Brisbane’s burgeoning underground hip-hop scene continues to give us some stellar artists, one such act emerging from the shadows being Science Project. Comprising of 8man and Grimes (or Jad Dapat and Andrew Grimes to their mates), the duo run Dub Temple Records, releasing beats and mixes that smoothly transcend the hip-hop, dub and electronic genres. They’ve played gigs around Australia and are setting their sights on touring overseas. Science Project talks to ACCLAIM about how growing up overseas has shaped their sound, the current Brisbane beat scene and what’s next for them.
With the scene for alternative dub and future beats in Australia growing to reach bigger audiences, what is unique to Science Project’s sound?
Jad | I guess both of us being from overseas brings certain advantage in terms of knowledge of other musical cultures and styles.
How did you guys end up forming Science Project, did you have any previous musical experience?
Andrew | We met playing in the rhythm section of Aussie/Afro hip-hop crew Culture Connect back in 2006 when they were based in Brissie.
When my family came to Australia, we were living in Darwin. I got pretty active playing in the scene up there, and got to know all the Culture boys pretty well. When I moved to Brisbane for uni they were all down here and needed a drummer, so I took the job.
Jad had just migrated from the Philippines, where he was playing rhythm guitar for a well-known dub/reggae band called Jr. Kilat. Not long after he moved here, he started playing with Culture Connect. During that time I was obsessed with the old Dub Masters like Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry, King Tubby, and Linton Kwesi Johnson. Jad had come from a really strong dub background and he was always throwing these crazy dubs my way and suggesting tunes to check out. At the end of ‘08 the rest of the Culture crew had moved down to Melbourne, we just started making beats together and that was the beginnings of Science Project.
You’re both from overseas, but why the move to Australia? And do you think it has influenced the way you sound at all?
A | I’m originally from the United States, but I spent my childhood growing up in eastern Indonesia mainly in Maluku and around West Timor. My mother is an anthropologist and my father a linguist, and they’d been doing fieldwork throughout Indonesia since well before I was born.
In 1999 we were living in Kupang, the capital of West Timor, when East Timor was finally successful with their independence referendum. After the Australian troops went in, the TNI and the Indonesian-backed militias were chased over the border into West Timor and they were pretty furious. Things got pretty real, and we had to get out of there fast. That’s how I ended up in Darwin.
As a kid I was pretty musical, and fortunate ‘cos the islands are a great place to grow up – you’re always surrounded by music. I happily absorbed all the sounds around me. We spent several years living in a village called Wa Ha Olon on the Island of Buru, where traditional music was used as part of everyday village life. As a small child I used to join in with the old men playing rhythms on dear-skinned drums and gongs. Then there were the times when we’d be in the provincial capital and I’d be bombarded with all the classic island sounds, UB40, Marley, Shaggy, Michael Jackson. These things have absolutely shaped the music I’m making.
J | I moved here with my family in 2005 from Cebu City, Philippines. I grew up with a really musical family. When I was growing up, my mum was in a choir from church, my dad is a jazz guitarist and my grandma was a piano teacher as well. So I grew up with people who are really staunch about their music. Also in school, I learnt some traditional Filipino instruments and was exposed to traditional Filipino music. When I was at uni, I was exposed to dub music, and couple of years after that I started making beats and started mashin’ my influences.
You’ve supported crazy acts like Mount Kimbie, Gaslamp Killer, Tokimonsta and Nosja Thing – what was it like to meeting international artists and playing for other crowds?
J | Yeah, I feel blessed to meet and share a stage with those guys; I’m a big fan of their music.
Everyone describes the whole ‘beat music’ ‘underground hip-hop’ scene a different way – but what does the music mean to you?
A | To me it’s essentially a return to first principles at a time when hip-hop has been so utterly absorbed by the mainstream. In the way that the rhythm and bass is put front and centre you can also see it as an evolution in dub culture. It’s about taking the principles of hip-hop and dub and applying them to who ever, where ever, and when ever you are.
You recently played at Horse Bazaar and Section 8 in Melbourne, how did it differ to playing in the scene in Brisbane?
J | I used to live in Melbourne a few years ago so I know Melbourne’s always got mad love for new shit. Brisbane is really interesting at the moment because it’s growing, it’s fresh and there’s a different kind of excitement. While in Melbourne you know there’s already a large group of people who support these kinds of things.
You’ve recently released the 1988 EP for free on your bandcamp page – what’s next for you?
A | Well we just released Jad’s solo stuff 8man – Loops last week which has gotten a lot of interest both here and overseas, then in a few weeks we’re releasing some Hong Kong future roots from Blood Dunza. Also there’s a coming release from Kirvy, who’s based in the Philippines, dropping some lush soul beats. And from here in Queensland we’re releasing an EP from local beatmaker Bunda. With our own productions we’re in the process of finishing up a collaborative album called Voodoo Science One, involving Science Project, Hope One and Voodoo Dred.
You guys also run Dub Temple Records, which is “conceptualising the roots of remix culture in a series of beat tapes that pay tribute to the greats of Jamaican music”. What made you create it other than a love for dub music?
J | When it started I was just reading some blogs and came across some free beat tapes, and thought this is sick, I’m gonna do this. That was around February 6th, Bob Marley’s birthday, so I decided to make the beat tape as a tribute to his work. Later I was talking to Hope One, who does A&R for Dub Temple, and we decided to make it a collaborative compilation. We put the word out to the different beatmakers we knew and that’s how it happened.
Your influences seem to range from dubstep and post-dubstep to Jamaican reggae, but is there something that inspires you the most?
A | The music we make is inspired and informed by so many things both musical and non-musical. Natural things, cosmic things, social things, future things, ancient things, sound system things, and of course beautiful women. Musically speaking, everything we do is grounded in dub, hip-hop, roots traditions (soul/reggae/jazz), and tribal sounds. I’m mostly inspired by the way these things blend together, not just musically, but also how these cultures blend with time and place.
When I was at your gig in Melbourne, even the bartender said to me that you guys ‘moved together’. Do you put a lot of work into how your live show will be received by an audience?
J | Definitely. We try to keep as much of the set as live as we can, but with electronic music, that requires a lot of preparation. You have to plan out every sound you want to use, then arrange them as effectively as you can, then practice the routines, then figure the best way to piece the whole set together. By the time we get to the stage, we pretty much know what both of us are supposed to be doing at every point in the set, which I guess to the audience translates as us bobbin up and down in eerie unison.
We’ve also had the good fortune of working closely with some pretty talented VJs, namely Warren Handley and Joe Baker. Their work with the live visuals contributes a lot to the way Science Project sets come across.
What do you see for the future of Science Project?
A | There are so many exciting things on the horizon. By the end of the year we’ll have released Voodoo Science One, as well as the third Science Project EP. 2012 we’ve got big things planned, including an Asia tour and the release of our first full-length album.