Tonight I caught up with renowned Melbourne-based photographer Michelle Grace Hunder. Considering she has began her professional career only three years ago to releasing not only a book, but a photo-documentary on Hip Hop, RISE – and it’s the first of its kind ever in Australia! Michelle (with crew and her many supporters) will commence her national book launch and tour this Thursday starting with her hometown Melbourne.
This lady has a bright future ahead of her and we’re looking forward to the tour. She was such a pleasure to chat with and was so gracious when the phone kept dropping out and I can imagine she was super exhausted planning for the tour. Here’s what she had to say about the birth of her career, the RISE book, design and creative process, culture and most importantly.. Gelato delizioso! (Italian for “Delicious ice-cream!”)
When you started your professional career as a photographer, what did you start shooting? Fashion, music or something else?
Probably a bit of both to be honest. Also I was shooting a lot of weddings when I first started. A lot of my friends were getting married so it was actually a really good introduction to shooting on the fly – just adapt to outdoor conditions. I think that’s where I really got that love of just being able to adapt to anything, depending on the weather or light. As an early photographer I got a lot of thrown-into-the-deep-end experience which really helped. I still occasionally shoot weddings, I try not to do it as much now and I try to stick to music and street wear – and I did a lot of that at the start. I shoot a lot of gigs. Rocking up to gigs and trying to make a name for myself and make sure people knew who I was. So both really challenging forms of photography as well, which is good, which means that you have to get quite skillful quickly. I look at stuff from either 6 months ago and go “Oh God!”. So it’s good to be constantly improving.
When you do look back at your work do you sometimes think you should re-edit your work?
Yeah I’ve definitely gone back and re-visited stuff and sometimes been really pleasantly surprised like I’ve might’ve missed something. I know that definitely happened when I shot Daniel Merriweather and I just kept revisiting that shoot and kept finding really great shots, which was really cool because I shot that quite early on in my career. I tend not to do it that much now, maybe in a few years time do I go back and do the same thing but yeah (laughs). It’s fun to do that occasionally.
Yeah, true you can see how much you’ve improved since then…
Yeah, definitely. It was also encouraging to see that I had a pretty good eye. I was getting things right from the early days as well. I definitely think my editing has improved in terms of grading and stuff. I definitely don’t push it. Shooting wise, it’s kind of encouraging to see I wasn’t terrible but I definitely improved.
How did you come to start shooting music photography?
I’ve got a friend (Briggs) who’s from Shepparton (Victoria) and I haven’t seen him for a long time and I reconnected with him and he’s just an amazing Hip Hop artist. So I started going to gigs with him and just completely fell in love with the scene and the people and became really passionate about documenting as much as I could, and getting known and just going along to gigs. I’ve always loved going to gigs as a music fan, but it takes it to that next level when you’re actually up the front shooting. I just loved it. Just immersed myself in it and just started shooting as much as possible.
What’s your favourite position to shoot from if you do have one. Or do you prefer to freestyle it?
Yeah definitely freestyle it. Everything is different in terms of the access that you get. You have to make the most of it. Sometimes you only get three songs and then you’re kicked out of the pit. Sometimes depending on the relationship I’ve with the artist, you’ve got free reign and you’ve got a Triple A pass and you can go wherever you like, which is the best position to be in because you just get the most amazing photos. There’s not just one spot that I would shoot from, I would move around quite a lot. It’s not just about capturing what’s on stage, it’s about capturing the whole energy of the gig and just the whole vibe, so it’s real important for me to get different angles and the crowd as well.
What’s some of the craziest or riskiest photoshoots you’ve done?
When I shot for the book, when I was shooting MzRizk (funnily enough) we were in a burnt out warehouse. The whole thing has basically collapsed and there was only small sections left. And there was this one section – there’s obviously been a fire. There was a steel beam that was about half a metre wide and kind of bent and to get the shot that I wanted I needed to go about half way out on it and we were like “Oh my god, I’m totally risking my life for this shot!” But it’s so worth it because it’s such a great shot in the book! I had to be there to get that shot. We were just laughing the whole way going “Oh my god, I hope we don’t die but it’s worth it”. There’s so many times where I don’t hesitate to climb up on things. I’m kind of in the moment you don’t really have much regards for your safety.
What are some of your favourite lenses to shoot with?
