Invading Hip Hop With Aussie Producer Katalyst

Aussie producer, Katalyst, has been recognised in the industry for a number of years, receiving numerous ARIA awards and world-wide critical acclaim. His well-received Quakers album, released in 2012, is a collaboration with 7-Stu-7 and Geoff Barrow from Portishead. The album features a selection of 32 MCs including Dead Prez, Guilty Simpson, Phat Kat, Prince Po, Jonwayne, and Bootie Brown among many others. Katalyst is currently working on the next Quakers release for Stones Throw Records due to drop in the early party of 2015. His upcoming tour of Australia and New Zealand with Guilty Simpson will include some new and exciting material not due out until next year, so be prepared for some new sounds and serious tight beats.

We chat to Katalyst about his involvement in Stones Throw Records, the Quakers project, and his upcoming tour with Guilty Simpson. Ayla Dhyani writes.

You’ve worked with so many great artists. Are there any significant moments that stand out for you in your career?

I was pretty happy to complete the first Quakers album. It was quite a massive project with 40 songs and 33 rappers, and it was really nice to just wrap it up and deliver it to Stones Throw. It was really one of the first records I released without having to deal with any of the admininstration and just focus on creating. In Australia I usually do it on my own with Invada Records. It was also nice to do a project with my mate from Portishead, Geoff Barrow, who sort of conceived the whole Quakers project. It was a pretty great achievement to get that finished and it was quite well received.

How did Quakers come about?

I was actually over in Europe visiting Geoff and had just come back from Amsterdam where I saw a Heineken sponsored gig with Black Milk and a whole lot of different producers, as well as a live band. And it was there that I saw Guilty Simpson perform as a sideshow. So when I got back I was talking to Geoff about it and he said he’d been thinking about an idea for a record that we could do together. We came up with the idea of doing a massive record with a lot of short tracks and a whole lot of different rappers on it. So I guess it was kind of conceived in his lounge room probably around 2010.

<a href="">DEEP IMPRESSIONS by Katalyst</a>

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How has Stones Throw helped you with your career?

Well I’ve always been a bit of a fan of Madlib, J Dilla and MF DOOM, and a fan of the designer as well, Jeff Jank, who is pretty amazing. They just manage to not get swept away with the latest trends in a lot of instances and are just continually putting out good quality music. They’ve got a great fan base, especially in Europe, so it was just nice to get the work out through them and have a good push behind it. They’ve all been good to work with. The Katalyst and Space Invadas work that I’d done previously was out through BBE World Wide, who aren’t nearly as active or as big of a label as Stones Throw. So it was definitely an extra injection, and these follow up projects are going to come out through them. It was just nice to find a home with like-minded people, I guess. 

Tell us about your intention to leave Sydney and move up to Byron Bay.

Yeah, I’m going to try to do that before the year is out. I just need to finish these records and get a few things in place, but I’ve always enjoyed the vibe up around Byron. It’s obviously a very beautiful place and I’m keen to set up a studio when I’m up there. To do that in Sydney is pretty hard with the property prices, so it felt like a good time to make that move. Especially considering I don’t actually do a lot of work directly out of Sydney, apart from hooking up with artists as they come through town. I think it’s going to be really nice creatively as well. There’s a lot of natural beauty, and just to be in a different space after being in my current location for nearly 15 years will be good. There’s a good expanding creative community up there, with a lot of people making a lot of different stuff, whether it be music or art, and more and more people are moving up there over time. So there’s bound to be a few interesting opportunities that will arise through the move. I might start recording some bands and producing some other artists as well as just doing my own stuff once I get the studio set up, so that will be something slightly different that I’m looking forward to.

You’re working on the next Quakers project at the moment. Do you know yet when you’ll drop that album?

I’m hoping to get it out early next year, but it just depends on Stones Throw as to when they can schedule it in. Obviously they have other releases to consider, but ideally it will be out early next year. I’m looking to tour it over in Europe maybe this time next year, during their summer. It’ll be quite a bit of work to put the show together obviously with so many MCs involved. We’ll probably try and take six or so people over to Europe and do a run of shows. So that’s the plan, but we’ll see what actually happens.

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Can we expect anything different from you in your upcoming tour with Guilty Simpson?

Well, we’ve been working on some stuff. I can’t really say exactly what it is at this stage, as we haven’t announced it yet. But we’ve been working quietly on a lot of tracks over the past two years and I’d say we’d be playing some of those for the first time live, so it’ll be exciting to see the crowd reaction. I’m really looking forward to performingFitta Happiawith him. He’s performed it a fair bit, but it’ll be the first time we do it live together as Quakers and Guilty Simpson. Guilty is just such a great live performer and really one of the best real MCs out there today. The last time he was in Sydney it wasn’t the greatest gig, as it was pushed back and it wasn’t that well promoted. So I think it’ll be a really good show this time around at the Basement, which is such an iconic venue. Hau is going to be performing at the show in Sydney as well with his new mixtape that he’s about to release, so that’ll be great. Big shout out to Hau! So I’m just happy to be involved and will probably play a lot of the Quakers stuff if I DJ before Guilty as well. Including some of the beats that aren’t out yet, so people can expect to hear a lot of new sounds that are due for release in 2015.

What stimulates your soul?

Creativity is probably one of the main things. I find soul in a lot of different things, whether it be in art or photos or music. But I think all the music that I do definitely has a soul influence. I think it’s a pretty broad spectrum of things that stimulates my soul but they’re all in the realm of creativity.

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