Australian rap group Bliss N Eso will be helping South Australians ring in the new year at this years Summadayze festival, bringing a hip-hop edge next to the more dance-infused headlining acts.
It’s been a big year for rap group, originally known as Bliss N Esoterikizm (I prefer the shortened version), whose album Running on Air debuted at #1 on the ARIA Charts in August 2010, knocking Eminem off the top spot. Singles Down by the River¸ Addicted (perhaps their most well-known song) and Reflections joined their parent album at the upper echelons of the ARIA Urban Charts, along with a slew of award nominations, much critical acclaim and a supporting slot alongside US rap-rockers Kottonmouth Kings.
Well-known for some rather unorthodox collaborations and samples on their albums, Bliss N Eso have turned some unlikely artist’s tunes (e.g. Angus and Julia Stone, Kasey Chambers) into hard-hitting hip-hop numbers.
The ‘Bliss’ to the group’s ‘Eso’ (better known as Jonathon Notley) says ‘It’s all about hearing that first melody or sample and having it click straight away. Straight away you’ll go ‘That’s dope!’
‘It creates the basis for a song a lot of the time. Not all the time though. Generally speaking, we make the beat before we write the lyrics. The music inspires the rhymes. It all starts with a melody or a hook or a chorus hook or a sample, and it’s that moment that makes you go ‘Wow that’s really good’ where you begin to form the song sonically’.
Currently on their collaboration wishlist? 'Gotye!' says a very enthused Jonathon.
Working well outside the confines of typcial Australian urban fare, Bliss N Eso aren't peturbed by comparisons to other local or internation rap outfits – they let the work speak for itself.
'It's not a concious thing [setting yourself apart from other artists]. Our music is unique in terms of having its own sound. We're the only group in the world that combines both American and Australian MCs, and working with the two accents is always going to make you different.'
And their success, almost unheard of for local hip-hop artists, has been a long time coming for the group.
'It's not like it's been 'Bang! You're now successful'. It's been a long time in the making, everything over the last 11 years has been very gradual. The last album has done really well and if anything, the best part of that success has been that it's pushed us to do even better. It's opened new doors for us; making people know who you are, that helps on all fronts, whether it be getting gigs, touring, collaborating with other artists'
'I guess the aim of the game for any musician is to be able to live off your music, which is a tough thing to do! The success is pretty special, we definitely appreciate what's been happening'
Currently working on new material (slated for a 2012-2013 release), Bliss N Eso also hope to tour nationally during the summer.