G-FORCE: (G): First off congrats on being the first artist exclusively interviewed for my new blog site thing. That must make you feel pretty special? I was hoping for a Northside Crew Banger reunion interview but hey.
BOLTZ (B): Oh hell yeah man. I feel real special! As for the Northside Crew, you’re about 3 years too late my man!
G: Nah for real, congrats on the upcoming release, ‘The Wishlist’. Let me kick it off by asking you about the progression from your group A-Diction with fellow emcee Breach to a solo release. Was this always on the cards for you?
B: Nah man, it was never really on the cards- in fact the only reason I made a solo LP was because Breach went overseas for 9 months just after we dropped ‘To Be Announced’. You see A-Diction are all about marketing, so we figured the best way to sell our debut EP was if one member went overseas for the best part of a year straight after the release. We literally did one or two shows in between dropping the EP and Breach leaving the country. The marketing team at Pepsi should come and speak to us for some tips on how to move product. But yeah, Breach is back now so he’s helping me promote my album, we still perform together and he’s happy to hype me up at shows, but right now we’re already working on the A-Diction LP.
G: Did you find it any different to writing tracks for this than for A-Diction, was it more personal or introspective for example?
B: Yeah it was more personal, but it was a lot harder. Breach and I have an amazing chemistry. We’ll meet up, one of us will throw on a beat, we’ll pick a topic and just start writing and half an hour later we’ve both written sixteen’s and a hook. It wasn’t like that with him away. I’d really have to motivate myself to sit down and get in the zone coz I’m a real procrastinator. It’s a lot harder writing rhymes and recording verses when you don’t have someone you respect to bounce ideas off and get criticism from. But I think if you listen to a couple of the tracks on The Wishlist like ‘Dream’ or ‘Memoirs of a Blacktop’ they are very personal tracks. Not the kind of tracks that would suit a duo or a posse. They’re really written from the mind of a solo artist I guess.
G: Now a lot has happened since A-Diction dropped. Marriage, the house, the almost finished picket fence and you signed with Soulmate records, all big moves for any artist, how have these affected your approach to your music?
B: You’re right man, when you list them all on paper like that it’s kind of hard to believe I had time to write a whole album! My life has really taken shape the past few years. Like you said; got married, bought my first house, signed a contract. I’m lucky I’ve got a really supportive wife, family and group of friends. It’s all good though because all of these things that have happened have made me a lot more accountable of what I do. It’s also made me look at my music differently. I mean, I’ve got a mortgage now you know? So all these things like responsibility, money, time; they all take on new meaning when you start doing ‘grown man shit’. Ha ha.
G: As the title implies there was an apparent wishlist for the album as far as emcees and producers go. Did the list start of as the album has turned out or were some artists simply impossible to grab?
B: It’s hard to believe man, but honestly every artist you hear on the album is on my original wishlist. I told Soulmate about the Wishlist concept and they were like ‘Hell yeah, sounds dope’. So I drafted up a list of artists I’d love to work with such as M-Phazes, Trials, Weapon X, Styalz, Fergo One, etc. and every single one of them was down to jump on the release. I did have one idea which didn’t come to fruition and that involved the track ‘Bringin’ Hursty Back’. Originally I wanted to get a couple of certain Hurstbridge MC’s on the track with me and Fergo, but we were told they were too busy at the time. They were cool about it you know; they wished us luck with the project and everything. So in the end Fergo and I had done our verses about Hursty but we were missing a third person, so I thought ‘we should get Take it Easy Heezy to jump on the third verse and give us his perspective on the northern suburbs’. He agreed and came through with one of the funniest verses I’ve ever heard. I’m really happy with the result so it all turned out ok in the end.
G: On the Royce 5’ 9” guests spot, people who know you would attest you are a Royce freak so naturally people want to know how this all happened and if you choose to please address the $6000 question/rumour?
B: Ha ha!! That $6000 thing literally had me laughing out loud! I mean, my press release had been online for what, half a day, and some dude that I don’t even know jumps online and says so matter-of-factually ‘oh yeah, Boltz paid $6000 for Royce’. The truth is I rang Royce and said to him ‘Dude, I’ll give you my Anfernee Hardaway rookie card collection and a burnt copy of the new Rihanna CD for a sixteen’ and he jumped at it!! Nah seriously, I’ve spoken to Royce a number of times over the phone and I sparked a bit of a working relationship with his manager. Soulmate spoke to them about doing a track together and they were down. An interesting bit of trivia about The Wishlist is we sent Royce two beats and asked him to choose which one he would rather spit over. He chose the M-Phazes beat that you hear on the album, but the one he didn’t choose was the Styalz beat which eventually became the A-Diction track ‘Austracism’, which you can also hear on the LP. I actually thought he would have chosen the Styalz beat because it is a lot darker and when I heard it I just thought of Royce, but surprisingly he went for the Phazes one. The track turned out amazing though. Definitely my favourite track on the album.
G: So having pretty much a free reign over what style you wanted to take the album, were there any artists who influenced you, what you felt you wanted your album to be like, or not be like for that matter?
