Life of Riley – Interview with Drapht

You have said the Life of Riley is all about being your own man and answering to yourself – do you believe this can be a reality or is it just another dream along the lines of world peace?

No, totally. Of course it could be a reality. It’s like you choose your own destiny. You can’t choose world peace ‘cause that’s changing everyone else, but you can change yourself. So it’s, you know, you pave your own path and you are the teller of your own destiny for sure. It’s your life of riley it’s not everyone else’s life of riley.

The Life of Riley was released on your own label – The Ayems. What is the meaning of the word ‘ayems’ and why did you choose it for the label?

The Ayems stems from a group of friends that I’ve grown up with that I’d like to carry on to my own label. So it doesn’t actually have any meaning, it’s just a graffiti crew that I’ve grown up with and we’ve just bought it over to the music side as well.

Explain the Syllabolix crew, who are they and what does it mean to be a member.

Syallbolix are a Perth collective of people that I’ve grown up with and looked up to before I started rapping. Optamus is the founding member and he started it in the late 90’s. It consists of Downsyde, Matty B, Hunter, Layla, myself and a bunch of other DJ’s and crews.

It has been mentioned a few times that Jimmy Recard was your first big hit, despite releasing two albums come its release on Brothers Grimm… it seems to be a point that you have tried to overcome in this album in particular with the song rip jr. is this something you felt you had to do to remind the world you are Drapht – not Jimmy Recard?

Not really no; the idea of RIP JR sort of stems from a lot of jealousy fuelled questions from crews throughout the industry and trying to put pressure on me, more so “I hope you have another Jimmy Recard” and asking if I did have another Jimmy Recard on the record. Potentially if I was to write another Jimmy Recard it’d just be moving backwards. I made Jimmy so I can quite easily break Jimmy as well.

After the immediate success of Rapunzel, are you worried that Rapunzel is the new Jimmy Recard?

Not really. Purely because people know both those songs and it doesn’t have the same sort of stigma as Jimmy did because Jimmy was a character in his own right. A lot of people knew who Jimmy Recard was back then but didn’t know who the actual artist was that formulated Jimmy Recard. I think now it’s pretty clear that Drapht, obviously had written both songs. I suppose it’s just another step with Rapunzel .

The Life of Riley’s style and sound strays from traditional Australian hip-hop, and takes on many different vibes such as the introduction of the melodica in ‘Murder Murder’, and the touches of WA rock queen, Abbe May, even a subtle 1960’s psych beat in some tracks! Is this something you have been intentionally working on, or is it a natural development of your sound?

I think it’s more so just a natural development and the time I’ve been able to put in it with this record. Previously with the last three records I’ve worked a 9-5 and I’ve only really had the time after work and on weekends to put into my music. However I’ve since been lucky enough after Brothers Grimm to live off my music for the last two years. I’ve sort of had the extra drive and this is my livelihood now so I’ve had a lot more time and been able to put more energy into it. So learning what I did and the people that I met touring Brothers Grimm I really wanted to get them involved as well in terms of musicians and the friends I met on the way.

The Life of Riley showcases you teaming up with a number of different mcs and artists from M-Phazes to Abbe May, Trials and the rest! does it make the recording process easier, bouncing ideas off one another? is it something you will be looking to continue?

Well yeah, definitely. It sort of makes it easier but in another way it makes it harder as well. I’m used to working by myself and at a pace I’m really happy with and sometimes you have to wait for artists. Usually with the collaborated songs, they’re the songs you have to wait the longest to have them finished because you’re always depending on other people for their half of the song. With Abbe, it was really cool because she’s super motivated and she just comes in one day, and records for half an hour because she’s already prepared and that’s the end of it, I then write the song around that. But I’m pretty lucky that I’ve done my last two records now with Trials, we’ve got a pretty good formula now. I just fly to Adelaide and it’s really smooth when I get there.

