HIS LABEL BOSS CALLS HIS NEW EP INDIE DANCE RAP. JOELISTICS, HOWEVER, CALLS IT MUSIC. HE TALKS TO RIP NICHOLSON ABOUT THE DRAMATIC REINTERPRETATIONS OF HIS SONGS.
JOELISTICS interviewed @ 19.00 AEST – 23rd February, 2012
For Street Press Australia & Rip2Shredz Press
Words by RIP NICHOLSON
Last May, TZU MC Joel Ma (otherwise known as Joelistics) dropped The Voyager, a globe-trekking word for the wise conceived and written whilst riding the Trans-Mongolian Railway and living in the confines of a cold Paris winter. Here, Ma cogitated over his travels and wrote of the cultural awakenings life away has fed him. Since his last national tour, Ma has been residing in Berlin, Germany. “Travel is in the blood, I don’t know any different,” admits Ma, born to a Chinese-Australian father and an Anglo-Australian mother, who raps of growing up feeling disconnected from his own culture, almost on the cusp of foreign on his own soil. “I think travel is a good antidote to ignorance and I recommend it for everyone.
I love travel and I was brought up a traveler. My parents broke up when I was two, so when I was growing up in Sydney I used to spend two weeks with my dad, then two weeks with my mum, I did that until I was seventeen. I used to pack my bags every two weeks and shift house. I was born in Malaysia and spent a year growing up in Singapore. I’ve lived in Shanghai, Paris, Berlin and Tasmania.”
Most recently Ma has released The Shining EP, remixing six of The Voyager’s best picks, plus a new original record. “It’s a collaborative affair. The remix artists are all friends or associates. There’s Damn Moroda and Count Bounce which includes two lots of TZU members; Monkey Marc from Combat Wombat who I played a few shows with in Germany and Amsterdam last year. Rufus, who are a really exciting electronic three-piece from Sydney; Ishu, a producer from Melbourne who I worked with on the last tour and Dustin Maclean who helped me record a lot of the vocals on Voyager. All the producers killed it. No question.
“Travel is in the blood, I don’t know any different,” admits Ma. “I think travel is a good anecdote to ignorance and I recommend it for everyone.”
“With The Shining EP, I really wanted to head more in a dance music direction,” Ma explains his reworking of Voyager tracks. “Urthboy, who is the Elefant Traks label manager, called it ‘indie dance rap’; I call it music. Over the course of the last year I’ve been really inspired by some of the more aggressive electronic sounds coming out of Berlin. I didn’t want a bunch of wub wub dubstep remixes; I didn’t want anything too straight and defined. I wanted some dramatic reinterpretations of my original songs using experimental ideas drawn from cutting-edge electronic music.”
The EP’s title track sparks a dancefloor spasm and in rhyme provides some levity to the track-listing that centres so much on Voyager ’s educating of society’s politically-ignorant. The inspiration for The Shining came from this years New Year’s Eve. It was the first year in a long time that I wasn’t playing a gig and I went out and got very high and had an extremely good time. I don’t condone it, I don’t do it often, but I wanted to write about it.”
Australia’s most uprooted MC, Joel Ma heads back overseas in June to resume his European dalliance with German garage hip hop band Der Fall Böse, before he plants both feet down for the new TZU album later in 2012. “This will be the last tour I do for The Voyager material before I head back to the TZU fold, so I’m putting a lot in to the show. We’ll be playing some of the more esoteric tracks off the record and generally enjoying the shit out of it all. It’s going to be special.”