I basically shoot with two and that’s about it. I’ve got a fixed 35 and a fixed 85 and I pretty much shoot predominantly with those. Very very rare that I shoot with anything else. Occasionally I get the 70-200 out if I’m shooting larger gigs so I might need a bit more zoom. Generally with the 85 I can get away with, it’s just a beautiful lens. And a 35 I’ve had, it’s just a little f/2, it’s a really cheap lens that I just love. I shot so much of the book with the 35 and once I discovered the 85, I shot a lot with that as well. Just those two are usually in my kit and that’s about it. I’m not a big tech head. I also use natural light for everything. Again, I’m terrible when it comes to external lights and flashes. I wouldn’t even know how to use them to be honest. I just use natural light. Maybe a reflector or something.
When you’re out taking photos, what goes through your mind?
Especially when I take portraits the most important thing to me is a connection with the person that I’m shooting. Actually, it’s more important than anything else to be honest. It’s more important than location. I usually spend time chatting to the person just making them comfortable and relaxed and get to know me. Part of my creative process is usually going for a bit of a wander and just having a chat and getting to know the person. So that to me is the most important thing about my shoots and also I shoot pretty quick. I’m very conscious of people being comfortable and if they’re not comfortable or they are cold or anything like that, it just translates. So get stuff quickly and once you’ve got it, move on. Don’t have people out there for three hours.
What are some of your personal qualities that you bring into your work?
To be honest, I think it’s my personal skills with people. I’m such a people person I think first and foremost – much more than a technical photographer. I’m blown away by what some people can do but I think just connecting with people and making them feel comfortable and then they drop their guard and you kind of really get the essence of the person in the shot. That to me is the most important thing above everything else. I think that’s what I can bring to a photoshoot rather than all the gadgets and latest stuff, it’s more about a personal connection with the person I’m shooting.
Did your cultural upbringing and values have had any impact on how you view or produce your work?
I definitely think so. I come from an Italian background and I’ve seen my parents and my grandparents just work so hard for everything and I’ve definitely got an incredible work ethic that’s been taught to me by my parents in terms of getting down and getting stuff done. I’m certainly not lazy or if I have to get something done I will stay back until it is finished. I think that it’s handy in projects like “RISE”. You don’t want the project to be going on forever and then you get no end result. People want something. I worked incredibly hard to get that done in the space that I got it done. Sometimes I would be shooting six times a day. Yeah, I definitely think they installed that kind of work ethic.
Who or what inspires you in life?
I’m inspired by a lot of things. Hip hop in general is incredibly inspiring to me just wanting to leave my own legacy. When there’s been so many incredible photographers when you think of hip hop, and wanting to be one of those people. Not just Australia wide but hopefully worldwide and that really drives me to keep pushing and keep working with international artists hopefully. I think there’s been a bit of a devaluation with photography because everything’s digital and it’s a one click wipe and then it’s gone. Imagery is really important because it’s still what represents a person, brand or an artist. It’s what is kind of left after you leave. Photographs are incredibly important and I take what I do very seriously and just want to have the best quality work out there that’s under my name I guess.
If you weren’t doing photography what do you see yourself doing?
Honestly, I’ve had a lot of different careers. I’ve worked in film, I’ve worked in event management, I’ve worked in sports marketing, I’ve work in touring before. I cannot see myself doing anything else other than this now. Now that I’ve found this, I didn’t pick up a camera until I was thirty one. So you know, I was quite old. I’ve done so many different things in my life but this is just the best. Wouldn’t want it any other way.
You mentioned in another interview that one of your favourite shoots was with Brad Strut when you both spotted a gelati van. Because you’re italian, what is your favourite gelati flavour?
Oh my god, that’s so hard! Probably a combination of lemon and strawberry. Oh – that’s really hard! My mum makes a really mean gelati actually. She’s very good at it. She hasn’t done it in a while actually. I have to remind her.
Maybe you should have some at your RISE tour?
Yeah! (laughs). “Mum can you just pre-make me all this gelato for me?”
Moving onto your book RISE, it’s the first of its kind in Australia. How did you come up with the unique idea and why do you think it’s important to produce this book?
Originally when I started shooting it wasn’t intended for a book. It was just a portrait series on Melbourne Hip Hop artists that I admired and wanted to work with and just thought it would be good to have a few faces in my folio. But then I kind of had progressed and meeting a few more people and I did a shoot with Grey Ghost and Mantra and they were kind of quizzing me about what I was going to do with all these images that I have accumulated. It was actually their idea! Those guys were like “You should do a book, no one has ever done that before. That would be so cool. Don’t just do Melbourne, do all of Australia!” and I was like “Woah! That’s just nuts. You guys are crazy!”. So they kind of sparked the initial idea and I thought about it for a little while and I kind of went with it. I think this kind of documentation is really important especially for a scene that is still quite young and flourishing and starting to gain a lot of recognition in the mainstream. Obviously it’s been around for ages it’s really started to be known, the Australian music scene in general. I think this point in time is a really important time to document.
