have had a guest. It could’ve been anyone. It could’ve been a rapper…it could’ve been a pop artist. Anyone could’ve been on it. The part came up, on Don’t Wait, which Dani wrote, and once we had the lyrics all planned out, it immediately made sense for Sam Carter to be on there. He was supportive of the band, and we’ve always been huge Architects fans, since before we even started this band. Two British bands, doing well, supporting each other….I think it was just a good fit all round. He really added something to the music as well. He didn’t just come in and do the part that we had written; he came in and put his own spin on it. As soon as we got the first bounce back with Sam’s vocals on it, we were just blown away.

Any final words for those anticipating the release of the album?

We hope you enjoy the record! We put our hearts and souls into it, and if you can connect in any way, shape, or form, then that’s the most important thing. If you just think it’s catchy, that’s awesome. But if you pick up our album in any way, shape or form, we very much appreciate you, more than we could ever express. Thank you so much for any love and support, and hopefully, we’ll see you soon.

Neck Deep’s studio album, The Peace and The Panicis out now.

Mallrat

BY Kenneth Liong

Grace Shaw, better known as Mallrat, is an up-and-coming Brisbane rapper who calls herself the ‘Hannah Montana of the rap game’. 

She recently moved to Melbourne and took the time to chat with us about her busy year so far, Splendour in the Grass and her good mate Allday. Check out the full interview.


This year has been massive for you! You’ve performed at Hyperfest and Groovin’ the Moo, supported Peking Duk around Australia, and you did your first headline tour. How are you enjoying it so far?

It’s so fun. It’s been a really good year I suppose. I’m just having a good time. It’s crazy but it’s just a good thing really; I’m nothing but excited and grateful.

As well as that, your song For Real was used in Google’s ad. How did that come about?

 I know! How crazy is that! It was like somebody who is in charge of finding the music for ads, I’m not sure what that job is called, but he frantically messaged me on Facebook and he was like ‘What’s your manager’s number? I’ve got this major tech company that needs a turnaround immediately.’ And I was like ‘Yeah, yeah, whatever, here’s my manager’s email,’ and then it was the Google ad!

Also, you’re playing Splendour in the Grass! What are you looking forward to most?

I’m really excited to see Paul Kelly and Gretta Ray play. I’m really excited to see my friend play and I’m really excited to see Lil Yachty and Stormzy and – wait is Stormzy playing? Maybe I imagined that -Schoolboy Q maybe…

How do festival shows differ when compared to a concert?

This is the order of fun-ness of shows. So, number one; headline shows because it’s people that really wanna be there, and then number two; festivals because you get to see your friends and go and see other people perform, then number three; support shows which can still be really fun but they’re a bit hit and miss.

I know that you’ve said going to an Allday concert was one of your biggest motivators for you to start making music. What was it like the first time you met him?

It was at a meet-and-greet at that concert. That was the first time really. But after that, it was just music related. We’re besties now.

When did you work with him for the first time? Was it on Baby Spiders?

We’ve done a few songs before that but a lot of them were never really finished. Once I went down to Melbourne and we started working on some tracks for [Allday’s] album but I don’t think any of those ones made it from that Melbourne trip. We’ve kind of always been hanging out really for the last little while.

So you’re 18 now, what’s the difference between you performing live shows as a minor and you performing as an adult?

If you’re under 18 and the people at the venue know you’re under 18 they’ll try and get you in and out as quickly as possible or they might be really reluctant to let you in. So it’s just a nicer experience now that I’m 18. But it’s also kind of less fun because the sneaking in and around was pretty fun. You win some, you lose some.

Alex Bleeker, Real Estate

BY Will Clifton

Blitz Radio host, Will Clifton, recently had the opportunity to talk with Alex Bleeker, the bassist for Real Estate. 

Real Estate is coming to Australia in July to play their recently released 4th studio album, In Mind. Alex was a super chill and cool guy. If you haven’t already, give these guys a listen.


Would you mind giving us a quick run-down on who Real Estate, the band, is?

Real Estate is a band that has been a band since 2008. A band of brothers in a way, friends bound together by music with a mutual love and respect for one another. I don’t know man, we’re just a band!

Do you think growing up in the woods and rolling hills of New Jersey helped shape your sound?

Yeah I think so, definitely early on, you know, with us coming together in a lot of ways. For us, we had gone away to college, had come back to our hometown afterwards and a lot of the subject matter and sound was initially born out of that head space. So being a part of that surrounding was definitely big for us.

I thought Real Estate could be from the south of the US because of the lyrics in the song “Beach Comber,” and Martin Courtney’s (lead singer) mention of Pensacola.

That’s cool, yeah actually I don’t think he had ever even been to Pensacola when he wrote that line. We did have a really great show in Pensacola one time. Yeah it was awesome! A bunch of kids threw a party in like an old school garage.

I had a few friends at your show in Birmingham and they said there were tornadoes – what happened with all of that?

It was the first day of the tour and we all flew in through Atlanta. There was severe weather and we almost all didn’t make it there. It was a crazy thing. We all had to rent cars and drive over and our bags were lost for 5 days but we all made it in time.

You’re playing at Splendour in the Grass in Australia, right?

Yeah we are. Have you ever been to it? I heard it’s pretty big.

Ah no I haven’t, I actually leave right to go home to the states right before Splendour!

Ah that’s a bummer man!

It’s alright. There were rumours that Real Estate were broken up for good, with members focusing on other projects. Do you think the focus on side projects created a different feeling or sound for the new album?

