Bliss n Eso is one of Australia’s biggest hip hop groups, with their 4th album ‘Running on Air’ going platinum. we catch up with macca before they head to armidale.
How did Bliss n Eso first get together?
Well, I can tell you this, it definitely wasn’t one bloke who thought he wanted to make a band, put it in the paper saying he needs a drummer or a rapper. It wasn’t founded like that. It was three best friends in high school; we picked up this project, and we just literally haven’t put it down since. It was very hard for us obviously starting out; ten years ago hip hop wasn’t exactly a strong point in the scene in Australia. If you walked up to someone and said, “Hey, I rap – you should come to my show”. Back in the day it was like, “Oh, you wanna-be try-hard”. Nowadays, those same buggers want tickets to the show!
So it’s a lot different now, and I count our blessings and praise it. Australian hip hop is on the rise, and it’s amazing and I think there’s not one group putting out product right now that we don’t need in the scene. Whether it be some hard hitting rhymes from Phrase or some soft, honest talk from Horrorshow, I think everyone provides a character that needs to be part of the scene.
It was rough and it was tough at the beginning … we basically did everything ourselves. We made our own mix tapes, we got our own gigs, and basically it’s grown from there. We’ve been riding a wave that’s never really kind of curled over, so it’s very exciting.
What do you think your first big break was in the scene?
I’m not too sure. If you are talking about getting out to the masses, I think when we did the Sound Relief Charity concert for the bush fires – that was 92,000 people we played in front of at the MCG. Not only that, at the SCG in Sydney there wasn’t an act on in Melbourne, so they actually had our whole show on the cinema screens in Sydney – we had the MCG and the SCG basically watching our set. It was just phenomenal to be able to present your music to those kind of numbers – to get our music out there a little bit more.
I would say it was definitely something like that, but it’s also been a lot of the great festivals that Australia has been putting on over the years, like Splendour in the Grass and obviously Big Day Out that we just got … took us ten years to get, but we did! I think it was just a hard struggle and we had to keep doing it, keep doing it every year and try national and international tours. It was just a never give up attitude.
Who have been some of your idols over the years; who inspires you to make music?
Well, when I first started in hip hop, it was very much … you know, I won’t lie … was very much on the gangsta tip, early Public Enemy, Got Your Way, Ice Cube, characters like that. Because I visualise music and visualise lyrics when a rapper is rapping, and it kind of got to a point for me where you know I liked my Snoop Dogg and my Dre and all that, but it was kind of like that one movie, like watching a gangsta flick over and over again, until the point where I started listening to some other artists that were underground. Such as Atmosphere, Sage Francis, Buck 65, Outkast, Mos Def, Common Sense, that kind of revolutionary rhyming stage that happened there to take it out of the bulls!@*t and the way it was going. So, I guess all those artists were big on my radar.
You have worked with Wu-Tang Clan, Xzibit and some other big names. What’s that been like, and what have been some of the highlights?
They are big names, I guess, if you’re a hip hopper, but we got Rza on the album, for instance. That was like we weren’t just happy that we got him … that was like working with an iconic dream.
I remember being in art class when I was younger with my little walkman on and getting in trouble for having 32 chambers by the Wu-Tang clan bopping too loud. That’s a huge thing for Australian hip hop too, is that whole bridging the gap to work with international acts to get that mass appeal.
I know a lot of MCs and artists from Australia who want to be able to connect that gap, because the talent is ridiculous right now in Australia. The kids are really pulling their socks up when it comes to rhyming and expressing themselves properly. For instance, we just went and played South by Southwest, which is a festival in Texas, and on my way into Texas, Immortal Technique was sitting behind me on the plane.
First show I went to go in to check it out, Yellow Wolf an up an coming Alabama was on stage, then the Wu-Tang Clan were on stage, and then you had Tyler the Creator from Odd Future, who are blowing up right now on stage as well. So you didn’t even know where to go! You had Warren G playing over here, De La Soul over there; it was quite crazy, and I think when we were giving out our mix tapes in the streets they would be like, “Australian hip hop … what the f!@k is this?” Then they would look on the back and see featuring Rza and Xzibit and they would be like, “Hold on … this is serious”. So it’s a dream to be able to work with anyone that you admired growing up.
Let’s talk about the regional tours you will be doing when you come back to Australia. You run a competition where the regional areas had to put their bids in; tell us how that worked.
We sit back as a group and look at the map of Australia and try and figure out ourselves who wants it more and who needs to have us come through their town – and that would be up to us, really.
I think all three of us made a conscious decision to be able to throw this one back to the public and let them have a choice. Armidale isn’t a place we usually play, Mt Gambier is not a place we usually play, so it was good to be able to get feedback from our fans letting us know where they would like it held, and I think that’s very important – especially when you are doing regional shows.
Kids don’t have to hassle their friends or spend money to get to a major show, so I think it is good for everyone.
How did you make your decision on where you were going to play?
I’m not too sure about the whole thing, but I’m pretty sure it was a Facebook competition and you could go online and vote which town you wanted us to come through.
What can our locals look forward to about the show; have you got anything exciting up your sleeve?
Absolutely. Way more tracks than we would usually do. We have got a live show that would scare Jesus Christ himself …
Thank you Macca.
Bliss n Eso will be performing on May 6 at The Stro UNE, Armidale.