The title RISE, what does that signify?
I was sensing this kind of elevation of artists starting to achieve mainstream success – of new kids coming through, popularity, just this whole momentum. It was the first name I thought of and went away from it and just kept coming back to it. I just loved the simplicity of it. I do really think it signifies this moment in time.
What draws you toward Hip Hop music?
I’ve been a massive fan of Hip Hop music since the early 90s. That’s literally what I grew up with and I’m a huge fan of West Coast rap. I listened to so much of it. It dominates my playlists and it’s the main form of music I’m always listening to. And also in terms of culture and the style of how I dress and everything, it always felt “very me”. That’s what attracted me to the hip hop culture in general.
What was the best moment for you working on this project and who were some of your favourite artists to work with?
I think the best moment was the day when I got the advanced copy and it was such a relief to hold it in my hand, and just everything that Grey Ghost and I had designed just looked amazing and the colour was great. It was just such a relief because you don’t see the final product when you’re proofing. It was just a massive relief and it looks beautiful. I was just stoked. That was probably the greatest moment and feeling a great sense of achievement. In terms of favourite shoot, there’s so many. I think the shoot with Marley Hunter which is Robert Hunter’s son is quite a special photoshoot. Robert Hunter died of cancer a few years ago and they did a Robert Hunter Cup every year in his honour. He’s been such an instrumental part of the hip hop scene and to have a dedication to him in a photograph of his son. And to have his mum’s permission and it was such a really nice photograph. I really think it was just a really special moment.
You’ve mentioned that some of your best photos is when people let their guard down. How can you tell when they let their guard down?
It’s almost like it’s in their eyes. It’s not overly noticeable but they just relax in front of you and you get a really honest and almost vulnerable, like – form of that person. It’s almost like they drop the artist or who they are or who they want to be known as and then you just see them as a person. It’s quite visible to me. If you see that moment and if you can capture that it’s pretty cool. I definitely think there’s a few moments – definitely with 360. The photo of him I just adore. That’s definitely one for me that stands out. I’d probably also say Jimblah is another one – is a really honest beautiful photo of him. A lot of those tighter portraits. Also Brotha Black in terms of the tight portrait, you can see into his soul. It’s a really really beautiful photo. Definitely a couple of highlights that’s for sure. It’s not easy to do but when you do get that, it’s a beautiful, timeless thing.
It comes with your personality too…
Well hopefully! Hopefully it helps. Because part of my creative process is I want to be friends with the person after I’ve finished shooting with them and if I’m not, I feel like I’ve failed. I feel like I wouldn’t have been able to really get that essence of them – they wouldn’t have really dropped their guard enough, so that’s what I’m always hoping to do.
When it comes to the locations, do you actually go out and try and find a location before a shoot or do you just go with the flow?
Yeah I definitely go with the flow. Generally speaking people try and push me to try and find something beforehand and I’m very resistant to it. I think it’s because I’ve had such great experience in just making kind of anything work, and I really like the challenge of rocking up somewhere and just finding how light falls in different places or in different rooms and being able to make that work. To be honest I don’t do a lot of location scouting. I only do it with clients who really insists of stuff like that. I usually don’t say “do you like portraiture?”, I just say “I just want to come to your house” or “I want to meet you at a cafe of go for a walk around the block”. And a lot of people are a little kind of taken back initially and I’m just like “Trust me, it’s okay, I’ll find something that works!”
What were some of your setbacks/ challenges to produce the book?
I definitely think from a financial point of view when I was first looking into self-publication it was incredibly daunting which is why I went down the path of doing a Pozible campaign (crowd funding). I had looked into quotes and it was $17,000 to get the amount of books that I needed done and I was just like “that’s just not going to happen!” and I almost quit at that point, but I’m glad I didn’t and I’m glad I went down the path of doing a crowd funding campaign and got the whole hip hop community involved. Everyone was just so incredible in supporting me. That was the biggest challenge to be honest.
How much input did you have in the design of the book, layout, colour scheme, typography etc. Were you seeking some professional advice or did you make the decisions?
