Interview: Dialect & Despair: A Testament To The Art

Few rival the dedication Adelaide hip hop duo Dialect & Despair show their genre. The young pair; emcee Dialect and producer Despair, have already earned themselves international notoriety as a result of their infallible commitment to keeping hip hop culture alive. With a passion for maintaining a universal hip hop culture, Self Evident focuses on the music, principles and stories behind the movement, whilst blending the old with the new. A year on, and Self Evident is still gracing our platters. Below we catch up with emcee Dialect to discuss their previous year and all its happenings.


Your sophomore album titled Self Evident has been out for a moment, but its longevity for a release has been a reflection on the hard work and skill of both D&D crew members. Especially with the disposable attitude to some music seen these days. Do you take this as a massive positive?
Thank you for the good words… Definitely. We strive to create that with our music, some staying power, not just something that reflects a flash in the pan in terms of sound and content. It’s great to still receive feedback close to a year on and we are very grateful to our dedicated listeners for that.

Lets travel back to just before the release of Self Evident. D&D dropped a series of promotional videos that were shot on a recent trip to New York city. What was the purpose of this trip and how did you find the States?
We just wanted to travel. Go on a bit of a break from work and get some extra inspiration. Along our travels in New York we were blessed to meet, connect and work with some incredible artists and that just helped toward completing our second album. New York was dope. Definitely made me appreciate day-to-day living in Australia. Comparatively to some areas of New York and the overall business of the city. But that was inspiring too.


In one of the earlier video’s released there was vision of you jumping up on the mic and performing a verse at the Bowery Poetry Club, what was that experience like?
That was definitely nerve-racking. Being one of the only white dudes in the whole room and an Australian, rhyming in the city where Hip Hop was created. That was a big moment for me and was a great feeling to see the positive reactions from the crowd. It was an awesome adrenalin rush performing out of my comfort zone.

Both D&D members are heavily into digging’ for vinyl. How was the digging in NY, did you get much time to go out to any spots?
Yeah it was great, especially for classic Hip Hop records we were after. Actually would’ve liked to dedicate more time to digging over there as we were so busy just in tourist mode checking the whole city out. But we spent a few days digging and got some great stuff. I heard stories that a lot of good spots had closed down over the recent years so that is an indication of the digging scene taking a slight downturn in NY. But we got some great pieces.

What does digging mean to you both as artists and fans of the culture?
It really is the foundation for what we do. We both DJ so we are always digging for records to play out. It is the basis of our albums and our music being sample based. I really listen to more soul/funk records in my downtime particularly around the house. So digging reflects our passion for collecting and discovering different music. As a fan of the culture, It’s awesome to be digging and just by chance come across a sample you heard one of your favourite producers flip before. You feel that connection to the process and movement of digging culture and that is what it means for me in connection to hip hop. If someones into hip hop and also is deep into their records. You can have a long and extremely record nerd based conversation anywhere! I just love discovering music I’ve never heard before from a different time. Hearing their innovation from then definitely inspires me to do that now.

Whilst in NY you guys took a tour through the Bronx with Amed of DITC. What was that day like?
It was surreal. Firstly to be able to meet and connect with Amed was crazy. He is one of our favourite producers since hearing his work with DITC. He really made us feel at home and it was cool to take a look at the Bronx with a local. He showed us the Forest Houses & areas where the DITC crew was formed, meeting Freestlye Professors. Then bumping in to AG just happened by chance as we were going past his area, Patterson Projects. That was bugged out! AG is definitely one of my favourite rappers. They were all real humble and great people. It just affirmed why I dig their music.

The announcement of the lead single for Self Evident titled New Testament feat. Total Eclipse of the X-Ecutioners was shot in NY with another DITC legend in Lord Finesse. Was that a special moment for the both of you?
For sure, it was crazy. We’ve had the opportunity to support Lord Finesse a couple of times prior to meeting in NY and he is an artist I have always looked up to, production wise and lyrically. So to be digging through records with Finesse was surreal. I’m certainly humbled and grateful for the experiences that hip hop has given me so far.

