Trem One Interview – King Amongst Many

Few names in the Australian hip hop scene carry more weight than that of the almighty Trem , every release he has dropped a classic, every piece of wax hunted and pushed to exorbitant prices by enthusiasts and every rumour of a tour, live set or new drop setting the scene into a frenzy. Behind the scenes is a man doing it purely for the love, a hip hop head who cares not for the bullshit and does it simply because it’s his life and how he lives it. On the eve of his second Stand Up set we went deeper, talking to one of the largest names in Australia, always a pleasure.

You are clearly a man who loves to rush things, haha, is this the start of a much larger tour for FTTOHNL? If so drop some knowledge on what’s coming, if not talk us through what we can expect to see and hear at Stand-Up 2014.

I knocked the idea of an official FTTOHNL National tour on the head a while back. The original thought was to construct a full tour myself, potentially in conjunction with some promoters in varying states, but the time and effort required to pull off that idea to the scale I envisioned became too great unfortunately with my other commitments. I always planned to give time for the release to sink in before touring it but it just got further and further out of reach. To be completely honest, the album was never really created with any semblance of a live rendition, so the stage version was somewhat of… I wouldn’t say an afterthought, but it didn’t feature highly in the priorities of the release. Some may say in detriment to FTTOHNL’s potential impact, but I never saw it like that, the album was primarily designed to sit and absorb, not jump off the walls and smash shit too.

It’s been a minute since that long awaited debut dropped, how do you reflect on it now as a release? Are you happy with the overall product? Are you happy with how it was received by the community as a whole?

I had a good break from it for a decent period, It was nice to come back to it when I had to re-cap on the lyrics for the live set. There’s always things you see and hear after the fact you could maybe re-jig or do better but by and large I’m as happy with the product now as I was the day it dropped. As far as its reception I couldn’t be happier. I’m comfortable with where my music sits in the landscape, no pipe dreams here. Real heads know the deal and if I manage pick up a couple more listeners along the way, that’s always a bonus. Mad love and respect to all those who forked out for my music for real, it’s genuinely appreciated!

Is your mind blown by what the wax goes for on ebay still?

Yeah that whole ebay thing’s amusing and crazy at the same time. I saw what was happening when the first gatefold dropped and it was actually a little disheartening, hence why I ran the little follow up for the devoted heads that missed the OG and weren’t prepared to get stooged by the grip and flippers…

Is this destined to be your only solo release? Do you think you have another long player in you?

I did a couple solo releases many moons ago, but they weren’t LP’s of course, as far as albums, I don’t know, a full length does seem a looong way off, I cant front, but having said that, I’m still writing and planning on a drop in the semi near future but the reality is it’ll probably be more likely a 12” or EP. Beyond that, who knows? Never say never I guess…

Back to the live show what can the heads expect, your joints? LC tracks? Mainstream covers? What is the crowd going to get treated to?

We’ve refined the Brizzy – Trem played to rave reviews at the Brisbane Stand Up earlier in the year – set a little, although the changes implemented are subtle it greatly improves the set. I was far from unhappy with Briz, but it was the first solo Trem show in about 13 years. I’m really excited to bring it to the home state! Like I mentioned live shit isn’t really on my mind when writing tracks so when that time comes it’s a bit of a challenge to construct and deliver a show that ticks all the boxes. LC shows were easy, three emcees, big tracks, ITF DJ, we actually created the crew TO perform live, my solo joint is on another whole plane, so it took some internal battling with myself regarding how to approach it, but I feel it’s got the right balance now. Having the homie Heata man the wheels and the brother P-Link on hype duties give it a real rounding out as well, much love to the team.We’ve got a couple little surprises planned too, so please, do your-selves a favour and get to Melbourne for July 19. There’s no guarantee of another…

Do you think that it’s important that we have a festival like Stand-up in Australia, I mean as opposed to the generic you can play your songs about festivals at festivals line-ups a dedicated full day of Australian hip hop start to end, does the quality of acts influence your decision to play a gig?

Absolutely, their hearts in the right place and it’s great for the non pop acts to have a show that caters for them AND to their public. Stand Up Brisbane was great to be a part of and just like the refinement of our set I think the Stand Up guys have refined the concept a little, for the best in my opinion. Obviously it would be great to see all the same acts get Guernseys in Melbs but the shortening of the event, which I personally think is a good thing, means unfortunately a few miss, but hopefully Stand Up continues to prosper and those acts get an opportunity down south next time round.