It was all very much a collaborative process. Having said that I really trusted Grey Ghost‘s design aesthetic and that’s why I chose him because I just adore everything he does. But he would run everything past me asking “do you like this?”. When he was designing the logo, the first one I wasn’t keen on but the second one he just nailed it. That’s exactly what I was wanting. It has to translate to hip hop and in this country and through different mediums, it has to be eye catching. I was so stoked with what he came up with. I wanted his stamp on it as well because he was the person designing it and I don’t know what I’m doing when it comes to design. Everything came through me in terms of the final say, but I just trusted his judgement with a lot of the stuff and it was a pretty easy process and he’s a champion and I loved working with him.
Will you have any merchandise on tour?
Yes, for the tour, we’ve got a tour poster which I shot all the artists and I’m super proud of this poster design. They took me into the studio which I don’t usually shoot very often and I had a very specific thing in mind and I absolutely love it. I saw the posters yesterday and they’re SO amazing! There’s also t-shirts as well with the RISE logo and another design which has the design of the tour posters with the artists on it.
How would you like people to respond to your book?
I’m really hoping that they can – if they are a fan of Australian hip hop and if they are a fan of particular artists maybe look at other artists that they don’t know and go and seek out their music. And hopefully it’s just bringing the community together and discovering a whole lot of new artists and new people that potentially they weren’t aware of. If people are doing that then I am like the happiest girl in the world because I am very passionate about the artists and the music they make and that is my number one aim.
So what’s next in store for you after the tour Michelle Grace Hunder?
Everyone is asking me at the moment and I’m like “I can’t think beyond this week at the moment!” But yeah, I definitely have plans to do something on an international scale. I recently did a trip overseas which I got to shoot a few international artists which was amazing and just continuing to working with internationally renowned people is on the cards.
Will there will be a RISE v2.0?
(laughs) a 2.0! I’m not sure. There’s talks about maybe doing something.
If you had an Access All Areas pass and could shoot anyone who would you shoot?
If I can go back in time in just under 20 years, it would have to be Tupac without a doubt. He wold be number one on my list. But now, probably Kanye. that would be pretty awesome. I’m such a big fan of his.
Do you have any words of wisdom for those aspiring photographers and other creatives out there who want to succeed?
Yeah, just find what you are really passionate about. A lot of people get into photography and do weddings, fashion or they do whatever. But photograph what you truly love and I think that’s the best way to make a successful business because it’s really obvious when you love what you shoot. That passion just comes out in everything that you do. It just makes working life just so much fun and so awesome. If you’re shooting every single day, you’d want to be enjoying it. So that would be my advise.
Interviewed by Liza Moscatelli
Big ups to Pamela Maldonado for her contribution to the interview!
TOUR DATES & TICKETS
Thursday, August 21 – The Espy, Melbourne
Friday, August 22 – Oxford Art Factory, Sydney
Saturday, August 23 – New Globe Theatre, Brisbane
Thursday, August 28 – Karova Lounge, Ballarat
Friday, August 29 – Rosemount Hotel, Perth
Saturday, August 30 – Rocket Bar, Adelaide
For more information and tickets go to: http://www.risemgh.com/
Detroit MC Guilty Simpson and Sydney DJ / Producer Katalyst first linked up to work on the Quakers album with Geoff Barrow for Stones Throw Records. It was a good match and not long after Stones Throw approached Katalyst to do more work with Guilty.
Since then, they have been busy cooking up something special in the lab. The details of which are still mysterious, but it’s safe to say while he’s on our shores for a run of live shows with Katalyst they will be showcasing some hot tunes off this upcoming release along with the classics that has made Guilty one of Hip Hop’s most respected MC’s.
Due out in early 2015 on Stones Throw Records be the first to hear some exclusive previews of this heavyweight album that already has people buzzing.
AUSTRALIA/ NEW ZEALAND TOUR DATES and TICKETS:
Friday 1st August – Transit Bar, Canberra
Saturday 2nd August – The Underdog, Brisbane
Sunday 3rd August – Ponsonby Social Club, Auckland
Thursday 7th August – Mojos, Fremantle
Friday 8th August – Laundry Bar, Melbourne
Saturday 9th August – The Basement, Sydney
Supporting on the night will be two of Australia’s most impressive MC’s – HAU who will be launching his long awaited mixtape entitled Football Feats and Funerals Mixtape, and emerging hip hop rapper MR CLEAN and DJ MIKE WHO.
Funky electronica-neo soul Darwin-based duo Sietta have recently a new video to go alongside the track ‘Carry’ off their new album The Invisible River. ‘Carry’ featuring 5th and Dubs has been killing it lately with regular radio plays and heaps of other media attention to go alongside it. The track is almost two songs rolled into one – the beginning of the song almost like a sampler medley and the second part is an uplifting pop track about empathy and assistance in times of need.
