INTERVIEW: Meet one of our writers, SURAJ
Every so often at Isolated Nation, we seek to appreciate the multi-faceted identities of our writers and contributors who make our platform what it is.
First in line in this interview series is one of our contributors, Joel Raja. By day, Joel is a student at WAAPA and avid music fan. By night, he’s SURAJ — a high-energy performing hip hop artist, rapper and multi-instrumentalist. As one of the burgeoning acts of the Perth hip hop scene, he took the time to chat to us about the health of hip hop and his upcoming plans.
There’s no doubt that Perth’s music scene has been well and thriving lately. In what ways have you noticed this shift as a musician?
I’ve noticed hip hop is coming up on the rise. While there’s been some sort of shift, I’m mostly working towards trying to centralise the hip hop scene by getting involved with YMCA HQ. I feel a much greater sense of community there. I’d love to see a greater diversity in hip hop in Perth; we are in desperate need of more women to get involved, and I would love to see LGBT individuals taking the jump towards hip hop as well.
What have you found has helped when trying to branch out and be more involved in the community?
People want to show support when you show support. That’s something I’ve learnt, and it’s so core to support the fellow individuals in your scene. But due to the fractured state of the hip hop scene in Perth, it pains me to see people who might dislike each other within the scene for aesthetic or sonic reasons. Hip hop can be extremely diverse and we need to reinforce that.
On that note, do you prefer writing music solo or collaborating with other artists?
Ooh, that’s a tough one… It really depends on what the outcome is or even what the intent is. If I come to another artist with an idea I’m passionate about, I know I’m gonna love it. However, if the other person or even myself offers lacklustre ideas or even just something along the lines of ‘Hey man, you got any beats?’, then I wouldn’t be feeling it ‘cause it’d be so passive that it wouldn’t even be a collaboration anymore.
Will your soon-to-launch EP follow a similar vein?
It is in fact a collaboration between myself and DJ/producer yangda, who is absolutely phenomenal at what he does. The process for each track was basically me coming with a page full of separate hooks to combine with some of his beats. He would play a beat he was working on, I’d read the hook over the beat and then, we just felt something.
What would you say is your favourite part of the production process?
Probably when it’s in a rough draft and I can sort of see the vision of how it’s all meant to be. That vision is really exciting, like seeing something disastrously funny about to happen. That’s always exciting.
They say 2019 has been a hectic year for new music. Which new releases have been on rotation for you?
To be honest, not much, apart from local artists like Tobias and his track ‘Slayed’ which features 6ixpence Soko as well as ‘Obsession’ by 506. More recently, American artist Junglepussy and her track I’’m in Love’ has been a major earworm. I find it’s getting really hard for me to jump on something new these days, I always keep a keen ear out but things that sound genuine and unique tends to catch me out. That new Flume though!
You must be pretty excited to be featured on RTRFM soon. What can we expect?
Some extra people that aren’t yangda and myself, lots of energy, lots of discussion and that GUILLOTINE!
Name your top 3 live venues — either ones you have attended or played at.
The Good Shepherd, Sewing Room, and the Rosemount, where I performed and attended all three!
Apart from yourself, are there any other local up-and-coming artists that you want to give love to?
Figuero Jones, 506, Tobias, Hyclass, 6ixpence Soko, Princess Khanya, Bella Marslen, King Mantis… Honestly, the list could go on and on!