With production handled entirely by Plutonic Lab, and cuts by DJ 2Buck, masterful Sydney based MC, Dialectrix presents The Cold Light Of Day. A vernacular acrobat, Dialectrix combines rhythmic precision and variety, with content spawned from cathartic necessity. The album showcases his renowned technical skill and polish, reinforcing his reputation as one of the best in the business. We chatted with Dialectrix recently about his new album, you can check out the transcript of that conversation below.
The Cold Light Of Day is your 3rd solo LP. Can you tell us a bit about the meaning behind the title of the record and if that reflects in any way to the music on the album?
Yeah the meaning of The Cold Light Of Day, in the way that I explain it is looking back on the past with a clearer head. Seeing things clearer as you reflect back on it. I guess that’s what was kind of happening as I was making that record. I was going through a lot of life changes and stressful events that were kind of hard to document at the time, so I guess when I was making the songs and documenting what was happening, by the time I finished them and by the time the whole album was finished, the whole thing seemed like I was reflecting back on something with a clearer head, or looking back at it with a clearer head once I’d gotten it out of my system. So in a strange way it was working on a concept album maybe, because we came up with the title early in the piece and made the music to coincide with that topic. So The Cold Light Of Day as a title was quite instrumental in terms of how the rest of the album panned out. That’s the concept and how it reflects on the music.
The production was handled entirely by Plutonic Lab, can you describe how you two worked together throughout the process and what it was like having someone of his experience producing this album?
This is the second album that we’ve made together, the first one was kind of like testing the waters of how we were going to work together for an entire release, so by the time we finished the last one this next one, it felt a lot more natural and a lot more comfortable because we had broken the ice significantly with the Audio Projectile record. When it came to operate on this next record, Plutonic was kind of pushing for this angle of ‘you know we’ve both made records in our past that have fulfilled what is traditional hip hop, why don’t we try to push the envelope a little bit and do some things other people aren’t doing’. So that was one way we first attacked the record, and then from there because we were coming with that being the focal point, we would sit down with each other, write in each others company. Which I think a lot of producers and rappers don’t really do that much anymore, is to actually produce the beat with the guy next to you and write the rap with the producer next to you in the room, and he is telling you if you do this, I can do that and I’m going well If your going to do that I’m going do this and you are kind of shaping both the beat and the lyrics to match, while it’s happening. That was how we did most of the record.
I started out with a catalogue of beats of his, wrote to them and then from like the first couple of tracks we realised that the ones we did together were heaps better, or that had this edge where we were doing something that we felt like other people weren’t doing, or not even that as such, but also just feeling like what we were doing sounded distinct and original. We would sit there and write songs together, he would change the beat to match my vocals, vice versa. Then we would come up with ideas, you know he’d throw an idea out there and then I’d elaborate it or vice versa. We would just give each other the space to do things that we may not have thought of or were comfortable doing. You know like for example Go, is a guitar based, sort of rock track that I would have never wanted to do a song like that on my own volition. It was kind of him just sending me that track and me going well I trust this guys judgement, he’s done so much and is a very talented dude and if this is the track he wants me to rap on I’m going to rap on it, and now it’s one of my favourite tracks off the record. Then there are others things where I would suggest to him that in Black And Gold he should have a big break down and do an orchestration, and he was like ‘oh do you think it is going to be too long’, I was like ‘who cares just do it’. So we just encouraged each other to do things that we weren’t thinking of or you know we thought was original to do. That’s the way we we’ve been operating and that’s the way we will continue to operate into the next release.
Were you a big critic of your work in that time?
Yeah mentally, it was quite hard for me to get stuff done because I kept rewriting, I kept wanting to change things. The pair of us are kind of perfectionists in our own way and were extremely critical. If anything started to feel a little bit to mundane or something to the extent of what we’ve already done we would go back to the drawing board and re-do it, or we would sit on it for a while and then come back and see how we felt in a bit. But we were very critical of every single song and we just tried to make it that every song was cutting the mustard and wasn’t geared towards just having a radio song or a live song or a you know a song that had a particular objective, every song just had to good and we worked incredible had on ourselves while we were making it.
Def Wish Cast feature on the album, you’ve mentioned in the past that these guys have been big influences of yours. What was it like working with them and having them feature the album?
Oh man, it was a like a dream come true that collaboration. I was a big fan of Fu-Schnickens and Chip Fu who is on that track as well, and I always thought when I was younger it’d be really cool to hear the two of those dudes, Chip Fu and Def Wish on a song. I though that would be amazing and then I end up kind of fulfilling that by getting them to jump on my album. It was like a dream come true and it’s like the 14-year-old me inside listening to Def Wish laughing. I know Simon Def Wish now so it’s not as rockstar-ish as it would have been if I was a kid, but it is always an honour. You know, that guy inspired me to rap the way I do, my delivery and doing fast raga influenced raps, so it’s a dream come true.
