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Dialectrix - Off The Dial

Author: Matt Unicomb
Monday, October 27, 2008

After clambering his way out of the Blue Mountains’ hip hop mindfield, Dialectrix has just dropped what will be one of 2008’s defining releases. 3D’s Matt Unicomb chats with him about departing his old crew, partnering with chasm, and touring.

Dialectrix may just be the saviour of Sydney hip hop. Finally an MC that fits the currently obligatory ‘socially conscious/triple j and FBi friendly’ typecast – with an ability to switch up flow and consistently spit heat over the mellowest of beats – has emerged.

At just 22 years of age, Ryan Leaf cut his teeth in the burgeoning hip hop talent pool taking over the Blue Mountains. Previously crashing stages with the renowned Down Under Beats Crew, Leaf has since toured as part of the 2008 Obese Block Party’s and Chasm’s national showcases, and appeared on one of this year’s most acclaimed records, Chasm’s Beyond The Beat Tape. The Down Under Beats Crew experience allowed the young MC to find his voice, while being guided by the artistic direction of some of Australia’s most experienced hip hoppers – even without the stability most musicians rely on. “We [Down Under Beats Crew] went through so many incarnations,” Leaf reflects. “We were going from six members to five, then back again – then Immune went and did a solo thing. We were trying to find cohesion, but it reached a point where I wanted to have a bit more of a managerial stance, and have more overall control. We left on good terms – they realised that I wanted to go in a different direction. I haven’t really looked back.”

Hitting stores last week, Cycles of Survival will, at long last, give Sydney heads something they can be proud of. A year full of sub-par, but ‘attention grabbing’ releases has been the case for most of 2008. Luckily, fellow Mountaineers Thundamentals’ self-titled debut EP smashed the suggestion a few weeks ago. With releases from local veterans Scott Burns and Bingethinkers, Swarmy G, and Hyjak N Torcha still in the pipeline, Dialectrix, Chasm, and Thundamentals have taken the metaphorical crown and planted it firmly on their heads.

Interestingly, Cycles of Survival is an entirely Dialectrix/Chasm collaboration. Chasm contributes with 13 – of the 13 – beats, and was alongside Leaf from the album’s very conception. In fact, it was through Chasm that he met the Obese crew – a partnership that eventually led him to a record deal. “He [Chasm] came up with the idea of a Chasm and Dialectrix project,” Leaf explains. At the beginning, I just went and chilled out with him, listened to a few samples and let him know what I was feeling. From there he would email catalogues of beats to me. I only turned down one or two out of like 30 beats – I was writing to everything. We cut them down to the 13 that were going to be on the album.”

Some would say joining the Obese Block Party tour is getting very close to the top of the Australian live music pile – an opportunity, one would assume, that every MC in Australia would take in a heartbeat. For Leaf, it taught several invaluable lessons. “We were on tour for months,” he notes. “Funnily enough it was while I was writing. I’d go away for the weekend, work all week, and then write for the album. I was under a lot of stress, but doing that many shows and learning how to rock a crowd properly was a real blessing.”

WHO: Dialetrix
WHAT: Cycles of Survival through Obese Records
WHEN: Out now