Interview: Pez – He Got Game

Pez returns to Australian stages for his first headline tour in more than 3 years. To highlight the important influence Pez has had on the local hip hop scene, you need only to look at the two supports from that 2009 tour – a little known rapper named 360 and an upcoming MC named Seth Sentry. We caught up with Pez discuss the year ahead.


aahh: Lets start off easy. When did you first start rapping?
Pez: I think I was about 19, even 20. I had been playing basketball which at that point, was all I wanted to do. You know, I had plans to go to America to play college Basketball, it was always a dream of mine and I think it was pretty much on track to happen. When I was 18, I got injured with my knee and never could never really get it better. So I stopped playing and didn’t really do anything, I was depressed as shit for about a year and for some reason I started writing these little raps in my bedroom. Soon, that quickly became my new dream.

aahh: Fast forward to this year, you’ve just released The Game. This is the first single from your upcoming new album. The vibe of the track, we found is fairly uplifting, not a wanky way or anything. Did you want to tell us a bit more about your ideas behind this track? 
Pez: HAHA, Yeah I guess that song is the closet thing I have ever down to my other stuff in the past. The rest of the album shows more growth and there are a lot more things happening musically. Going and getting sick, its been a good couple of years since I’ve released anything and there are all these expectations of a new album coming. I had nothing, I was like I better get my ass into gear and get a song together. The Game was the first song that I really feel like I did by myself, from scratch. M-Phazes did help on the drums, but I felt like this was the first time I’ve ever brought a song to life form an idea inside my head. In my mind the idea was stepping back from everything going on around us and taking a moment.
Everyone’s caught up in this idea of chasing money or power and that if they get that, then that’s going to make them happy. To me, it seems like bullshit. Even loosely steeping back within our own scene, rappers are constantly jostling for position and trying to be number one all the time. Once I stepped back from that and tried not to take things so serious, all that seemed a bit ridiculous. Some people find it hard to let go of those things though because of fear. The track did seem to come out feel good, but I didn’t mean for that to happen it was just a natural progression. I think it started out as a very classic hip hop joint and seemed to morph is something else, which I found cool.

aahh: The video for The Game premiered on Channel V and was also voted ripe clip of the week. Can you tell us a bit about the video?
Pez: Grey Ghost directed it, he also did the artwork for my debut, A Mind Of His Own. He is an awesome cat, and it was nice to collaborate with him. He takes ideas really well, he first came to me with this more spanning idea. I didn’t really want to do all of that, since it had all been done before. I wanted to do something more specific with the theme of letting go of that fear and letting go of that voice in your head that terrorise’s your life. He came back with these cool ideas, he had me in the gaol cell and also playing basketball against this devil creature. He got the creative green light on that one.
When I first walked on to the film clip they had this set where they had put all the lyrics on the wall, this dude has crazy attention to detail. It was honestly like walking on to a proper movie set. It was nothing like I’d done in the past, where it was done on a bit of a  budget and a bit more  basic, it was really fun. It made me more excited for the other singles on the album and what we can do for those. 

aahh: You’ve recently announced the Back In The Game Tour, which is your first tour in quite a while. How are you feeling about getting back on the road?
Pez: Oh you know, a mixture of being shit scared and excited. Its good man, I’m getting to go to a lot regional places I haven’t been to before. Also, being on Groove In The Moo with some of the other artists on the bill, who have full albums when I only have a single out, is a blessing. It’s really exciting, I just don’t know what to expect. It will be a lot of fun and a good chance to connect with people and get back out there. Its’ weird, when you haven’t been out there for a while it’s scary to get back on stage, but I’m looking forward to getting comfortable again. It’s a great process to get back in to and it’s always great to see people face to face.

aahh: Over the past few months you’ve also played at some huge events, GoodLife, St Kilda Fest, Clipsal 500, and Sprung last year. What’s it been like coming back to some of these huge crowds?
Pez: Sprung was amazing, and daunting at the same time. You are at this hip hop festival with 7-8 thousand people and that’s crazy to have that success for hip hop in this country, it’s beautiful. But, having such a gap and then being up that high on this kind of bill was scary. You think, what if I walk out and people weren’t in to the music or you anymore? When I walked out at Sprung, it was amazing and that was beautiful and reassuring to see. St Kilda Fest and GoodLife Festival in Sydney were both crazy. At Clipsal I performed with a DJ, when I usually perform with a band, for a show with 10,000 people I think I let the nerves get to me a little. I really just want to get back out there and tour, or shows like that can be a bit overwhelming. I want to build up this shit, get back in the groove and get comfortable again. 

