The ever so talented Aussie rapper Grey Ghost is keeping us on our toes with his most recent involvement in the design of Michelle Hunder’s ‘RISE’ project. The project is a collection of portraits of Australian hip hop artists taken by Michelle Hunder in the form of a book. In conjunction with the release of ‘RISE’, a collaborative tour is on the horizon with artists featuring Grey Ghost himself, Mantra, Briggs, and REMi, among many others, launching in Melbourne on 21st August. Grey Ghost is currently working on his debut album that is yet to be announced whilst also working on many projects in designing album covers, music videos, and a new brand of ‘Hip hop Heads.’
We chat to Grey Ghost about the upcoming tour and release of RISE, his expanding creative outlets, and the diversity of the Aussie hip hop scene. Ayla Dhyani writes.
How did you originally get involved in the RISE project with Michelle Hunder? Tell us about the journey.
Well around two years ago, I was laying down a track with REMi and he was like “yo, my friend Michelle wants to take some shots of you.” A few days later she came to my place and took some killer shots of me, shooting at my barbers shop, buying apples at my grocery store and what not. We decided to do another shoot with my homie, Mantra, and after that we ate pizza and talked sh**. During that conversation we hassled Michelle about what she was going to do with all of these hip hop portraits she was working on. A few ideas were mentioned, but we were like “you need to do a book yo!” From there she and I teamed up with the legend DJ Flagrant from ‘It’s Official Music’ and the three of us fully committed to making the project happen. My input for RISE was mainly on a design level, but also on a keeping Michelle sane level. Michelle and I have become tight friends in the process and spent most of the time laughing our arses off. We’ve realised that we are twins; we look like brother and sister and pretty much dress the same (laughs).
How has the response been so far?
Well, the response for Michelle’s work has always been mad positive, and the portraits from the book that have been released out into the world have had much praise. Only a select few people have seen the actual book, but of those people, the response has been one of ‘losing their sh**’, and just getting so excited that this piece of history has happened. I showed RISE to Mantra yesterday and he got so overwhelmed with excitement that he screamed at the top of his lungs, threw the book at the me and jumped out the window. So we may need to fill his spot on the tour.
You have talent in so many varying mediums, from music to filmmaking and graphic design. Is there a particular creative outlet that you connect with the most?
Thank you! To be honest, the thing I connect with most out of all my outlets would be cross-stitch. It might sound weird but it’s just such a soothing and extremely creative process, the colours you can match and play with and the – aha! I had you there didn't I? I guess it wouldn't be that surprising for old fruity Grey Ghost to be into that type of sh** (laughs). Nah, my biggest love is just creating. Full stop. To me, these various mediums are just different forms to express myself and to play with the world. Dali is one of my biggest influences and he was a painter, a sculptor, an illustrator, a writer, a jeweller and performer etc. There are no boundaries when you are confident enough with your eyes and ears to just say “I know what’s dope, so I'm going to learn to be dope.” I'm still learning and will continue to learn until I’m the dopest grandpa in the cross-stitch game.
Are you currently working on any new personal projects?
Right now I’m working on the largest and most complex cross-stitch in the history of mankind, but I’m also doing various album artworks and music videos for other artists and labels. Plus, I'm working on my debut album, as well as a new mixtape. I’m also designing the ‘Hip Hop Heads’ which are a series of bobble heads based on Australian rappers. To date, we've done Seth Sentry, Drapht, Mantra and Suffa, and there are a ton more on the way. Google ‘dat sh**!’
What can we expect from the upcoming Rise tour?
It’s going to be off the flipping chain! We are all good buddies, and the calibre of live performance is so high in this touring party. REMi’s live show is off tap. Briggs is obviously dope as hell. Mantra always kills it. Dylan Joel is sick. And the rest of the crew are killer, killer, killer! As for me - I go alright. Only if I get my requested room temperature mineral water imported from Norway, fresh sashimi and a hot rock massage. So, if things go to plan it’s all set to be an amazing tour!
What conclusions can you make about the Australian hip hop scene after the completion of Rise?
Well, the thing that I felt I concentrated on when deciding on the RISE layout was to accentuate the incredible diversity of the Australian hip hop scene. For example, placing 1200 techniques (who were the first Australian hip hop act to break it commercially) on the opposite page to Allday (who is a 21 year old, representing the newest of new school, and he’s killing it.) I also put together a two-page spread with Chance Waters next to Kerser – kind of polar opposites in the scene. It wasn't all based on contrast though, but I'm just so astounded at the amazing growth, diversity of styles and people currently in the Australian hip hop scene. It means I can finally wear a poncho on stage at a hip hop show and not get VB’s thrown at me. Not as much anyway.
What stimulates your soul?
Chicken soup, The Wire, and comic books.
Want to hear more?