In the lead up to his debut album, this year’s Hilltop Hoods initiative winner has decided to give listeners a small taste of what’s to come. Today marks the release of The Forked Road – a free mix (digital and physical) from the Adelaide MC/Producer, Koolta and mixed by DJ PT.
Your just about to release a new mixtape titled The Forked Road, where you’ve teamed up with DJ PT. Tell us a little bit about this project in how it came about?
Koolta: PT is my main man! I’ve known PT since high school, he’s always been my DJ – in the studio and on the stage. We’ve talked regularly about doing a mixtape together, and now seemed like the right time leading up to my debut album. I really wanted this mixtape to be an opportunity for PT’s skills on the turntables to be showcased – I didn’t want it to just always be about the MC/vocalist and I’m really happy with what PT has done with the tracks on the release.
After winning the Hilltop Hoods Initiative earlier in the year, I thought dropping a free mixtape would be a great way to get both our names out more to the public before the official release comes – give people a teaser of what we are about musically. Oh and most importantly…you can download it for free here.
You have dropped two well received releases so far , The Deportation EP and more recently The Influx. Both releases have shown massive growth over that period in terms of sound and depth. Will this release see you pushing your boundaries once again?
Koolta: I dropped The Deportation EP beginning of 2010, but it was really the culmination of a lot of work in the studio throughout 2009. It was an indie release really just sold out the backpack in shows around Adelaide, but I was very happy with the final product. With that EP I just wanted to show people who I could hold my own on a solo release – production and vocals wise – as I had done lots of collabs with local artists but still had nothing out of my own. The Influx was a free EP that I released subsequent to winning the Hoods grant. It was 5 tracks that I was really happy with but didn’t think would suit the vibe of the rest of the album – and I didn’t want those songs to never get heard.
The Forked Road mixtape has a bunch of new songs and a few songs from both EP’s, but DJ PT has funked up the older songs significantly. I think the mixtape will have something for everyone on it, and it should showcase what PT and I are about to those that haven’t heard of us before. I would definitely agree that the mixtape has pushed my boundaries – for starters it’s the first mixtape release I’ve done and it is also the first solo release I’ve ever done that has guest artists, Prime and Allday, two MCs whom I have a lot of respect. Working with other artists is something that I am doing for the album too – and not just hip hop artists. I’m working a lot with The Funky Scum Rumour, a band I often play shows with, adding live instrumentation to my beats to make the production a lot richer. With the debut album though I really want to blow people out of the water. I really feel like the mixtape is a nice little appetizer to get people hungry for the main course. We want you salivating damn it!
You were recently announced as the 2011 Hilltop Hoods Initiative winner, congrats. What does this grant mean for you?
Koolta: Honestly, if I could pin point the highlight of my music career thus far – it would be winning this grant this year. It is the best feeling to get recognition from people who I have respected and looked up to for years. Without releases like Left Foot Right Foot when I was an early teen, I don’t know if would be making the music I do right now. I’m forever in debt. It’s also opened so many doors too, with more media attention, radio play, basically more people checking out my music. I can’t front on the financial side of things either, $10,000 to put towards my music is no joke. It was always hard putting money away towards music, when there are plenty of bills etc to be paid. There is no way I would have put that kind of money into my first album without this grant. It means I can really put my all into this album and my music in general. The expectations of my music are greater now that I have won this initiative and I don’t want to disappoint people. I’m trying to be as proactive as possible.
Would you encourage other artists to apply for the HHI?
Koolta: Yes, most definitely. Applying for grants such as these is time-consuming, but it pays off. And there are a lot of music grants out there, not just the Hilltop Hoods Initiative – be proactive and go for this kind of stuff, it goes a long way.
Will there be a launch for the new mixtape ‘The Forked Road’?