Lets talk about the making of the Self Evident. How did you coordinate this release with the wide variety of artists that featured. Did this present any challenges or moments of inspiration?
There are always challenges and hurdles in completing an album. However I choose to focus more on the moments of inspiration as they tend to get you through the challenges. They remind you why you are doing it and when you are inspired the challenges don’t seem so big. Working with other artists always is inspiring. They bring a different view and take on things and the only challenge that was presented was the time difference between here and the States. That would make it a bit of a hassle getting files sent through or communicating when it is day time in one place and night-time in the other spot. Just made for a lot of late night phone calls!

How did you go about picking the artists you wanted to work with on this release, in contrast, the feature list was quite different in comparison to The Vortex?
Well we wanted to present something different. That is always our main agenda, to do things different to the last record. Keep it interesting for ourselves and most importantly the listener. So we are progressing with our audience and not just delivering the same product. On this album we just worked with international artists and on The Vortex it was just Adelaide artists. There is some singing on Self Evident with Melanie Rutherford and a lot of sounds that are different and updated compared to The Vortex, with different rappers like Melanin 9, Vordul Mega and Majestic Gage. With the artists on the record we wanted to get varied sounds but all artists who reflect our kind of attitude and approach with music and this made it a real pleasure to work on these collaborative songs for Self Evident. I think they helped harness our vision but from a different perspective.

In terms of overall style and direction, you step to hip hop with what you’ve described as a universal approach to the music, can you talk more on that concept?
We are proud to represent our country and city, but approaching it with a universal frame of mind means it is made to extend and reach further than what the “Australian Hip Hop” label can pigeon-hole you into and to represent hip hop from our country, in a different light. We don’t make Australian Hip Hop. We make hip hop and happen to be from Australia.

New Testament was the first single from Self Evident and was also the first music video released for the album. Tell us about the clip, its concept and the imagery used to convey these ideas?
Basically we wanted to do something really visually different to the standard rap in front of the camera video. Especially for underground hip hop and what we had done in the past. So we developed all these different scenes and scenarios that represent traditions and how they change in context to time. A metaphor for hip hop and the ‘New Testament’ we are delivering. We made the clip with a lot of subtle ideas and really wanted to leave it up for the viewers interpretation.

The clip gained 50,000 plays on video service Vimeo and was also declared a ‘Staff Pick’, a huge effort in itself. Did you expect this kind of response to the clip?
We didn’t know exactly what kind of response we would get. We thought it might bug people out a bit and it did in some cases, but visually how it was filmed, edited and graded I think could not be fronted on. My brother Nima Nabilirad really killed it with his direction and vision for the song. So we were really blown away by the response to the video.

The second clip from the album was released not long after. S.A.B.X, featuring D Flow and Majestic Gage was filmed at the Mott Haven Houses. Tell us how you originally hooked up with D Flow and Majestic and what it was like filming a video clip in America?
Well I am a huge Ghetto Dwellas fan which was Party Arty and D Flows crew. I originally hit up D flow just through email to try to track down a couple 12″s of his. I shared with him what we did and just from that original talking point I got around to asking him to be on the track “S.A.B.X”. He then said he had a younger dude working with him in Gage. I started speaking to Majestic and we just clicked instantly. I think because we are both a bit younger, surrounded by older heads who brought us in to the game we could relate on that tip. Then when we headed to New York we just reached out to link. After hanging out and working in the studio we decided to shoot a clip for the track. It was definitely a wild couple of days doing a video in NY. I never thought I’d be doing that when I first started rapping. We shot some footage in HeadQcourterz which is DJ Premiers studio which was a real humbling night and then the following day out in the Mott Haven section of the Bronx. Which was crazy. The weather was warm and a lot of crew was out, playing ball and kicking it, it was a real fun and memorable day.


There are always hurdles and challenges you face when releasing an album what were some of the bigger challenges you had to overcome with the release of the Self Evident LP?
The pressing of the vinyl was a nightmare experience. And most people, especially the customers know about the delays and how badly we got screwed around so I don’t want to sound like a broken record (pardon the pun) repeating it. But all I can say is a huge thank you to our supporters who believed we would deliver the product and patiently waited for their pre orders after the huge hassle of the vinyl delay. It was a big business lesson learnt and will improve our operation in the future.

