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Interview with Tornts, one of the longest standing Melbourne Hip Hop artists

29 Oct 2015 spotlight words by Terence Ill
Interview with Tornts, one of the longest standing Melbourne Hip Hop artists

We spoke to Melbourne rapper Tornts about his latest album No Compromise, his recent move to Darwin and his career in the Australian Hip Hop scene spanning more than a decade.

 

Congratulations on the new album No Compromise. Before we get into that, though, I wanted talk about the beginnings a bit - where it all got serious for you. You released your first official album "Adding Insult To Injury" in 2003, 12 years ago. Do you remember how you felt when that album dropped? What were your hopes for it then, where did you think it would take you?

Tornts: Man, I was so psyched to just get it recorded somewhere, then put out on cd and on a record label, cos I was living week to week doing some casual work and sketchy shit, but focusing on making beats and writing every day. I knew from when I was 16 I was going to release music by any means necessary, and so it was a dream come true - pretty much. Shouts to Ciecmate! I put a lot of work and discipline into making it happen, though. It didn't just fall into my lap - sacrificed a lot and dealt with a lot of shit that life threw at me, all just for the sake of my music. I knew I had something different to offer than the rest of the local music scene at that time, both rap wise and production wise. Ive always had that drive and motivation to make things happen, cos you never know when you are gonna go... life's too short.

After more than a decade as a musician, no doubt, you would have learned a thing or two. If you could go back to 2003 and give your younger self one piece of advice, what would it be?

Tornts: Number one would probably be, that I would advise my younger self to be less of a crazy fuck-the-world-fuck-everything young bastard, haha... and get a manager!

Your new album "No Compromise" came out a few weeks ago, on the 11th of September. It is your 7th album. How do you manage to stay relevant after all that time? Is it something you have to make an effort to achieve, or do you think there is something in the topics you write about and the stories you tell, that naturally resonates with people?

Tornts: I just love doing rap music straight up. I always listen to the latest joints out there, I still love it as much as I did as when I first heard it. Everyone's got their favourite eras, but I don't. I love some of the new shit coming out, just like I used to love some of the old shit when it came out - no difference to me. I try and make hip hop that would stand up up against any new hip hop from the UK, US, Europe and, because of that, I'm usually evolving and keeping it fresh. My lyrics are always visual and descriptive and also honest, so people can relate.

You also produced some of the tracks on the album. I can't recall exactly where it was - I believe it was in an interview - but I remember you saying you wish there were more producers in Australia making synth-based beats as opposed to the traditional sampled sound, and that you were looking for beats overseas for that reason. Would you say that the struggle to find the right beats is the reason you started producing, or was it just something that interested you?

Tornts: It definitely interested me, but yeah, at that time in the early 2000s everyone was using jazz and funk loops and I wanted a more colder, harder, more  modern sound of production. So I thought, I'm going to give it a go. I originally made beats as a kid when I first started rapping in the late 90s on keyboard, breakbeat cassette and mixer, then overdubbing over and over again so I knew it was something I was interested in. When I could afford my first MPC, it was on. If you listen to my production from any of my albums I guarantee that it's 5 to 10 years ahead of its time. I like risky type music, not just standard sounding like the rest type of production.

You recently moved to Darwin. Why Darwin? And how are you coping with the tropical lifestyle? It would be quite different from your life in Melbourne. Is it something you enjoy and appreciate or do you miss the concrete jungle?

Tornts: Yeah it's like being in another country I'm loving it up here. Nothing beats Melbourne for its art and music scene, though... but yeah I wanted a bit of a change for a while, from seeing the same shit every day, ya know! I feel like I'm in Miami Florida or something, man. The weather up here is dope... good peoples up here as well, I like how it's a real melting pot of cultures. I've still been home a couple times this year already, and I'm heading back in Novemeber. So, I go back a bit anyway. I could pretty much walk around all of Melbourne and its outer hoods blindfolded - I know its streets so well! After a while it sounds hard to believe, but yeah, it's just a like a small town to me now.

Can we expect a tour for No Compromise, or where can punters catch you live in the near future?

Tornts: Yeah I'm doing the MELBOURNE LAUNCH @ Revolver on Nov. 6th, SYD LAUNCH @ Valve Bar Nov 20th, some shows around Darwin, plus organising the rest of Australia in the upcoming months.

Just check in on my facebook.com/tornts page or @tornts on Instagram for updates.