Blink and you may have missed it, but last month a communiqué from on of the outer satellites of planet hip hop hit Australian stores for the first time on local release. cLOUDDEAD's eponymously titled debut was a strange meeting between the garage aesthetics of stoner rock, the hip hop of a time forgotten, and the cadences and melodies of territories as yet undiscovered.

When viewed as a missive from the wild blue yonder it sounds like the work of either genius or insanity, but viewed from the perspective of the output from labels such as Mush (the original home of cLOUDDEAD), Anticon, and Rhymesayers it is a small step (rather than the proverbial giant leap). This very same hip hop avant garde has been bubbling away on the peripheries for many years, unsullied by media attention and manufactured hype, yet as patronized by disparate elements separated by whole continents (though only a link/email away). As the first release of the new wave of avant US hip hop to be locally distributed, cLOUDDEAD marks somewhat of a milestone. Originally distributed via a series of six 12 minute 10's limited to 1000 pressings each, and only available on import, the trio of Doseone, why? and odd nosdam have now been able to reach a wider world.

It seems you're bigger in Australia than you are in London and elsewhere in the world, how did the Big dada collaboration come about?

Oh, we're bigger there than we are in New York. In Australia and Japan we're probably bigger than in you know, our home town. The whole Big Dada thing happened when Robert Curcio, the guy that runs Mush sent out the 10's to various labels and Will Ashon just heard the music and thought that is was definitely the right move for Big Dada. It really meshes too, the whole ethic of music. On the whole, UK hip hop is non-conformist just because they don't live on the US island, so our music falls right in league with that. So the reaction we've been getting over here from people has been like, "I was ready to, or expecting to enjoy something like this" whereas in the states it's like (effect hard gangsta accent) "I donno if I'm ready ta like yo shit yet."

Even though you have been making records for many years as Greenthink (Doseone and why?), Reaching Quiet (why? and odd nosdam), and as solo artists in collaboration, how do you feel about being the first act of the whole Mush/Anticon massive to be picked up by an international label.

It's fine with me. I think we're painting something nice to look at in the grander scheme of things. we're not going to hurt any eyes the more exposure we get. In a lot of ways, why? odd nosdam and myself have done a lot of work artistically so it kind of follows in suit that we should be the first ones to be picked up, we've definitely churned out the most albums from our corner of the room. Also, cLOUDDEAD is very complete in that it transcends the whole "group of songs on a record" thing and it touches on everything from the rappy edge of it to the more sing-songy end of it. Plus it brings some rent money our way, which is always, a nice thing. We were all getting pretty damn hungry.

The cLOUDDEAD record was originally released as a series of six 10" records, each featuring a particular guest artist. Did you record the 10"s in sequence and what was the process by which they were recorded?

They were mildly out of phase of sequence but only relatively so. The first 10" is us moving out of the apartment where we did all the Greenthink music, and the second one was at the same time when we were moving out and we did this show at this place called Top Cats and there were like 200 people and they got revolted by our version of hip hop and all left - there was about 10 people left - so the whole piece is about that. The third one was while why? was in Spain and nosdam and me were left alone to be depressed and wonder what we were doing. The fourth one is why?'s solo which is when I moved to California and why? was left alone with nosdam to sit in art school and wonder what they were doing. Then the fifth one is nosdam finally getting the chance to yell all alone on a record - and the last 10" was when everybody came to California and it was more like a reunion. That's why it was more of a songy chunk - there are like six little songs in there - it was more of a "yeah we made it" kind of feeling. Now they live out with me and we're doing our new record.

Your music, if anything, seems to draw a lot from the skit aspect of hip hop in that you seem freed from the verse/chorus structure and also the first emcee verse - second emcee verse - third emcee verse structure that has overtaken it. What effect does that freedom have when you're on the mic?

The skit aspect is just sheer personality. Emcee's all of a sudden became personality conduits. They became pretty interesting people up there expressing themselves. It's that whole leader thing, out of the entertainers came leaders. And then sometimes the leaders weren't so hot. Stuff like NWA, even though they broke a lot of ground in hip hop, they were preaching a negative gospel. At that time no one was even speaking for that group of people - but nowadays you've got all that fake gangsta hip hop that just seems to be a waste of positive energy. When you look at other forms of music such as pop or rock n' roll, there's only one guy out front. In hip hop you've got three or four guys opening their mouths so it was kinda like this multiplicity. that also speaks the amount of content that you can get in a rap song that you can't get in a rock song.

Hip hop is this strange beast that has so many faces and yet they're all instantly recognizable as hip hop. How do you feel that the output of cLOUDDEAD relates to hip hop?

In a lot of ways it's our heartbeat. All three of us, that's the first music we got chills from and really enjoyed to an extraordinary sense. It was the first music to compel us to want to do music. I didn't listen to John Coltaine and want to make music for the rest of my life. I didn't listen to Bob Marley and want to make music for the rest of my life. But hip hop did it for us. No matter how far we go from it, that's still the truth. And apart from that, there's something about hip hop that is about being a trash collector - and we're all like trash collectors. That's our whole visual aesthetic, it's our poetic aesthetic, it's all that. So when you look at hip hop, that's what it is, and when you look at hip hop you realize that there are no rules for content - except don't get sued (that's more of a precaution than a rule). So in that respect, we couldn't do anything but hip hop and that really speaks to the time we're in - it's now and there are no rules. It's kinda like an out-the-window age. So it's nice to find ourselves in that nowhere perspective.


Mush Records