Teether and Kuya Neil are happy to make weird shit at Melbourne Music Week

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Teether and Kuya Neil are happy to make weird shit at Melbourne Music Week

Teether and Kuya Neil - Melbourne Music Week
Words by Scott Hudson

"Now you can just drop it and people figure it out."

“I’ve loved how much people have responded to it, but it hasn’t felt real in a lot of ways. Because it’s just kind of been through the internet.”

As 2021 comes to an end, Teether and Kuya Neil are wrapping up an album, Glyph, signed to a new label, Chapter Music, repping a slot in Melbourne Music Week’s Live Music Safari, and they’ve barely known each other a year.

Teether, a self-produced rapper noted for his introspective lyrics and loose flow, blends well with Neil’s minimalist EDM beats, creating an album equally at home inside and outside of the club.

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“I feel like we don’t really do it intentionally,” Teether says. His voice is low, breaking and pausing to consider the next few words. “It’s probably from a place of wanting to be in the club, but not being social people—we’re awkward in the club. So the music can be listened to at home if you want.”

“I like how DJ sets can be really like exciting in terms of exposing people to things and all that kind of stuff,” Neil says. “But I, myself, I’m not someone who like revels in that space. I’m uncomfortable and stuff.”

“It is interesting. I feel like I never kind of expected to be making this kind of music. It’s just kind of happened,” Teether adds.

Teether’s 2020 album, Desert Visual, is a blend of monologues rapped over sample-heavy and moody hip-hop beats, leaving the shift to EDM dramatic but not jarring.

“I feel like back in the day, it was like, if you were gonna switch up your style, you kind of had to rebrand,” he continues. “But now you can just drop it and people figure it out,” Neil adds. “It’s not weird to make weird shit,” Teether finishes.

The dynamic between the two is respectful. They each patiently wait for the other to finish, laughing at each other’s references. Neil is also laid back, but still the more energetic of the duo, more prone to speak until he finds his point. Their paths crossed in the brief lockdown reprieve at the end of 2020, prompting a productive streak of music.

“The timing was just really good,” Neil says.

“I think around the time that I sent music to T was when I was really consciously making a decision to start working with rappers a lot more and producing for rappers. Before, I would make beats or dance tracks that were just solo tracks, which were really full as arrangements.

“Then I was really interested in minimalism and giving things lots of space, being really efficient in terms of not using too many sounds if it wasn’t necessary.

“I like doing a lot of collabs for a full project, like fully tapping into the energy,” Teether says. “Fully exhausting all the creative options we could come up with as like as a unit—just kind of laying it out there. I find that really interesting, because it always surprises you, even when you kind of start to craft something with a sound in mind.”

“I think when you do that, it kind of sets yourself up to be disappointed,” Neil adds. “Because generally it’s like, “oh, I love this sound.” But it means you really liked that artist, you love that. And you’re trying to emulate, but you really can’t, you know, and I feel like you kind of have to be accepting of like the way your voice sounds, the way that your beat sounds.”

Talk about production sparks enthusiasm between the duo as both have studied it at RMIT—Teether often producing his own projects.

“I think a lot of music can really suffer from that,” Neil says. “Music suffers from those sort of expectations—which I think are kind of sometimes dictated by the industry in terms of like [legitimacy] and [having] these hyper-clean mixes with tight low end and everything. You can’t have mud, whereas, mud is part of like the bedroom process or part of the means in which we’re producing it.”

It all lends to the character,” Teether says. “On our track Carafe, just before the second verse comes in, you can hear a tram go past. And that’s literally because I was living on Smith Street. And I had the window open, so you can hear that shit.”

The duo have managed two live shows since forming, playing a live streaming through Triple R and at the Gasometer, but they are ready to bring Glyph to life again.

“I’m definitely nervous for this, because it’s been a while. But I think it’ll be cool. Because I think this music makes sense to play live,” Teether says. “I think we’ll be able to put a lot more of our personality into the performance because we’re not having to focus so much on the technical side of things.”

“I’ve loved how much people have responded to it, but it hasn’t felt real in a lot of ways. Because it’s just kind of been through the internet,’ Neil adds. “So having a physical presence of that and maybe getting to like talk and see people at the show will be really good for us.”

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