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Emerald and Dayelle

Emerald and Dayelle

Interviewed by
Thursday 31st March, 2016 11:41AM

Melbourne-based emcees Emerald and Dayelle are making a appearance at Neck Of The Woods this evening as part of the awesome line up for Party In The Woods. The pair are currently in the country with their hip hop crew Indigo Rising, and so Worn Out snapped them up as special guests to perform alongside a swathe of local talent including Heavy and Yoko-Zuna. In anticipation of the night's events UTR contributor Fluffy had a wee chat with the two wordsmiths to find out a bit more about what makes them tick...

UTR: Emerald is your name and hip hop is your game. How else would you describe your music?

E: Yo Fluffy, what's good! I'd say my style is laid back, lyric focused, reflective. I write from my own experiences a lot. I try to open a dialogue with my lyrics and inspire listeners to think. It's also playful; I like to inject a bit a humour in there.

You obviously have some deep lyrical themes. Have you always written in such a way?

E: Haha, way back when I started, my initial influence was Eminem. So I have some early rhymes that were embarrassingly gangsta. My friend and mentor at the time, emcee Esdee, called me out on it pretty quick. Good thing he did, as now days my music is a much more authentic representation of myself and my values. But yes, the majority of my music has deep lyrical themes because I use songwriting to process my thoughts about the world, and because I am personally appreciative of music with a bit of substance. Sometimes I have to make conscious decision to balance that and write something more upbeat and fun so that my live crowd don't walk away having an existential crisis.

Was there a lightbulb-over-your-head moment when you decided you wanted to make hip hop? Or was it a gradual process?

E: The first time I heard Eminem I literally got out a sheet of refill and started writing rhymes. It has always been a passion. There have been a couple of other significant moments, one being when I decided to stop letting people convince me that studying music was a waste of time, and the other being when I graduated and decided to make the leap from calling music a hobby to calling it a career. Both took a lot of courage. I had no idea where it would lead me, but I am so thankful I made the choices I did. Now I have total confidence in what I do, and that enables me to progress a lot quicker.

You grew up in Dunedin. How do you think this influenced your music and lyricism?

E: Dunedin shaped me as a person for sure, and my music is very much a reflection of who I am. I attribute a lot of the comparative mellowness and consciousness of my style of hip hop to growing up on the Otago Peninsula where the pace of life is slow, and there are a lot of arty people living alternative lifestyles.

You earned a Degree in Music from SIT in Invercargill. This must gave been a crucial part of your musical journey. How was the experience?

E: I was a vocal major with a second major in songwriting. Unfortunately there was no Major in Rapping. I sang every day of that three year course. There was a huge practical component to the program which was invaluable for getting me comfortable onstage, managing a band, running shows and organising a tour - all of which I do now on my own. I think that was the biggest benefit, getting that initial experience while receiving professional guidance. My tutors were great people and it was really inspiring to study alongside so many other musicians with talents and approaches [that were] different to mine. It was a critical building block in the foundation of my career for sure. Despite the obvious challenge of perusing music as a career, it built my confidence to the point where I felt like if I didn't go out and continue to use my skills it would be huge waste.

You moved to Melbourne a couple of years ago now. How does the big smoke of Australia compare to the motherland of NZ?

E: It's been just under a year. I'm in the process of recording a song called 'Big City Hippy' which addresses this exact subject. It was overwhelming for a moment, then incredibly exciting! So much culture. I expected to feel claustrophobic in the city and miss the ocean and the quiet, but it hasn't been an issue. I get out of the city fairly often with gigs though which helps. Despite its size, Melbourne is filled with pockets of interesting subcultures which keep that community vibe. I go out to a regular freestyle night, Can I Kick It, at a venue in the middle of the CBD and half the crowd is family. I returned to NZ on tour recently and was awestruck all over again of how beautiful our motherland is though, and how quickly the scenery changes. It's pretty unique.

Give us the high (and low) lights of your whirlwind world tour last year.

E: Yeah, so I had an amazing trip through Canada and America with Melbourne trip hop group The Wednesday Experiment. It was so amazing to experience the cultures, meet the people, hear the music and eat the food. New York was incredible, so many funky people on the street. There's an electricity in the air there that you can't help be inspired by. It was crazy to be there in person after hearing it rapped about it on so many records and seeing it portrayed in so many films. The hardest part is staying solid as a team when dealing with stressful stuff like travel budgeting, navigating foreign cities and public transport systems. You gotta find that balance between being excited and wanting to experience every single thing possible and the logistics of actually doing it without killing yourself so that you can still smash all your tour dates.

