F&D interview: Tracks on a Wall
Author: Benjamin Preiss
Thursday, 16 March 2006
From his home studio in South Australia deNorthwode (aka BVA) is busying himself with a remix track for Sydney's politically edged hip hop outfit The Herd. For several years he has been spreading his hip hop roots across Australia with production and remixes for a number of groups. He also makes up one third of hip hop group Mnemonic Ascent alongside Melbournians Ransom and Raph. For a genre often criticised for being too locally focused, deNorthwode seems to have had few problems taking his music across state borders.
"The actual community in Australian music is pretty tight knit. If you see somebody at a show you generally end up hanging out. I guess it comes through that," he says of his collaborations across the country.
Among deNorthwode's most recent projects is the album 'Worship The Grit', made with long time collaborator and fellow South Australian Funkwig. For a duo that has worked together since the age of 15, Funkwig and deNorthwode come from vastly different musical starting points. Yet the South Australian pair has been an important contributor to the local hip hop scene, with performances and production collaborations across the country.
deNorthwode is a self confessed vinyl digger and comes across as more concerned about the physics of album production. He describes his partner as a gifted instrumentalist who provides the musical grounding that underpins deNorthwode's production.
"We've just been working together so long. Funkwig is an amazing musician, he plays basically anything he picks up. He's basically one of those characters. I guess I'm the digger and machine head producer," deNorthwode says.
"I come from picking out really good records and not looping them up, but really getting in there with the machine and altering them. I'm from that school. He's very organic. He's an amazing live player. He's really in his element when he comes out and players. Just that meeting of different sorts of approaches as well [works]."
deNorthwode claims he "rejected music" after giving up the cello as a child. He describes his approach as "non-musical" which is balanced out by Funkwig's "golden ear". According to deNorthwode, 'Worship The Grit' was a record that spent several years in the pipeline. When Melbourne label Crookneck Records expressed interest in seeing the project come to fruition, the pair needed no further encouragement.
"We've been working together for a fair while. But that record from conception [took] about two or three years. We'd been playing a lot and doing gigs as a band with a couple of those songs, so I guess that's what it stems from. We were getting a great response from doing these shows and thought 'ok, let's just put this all together'. We spend a lot of time producing for other people and doing other production. I have another group and so does Funkwig. We spend a lot of time on other projects as well. This has been on the backburner until Crookneck said 'let's make this happen now' and we just jumped straight in it," he said.
Over the phone from his studio, deNorthwode sounds completely in his element. He explains that a productive musical environment is just as much a state of mind as the actual surroundings. With his partner running a business from their home there is never a shortage of someone else with whom to share an idea and gain an outside perspective on a project.
"I have a really great atmosphere here. My girlfriend runs a patisserie business here as well. She's there cooking a couple of rooms over from me all day and a lot of people pop in. It's a great atmosphere to get work done. Having a lot of bounce off and I don't find it too caged in at all. It's an amazing little world when you close the door to the studio no matter whether you've just got a computer or a pen and paper and CD. The mome Tags