Rabbit Radio's Jamo Mackenzie had a chat to Rapaport as the The Big Vacation national tour kicked off in Woollongong. The tour showcases the sounds and visions of Sydney based hip hop record label Big Village Records, co-founders Rapaport and P.Smurf have just announced that they will be joined by two of the label’s most prominent signees in Mathas and Omar Musa!
Emphasise: I had a moment to catch up with Joel Rapaport while he is on the Big Vacation tour, how are you Joel?
Rapaport: Yeah I’m good man feeling great, so the tour started off last weekend and we did Wollongong and then did Melbourne. Its really good to get on the road with the Guys, everyone hasn’t seen each other for a while because of other touring stuff so its been really cool.
So just for everyone out there your currently on tour with Mathas, Omar Musa, P-smurf and yourself, its the big vacation tour, 10 dates around the country right?
Yeah as well we have got NSW DMC champ DJ COST, which is P-Smurfs long time DJ, he totally held it down both shows,amazing DJ, its great having him with us, he does a bit of a slot in P-smurfs set, he came 4th in the national comp last month, but yeah he has won NSW twice and has been playing with us for years and is a good friend so its awesome having him on the road. Mos def has some skills.
So has it been much of a ‘vacation’ so far I know you have only done the Gong and Melbourne whats the response been like so far?
Yeah its been cool i think the vacation thing was a bit ironic cause touring is a lot of work ya know but its amazing being on the road with everyone. Maths and Omar both put albums out through Big Village in the last few years and we all haven’t spent too much time together so its great having everyone all together. Especially the performances, we all come with our own style, and everyone is coming with a solo MC show and try to put the best show on as possible and kinda step up from the last person on stage. Then we all come together at the end for a few songs. Its mad being able to travel around with ya mates cause normally when you tour its just you and your DJ or you and the band but this is really cool having all four of us on the road doing gigs together.
I was gonna ask you about all of you on stage together and is there maybe a chance at getting a glimpse of any ‘sketch the rhyme’ with you and P-smurf while on the road?
The sketch the rhyme thing is all to do with the artists too and we can’t do that without the artists or the projections, that show is a freestyle rap live art show that we have been doing for almost a decade now, we did a few shows in Sydney in the last year just getting it back up and going again. I mean its a collaboration with visual artists so we would have to take them on the road too.
So Rapport you only just finished your ‘Lost in the Frequency Tour’ a month or so ago, so you have basically jumped straight into the Big Vacation tour Back to Back.
Yeah pretty much, thats whats its all about really, its about getting out and trying to do shows. My solo tour was cool it was mostly NSW dates and then Brissy and Melbourne, the Big Vacation Tour is a little different cause we are doing four dates in WA. But its good to get back out here straight away to do some more shows. My tour had a lot of really good partners to help promote shows, there are some really good local promoters holding it down for their areas, like DJ Ill Gato in Canberra, Newcastle Music Collective, Context in Melb, its great to have local promoters as well that are offering to help out artists when their touring.
Good to hear and Great to have the support. After we played a show together with Butterfingers on the Sunshine Coast, I was really impressed with your live set and how you incorporate your live instrumentation into it, is that something you have been doing for a while, composing that way?
Cheers man, its all a bit upside down, I’ve been playing guitar for 17 years and I have played in a range of live bands with guitar and raps together. This particular album has come from a completely different direction, where all the songs are collaborations with producers apart from one song where i played guitar but most of the album is collabs with other producers. Then the guitar and live instrumentation has come afterwards, the beats done, the songs finished, now how can I perform this live. Its kind of like putting on a session musicians hat on ya know, if i play this as the guitarist etc, composing. But i mean this is what you do when you’re trying to push yourself creatively you kind of got to go around in circles haha. I think on the next album I will aim to do a lot more guitar stuff from the start and work from the guitar, now that I have been doing this for around a year with the live guitar and raps I have learnt a lot to put back into the recording process and songwriting process to make it flow a lot better. So when I do get into doing the live shows for the next bunch of songs, the songs are already kind of ready to be performed by the guitar instead like reverse engineering it all. But thats great when your playing any instrument to try and push yourself and try and learn these songs that are co written and figuring out rhythms and cords.
Changing hat where you’re becoming a session musician must be very interesting to have that flexibility as a creative person.
Yeah its fun, i just love playing guitar and I love rapping with the guitar too because you can kind of change the mood with the guitar as well as the rap so depending on how you’re feeling in the song you can change the rhythm, exaggerate certain sections or moments when I can sing. It makes me happy as a performer I feel like I’m doing something that challenges myself and bringing more range to the music, but I’m only doing it for part of the sets, cause there is a whole range of emotion and energy I can get when I’m not holding anything in the hand and can just bounce around on the stage.
I have noticed this with Big Village is that you are really becoming a home for real entertainers, yourself, P-smurf, Omar all put on amazing live solo sets and I mean Mathas is one of the most interesting entertainers with his engagement with the audience.
Yeah he is next level.
So give us a bit of an insight, your on the road with these guys, who is the trouble maker of the group who is the dad putting everyone to bed, whos the larikeen?
Well I’m obviously the more parental influence cause I’m kind of managing the road stuff and all that. P-smurf is known as larry the hectic for a reason he is always down for a good time. But we are all kind of getting on in the years so maybe the tour aren’t as crazy as maybe 5 years ago. But yeah I am probably the one cracking the whip a bit.
What about most annoying habit on the road, anything gets on ya nerves?
I would probably say i got the most annoying habits haha anything I do people get annoyed with. I can’t really throw the crew under the bus though. Ya gotta learn to live with your touring partners and i think we have all done enough touring to know that we have to be around eavhother for a long time so you have to have as much compassion understanding for each other as you can. Its a hard thing touring, it takes a lot out of you but its all worth it playing shows and meeting people.
Building that network, I noticed P-smurf was recently over in the US, footage from burning man and NY spitting some fire over there, has he recovered yet? Any crazy stories yet?
He basically had non stop festivities he basically went from Eclipse Festival to burning Man to NY so yeah big ol party time, we haven’t even heard half the stories yet. He had a great time, Met some amazing veteran MC’s in NY. Kinda rapped to a bunch of different festivals and shows I mean he is a pretty good traveller he got back like two days before this tour started and straight on it, he has got some stamina.
Rapaport its been a pleasure chatting with you today, THE BIG VACATION TOUR is coming to Brisbane, the Flying Gallah Saturday October 7th, with the strictly for the heads crew there too, what can we expect to see when we come to a big vacation tour show?
I think you expect to see four really different performers but four of us that have got a lot in common, we are gonna all bring our A-game and just show your some real honest and moving, dance worth hip hop music to enjoy your night too. Its gonna be a merry show and then the five of us will get up at the end to do a couple of tunes, its going to be a real unique night, we are really proud of presenting to everyone. We also have Okay No Heros is also on the first support, that is Mr Hills new support and a Strictly for the Heads artist showcase, gonna be awesome!
We will definitely be there! Catch the Big Vacation Tour somewhere around the country check their FB- @bigvillage