Melbourne artist REMI and musical collaborator Sensible J are one of the fastest-rising Hip Hop acts in Australia and are quickly gaining the attention of international tastemakers. REMI’s new album “Divas & Demons” is out now on their imprint, House of Beige with the 16 track sophomore LP featuring Sampa The Great, Jordan Rakei and more. Ahead of their next national tour starting in November, Grindin’ chatted to both REMI and Sensible J about the new album, the recording process this time around and a bit more.

What are your first memories of music?
REMI: Definitely Michael Jackson’s “Off The Wall” in the house dancing round like crazy with my little brother.

Justin: When I was 4, I got given “Queen Greatest Hits” record from my godparents, “Another Bites The Dust” was my JAM! and George Benson’s “Breezin” too. Harvey Mason on the drums was my favourite.

Who were your influences coming up?
REMI: When I started taking rap seriously ie. when I met J it was hard out Outkast “Aquemini”, Slum Village “Fantastic Vol.1 and 2”, Common “Like Water For Chocolate” and Kanye’s “College Drop Out”.

Justin: As a teenager, Bomb Squad, LL Cool J, Redman and Diamond D were my favourites. As an “adult”, and whole the Soulquarian vibe, Flying Lotus, Radiohead, and any records with interesting sounds that gives the brain a lil jumpstart!

How did Remi and Sensible J meet and when did you first decide to start working together?
I first met J through his lovely lady Jelena who was my boss at the retail job I was working at the time. We’d met in passing across the years, but it wasn’t until I started rapping about 2 years in to my job that we became really aware of each others abilities. Jelena played me J’s beats and it was love at first listen. I invited them round for dinner and then I hustled J to make music and the rest is recent history.

What do you think made REMI first stand out from the rest of the artists in the Melbourne Hip Hop scene?
That I can’t say my friend, we have always just focused on the music and not on whether we stand out or not, so I’m hoping it was the music. As long as we like each others performance then the shit gets released, it’s never a question of how we look up against other people.

When did you realise you could make music as a career?
REMI: The day I started rapping, cause that’s all I knew I could do, and it was either that or working retail for the rest of my days.

Justin: When the amount of gigs and things we were doing, started to overtake my time at my day-job, and I had used up all my Long Service Leave and Annual Leave! We been super fortunate to turn it into a career for the time being.

The new album “Divas & Demons” has just dropped to critical acclaim what do you want the listener to take away from it?
We want them to leave with their own interpretation, because thats how we approach all the music we listen to. With as little pre conceived notion as possible. We also hope they listen to the whole thing as a complete album, which we know is a lot for the current life and times we live in, but we have always enjoyed and strived to be artists that make complete projects.

After all the success and accolades that you received previously did you feel any extra pressure in the making of “Divas & Demons”?
We’re actually very lucky that we’ve only ever been celebrated for doing the music truest to ourselves, so we just release the music thats inside us, and then it’s on the people to decide whether they will ride with it or not.

Did you approach making “Divas & Demons” any differently to your debut album “Raw x Infinity”?
It was definitely different. We wanted to make a more sonically cohesive sounding album, and indirectly we ended up making a much more personal album then intended. We also included a lot more featured musicians on both the musical and the vocal side of things. Also it took us a lot longer to write this record then most any other project we’ve released. Raw x Infinity was 3 months of music, DnD was 2 years.

What is your favourite track off the album and why?
REMI: The whole thing, just cause.

Justin: Can’t pick a favourite child lol. I must say, I’m really proud of Rem for being so honest with his lyrics on this one, as that is often frowned upon in Hip Hop (to be vulnerable)

You are starting your album launch tour soon. What do you most like / dislike about being on the road and what can people expect from a Remi live show?
We love the people the most, and we dis like the inability to make music the most. We’re gonna fix that though someway some how. The people can expect the funk mixed with a little bit of pensive thought from our upcoming show….also a pink drum kit.

You now have your own label House Of Beige what is the meaning behind the name and what was your aim in setting it up?
Justin: My house and studio/spare bedroom is Beige. hehe. We real simple with the name! The aim is to just try and put out our friends music. Help give em a lil platform to be heard.

What do you look for in an artist to sign them to HOB?
Originality and that they are in our circle of friends. At least for the time being. As long as they being true to themselves, then that is success right there!

How would you describe the House Of Beige sound?
Whatever we feel, which sounds kinda blunt, but its true! There’s no real specific sonic sound, just so long as it moves you, either physically or mentally.

What 5 tracks/albums have influenced Remi and Sensible J?
Common – “Like Water For Chocolate”, D’Angelo – “Voodoo”, The Roots – “Things Fall Apart”, Radiohead – “In Rainbows”, Fela – all.

