Up-and-coming producer and MC Pookie has always felt a need to express herself creatively, whether it be through drawing, painting, sculpting, or music. Born in Kenya, Pookie moved to Melbourne in 2014 and pretty quickly found her feet in the city’s art scene, but after hitting a creative roadblock, she started working a day job. The day job didn’t last long though—she stumbled across Garageband in between shifts and began exploring music as her new creative outlet, eventually going on to study production and form a five-piece band.
Through her music, Pookie explores the different dimensions of hip-hop and R&B with ease. Lyrically she confronts difficult subject matter—violence and race are common themes, but the upbeat, energetic approach she takes production and performance-wise often disguises the reality of her words. We spoke to her ahead of her Melbourne Music Week show about her creative process and the artists that are helping her deconstruct society’s expectations.
Can you tell us about yourself and how you got into making music?
I’m a Kenyan-born South Sudanese woman who spent her early years drawing, painting, and sculpting. After moving to Naarm in 2014 it didn’t take me long to find my art scene, but when being a visual artist and poet got old for me, I needed something else to stimulate my creativity. Yup, Garageband. I discovered it two years ago and it led me to Ableton. I decided I wanted to study production, and so I did, leading me to find out that I could also rap on these beats. My five-piece [band] and I study at the same university so since we made that inevitable link up earlier this year we’ve just been figuring out what it feels like to play different venues around this city.
Growing up, what type of music did you listen to? Do you remember the first album you bought?
My brother LOVED Kenyan hip-hop, dancehall, reggae and the likes. He’s me in another form so he would just bump that shit all day. When I think of Nairobi I think of him sitting on top of this one big monitor he would carry everywhere with him. Those were my foundations but after coming to Australia the first album I bought was probably a So Fresh CD. If not that, then a Christina Milian one.
Talk us through your creative process. Is there a place or time of day that you feel helps you create your best work?
I’ve always worked best when I’m alone. Mainly because I’ve always had a hard time expressing myself if it isn’t through my art, I still do. But this year has seen me grow out of that as I got to work with so many people who showed me what I am and am not about. Turns out it wasn’t really the time or place that I needed, but the mental clarity. My life is a creative process and sometimes when I get stuck, I like to remember to put the brushes down.
What artists and creatives are currently inspiring your practice?
DJ Spell, Kumar Shome, Kashdoll, and The Stylistics. These artists are currently helping me remove some of society’s expectations that I didn’t realise I was living by.
What’s your experience of the Melbourne music scene been like?
It’s been a pretty sweet ride. Coming from an art background meant that I knew people from smaller creative circles. I think most—if not every—experience has been organic since I quit the matrix.
Can we expect more new music anytime soon?
Yes, but I’ll keep ‘when’ a mystery!