From their 2014 first album release ‘Daily Rituals’, Royalty Noise is back with their single ‘Rolling.’ With a larger emphasis on a soul, dub-reggae vibe, the group has grooved into a smoother collection of sound still encompassing their ‘too black for Toorak’ ‘tude.’
We chat to Royalty Noise about their new direction in sound, the need for vulnerability and sync when collaborating, and their socio-political lyrical content. Saron Girma writes.
How did you guys form?
Bizz: It slowly got better and better. We started with finding ourselves between the DJ and band when we formed a band with Dan and Yoseph (the bass player). Then we got a gig off Travis our current manager. That was the first time we met Nadav, he hadn’t even heard our music, we just invited him to play bass and drums. He came to the gig and just started playing. Yoseph just started yelling notes and keys and we just started playing. It ended up being a really dope gig.
Nadav: There were two MC’s, and two singers and they were jamming, and I was thinking “f***, this is the music I’ve been listening to for the last five years, I just didn’t think it was in Melbourne”. The kind of New York - soul - R&B stuff.
Ina: I joined twice. Before these new guys came, they were still practicing and they asked if I wanted to play with them. I said yes but at the time I was a very anxious person so I freaked out and didn’t hear from them for three months. Then I came back.
[What made you come back?]
Ina: I needed to play music. So I joined up with these guys and we’ve been practicing in the studio for a year. In the beginning I didn’t know where I fit but I really enjoy it now, I feel a lot more invested.
Bizz: So that’s how Royalty Noise was born and got bigger.
Ina: It used to be Members of Royalty. It was just Bizz and a few members and it’s been evolving ever since.
How did you form the name Royalty Noise?
Bizz: When we were experimenting with the first backline, I had chosen the name for just a Facebook thing but when we had the first trial with the members we agreed that Members of Royalty sounded too arrogant. Royalty Noise sounds more in with the time, rather then the members being of the past.
So where does the Royalty come from?
Bizz: I think it’s the music that we do. Originally, Members of Royalty was because members were from Africa and we’re from the story of royalty.
Noise objectively means you get rid of sound, that you don’t want it. In terms of hip-hop and the music that we do, it’s unwanted, it’s in exile. They don’t want to hear what we rap about because it’s not entertaining, it’s not about tithes and cash. In a sense, we’re like that unwanted noise, but at the same time we’ve been paying due’s which give us the royalty rights. That’s my perspective.
Nadav: I saw it as two words that were incongruent. It rolls off the tongue so it’s interesting to hear Noise and Royalty together because royalty sounds proper and noise is like chaos.
Ina: I think of the lions roar. It’s a lion, King of the Jungle. The Roar, that’s what I like about it. There’s the roar, then there’s r-a-w.
Nadav: You pronounce it with an Australian accent. Raw-yalty Noise.
In the circumstances of a bad crowd, how do you maintain your own hype?
Nadav: it doesn’t matter where we go, we just manage to turn it on. There’s some chemistry that we have between us, I think everyone’s got their own compulsion. We can all have really f***ed up weeks but then when we get on stage... it’s unexplainable.
Bizz: Even when we rehearse, we don’t want to stop rehearsing.
Ina: We push through all the shit. It’s what you’ve got to do.
Nadav: It’s what our first single, Rolling, is about.
Bizz: Not giving in, do what you love and do it with passion.
Dan: We’re mates as well.
Ina: We’ve got a really tight community.
The Intro to the Album is Maygbia
Bizz: Which means entry [in Amharic].
How did your fusion of sounds ranging from Ethiopian Jazz to sampling East Coast hip hop in your first album come about? Was it individual input on preferred genre’s?
Bizz: That album was more of a studio production. We play some of those songs but it was mainly a studio production where the music was sequenced before the band formed. Most of the music on that album was produced by my mate Stay Nice for The Organics.
That’s how we met, he was here and he needed someone to help him mix so I got onto it. Me and my other housemate, Luke Walker, did the mix for it, but we asked for some beats in return so half the album was Stay Nice’s production in terms of the beats. The album took a year and a half, it was the longest thing I’ve done, I was happy I finished with it. Now we can concentrate on the new project.
Ina: It’s the birthplace of where our music comes from now, it’s kind of a complete contrast but it’s the same intention. Now that we’ve incorporated the band it has come out of the machine, its man made. We still have the robot in there but now it’s our tool.
Dan: We want it to be something new, a new sound.
Bizz: It’s totally different, not outside of the spectrum.
Nadav: There’s no reference to it. For us, it’s been important to create an experience that people feel good. We’ve done this by incorporating more elctro-pop to the sound.
How do you find combating the Art vs. the Business?
Bizz: Its bullshit, it’s ridiculous, its like going to court. The defendant vs. the Queen. You’re fighting a whole empire.
Nadav: At the moment the focus is on getting our music out there. It’s not thinking about the money, it’s more just how to reach our potential in terms of what we’re trying to create.
You can hear from our most recent release what we’re combining more now, because Ina’s come in and he’s inspired us to do more Dub-Reggae, we’ve kind of had an amassing of a few things; there’s a reggae thing going on, some strong funk, some Ethio and afro beat element intertwined there, just a combination of things.
You mentioned earlier that you guys were all different individually, do you think it adds to your collaboration?
Ina: We live in the city, everyone feels like nobody understands them. This is a clear indication it could work. I’m hanging out with a dude in a suit, and I used to live on a couch, but he’s one of my good friends. When does that happen? Music can do that.
Nadav: I don’t usually wear a suit...
Is the Lion logo for Royalty Noise representative or yourselves?
