Adrian Incarnate 2014
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Meet Adrian Incarnate. He’s been part of the Sydney hip hop scene for over a decade, building a loyal following of his own and also extending his reach through collaborations with other like-minded musicians. A bit of a ‘renaissance man’, Adrian’s got vocals, production and emceeing under his belt. And he’s a great guy to have a beer with! Here we chat about what he’s been up to and what’s next.
Who are you and what do you do?
I’m Adrian and I produce hybrid industrial black metal rap music in Sydney. I also make underground Aussie hip hop as part of a 2-man project called Dark Matter.
“Hybrid industrial black metal rap music”?
Haha yeah… that’s the most concise description I’ve been able to come up with. It’s like a form of electronica but with guitars and a few different kinds of vocals. Rap is a primary element.
That sounds pretty unusual…what led you down that path?
Well I’ve been making hip hop for about thirteen or fourteen years, now. I actually didn’t know anything about the Sydney scene when I started because I was always into metal growing up. But a mate got me interested in graffiti culture when I was finishing school and I think mostly I was introduced to it through that. Around 2005 I began calling myself “Labyrinth the Lost Poet” and I distributed a homemade album the following year, which a few kids in the area got a hold of. Even though it was amateur as hell, it must have had some kind of quality to it, because I still run into people to this day who just remember that first release and don’t know about anything else I’ve done since. But I also met Ovahand around that time and we started Dark Matter together. He was an especially good collaborator because even though he came from the punk and hardcore scene and didn’t know much about Aussie hip hop, he was very passionate and also a lot more charismatic than I was…that helped us to attract attention, which in turn led to us getting gigs and all that. We performed together for a few years and made a bunch of contacts, which was interesting… But I just continued to grow up, and I got tired of that whole crowd. It’s like any other scene; pretentious and homogenous, but it’s also a violent one. And over time my philosophy changed and now I’m essentially a pacifist. We used to get into pub fights for no reason; you know, just to prove we were something other than what we really were – middle-class white males who grew up in relatively privileged Sydney homes with relatively loving parents who sent us to relatively decent schools. Give me a break, you know, there’s no ghetto in Epping, that’s all I’m saying haha. But more than that, I just wanted to branch out artistically. Scenes only support creativity to a certain point because they’re always full of people who are trying to preserve something. And I’m not interested in preserving anything, I’d rather watch structures crumble and see rules broken. So I became “Adrian Incarnate” and now I do whatever I please haha.
So why do you do what you do?
The thing that excites me the most is when I feel I have an opportunity to reinterpret an established style in a peculiar peculiar way. I listen to a pretty wide range of music and I’m always trying to broaden my exposure. Hence currently what I’m really digging is making hybrids and crossbreeds – musical mongrels. It’s certainly not the kind of pursuit that will generate mass appeal but who wants to spend their precious life quanta making art that doesn’t interest them, anyway? Slaves behave that way. For me, this is my thing that no one can touch, be it through laws, or through money, or with peer pressure or religion or any other rubbish. What’s really important to me is that I just reach a few odd individuals out there who are interested in hearing something with integrity that was built on a foundation of curiosity rather than certainty.
How have you built up your following?
We amassed a small collection of fans throughout our performing years but these days we tend to be a lot more private so many of them keep up with us by downloading our music online. We’re producers first and foremost, and I know I can speak for both of us when I say that we find it much more rewarding to be experimenting in the studio and perfecting our skills than engaging with scenes of people who barely know what we stand for, although Ovahand has performed recently with his new project, Boom Bap Fam, which is pretty cool. That’s his thing with Rorks Drift from Collective Crew, with whom we’ve recently formed “Collective Productions”. But mostly I’d prefer to focus on making the music rather than getting it out there, so I typically just push it with Facebook promotions and by trying to keep active on Bandcamp and Soundcloud.
So what do you like about using Selz?
Selz is a new format for me, which is something I’m always looking for, because I think my aim is really just to make my produce as easy to obtain as possible. Anything that makes distribution quicker and simpler is golden and I particularly like the “Pay What You Want” pricing option. I’m less motivated by money and more interested in things like feedback, satisfaction, recognition, gratification, interaction, cooperation, communication, etc. I lament that making money should take precedence over the propagation of my art. I don’t want someone to make it to my page and then be discouraged by the fact that they have to pay for something when they may not have felt otherwise inspired to do so or might not have the means. It’s also really good that you guys are using PayPal now, because that makes the whole thing so much faster.
What has been the biggest surprise you’ve had along the way?
I’m always surprised when people know my lyrics off by heart. It’s very flattering. I don’t freestyle or have a good memory so I’m not the kind of guy to drop verses in public – what I do is more about composition than performance. But every now and then someone will recite one of my verses back to me at the pub or something and it’s a bit awkward ‘cause they usually know the words better than I do haha, but, yeah, it surprises me when that happens, ‘cause it’s like, sometimes I don’t know if anyone cares to think much about what I’m saying but I put a lot of time and effort into the concepts I explore so it means a lot to me when it reaches someone.
When can we expect to hear new music?
Currently I’m publishing the last tracks for my new solo album “Orchid Child” online, so they’ll be uploaded to my Selz site as well. I’ve been putting one out every couple of weeks rather than just dumping the whole collection at once, because in this climate where people are bombarded with ads and messages on the Internet all day, I suspect people may be more likely to listen to one song than to download an entire album. And if they do enjoy what I’m doing they can always grab the whole package afterwards. So there are two more tracks on the way and then that process is complete. As for Dark Matter, everything for our second album, “Regicide”, is written now and we’re recording it all as we speak. Ovahand has produced a set of grimy analogue MPC beats this time so it’s very different from the digital stuff that I did for “Diatribe”, which was our first one. I guess you could say it’s kind of a bit retro in some ways; stripped back and American-sounding, but then we’re rapping very honestly about topics that are more relevant to us: insecurities and emotions and frustrations about work and girls and whatever – the sorts of things that are experienced by middle-class Anglo males from Sydney, rather than the sorts of things we think people are experiencing on the other side of the world. But it’s definitely not a light-hearted album by any means, either. It’s still pretty grumpy and irritable. ‘Cause I think that’s what happens to people like us. We experience a different sort of dissatisfaction. It is what it is. So I think it’s unique, too, in a couple of ways, especially during a time when most people in our city seem to be making this very “safe”-sounding festival music. We’re not about collecting friends or being popular, you know. But if peeps do wanna check us out, we’ll be dropping it by the end of the year for sure.
What’s next for you?
I’m really excited to begin working on the next AI album immediately. I’m full of all kinds of ideas and we’ve been building interesting plans for a third Dark Matter release, too… But I don’t wanna talk about all that yet. Just keep an ear out ‘cause there’s a lot more on the way. We’ll be here for a long time yet!
Want to see more of Adrian’s work? Head on over to his Facebook page for all the hip hop goodness.
Posted May 1, 2014 by