The video was shot what seems to be deep within the Australian bush (perhaps almost a nod to bushfire survivors). The stars of the video, though, are Travers Ross and Yukino Mchugh. Travers has worked as a choreographer on So You Think You Can Dance Australia and Mchugh reached the top 14 in the most recent season of the show. They perform a soulful contemporary piece together and are joined towards the end by a team of dancers performing a simple but sweet choreography. The pair work well together as a constant motif of togetherness and support. The team of dancers together look a bit sloppy and raw but this was quite potentially a deliberate decision to create a familial feeling with the audience. Sietta are producing a never ending stream of quality work at the moment and the ‘Carry’ film clip is just another example of this.
For more information visit:
Winning 5 Grammy Awards and selling over 65 million records worldwide, there’s no doubt that TLC are the biggest selling American female group of all time.
Best known for an array of 90s hit singles including ‘Creep’, ‘Ain’t Too Proud To Beg’ and number 1 selling single ‘Waterfalls’ and top 5 hits in Australia including ‘No Scrubs’, ‘Diggin On You’ and ‘Unpretty’ in the early 2000s – TLC have committed and contributed a great deal to the (conscience) hip hop industry which impacted the entire music industry on an international level – continuing to leave a great legacy.
It’s been a while since we’ve last heard of TLC, however, T-Boz and Chilli have surprised us all as they have recently started touring again since the “release of VH1 Biopic Crazy Sexy Cool which chronicles their rise to fame and their struggles along the way…”
In 2002 the third member of TLC Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes was on vacation in the Honduras and lost her life during a car accident. Although it was a great loss for many most especially the group and their families, TLC refusing to give up. “…T-Boz and Chilli completed and released 3D that same year, and appeared in their last performance at Z100’s Zootopia festival by lovingly performing against an on-stage video montage dedicated to Lopes…” For the first time in 10 years they recently spent some time in the studio preparing their new album.
TLC will have their final Sydney show at the Enmore Theatre tomorrow night.
The 1st Show Sold Out and was a success. So there was a 2nd Show added. Be sure not to miss this once in a lifetime opportunity.
For ticketing and more info visit Ticketek here.
In October Australia will see its first national neo-soul, jazz and hip hop festival and it’s huge!
The stellar line-up consists of some of the most prolific international artists including Maxwell, D’Angelo, Common, Aloe Blacc, Yasiin Bey aka Mos Def, Anthony Hamilton, Angie Stone, Musiq Soulchild, Leela James and our very own local artists including Ngaiire, Nathaniel, Ms Murphy, Milan, Miracle and DJ Trey!
There will also be authentic soul food featuring Eat Street with over 40 unique food outlets, pop up food street outlets and the great chili cook off with free tasting. Introducing over 6 licensed bars, cafes, two stages and over 20 international and local acts!
TOUR DATES AND TICKET DETAILS
Saturday Oct 18th – SYDNEY, Victoria Park (Broadway) 12pm-10pm
Sunday Oct 19th – MELBOURNE, Sidney Myer Music Bowl 12pm-10pm
Saturday Oct 25th – BRISBANE, The Riverstage Ampitheatre 12pm-10pm
Sunday Oct 26th – AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND, Western Springs Stadium 12pm-10pm
TICKETS ON SALE NOW via Soulfest.com.au!
VIP Tickets $179 plus booking fee
General Admission $139 plus booking fee
Exclusive Side of Stage Experience $349 plus booking fee
Proudly presented by I|E|G in association with the Ginnen Group
Maxwell, the sexy ambassador of Soul makes his Australian debut at Soulfest. The prolific artist who bought us absolute timeless classics like “Sumthin’ Sumthin’”, “Ascension”, “Pretty Wings” and “Lifetime”, will be visiting Australia for the very first time and performing hits of his phenomenal albums, including his latest work “BLACKsummers’night”. In 1996, the Brooklyn born legend took the music world by storm with his debut “Urban Hang Suite”. The critically acclaimed CD received a Grammy nomination and went onto achieve double platinum status.
Heralded as the future of Soul music, Maxwell proved his staying power by following up with albums “MTV: Unplugged”, “Embrya”, 1999’s biggest selling single “Fortunate” (Off the LIFE soundtrack) and 2001’s “Now”. After a hiatus, the Soul Legend returned in 2008 with a live rendition of Al Green’s classic song, “Simply Beautiful” at the BET Awards. The unforgettable performance was one of the most talked about performances of the year. His latest album BLACKsummers’night was recorded with an extraordinary live ten-piece band No synthesizers, no duets. Just Maxwell bare and in the flesh ready to give old fans and new ones a sensory experience that he never fails to bring.
