Who: Bliss N Eso
When: Sunday, Dec. 14 & Monday, Dec. 15, doors at 9 p.m.
Admission: Available in advance at Billabong and Clubzone.com
Jonathan Notley (Bliss), Max Mckinnon (Eso) and Tarik Ejjami (DJ Izm) are the men of the popular hip hop trio, Bliss N Eso, a group that has been on the forefront of the Australian hip hop scene since the before the genre was even really considered to be a genre.
The lyricists go way back to the ’90s, when Notley moved from America to Australia, and ended up attending Mckinnon’s high school.
“It was at a time in Australia when there was basically no hip hop, it was almost non-existent, so to find anyone even remotely into it was a rare thing, and we were the only two dudes in the school that were pretty much into hip hop, and we became friends,” Notley explained in a recent telephone interview, dodging cars on a busy L.A. street as he spoke.
What started out as a shared passion and hobby quickly evolved when they added Ejjami into the mix a few years later.
When they first started out, their recording processes were far more rudimentary compared to their recent efforts.
“We’ve got like a whole album we made on a cassette tape,” he recalled. “I’m talking our recording method was to get two boom boxes, and you know how you could talk into one of the speakers and record it? So we had the beat playing — we just stole someone else’s beat — and played the instrumental through one boom box while we rapped in between the two boom boxes, and then the other side picked it up. So it was the most ghetto way of recording, ever.”
No one was around to teach aspiring hip hop artists how the music industry ticked.
“There was no one to show us the ropes,” he said. “We had to figure all that out basically on our own. Whereas in America, they’d been going for so long, there was massive infrastructure.”
Though at the time, the obscurity of hip hop made their goals harder to attain, Notley said the obstacles they encountered probably helped the group, in the long run.
“If anything, it’s made us more hungry,” he reflected. “We had to fight very hard to be heard, and when we started, there was no infrastructure, there was no media that helped out or thought it was even a genre or an industry, basically.”