One half of Melbourne rap duo Diafrix, Khaled “Azmarino” Abdulwahad raps reflective on surviving the early days.
DIAFRIX interviewed April 11, 2016
For Street Press Australia [VIEW HERE]
Images by Michelle Grace Hunder
“I’m a sucker for that. I’m always lurking backstage looking for the fresh blood, like ‘who need some advice?'” says Abdulwahad on passing on the lessons he has learned in the music industry thus far. “Especially from the African traditions that [he and Momo (aka Mohamed Komba)] come from, from the teachings of our elders and passed on through generations and, for me, that’s so important because we have made so many mistakes that we wish someone would have warned us. And, sometimes they are very simple things that can make or break a career so when I see some people, especially if they are not arrogant and they are really willing to listen, I will always spend as much time as possible to actually answer any question.”
Komba was born in the Comoros Islands (situated off the south-east coast of Africa between Mozambique and Madagascar) and Abdulwahad Eritrea (East Africa, bordered between Sudan and Ethiopia) but the Diafrix duo comes from Footscray, Melbourne, co-signed into the scene by TZU’s Joelistics. Their banger Running It (off 2012’s second LP Pocket Full Of Dreams) became the Western Bulldogs’ theme song for the 2013 season. Despite the pair’s refugees-to-rappers journey being as coloured as it seems, Diafrix’s recording career reflects two MCs stepping through a scene with the usual trials and tribulations of any indie battlers.
“I’m always lurking backstage looking for the fresh blood, like ‘who need some advice?'”
“When we first start like back in the early 2000s there was not much hip hop around, so as a start-up band we used to blend in with the different genres so we could get more support slots for acts,” Abdulwahad reflects. “So we used to go to like drum ‘n’ bass warehouse parties and drop four or five tracks of those type of styles and then we’d go to a dancehall night, reggae night and Momo would put out a more reggae vibe to our music and then we’d do some more hardcore hip hop nights. Back in the early days that’s what we had to do to survive and that’s why we kept that vibe today.
“It took us ten years to do this and maybe with our advice it might take you five, you know?” suggests Abdulwahad. “Not only as musicians, but as human beings — that’s what we should always strive for because sometimes we forget about the younger generation. We always need to pass on our stories, our experience and our journey because that could be a learning curve for them.”
One week out from playing the Northcote Social Club for The Takeover which bridges new talent with established acts,for Diafrix this a chance to return serve their latest Second Sample EP delivered late 2015 from which Wake Up is the latest track, a neo-soul jam showcasing Momo’s mellifluous vocals.
“This was the last record we did signed with our record label for over seven years. So we were trying to manage all those things and trying to understand how to be independent again,” admits Addulwahad. “So when we did that EP we thought, ‘Let’s just do an EP for us!’ We weren’t gonna chaser the radio sound or satisfy the record label it was more just, ‘Let’s do music we really enjoy’… It felt really good.”