You’ve describe Fire In The Blood as one of the most honest tracks you’ve ever made. Can you tell us the reasons behind that?
I think at that time I had a lot of shit on my plate and I got that beat and it seemed to be a really emotive beat and I thought if there’s anything that I’m going to say on this it’s got to be everything. So I literally just let everything kind of rain out on that track, about what I was fearing at the time in terms of raising a child, in terms of dealing with my father being an alcoholic, dying and myself turning into an alcoholic and you know, worried about not having money or being successful as an artist and all these things that you are stewing over in your head, there all real life shit and it’s not rockstar shit. There’s a select few people in this country who lead a rockstar lifestyle off music and for the rest of the people it’s incredibly hard work. It’s like a let down essentially because it’s getting increasingly harder to make music and for it to be fulfilling in a monetary sense. I had all these things happening, grieving and death, trying to make new music, not having enough money, drinking too much, my father being an alcoholic, contemplating whether all this stuff that I’m doing is going to perpetuate these things in a bad way. It just all come out in Fire In The Blood, it came out in a kind of confused way, which ties in with my headspace at the time. You know, I wrote that song when I was very confused and very emotional. I look back at it now and I can explain it all but at the time it just came out to tell the world to go fuck itself and I’ve got fire in my veins. It’s a raw and personal song, I don’t particularly like listening to it anymore, it’s just a song I had to get out there, a way of dealing with all the shit at that time.
You’ve said rap can be described as a conversation, can you explain what you mean by this and how it’s represented in your music?
Some people regard me as being like a technical emcee, or for having intricate rhyme patterns and all that sort of jazz, but I think the more I contemplate those sort of things the more I realise that there is a level of technicality that a good rapper should have if they are going to be considered a skilled lyricist but essentially it’s the people we buy into. You can be the best rapper in the world but if your boring your boring, if your saying things I disagree with I won’t listen to you, if you’re not engaging I won’t buy your record. I think the point of what I’m saying about rap being a conversation is that, the successful rappers are the ones that go down as being heralded as the best or the most memorable, are the ones that have a personality and can communicate who they are concisely. There are similarities to poetry obviously, there are parallels between literature and just general writing and rapping but to me its more of like a conversation, it’s like a conversation with a rhyme. As much as that sounds really simplistic, I think that’s important to keep its perspective because people just want to come in and be fang dangled lyricists 5000, but sometimes you’ve got to cut it back, and sometimes it’s better to just have a conversation with your audience and just communicate who it is you are and what it is that you do and that’s sometimes more important than all the bells and whistles and the fanciful ways you can string words together. I’m guilty of that, but I’m just saying that I find that the best rap music and the essence of rap music is the fact that someones talking to you and that you are talking and listening and engaging when someones talking, so that’s what I meant by that.
The first taste we saw from the album was the track New Generation, which addresses the state of technology and it’s effect on society as a whole. You’ve recently talked about new technology such as streaming services and digital downloads and the impacts it’s having the way people consume their music. Can you tell us a bit more about that generally and also in relation to the work April77 did with the album?
In regards to the post that I did about people not buying records anymore and people not buying CD’s in particular, is one thing that really got my goat. I just think when I personally listen to music that I’m streaming, I just kind of feel like I’m looking at a WAV or I’m looking at youtube and it’s just so tempting for me to piss off and just go somewhere else. You use the internet to be an afflicting source of information, you don’t just sit there and be on the internet with the same page and you stare at it for 3 hours while scrolling through pages like it’s a Kobo e-reader or something like that. For me the iPhone or whatever phone you have or whatever source of internet you have, to me it’s fleeting, it’s a transient thing, if all our music is embedded in these objects our music becomes fleeting and a transient thing. I personally don’t want to engage with something if it’s just a WAV file in comparison to say if it was on a record or on a CD and particularly one where I’m listening to the raps and wanting to go through the list or the booklet and know what it is these dudes are exactly saying. It’s also about having a collectable item because we are just losing that as a new generation, as a new culture we’re losing that, where people just have a phone or laptop they have nothing physical that represents their taste.