B: Yeah definitely. I was listening to a lot of Lupe Fiasco last year and then I saw him live at the Prince and he really blew me away. I love the honesty in Lupe’s music, and his storytelling ability. Plus, he’s really creative and imaginative and you don’t really have to think too much to understand what he’s saying on a track. His metaphors are really intelligent but they’re also quite obvious. I also listened to a lot of Kanye. The thing I love about Kanye is he’s never really made a pop album and yet he’s been so successful and innovative. ‘The College Dropout’ was a straight hip hop album and you had all these high class music reviewers calling it the best album of the year! That’s crazy. I was also influenced a lot by Jay Z when he played Rod Laver. The dude didn’t have any special effects, no dancers, he barely even moved on the stage. But he taught me that you can capture a crowd simply by exuding confidence and speaking from the heart. ‘The Black Album’ is probably my favourite album of all time because he works with so many producers and experiments with so many sounds, but you know that it’s Jay on every track. The other things that influenced me during the making of the album were the people in my life, my surroundings such as my workplace, and also all of the heads in the local scene that I see spitting at The Evelyn or Revolver and places like that. They’re all working so hard and making all this really creative music. Everyone is trying to outdo the other guy and it’s just so competitive but I love it!
G: What tracks do you think really reached what you were going for, obviously you liked every track, but which ones do you listen to and are really proud of?
B: Definitely ‘The Best’. I love everything about it. I love Royce’s verse, I love the M-Phazes beat, I’m really happy with my verses and they way me and Royce gel on the track. I got my wife to do the hook coz I wanted something really melodic and fun and I think that came out really well. Other than that, I listen to ‘Start All Over Again’ a lot, probably because it was the last song I wrote so it’s the one song I haven’t played to death in my car yet! All of the tracks Mules worked on came out really well too. ‘Spitfire’ is one of my favourites- I love the energy and the beat on that one. My other fave is probably ‘Memoirs of a Blacktop’. Another Phazes beat; it’s about my memories of playing basketball as a youngster. From primary school through to my teenage years, I think anyone that ever hung a Chicago Bulls poster on their wall in the 90’s can relate to this track.
G: Production. Pretty diverse and pretty fucken dope line up as well. You have worked with Weapon X in the past, were the others purely based on what you had heard and thought you could define a track or style with one of their beats? Or did you let them know ideas of some of your tracks for beats to be styled around?
B: It was a bit of both. Like I knew I wanted something with some really sharp horns and a bangin’ chorus so the first person I thought of was Trials. When he sent me a beat CD, I was really surprised how diverse his sound was. I just expected every beat to sound like a Funkoars album, but one of the beats I chose off him which I used for ‘Keep Ur Head’ sounds really different to his usual sound. Same with the Styalz Fuego beat we used for ‘Austracism’. I grabbed ‘The Wishlist’ beat off him coz I wanted something really dramatic like some ‘Lord of the Rings’ type shit, but then I heard the beat for ‘Austracism’ and I had to grab that too, even though it was really dark and haunting and not like anything else on his beat CD. I had to grab a couple of Weapon X beats too because that dude was so helpful and inspiring during the process of recording ‘To Be Announced’ I just knew I had to X contribute to the album. I was really glad that he mixed everything down too because he gives really good feedback on the sound and the nuances and has a really good ear for all that technical stuff. The other producers were much the same. I’ve always loved M-Phazes beats, same with Muneshine from Canada who I’ve loved since the Lightheaded days. Mules was a last minute addition but as soon as I heard his stuff his beats just inspired me to write, write, write. His beats are so easy to write to because they all tell a story even without lyrics. I must admit it was a lot easier writing and thinking of ideas with so many great beats to start with.
G: So when can we expect a launch, live shows and the like for the wishlist and what should we expect?
B: That’s a good question man! Haven’t organised a launch yet- but it’s definitely something we’ll do once the album actually drops. Until then, I’m just hitting the interview circuit, doing a couple of radio shows, probably show up at Evelyn on a Monday at some stage. At our live shows we tend to mix it up a bit; we perform a bunch of tracks off The Wishlist, I do a couple of solo sixteens, Breach kicks a few sixteens, we do our tracks off the Ground Up Mixtapes. We like to play around with the beats once we’ve performed them a few times. We do a mash-up of ‘The Best’ which combines the original beat, a Junior Mafia joint and a Mobb Deep classic. We always try to have a bit of a laugh of stage and have some fun with the crowd. Punters don’t go to shows with the hope of getting disrespected by the person on stage, so we like to keep it fun and hope that everyone has a good time.
G: Well thank-you for taking the time to answer some questions Mr Boltz, anything else you would like to add, plug, shoutout?
B: If all goes to plan I believe I’m appearing on RRR on Friday the 3rd of August, and I’ll be on Syn FM on Wednesday the 8th of August. Stay tuned though incase the dates change. The Wishlist drops on Saturday August 11th so go cop that from JB Hifi or an indie record store! It’s also available online at various stores (Google it!) and if you buy it from iTunes you get a bonus track which is a Fame remix of ‘The Best’ featuring Spit Syndicate which is dope as all hell! Oh, and check out the exclusive A-Diction track ‘Eight Eights’ on Ground Up Vol. 4 which you can download from grounduphiphop.com or cop from special people! Oh, and we also do a track on the upcoming Syntax mixtape titled ‘I.O.U’s’ which I believe comes out pretty soon. Check out Syntax from Trace Elements myspace page for updates!
G: And finally where can people catch a preview of the album and other things we have chatted about?
B: There’s 4 snippets from the album on my myspace page www.myspace.com/yaboyboltz and a bunch of A-Diction joints on www.myspace.com/adictionmusic Previous A-Diction/Boltz tracks can be heard on the Ground Up series (Vol. 1-4) and we do have a few copies of our debut EP from 2005 ‘To Be Announced’ floating around but if you want one of those you’ll have to make a special request through checkoutwax.com or come and twist my arm at a local show!
G: Cheers Boltz and good luck, I got a feeling this will be fiyah!
B: No, thank you Force! Good luck with the website mate and with your upcoming release! What I’ve heard is straight fire for real! August 11th people- COP THE WISHLIST!!