Dhaivat Mehta from ARTbop alternative recently sat down with Jowz Morbidius from the Hip-Hop Collective Morbidian Music – To talk about Hip-Hop, the creative process, and their massive Hip Hop Charity Event that’s coming up in September.
How would you describe the Morbidian Music Collective? And the people involved?
At its core, our collective started over 12 years ago with Primative Morbid when 3 of us started making Hip Hop, recording vocals and producing our own instrumentals. Over the years we’ve worked with many incredibly creative people, some of whom are still involved with our creative endeavours to this day. We are all hard-working creative artists and critical thinkers who have formed a solid network of creative artists, both musical and visual, thinkers, visionaries and activists, all contributing equally to each other’s creative passions. It’s a massive pleasure to be part of such a productive team and I’m sure that within the years to come our family will continue to grow and evolve. Together we are Morbidian Music….
What are the elements involved in making a ‘Morbidian’ record?
There’s no cut and dry formula that us Morbidians follow to produce a track or any other piece of art for that matter. Sure we have all taught ourselves many techniques and skills over the years but we always try and allow ourselves opportunities to experiment and mix it up a little. Though with that said, the majority of the songs we make go a little something like this:
It usually starts with the beat – Most of our emcees are also producers and beat makers so we always have variety and never run out of fresh instrumentals. The beats are predominantly made by So Deff, Lrak, Kab and myself.
Once we have the instrumental in mind we usually start messing about with lyrics and other vocal ideas to get a vibe for the song we’re about to make and then it’s game time…. The room becomes the beat itself as the chatter slows to a silent murmur. The boys all reach for their pens and pads and slowly start building away at their lyrics… Every now and then you’ll catch a flutter of someone practicing a line or two, diligently mending words together and encouraging each other as we show each other bits of our work. During this time is when we usually come up with our hooks, choruses and other creative vocal ideas. The writing process is the most cherished among our artists and those are some of the times that we feel most connected and unified.
Once the writing process is completed we usually slam the beat into our recording software, start setting up a bunch of channels and effects templates that we might use and then we either race for the mic or play a friendly, though desperate, game of paper, scissors, rock.
When all the recording is done and we’re happy with the vocal takes then we either move onto the next track or start on the processing, mixing and mastering of the songs, another one of my most enjoyable parts of the production process.
I’ll usually take a day or two then listen to the recordings again and make final edits on the mix and master. At this point, usually, the guys have all heard the work and if all involved on the track are happy, then we render the song and do all the necessary paperwork and line it up for release. It sounds very methodical, though we really enjoy experimenting and remaining creative through every step of the way.
Are there any shared influences among the group?
Yeah dude, there certainly are! We’re all inspired, distraught, elated, disappointed by and indifferent to many of the same things. Our influences in our music and art aren’t just musical, most of them are very real and troublesome issues in society. I guess you could say that we’re all similarly affected and inspired simply by taking a long hard look at the world around us and realizing that it’s each other that hold the key to many doors. But to save the deep discussion for another time, I’ll talk a little about our musical influences. We’re all inspired by many different artists, genres, styles, home-grown and abroad, though we mostly resonate with subversive music with extreme activist or artistic expression. We realize the true importance of music conveying social messages, as well as abstract concepts to provoke thought, encourage individuality and community and basically music’s ability to express ideas that science and things like religion can not. So here are a few of our favourite bands and artists: Deftones, 2Pac, Eminem, Rage Against the Machine, Coheed and Cambria, Tool, Wu-Tang Clan, Nas, All those dope conscious 90’s NY rappers, Necro, Immortal Technique… many MANY others… oh and most importantly… We’re probably most inspired by our peers… all the other dope underground artists we’ve come across and connected with. The real ones… You guys are the true inspiration.
The subject matter in your songs is diverse, is there a particular message you want people to get from the music?
Yeah dude we talk about a lot of different stuff… from philosophy to symbolism, from social issues to global politics, from personal failure to mass victory… we paint portraits and landscapes alike. But I guess the main theme that comes through in our art is Activism… and it’s not as “hippy” as it sounds, or however people try an down-play it. We believe in freedom of speech. We also believe that people, given enough support and resources can assume responsibility of changing the world, if only a little, for the ones around us… So I guess to be active is to be true to who you are and challenging any given paradigm or mind-set, especially where personal freedom and community well-being are of concern. We believe in that. We challenge the status quo.
On top of being an artist you are also involved in organizing gigs and events. Is it hard to switch up from the creative mindset to the business?