Ina: For me it is. I am more visual. My name is Ina. But if you say “Hi, Ina”, it’s hyena. I like to laugh a lot like a hyena, and when I laugh it’s like Mufasa. I was born in August, I’m a Leo. I sing, but when I sing I don’t know how to sing properly... but it’s like I want to be heard... it’s like a roar.
Nadav: A lion represents courage, doesn’t it?
Ina: Lion represents courage but it also represents the opposite of that, like an emotional person. A lion is cranky, is happy, is sad. He’s needy, but he can tear shit up at the same time. That’s how I feel for it and the music is like that, it’s a whole bunch of emotions.
Do you guys know your music through each other, or know each other through your music?
Dan: Through rehearsal actually.
Ina: It’s through the music and it’s in between the music too.
Dan: We hang out with each other when we’re not rehearsing.
Bizz: We’ve lived with each other.
Ina: We eat together. I think that’s important. Every family eats together, we eat together all of the time.
Bizz: Other then that, we organize events for other people for studio 13, but we work together to make each other enough money to support our music.
Are the socio-political messages in your songs a collaborative thing or do you guys allow each other to take reigns on certain aspects in a song?
Bizz: Sometimes when we write, we do write like that because we have new songs and approach it as; you take the positive, I’ll take the negative. Or, we might touch base with each other on those things for separate verses. We talk about it before it gets done.
Nadav: We have a genre that we want to create, then these guys make their own verses.
Ina: I’ve seen the good and bad side of things, so have all of them (the members) but for seeing completely different things. For example, I went to Thailand to research sex workers, there’s a lot of things we’ve seen amongst ourselves that I don’t have to write down lyrics for, I’ve seen it. It’s my content, it’s the world.
Nadav: But there’s an optimism.
Ina: Yeah, that’s why I greatly appreciate reggae, it’s optimistic. Bob Marley, he’s optimistic. It makes you feel vulnerable sometimes but this is our home. This is where were can roar. We’re heard, we’re not lonely. Yes, it’s the world and he’s different to me but any hope in the world can be found within us.
Bizz: We don’t want to talk about pedals and shit all the time. That’s not our reality. We try to make it as relative as possible to the situation that the world is at at the time we write our lyrics. Yeah, it is a bit depressing what we have to say but at the same time it’s enlightenment.
As musicians, or artists, I believe we have a responsibility to teach the general public of whatever is going on behind the papers and the media. It’s up to the musicians to inform the public. Otherwise, why are you using your art for? What’s the point of it?
Nadav and Dan, the instrumentalists, do you have an obligation to match the angst or flow of the MC’s or do you try and rebut it?
Nadav: We’re a platform, so there’s a chemistry between me, Dan, and Yos that we don’t really understand but it just exists.
Dan: We still collaborate on what we are looking for out of a song. With Rolling, it’s about keeping you going and staying positive. We needed to find a chord structure and a tempo that sails with what the song is about. We do collaborate in that sense but other times we just come up with something that’s completely out of our own consciousness.
Nadav: We start playing because once we get into the vibe of it, we just keep going.
Bizz: There’s a moment where you just get into the zone. It’s not human. You’re in a different space, you can just free style and do what ever you want and you’re still in sync. There’s this harmony about it that goes together. It’s more spiritual, in a sense, then human.
Nadav: That’s the nice thing about playing with other people, it’s that it kind of pulls you out of your own head and speeds up the process. Once you’re not in your own head, you just become a proper vessel and it just flows, you don’t think about it.
Dan: If you try and make it happen, it just doesn’t work. We don’t push each other to feel a certain way.
Is there a difference between the songs in which you guys knew the direction/outcome you wanted to go, compared to those that you guys were just jamming in?
Ina: Every song is birthed in a different way, every song is conceived in a different way. You can’t change the way it was conceived, you can just appreciate it for what it was regardless of whether you’ve planned the song or not.
Bizz: For this new EP, we’re trying to make statements with these songs to show how versatile we can be. We’ve got reggae, dub, straight hip-hop, dance-pop. We try to keep it interesting.
Ina: It’s not for them, it’s for ourselves. We keep ourselves interested first, in our music, because it’s for us to feel free.
Dan: If we feel like two songs sound two similar we’ll scratch it for the time being and work on something else, just to keep ourselves going musically. Focusing on that keeps others interested... we hope. We’ve all got different backgrounds musically as well as in life. Our backgrounds in how we learnt music is completely different to each other too.
What do you connect to most, Mind, Body, or Soul.
Ina: I want to say soul but it’s my mind. I over think too much. I wish it was soul.
Dan: I think it’s always changed for me. I think I’ve gone through all three, I don’t think I’ve been one the whole time.
Bizz: More mind then Soul, but can I pick both?
Nadav: My mind.
What Stimulates Your Soul?
Ina: Music, beat, a pulse. Having a pulse and a beat is a pulse.
Nadav: Creating a new experience with the people I love. Music is an obvious place to do that for me, finding that creative harmony with other people; it’s a deep connection that is frankly hard to put into words; but the result yields the power to change the way one thinks, acts and feels.
Bizz: A number of things like love, family, music, art. But a big one would be when I’m in a creative process or in the studio with my band and we get into a trance as we write or jam. It seems everything that was troubling any of us that day just disappears and I can see it on everyone’s face without the verbal communication.
Artists in Royalty Noise:
Bizz - MC/ Vocals/ Producer
Keb aka Chief - MC/ Vocals/ Producer
Hyina Mufasa - Vocals
Yoseph Bekele - Bass
Ban Richardson - Drums
Nadav Rayman - Keys
Dj Kavinda - 1’s & 2’s
Royalty Noise website: http://www.royaltynoise.net/home/about/