TIRREN STAAF DROPS IN ON RIP NICHOLSON TO TALK ABOUT COMING OUT OF SOLO MOC RETIREMENT TO CREATE HIS FOURTH PEGZ LP, JOINING GULLY PLATOON, AND CELEBRATING TEN YEARS OF RELEASES ON HIS ICONIC OBESE RECORDS LABEL.
PEGZ interviewed @ 14.30 AEST – 2nd September, 2010
For Street Press Australia & Rip2Shredz Press
Words by RIP NICHOLSON
Tirren Staaf wears many hats inside Aussie hip hop – as the rapper Pegz he is verging on his fourth LP, and Gully Platoon’s 2009 album still smoulders behind us. These days Staaf is taken seriously as a captain of industry keeping very busy at the helm of Obese Records, Australia’s leading independent hip hop recording house.
Coming at a time when Australia wasn’t taking its hip hop scene very seriously, Staaf found the only option to be heard was to build your own industry. He transformed a small record store in Prahran into the almighty Obese Records that released Reason’s début album Solidin 2000, the cleverly constructed Culture Of Kings trilogy and Obesecity, placing a platter of too-legit rappers right into the bedrooms of local hip hop’s young and ruthlessly devoted few for the ﬁrst time. Obese Legends Bias B and Pegz released their 2003 debut albums and Hilltop Hoods dropped Australia’s first gold with The Calling.
Muph & Plutonic, Bliss N Eso, Downsyde and Funkoars have all at some point called Obese home and held down top dog status across the nation before moving onwards and upwards. Obese Records has a heaving roster, enough to pitch their own small festival and beyond. For 2010 and on, Staaf would be content for his label to hit a century.
“I’ve always had the object I’ve of releasing good music and I never thought about how long it’s gonna last. I’ve always thought that if I reached 100 records that would be a huge accomplishment for us. But I’m enjoying the moment, taking a look back on ten years of a fairly product I’ve and pleasing period,” a pleased Staaf states as he rolls off a current count of over 75 records stamped by Obese. And when he does reach 100, he contemplates his next move. “Not sure, maybe a holiday.”
In the meantime, it’s all business. “When I’m in the office I’m playing the boss role. I don’t try to get tangled up with artist sort of stuff. I wear both hats at certain times but usually when I’m in the office it’s Pegz the director more so that Pegz the artist,” Staaf admits. And when he dons the rap cap, he becomes the boss who can see the deal from both sides of the contract.
“I think the success to Obese Records is me being able to communicate. The majority of artists are on a level that I’ve been through,” Staaf explains. “I’ve experienced the ups and the downs and I think they appreciate that and there’s a special kind of perspective you can add to your role. It’s definitely been part of the success of Obese Records, having peace of mind where artists can talk to their label boss where he feels and can understand what they’re trying to say and create with their music.
“When we’re on stage and on tour and any other time that we’re not in business, I’m Pegz the artist and Pegz the friend who can tolerate beers being poured over his head on stage,” Staaf laughs in reference to an infamous incident at last year’s Carjack Tour at Brisbane’s (then) The Arena. “Obviously there’s enough friendship there were the artists can get away with that sorta thing.”
After 2007’s Burn City, Staaf declared it would be his last record as a solo MC, venturing out of his comfort zone with the newly formed Gully Platoon with Dialectrix and Joe New to create The Great Divide.
“I’ve never ever sat down and nutted out ideas and concept and written with anybody for a whole project like that,”he recalls. “It was amazing. I’ve got a ton of memories sitting around in my lounge room for weeks with Dialectrix, pretty much getting extremely messy and battling each other away line for line. It really breaks away from the solidarity process of being a solo artist and [is] really, really rewarding – you know, to have instant response to your lyrics and just be able to share those ideas.”
Out of retirement and back to being the solo MC, the Capricorn cat has passed the halfway point on his fourth LP and explains his new-found enthusiasm in writing. “I know I mentioned to all my fans that I wouldn’t release another solo project, but the way that things panned out in the last few years hadn’t been how I’ve planned to happen and it’s thrown a few curve-balls which has revamped a whole new passion for music within myself.
“I’m probably about 60 percent through the new solo record. It looks like it was gonna be an EP and it was supposed to be due out September but it’s due to me just being extremely passionate and hungry to be writing again,” he continues. “It started in January and I’m nine months deep now and I’m putting less pressure on myself because I’m really enjoying the process of writing this record. I’m just getting into a really good spot at the moment and feeling passionate about the culture and contributing something to it.
Celebrating his label’s contribution to our local dialect, Staaf declares this latest Block Party will showcase more to the culture than just rap. “It’s a celebration of how many years in terms of the culture as well and what we’ve contributed to it and we will try to incorporate some graffiti artists and a breaking showcase. We’re just trying to mix it up and show a few more aspects to the culture and I think it will be a very special show.”