Self-proclaimed Senator Briggs is a person with something to say. From penning protest anthems to delivering discussion-sparking segments on The Weekly, the Victorian rapper has emerged from the Australian hip hop community as a powerful voice. Yet while the January 26 author’s subject matter doesn’t lack in seriousness, he’s still all too familiar with having a laugh, with his extensive endeavours in comedy writing brought to the forefront in recent years. CALOGERO ALGERI spoke with the ARIA award-winning half of duo A.B. Original ahead of his Bad Apples House Party show, which kicks off the music calendar for Perth Festival this Friday Night, February 7, at the all new Chevron Lighthouse.
How’s it all going man?
I’m alright man, just in the studio.
Nice, nice. Always working?
Ah, man it never stops. Gotta work… if I stop working I might die (laughs).
Just looking back to last week it was obviously January 26 – a date that marks a day of sadness and suffering for so many Australians. You’ve clearly been a huge advocate for changing how we view that date. How did you spend your January 26 and how have you seen momentum build for change in recent years?
I was working man [laughs]. The day itself, I try not to give it too much credence. It really doesn’t mean anything to me. If I wasn’t working I would have been at a march or connecting with community… just being with the mob. But I was neck deep in the script. I was checking out the marches all around the country and it was super dope. People are making their voices heard.
Definitely. A.B. Original and that song were obviously such a catalyst for change, so to see the progress down the track is really cool.
Yeah. I think it’s kind of like… our job was to deliver a soundtrack. You know what I mean? For that day. And now our presence is there on every march across the cities. I’ve seen videos of people jamming our stuff [at the marches]. It’s cool to be the voice of people’s rallies and protests. That was the whole point of that track. That’s dope.
Amazing. I think using your music to promote something meaningful is what makes people truly connect, so it only makes sense that the song connected and yourself with A.B. Original have seen the success you have…
Yeah, well it just resonates. It was the truth. Dress it up or dress it down, that’s just how we felt… and people were feeling it. They responded to it.
In recent years you’ve been able to utilise your platform in a broader way working with Apple Music and Beats 1 Radio with The New Australia playlist. How important is it for you to give back and help support the young Aussie music scene?
Apple and Beats 1 have been really cool to me and reached out to me to host. I like the new [songs] that come through. I don’t get to check everything but it’s always good to host the show every month, go through the playlist and see what’s happening. Everyone’s real active about getting their song on the playlist so it’s a real cool outlet. It’s just dope to be a part of something that grows the theme and grows the industry. Like there’s so many more outlets than what we had when we were coming up.
Yeah, and it sort of feels like The New Australia playlist feels like it’s coming from somewhere real, rather than these other large playlists that are made by people in the sky…
Yeah. There’s dudes on there with millions of streams and dudes on there in the low thousands. There’s a good cross-representation of stuff that’s happening. It’s not all about “Who’s the hottest artist?” or “Who’s getting pushed?”. It’s a very organic list and there are people listening to these tracks that get sent through.
I think that’s one of the awesome features of the playlist. But moving away from the music, people may not know that you’re heavily involved in comedy writing, working on Matt Groening’s Netflix series Disenchantment and the ABC’s Black Comedy. How did this all come about?
I’m just a consumer of comedy and entertainment in general. I was always a big consumer of stand up, sketch shows and The Simpsons obviously. I started out at Black Comedy, where I got to learn all the fundamentals of script-writing. I learnt the technique of script-writing starting with a blank sheet of paper and learnt how to put it together… how to format and what not, that’s the boring part.
But it was always just something I liked doing. Even when I started writing my own video clip treatments when I first started out 15 years ago or whatever. It was always there for me to learn. I always wanted to do that. It was something that I’d always wanted to do, in my own time. I just had to put it all together and make it happen.
It’s great that you’re venturing into other paths that you want to go into. A lot of artists can feel boxed into just their craft…
Oh for sure. And that’s the thing – if you’re into other stuff, it’s all art. It’s all creative. It’s not just about being a writer or being on TV… if you’re into painting, paint. If you’re into photography, go get a camera. Just spend your time on these hobbies that enrich your life… they’ll often help your creativity elsewhere.
Big time. I was chatting with Nelson [Mondlane] from SUPEREGO the other day, and he was discussing how his visual art and musical art feed into each other and help the creative process for each…
Yeah. If you have a different creative process, to be able to have another outlet, it frees up your brain in other parts of the creative process. And also, you can visualise things differently. So if you’re a visual artist, you might see the package art or the video art for the song – or vice versa. There’s a lot of different mechanisms that go into creating something, and if you can understand different aspects of that process, it helps you explain yourself to people within the industry and within that world. It’s all a positive.
When I was a kid, the creative side in academics wasn’t really celebrated or given the kind of credence it should have. It must have switched a little now because I’m seeing so many creative kids that have got their own things to push. They’ve all got their own ideas and styles, and they’re all growing. And it moves so fast… the better you are at keeping up with that, everything feeds into everything else in that creative sense.
Circling around to Perth Festival, people are looking forward to a pretty huge Briggs House Party on Friday night. The show has already got rave reviews from interstate, but what can we expect?
Aw man, it’s just always a buzz. I love coming to Perth, even though that flight’s a pain. [Laughs] It’s always worth it.
It’s a killer hey…
Aw bro, it just hurts. It’s long enough to be annoying.
It could be a different country…
Yeah for real. It’s always dope though. We’ve got the band together for this one as well. We’re gonna be cooking it up and getting down to business real quick.
Being on the east coast we don’t get over to Perth as much as we’d like to, so we try to make it worthwhile. Every time we get out there it’s so much fun. Especially these [House Party] shows, which always have a different kind of vibe to them. It’s always a bit more live, a bit more fun, and less structured. I really want to bring that house party vibe. We just come through and enjoy it. Like we don’t get out there often, so when we do… let’s wreck a house.
As well as yourself and other big names, Perth Festival also highlights some of the city’s best emerging talent including Jamilla, Mali Jo$e and Adrian Dzvuke. Do you have any favourites coming out of Perth at the moment?
My homeboy Shadow. That’s my dude. The kid’s dope and he’s good fun. Perth has never been short of talent. I guess that just because of that isolation. You guys are just incubating that talent to make it fly around the country and get it done [laughs].
Perth Festival really came through with presenting some up and comers to us as well to put on the show, and that’s part of the house party vibe – making sure the people from the area doing it are getting in and are able to perform and do what they do as well. It’s part of that inclusive vibe with these house parties. But yeah, Shadow’s my ace, that’s the dude. Also Complete, he’s a good kid.
They’ve both been killing it. I saw Shadow support Brockhampton a couple of weeks back…
Yeah leaps and bounds. He’s getting it in.