Urthboy talks 18 years of Elefant Traks & how writing for his daughter has changed live shows

At Festival of the Sun recently, Larry caught up with Urthboy to reflect on recent live shows, the 18th anniversary of his label Elefant Traks and more! At the time of our catch up, the Sydney hip hop label was readying itself for its huge celebration gig but as Urthboy says, they’re still operating with the same ambition and drive as they did back when ET first got off the ground.

“I don’t really think of it as a milestone.” he admits. “If anything, it’s maybe a testament to just hanging in there; really, hanging in there is underrated. I think to be able to hang in there in any kind of context? That, generally, will pay off at some point. Whether it be a job that doesn’t have a public profile or whether it’s a label or whatnot…just hang in there long enough. There’s some good things that are going to happen. Of course there’s a lot of challenges. Of course, there’s a lot of stuff that’s boring and depressing and hard to deal with and challenging and frustrating, but you don’t really talk about that so much. You really reflect on the good times. I guess you just always want to have a bit of hope there.”

“Numbers are numbers; if we are running at 18 years old and not really having a relevance to people who are listening to music? I don’t think it would be worthing continuing in doing it, I think it would be a hobby. We try and marry the twin ideas of having a real community set up with being a business and those two concerns are always completely inter-related.”

Turning focus to his 2016 record The Past Beats Inside Me Like a Second Heartbeat, Larry and Urthboy talk about how songs take on new meaning in the context of the live show. Particularly with album track “Little Girl’s Dad”, Urthboy explains how the song made him address some truths about himself as a writer and musician.

“It takes on a different level in the live shows because it then becomes something where you’re talking to the men in the crowd at shows; you’re calling everyone to account and saying, ‘We can be better; we don’t have to continue the ignorant, neanderthal, primal, arrogant male act’. We can actually recognise the areas where we fuck up as men.”

“I like being able to talk to the audience,” he furthers. “It’s not just me telling the audience, it’s me with them. Going, ‘No groping here, man. There is no disrespect here. We are equals, so let’s just make sure this is a safe place. If anyone is doing anything, call it out. This is important.’ I realised, partly by that song, I hadn’t done that before. I hadn’t really thought about it from that perspective; even as political as The Herd have been in the past, we hadn’t really covered that. I hadn’t really thought that that stuff goes on at gigs.”

“It’s also just an awareness of what it’s like being a girl at a gig; I never had that, obviously. There’s no excuses anymore. We’re all aware and we don’t have to be thinking about our sister or our mum and the way they’re treated at gigs. You don’t have to put your own partner in that spot to be able to empathise; you just have to bring it back to basic decency. It’s really pretty goddamn simple.”