What one thing does Hip Hop in Australia need right now?
Sampa The Great

What one artist would you most like to hear over a Sensible J beat and what one producer would you most like to work with Remi?
Sensible J: I’d love to hear Oddisee on one of my beats!

REMI: Questlove.

What’s the best piece of advice ever given to you?
REMI: From My Dad (I probably gonna butcher this) But he said – “If you throw a stone into a market place, you will more than likely hit a member of your family”.

What does the future hold for Remi and House Of Beige?
REMI: Only Sensible J knows

Sensible J: For House of Beige, Hopefully our own section at Northside Records on Gertrude Street Collingwood. Rem and myself are gonna keep making music true to ourselves. I’m happy if I make a beat and it gets a reaction from Rem!

What’s your definition of Grindin’?
From ghetto to ghetto, to backyard to yard
I sell it whip on whip, it’s off the hard
I’m the neighborhood Pusha
Call me sub woofer, ’cause I pump bass like that, Jack
On or off the track, I’m heavy ’cause
Ball ’til you fall ’cause you could duck to the fetti govs
Sorry my love, what I’m seeing through these eyes
Benz convoys with the wagon on the side
Only big boys keep deuces on the ride
Gucci Chuck Taylor with the dragon on the side
Man, I make a buck, why scram?
I’m trying to show y’all who the fuck I am
The jewels is flirting me, damned if I’m hurting
Legend in two games like I’m Pee Wee Kirkland
Platinum on the block with consistent hits
While Pharrell keep talking this music shit

Grindin’! (Ah)
Grindin’! (Ah)
Grindin’! (Ah)
Grindin’! (Ah)
Grindin’! (Ah)

Patty cake, patty cake, I’m the baker’s man
I bake them cakes as fast as I can
And you can tell by how my bread stack up
And disguised in this rap so the Feds back up
Watch it, like my whip, like my chick, topless
Doing a buck-six with me in the cockpit
Grindin’ cousin, I got hoes for a dozen
Even Eleven-5, if I see ya keep it comin’
And my weight, that’s just as heavy as my name
So much dough, I can’t swear I won’t change
Excuse me if my wealth got me full of myself
Cocky, something that I just can’t help
‘Specially when them 20’s is spinning like windmills
And the ice 32 below minus the wind chill
Filthy, the word that best defines me
I’m just grinding man, y’all never mind me

Grindin’! (Ah)
Grindin’! (Ah)
Grindin’! (Ah)
Grindin’! (Ah)
Grindin’! (Ah)

Grindin’ (Whooof), when you know what I keep in a linin’ (Whooof)
Niggas better stay in line, when (Whooof)
When you see a nigga like me shinin’ (Grinding!)

Niggas better stay in line, when (Whooof)
When you see a nigga like me shinin’ (Grinding!)

My grind’s ’bout family, never been about fame
From days I wasn’t able there was always ‘caine
Four and a half will get you in the game
Anything less is just a goddamn shame
Guess the weight, my watch got blue chips in the face
Glock with two tips, whoever gets in the way
Not to mention the hideaway that rests by the lake
Consider my raw demeanor the icing on the cake, I’m Grinding

I move ‘caine like a cripple
Balance weight through the hood
Kids call me Mr. Sniffles, other hand on my nickel
Plated whistle, one eye closed I’ll hit you
As if I was Slick Rick my aim is still an issue
Lose your soul in whichever palm I’m holdin’
One’ll leave you frozen, the other, noddin’ and dozin’, I’m grindin’ Jack

Grindin’! (Ah)
Grindin’! (Ah)
Grindin’! (Ah)
Grindin’! (Ah)
Grindin’! (Ah)

Grindin’ (Whooof), when you know what I keep in a linin’ (Whooof)
Niggas better stay in line, when (Whooof)
When you see a nigga like me shinin’ (Grinding!)

Grindin’ (Whooof), when you know what I keep in a linin’ (Whooof)
Niggas better stay in line, when (Whooof)
When you see a nigga like me shinin’ (Grinding!)

Interview by Duggs.

Friday 18th November – Karova Lounge, Ballarat
Friday 25th November – Railway Club, Darwin
Saturday 26th November – Rocket Bar, Adelaide
Wednesday 30th November – Transit Bar, Canberra
Friday 2nd December – Newtown Social Club, Sydney
Friday 9th December – Black Bear Lodge, Brisbane
Saturday 10th December – Republic Bar, Hobart
Saturday 17th December – Howler, Melbourne