Honestly, we’ve always done that. From the very beginning, we’ve always had those extra projects, so it hasn’t really changed any of the sound for me. I don’t know, that kind of seems to me like the reason we never broke up, you know? It allows us to pursue other individual interests and go down other pathways. It’s a pretty integral part of our process.

I think that’s [rumours of breakup] maybe because Martin put out a solo record so there’s been a lot of media around that.

What’s your favourite song from “In Mind?”

It changes a lot, but right now I like “Same Sun.” It’s a sort of poppy song but the structure of it is interesting.

How do you feel about the Australian fan base?

They’re awesome! I love coming to Australia and am really stoked to come back. They’re cool and there’s great culture, it’s really beautiful so I’m always happy to go there for tour.

What’s a typical jam session like for Real Estate?

I don’t know how to answer that (laughs). We all live in different places now so we do a lot of sending tracks to each other and recording like that. We’ve played together for a long time and we have good energy together.

You’re the bass player for Real Estate, but what do you do in your band Alex Bleeker and the Freaks?

Well, I play the guitar and I sing, play and arrange music. I started out as the driving force behind that band but now it has evolved into more of a five person collaboration.

Well I think we’re about out of time, so thank you for talking to me. Hopefully I’ll get to see you guys soon!

Right on, man! If you ever see us say hello. Take it easy dude.


Allday

BY Alessandra Femenias

We sat down with Allday, aka Tom Gaynor, before his Sydney listening party, to talk favourite memes, moving to LA, and his new album, Speeding.

Check out the interview below.


Flo the Kid

BY Campbell & Declan

Glad Rap with Campbell and Declan sat down and had a chat with Flo The Kid about Life, music and his very first mixtape! 


Your very first mixtape is dropping on August 31st, how long has this one been in the works for?

I’ve been working on it while I’ve been working on other projects, but I’d say the first track on the mixtape was made a year ago. So, it’s been about a year since I’ve been working on a project and seeing how I could fit every song I wanted to be there on it.

Talking about the mood, I know you have a song dedicated to Phife Dawg from A Tribe Called Quest that you’ve previewed already, what can you say about the main musical influences there?

Well, I’m just a weird dude, honestly, I’ve got a whole bunch of different music tastes. A Tribe Called Quest is one of them and for Phife Dawg, I had to pay tribute to the guy, because he’s been a real influence for me. But I like 90s hip hop, 80s hip hop, new hip hop, like Childish Gambino, Mac Miller, Action Bronson; East Coast rappers like Joey Bada$$ and the Underachievers. But also rock and roll, electronic, a whole lot of stuff. But the old rock, not the new stuff. There’s good stuff now, but I wouldn’t say it’s as good as before.

And you’ve recently been playing a few huge shows, with French producers like Møme and The Geek x Vrv. How did relationships with those guys develop?

This is my story with the Geek x Vrv, because it was actually pretty interesting. I made a lot of hip-hop tracks where I was mixing hip-hop and electronic music and I heard a song I really liked and I sent them [the Geek x Vrv] a message asking if I could rap on it, just for myself. And the Geek told me, “yeah man, if you think that’s a good beat then do your thing”. So I did, and he loved it, so we started talking about music and a whole lot of stuff.

Møme was doing an EP and he wanted a rapper on it. So I think he sent out a Facebook status or something saying “hey, can anyone rap?”. The Geek talked to him and Møme came to me and said the Geek told him I was a good rapper and was really cool, and I was like “yeah, that sounds like me!” [laughs]. And so a song called Rêve went out, which was featured on his EP.

You perform with the help of a visual artist, Quentin, what can you say about the concepts of shows you do when you’re doing your own shows together?

It’s funny because every step of Flo the Kid has been really random. So a brand called me and was like “I heard you’re doing some songs, do you want to perform them for us in Paris”, and I was like “yeah sure”. And so I needed a DJ right? Like that would have been super lame if I just put my iPod in and played my songs. So I asked my good friend Quentin, who is the kind of guy who could be excellent at anything, he’s amazing. I talked to him and asked him if he wanted to be my DJ and he said, “yeah, I’ve never done it, but I’ll learn”. Then he texts me and is like “dude, do you want to try and do a visual show with that?” and I said, what are you talking about, you’re just starting to DJ, why would you want to do that, but I was like, OK do it. And we started doing it.

I think it’s more than just a rap show. You create a mood; kind of like the mixtape.

The songs you previewed on your upcoming mixtape so far have been in English, do you switch to French in any of your songs in the mixtape?

No I don’t. I’m thinking of doing a little French project, like a side project. But, I lived in the US, I studied there, and because of the time I spent there and because I listened to US hip-hop as a kid, my inspirations were mainly in English. So I started writing in English, not in French. I know that’s weird, because I’m French.

Talking about French rap, I know you recently played alongside famous French rapper Nekfeu, who’s a part of rap group 1995. We get almost no exposure to French rap here in Australia. I was wondering what your opinion on the French rap scene is at the moment?

Honestly, it’s a really great time for French rap right now. In the 90s we had great artists like Mc Solaar and IAM, those are big names. And then we had a new wave who were trying to be thug and shit like that, and that was really bad. I’m thinking of Booba. So [at that point] I was kind of hating on French rap, and that was partly why I wasn’t writing in French. But then 1995 came out and a whole lot of rappers followed that trend, kind of chill-rap, you know, not too serious. And I think right now, it’s awesome. I’m talking about French rap and Belgian rap, because there’s some good guys in Belgium too…. The new trend is a new kind of chilled French rap, and I love it. They just try and mix it up a little bit. It’s way better than before.

Alright Flo, thanks so much for taking out time to speak with us today. Enjoy your lazy Sunday!

Thanks man.