Isolation and the rise of Perth hip hop scene with Premiss

Premiss are an impressive eight piece hip-hop/neo-soul ensemble currently tearing up stages all around Perth. The outfit continue their unconventional venture of writing music and serving it up to the best emcees around with new offering 'Just For Kicks', featuring the talents of Coin Banks and Marksman Lloyd. Led by bandleader and composer Brendan Scott Grey.

We sit down with Brendan and chat about the rise of Perth MCs, working with Coin Banks and how the isolation of Australia helps us in the rap game.

Your track ‘Just for Kicks’ is about child labour industry. What got you interested in this issue?

'Just for Kicks' was inspired by a news clip Marksman saw featuring people in the US camping outside a shoe store overnight for the chance to be the first to buy the latest brand of sneaks. Watching this it occurred to him that the person who made the shoes was probably sleeping on the street as well, albeit for very different reasons. Looking at the dichotomy of these two scenarios became the inspiration for this track and our work with various charity organisations with the release.

What rappers are you currently listening to?

Man, heaps of stuff at the moment, so much new talent popping off locally and around the world. Sylvan La Cue is definitely taking up a lot of my playlist space, so inspired by his works, always keeping an eye on whatever he's doing now. Local cats POW Negro have got some dope new tracks that i've been lucky enough to hear before their official release, peeps are gonna lose it for this EP. Perths' Scottish liaison Silvertongue has got some incredible new works i've had the privilege of checking out prior to release, super poignant as usual from that guy.And of course Sampa the Great and Jurrasic 5 are always featuring in there somewhere.

What is it like working with Coin Banks?

Me and Coin have been working together for years now so it's a very predictable experience! We first put stuff together on his Heads and Tails EPs, he would send me beats and I'd write horn parts to be recorded live over the top. From there we spent years working together on live shows utilising a full band (which became the foundation for Premiss) or adding a horn section with a DJ. Since then we've been consistently featuring on each others works including his latest release, there's even a few awkward shots of me in his latest video clip playing sax!

How do you see the hip hop world in Australia vs internationally? Do you think there is room for growth?

Man good question. It can be hard to judge where Australia is at compared to the global scene. Our isolation really still does affect what we're exposed to (especially in Perth) but at the same time isolation is necessary for punctuated evolution so it may prove our greatest strength in time. I feel like the Australian hip-hop scene is in a huge growth period atm, there's so many voices and styles coming to forefront that move outside standardised tropes. Trap is quickly becoming more and more musically sophisticated and a blend of live band elements with DJ's/ samplers is becoming the norm. Content is becoming more about our own cultural issues and societal problems which inspires me a lot. I suppose the big thing which we're missing in Australia is the venues to play at! But fuck it, really this music was made for house parties anyway, might be time to return to that.

Why do you think there is a rise of rappers coming out in Perth?

Yeah, there definitely is a rise! I honestly don't know. The foundations in Perth hip-hop were sown just over 20 years ago now by the likes of Downsyde and Syllabolix, that's a long time for a cultural identity to solidify. We may have just hit that tipping point where raps have become so accepted as an art form that our generation feels very comfortable in using it as a form of expression. Someone should write a paper on it!

What other projects are you working on?

I'm super lucky at the moment, have got a stack of projects I'm running or collaborating with which is keeping me busy and inspired. The West Australian Youth Jazz Orchestra lets me write/arrange for hip-hop shows a couple of times a year which is stupid fun. Just finished a show featuring POW Negro, Mathas, SIlvertongue, Hyclass and Macshane. Already working towards another show in December with some new feature MC's. Putting together two new singles (which we just need to record) with DT and Silvertongue which I'm pumped to show everyone. Going to be recording on a track with POW Negro some time soon and am touring with Drapht in September. And in between all that I've got the great pleasure to be running the bands for Hyclass, DT and Marksman Lloyd in upcoming gigs. Definitely feeling pretty blessed to get to work with all these incredible artists.

What stimulates your soul?

Music. It's one of those double edged sword kind of deals, if I'm honest with myself I'm only really happy when I'm creating, playing or listening to music. Does feel like a bit of an addiction sometimes and definitely has its impacts on other parts of my life but I guess it's just the cards I've been dealt. That being said a good round of Dungeons and Dragons with good peeps and a bit of herbal is a close second.