Speaking of the vinyl, you sold out 3 different versions of the vinyl in one day. How did you feel after people reacted like that to the vinyl versions of the album?
We were really blown away by the response. We have been dedicated to doing vinyl since we first formed and to see our supporters really jump on getting this album on wax second time around was a hugely positive thing. A great feeling and a credit to the kind of listeners we have. They are about supporting independent artists and collecting vinyl which is awesome. So I have to say a big thank you to everyone who bought The Vortex and Self Evident on vinyl. You keep us inspired to create!

Continuing with the vinyl theme, the third clip from the album is titled Low Pro and raised some eyebrows. The clip was produced as a part of the Media Resource Centres Clip It! initiative. Can you tell us about that and what was involved?
Despair had this concept for the video of Low Pro and our video director Nima along with the editor and colour grader Daniel Principe saw this initiative for Clip It and thought we should go for it, just to help along with the production. We got the grant for the video and we were really grateful to the Media Resource Centre who helped us achieve our vision.

We believe the clip was removed from YouTube after violating its terms of service. How did you feel about censorship in that form? Did that annoy you guys?
We were a little bit annoyed, but we kind of expected it to happen. We threw it up on YouTube anticipating that to happen. But it kind of worked in our favour to be honest. Just to say we were “banned from YouTube” was a talking point for the video, which made people curious to check it.

Both of you as artists have a strong beliefs in the origins of hip hop and paying respect to those pioneers of the culture as a whole, as developed in the states. How do you see the state of hip hop universally and the practising of the original elements with the clear mainstream investment going on in hip hop today?
We just feel, like many other heads in Australia and across the globe, that hip hop culture is an incredible thing and it is not some romanticised concept for us to just say on record. We don’t want to see that lost on the next generation. We love and live for this culture and I don’t have any real problem with what happens in the mainstream. That has been happening since the inception of popular music and the record industry. The underground cannot exist without the other and vice versa. What our concern is the balance of what the youth get to hear and keeping that knowledge of the cultures roots strong so we can continue to build for the future. It’s not about being stuck in the past or being a traditionalist, it’s just respecting the cultural movement as a whole and I think knowledge of its history and its origins is the best way forward for the craft. So the tangible cultural experience still is there. It’s not just a song on the radio or internet or item of clothing. It’s the whole experience that comes hand in hand with being involved with  hip hop.

You’ve had a moment now to hear feedback from fans and hip hop pundits alike. What’s the feedback been like and can you tell us about your recent dealings with a Harvard University professor?
The feedback has been overwhelming. We are both really grateful for all the positive and encouraging words about the album. It lets us know our art isn’t done in vain. A Harvard professor asked me if he could use the lyrics to one of our songs, “Games Wired” as an example of poetry and lyricism in Hip Hop to an English teachers conference in Sydney earlier in the year. I was really taken aback by that and was really exciting and humbling moment for me in this music journey.

Self Evident is a large album in terms of tracks numbers. The Vortex was also quite a large album. In comparison we see some LP’s released commercially with barely 10 tracks, what are your thoughts on this?
I think it is just whatever suits the mood, sound and time for the artist. We happened to have a lot of songs for both those albums. Some didn’t make the cut, but the ones we liked we didn’t want to cut off from the record just to keep to a number. Because those songs reflect that stage and part of our journey and we want the listener to get as much of that as possible, However, next time round it may be more or less. It just depends on the time and process and presenting that in its entirety. Great or small.

What’s next for Dialect and Despair?
Always new music. It sounds like a cliché but we really are just best mates who enjoy music and similar styles. So we are always going to be involved in music as that’s our passion and our friendship just carries through on to record. We hope to bring a lot of touring coming up and a lot of different sounds and ideas still true to the D&D style.

All the vinyls sold out but where can heads pick up a copy of Self Evident if they haven’t already?
You can still get a copy of Self Evident on iTunes, at any quality independent record store or JB Hi Fi. Thank you once again to our dedicated listeners for repping our music and spreading the word. It doesn’t go unnoticed over here!

You can catch Dialect & Despair performing on The Alliance Tour. More information and dates can be found here.

Purchase  ||  Uknowho Records  ||  Dialect  ||  Despair