I don’t think it’s essential but it ‘s something that saddens me, as it’s something I grew up with, stacks of CD’s, stacks of books you know records, collections of everything. Kids collect things, when they say no one wants to hoard objects or collect anything anymore than whats a child with toys, it’s in our nature to collect things. I want that to remain, that music is a collectable thing and it’s not a transient thing that just disappears into the nether realm when someone get’s board of it. In regards to the music I make and the work that April 77 does for me, or they do for me, they are a duo, not just one dude. I find that he is going against that grain as well, where he is trying to make something that is good, good enough to the point where people want to collect it because it is a visual representation and it ties in with the music and there’s a physical thing to hold and to touch.
So all the work I do with him and all the collaborations that we do, we have that same kind of moral of going against the grain of things not being collectable, by making really nice artwork and a good package. The Satellite EP had a terrific gloss finish and he put a lot of effort in to that particular design, likewise with The Cold Light Of Day, it had a nice.. I don’t even know what the finish is called but it’s like a particular type of matt with all the lyric sheets and it was just a nice package. Thats when I wrote that post, cause it just saddened me to think that we put all this time, effort and money into this particular project and all our lives are embedded in this and someones probably just going to go look at it on YouTube, or RIP it or they are going to wait for me to put it up on SoundCloud or they are going to find some other way because they don’t want to have that CD or they don’t want to go out of their way to have it because they think it’s it’s a dying format. I was just expressing my sadness. I think that it will always be there, I always think tangible media will be there but it’s just diminishing fast and it just kind of saddens me a bit.
You recently played at Come Together and you are also billed for Sprung Festival later in the year. Firstly how was Come Together and then what do you look forward to most with these kind of performances?
Come Together was maaaddd! You know a lot of these all Australian hip hop festivals have a fairly diverse range, well can have a diverse range and I like to think that I can fulfil a certain little hole in that spectrum with what I do. I think a lot of people who go to those festivals, particularly when they get massive, and they’ve got maybe between two to ten thousand people, they want to hear the big songs, they want to hear the ones that are more commercially successful, obviously because its such a mass scale event and as much as I’ve kind of got one foot in both realms of being able to have radio play and do festivals I’d like to think that I can fulfil a quota of dudes who actually still like to rap and you know don’t have to have some big ballad for everyone to sing along with it. I’m not putting shit on any artist that does that I’m just saying that in terms of these festivals and what I love and what I’m very thankful for is the fact that I can perform whatever particular type of hip hop it is to those sort of crowds. A lot of people who do very similar music to me, they don’t get that blessed to be in that position, where I can play things like Come Together and Sprung with a lot of huge commercially successful artists as a weird kind of black sheep almost, because I’m one of those ones rapping with heaps of double timers, fast stuff that a lot of uninitiated listeners get a little bored of or just it goes over their head. So, I love them, I love those festivals and I love the fact that I can have my little foot in the door and give them some D-Trix love.
You are currently on tour with the new album, what are your general feelings heading in to national tour with new material?
It’s always exciting to do new songs, that’s one cool thing. You alternate your sets all the time but eventually the songs get old, it’s a breath of fresh air to hit the road with new material and especially if dudes are hyped on it as well. You know your waiting for people to request particular songs, it’s an exciting time. It’s kind of like the reward of the record really because you worked so hard to make the record. No matter what happens you kind of sometimes feel a bit empty, like there should be something else, and the your like ‘oh that’s right the tour’ and it’s not until you kind of hit the road and then perform it live that you kind of feel like it’s that nail in the coffin for that particular cycle. I’m just really pumped to take it around the country and pump out the new tunes.
We’ve just seen the release of the first official clip from the album and it’s for the track titled Go. It’s not your usual hip hop clip, did you want to tell us a bit about the idea behind the video?
Basically Versus Media came up with the idea of doing a narrative sort of clip. Because the track is sonically a lot different to stuff I’ve done in the past. I was quite open to the idea of it becoming more of a dramatic sort of theme and being more of a cinematic clip with a narrative to it. The story line ties in with the whole essence of time running out, you know, what are we going to do with our time and that was there take on the track, which is what essentially it’s about. They went out and shot all these cool parts of the South Coast and strung them all together and turned it into their vision and I really like it. It’s a smooth clip, it’s very different to all the other clips I’ve done in the past, so again it’s deviating away from stuff that’s has already been done and trying to find something that’s a little bit new.
Even though the LP has just been released we hear of plans of an upcoming EP. Can you tell us a bit about that?
Yeah, I’ve just started getting new beats for another EP and I’ve been working on them and again its all going to be international producers, maybe a couple of locals as well. There are a few names on the cards, a couple of big names and I can’t really divulge who they are at the moment but you’ll be looking at both East and West Coast in America the UK, New Zealand. It’s going to be another international EP for sure, expect it sometime soon.
Check out our recent review of Dialectrix’s – The Cold Light Of Day here.