REMI (Melbourne) on Divas and Demons, Sensible J’s influence & Groovin’ the Moo!

With Groovin’ the Moo edging closer and closer, we’re getting more excited than ever to see what some of our favourite locals are going to be bringing to the festival stages. For some, it’s another notch on a belt of impressive shows while for others, there’s an added bonus buzz of being able to bring new music to fans and potential newcomers alike for the first time.

For 2016 feature artist Remi, the next few months are looking to be quite exciting both on and off the road; the GTM tour will be the first time this year he and Sensible J will be embarking on a national tour and also the first time we’ll be able to see what they’ve both been working on at House of Beige HQ, namely the follow up album to Remi’s acclaimed debut Raw x Infinity. We’ve already been dealt a sweet cut in his recent collaboration with Sampa the Great in “For Good” and as the Melbourne rapper describes, the excitement and inspiration both he and J have been feeling in studio surrounding Divas and Demons is most definitely real.

“It’s going to be super dope,” he says of the upcoming festival tour. “I just love rural shows, shows where you go to places that don’t get the love they deserve. Most of the time, people are going to react that way; they react in a way where they’re way more excited, even if they don’t know who you are. They’re more likely to be on your side because they’re just not used to this kind of music.”

“We’re getting more cats to collaborate on the joint with us, whether it’s musically (instruments) or vocally.” he says of their new album. “We keep getting thrown these new pieces that, for us, is fucking dope. It’s actually been weird, there was a moment where we were getting to much dope shit from other people, so we had to start culling it!”

Photo: Michelle Grace Hunder.
Photo: Michelle Grace Hunder.

Divas and Demons has seen both Remi and Sensible J further build on what’s been an electric creative dynamic; in J’s intelligent and bold production and Remi’s ambitious and self-assured approach to lyricism and its delivery there exists music that does more than present itself as attention-grabbing moments on a record. It’s music that has brought crowds around the country to their knees (or at the very least, two-stepping in cultish unison) and has given Australian hip hop fans the opportunity to access music that is not only ferocious but incredibly topical and relevant to today’s youth culture as well.

This sophomore album has seen Remi push himself further as he describes stepping up his game and revisiting some classics to inform and inspire a diverse and eclectic collection of new music.

“It’s been more orchestrated,” he explains of Divas and Demons‘ recording process. “The organic thing for us to do is, regardless of how it sounds, to just jump on it. If you feel the vibe, just jump on it. J listens to so much different music, he’s got so many different styles of beats. That was obvious on Raw x Infinity; you’ve got joints like “Tyson” next to joints like “Aviation (disco weed)”, it’s like a fucking disco joint. For us, it doesn’t actually sound that weird.”

“I’ve been listening to a lot of old school albums recently like Earth, Wind & Fire’s Open Our Eyes and Stevie Wonder’s Hotter Than July – they’re fucking mad eclectic, you know? It’s a different time, it’s a different age and also, that stuff doesn’t really happen in hip hop. Going back and seeing what type of album we wanted to do, we wanted to do a more cohesive piece that made more sense sonically, across the whole vibe, and lyrically.”

Remi owes a lot to the influence of Sensible J and it’s an influence he’s unafraid to openly praise. For anyone who has seen the duo perform live, J’s talent as a drummer is obvious and when you listen to Raw x Infinity or indeed, any of Remi’s mixtape/single releases since, his production is always a highlight of the music.

“He’s inspired me to just start going back to the crevices of vinyl and it’s really changing my whole musical…it’s making me love music all over again.” Remi admits. “Just listening to full albums and giving music the time it deserves as an art piece. It’s been super tight.”

“J can make so many beats,” he says of J’s work on Divas and Demons. “If we were like, ‘We’re going to go in this vein,’ then he can still make 400 beats in that vein. Even having some of those little guidelines around it has made it much of a, ‘We need to think about this,’ process. It also pushes you on certain songs that you might have, in the past, been like, ‘You know what? Leave that out, let’s do something else’. It makes you like, ‘No, this shit fits perfectly, so I need to step my game up and figure out what it is that I want to hear.’ That’s from both sides.”

“It’s crazy,” he says of his partner’s musical knowledge. “It’s not something that’s contrived either. You can meet people who are like, ‘It is my goal in life to be the gatekeeper to this music shit,’ and it’s not like that for him at all. It’s just because he loves music so much that he has to break down songs; he’ll tell you, he can’t even listen to a song anymore just as a song, he has to literally deconstruct it and figure out why it is that he likes it.”

 

Photo: Michelle Grace Hunder.

As to whether or not fans will feel a definite departure from Raw x Infinity‘s material both stylistically and in terms of content, Remi’s quick to note that the frenetic and wide-ranging palette of influences that endeared many to him in the beginning hasn’t been diluted or reined in on this new album.

“It’s still not logical!” he laughs. “There are still a lot of moments where you’re like, ‘I can see why you thought that went in there, but it probably doesn’t need to be…’ but I’m really just excited! J’s been super inspiring throughout this whole process because nothing will slide through the cracks with him. If it’s a snare sound that doesn’t have the right texture, he’ll sit there for four hours until he’s figured out why. When you’ve got that kind of person on your side, it’s a real vibe.”

“We’re brothers.” Remi says of the way he and J are currently working, both as artists and heading up their House of Beige label. “I can say that with my actual little brother, I’ve seen him grow up so much over the last three years or whatever and I guess it’s the same for J and I. We’ve both just grown around each other in seeing all this stuff, we’re on a similar plane most of the time. It’s very rare that we’re not thinking…I’m not going to say ‘thinking the same’, because he’s definitely is on another level! It’s very rare that I don’t understand where he’s coming from, you know? That empathy and just that knowledge of the person you spend the most time with is quintessential.”

REMI will be appearing on the Groovin’ the Moo tour, as well as his own headline run of shows through May! Dates below.

GROOVIN’ THE MOO FESTIVAL TOUR DATES
Tickets available here

April 23rd | Maitland Showground, MAITLAND | SOLD OUT
April 24th | University of Canberra, CANBERRA
April 25th | Oakbank Racecourse, OAKBANK
April 30th | Prince of Wales Showgrounds, BENDIGO | SOLD OUT
May 1st | Murray Sports Complex, TOWNSVILLE
May 7th | Hay Park, BUNBURY

REMI ‘FOR GOOD’ AUSTRALIAN TOUR DATES
Tickets and more information here

May 19th | The Foundry, BRISBANE
May 20th | Newtown Social Club, SYDNEY
May 21st | Howler, MELBOURNE
May 27th | Jack Rabbit Slims, PERTH
May 28th | Fat Controller, ADELAIDE

Cover Photo: Michelle Grace Hunder.