Having touched the Neo-Soul genre with his sensual presence and stirring vocals some 15 years ago, singer-songwriter D’Angelo has become one of the most influential and key contributors to the rise of the Neo-Soul movement. Bursting onto the music scene in 1991, this Virginian native went on to incite vocal comparisons to the likes of music legends Marvin Gaye and Prince with his 1995 debut album, Brown Sugar and its subsequent hit singles “Brown Sugar” and “Lady”, a top 10 hot on the Billboard Charts, went on to secure the albums platinum certification for over 1 million record sales in the US alone. Following the success of Brown Sugar, D’Angelo took a four-year sabbatical from the music world and left fans yearning for a follow up to this Brown Sugar success. The year 2000 saw the release of his much-anticipated second album aptly titled Voodoo, on Virgin Records and it received rave reviews and a new legion of new soul fans, dubbing it “D’Angelo’s greatest work”.
Voodoo debuted on the US Billboard charts at Number One, selling over 320,000 copies in its first week and went on to win a Grammy Award for Best R&B Album. After an extended break, D’Angelo emerged again doing various guest appearances on tracks for artists like J. Dilla and Common, and a rumoured new album and European Tours in 2012 saw D”Angelo re-enter the music world for another spin. This will be the singer’s first tour of Australia.
Common is known as one of hip-hop’s most poetic and respected lyricists. The popular Actor, Author, TV & Film Producer, Youth Ambassador and Designer has released 9 successful albums which easily rank amongst hip-hop’s best, won three Grammy Awards and countless BET, MTV and Billboard Awards. Common released his ninth album “The Believer, The Dreamer” which was released to critical acclaim by Warner Bros. Records on December 20th, 2011. On September 18th, 2012 Common joined forces with the rest of the G.O.O.D Music crew to release the highly anticipated Cruel Summer Album, featuring additional artists including Kanye West, John Legend, Pusha T, Big Sean, 2 Chainz, and Kid Cudi.
In 2007 he made his acting debut co-starring opposite Jeremy Piven and Ben Affleck in “Smoking Aces”, and has since gone on to star in many successful Hollywood movies including “Date Night”, “American Gangster” and “Wanted”. Common is currently working on expanding his literary pursuits, acting and producing in film and TV projects, completing his latest album and mixtape, partnering with brands and continuing to inspire youth across the country with his Common Ground Foundation.
With “Wake Me Up”—the 2013 mega-hit he sang and co-wrote for Swedish DJ Avicii and saw climb to #1 in 102 countries across the globe—Aloe Blacc proved himself a singer/songwriter with an irresistible power to capture the complexities of human emotion. Now with his third solo album Lift Your Spirit (Blacc’s major-label full-length debut) the rapper-turned-singer pushes further into a folk/soul/pop fusion that’s both undeniably joyful and eye-opening in message. Adding an of-the-moment twist to the music of legends like Sly Stone and Stevie Wonder, Lift Your Spirit is built on songs that pair Blacc’s poetic yet incisive lyrics with huge hooks and relentless feel-good grooves.
The Southern Californian artist released his genre-defying solo debut “Shine Through” in 2006, and followed it up with 2010′s “Good Things” which sold more than a million copies worldwide, thanks to his first international hit “I Need A Dollar” with “The follow-up to his 2013 EP Wake Me Up—whose title track serves as an acoustic version of the Avicii single that’s emerged as the fifth best-selling dance/electronic song in SoundScan history—Lift Your Spirit finds Blacc teaming up with premier producers like Pharrell Williams, DJ Khalil (Eminem, Drake, Kendrick Lamar), and Rock Mafia (No Doubt, Miley Cyrus) to achieve a slick and smooth retro-soul sound. His current single “The Man” is currently riding up the Australian Charts.
YASIIN BEY AKA MOS DEF
He is one of Hip-Hop’s most iconic recording artists with a career that spans over twenty years. Yasiin Bey aka Mos Def hails from Brooklyn New York and was a major force in the early nineties underground hip-hop movement appearing on the albums of fellow rapper’s De La Soul and Talib Kweli. Forming his group Black Star on Rawkus Records in 1998 and releasing the successful “Mos Def & Talib Kweli are Black Star”, the album went on to produce the hits “Respiration” and “Definition” which went on to become VH1’s 100 Greatest Songs of Hip-Hop. Launching his stellar solo career with his album “Black on Both Sides” in 1999 secured Mos Def major industry love and respect for his socially and political aware lyrics and poetic style of storytelling through rhyme, which garnered him a mass of mainstream hip-hop fans in the process. His second album ‘The New Danger’ in 2004 bore the singles “Sex, Love & Money” and “Ghetto Rock” which went on to receive several Grammy Award nominations.
