Teether interview: Welcome to Melbourne future rap
31.05.2022

Teether interview: Welcome to Melbourne future rap

Teether
Words by Ben Lamb

Meet Teether, one of the freshest acts in Melbourne’s evolving hip-hop culture, merging influences from metal to hip-hop in his genre-bending creations.

The Aussie rap scene is becoming broader and more innovative every day, with new artists hitting the city with unique styles and original beats and – very occasionally – carving a niche or taking the world by storm. Teether has worked in groups like Too Birds – a trio that have quickly gained a lot of attention – and with artists like Billy Woods, Hextape, and black metallers Dispossessed, and has pulled influences from these vastly different areas and beyond for his upcoming release, Machona.

“For this album, I was really into a lot of 70s stuff and prog from the 90s,” he notes. “I was listening to a lot of old explorations, where they’ve gone in on this one feeling for like an hour, even though the sounds and songs are changing, you get this one feeling all the way through.”

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His new album Machona dropped on May 27, which in itself is an exciting time, but Teether is a creative powerhouse who’s already looking down the line at more music. “It’s exciting,” he says. “A long time in the works, it’s exciting to have it here. I always just want to keep putting stuff out, I’ve got a lot of stuff in the works.”

In the last few years, we’ve received a lot of albums and collaborations from the burgeoning artist, each conveying a different story to people’s ears. Machona follows suit and like a conceptual record, it really needs to be heard in full.

 

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He comes from a background combining metal and hip-hop, two genres that traditionally stuck to full albums,  a premise that’s becoming increasingly rare in music nowadays.

“When I was trying to pick singles to drop before the album, I was having a whole meltdown,” Luigi laughs. “I was like ‘these songs don’t really make sense on their own’.

“I think there are certain types of music that do really need to flesh out a full album to be able to communicate exactly what you’re trying to communicate. Metal is still a genre that’s keeping that idea alive a lot, they’ll only drop an album every like, three, four years, so it’s good to be a statement.

Teether can do no wrong at present. ‘One Layer’ is the lead single from MACHONA: Afar, You Are an Animal, the Naarm-based MC’s upcoming fourth solo album, due on May 27. MACHONA follows last year’s Glyph, a collaboration between Teether and producer Kuya Neil, which reached a wider audience thanks to support from Chapter Music and Triple R Album of the Week honours.

In March, 2022, Teether linked up with jazz and funk bass player, Don Glori, on the comically braggadocious jam, ‘Dizzy’. Meanwhile, Teether self-produced, recorded, and mixed MACHONA during a three-month stint of lockdown solitude. Teether was also without an internet connection during this period, but the literal disconnection has not hampered the MC’s knack for drawing in listeners to follow his every word.

‘One Layer’ runs for just one minute and twenty seconds, during which time Teether’s flow is practically uninterrupted. The scratchy electric guitar instrumental sounds more like Yves Tumor than the Soulquarians vibe of ‘Dizzy’, and it’s a perfect fit for Teether’s sort of anxious, sort of don’t give a shit rhymes.

“Internet ancient,” he says, early in the track. “Preaching to a valley of anxious faces.” What might be causing the anxiety? Some suggestions: “My ni**as got Centrelink payments,” Teether says. He adds, with a knowing grin, “I’m essential to the State / Still, I played chicken with the pigs on the way.”

“Then bigger artists like Kendrick [Lamar], who just dropped an album, I’m sure everyone’s listening to that all the way through. I think it’s not that common, but there’s still a time and a place for the album format. I don’t think it’s gonna die out anytime.”

Working in groups like Too Birds and with a bunch of other performers in the scene, Teether has gained a number of awesome contacts across the industry, with a number popping up on this record. He notes that the features only happen if they don’t feel forced.

“I think it’s really important to capture the people around me,” he explains, “so I really liked the idea of working with people that I’m close with on this record, I think it’s trying to capture natural moments and natural collaborations.”

One of the most prominent features on the release comes from Chef Chung, who received the track from Teether and added his own special flair to it, an idea that Teether carries through with all his numerous features.

“I met Chef Chung years ago and we’ve become close recently, I basically just sent him the track, and told him to do whatever feels right,” he says.

In the constantly colliding worlds of rap and metal, the transformation of recorded work onto the live stage is often vastly different than other genres. The power and energy that goes into a performance often appears to operate in another realm.

What’s on the other side of a braggadocious lyric? MC Teether provides some likely answers on ‘Dizzy’, a collaboration with jazz and funk bass player Don Glori. “I bring the rain with me anywhere,” Teether raps early in the track. He follows, “Shit, what’s this stain on my puffer vest?”

‘Dizzy’ continues in this fashion, pulling the rug out from under a sequence of would-be boasts. There’s drug-taking (“Sniffing this shit till my head felt gross”); statements of talent (“Trying to read lips but they don’t move slow”); and faith (That man upstairs doing the most for me… apparently”).

Don Glori’s spirited bass playing precludes Teether from ever sounding bothered by any of this and ensures that ‘Dizzy’ remains utterly listenable from top to drop.

When you catch Teether live on stage, it’s a moment in time that he’s prepared for you. The songs aren’t textbook across the tour, rather they’re based on how he’s feeling that night.

“When it’s time to play live, I think, ‘what songs do we have?’, then we’ll go through it and kind of figure out, ‘can I do this live?’. It’s on a whim [but] I’ll just sit down, pick a bunch of songs that I feel at that time.

“Sometimes it’s funny, I’ve had people walking into a venue and say ‘can you play this song tonight?,” he laughs. “I’ll have to be like, I don’t have the files on me, and I can’t even do it as a surprise.”

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

Machona: Afar, You Are an Animal is out now via X Amount Records.