Interview: Birdz talks Place of Dreams and the evolution of Aussie hip hop

Earlier this month rising Australian hip hop artist Birdz released his highly anticipated EP, Place of Dreams. Released on Bad Apples Music, the EP sees the NT-raised and Melbourne-based rapper explore some hard-hitting themes and personal experiences, and collaborating with some quality Australian vocalists along the way. Following the release of the EP, we caught up with Birdz to chat about Place of Dreams, the state of Australian hip hop and how it can evolve further in the future.

What was the inspiration behind your forthcoming EP Place of Dreams? Was there anything you were reading, listening to, or experiencing that had a profound impact on the EP’s creation?

The EP was really inspired by the different obstacles we face in trying to pursue our dreams and be successful. Growing up Indigenous in a small town in the NT, I was always told to stick to sport as that was really the only avenue we had to make it out and see more of the world.

Place Of Dreams is about standing up against those limitations and believing that you can do anything you set your mind to. It’s about creating something my son could be proud of and letting our youth know that it’s OK to want more.

Across the EP you work with a couple of different feature vocalists, how important was it for you to bring that diversity of voice to the record?

Collaboration was definitely a huge part of this EP and it’s probably why it’s my favourite project that I’ve done to date. All of the features and producers I worked with really pushed the project to the next level.

To be honest, I didn’t really think too much about trying to bring diversity to the record, it just kind of happened organically. I’m a big fan of Mojo, Ecca and Serina and they’re all super dope in what they do so it’s an honour to work with them. I feel blessed that we got to bring our worlds together and make something special.

Too often it seems the “political” element of hip hop and rap is forgotten or wilfully overlooked by many. Do you feel hip hop gifts you a way of talking about the issues close to your heart, that perhaps other genres might not?

I think Hip Hop definitely provides an platform to speak on whatever you want, but I guess it’s up to the artist and how they choose to utilise their platform.

I feel like that’s what it’s always been based on for me – the freedom to share my story without anybody trying to tell me otherwise. That’s the power in Hip Hop – especially in a country that’s built on oppressing Indigenous voices.

Also, I feel like Rap is really starting to get back to storytelling and people want something authentic – a story that they can believe in and be inspired by.

What do you think sets Aussie hip hop apart from its American counterpart?

I think Australia is in a great space right now when it comes to Hip Hop. There’s so many different styles and stories being told – it’s dope. I think America still has a big influence here – and probably always will since that’s where the art form originated from. But, it’s just mad to see us forming our own identity, standing strong in that, and contributing to the culture on an international level. I feel like we’re in a real exciting time for Hip Hop here and it’s only going to get better.

In recent years Aussie hip hop has, in a way that perhaps other media hasn’t, shone a light on the many perspectives in various communities across the country. What do you think Aussie hip hop has taught you over these past few years?

Again it’s probably just being exposed to different stories and experiences in the music. I feel like we’re starting to see more diversity in artists representing themselves and the music is so much better for it. It’s a platform for the marginalised voices to speak out and be heard in a country that often tries to silence us.

With Australian hip hop being more diverse than ever, what do you feel is the next step necessary to take these important messages and really make an impact globally?

I think it’s just a matter of time before an artist from here really starts to make waves internationally – looking at artists like Sampa The Great, The Kid Laroi and Remi you could probably say that it’s already happening (in my opinion).

More and more collaborations and dope artist collectives are coming together to really push the limits on creativity, from the music to the visuals and all round.

An example of this being the inaugural First Nations Songhubs that was recently held here in Melbourne that I was lucky enough to be a part of with a stack of dope artists from Australia, New Zealand and America – hosted by Bad Apples Music and APRA. More of this needs to happen and I believe will play a huge role in pushing the culture of Hip Hop forward.

How would you describe the evolution of Aus hip hop over the last decade? And how would you like to see it evolve moving forward?

It’s definitely come a long way and again I feel it’s the strength found in diversity that’s really pushing things forward in a way that we haven’t witnessed before. Personally, I’d love to see this continue being reflected on our festival stages and radio frequencies. I think it’s happening and with movements like Bad Apples Music it’s only going to get stronger.

Place of Dreams is available now. You can grab a copy from HERE. You can keep up to date with Birdz via FacebookTwitter, and Instagram

Birdz will be appearing at Briggs’ Bad Apples House Party on Thursday 30th May at the Sydney Opera House, as part of Vivid 2019. For more information and tickets head HERE

Simon Clark

Books Editor. An admirer of songs and reader of books. Simon has a PhD in English and Comparative Literature. All errant apostrophes are his own.