How did you and Dayelle meet and how did your group Indigo Rising form?

E: Dayelle approached me after I set I did at Twisted Frequencies festival in New Zealand. I carried her dog-eared card around in my tramping pack all summer and we kept in touch until it was finally the right time to work together. Indigo Rising was a concept that her and a friend started in Brisbane. She explained it to me and it fit with my vision of several of us solo artists who work well together teaming up officially to help push each other’s careers. So we revived Indigo Rising with Pete of The Wednesday Experiment DJing, Nastaij as a third vocalist and Matt from my reggae side project on trumpet. Initially our set was a mish-mash of all our individual songs but now we are starting to write original Indigo collab tacks. We benefit by pooling together our industry contacts, having crew to share the stage and back up our material, and being booked for gigs that are looking for bigger acts who can adapt their vibe and play a solid length set.

Indigo Rising recently toured New Zealand, playing a bunch of festivals in the South Island. That must have been quite the homecoming for you. Recount the tale, please


E: Yeah. I got us booked by two of the festivals I had played solo the previous summer; Resonance Karamea Fest and Waitati Fest. Out of luck they were just over a week apart which was perfect because we are all working in events here in Melbourne and can't take too much time off. So then I filled in the spare days with extra dates along the east coast. We played in every town that I had family and friends. It really was a tour and a holiday and a reunion all in one. I even had some old high school friends come out in my home town which I really appreciated. It was a great feeling to show New Zealand how far I have come with my music and share my home country with my new Melbourne family.

D: Sunshine, beaches, road tripping with awesome people, couch surfing, family, amazing and breathtaking scenery, trumpet solos, Pita Pit, New Zealand beers and ciders! Need I say more? Oh New Zealand how we love YOU! Just can’t wait to come back and its always an honour to come and perform our music in such a welcoming country!

I imagine feminism is a topic you've pondered once or twice. How do you find being a lady in a genre typically awash in macho competitiveness?

E: It’s actually not as much of an obstacle as you might think. I just do my thing and I get a really positive reception for it. I play at doofs as much as I play bars so my audiences are pretty varied. My style transcends classic hip hop so it collects its own eclectic fan base. I'm not needing to pander to or win over any type of macho hip hop head crowd to be heard. I do end up in front of them occasionally but I'm always pleasantly surprised by how well received my music is.

Tell us more about future releases/tours/ cool stuff in store for Indigo Rising...

E: We are going to have a studio lock in period very shortly with the intention of producing an EP. We have never written together as a whole team yet so I'm looking forward to that experience. I think it's great that we have had so much experience performing with each other in the four short months that we've been together, so we already have an idea of what works and what doesn't, who we want our music to appeal to and how we want it function in our live show. We are definitely up for more tours. Also just gigging, and expanding into doing some music workshops.

D: Currently we are working on an EP release with Kayaboku with an emphasis on achieving a varied sound with both collaborations and some featured solo project tracks. Indigo Rising have many goals for 2016 including grants for touring and an album. Hip Hop/lyrical workshops are also on the cards for later in the year. Very Exciting times are ahead. Last but not least more festival bookings - we just can’t get enough of festivals and performing our music outdoors!

What groups have/are you involved in, Dayelle?

D: I Originally started with Brisbane’s hiphoptronica band Desmond Cheese and was guest vocalist in various other bands such as Dillion James and Ladi Abundance. Currently I am a regular performer at drum and bass nights and host/emcee for crews such as Twisted Audio, Square Milk and Oscillate bass here in Melbourne. I’m very much looking forward to hosting the upcoming Metalheads and Shogun gigs. I’m also working on the Dayelle solo project performing drum and bass, jungle and dub step originals. I have also accepted an offer to start working on vocal sample packs to be released through official channels.

And lastly, who would you guys most like to collab with, living or dead?

E: Sheeeet. I'm gonna say Fiona Apple. My all time favourite artist. She is very raw and vulnerable and relatable with her songwriting and her voice is next level. Emerald ft. Fiona Apple. Yeah- keep your ear to the street for that one.

D: That is very easy to answer and possibly very varied for both responses. Firstly, Amy Winehouse for obvious reasons. Her music and lyrics were very personal, emotional and from real experiences. I love the old jazz, soul sound. Secondly, I would love to do collaborations with any of the big names in drum and bass at the moment, in particular Lenzman. I have an obsession with bass music right now

Emerald and Dayelle are performing at Party In The Woods tonight at Neck of the Woods in Auckland, along with local acts Heavy, Yoko-Zuna, Omni Potent and Scarlett Lashes. Head over here for more information and to buy tickets.


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