As a respected rapper and actor, Mos Def has balanced the fine art of his craft and parlayed them into successful performance’s on Dave Chappelle’s Block Party, plus acting roles in Brown Sugar, Talladega Nights, Be Kind, Rewind and Cadillac Records to name a few, and has gone on to appear in the critically acclaimed HBO Film Something the Lord Made as Vivien Thomas, for which he received an Emmy Award and Golden Globe Nomination, and won an Image Award. Mos Def is a definitive performing artist and has become one of hip-hops most intriguing and historic emcees of our time!
Anthony Hamilton’s voice just keeps getting better with time. The Grammy Award winner’s arresting voice – a favourite staple on the scene since 2003 – recently hailed at No. 1 for 4 weeks on Billboard’s Urban Adult Contemporary chart with his soul-stirring single, “Pray For Me”. The Babyface-produced track is the second single from his fourth studio album, “Back To Love”. Hamilton’s “Pray For Me” and his “Back To Love” album were both nominated for Grammy Awards. Fans began paying attention to Hamilton in 2002, when he sang the infectious hook on Nappy Roots single “Po’ Folks”. That performance netted the singer the first of 12 Grammy nominations for best rap/sung collaboration.
After signing with So So Def, Hamilton scored a platinum debut with “Coming From Where I’m From” in 2003 and two years later followed it up with “Ain’t Nobody Worryin”. Then in 2008 came “The Point Of It All”, and 2009 saw Hamilton win his first Grammy Award for his collaboration on Al Green’s “You Got The Love I Need”. He has contributed to the works of artists from Dr. Dre, Tupac, Young Jeezy, Angie Stone, Jadakiss and Jill Scott through to Santana and Josh Turner. Between his own album sales and collaborations, Hamilton has sold more than 20 million albums. This is Anthony Hamilton’s first trip to Australia.
Grammy Award Nominated Singer-Songwriter, Producer and Actress Angie Stone, is the Grand Dame of Neo-Soul. With four Top 10 albums, including a number one album and ten singles, Stone has sold over 1.4 million albums in the US and over 5 million albums worldwide. Stone was born in Columbia South Carolina and starting off her singing career singing Gospel music at her local Baptist Church. Dreams of singing stardom led Stone to Arista records and the debut of her first solo album in 1999 “Black Diamond”, which went on to be certified Gold. This was followed up by “Mahogany Soul” in 2001, also going Gold. Third album “Stone Love” followed in 2004 and her fourth studio release “The Art of Love and War” emerged in 2007. She followed this up with “Unexpected” in 2009 and “Rich Girl” in 2012.
Angie Stone has successfully held court as a Queen of the Soul Music sector and through various label changes in her career has always managed to deliver music and live performances heralded the world over. A celebrated actress as well, Stone has appeared in a number of VH1 TV shows and movies, live theatre alongside fellow singer Brian McKnight in Chicago on Broadway, and also stars in Season Two of TVOne’s R&B Diva’s in 2013 as a mentor and life coach. This will be Stone’s first visit to Australia.
Australia couldn’t get enough of this mega talented Philadelphian musician during his electric live performances in 2013, and will no doubt welcome Musiq Soulchild back with open arms for Soulfest 2014. A consummate professional, this Neo-Soul Singer/Songwriter has been creating soul stirring music for over 15 years, garnering a legion of mainstream RnB and neo-soul music fans far and wide. His brand of effortless song-writing blended with infectious soul music has made Musiq the leader of the new soul movement and it is a talent that has taken him from scatting at Philadelphia Jazz clubs to achieving 2 x Platinum albums, 2 x Gold albums and 7 x hit singles including “Just Friends, “Love”, “Halfcrazy” and “B.U.D.D.Y” to name a few.
Musiq has been lorded with numerous nominations and awards from Billboard, BET, ASCAP, BMI and Soul Train, including 11 Grammy Nominations, MTV and American Music Awards. Since the debut of his career in 2000 with his first release “Aijuswanaseing” to his seventh and most recent album “9ine”, with Syleena Johnson released in September of 2013, Musiq has showed consistency and growth as a recording artist and songwriter who has achieved the fine art of blending contemporary R&B, Soul, Funk, Jazz, Hip-Hop and Gospel into a music lovers paradise. In his own words of who Musiq is, he says, “Musiq Soulchild is technically two ideas. Musiq is the front man and Soulchild is the idea behind it”.
