LOCAL (SYD CITY) CREW HYJAK N TORCHA TELL RIP NICHOLSON A CATCHCRY OF ‘NO REGRETS’ HAS FUELLED THEIR FIRST ALBUM RELEASE IN FIVE YEARS.
TORCHA interviewed @ 10.30 AEST – Tuesday 28th July, 2009
For Street Press Australia & Rip2Shredz Press
Words by RIP NICHOLSON
It was a smouldering return to the mic for the blues of NSW hip-hop, after a fire burnt down their recording equipment. Hyjak N Torcha started over, developing the sounds of Sydney’s outer suburbs and remaining a constant on the radar despite a five year hiatus since dropping Drastik Measures. Absence has lit a raging fire in their bellies over the past year, and now the pair are back, hungry and climbing to new heights with a new album. Booking out shows across the nation’s big cities revolving around their latest album drop, Hyjak N Torcha areUnregrettable in album name and approach to the 2009 season.
If Hyjak N Torcha haven’t been heard for a minute, Torcha and Hyjak have individually kept their name hot, working the clock for time to forge and develop their own paths. Both MCs have been in and out of the studio with the biggest brands in our scene. Hyjak dropped some mean verses for both Bliss N Eso, Hilltop Hoods while dropping the Shady Charactersmixtape just recently. Both came together for Pegs’ Axis album and had each other’s back on ‘A Night with Chopper’, the video of which became an award-winning film piece at the BelowGround Music Video Fest Awards.
Torcha has been developing like Frankenstein’s monster the Broken Silence project. A monstrosity of heavy rock with Torcha on the lyrical assault has woven into a well-knit audio with the ebb and flow of emotion not harnessed in our hip-hop scene. Stitching his thick skin of hip-hop vocal angst around the nuts and bolts of rock music to the not-unlike sound of an Ice-T’s Body Count concept gives Torcha a therapeutic outlet that he can’t find with a Hyjak N Torcha record.
“Doing Broken Silence was a whole other channel for me, especially after doing hip-hop for so long,” Torcha stresses, “I just did it with a couple of mates of mine, one plays bass, one plays drums, one plays keys… We just got together and tried it out. So we made one song and it worked out really well so we ended up making an album. We’ve got Ozi Batla from The Herd, Tim Friedman from the Whitlams and a guy from the States, Patriach and DJ Skizo. It still hasn’t been released yet, it should have come out a year ago. We’re just trying to get the work to the right label deal,” he admits with an air of frustration.
Contract deals and red tape are fought on thin ice during the journey of making an album and projects are often met with sinking ambition. At other times it can be just one hit record from a long player that give the project steady ground to barter on.
“It’s a project that’s done, we’re working on the next one already. We just took our time (shopping for a record deal.) We ended up getting a song out on the Whitlams Greatest Hits album. Weird move for them, and for us” he quips. “The Whitlams performed sold out shows in the opera houses across Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide and I got on for the one song with a 90-piece orchestra.”
Torcha paints a vivid picture of hip-hop in the world famous Opera House sitting on Sydney’s postcard harbour, and how the environment handled the new creative energy.
“You’re walking into a crowd of 5,000 people sitting in seats. Strange compared to your usual hip hop gig – It was fully mellow, but when the song came on with the whole orchestra it was…” he struggles to find the appropriate superlatives to fit the experience. “The sound was electric. That was crazy, we got full standing ovations, just for that song. It was a whole different feel than a normal hip hop show.”
Both home-grown heroes from the backwashed suburbs of Sydney, battle MC Hyjak and Torcha (from western suburb rap outfit Eth-nik Tribe) made their break in 2000. And after being featured on a Culture Of Kings volume their début Drastik Measures filled shelves in 2004 through Obese Records. The album harboured the steel-wheel sounds of DJ Bones, but in ’09 Unregrettable housed Gold Coast-based producer Mules and guest producers Jetlag and Jase.
“We met up with Mules and liked his sound so we decided to stick to him producing most of the album. We stuck to the one main guy because it was easier to get a whole bunch of beats from the one person which also brought about cohesion in the album.”
The change in composition served to widen the gap to that of their debut drop. Hyjak & Torcha, however, developed a new energy with Mules and managed to keep costs down on studio time and production.
“We did it [the recording] at five mates’ places so the whole thing cost us like $500 – it was all favours and friends. So we didn’t spend much money on this one which was good. We had to keep money for other problems anyway.”
“Our main song ‘No Regrets’ is an introspective look at our past, what we’ve done and what we’d like to change. But at the end of the day you don’t really regret any of that stuff. It’s all learning curves.”
The lead single was also a favourite for Hyjak N Torcha mainly due to collaborating with MURS (Making Underground Raw Shit) from Los Angeles, a connection made from a long standing tour support over the years.
“I think ‘No Regrets’ was a good song because we did it with our good friend MURS who we toured with a bit, around Australia. Like five to ten years ago we toured with him and recently we hit him up in Sydney. We had one track left, and we asked him if he wanted to jump on it, he said yeah cool. That was a cool track, we did a video with him that we filmed over in L.A.”
The album’s concept was derived from the thoughts behind ‘No Regrets’. “Our main song ‘No Regrets’ is an introspective look at our past, what we’ve done and what we’d like to change. But at the end of the day you don’t really regret any of that stuff. It’s all learning curves.”
After preparing the new Unregrettable LP, Hyjak N Torcha are well and truly ready for a return to the stage where every rapper feels at home.
“With live energy, you cant really beat a live show with a good crowd – There’s nothing really better in the whole word.”