aahh: You are just about to release the second single to your album can you give us any details about this track? 
Pez: I think it’s going to be a song titled ‘One Life’ which features my brother Tys. He is really coming into his element as a rapper. He wanted to be on the track and I was like ‘it’s probably going to be a single, so I don’t really need to have anyone else on it, but if you write a dope verse I’ll put it on there’. So he got to writing and came back with this amazing verse, I was like Okay you’re on the track. I think ‘One Life’ is quite a modern/contemporary track, it’s understated and chill, which I find is liking to my style. This was not intentional though, I just really feed off the production. I wanted to make some bigger, more epic songs, which I probably wasn’t able to do in the past with access to producers and all that. Yeah, I just wanted the track to be modern, current, epic, different, a bit refreshing and new. I wanted it all to be fresh, which was important to me. I didn’t want to rehash that old stuff, I want to keep evolving and progressing musically. I’m excited. 

aahh: Obviously there’s an album in the works, what stage are you at with the album?
Pez: I mean, I think its pretty much there. We have all the songs and the structure. I’m a bit neurotic… that or I’m being a perfectionist. I keep picking things apart and changing it up. Sooner or later I think the label will tell me to shut up, take it out of my hands and release it. The aim is to have it out around August, so the second half of the year. I’m going to have to finish it soon, you can’t hold on to these things forever.

aahh: Your debut album A Mind Of His Own, was released way back in 2008. Did you ever imagine that you would have this big of a gap between your first and second releases? 
Pez: No definitely not man, it’s certainly not the done thing. As an artist now you almost have to have a release every year. I can see why, they want to stay current, people forget about you and will move on to other shit. It wasn’t really my choice l got sick, lost the plot and probably hadn’t written a song in a year or two. When I started again, I was like how do I do this again? I just had to find my feet and start building back up. According to the label, why would anyone give a shit after this amount of time, but all I found was support out there. I found it really nice. I got all these messages from people, it was kind of crazy and it definitely gave me the confidence to shut up and get back into the game.

aahh: You’ve been getting involved in the social media thing, as a lot of artists have. One of your recent updates talked about having a goal to collaborate with Pez Candy. Firstly how’s that going and secondly do you think it’s important to have goals in your life as an artist?
Pez: I’m trying to do the social media thing, trying HA. It’s not a natural thing for me. Yeah, I think it is important to have goals in your life. I don’t know how the Pez candy thing is going but it would be hilarious as shit to see. Goal’s are important but you shouldn’t get too preoccupied with them. People get so caught up in that shit that they miss the ride, they are always thinking about the next thing and the next goal. You have to have a bit of balance, have some goals and strive for them but at the same time stop and enjoy the little things along the way. I found out that that’s what it’s all about. When I released the Festival Song things went from 0 to 100 really quickly and I had this idea in my head that this success was what I wanted. When I got there it really wasn’t what I thought it would be, it was weird, It made me realise it wasn’t all about the end goal. Try to enjoy each day of rehearsal or celebrate things you’ve improved on in the past. It’s all about having that balance. I learnt a lot from releasing that song and it made me stronger. From an innocent dude in his bedroom, things ramped up quickly. Seeing that success seems really glorified but things are a lot different when they happen. It was very overwhelming.

aahh: With Seth, Bliss N Eso, Hoods and Sixty heading over in to the States in recent times. Do you have any future plans to make an assault on the US?
Pez: Yeah eventually, when the times right. For the moment I’m just trying to start small. Do things step by step. The natural progression is to release music into Europe and America and see if people over there resonate with it. It’d be awesome to do some travel overseas, I did go to NZ to snowboard, that was great but the thought of traveling because of your own music would be crazy.

aahh: Hip Hop is a bit of a family affair in your household, you mentioned your brother Tys. What’s it like having a family member you can share your art with?
Pez: I mean, I love it. The hardest thing at the moment is wanting to get back out there so I can give him a kick in the ass and a foot in the door, so he can do his thing as well. He is growing into an amazing lyricist. He is definitely someone I can feed off. Over the past I’ve always had 60 or Seth to call up and feed off, to go back and forth with, providing inspiration. But having a brother who you love, that you can work with is something amazing.

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