EASTMODE is a collective of four Brisbane-based hip hop artists, and they are launching their EP ‘Origins’ with a music video. Art evolves over time and these seasoned rappers have come together to make music to please themselves rather than chase a trend.
The Eastmode musicians all have Asian roots, from the Solomon Islands, Vietnam, the Philippines. “What we want to do with this project is make music that represents our origins and is something we’re proud of,” said Swilo (@swilo), who is Swiss/ Filipino.
We’re all at a similar point in our music journey. We’ve done it for a long time, lost it a little bit – lost the juice I call it – and are bringing it together. This is about MAKING music again, unapologetically, and falling in love with it again.Swilo, rapper/musician
So good to write about The Fam again. Akira took all the BTS (behind the scenes) photos except the ones of her which are from my phone. She gave me these of the artists, and somehow got me in every shot. Crazy.
Videographer and rapper David Deggs Fischer (@day_know) organised the shoot. David is Thai/German and grew up in the Solomon Islands. He said, “I think hip hop has changed a lot from what it was, in it’s gangster era. There’s a lot more conscious hip hop now.
It’s still competitive in that you’re trying to make good music, but not so much like you’ve got to tear down the other person. Although there’s always going to be an element of that, it’s just the nature of the music. It’s almost like a competitive sport, as music genres go.”
Rapper Chong Ali (@chong_ali) affirmed that. “Each track is different. Sometimes we’ll have a concept that we might follow, but sometimes it’s like, ‘Well let’s rap for the sake of rapping.’ Then it’s a technical approach to out-rap each other. Which is really cool, because they’re all really good rappers so it’s quite competitive.”
Chong said the EP was produced by Luis Jackson. “Luis hit me up on Instagram. He sent me some beats and that’s what you’re hearing right now. We’re all going in the same direction and gravitated to the one lane.”
Luis Jackson (@mayhemandconquer) said the EP has a lot of Asian undertones. “The samples are representing us as Asian, and we are all established rap artists. Dave is a rapper, and he’s the visual guy. I’m the audio guy. I’ve been making and selling beats for a long time now. I was born in the Phillipines and raised here in Brisbane. I realised Chong was from Brisbane, and I made him a pack of beats. I didn’t realise that Chong was friends with Swilo. Then I found out that Swilo lived with David. So it worked out just like that.”
Swilo said, “The music industry is like: Push the music to radio. They have a kind of template, and we are not necessarily that. We get along so well but we also are very competitive. In this smaller subset it’s powerful that our group can collectively push ourselves. I’m not worried about what anyone else is doing – we do this for ourselves. Wanting to do the best possible product on our own.”
“Our EP is six tracks,” Swilo continued. “Chong and myself start with an idea, and we pass it to the group and see if we can put something together, verses and chorus to make it cohesive. Chong and I started with the older nineties-style music. Then I joined a group which did a lot of funk and R&B. That’s where I learned how to sing. Modern hip-hop sounds a lot more electronic, the drums and bass are heavier. We all bring something different to the music.”
Akira Le (@le_akira) said David wanted some behind the scenes footage, and she had her Nikon D800 with Nikon 200-800mm f2.8 lens.
“I brought my Fujifilm XT20 with the 18-55mm Fuji lens to film on a tripod. My Fuji Film shoots really nice video and it hardly needs any editing, so I’ve got it ready now for when the car comes in. The photos are all in the white space, It’s a clean studio look, all about the guys and the music. I think that’s what David had in mind.”
The car was very flash! I asked David about it. He laughed. “The car thing and music videos is such a trope! It just looks cool! But what I want to do is, at the end of this song, there’s going to be a scene of us in the car. Then it’s going to cut to black. I’m going to light up the inside of the car so it’s all red. All you will see is the inside of the car, and that will be the prelude to the next track that we’re going to release, which is grittier.”
Bao Pham, who is an esports entrepreneur, brought the car. He said, “It’s a Bentley Continental Supersports. There are 710 in the world.” The car belongs to a restauranteur. (That’s it about the car, folks. Sorry.) But Bao is a really interesting guy! He owns an esports organisation and has multiple gaming teams under his banner Team Bliss! I’m going to write more about him for sure!
Musician Karl Smith (@thelyrical) was helping out, and knows David from the Solomon Islands.
“I’ve known David since I was four years old. We were in the Solomon Islands when we were really little. Later my family were still in the Solomons and sent me to boarding school here, and I would stay with David’s family in the holidays. We help each other out a lot so I’m just here to hold a camera.”
Karl is a professional musician. “I write and play. I play reggae roots. David and I have been such close friends for so long but our music’s quite different. Mine’s more acoustic guitar, conga drums and a very Islander sound, with a hip-hoppy twist to old blues songs, like Ray Charles, and Bob Marley, reggae stuff. I love that bluesy style and I’m working on a country album. It’s the first time I’ve dabbled with country. The album’s going to be called ‘My Country My Blues’, because I figure country music is singing about the country, but my country doesn’t have big, open fields and cows. I’m from the small islands, so this is my version of it – country and blues. I’m doing a double entendre calling it ‘My Country My Blues’. The songs are structured differently to what I normally do. So no hip-hop. Just storytelling, slow lyrics, guitar, harmonica.”
Well Karl! I want to write the first review. Got that? More to come when the video drops (as these guys say). I can see there will be a few more stories off this one… A great day, thank you EASTMODE and crew. ❤️