Soul and Blues songstress Leela James changed the Soul game with the release of her debut album “A Change Gonne Come” was released. The LA native has a style and flow likened to that of the old school Soul Music era of the 60’s and 70’s and singers like Roberta Flack, Donny Hathaway and Stevie Wonder to name a few appear to channel through her. James has churned out a consistent discography that has seen her remain a firm favourite with her peers and fans alike and has received critical acclaim for her four studio albums released from 2005’s “A Change Gonna Come”, 2009’s “Let’s Do It Again”, 2010’s “My Soul”, which reached Number 7 on the US R&B charts and her 2012 release “Loving You More …..In The Spirit of Etta James”.
She is a powerful and soulful female force to be reckoned with, writing lyrics condemning materialism and misogyny in today’s urban music genre and calling for a return of a bygone era where the artistry and dedication of musicians were of great importance. James has toured as opening act for The Black Eyed Peas and Macy Gray and also featured on famed Hip-Hop Producer and Emcee Pete Rock’s album “Soul Survivor II”. Leela James has been nominated for the Soul Train Music Award for Best R&B/Soul New Artist and the NAAC Image Award for Outstanding New Artist both in 2008 and continues to be an artist of intrigue and purpose her chosen genre. This is Leela James’s first trip to Australia.
HIP HOP STUDIES – PANEL DISCUSSION (FREE) – Monday, May 19th @ 10am-12pm
Chaired by Dr. Omid Tofighian (USYD)
Assoc. Prof. Ian Maxwell (USYD)
Dr. Tony Mitchell (UTS)
Dr. Frederick Gooding Jr. (NAU)
Randy ‘Ran-Dee’ Glazer (The Street University Mt Druitt / Joint Adventure)
Matthew ‘Mistery’ Peet (The The Street University/ Krosswerdz Australia/ Graff Writer)
Sharline ‘Spice’ Bezzina (Univ. Zulu Nation/ Graff Writer)
Jashana Banks (NAU)
Kween G (Killaqueenz)
The panel brings together academics and practitioners to discuss the relevance and importance of Hip Hop culture and research.
Held at the University of Sydney, New Law School Annex Sr 346 (Above Taste Baquette Cafe)
My Element is a collaborative project (10×8 Gallery) feat. some of Sydney’s best photographers who all have a passion to capture the Hip Hop scene/ artists in Australia and abroad.
Opening Night: This Thursday 24th April 2014
Duration: 24th April – 4th May
Location: 10×8 Gallery Level 3 | Central | Central Park
28 Broadway Chippendale
Open 7 days a week, 11am – 6pm
Music on the night featuring DJ sets by
Raph (Jackie Onassis)
For more information go to the My Element Facebook Invitation here: https://www.facebook.com/events/696880800376933/
He opened up a new lane in local hip hop with his debut album Voyager, and ‘In the Morning’ suggests that he’s confidently moving further from the pack. Celebrating the realness of living in the moment without glossing over absent milestones, ‘In The Morning’ is so much more than a leftfield indie rap anthem. Drawing on influences from ‘80s- era English post punk and ‘90s grunge through to hip hop, the Melbourne-based MC, producer and singer offers us a ride into his trademark excursions into the human psyche.
The single is taken from new album Blue Volume, set for release on Elefant Traks in June
Watch ‘In The Morning’ video clip below.
Joelistics will launch ‘In The Morning’ with a co-headline tour with AMP-nominated Dialectrix.
JOELISTICS AND DIALECTRIX
‘IN THE MORNING’ TOUR WITH N’FA JONES
Presented by Elefant Traks, Blank Tape, Grindin’ & Premier Artists
FRIDAY 16 MAY REPUBLIC BAR, HOBART
THURSDAY 22 MAY THE SMALL BALLROOM, NEWCASTLE
FRIDAY 23 MAY THE ROLLER DEN, SYDNEY
SATURDAY 24 MAY BAROQUE ROOM, KATOOMBA
FRIDAY 30 MAY TEMPO HOTEL, BRISBANE
SATURDAY 31 MAY SOL BAR, MAROOCHYDORE
SATURDAY 14 JUNE WORKERS CLUB, MELBOURNE
All shows on sale via oztix.com.au