What is the most challenging aspect you find in terms of recreating the album on stage? You’re doing a lot of touring – the Come together festival, GTM and your own shows as well! Is there any desire or room for ad lib?

There is. Because I’ve been touring with a band for the last two years, we’re pretty down to the second with rehearsing, but we definitely ad lib a lot throughout the songs and different shows. We pull songs here and there, and put extra songs in and so it just depends what works the night before and what doesn’t to try to get the set perfect.

in regards to the track ‘Good morning’, you mention that one night stands are a way of either going through girls one by one to find a ‘gem’, or you haven’t learnt from your mistakes. What’s your answer to this or are you still sitting on the fence?

DraphtEspecially growing up in a western culture, a lot of young males are driven into the fact that you’re placed higher on the food chain with the amount of girls that you sleep with. It sort of just drives them into nothing and they end up attracting the girl that she’s looking for the same thing as well and she’s just looking for a partner (a girl looking for a partner that ends up being a one night stand). I just don’t think it’s very healthy. I’ve been in that situation and I’m definitely at the point now where I’m like there’s no point going out, going to nightclubs looking for girls because you just going to attract that same girl. You know really have to look under a rock these days because they are few and far between.

‘The Paul, the Dan’ is one of my favourite songs on this album. it reminds me of me and my sisters and what we’d be like trying to record something together! Is this chilled, messing around vibe something you’d like to do more of, or was it a one off?

*chuckles* It’s really easy to do this with Trials because he’s got a great sense of humour and this is probably the most humorous track on the record. When we were recording it we were in stitches on the ground. I would love to do more of this but it’s sort of hard doing it as a solo artist because there’s no one else to bounce off. It was a great opportunity to do it with Dan because (he) produces all my stuff and he knows what I’m like as a person so it was a bit more personal if anything – we can take the piss out of each other without anyone taking heart strings out of it.

Brothers Grimm, Pale Rider and the Life of Riley feature some pretty interesting cover work – who is your artist and why do you choose to have such a dramatic piece of art on the cover?

The artist is Dash – he’s a Perth graffiti writer and I just give him creative right, from the very beginning, purely because I’ve looked up to him and it sort of embodies my art, my music now. He’s someone that I’ve looked up to since the age of 12 and he’s one of the best graffiti writers in the world, let alone Australia so it’s more of a respect thing and a face to my brand now in the sense of the hard cover for the cd. But you can’t go wrong with Dash, he kills it every time.

Can you reveal any unknown shenanigans that occurred when you snuck into the Hyde Park Hotel as a teen?

I did have an ID and the Hydey was one of those places that cops would hit frequently. Myself and Layla used to go there when we were 15, 16 and used to just love the vibe down there but it was always so hard for us because we couldn’t get in we weren’t of age obviously so we’d get kicked out and after that ended up being the death of the Hyde Park which is a real shame. But, I don’t know – there was a lot of fights back in the day but other than that can’t I really think of too much else! It was just a great time.

You seemed pretty set on creating an album that shows the world exactly how you feel, and from the hype around it already I’d say it’s a good way to back up the last three albums… So what is in Drapht’s crystal ball for the next year?

Well I pretty much only just finished the record 3/4 weeks ago and now just rolled on to doing a heap of press and rehearsing for the shows that I’ve got coming up. I really just need a holiday because the last year’s been absolute mayhem! I probably plan to go to, I don’t know, New York or something in July. After that whole leg of touring I’ll probably just come home and try to think about writing another record and start the process again I suppose!

Finally, this is our ‘green’ issue so we have to ask you a question about the environment: If every person that went to one of your gigs had to take a mode of transport that didn’t include a car, what would you suggest would be the top three ways to get there?

A bike, for sure. Because I ride six gear bikes and I think it’s the best way to get around, especially with Perth being so small. A trolley from Coles. And, I’ll just have to say a skateboard because it ties into hip hop so well.

Words – Michelle Stanley

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