I mean, hell yeah man. Like, you ever spend a few minutes staring at your screen in a dark room? … Then you hear something in the corner of the room and you look toward the noise, in the dark? … and you can’t see shit coz you just wasted 3 minutes of your life scrolling through a social media page while you should be sleeping?? And you’re momentarily blind as your eyes slowly adjust to the change??? … That’s how it feels … (laughs) … Yeah that’s kind of how it’s been, going from working in the studio daily to organizing an event that’s bigger than any I’ve even performed at… It’s terrifying but fulfilling at the same time. Again, me and the team have had enormous support from the underground scene, the council and other community groups, the charity we will be supporting AND the wider community. I see events as an opportunity to paint a new face on NZ underground Hip Hop, something that many others are also interested in doing… so hopefully with what we’re learning to do we can provide that opportunity for more and more artists as we progress through our new venture with Morbidian Music. So yeah dude, it’s difficult but the support and reward is incredible! Also, I feel that we’re all so much more productive with our music with the pressure added anyway, so we’re feeling good about it all.
How would you describe the current TGA underground Hip-Hop scene?
Oh man, the scene in Tauranga is crazy! We got so many quality local crews here it’s hard to name all the ones worth mentioning… So big BIG shout outs to TGA Underground Hip Hop! I’m proud of you. Just as in every basket, there may be a few bad apples but for the most part I’ve seen the TGA crews welcome and support artists from all over the country and in some cases touring artists from overseas. It’s humbling to see such a supportive, bubbling scene and it really REALLY gives me hope for the future of Hip Hop in general… Most of us are tired of being Hip Hop apologists. Rap is synonymous with so much negativity, and while a LOT of our music can be negative or offensive, we’re all just real people expressing ourselves, most of us conscious, aware, grown up individuals. The art is the art, the people is what makes it special. So in my opinion, and I can only speak for TGA for now, but we all seem to be moving forward with our music in a supportive and collaborative way. I also see the older, more experienced guys teaching and guiding the younger ones. Now that’s something that a lot of us didn’t have, you know? So that’s a special sign to me. It’s time to revive the beast that is Hip Hop! Yeah I love the underground TGA scene. I’m excited about it!
In your opinion, how do you see hip-hop and music, influencing the community and culture in general?
Oh dude like I said earlier: Music has the ability to tell the tales that religion and science can’t tell! Music has the ability to communicate emotion and stories of self-reflection that so many of us relate to and in most cases depend on. I mean ……. you wonder why they keep the same shitty fucking playlists on every radio station?? …. Music can stitch the seams of a paradigm and dissolve the glue that slows social progress…. I think an easier question to answer would be: How DON’T we think music will influence community and culture… And so, with these networks that a lot of us are building we have the chance to steer this majestic vessel toward brighter horizons for all. It’s a long shot, but, again, other people around us are doing it anyway, we’re just playing our part.
You are using your music for charitable causes, what would you say the motivation is behind this?
It’s hard to put a finger on it man. I mean I feel like the whole game is about taking it all for one’s self… you know, I don’t like that game… I once listened to a presentation by Michael Tellinger where he talked about how a community garden, tended for 3 hours a week by each member of the community can easily provide THREE TIMES more than enough resources to feed the whole community, the rest being available for charity and trade… So I thought, as in all things, the symbolism of ideas can reach across a wide spectrum of subjects… so I guess it’s more a mind-set of providing, and helping others provide… There’s always more than enough, the world’s just too damn hungry!
There is a big hip-hop charity event, being planned for later this year. What is it about and how can people be involved?
Yeah man so we’re planning to do a massive R16+ Underground Hip Hop community Charity fund-raising event at a massive venue in central Tauranga. We’re just finalizing details at this point so we’re not quite ready to release official information but I’ll tell you what I can…
We’re bringing together around 12 of the dopest underground Hip Hop acts in NZ to do a massive alcohol free show to raise funds for the Dream Chaser Foundation. It will be held in early September and we’ll be starting fund-raising efforts as soon as possible to contribute to the expenses. Basically we’d love to encourage everybody to get involved with the fund-raising, tell your friends, donate, buy raffle tickets, merch and much much more. We’ll be very active over the next couple of months with promotion and fund raising so we’re glad that the community are already on-board and looking to help us fund this thing. It is going to be one insane night and we’ve got a few surprises up in the mix too…. We’ll be releasing some official information toward the end of June and early July… Please help us make this a great success everybody!
Where can people listen to and follow Morbidian Music?
You guys can follow all our activity and talk with us at https://www.facebook.com/morbidianmusic/
Or to catch all our up-coming releases (including 4 albums and a bunch of music videos, interviews and other creative stuff) check us out at https://www.youtube.com/c/morbidianmusictv