Koolta: Yes indeed there will be! We’ve got a big launch party planned on Saturday December 10 @ The Jade Monkey (29A Twin St, Adelaide). All the artists on the night are friends and people I respect. Opening the night we’ve got new artist es. ef. doing a few jams, vocalist Gabrielle Hyde will be doing an acoustic set and my man Allday will then be rocking the stage. Finally, PT and I are going to do the mixtape in full live, and then The Funky Scum Rumour will jump up and PT and I will do some old songs together with the band. Shout outs to Mase and Mattic as well who are hosting. It’s only $5 entry for five acts and you get a free mixtape on the door. Bargain! I will be very disappointed if you aren’t there. That goes for interstate and international readers too.
There’s been a huge shift in the way music is delivered to the consumer, do you think it’s vital to offer options. Such as both a physical and hard copy release?
Koolta: Times are changing. The old system of selling music to the consumer is not the same, hence why there are record stores everywhere shutting shop. Don’t get me wrong, I love copping a vinyl release, nothing beats wax, but people need to change their game plan if they want to keep up. The digital world is a great way to connect to people and get out there, that’s why my last release (The Influx EP) and The Forked Road mixtape are free downloads. The mixtape will also be available in CD form too as a free giveaway at certain stores (shout outs to Clinic 116) and shows such as the mixtape launch. I think the best thing artists can do is always be flexible and have their music available in whatever form the fan wants/needs. My album will be available in digital and physical formats that’s for sure.
Tell us a bit about the full LP that you are working on at the moment?
Koolta: There is an album coming – I have been saying that for a long time! Estimated time of arrival is early 2012, with a single out very soon. I can’t give away too many details, but it is shaping up very nicely, it’s a big step up from the music I have put out previously. I feel like my production is lot more ‘textured’ than it used to be. I’m trying to move away from just loop jacking samples and be more creative when sampling – a lot of the beats don’t have any samples at all. I am a hip hop artist through and through, but with this album I just want to forget labels and pigeon holes and just make music that is entirely me, make the album I have always wanted to make. And that’s the other thing – I’m making an ‘album’, something that is intended to be listened through over an hour or so, not just a collection of random 3 minute songs that are interchangeable. I also believe so much of the music I’ve made in the past has come from a dark place, the album I’m making will be more of a balance, more positivity – I’m not always pissed off and miserable!
Your not known for being one to rest on his laurels, will you be contributing to any other artists releases in the near future we should know about?
Koolta: The focus now that the mixtape is done is to get my album finished and out there. With that said, I’ve been busy producing and recording lots of other artists. Earlier this year I had 7 beats on Allday’s free 9 track EP, Noue Yesue, which I mixed and recorded. I will have a gang of beats on his next release too. Next month I’m recording and mixing a local crew’s debut EP (Everyday and Tomorrow, is there a theme here???). I’ve also got a verse on Coptic Soldier’s mixtape which is coming out at the end of the year. And there are a gang of local artists using my production over the coming months, including Subsketch, Dwizofoz, Strooth, Mesha, Matrix and many more. Yeah, I’m keeping myself very, very busy.
If people were going to check out one track on the new tape, what would it be and why?
Koolta: That is a difficult one, because they are all my babies, especially the new and exclusive joints on the mixtape. I wouldn’t say there is one track people should check out per se, as they are all pretty different. But that doesn’t adequately answer your question now does it! …I would say my favourite song on the mixtape is the final track ‘Already Dead’. It’s easily the song I put the most time into, damn I re made that beat over and over again trying to get the build up right (listen to it and you will understand!). I think ‘Already Dead’ best represents who I am as an artist. So check that one out. And then check out the whole mixtape. And then check out the album when it drops.
Final comments and shit we’ve missed:
Koolta: Finally, just want to say thanks to allaussiehiphop for your time and support. Also, thanks to DJ PT and all the artists involved with the mixtape and the launch, Prime, Allday, The Funky Scum Rumour, Gab Hyde, Sam Trezise, GTNBZY, Clinic 116, es. ef, Mase and Mattic, and last but not least my missus for always helping me out with this passion (she puts up with a lot!) Get your download awwn!