What’s going on with the label at the minute? You guys deliver obviously a small amount of super high quality releases, what is cooking for the label at this point in time? Do you guys ever think of branching it out a little further and releasing any of the next wave with skills?

Yeah, funny you mentioned it coz shit just stepped up a couple notches at Unkut which is exciting. The signings of Kings Konekted and Lflows is a fairly prolific step for myself and the label. It’s been a long time since I’ve associated the label name to product outside direct fam but I’ve personally been building with the Konekted boys for a few years now and what they’ve done with Strick and throughClass A is on the right path, their potential is endless, hopefully my involvement helps to propel them beyond. The album Corrupted Citizens is just about complete and I’m super stoked to be a part of it. L’s case is a little different but equally exciting, we initially built about a possible Unkut joining back in 05/06-ish from memory when he and Verbill were a team and things never eventuated. He’s had some obstacles hold up his development and potential to release product but we recently reconvened talks and finally brought him on board to help show the world what he’s been cooking. I’m excited to have both as part of the family now!

What about LC, pretty much every fan in Australia wants another release, I know Balans is on the Peter Falconio MIA tip, what if any hope can we have for another release? Is there some way we could run a pozible campaign to get all of you locked in a studio and a release together? Fuck I think most people would settle for a 12” with a remix featuring diddy at this point!

Well… I did mention never say never earlier, but the reality is I can’t see any form of future release by the crew. The closest any form of re-connect was last year when for the first time in a long time we all met to discuss a re-union show that was initiated by a promoter. Some back and forths took place and things were bordering on at least 1 show but the promoter reneged at the final hurdle and the idea crashed and burned…It’s all respect for the team and what we created though, it was a really special time looking back.

As an elder statesman, and I say that as someone who is over 30 myself, of the hip hop scene, what’s your take on where we have evolved from, through the back rooms, to the radio and then scarily to the mainstream, is the product at a better point now than it once was? Or have we diluted it to much? Who of the new wave are you digging and trusting to carry the scene forward?

I could speak on the topic constructively for hours, but the reality is what I consider the hip hop scene is a fraction of what the rest of the world perceives it to be. I mean for a start rhyming words in a pop song is in no way Hip Hop in my opinion so a fair chunk of what gets labelled under the hip hop category is completely incorrect and irrelevant to me. So in my opinion its evolution isn’t as extreme as many would say. Mistaking pop for hip hop is the real issue and that of course is detrimental to the scene AND the culture because the last generation and a half of impressionable kids have been totally mislead into believing they’re part of a hip hop movement which at its core doesn’t include them. Now that’s not to say a good chunk aren’t legit and on the correct path because many are, but while the real have probably actually gone full circle back to a late 90’s early 2000’s type scenario in terms of evolvement, for the most part, the wannabe pop stars will continue to steal the limelight and major media hype, completely misconstruing the culture to the broader public. There’s a couple of acts that represent the culture and have done so since day dot that have appealed to a mainstream audience along with their initial following and thankfully some have taken the opportunity to school the ignorant or uninitiated. But the truth is my Hip Hop life is motoring along blissfully ignorant to much of the suckedness that wrongly considers itself or has been mistakenly labelled as part of it.

What have you got cooking as a producer at the moment? Any beats on releases we need to check for?

To be perfectly honest I haven’t made a beat from the ground up for a fair while, but I have been producing complete tracks and albums. Actually producing in the real meaning of the word is what I love doing at the minute, and I’m getting the opportunity to do that with the new label releases and my works with a couple of other acts including the homie P-Link from Rawthentic. Getting the most out of an artist’s potential and helping them to create something real special is where I’m at. Taking the raw bones of a beat and making it into a track, helping refine an MC’s flow and wordplay so they can become the best they can be on the mic, and marrying it all together to construct an album that’ll have longevity and substance. 30 years as a fan and near enough to 25 as a participant I feel allows me to pass on that knowledge. Each one teach one.

Finally when its all said and done and the day job and real life has taken over your ability to still make beats and rhymes how will you look back on your career? What to you makes what you have done a success?

Firstly I’ve never looked at this as a career, secondly, and why I never have considered it a career, is its my life. I may not be smashing out beats or writing and recording Trem joints for ever but as my title track explains it is eternal. I’ve always been a fan first and the culture itself is in my blood, it has been for 30 years. My record collection continues to slowly expand and I hope to continue DJing or playing records out at events for ever. Ill always be writing and like I mentioned, helping others realise their potential is something I also envision carrying on with be it through the label or otherwise. In terms of success, win, lose or draw, I wouldn’t change a thing.