The String Theory is the debut album from Tailor Made – a Brissy based trio consisting of Enggy, Synergy and DJ/producer Able2. The group formed in 2008 and have had a long road leading up to the release of the record, forming Rinsed Out Records as a platform to release it and to provide a strong network for Brisbane based emcees, producers and DJs. Dylan Toune caught up with the lads to chat about all of the above and more…
DT: Hey lads. Congratulations on getting your debut together! Must be an amazing feeling. How long has the whole process taken?
Tailor Made: It’s definitely a very rewarding feeling to have finally completed what was for us, a truly mammoth project. We began laying down the groundwork for the LP around 4 years ago, developing beats and recording song ideas with a driven attitude but only a vague idea of how we wanted the album to sound. We must’ve gone through hundreds of beats and well over 50 song ideas before we realised the kind of record we were sketching out. Once that was established and we had a good idea of the aesthetic we wanted to produce, we were able to develop some core tracks, which gave the project its foundation. The amount of chopping and changing it took to get to that point definitely took its toll but we learnt some important lessons and came out the other side stronger and more determined as a result.
DT: The first single Animals is a ripper. Incisive lyrics that are impressive on both a technical and emotional level. The production hits hard while being slightly unsettling. It seems like you guys really tried to both make a dope rap record and really hit on some critical issues. Was it difficult to find that balance or was the strength of the lyrics really born out of the hunger to talk about things that you wanted to get off your chest?
Synergy: For us it was really a response to the distorted and abusive relationship we as a species have developed with the natural world – treating everything as a resource has led to some pretty severe ecological consequences that many of us ignore or simply find too difficult to talk about. ‘Animals’ was about trying to find an indirect way of talking about these issues. We tried to imagine what it’d be like to observe the world from the perspective of different animals. What kind of things would a hawk experience that a spider wouldn’t? What kind of things would they say about humanity if those species could talk? Around the same time as this idea was developing, Able2 had been chopping up this dark and obscure sample. We then began layering abstract sound effects of various bird calls, howls and roars to create a sort of jungle-like atmosphere which we thought married perfectly with our conceptual approach.
DT: The group is Enggy (MC/Producer), Synergy (MC) and Able2 (DJ/Producer). You’ve all been putting in work for a while now. How did Tailor Made all come together originally?
Synergy: I met Enggy at the Powerhouse at a Hip Hop workshop around 07’. I was beat-boxing at the time and I remember Enggy walking into the room where a cipher was going on, jumping on the mic and straight up dissing me about my green shoe laces. I laughed about it and I hit back with a diss of my own. We went back and forth for a while and afterwards started talking music. Realising we were similar minded artists, we began writing music together, developing the creative chemistry that led to our first unofficial release, ‘The Beginning’ in 2009.
Enggy: I’d known Able2 since about 05’/06’ when he used to host a weekly hip hop workshop called ‘Making Beats’ at the PCYC. We hadn’t really spoken in a while when one day he just hit me up out of the blue to see how I was going. We were looking for a DJ at the time, so when I told him about our situation, he just said ‘Need a DJ?’. We jumped on the opportunity, linked up, had a few rehearsals and the rest is history!
DT: Just a few questions on The String Theory itself. What was the most difficult thing you encountered when making the album? What were some of the best moments you had?
AbLe2!: The highlight for me was just being involved with the process, straight up. Start to finish and all the ups and downs in between man, I loved every second of it. I’d have to say the most difficult thing for me was letting it go, I really wanted to keep working on it until it was 100% perfect on all fronts. It was a valuable lesson for us to realise that you have to do your best then let it go, otherwise nothing gets out there. We have done that and I think it’s pretty close to one hundred. Oh, and having three in the crew makes for some challenges (laughs), but that made it interesting too. No offence lads.
Enggy: Pretty much what Able2 said. We had a lot of arduous moments with technical issues which would at times make us feel apathetic but then that can be all forgotten when a creative idea is sparked. It’s a really satisfying feeling seeing a track through to fruition, from start to finish, it reminds you of all the ups and downs you went through to make it happen.
Synergy: For me the best moments were those all-nighters when we’ve been on to a good idea and we’ve seen it through to the end – making the beat, crafting the lyrics and recording the song all in the same session. The most difficult part is when you feel like the tracks you made a year ago no longer represent where you’re at and so you make new tracks only to repeat the process a year later.
