DEF WISH CAST INTERVIEW

Since the days when Hip Hop culture first arrived in Australia, there are many who’ve become obsessed with the traditional four elements; B-boying, Emceeing, Deejaying and Graffiti. Def Wish Cast epitomise the whole package, with extreme dedication to all the vocations. They symbolise Hip Hop in its purest form. They created something localised that was revered and is now mythologised: they are Def Wish Cast; they are Australian they are Hip Hop.

How did you all meet and when did Def Wish Cast officially form?
DWC formed out in the Western Suburbs out in St Clair, Mt Druitt and Kingswood as thats where we all lived at that time. It was around 1990. A lot was happening out there with nights happening in Fairfield, Parramatta, Seven Hills and Penrith. I met Def Wish and Die-C when they were Def Wish Posse and when I came in we all decided to take it too another level and changed Posse to Cast as felt it more timeless…

Who were the groups major influences when you first started?
There are many, but Tuff Crew, Black Rock and Ron, T LA Rock, Ice-T, LL Cool J, Miami Bass, Sir Mix Alot, Egyptian Lover, Arabian Prince, Public Enemy, Afrika Bambaata and the Soul Sonic Force, Cold Crush Brothers, Hijack (UK), Demon Boyz etc are some.

Describe the Hip Hop scene at that time which groups/artists were out and what was the interest in Hip Hop like?
There were still a lot from the pioneering days of the early 80’s around and that was what was beauty of that time as you have to remember i am a graffiti writer and Bboy through the 80’s and we involve ourselves in other elements too. So this aint all about the music! So around 90-91 you had the music groups / artists who were very active like Sound Unlimited Posse (Westside Posse), Bad Rep, Just Us, AKA Brothers (VIC), Skank One (WA), Blackhand, D-Man, PeaceFender, The Ghost and some groups forming like my man Tormentem from 046 and there are a couple more, but alot started forming at that time and thats what makes it a prominent period .

What are some of your most memorable moments from back then?
There is so many!!! But, I think it’s always the early days when everything was new…Cant beat it!

“Knights of the Underground Tableā€ was one of the first Hip Hop albums from an Australian group. What were your expectations when it was released?
We have a mentality that isn’t about small backyards. This album was us just going hard, and out of that we created something. We were full of energy and not giving a shit! We were learning so much on the go and didn’t have many expectations.

The 4 elements of Hip Hop play a big part in Def Wish Cast. How important is it for you represent that?
Very important! Its the foundations. Its great that people want to think they have to remove themselves from the complete but its the simple way and natural way it formed and that will reign till eternity. We are about Hip Hop Culture, where one sub culture stems from another. We are no better than anyone who reps one element. We are just naturally living what we love Its how we grew up and it formed our beliefs.

In 1997 the group took a break, you formed Celsius with Brass, while DefWish and Die C, alongside DJ Vame, formed KillaWattz. How was it working outside of the group and will you ever be working on side projects again?
Oh it was awesome. Its in us, so even though something changes, we keep creating and it’s sometimes for the best. Working with Brass revived me. It was great working with someone younger. I’d go and see my brothers as Kilawattz. I’m another fan ha. But we always somehow knew we would never let Def Wish Cast die.

How does it feel when some of Hip Hop’s biggest names in Australia cite you as an influence on their music and why they started rapping in the first place?
Its a great feeling and we take that with great respect as we name the ones who inspired us too, and so it goes down the line. Evolving this culture is what we are about and the respect is always passed down. We never inspired to be these people where we are the ones who inspired them, but we are very grateful that everything we did helped create something new. As that’s how styles are formed.

Being one of the few to be around when Hip Hop first started in this country, what are your views on what it has become?
We are apart of it but there is a few more who deserve more credit. Just apart of a bigger thing. Australia has a broad Hip Hop Culture that goes deep. Alot to discover about the past. But today is what it is and we hope that our input has some grounding effect. It’s changed a lot now, but it’s amazing of what opportunities are now available to upcoming Hip Hop artists.

What one thing does Hip Hop in Australia need right now?
They need to stop calling it Aussie Hip Hop! Enough of this oi oi oi shit. Its just Hip Hop! We never called it Aussie Hip Hop, as we just tried to create Hip Hop which was repping our home of Australia on a global level!

The video to your new single “Forever” features some classic footage from back in the day how hard was it to source then compile it all and are there plans to put more of it out?
It wasn’t hard at all. We had the tapes, we gave it to our friends at Versus Media and gave them creative freedom. After they made the 1st draft we offered slight adjustments and away it went!

The footage in that clip is a very small percentage of the footage we have in our personal collections. There are plans for a DWC documentary to be released at some point, which will tap into plenty more rare footage that we have. It will be a real insight not only into DWC’s history, but also the history of Hip Hop in Australia.

Your new album “Evolution Machine” has production from Hip Hop heavyweights M-Phazes, Plutonic Lab (Muph n Plutonic), DJ JS1 (Rocksteady Crew / NYC), Katalyst and more. Did you take a different approach to the making of this album compared to others?
Yeah, it was a very different approach than we were used to. In the past, the majority of the production was handled by myself or DWC’s inner circle. For this album we wanted to venture into new territory and called upon some of our producer friends to take us there. We sourced a stack of music from them and slowly narrowed it down to the best of the best and began writing to each song. It was a slow, stressful process for us, but we got there in the end. I think we achieved what we set out for, which was to find the balance between old and new. To bring back that future funk and let everyone know that we are still as relevant today as we were 20 years ago.

The next album is going to be completely different though. Though we love the end product, we also learned from our mistakes on this album. The recording, mixing and mastering process will run a lot smoother on the next one and we will be taking you on a whole new journey through sound. Can’t wait to get into the depths of this next record! Exciting times!

Out of all Def Wish Cast’s releases what has been your favourite and why?
Probably “Knights of The Underground Table”. Only because we were so young and learning every step of the way. There were no expectations then. It wasn’t about business, radio play, tours, etc. It was only about going as hard as possible to smash all competition. It was a very special time in our life that helped create the people and artists we are today…

You have just been on an extensive tour to coincide with the album release what was your plan with the shows?
On these shows we wanted to take people on a journey through our 20 year career. We started at the beginning with the material from “Knights of The Underground Table” and “Mad As A Hatter” and worked our way up through the Celsius and Kilawattz tracks, into “The Legacy Continues”, and finished on the new tracks. We also tried to include some old faces into the mix, like Brass, DJ ASK, and original DWC member, DJ Vame. We also took our newest label mates, NTSC on the road nationally to showcase their AVDJ style and assist us in taking our own visual show to the next level. It’s been a great return to the stage for us…

In the last year Def Wish Cast seems to have been getting a lot of attention with radio play and also a nomination for APRA Song Of The Year. Why do you think there has been so much interest?
I think people are sick of the lollipop. Hip Hop seems to be coming full cycle. There is return to the original elements brewing under the surface, and the time was right for DWC to come back. We are grateful for the love we have been getting since our return. But we need to let everyone know that this is just the beginning. We are far from finished. We are already working on our next album, and no longer will there be long periods of time in between releases, tours, etc. We are just getting started on you guys!

For those unfamiliar with Hip Hop in Australia what 5 tracks would you tell them to listen to?
It’s almost impossible to narrow it down to only 5 tracks, but here are some of the greats that have been made over the years…

Finger Lickin’ Good- Funky Whos Deffer
Frequency Unknown – Analyst
AKA Brothers – On the Tea Cosy Tip
Lyrical Commission – Press Release
Prowla – Money Walks

Def Wish Cast have been in the game for over 20 years what’s the secret to your longevity?
We have always been true to ourselves, our passion and our creativity. We have never sold our souls for the almighty dollar. And most importantly, we have always been about refining our skills to be the best performers we can be. We attack the stage like it’s a battle each and every time. Doesn’t matter if there are 10 or 10,000 in attendance.

What advice would you give to up and coming artists?
Learn your history. Knowledge is power. Also, don’t do this if you want to get rich. Because the chances of that happening are minimal. Do this because it’s all that you know and all that you love.

What does the future hold for Def Wish Cast?
More releases, more shows, more collabs, more Def Wish Cast… You better get used to seeing our faces, because we’re not going anywhere!

What’s your definition of Grindin’?
Grindin’ is the art of hustling and working non-stop. Putting everything you have into making productive moves for yourself, your team, your fam, etc. Might be grindin’ to put food on the table, excel at an artform, whatever. It’s putting in hard work!!!

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