DT: Did you set out to make a more conceptual record or did it come naturally?
Tailor Made: I guess you could say it came naturally, there were a lot of ideas being thrown around in the early stages of the project but it wasn’t until we solidified a clear direction, that we were able to find a concept that we all felt adequately framed the music we were trying to make.
At the time we’d all been reading and talking a lot about String Theory, a concept in physics that suggests the universe is made up of tiny oscillating strings, which form different structures of matter depending on their vibrational frequency. There were many late-night musings and drunken conversations had on the topic and we all got very inspired by the idea that matter is basically like music – different (sonic) vibrations producing different (harmonic) structures.
At the same time we realised that many of the tracks we had made up until that point had either come from psychedelic guitar samples or had been played by our good friend and talented guitarist Luke Brynes (who incidentally had been studying the Philosophy of Science at uni). So when we reached that critical point and were thinking of possible titles for the LP, we just made the link between the predominate use of stringed instruments on the album and our interest in The String Theory as a way of drawing the connection between music and the universe.
In the end, The String Theory was more of a conceptual scaffolding than an explicit attempt at a concept record – we saw it more as an indirect inspiration and felt it enabled us to explore ideas that may never have come up if the project had not taken on the name it did.
DT: You’re putting out the record through Rinsed Out Records, a Brisbane based collective. Want to tell us a bit more about ROR? How healthy is the Brisbane hip-hop scene at the moment? When I used to go up there regularly it seemed like it had such an organic and strong presence, is that still the case?
AbLe2! : Man in my experience you could ask 10 people and get just as many different answers on the state of the scene, in Brizzy or elsewhere. That’s just the nature of it, the ‘scene’ is subjective, it’s what you make it. We have always had a lot of heads up here making moves and still do. Just like anywhere, you have your wack shit and dudes killing it but I think you need both. Like Bias B said ‘I started out as a toy, just like everyone else.’ You need younger guys coming up to keep it competitive and to keep the older heads honest and vice versa. The problems come when you have toys claiming to be kings and people not prepared to learn their history and put in work, then start dissing when they don’t get the respect they feel they deserve. As for the label, it’s pretty simple. We wanted to get the album out our way, on our own terms so to speak. Also over the course of making ‘The String Theory’ we all noticed just how many talented friends we have, so we decided to create a platform to give them an outlet to express themselves as well. It’s more or less just a unified banner and a means for the homies to put their work out. We are really passionate about Brisbane as a city and just want to rep it to the best of our ability.
DT: Animals is out now and the album itself is out November 7th. Where can we pick it up?
Enggy: You can get it from us direct through our online store – http://rinsedoutrecords.bigcartel.com
We’ve got shirts, CD’s and deluxe packs up for pre-order at the moment and we’re offering free shipping Australia wide. You can also find it at most good independent music stores nationwide as well as digital copies on iTunes & Bandcamp.
DT: This is one I always ask, just for fun. Apart from the usual suspects, who are some artists you’d kill to work with from both Australia and overseas?
AbLe2: For me, being a producer and DJ, I’d say DJ Shadow would have to be right up there. Also anyone from The X-Ecutioners, ISP, Beat Junkies, DJ Krush, People Under the Stairs, shiiiieeeeeetttt Clarence, I could go on forever.
Enggy: If I can dream for a minute then I’d have to say as far as Australian artists go it would easily be Lazy Grey but I think that’s pretty much a given considering what he has done for the music over here. Internationally I’d say anyone from the Wu-Tang Clan, Jurassic 5, D.I.T.C and Dilated Peoples crews. They’re all crews that influenced me heavily from when I started listening to Hip Hop. If I were able to achieve that then I would die a happy man. Wait… Can I add in Action Bronson or is that too much to ask for? Haha.
Synergy: Atmosphere would definitely be right up the top for me. Slug’s poetic and universally relevant rhymes never ceases to inspire while Ant’s evocative production always seems to get me in the mood to write – It would be an absolute dream to work with those guys.
DT: Thanks for your time guys. Anything final you want to say?
Enggy: The String Theory is out November 7th. Stay tuned for the various Rinsed Out Records projects that we’re working on. We’ll be announcing some new signings and new releases all in due time.
You can listen to the first single off The String Theory, Animals, here: http://tailormade.bandcamp.com/
To purchase the album or merchandise jump on here: